Taste of Toronto 2015

Taste of Toronto

On July 2 thru to the 5th Fork York is where you want to be if you are a lover of all things delicious for the second annual Taste of Toronto.  This event is the premier showcase of this city’s outstanding culinary talents.  Over 25 restaurants will be represented during the 4 day event, featuring popular locations like The Drake Hotel and Bannock where during either a lunch session or a dinner session you can sample dishes like Truffle Gnudi and Chorizo Ribs.

Paella from Patria

Paella from Patria

It isn’t all about the food either.  A market place allows you to try out and purchase items from local Toronto Purveyors, cooking classes to learn some new skills as well as wine tastings and live music.

Old world meets new

Old world meets new

Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the Taste of Toronto website.  If you love food even in the slightest get yourself to this number 1 food event of the year.

Here is a list of participating restaurants this year:

Toronto’s Festival of Beer Spring Session 2015

BeerFestSpring2015

If you read my post about last years inaugural event you know it was one of the highlights of my drinking season. The smaller of the two Festival of Beer events it had great food, lively music and of course fantastic beer.

BeerFestSpring2015

I couldn’t wait for this years.  So much so that at one point I was regularly harassing them on social media if they were repeating the Spring event.  The summer event was already announced and tickets selling fast.  Of course since I’m writing this post you already can figure out that Spring Session was a go.  However there was a difference this year around. First a new venue.  A large, barren outdoor space at Sherbourne Common’s near the lake.  No overhead cover like last years making the weather a huge factor on success.  And the intimacy of a smaller crowd would be lacking.

BeerFestSpring2015

The Edge 102.1 was going to be a major sponsor bringing in some great bands to entertain us.  The brewery list stayed gratefully craft and while the food vendors attending were a bit sparse the ones in attendance were of stellar caliber.

BeerFestSpring2015

My week building up to the event was one of hourly weather updates and group texts with weird un-April like snow showing up mid way through and when the day finally came with cool but sunny skies my anxiety over event disappointment was waning.  But I still had to get over the other changes.  Venue, atmosphere, crowds.

BeerFestSpring2015

Fortunately photos can be deceiving and Sherbourne Common’s was not as large as it seemed.  While still bigger that the Brickworks from last year the organizers had it arranged in such a brilliant way that there was tons of space without it feeling vast.  The breweries knocked it out of the park as always.  Mill Street is guaranteed to bring their favorites as well as a new seasonal and Flying Monkeys always get creative for events like these.  My favorite of the day was from a new brewery I had never tried before, Whitewater Brewing Company from Ottawa.  They have a creamy, thick oatmeal stout that I can’t wait to try in my chocolate desserts.

BeerFestSpring2015

Finding a seat right in front of the stage, my group and I rarely moved except to take turns beer running not wanting to leave the outstanding line up of bands performing throughout the day.  A personal favorite, and one of the reasons I chose to attend the Saturday event were JJ & The Pillars a local band whose music and attitude epitomizes was outdoor festivals are all about. Casual, relaxed, and fun. They put together a tight, energetic performance.  These guys are super talented, make sure you check them out.

JJ & The Pillars

I’m glad I was wrong to worry about Spring sessions changing for the worst.  And I feel even better that the changes only made this day even better.  As my regular event attending pal so intelligently put it ” this was the best f$%king event yet!”

Mexican Cena

Defined as a meal taken between 7 and 9, a cena can consist of a hot drink and bread, a chance to try out some street food or a nice meal eaten in a restaurant. With lunch being the biggest meal of the day items such as soups and tacos are more commonly eaten at this time.
A couple of weeks ago I jumped at a chance to attend a Pop-up Mexican Cena.  I did this for several reasons.  First and for most is my love of anything Mexican.  This is my all time favorite flavour palette and with Cinco de Mayo just a round the corner I figured this was a great way to kick it off.  The second important reason why I had to go?  The Chef cooking up this elaborate feast was my favorite lady Paola Solorzano from Santo Pecado Catering. Specializing in Mexican food Chef Paola is a vibrant, funny, down to earth and incredibly talented woman who loves to share with everyone around her the joy of this unique cuisine.  A month ago she taught myself and several others how to make our own tamales and as you will see later this week her patience and immense knowledge make a tamale queen out of me.  I didn’t even look at the menu before I purchased my ticket to this dinner; that’s how confident I am in her skills.

