Let’s Talk Food and Drink

If you’ve ever been to Ontario Canada, you’ve probably wondered at some point where to buy wine – or beer – or any liquor, actually.

Control of all Ontario’s liquor sales occurs through the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), although beer can be bought at outlets we creatively call The Beer Store.

Image from LCBO.com.  My local outlet doesn’t look this nice.

Shenanigans at the Beer Store are worth a post of its own, but I’m not sure I want to venture down that rabbit hole.

Image from thestar.com

At the end of October, Ontario will be taking a huge leap into the 20th Century (yes, I know …) by allowing wine to be offered for sale at selected grocery stores.  We’re definitely not talking leading edge stuff here.

The bidding process is not insignificant to be one of the 70 initially allowed outlets …eg the store must have at least 10,000 sq ft of retail space available with food items.   Only SEVENTY stores in a province that’s almost 1.1 million sq km (424,700 sq miles).  Obviously the Ontario Government has taken the position we can’t be overly cautious.

Ok, in fairness, a major chunk of the province is virtually unpopulated, but the population of Toronto alone is about 2.8 million – and that doesn’t include the ubiquitous squirrels and raccoons.  I don’t think I’ll be abandoning my local LCBO outlet anytime soon.

Anyway, I didn’t really intend to write this post about Ontario’s archaic liquor laws. This post was actually inspired by a little jewel the LCBO offers – for free – called Food and Drink.

It is a glossy magazine, available 5 times a year in the LCBO outlets, full of great photos, food related articles, recipes, and decorating ideas.  The Fall Edition – one of my favourites – will be available today.

Now, assuming you don’t live in Ontario, I would imagine you’re asking yourself why you should care.  Well, the magazine and all its recipes from previous editions are available online (click on the photo to go to the website)


My most recent foray into Food and Drink recipe land was a Chocolate Salami.  I’m not particularly a fan of either dark chocolate or dates, but the recipe called for Sambuca – an Italian anise-flavoured liqueur – and that was good enough for me.

I would show you a photo of the Chocolate Salami I made, but Husband discovered how yummy it was crumbled on French Vanilla ice cream and then it was bye-bye Salami.  Let’s just say it looked like the photo in the magazine … and that’s one of the beauties of Food and Drink.  My efforts usually look just like the recipe.

If you are interested in trying it yourself, click on the photo.




How could the Food and Drink be better?  Well … if only there was a hot line available for having fully prepared orders delivered to my door … now THAT would be a very good thing.


Footnote – Ontario wines have been available at a very limited number of Wine Rack shops located in some grocery stores for several years.  In addition, beer has also been made available since September 2015 in a small number of grocery stores.




  1. I still remember visiting New Zealand in 2005 and the shock at seeing aisles of booze in the middle of the supermarket. You still can’t do that here (as Annie has already said).

    We found a random bottle of Black Sambuca in the cupboard in the garage the other day. Don’t know where it came from. Reckon that would work? Extra dark salami? Black pudding?


  2. Welcome to the future! 🙂 That magazine sounds great. Our favorite wine store has a magazine, too. It lists every bottle they stock, with price, and a small review of most. Great reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That salami looks yummy. I can understand why there is none left to photograph. Australian alcohol selling laws aren’t much more advanced. We can buy from licensed bottle shops but not the supermarket. NZ on the other hand has all sort of alcohol in their supermarkets, they even sell fire crackers before Guy Fawkes night!


  4. Coming from Sweden, where alcohol sales is very regulated, directly to Quebec City, I wasn’t used to seeing all that wine and beer in the grocery stores. I don’t drink, but I used to look at the labels — I loved one called Cochon Mignon [http://futailles.com/en/products/wine/red/cochon-mignon], because it was cute 🙂 The liquor stores were called SAQ.

