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The Best 8 New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2016

Best New Attraction in the Canadian Rockies

Summer’s here, and there’s plenty to see and do across this vast country of ours. Each year, the regional editors of Where Canada select a brand new or significantly-improved attraction or event that’s recognized for its uniqueness and diverse appeal, which has earned our seal of approval as a can’t-miss destination for visitors.

This year’s honoured attractions range from an interactive homage to the Olympic games, a museum dedicated to works by British Columbian artists, a chronicle of the nation’s music scene, a newly-renovated cableway ride, and more. (more…)

Ufficio: Italian-Style Seafood in the West End

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Ufficio’s charming nautical-inspired decor.

WITH A MENU THAT CENTRES AROUND SEAFOOD, UFFICIO IS A FRESH ADDITION TO TORONTO’S ITALIAN DINING SCENE

Torontonians love their Italian restaurants; we each have our favourite spot for Neapolitan pizzas and spaghetti Bolognese. But when it comes to coastal cuisine, we’re somewhat underserved. Enter Ufficio, a highly stylish spot that puts the focus on seafood, with pescatarian dishes ranging from romesco-sauced B.C. Saltspring mussels on a chickpea fritter to grilled octopus with caponata. The intimate restaurant sits on one of Dundas West’s hipper stretches, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself swimming in specialty cocktails, too.—Craig Moy

1214 Dundas St. west, 416-535-8888; ufficiorestaurant.com

Vancouver’s Craft Beer Circuit

With 23 craft breweries in the city limits—and more brewing all the time—a hoppy haven is always just a hop, sip and jump away. Ready to raise your glass to the wealth of choice? Here are a few ways to dive into the city’s craft beer circuit.

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Tote your brews in a custom-designed growler by Sigil & Growler. (Photo: KK Law)

A custom-designed growler from Sigil & Growler shows off Vancouver’s beloved landmarks. (Photo: KK Law)

Tapped In
Brewery Creek, once the turn-of-the-century hub of the local brewing scene, is enjoying a renaissance that has put the historic area back on the map. Anchored by hip-and-happening Main Street, a cluster of breweries offer sippers ranging from easy drinking to experimental. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for exploring craft beer by the flight or pint, and easily accessed on foot or—to really blend in with the locals—by bicycle. (more…)

Chabrol: A Tiny French Bisto in the Heart of Yorkville

SMALL BUT MIGHTY CHABROL SERVES UP EXCELLENT SOUTHERN FRENCH CUISINE

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The buttery, unforgettable tarte aux pommes.

Chef Doug Penfold knows Spanish food. For years he’s served some of the city’s best tapas at midtown institution Cava. Turns out he’s equally passionate about French fare, as evidenced by his cooking at Chabrol, a tiny bistro Penfold launched with Cava co-owner Niall McCotter. Set back from the bustle of Yorkville Avenue, it’s an elegant hideaway for unfussy indulgence. Order and aperitif and some oysters, then spoil yourself with the rich wild mushroom and artichoke ragout—plus the chef’s acclaimed tarte aux pommes for dessert.—Craig Moy

 

•90 Yorkville Ave., 416-428-6641; chabrolrestaurant.com
Map and reviews

Exceptional Hospitality in the GTA Recognized with the 2016 Spirit Awards

On April 22, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) presented the fifth annual Spirit Awards, a ceremony that recognizes the tireless efforts of front line staff at hotels across Toronto and the GTA. Nominees in 18 different categories, including housekeeping room attendant, valet driver, laundry and steward of the year, are chosen by their peers. More than 500 attendees attended the luncheon celebrations, which were hosted by Kevin Frankish of City TV’s Breakfast Television. Here, GTHA president and CEO Terry Mundell shares more about the history of the Spirit Awards, its evolution and what it means to the organization’s 32,000-strong membership to be assisting visitors during their stay in Toronto.

2016 Spirit Award Winners

The 18 winners of the 2016 Spirit Awards.

Where: How did the Spirit Awards come about?

