Last week I was a part of an incredibly fortunate group that had been invited to an All Access event at McEwan grocery store with the always charismatic Abbey Sharp from Abbey’s Kitchen and the man himself Chef Mark McEwan. Abbey&Mark The innovator behind restaurants North 44 ,One, Bymark, and Fabbrica, cookbook author extraordinaire as well as TV personality for the hit show “Top Chef Canada”  Chef McEwan could not be any more larger than life yet surprisingly humble and down to earth.  While others clamoured to know the behind the scenes of reality show cooking I took my moment while getting his autograph to elaborate on an interesting comment about how straight and narrow his wife is when it comes to eating and cooking.  I have a rather picky, non foodie at home myself and Chef McEwan put it perfectly when he said we don’t love these people because of the food they like but for who they are. A true gentleman.

One of the great things that sets McEwans apart from other stores is his ability to find some of the most unique,and most amazing craft and artisan purveyors around and bring them all together under one roof. This event was a great showcase for many of these companies. VonDoughnuts Situated at the front of the door Von Doughnuts held my attention for what was probably too much time during the evening.  I started and ended my evening off with tastes from this amazing collection of light and fluffy pillows of dough and sugar.  Just the sheer number of varieties available were mind blowing and belt snapping. Samples included The Sappy Pig; maple, peanut butter, chocolate and bacon, Pucker Up Sucker; lemon and meringue and my favorite of the night The Creme Brulee; Cream brulee filling with a carmalized sugar topping.  I hope to bring a bigger review of their outstanding product to this blog in the future. Hot Bunzz When I finally pulled myself away from the sweets I had a great chat with the guys from Hot Bunzz.  I had previously mentioned them during Toronto Beer Fest and since they seem to everywhere (or at least planning on being everywhere this year) I was really happy to see their continued success with McEwan.  They offered up three hard to choose from flavors like Jerk, Short Rib and Mushroom Ragout. McEwan All Access (7 of 19)

My slightly obsessive compulsive self loves displays like this one.  Bright and colorful and orderly.  And while I wasn’t on the whole Macaron craze bandwagon of the past year  I was pleasantly surprised by the unique flavors developed by Kata Ambrus the small batch crafter of these delights from Makaron.  The passionfruit, milk chocolate combo was brilliant.


In house products such as their meats and cheeses showed a great deal of respect for excellence and craftsmenship that smaller vendors can offer.  Moist and tender beef from PEI.
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An Ice Pressed olive oil made specially in Greece and brought over to the store.  This same olive oil is now being made into healthy organic body soaps.

Olive Oil

Oysters available fresh and shucked for the guests.  I am very new to the oyster party and have discovered that like certain foods it’s the condiments that you are really tasting.  Fresh grated horseradish, vidalia onion dressing and fresh lemons and limes help sent those little mollusks in the right direction.


Also on hand were Ontario Vineyards and my new friends over at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company.   Another Beer Fest discovery, this great little company believes in their brand of small town craft beer and after much discussion about the trends in beer drinking as well as the misadventures of beer festivals I continue to appreciate their charm and talent.  Just a quick glance at their mix tape selection on their website proves this.

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But not to be ignored is McEwan’s ability to take the idea of ready made meals and have them soar above anyone’s expectations.  Left in the very capable and talented hands of Executive Chef Shen Ousmand each item is made fresh daily and tantalizes everyone’s taste buds like this gnocchi with homemade ricotta pictured above. From empanadas, to pizzas to gourmet entrees and desserts each idea, each execution bring forth the idea that eating well anytime, all the time is certainly attainable.

With so many selections and so much uniqueness it’s hard not to get lost in a store like this one.  With thought and quality put into each product that they offer McEwan’s stands well above the rest in gastronomical proportions.

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