11 posts tagged with “Eating Niagara”

  • St. Catharines shop shells out fresh tortillas

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    One of Oscar Rivera’s first tasks when he arrived in Canada 10 years ago was to convert his backyard into a corn field.

    The former agricultural engineer from Guatemala City did it in a quest to find the perfect kernel. Each seed he planted promised possibility. Collectively, they represented the new life Rivera was cultivating for himself and his family, including four children, who left their homeland for the safety Canada promised.

    His plan was to grow corn ideal for grinding. He’d sell his harvest to a tortilleria that would turn his season’s work into a taste of home. He search for the right maize lasted two years. All the while his wife, Arminda, lamented the loss of her lawn.

    “My wife almost killed me,” Rivera, 56, said with a smile. “We had grass there but I had to erase it to plant corn.”

    After all his research, the buyer he had lined up for his crop fell through. So Rivera, who was dismayed at the additives he found in corn tortillas available in Canada, decided to make the Central American staple himself.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Noodles draw oodles to Viet-Thai joint

    Kim Pham of Pho Xyclo.

    Strip Mall Gems is a series of Eating Niagara, my column that runs in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune. This instalment is about Pho Xyclo in Niagara Falls.

    You could call Kim Pham picky.

    After all, it’s how the Niagara Falls restaurateur will describe herself if asked.

    But then, you can’t build the city’s best Vietnamese eatery, according to crowd-sourced ratings, by being willy-nilly.

    Pham, who owns and operates Pho Xyclo (pronounced Feu Zicklow) with friend David Chau, is nothing short of exacting when it comes to turning out bowls of pho, the noodle soup slurped at street food stalls in Vietnamese villages and now beckoning Niagara locals to the restaurant’s home in a Dunn Street strip mall.

    Ditto for the stir-fried southeast Asian dishes that round out the menu at Pho Xyclo, named after the three-wheeled rickshaws weaving through the clogged streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

    Rather than order her vegetables from a restaurant supply company and risk them not being up to snuff, Pham heads to the grocery store every day to load up on peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.

    “That way I know how fresh it is. If it’s in a shipment, I don’t know how long it has been sitting there,” Pham insists.

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  • Peach Tree
  • The pull of fresh taffy at The Kitchen

    Chef Jenn Wilkinson of The Kitchen in Ridgeway.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    Jack Brewster sees untapped potential in his daughter, Chef Jenn Wilkinson.

    Were it up to him, he’d enter Wilkinson in an arm-wrestling competition. I hope he keeps me posted if that ever happens because my money’s on Wilkinson going arm to arm with just about anyone.

    After watching the chef pull taffy at The Kitchen, her newly opened bakery and food shop in Ridgeway, I feel confident the odds are in her favour, and therefore mine.

    Picture a cattle rustler swinging and throwing a lasso to net a steer. Now picture them doing it with a rope made of sugar and water weighing several pounds — one that gets longer and fluffier the more it’s thrown.

    I’m sure you can understand why Wilkinson is a bookie’s arm-wrestling dream.

    “From the time I could walk and talk, I was learning to make taffy,” she said.

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    Category Backyard Tourism, Food Finds

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  • Peach Tree
  • Strip Mall Gems: De La Terre Kitchen

    Steve Bonin of De La Terre Kitchen

    Strip Mall Gems is a series of Eating Niagara, my column that runs in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    It had all the makings of a Hollywood-scripted epiphany.

    Steve Bonin was mopping the floor at De La Terre Kitchen when the sun shone through the front windows of the Grimsby bakery and sandwich shop, and the proverbial light went off.

    Bonin, then a staffer, told himself he could work there forever.

    Soon after, he became a partner in the operation, running the kitchen of the De La Terre sourdough bakery empire, and feeding people sammies that are worth the drive to Niagara’s most northwestern corner.

    “I love this place. I love everything about,” Bonin said while taking a load off on a recent Thursday morning before the lunchtime rush. “The ideals are perfect, the location is perfect, Grimsby is perfect. The people here really love good food.”

    The downside? “Parking can get sketchy” at this inconspicuous strip mall at the corner of Main Street and Bartlett Avenue. And understandably so.

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