Terry Mundell: The Spirit Awards was developed from a discussion that originated with our association Board of Directors. The intent of the event was to recognize and show our appreciation to those front of the line ambassadors that provide an exceptional visitor experience, which leaves a lasting impression on the over 14 million overnight visitors to the Greater Toronto Area.

Where: How are the winners determined?

TM: The judging panel is made up of five individuals who include event sponsors, industry partners and representatives from the Spirit Awards committee. The judges review the nominations prior to the event and grade them based on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, a can-do attitude, delivering that exceptional customer experience, and passion for their team and property that drives return visitors.

Where: What are the most common qualities of nominees?

TM: Passion. For these exceptional ambassadors in the hotel community, it’s all about the passion they have for the visitors they greet, their team members and their property.

Where: Why do you think the recognition means so much?

TM: These front of the line exceptional ambassadors are being recognized among hundreds of other nominees at the event to celebrate the best of the best our industry has to offer; just to be nominated gives them so much pride. 

Where: What is your favourite aspect of the Spirit Awards each year?

TM: After the winner is announced, they proceed to have their photo taken with myself and the award sponsor. Seeing this ambassador moments after they’ve accepted their award is incredible: the excitement, the pride and pure joy they express is an experience in itself.

Where: What do you look forward to the most at this event?

TM: Talking to the nominees, getting a chance to say hi and thanking them for everything they do for our industry.

Visit gtha.com for a complete list of winners and for more information about the GTHA.

2016 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Beef chow mein, at Torafuku. (Photo: KK Law)

Beef chow mein, at Torafuku. (Photo: KK Law)

Welcome to Where’s 20th annual celebration of Vancouver’s remarkable dining scene. In just a couple of decades the city has blossomed into a culinary crossroads, a melting pot of myriad flavours, unbridled talents and influences that now shape a global destination. Our chefs, servers, sommeliers, growers, fishers, farmers and vintners share in a culture driven by sustainable, regional and seasonal sourcing—in the firm belief that the best is still to come. (more…)

Things to Do in Toronto: Shows & Events in May 2016

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY IN MAY!

Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland is Canada’s tallest and biggest roller coaster

MAY 1  The country’s largest theme park, Canada’s Wonderland kicks off opening day with even more excitement to its lineup of rides with two new soaring interactive experiences: Skyhawk and Flying Eagles. The former is the first of its kind in North America, letting thrill seekers control their own cockpit by navigating 360 degree turns and inversions from 135 feet in the air, while the latter lets pint-sized pilots—along with a co-pilot—steer their own plane. Of course, the park’s 16 roller coasters, water park, two kids play areas, and midway games are among the other draws that make it the most visited seasonal amusement park in North America.

MAY 1 TO 3  Esteemed paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim speaks about the discovery of fossils belonging to the largest predatory dinosaur ever discovered as part of the National Geographic Live series.

MAY 2 AND 3  Canadian musician Lights, known for such songs as “February Air” and “Drive My Soul,” performs an acoustic show at The Danforth Music Hall with special guests DCF.

MAY 4 AND 5  The Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents Brahms Symphony 4 alongside a new work by John Adams with a violin solo.

MAY 6  A roster of Canadian and world champion figure skaters take part in Stars on Ice, including Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Javier Fernández, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Joannie Rochette among others.

MAY 7  Catch Canadian singer and songwriter Royal Wood at The Danforth Music Hall.

(more…)

16 Things to Do for March Break 2016

A WEEK OFF FROM SCHOOL IS EVERY CHILD’S DREAM, BUT PERHAPS LESS THRILLING FOR PARENTS WHO NEED TO KEEP LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED AND FROM CRYING OUT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME. HERE ARE 16 KID-APPROVED IDEAS FOR HAVING FUN THIS MARCH BREAK IN TORONTO.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace for the fifth year, which engages children through interactive play involving animation, robotics and more. (photo: courtesy of TIFF)

(more…)

You Gotta Eat Here! Season 5 Restaurants in Canada

When a friend asks you for a restaurant recommendation, where do you send them? Which restaurant are you consistently “wowed” by, so much so that you keep going back?