    Anyway, now in New Brunswick, NB Liquor rules. Quietly, wine has been introduced in the grocery stores. Nobody said a word about it [odd!!!], and they’re displayed openly. It’s probably been a year since I saw the first bottles appearing, and I haven’t heard/seen a beep in news media. Usually there so much hoopla about everything … whether the stores would be allowed to keep open on Sundays and all that … but not this.


    • I’m familiar with the SAQ … It’s actually the same issue than with LCBO. If you didn’t know, you’d have no idea what a SAQ was 🙂
      Funny about NB’s under-the-covers approach to liberalizing wine sales. Perhaps that’s the best way to go – make it a non-issue!!


  5. That chocolate “salami” looks positively yummy! Personally I love dates, especially with an almond in the middle. Yum. I love food magazines and cookbooks with interesting things that turn out the way the photo looks!



    • I’m not really much of a cook. I don’t particularly like it.
      … baking is more my thing.
      Having said that, I did just buy a vegetarian cookbook. I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookbook.
      … and I’m not vegetarian 🙂


  6. Great post. Although, I’m not a drinker, but wines are fine on Christmas as Sarah and I gulp down some in the festive mood. Well, Toronto and Vancouver are both my favorite cities in Canada and also Montreal and Calgary. So, what’s the most common street food that one can find all over Toronto?


    • Street food? I think that’s a lot more complicated a question than you might think.
      The powers-that-be here in Toronto don’t think that offering a wide variety of street food is safe and hygienic so they refuse to issue licenses to the food trucks (that’s how we do street food – via food trucks)
      The bottom line is, we’re mostly still stuck in the french fries, hot dogs, and hamburgers stage.
      There are efforts to try and change that, but it’s not happening quickly.


    • Some of their featured recipes are very finicky (at least to me), but there are many simple one like the salami 🙂

      If you do get a chance to check out the site, you can search even just on a key ingredient. I find that helpful when I’m stumped for ideas.


  7. That salami looks delicious!

    Gosh, I think I’d be frustrated with the liquor situation there. Here I can go to the grocery store and buy what ever I want, beer, wine, and hard liquor. Mostly I get beer, and hard liquor at Costco though for the better pricing, and buy wine from a wine distributor by the case.

    Can you buy wine online?


  8. Joanne, I like chocolate but not anise flavoring. Maybe I could use a different liqueur? I like Bailey’s Irish cream or possibly amaretto would work?
    I like your sharing this Ontario magazine, Fall edition. 🙂


    • I was thinking the same thing about substituting different liqueurs. I was actually a bit disappointed that the Sambuca flavouring did not come out in the salami as I would have thought. Perhaps something like Amaretto or Grand Marnier might have a bigger kick.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m not sure I understood much about the liquor sales thing. I barely understand my own liquor law thingies. We’ve got bans on Sunday and bans on certain days and dry counties and I can’t make sense of it, so we buy the booze on Saturdays and we try to stay stocked-up.
    The chocolate salami business, well, OMG I’m On It! Sambuca? Put the sambuca in the everything! Put the sambuca in me! And you know what? No one else, not a single person in my house, will go near anything remotely anise flavored, MWAHAHAHAHA! Imma check that recipe out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I like your attitude … I need to find more things to flavour with Sambuca 🙂

      And I ALWAYS keep the liquor cabinet, beer fridge, and wine shelves fully stocked. I can’t be too cautious 😉


  10. I see with this post, you’re trying to lure Carol and Jude back into some witty repartee, aren’t you!? LOL. I’m very glad for the explanation on the LCBO stores….we’ve seen them many times when in Canada, but never ventured inside. Pennsylvania finally allowed sales of beer/wine in a select few grocery stores with what sounds like pretty much the same guidelines Ontario is insisting on….we still have to venture to our government-controlled liquor stores for anything harder than beer or wine though…..

