Winterlicious 2011

Where to eat local at Winterlicious

Who knew a little sticker could make me so depressed. It's my turn to host Sunday brunch, and I'm thinking a full spread - the kind you see in stylish foodie blogs where people are sipping Prosecco from their retro glasses under Hudson Bay blankets; making you painfully aware that you've never experience that level of coziness in your life. I'm going all out; pomegranate-topped waffles with slices of dragon fruit for show, and avocado butter for my savoury-loving guests...the thing is I know better.

I know these ingredients have come thousands of miles to meet me at the checkout aisle. It's only when I see the words China, New Zealand, and South Africa printed on their modest little labels that my conscience begins to stir. What grand adventures have my produce been on? Something simply doesn't feel right.

Why should we care? Part of a broader sustainability movement, local food systems enhance the social, economic and environmental well being of their region - but the real difference is in the taste - late August Ontario tomatoes could make a grown man weep with pleasure.

With Winterlicious '11 fast approaching, if you've been trying to implement some locavorian resolutions in 2011, or want to tackle this year's event with a seasonal strategy, let the experts show you how it's done. Admittedly, January is a challenging month to maintain a local bias, but if anyone can find a clever way to make me voluntarily eat a rutabaga, it's these guys:

Locally sourced food with a large regional wine list on King East; incorporates organic if available.

Reds Bistro & Wine Bar

Named one of the city's best chefs, Michael Steh couples his commitment to sustainability with local and seasonal ingredients at his Adelaide West location.

With more of a regional focus, this North Toronto seafood spot specializes in selecting the best from across the East Coast.

Edward Levesque's Kitchen

This Leslieville fan-favourite incorporates food straight off Chef Levesque's Haldimand County farm.

Priding itself on its relationship with local farmers and organic food suppliers, this Bay and Bloor resto focuses on selecting sustainable meat and seafood species.

Globe Bistro
This superbly styled Danforth restaurant brings Ontario directly to your plate with a demonstrated commitment to profiling everything the province has to offer.

If these dinning experiences spark your interest in local food, you can see what's in season each month at Foodland Ontario.

Alternatively, if you are in the food biz and want to learn about sustainable practices, Green Enterprise Ontario is hosting a Green your Restaurant Workshop (PDF) tomorrow (January 24th).

Winterlicious 2011 will be held across Toronto from January 28 to February 10, 2011.

Writing by Laurence MacSween. Photo by Vic Shum.

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