That’s the premise of You Gotta Eat Here!, a Canadian TV show on Food Network Canada, that has comedian and host John Catucci travelling across the country to recommend restaurants to viewers with the help of local restaurant “regulars.”

“Pretend you’ve been telling someone “you gotta eat here!” about your favourite local restaurant and all the dishes they have to try when they’re there,” says Catucci. “But on the show, I’m the one bringing you to all these places that locals love.”

On Friday, February 26, 2016, You Gotta Eat Here! returns for its fifth season with more recommendations on where to eat in Canada. The format has stayed the same — shots of behind-the-scenes, in-the-kitchen prep, and local reviews from frequent visitors. New this season, you’ll see the crew visit over 21 new restaurants in Canada, Catucci tries out some new-to-the-show food categories (including ramen and Latin baking), there are a whopping 28 episodes, and the crew even heads overseas to England (London), Italy (Rome and Florence), and Ireland (Dublin).

We interviewed Catucci about his experiences eating his way across Canada, and give you a sneak peek about the upcoming season.

The show shoots almost year-round, ten months of the year, and filming each restaurant is a two day process. One day involves filming Catucci in the kitchen with the chefs, learning how some of their signature dishes are put together. The second day involves interviews with frequent local customers.

“That’s the part I love the most,” says Catucci, “just sitting back and having fun and talking with customers.”

The restaurants that appear on each show are mostly selected based on local recommendations, so if you have a favourite send it in!

Anyone who watches You Gotta Eat Here! knows that Catucci loves burgers, but his favourite non-meat dish is pasta — pasta e fagioli, specifically, meaning “pasta with beans.”

“I love noodle-based dishes. Chinese noodles, maybe with some nice mushrooms, ramen, pasta… Also, I like pizza. I’m a carb guy I think.”

So what does this burger aficionado think makes the perfect burger, having tried dozens of varieties on the shows?

“The burger has to be tasty. It’s got to be juicy. I like to cut my burgers in half to see all the layers. Burgers have to be the right texture: there needs to be crunchy lettuce, a fresh tomato, and the bun’s gotta hold up for the whole burger and not fall apart — the bun to burger ratio has to be perfect. I don’t like a burger that’s way too seasoned. I like a burger where you can taste the meat. When I go to a fancy burger place, I’m intimated. I just like a plain cheeseburger. And a mark of a good burger place is doing a good cheeseburger well. It’s like going to a pizzeria and just getting a cheese slice as a test to see if they can do a simple thing well.”

Catucci’s traded burgers for some new cuisine this season, including ramen. Kinton Ramen in Toronto is the first ramen bar to be featured on the show.

“I had never done a ramen restaurant on the show, but then I watched Mind of a Chef and he’s all about the ramen. So I wanted to know what the big deal was; why was this guy obsessed with ramen? And then I tried it and, wow! The broth, the meats, the seasoned, soft boiled egg that’s still kinda gooey when you crack through it… so good. The chef we worked with at Kinton, he was so passionate about what he was doing and it came out in his food. I’ve gone back to Kinton on my own a couple of times since filming the show and he’s always so genuinely happy to see his customers. I’ve been to a number of other ramen places too because now I’m obsessed with ramen. Although, it’s difficult to balance a delicious, savoury broth without it being too salty. Ramen is difficult to do well.”

Is there any food Catucci won’t try? Spicy foods are off the menu after a bad experience with a particularly hot sauce. “We were making a barbecue sauce at a restaurant in Windsor, ON and put a ghost pepper in it, and I tried it and… it was insane. We had to stop filming so I could compose myself.”

Due to the show’s popularity in Italy and the United Kingdom, the crew decided to travel there and showcase the food culture of England, Italy, and Ireland.

“In Italy, the show airs under the name Fast Food Man,” Catucci says, “and it’s dubbed into Italian. And when I say the catchphrase ‘you gotta eat here!’ they dub it over as ‘Ciao! I’m a fast food man!'”