Mexican Popup (1 of 6)

The event was hosted at a wonderful little expresso bar on Dupont, Cafe Con Leche, owned by the incredibly friendly Sandra and Carlos.  Carlos has developed his own hot sauce line No.7 Mexican Hot Sauce, based on family recipes and before the dinner got under way he treated me to an extensive tasting of his sauces.  Homemade, preservative free and full bodied I had such a hard time deciding which one was my favorite.  Because they are made from pureed vegetables they have this great mouth feel unlike a lot of other more watered down brands.  Head over to the Cafe and grab a bottle or three and make sure you stock these in your cupboard.

Mexican Popup (2 of 6)

The menu that Chef Paola crafted was developed around these hot sauces and it was executed perfectly.

Mexican Popup

The meal started with a light and colorful ceviche of shrimp, crab and scallops.  Dressed with garlic and No.7 habanero hot sauce it was garnished with a  crispy tortilla that Chef Paola had made by hand.  A wonderfully light and refreshing starter with a little heat from the sauce and salt from the chip.

Mexican Popup

Perhaps my new favorite soup, mexican dish, beef dish, everything imaginable dish is this Carne en su Jugo.  A bowl full of thin sliced beef, black beans, bacon, cilantro, green onion and a broth from the juices of the meat and No.7 Jalapeno hot sauce.  Such a warm and hearty soup perfect for the drizzly day we were having.  This is next on my list of dishes I need to learn to make.

Mexican Popup

I was still dreaming of second helping of the soup when we were served this tiny version of a Pambazo. These potato and mexican chorizo sliders were soaked in No.7 Guajillo Barbeque sauce, fried and then topped with lettuce, queso and salsa verde.  The bread was buttery and crunchy and once I had cut mine in two I was able to try one side topped with No. 7 Garlic hot sauce and No.7 Extra Hot Jalapeno.  A bit messy but my plate was still clean when the last course was served.

Mexican Popup (6 of 6)

Of course the meal was not complete without dessert.  Bread puddings are one of my favorite desserts and what I loved about Chef Paola’s capirotada was that they don’t use as much liquid thus creating a crispier, lighter texture. A cacophony of flavors; cinammon, vanilla, almonds, queso fresco, raw sugar and a hint of chile ancho topped with chocolate, whipped cream, raisins and strawberries.  So unbelievably delicious.

Events like these are a great way to meet other food minded people as well as exposing yourself to a wider range of authentic cuisines of the world.  By pushing aside the idea that Mexican food is only tacos and burritos you discover all the other hidden gems that are just as delicious and open yourself up to new flavor combinations and dishes.  Make sure you keep an eye out for more dinners offered by Chef Paola.  Her love of food and her country is evident in every bite you take and will only enrich your senses for the better.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session 2014

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It’s hard not to appreciate how an organizer listens to their audience and not only acknowledges their demands, but also makes it happen.  The first spring session of the Toronto Beer Festival is a perfect example.  After years of quick selling, always sold out summer weekends the people behind this incredibly popular event took a chance and offered up the suds for a spring tasting.   With thoughts of warmer weather the one day events quickly sold into a whole weekend long party.  And while the weather didn’t cooperate the event was still a rocking success.  Top notch food purveyors, free flowing bevies and a brewery battle of the bands to end all battle of the bands all under the roof of one of my favorite venues in the city The Evergreen Brickworks.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session

As a food blogger going to a drink event I try to keep my blood alcohol level low and my belly full.  I’m the perfect DD for my keg chugging friends.  Like the demographics of my little group there was just enough yum to offset the gulp.  Don’t get me wrong I also enjoy a glass of too but my focus was on the eats.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (1 of 24)

Pizza Libretto’s Meatballs

First off and a perfect way to take away the chill was a bit of DH’s fantastic meatballs from Pizza Libretto.  Perfectly sauced, steaming hot and huge.  I would be remiss to not mention that a second helping was sample later in the evening.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (1 of 24)

The Pie Commission

As soon as I saw the twitter feed from the session the previous night I knew I had to make a bee line from The Pie Commission and snag myself a sample before it would be too late. It’s funny how when you have something set in your head you totally ignore the small details like how would you eat a meat pie standing around an event like this.  Well these guys sure know what they are doing.  Five inches of perfectly baked flaky pastry enveloping a saucy filling of braised beef rib are easily handled in these absolutely ingenious boxes.  They give the true meaning to hand pie.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (4 of 24)

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (13 of 24)

Fidel Gastro’s who just seems to be everywhere lately was offering up their typical innovative fares of gator kebabs, pork belly tostadas and my favorite treat of the evening grilled corn with smoky paprika, lime and jalapeno crema.  The best corn I’ve ever tasted.Though not at all surprised coming from these folks.