    Did have the thought that perhaps those ubiquitous squirrels and raccoons might get into trouble were Ontario to go too far with their liquor laws…..right now, though they try to be sneaky, it seems they’re still pretty easy to spot…

    The bartender recognizes a squirrel in disguise.
    Squirrel: How did you know I’m a squirrel?
    Barman: Saw your nuts.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Definitely trying this recipe! Thank you.
    I love that magazine – saved so many of them, thank you for letting us know it’s now online.
    Have you ever gone to any of the LCBO “classes” – a friend and I have done a number of them and they’ve been fun and informative.


      • Some of the locations (I’ve only been to the Summerhill one) run tastings about wine, beer, spirits etc. – plus they do some cooking classes and things like knife skills. It might be on a wine from a certain region or a type of wine produced from a certain grape – that sort of thing. The brochures should be near to where you pick up the magazine. They usually publish new lists of offerings per season. They are very reasonably priced and the largest class I’ve attended has been 25 people. Something new to try! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Chocolate salami: the big T would think he’d gone to heaven if I made that! Your liquor licensing laws sound like ours were about 25 years ago. Things have changed heaps here; but now there are people advocating for fewer liquor outlets as we have huge problems with binge drinking and alcoholism. It’s almost a perfect analogy for our society as a whole really. We’ve gone from a regulated but healthy society to one that’s not so much.


    • The issues of binge drinking and alcoholism are really challenging and I’m sure that availability to alcohol doesn’t help.
      Unfortunately, with regulated access to alcohol, we see problems like sniffing glue and drinking some very toxic substances to get a buzz. The repercussions are not good :/

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess if the desire exists, people will meet it any way they can. We have problems with solvent sniffing too; and a huge methamphetamine problem. We should be asking why so many people feel the need for chemical “escape”, though I don’t imagine that will be easy to answer.


        • Exactly Su!!
          Substance abuse is only a symptom of a bigger problem.
          More and more people are being disenfranchised – poor employment options, increasing wealth and corruption at the top, a future without promise of improvement – the real question is why is anyone surprised that escapism is chosen as an option?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Who was it who said those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it! I studied 19th century urban history at school and it seems to me the issues and themes are being repeated all over again.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. I live in the more enlightened part of the world and sadly I have to report to you that we have done very badly in managing our adult responsibilities in this area. I would like to think that over time we would have grown into this role, but unfortunately that is just not the case.


  14. We still have states with similar laws here in the US, there are even areas that are totally “dry” and you have to drive to the next county if you want to buy of wine or beer. Other states, like Ohio, sell beer, wine, and some hard liquor in grocery stores, sometimes in an extra department.
    I love Sambuca, especially the black one. The salami sounds and looks sinful.


  15. Thanks for another great post, Joanne. I will definitely give that Chocolate Salami a try (as a former Ontarian it seems like my duty…and one that I am very happy to fulfill)!


  16. I’m not a fan of dates, but that stuff looks pretty good. Here in Connecticut, we’re fighting over “State mandated minimum prices.” The states sets a price, for every alcoholic beverage, below which nobody, no package store, no grocery store can sell that product. I can drive 8 miles into Massachusetts and save $2-$6 on a bottle of wine and several dollars on a 12-pack of beer!


    • They’re talking minimum prices here too. Since the stores can only get their supplies from the LCBO, the monopoly stays firmly intact.

      The taxes on our liquor is very high. We cry when we see prices in the US. You’re lucky you live somewhere that has an alternative available.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. My husband and I were in Canada last summer – we were staying a couple of nights in Thunder Bay and he decided he wanted to find a liquor store. We had driven past the LCBO several times but had no idea that’s what it was, until I googled liquor store and that’s where it took us. So funny! I used to think it was strange when we moved to Virginia (years ago) and we could not by beer, wine or anything after midnight Saturday. Crazy laws!


    • Ha! I don’t think you’d find a liquor store in Ontario open after 10 pm! … and I remember when they weren’t open on Sundays either.

      Your experience was exactly what I was thinking about not long ago while looking for an LCBO in an unfamiliar area. To us, they are very distinctive and can be picked out easily. I wondered though how visitors might manage … *LCBO* isn’t exactly descriptive.