Here’s a sneak peek, with some commentary from Catucci, about the restaurants he visits in season five:

Calgary, AB

The Palomino Smokehouse

The Palomino Smokehouse

The Palomino
“It’s where I had some of the best brisket I’ve had,” says Catucci. They really know their barbecue. The vibe there is so much fun. The staff that work there are great, you can tell it’s a fun place to work. The turn over isn’t high and [the owner] treats his people right and it shows in the service, it shows in the food. Service is important to the overall experience of a meal. A mediocre meal can be saved by great service, and a great meal can be ruined by poor service. There needs to be a fine balance between being attentive and letting you have your space.”

Oak Tree Tavern

Oak Tree Tavern

Oak Tree Tavern
“Everything is homemade from the sauce on the sloppy joes to the dill pickles,” says Catucci, who ordered the meatloaf when filming wrapped. “And the dill pickle soup is unbelievable.”

Pig & Duke Pub

Pig & Duke Pub

The Pig & Duke
John loves bacon, and the Pig and Duke is his go-to for their bacon-wrapped meatloaf with bacon bits inside. It comes with mashed potatoes which are topped with, you guessed it, more bacon bits. The Pig & Duke is having a Super Bowl Sausage Party featuring and all-you-can-eat hot dog buffet!

Edmonton, AB

Rostizado

Rostizado

Rostizado
“It’s the same owners as Tres Carnales, so going there was like a homecoming. Rostizado has such a different vibe [from Tres Carnales]. The roast chicken at Rostizado is so great, they just really know what they’re doing.”

Battista's Calzone Company

Battista’s Calzone Company

Battista’s Calzone Company
“Battista does one thing and he does it well: he makes delicious, scratch-made calzones with fresh dough, high quality ingredients, and his family’s recipes. They’re only open for lunch, but you can order a frozen calzone to take home and have for dinner. Which, trust me, you should do.”

MEAT

MEAT

MEAT
“They keep it simple here at this Old Strathcona smokehouse. You order your meat, then you order your sides. You can have meat for dinner, or meat for brunch. I had a smoked brisket sandwich with horseradish mayo and garlic fries, and was a very happy man.”

Ottawa, ON

Burgers 'n' Fries Forever

Burgers ‘n’ Fries Forever

Burger’s ‘n’ Fries Forever
“This idea at this place is that burgers and fries both deserve your love. The meat here is all local grass-fed, and halal; the gravy is vegetarian, the sauces are all homemade, and they even have a secret menu (which isn’t much of a secret if you have a thing called the Internet). I ate a thing called a Burgeritto, which is exactly as outrageous as it sounds. A burger wrapped in a burrito.”

Fratelli

Fratelli

Fratelli
“This lovely family-owned Italian restaurant in Ottawa has two locations, and they just opened a pizza place. Chef Ivano has his PhD in pizza and taught me to make his Genoa Pizza with grilled chicken and basil pesto, gnocchi pomodoro, and his fetuccini sila with this beautiful mushroom cream sauce.”

Wilf & Ada's

Wilf & Ada’s

Wilf & Ada’s
“This is a great little all day brunch spot. Neither Wilf nor Ada work here anymore. The restaurant’s name is an homage to the former Ada’s Diner that was here before Jessie and Dom took over. They call it a ‘scratch diner’ because Dom makes everything – even the peanut butter! – in house.”

Winnipeg, MB

Marion Street Eatery

Marion Street Eatery

Marion Street Eatery“This is a lovely little restaurant in a surprising location, inside the Marion Hotel. Chef Melissa Hryb grew up in the kitchen cooking with her grandmother, mother, and aunts. At the Marion Street Eatery, she’s making comfort food with love. I ate a mac and cheese that had bacon and broccoli baked in and had this crunchy pretzel crust on top.”

Summit Cafe

Summit Cafe

Summit Cafe

Stony Mountain, MB
“Just a short drive north of Winnipeg is this little gem of a restaurant. The first thing you notice is the floor – it’s made entirely of pennies. The next thing you notice is the food: it’s really inventive. The BLT is made with bacon marmalade, the grilled cheese is stuffed with Cajun shrimp, and a special pulled pork and mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich.”