A couple food trucks; Smoke’s Poutinerie and Tiny Tom’s donuts were on hand to please DH’s palate as well as a killer bacon sandwich from Rasher’s.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (11 of 24)

Bacon Sandwich

Unfortunately too many heavy beers prevented me from trying one of three offerings from Hot Bunzz.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session

Hot Bunzz

Of course I tried the beer.  I actually found many new ones that I really enjoyed.  Yet it was the interactions with the breweries I enjoyed the most.  One of my favorite moments was getting to briefly talk with folks behind the new Cider company The Brickworks Ciderhouse.  Using ingredients only sourced from a small radius around the city their dry cider was fantastic.  Watch for more posts in the future about these guys as they get everything up and going and I think up wonderful things to make with their product. Can we say apple sticky pudding with boozy apple caramel sauce?

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session

The Brickworks Ciderhouse

Despite the chilly weather the spring session of the Toronto Beer Festival the perfect blend of food, drink and revelry.  A bit hip, a bit gourmet and a lot of fun.

Toronto Beer Festival Spring Session (15 of 24)

Recipe for Change

Recipe For Change 2014

This past week I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Recipe for Change food event at St. Lawrence Markets North Building where I met up with new friend and fellow food blogger Carole from The Yum Yum Factor.  I wrote an earlier post about the amazing initiatives Foodshare Toronto has promoted throughout the community of empowerment and education of our next generations teaching them the importance of food nutrition,  production and ending hunger in our cities.  I was incredibly excited to be at one of their biggest fundraising events and I will honestly admit  I had pre-event tunnel vision about all the amazing eats and drinks I was almost guaranteed  to be enjoying from an incredible list  of chefs and beverage purveyors.

Recipe For Change 2014

Honey Mead from Rosewood

I have been to my share of mass food tasting events in the past so I expected waiting in line for cacophony of dishes and glutton of gourmet treats.  What I didn’t expect and discovered quite surprising was how obviously important this cause is to the chefs that participated.  It wasn’t so much what they said; it was how they said it.  Using innovative ingredients and intricate flavor combinations you were left feeling like you had eaten something memorable.  Each chef took the time to make connections with the people coming to try their dishes and I left with the feeling that it was perfectly orchestrated to maximum the exposure to the cause.  To associate quality and care with a cause to educate and empower youth on the the importance of quality and care.

Lines were miraculously short, attendees were incredibly kind and forthcoming, and the sense of fun and comradery was palpable.  And let’s not forget the food.  Its was phenominal. Check out my photos below and most importantly check out Foodshare Toronto and see all the amazing things they are doing.

 

Recipe For Change 2014

Reuben Caraway Rye Gnocchi, Pastrami Lamb’s Tongue, Dill Pickled Mushrooms with Red Cabbage and Apple Mostarda, FResh Tarragon and Gruyere Snow From the Beverley Hotel

Recipe For Change 2014

Tacos de Pescado en Salsa Verde with House Soured cream, Coriander and Onion from Frida Restaurant and Bar

Recipe For Change 2014

Vegetarian Paella from Carmen

Recipe For Change 2014

Lamb Curry with Basmati Rice from Pukka

Recipe For Change 2014

Crispy Frog Legs from Palais Royale

Recipe For Change 2014

Moroccan Inspired Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chick Peas, Pickled Vegetable Micro Salad and Tahini Drizzle from Good Eart Fodd & Wine Co.

Recipe For Change 2014

Tofu-Avocado Gratin and Sweet Potato Mille-Feuille

Recipe For Change 2014

Goat Griot &Banane Peze from Urban Acorn/ The Depanneur

Recipe For Change 2014

Accra & Banane Peze from Urban Acorn/The Depanneur

Recipe For Change 2014

Argentinean Lamb Meatball from Lisa Marie/Fidal Gastro

Recipe For Change 2014

Pulled Buschback Braises Lamb Slider with Spicy Mustard Glaze, Crunch Slaw, Sesame Tooney from Annona at the Park Hyatt.

