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culture

How to Eat Latkes in Toronto Without Actually Cooking Them Yourself

Because pan frying loose patties of grated potato is harder than it looks.

Photo by {a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/santheo/329734055/"}santhio{/a}, via Flickr.

Hanukkah starts on Saturday night, so if you happen to be Jewish you’re probably starting to think about latkes, the fried potato pancakes that are traditionally eaten during the holiday.

Maybe you’re considering making some yourself. The recipe is basically just potatoes, onion, and egg, right? And other people manage to do it, right? So how hard could it be?

Look, making latkes is fine if you have a decent, well-ventilated kitchen and a food processor. But if you live in a tiny apartment and cook all your meals in the same Teflon-coated pan every night, your latke-making party is going to be low on reward and high on black smoke, oil burns, and heartbreak. If you have to grate the potatoes by hand, you might end up with some skinned knuckles, too.

Why would you do this to yourself? Just because you’re about to ruin your body with 8,000 calories worth of fried potatoes is no reason to get all masochistic and full of self-loathing. You live in Toronto, where there are restaurants that can do this stuff for you. Here are a few.

For the downtowners:

Caplansky’s Delicatessen (356 College Street) has an awesome deal on latkes: five of them for $5, served with the traditional apple sauce and sour cream. And you can order a main dish from their extensive menu of deli treats. Or, hold off until the last day of Hanukkah (that’s December 16) and attend Latkepalooza, Caplansky’s annual latke cook off.

Very close to Caplansky’s is another reliable latke supplier: The Free Times Cafe (320 College Street). There, five latkes are $6.50, or you can get them as side dishes with other things. Latkes are also on the menu at the cafe’s legendary all-you-can-eat-for-$19.95 Sunday brunch, where you can nosh on bagels and lox, gefilte fish, and a whole bunch of other Hanukkah-appropriate delicacies.

For the uptowners:

Naturally, Toronto’s real latke stronghold is North York, where a large and prosperous Jewish community keeps a whole bunch of deli-type restaurants well supplied with business. United Bakers (506 Lawrence Avenue West), now celebrating its centennial year, still offers a menu heaped with old-country comfort food. A six-latke dinner is $9.95, and blueberry topping is available, in addition to the usual condiments.

Located a little south of the North York boundary is Yitz’s Deli (346 Eglinton Avenue), where hot lakes come two to an order, with applesauce, for $6.75. The deli also does a brisk business in takeout latkes, which come cold (they’re reheatable) for $2.50 a piece. We’re told you can order them in quantities “from one to one thousand.”

So that would be one way to cater your latke party without starting a grease fire in your kitchen.

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