Toronto, ON

The Hogtown Cure

The Hogtown Cure

The Cure
“Formerly known as the Hogtown Cure, this little gem on buzzing Dundas West does all their own curing and smoking in house. Inspired by Toronto’s agricultural history and owner Chris Schroer’s love for all things pork — from the celebrated Pulled Pork Sandwich to their Southern Pork Chop dinner — The Hogtown Cure is sure to have something you’ll go hog-wild for!”

Casa Manila

Casa Manila

Casa Manila
“This was my first time trying Filipino cuisine – and I’m hooked! It’s been influenced by Spanish, Asian, and Latin flavours, Filipinos were doing ‘fusion’ before it was cool and you can experience it without leaving the GTA! Whether you’re craving authentic sweet and tangy Chicken Adobo or even if you’ve never tasted savoury peanut Kare Kare Beef Stew, you can feel at home at Casa Manila.”

The Combine

The Combine

The Combine Eatery
“You don’t have to go south of the border to get incredible Southwestern cuisine – just head to The Combine, where Albert Chow’s serving up California-style fish tacos, sticky smoked ribs, and crispy buttermilk fried chicken! It’s a road trip in a restaurant, right on the Danforth!”

Kinton Ramen

Kinton Ramen

Kinton Ramen
“My first ramen! And now I’m obsessed. At Kinton Ramen, comfort food comes in the form of a big bowl of steamy, slurp-worthy noodles ,and rich and flavourful meats that are swimming in hearty slow-cooked broth. Take comfort in this energetic and friendly Japanese noodle house in downtown Toronto.”

850 Degrees Pizza

850 Degrees Pizza

850 Degrees Pizza
“Chef Chris Beard takes everything you love about Neapolitan pizza – the crispy blistered crust, the simple crushed tomato sauce, and the quality toppings – and makes it unquestionably Canadian! With pies that pay homage to the Group of 7, hometown hero David Bolland, and the Lord Stanley himself, Neapolitan pizza has never been so proudly Canadian!”

Pizzeria Defina

Pizzeria Defina

Pizzeria Defina
“This family run spot on Roncesvalles does really inventive wood-fired pizzas. They’re always experimenting with new toppings and flavour combinations, always keeping it fresh. I had a pizza with beet pesto and kale, which is as close to a salad as I usually get.”

Vancouver

Cannibal Cafe

Cannibal Cafe

Cannibal Café
“Don’t let the name fool ya, burgers are the specialty at the Cannibal Cafe! Where the patties are freshly ground with three cuts of beef and can be stuffed with bacon and cheese, and the lemongrass chicken is glazed with sweet and savoury hoisin sauce. Chef Zai Kitagawa knows what he’s doing at this place.”

Cartem's Donuterie

Cartem’s Donuterie

Cartems Donuterie
“They invented a new word and they invent new doughnut flavours at Cartmes. What’s a donuterie? It’s where they make flavours like The Earl Grey, Apple Pie, and Canadian Whiskey Bacon. Chef Raj is a genius with dough.”

Buckstop

Buckstop

The Buckstop
“This little hole in the wall on Denman Street is a great spot for an over-the-top burger, a Southern barbecue-style brunch, or special melt topped with tempura bacon?! If you’re looking for great barbecue and then some, there’s no doubt about it, the Buckstop’s here! And once you arrive, follow their motto: Eat meat, repeat.”

Panaderia Latina Bakery

Panaderia Latina Bakery

 Panaderia Latina Bakery
“Another first for me this season: a Latin bakery. Fill up on a big meaty Chilean sandwich called a Chacarero, dig into a fresh baked Empanada, or go straight to dessert with a sweet slice of Milhojas, a puff pastry delight! A visit to Panaderia Latina Bakery takes you to Chile for lunch without ever leaving East Van.”

Watch new Season 5 episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 7 pm MST on Food Network Canada.