Recipe For Change 2014

Cucumber Cup filled with Zucchini Hummus and topped with Raw Pumpkin Seed Falafel from Belmonte Raw

Recipe For Change 2014

Grilled Tofu and Edamame Salad, Pipian Sauce, Coriander sprouts in Palm Leaf Boat from FRANK

Recipe For Change 2014

Ham Hock Terrine with homamde Brantston Pickle and Quail’s Egg from Table 17/Ascari Enoteca

Recipe For Change 2014

Mixed Ceviche from TO Ceviche Bar

Recipe For Change 2014

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds from Fair Trade Canada

Recipe For Change 2014

Forbe’s Wild Mushroom Bao with Garlic Parsley Pistou Sauce from My Little Dumplings

Recipe For Change 2014

Chicken Arroz Calda from Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Recipe For Change 2014

Vegetarian Arroz Calda from Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Recipe For Change 2014

Toppings for the Arroz Calda from Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Recipe For Change 2014

Walter’s Caesar

Recipe For Change 2014

Walter’s Caesar

Duck Tamales from Valdez

Duck Tamales from Valdez

Recipe For Change 2014

Ricotta Gnudi with Mushroom Broth from Pizzeria Libretto

Recipe For Change 2014

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Wild Boar Ragu

Recipe For Change

Chicken Chiiaquiles from Santo Pecado

Recipe For Change 2014

Free-range Buffalo Chili on a Pan de bono, Sweet Roasted Corn and Herbs, Chipotle in Adobo Salsa, traditional Mole and White Mother Sauce from Foodshare Toronto

Recipe For Change 2014

Foggy Sunburst Morning Earl Grey Mocktail with infusions of Bergamot and Citrus from The Love of Tea

Recipe For Change 2014

Mead from Rosewood Estates

Recipe For Change 2014

Hot Chocolate Spiced with Ginger, Madagascar Vanilla, Orange Peel, Chili and SOMA Blend of spices from SOMA

Recipe For Change 2014

Citrus Financier, Chestnut Mousse and Coffee Nougatine from The Tempered Chef and Chocolates From Soma

 

 

 

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (7)

This past weekend I went and checked out the Gourmet Wine and Food Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  Previously this year I had gone to the Good Food Show and I can tell you this is quite a different experience.  The atmosphere at the wine show had a very city chic club feel. 

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (11)

The lights were dimmed and the booths were decked out with neon and modern furniture.  Portugal was the show piece country and though there was many wines to try from there other countries like Chile, France and even here in Canada were well represented.

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (8)

We started out the show by grabbing some food.  Having not eaten much yet that day we definately needed some substance and there was lots of variety to choose from.  Some names were recognizable like Lonestar and Olivieri pasta while others were more obscure like Rosa’s Place where we grabbed a wonderful plate of cheese tortellini, bruschetta and pasta a la vodka. 

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (9)

Sample tickets were $1 each and while some places like Rosa’s were a great deal at 8 tickets for this plate of food other’s were not so great.  Ruelo Patisserie had this cool selection of cookies filled with ganache or buttercream called macarons yet at 2-3 sample tickets each you didn’t get much bang for your buck.

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (10)

Some vendors offered cool ideas like elk risotto and vension burgers, others offered favorites like ribs and sushi.  Cheese vendors were also in abundance some offer free samples or tasting plates for a few tickets. 

Wine wasn’t the only alcohol of choice at this event.  I had the pleasure of sample an amazing green apple beer from Nickle Brook Breweries, a sweet cranberry blueberry wine from Muskoka Lakes Winery, plus many liqours like one of my favorites Hypnotiq.  Man I could drink that stuff straight though pineapple juice just takes it to a whole other level.

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (12)

It wouldn’t be a wine and food show if the Food Network wasn’t there and this years celebrity guests included Chef Robert Rainford and the Thirsty Traveler Kevin Brauch.  The 9 of Dine Chefs of Distinction Award is given out each year to 9 local chefs and they are invited to the Food Network stage to showcase their talents. 

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (13)

While we were there we checked out Tyler Cunningham, chef at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto who cooked up a Smoked Trout with Yogurt Lemon dressing and radish salad.  I’m not  a fish eater but I still like to give  everything a chance so I definitely tried a free sample at the end of the show.  Still not my cup of tea but it wasn’t horrible either.  Very pretty to look at though.

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (4)

Also offered at the show was the Fine Wines Tasting lounge were you could sample rare and unique vintages, the Connoisseur’s Corner where you experience wine and food pairings and the Tutored Tastings seminars that were running all weekend long offering tasting courses on many different wines.

Gourmet Food and Wine Show 2009 (5)

One of my favorite things about this show was the lack of pushy salespeople.  Each vendor had representatives on hand to talk about their products and inform you where you could purchase them.  A LBCO store was available in the Centre to pick up anything that you really enjoyed. 

Next year I plan to spend a whole weekend at the show, taking as many classes and tastings sessions as I can.  The time I spent at the show was so much fun and I recommend it to anyone out there who loves food and drink and wants to try something new.