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Did you know May is National Salsa? Salsa fresca and guacamole are a natural pair and we just can’t have one without the other. The tea smoked salsa fresca will take you a few minutes more and, opposite to the guacamole, is actually better when the flavours have time to blend and marry. And don’t be daunted by the idea of smoking the tomatoes, once you’ve done it you’ll be hooked – it’s super easy to do at home and lends so much flavour to the final product.

Fresh guacamole just can not be beat, and it also couldn’t be easier. The trick here is to make it just moments before serving to let the freshness of each flavour stand out – it takes less than five minutes to chop and mix together. Compared to even the best store-bought variety we’re sure you’ll agree this is better.


  • Homemade Pico De Gallo Salsa and Chips1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 minced jalapeños
  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 fresh plum tomatoes, gutted and finely minced

Mash the avocados with a fork or a potato masher. Add all other ingredients. Adjust seasoning.

Tea Smoked Salsa Fresca

  • 10 fresh plum tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. loose Darjeeling tea
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 4 jalapeños with seeds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Place loose tea in a dry sauté pan and heat to medium high heat. Fit a small wire cake rack over top and place half of the tomatoes on the rack, cover tightly with a lid and smoke for 5 minutes. Cool tomatoes and then gut and chop into medium sized chunks.

Add the cilantro, lime juice, jalapeños, red onion, and olive oil to the chopped tomatoes. Mix together and season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until needed.

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I had great expectations coming to this restaurant as I loved what Charles Kabouth and Hanfi Harji did with Patria: the décor and food were so thoughtful and well executed.

Byblos is a stunning space on several levels, each transports you immediately to another world with it’s soft colours, geometric window screens, comfortable semi circular booths and spectacular lighting; the designers from Commute House hit a home run here.

Exotic cocktails tempt with names like Gulab, a rosehip vodka & pomegranate reduction served on crushed ice in a julep glass, and the Ten Suns, a green tea vodka, lemongrass, ginger, yuzu juice and cardamom creation.

Stuart Cameron, executive chef at Patria, is behind the menu here again encouraging the family style eating which seems to be the trend these days and allows the kitchen to send dishes out in any order they wish.

A blend of influences from Morocco, Turkey, and Israel keep you guessing, and one is surprised and delighted time and again. It’s hard to decide between the housemade labneh with fennel, honey, and olive oil, or the roasted beets and pistachios with labneh – I recommend both! Both are served with their barber which is baked daily at Patria then brushed with olive oil and dukah.

I’d also like to applaud the chef for the number of vegetarian and seafooddishes on the menu – such a nice change from all the meatcentric restaurants out there today.

Grilled octopus with a Turkish spoon salad where the octopus was tender beautifully seasoned was a favourite, as was the Acharuli, a brioche pocket filled with cheese, quails eggs and za’atar with great contrast in textures and very comfortingly more-ish. Jeweled Persian rice made to order was well seasoned with sweet jewels of pomegranate and crunch of pistachios in this saffron scented dish are a must.

There are also several meat dishes that shouldn’t be missed like the pork-belly-like lamb ribs and the 2 day slow roasted lamb served with lavish squares and a variety of pickled vegetable and sauces.

Desserts run from housemade burnt honey ice cream to chocolate mouse with crushed baklava and pistachio mouse cake topped with Turkish delight cotton candy: an absolute dream for any sweet teeth out there.

One of my few criticisms of the restaurant is the volumn and selection of music as it leans a bit towards the nightclub vibe and I think if it were toned down it would make many diners happier. That being said I encourage you to visit Byblos at your next opportunity and appreciate what Khabouth, Harji and Cameron are doing for the restaurant scene in Toronto.


11 Duncan St.
Toronto, ON M5V3M2

(647) 660-0909

Hurray! The long May weekend has arrived – at least here in Canada, our American neighbours still have a few days to wait – and with it the first waves of fresh seafood are flooding into the fishmongers. Right now spot prawns are taking centre stage: juicy, delectable and oh-so “more-ish”, they’re best when served as simply as possible without too much to mask their gorgeous flavour. Try them as a quick peel-and-eat snack with cold beers on the patio, or as an appie to the big BBQ main event. Just be sure not to overcook – they really take but a minute or two to be cooked perfectly. This aioli is a perfect accompaniment as well – you can adjust the spiciness with the sambal (chile past) to match your taste. It’s also great with grilled chicken so feel free to make more than needed and keep it on hand this weekend for a quick-grab condiment.

Serves 4 as an après dinner snack – multiply as necessary.

  • 2 lbs spot prawn tails
  • 1 large pot boiling water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Greek style yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. sambal oolek
  • 1 tsp. fresh orange zest
  • 2-3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely minced

Add sea salt to the boiling water and then drop prawns in. Boil for 2-3 minutes maximum – do not overcook. Plunge prawns into ice bath (bowl of cold water and ice cubes); remove when cooled and hold in fridge until ready to serve.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl; chill and serve along side prawns. Enjoy!



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