 

HOTEL INSIDER: Hôtel de Glace

BY LINDA LUONG

ABOUT THE HOTEL
The only ice hotel in North America, and inspired by the Ice Hotel of Sweden, construction on the Hôtel de Glace begins each December, when the structure is built from scratch in preparation for the season (approximately January to March). The process involves 30 workers and 15 sculptors who use 30,000 tons of man-made snow, which is more humid and dense. Snow is then blown into metal molds of different sizes and shapes, including arches and domes. A wooden wall helps to strengthen each shape; it can take several days for each piece to solidify.

Ice blocks that each weigh about 300 pounds are then brought in to create the furniture, ranging from tables and chairs to the ice bar.

BY THE NUMBERS
Size Spread across 32,000 square-feet, and built from 30,000 tons of snow and ice blocks
Rooms 44 rooms and themed suites
Price $199 and up per person for an overnight stay. Guided tours are $18.25 adults, $16.25 seniors and students, $9.25 children (ages 6-12), children (up to 5 years) free, $45.75 families
Facilities The hotel can be booked for corporate events and weddings

AMENITIES
There’s a Nordic relaxation area with a hot tub and saunas for a soak beneath the stars that is open from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Though romantic and idyllic, this area serves a practical purpose as well: overnight guests are encouraged to warm their bodies before going to bed.

The Celsius Pavilion contains lockers for storing personal items. There is also a dining area here where breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 a.m.

An ice bar, ice chapel and a grand ice slide are also part of the premises.

The Hôtel de Glace is affiliated with the Four Points by Sheraton Québec; depending on your hotel package, some guests may have access to the Four Points’s outdoor spa and breakfast.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR STAY
A special training session is provided for overnight guests with knowledgeable guides. A three-layer technique is recommended, which includes undergarments that allow for humidity to escape your body. A middle layer of wool, flannel or polar fleece to isolate air and control humidity forms the second level of clothing, while the exterior layer includes wind-proof apparel that will still allow you to move around. Plus, hats, scarves, gloves or mittens to cover exposed parts of your body, as well as boots.

Guests are advised to bring a second set of clothing that includes a hat, scarf, gloves or mittens, socks and long underwear.

9500 rue de la Faune, Québec City, Québec, 1-877-505-0423; hoteldeglace-canada.com

 

 

Things to Do in Toronto: Shows & Events in February 2016

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY IN FEBRUARY!

The Salzburg Festival cast of The Marriage of Figaro starring Genia Kühmeier, Katija Dragojevic and Marlis Petersen. Photo by Monika Rittershaus, courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company.

FEBRUARY 2  “The Boss”—a.k.a. Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band may have been born in the USA but they’re performing in Toronto.

FEBRUARY 2 TO MARCH 13  In Mustard, a world premiere written by Kat Sandler, a recently-divorced mom starts seeing her daughter’s imaginary friend who lives under her bed.

FEBRUARY 3 TO 21  On the heels of a sold-out national tour, Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen makes its Toronto debut. This celebration of the legendary Canadian performer sees six performers playing 17 instruments that highlight Cohen’s career discography.

FEBRUARY 4 TO 27  The Canadian Opera Company presents Mozart’s witty romantic farce, The Marriage of Figaro, in which Figaro and Susanna’s impending matrimony is in jeopardy thanks to the roving eye of the Count.

(more…)

Where Canada’s 11 Best New Restaurants 2015

Canada’s best new restaurants of 2015, chosen by the editors of Where

Banff-top

Banff, Canadian Rockies—Park Distillery

Where Canada’s Best New Restaurants is an annual award program that recognizes the top new dining destinations across the country. Where magazine’s editors deliberate at the end of each year to nominate an outstanding restaurant from their region.

This year’s selections celebrate our country’s bounty, with choices that favour seasonal offerings. Where Ottawa gives props to The Pomeroy House for its changing menu of comfort cuisine, while Where Halifax pays homage to Primal Kitchen where everything is made in-house. Workshop Eatery gets Where Edmonton’s seal of approval for the honey that comes directly from the rooftop beehive (it doesn’t get more local than upstairs from the restaurant!), and Where Toronto bestows accolades to Backhouse in the Niagara region for employing a farmer full-time to provide sustainable ingredients. Together, these restaurants and seven more, represent the top 11 new restaurants in Canada in 2015.