Gremolata’s Malcolm Jolley caught up with CBC Radio host Matt Galloway to chat about Ting, Fiesta Farms, Butter Chicken and Octopus, among other things.
Gremolata: A couple of years ago, you wrote an article on a dire shortage of the Jamaican grapefruit soda, Ting. Have supplies kept up?
Matt Galloway: Thankfully, yes. I have some chilling in the fridge right now. I’ve received many free things in the mail over the years as a writer. Very few of them come close to the free case of Ting, complete with Ting shirt, that the Ting folks kindly sent me. They felt they’d let a loyal customer down.
What’s really wild is that of all the stories I wrote over the years at NOW, none generated the response that did. Three or four years later, I was still receiving emails from people around the world who had traveled to Jamaica, had a Ting and then wondered where they could find it in, say, Newcastle England or Philadelphia PA. Internet, eh?
Gremolata: Is Ting a singular compulsion, or are their other specialty items you’re particularly loyal to?
Matt Galloway: Current obsessions include Serrano ham (the meat that, in a Spanish restaurant called The Museum Of Ham, converted me from a vegetarian of 15 years into a carnivore), chorizo from the Casa Corizo in Kensington Market, Ortolina (a kind of Italian vegetable paste I’m using in soups instead of tomato paste), dried ancho peppers from the Latin American Grocery Store and the Extra Butter Dark Roast from Dark City Coffee.
Gremolata: So you’re a Kensington Market devotee? Have you had that famous organic ice cream?
Matt Galloway: I’m actually not a real Kensington devotee – there are just a couple specific places I go. To be truthful, I’m spoiled for grocery store choices in my neighborhood – the mighty Fiesta Farms, the 24 hour IGA on Dupont and if you’re looking to do dry cleaning while you buy your groceries, the Loblaw’s on Dupont at Christie. There’s also Vince Gasparro Meats on Bloor. What the west end is lacking though is a good fishmonger.
Gremolata: Gasparo’s has wonderful meats and Fiesta Farms has some of the best produce in the city. We’ve found exotics like Jerusalem Artichokes and Cardoons at Fiesta Farms – a true Toronto secret.
You’re well known as a music journalist. What do you listen to when you cook? Do you select different genres or artists for different dishes?
Matt Galloway: There’s always music on at our place. When I’m cooking, whatever’s on the box needs to be loud. Last night it was Pavarotti and Benny More (the Cuban Frank Sinatra). I’ve been playing the hell out of a new CD of Ghanaian funk from the 70s called Ghana Soundz Vol 2. But you’re right – different sounds for different dishes can get you in the right frame of mind: Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown for jerk chicken, Asha Bosle for butter chicken and Claudio Villa’s soaring Stornello Amorisi (from Big Night) for risotto.
Gremolata: Yum…what about wine? What would you match with butter chicken?
Matt Galloway: Beer – preferably Kingfisher, although the two bottles of Wellington Country Ale we had left in the fridge worked well last week.
We also keep a lot of Spanish reds on hand, cellar dwellers we brought back from the Rioja as well as locally bought gems like Sierra Cantabria and Muga Reserva. I’ve also been checking out more Portuguese wines – my Portuguese neighbors keep badgering me. I bought a couple bottles of a Tres Bagos Reserva based on the design of the label and ended up going back the next day to pick up a whole case.
Gremolata: What was best the meal you had in Spain?
Matt Galloway: A few years ago in San Sebastien, we were at a tapas bar and had this amazing skewer thing of shrimp and squid with this garlic dipping sauce. The sauce was really intense and indescribable. I can still taste it
now, and have yet to really replicate it.
Also excellent is the Pulperia in Barcelona, a restaurant dedicated entirely to octopus. Their deep-fried pulpo with pimenton, chased by a bottle of Torres Reserva, is a classic.
Gremolata: Spain is probably the hottest gastronomic destination right now. When you went, did you plan your trip around food?
Matt Galloway: Partially. We’ve been several times, but our trip through the Basque country was really structured around food, and wine. We didn’t plan early enough to go to places like El Bulli, but Adria’s influence and style really reaches throughout that whole northern area of the country. More interesting though were the regional specialties – Spain is a country of regions, and Basque food is completely different from the fusion food you find in Barca, which is different than the straight-up tavern-style tapas we ate nightly at this little hole in the wall joint in Madrid, with three tables, 12 chairs and a TV blaring soap operas en Espanol.
We also lucked into arriving in Madrid the day that a weekend-long wine festival was being thrown in the city’s Plaza Mayor. Jet lag is much more tolerable when you’re wandering around sampling wine at 2 in the afternoon in 34 degree sunshine.
Gremolata: Good Lord that sounds good! Moving back to festive Toronto in December, do you have any culinary plans for the holidays?
Matt Galloway: Typical family-related indulgence – goose, wine, port, sleep. We just built a big new kitchen, so I’m looking forward to moving things in and spending time breaking in the stove and doing things like rolling pasta on my new countertop.