Welcome to Toronto, where the biggest party of the year is the colourful, enthralling celebration of Caribbean culture known as Caribana. The festival might only happen every summer, but West Indian culture is celebrated year round in “The Six” through music, fetes and, of course, food. Toronto is one of the best cities in the world for Caribbean cuisine. Jerk chicken and roti are the first dishes that come to mind when one mentions Caribbean food, but all of the dishes that reflect the true flavors of the Caribbean — pelau, ackee and saltfish, callaloo, bokit — are available in T.O. It’s a place where you can taste the flavour of almost every island. If you’re craving a five-dollar jerk chicken lunch special with rice ‘n peas packed up in a white Styrofoam box, there’s a good spot for that. If you’re searching for authentic Trinidadian doubles, reminiscent of those sold outside Piarco airport, a flight isn’t necessary. Toronto is more than a ‘mosaic’ of cultures – it’s a place where people share and explore different parts of the world. The city cherishes facets of the Caribbean and the Diaspora, which is why many of the restaurants in our list have been serving the city core and Greater Toronto Area for years. They are preserving culture, straight from the kitchen, and onto piping hot plates.
Photo by Patrick Lascina
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Tasting experience and undertones of passion
From growing up in the Niagara region to working at a winery at barely legal drinking age, Angela Aiello, 31, had no idea that she would be the founder of iYellow Wine Club – a social utopia for wine lovers worldwide. Today, bold glasses of Riesling and gentle flutes of Prosecco have weaved their way into every facet of her life. “It’s a perfect ménage of work, life, travel, and love,” she says, with the inclusion of her sommelier boyfriend. “Its here to stay and I’m not going anywhere.”
Aiello knew wine was the perfect fit while working at Vineland Estates as a teen. The ambitious young woman would later become a host at Peller Estates, simultaneously pursuing a Communications degree. The new grad moved to Toronto, working as a receptionist at a television production company, unaware of the real resume at her fingertips. With an unfulfilled palate and an insatiable thirst for a robust glass of pinot noir, Aiello established the iYellow blog. The list has grown to over 10,000 members to date.
Pinot Grigio with Asiago or Louboutin pumps with MAC Russian Red?
By teaching others about identifying grapes to pairing wine with food, Aiello equates wine with fashion, as it is the “perfect accessory” to lifestyle. When it comes to trends in the bevy world, she predicts that Port and aperitifs will make a comeback as post and pre-dinner drinks. Apart from opening up a bottle with sushi or dessert, Aiello believes sparkling wine is for every occasion. “Regardless of how the bubbles are made, whether it’s traditional or Charmatt, I use it in a lot of different ways,” she says, citing juice pairings or mixing with sangria. “You’re alive, so drink a glass of sparkling!”
A sip of the future.
Aiello says that many things she has premised in her life are “coming true,” and even sees her own wine label in the future. Wine is in her blood, as Aiello’s 85-year-old grandfather still makes wine in the traditional Italian way. The reason she hasn’t had the chance to make her own?
“I’ve been too busy drinking it!”
This piece was first published in the summer 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine