BY ANNE DESBRISAY
There’s something about the word ‘provisions’ that seems so quaint and so Canadian. Laying down provisions now means having enough frozen pizza to get you through exam week. But for my grandparents, it meant putting the summer and fall garden into jars. It meant ‘laying things down’ for winter when everything is frozen over for months.
There’s something about a shelf groaning under the weight of winter stores that takes me back to a simpler time. And there’s nothing quite like sticking your nose in a pot of raspberry jam and breathing in July when it’s -26. It’s the smell of a promise. It will come again.
Lauren Power doesn’t make plain old raspberry jam at Red Door. Her provisions are far more exotic and her jars are things of great beauty.
It was Red Door’s 102nd day of service when I wandered in. This according to the sidewalk sign parked on Beechwood Avenue. The day was bright and bone-numbingly cold. The tables were all taken, but not the four black stools at the wooden window ledge. So I parked at one of them and warmed up in the sun with an order of tea and a buttermilk scone, served with butter and two jams. And then an hour later, ordered the soup and sandwich special. I couldn’t bear to leave.
It was a good scone with a moist, golden crumb and a proper exterior crunch, but it was the comfort blanket of butter and jams that made it delicious. The scone came with a gingered pear and vanilla bean jam and a marmalade of clementines and anise seed — both marvellous.
The grilled cheese sandwich was called the St Xotique and featured Seed to Sausage Calabrese, old cheddar, and tomatoes slow roasted with a glaze of honey and Sriracha on Nat’s sourdough. It had a ‘pow’ that made the winter mulligatawny seem on the flavourless side. It had all the right things in it and a gentle curried heat. It just tasted a bit wan.
Loose leaf tea comes in cheery red pots here. There’s coffee, of course – Pilot Roasters‘ beans out of Toronto — but scones call for tea, and the tea is of fine quality.
I brought home a jar of golden beets in a brine flavoured with ginger, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon bark, and did as instructed on the label: stuck my fingers in and ate them straight out of the jar with the fridge door open, while contemplating dinner. And wondering if there were any frozen pizza provisions in the basement freezer.
117 Beechwood Avenue,
Closed Monday and Tuesday