The experience of dining at Edulis is unusual. As soon as you step into the simple Toronto restaurant, Tobey Nemeth is by your side, showing you to your table and offering you a glass of cava. In the kitchen, Michael Caballo is at the ready with a collection of ingredients. The restaurant's name means "edible" in Latin and refers specifically to the kingly porcini mushroom. What you get here is a tightly run mom-and-pop, the passion of the chefs, a couple off-site as well, almost palpable.
Since they're always entertaining when the restaurant is open, Nemeth and Caballo typically opt to dine à deux on their rare evenings off. And although they are both chefs with credentials that include stints with Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Michelin-starred Spanish restaurants, an Italian farmhouse, a B.C. hunting lodge and a Panamanian super-yacht, it's Caballo who cooks at home. "It's a nice way to slow down a little bit," he says in his understated way. Nemeth is more emphatic. "It always makes me melt when he cooks for me at home." At Edulis, she often jumps into the kitchen when Caballo needs her. "We lean on each other," she says. "Without each other, we would lose our minds."
In Panama, the pair learned to love tiritas (raw marinated fish strips) with saltines, "an addictive accompaniment," she says. "We like to sit on our little balcony and wash it down with Champagne."
Ready time: 15 minutes
1 tbsp aji amarillo paste (available
at South American markets)*
Drizzle Spanish olive oil
such as Arbequina
2 limes, juiced
6 oz albacore tuna loin or
dorado, thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
15 leaves fresh cilantro
5 leaves fresh mint
¼ red onion, shaved and soaked
in ice water for at least 1 hour
2 tbsp toasted cashews, roughly
Make a dressing by mixing the aji paste, olive oil and lime juice. Adjust spiciness to taste. Lay fish on a flat serving tray. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 10 minutes.
Tear herbs coarsely into a bowl. Add drained onions, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Mix well. Cover fish with herb salad, sprinkle with cashews and serve with saltines.
(If you can’t find aji amarillo paste, use a conservative quantity of Scotch bonnet paste or fresh Scotch bonnet peppers.)