  18. Joanne I had not realized that Ontario was still under government controlled liquor outlets. Well have another slice of chocolate salami to celebrate the edging into the modern era. 🙂


    • Every once in a while I hear rumblings that they’re talking about selling off the LCBO. Quite frankly, I hope it never happens.
      I don’t believe for a minute it will result in lower prices, better selection, or better service.
      Even worse, this huge cash cow would be lost to the government coffers and going into private pockets instead.
      The public will not benefit at all … they never do.


  19. It’s so strange that you did a post and mentioned “The Beer Store” Joanne because I was just telling a friend about this on Monday. When my wife and I visited Niagara Falls we were staying at the Embassy Suites Fallsview in Ontario. On the second day we were up in the Skylon Tower and I happened to ask one of the people working there where a thirsty person like myself could buy some beer. She said “oh thats easy just go to The Beer Store”. In the US we could stop at any supermarket, deli, 7 eleven or beer distributor and purchase beer. We are still as antiquated as Canada when it comes to wine being sold in supermarkets and the stuff they sell there is the equivalent of mouthwash anyway. Long story short we went to the beer store and it was nothing like I expected. There were checkout counters, a set of rollers against one wall and another set of rollers on the opposite wall. There were pictures of different kinds of beer on the wall but no actual beer on display ( in the US you walk in the beer distributor with a shopping cart grab what you want then go to the checkouts). I asked the gentleman that worked there how the system worked. He quickly took my order rang me up and the next thing I knew my cases of beer were coming out on the rollers. I thought to myself this is the best thing since sliced bread.

    In Canada just like in the US progress is slow when it comes to alcohol sales. I guess the independent as well as the chain stores have had a lock on alcohol sales for so long they don’t want any competition. Can’t say I blame them.

    Awesome post my friend 😀


    • I can just imagine how odd it was for you trying to buy beer in Canada! hahahaha!!!

      I’m old enough to remember when liquor stores were not self-serve either. You had to fill out a form and give it to a cashier. Then your order would magically appear from behind a locked door.
      If you were unfamiliar with brands – like an 18-year-old buying liquor for the first time, you were just buying blind when completing a form. It’s not like there was a catalogue or anything to help you.

      The local Beer Store near my home does have a display wall with beer, although I doubt it represents everything available. I can always tell the people who aren’t familiar with the purchasing process … they take the warm beer off the display rather than ordering cold beer from the back.

      The one line of rollers in the store is for people bringing back their empties. Hmmm – maybe I should try to write a post about beer stores …


  20. Looks delicious, and very fattening. My father’s career often took him into Canada. He was an alcoholic, and apparently didn’t care much for Canadian liquor laws. So he would hide his own stash in a secret compartment in his car and sneak it across the border. He never did get caught, but I always wondered what would happen to him if they did figure out his little trick.


    • Most visitors aren’t impressed with Ontario’s liquor laws. I can’t speak much about the other provinces, but Quebec is considerably more liberal and their liquor sales are more similar to France.

      I don’t know exactly what happens if you’re caught at the border with undeclared liquor, but I’m pretty sure some hefty fines would be involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the tip! That looks like something even I could pull off… and I LOVE Sambuca (sometimes a little too much 😄 ). Your post reminded me of our joy in discovering that amazing Loblaws close to our Toronto Airbnb that used to be a hockey stadium. I’m sure they’d be included in the list of grocery stores approved for alcohol sales. Colorado (and I’m sure a few other states) has the same crazy alcohol sales rules. When visiting there once, I wondered around a grocery store for half an hour looking for wine before it occurred to me that they didn’t sell it. Duh.


    • I knew when I saw the recipe in the magazine, I had seen it before but I couldn’t remember where. It was your blog!! Too funny.

      I had actually been thinking that this recipe could be modified a number of ways depending on the alcohol that’s used …. Grand Marnier and Amaretto both came to mind 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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