…So I changed things – and everything changed. I focused on getting more good quality protein in my diet, more good fats, and less sugar. On the activity side, I added in more strength and high intensity interval training and eventually trained to become a certified Pilates instructor as well. I was leaner, my digestion was better – and so many of the nagging issues I had dealt with got better. …Read More
Last holiday season, I had so much fun spreading the word about the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys program, that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to the role this year. (You can see all the fun we had in 2017 here.) The program has everything I love about the holiday season going for it – delicious treats, the opportunity to give back, and the chance to spend some time with my son doing something that is fun. Because he’s now a little older, he was able to participate so much more this year and I really loved that.
For those of you not familiar with Treats for Toys, it really is a wonderful opportunity that allows everyone the chance to make a difference this holiday season. All you need to do is create a toy-shaped treat out of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, then snap a photo of it and either upload it to treatsfortoys.ca or share on social media using the #TreatsForToys hashtag. For every photo uploaded and or shared between now and December 31, 2018, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies will donate $20 to The Salvation Army to buy a real toy for a child in need. And here’s the exciting thing – this is the sixth year for Treats for Toys. In the past five years, the program has donated over 25,000 toys (which is amazing), so this year we want to get to the goal of 30,000 toys!Read More
I have a confession to make. I love summer. I really, really love the sun and the heat and humidity, and I loathe the cold (not unlike a lizard). So when the warm weather arrives, I revel in it. Now, I have never been one to just lay in the sun and bake (generally, too boring), and I have been a religious wearer of sunscreen since my high school years. But from May through September I am going to be OUTSIDE, baby. From dawn to dusk, and beyond, and I am going to love every darn moment of it. Add to that having a toddler (meaning it’s park and playground life every day) and a more flexible schedule than many that allows me to be not bound to a cubicle all day, and you get the picture. Wonderful, right? You bet. However, my skin may tell you something different.Read More
No two Mama's are alike - so keep that in mind when you are looking for the perfect gift for yours this Mother's Day. Now, of course, let me start by saying what your mom REALLY wants is to spend time with you. So make sure you do that above all else! But if you are also looking to get her a gift, I have some great suggestions based on her personality and needs - whether she's a gourmet, into glam, or just really, really needs a good night's sleep (hint: that's all mom's, really) I shared some great ideas on CH Morning Live (you can watch the segment here) and find all the links to the items below:
The Gourmet Mom
NESPRESSO CREATISTA UNO If your mom really loves GOOD coffee, this is the machine for her. The Creatista UNO, in sophisticated Black Sesame colour is the ultimate machine for creating espresso-based beverages. It produces café style quality right at home thanks to its fully automatic steam pipe to add a barista’s touch to your coffee. Plus, you can use the frothy milk to design your own latte art. Perfect all year round, especially for entertaining because the automatic steam pipe provides multiple milk temperatures for personal preferences and a self-cleaning setting (and who doesn’t love less clean-up, right?) Use with your favourite Nespresso capsules to create a perfect coffee experience.
VITAMIX A2500 ASCENT SERIES Let's face it - there are blenders, and then there is VITAMIX. For me, my Vitamix has revolutionized my time in the kitchen and upped my smoothie game ( because no one wants a chunky smoothie!) This particular model takes things event further so you can think beyond the smoothie. It has 3 settings – smoothie, hot soups, frozen desserts. Basically, this is an incredible all-around kitchen tool for anyone that loves to cook! It also has variable Speed Control and Pulse feature let you fine-tune the texture of any recipe. AND it features Built-In Wireless Connectivity - you can pair with the Vitamix Blend App that has 17 programs and over 500 recipes! It also has a built-in digital timer that removes the guesswork with recipes you process manually, helping you achieve the perfect texture every time. VItamix has a range of models and pricing as options as well, so you can find the one that's right for you!
The Glam Mom
TED BAKER Of course Ted is known for making incredible dresses (the gorgeous spring floral I wore in the segment, for example!) but if you are looking for something that's a little easier to gift, they make wonderful accessories as well. (And quite a few of them are on sale at the moment! This Parson Leather Cross Body Bag is the perfect finishing piece for your your Mama's outfit that is also super functional.
CHARLOTTE TILBURY CT just makes the ultimate in makeup luxury and formulations. Everything about her line is gorgeous. Brand new this season are here line of BEAUTY FILTERS, such as BIGGER BRIGHTER EYES, two palettes specifically designed to enhance eye size and sparkle (limited edition!). The HOLLYWOOD FLAWLESS FILTER is available in 7 shades, and acts like a primer, a highlighter and a filter all in one customizable product. Not to be missed is her range of always-perfect LIPSTICKS (at the great gifting price point of $39) in Matte Revolution or K.I.S.S.I.N.G. formulations - with tons of beautiful shades especially the most perfect reds and nudes.
TOWN SHOES If your Mama is a shoeaholic, you can't go wrong with adding to her collection this Mother's Day! (though be sure of her size first, of course!) These sparkly Glendi Mules by Kate Spade are not only on sale right now, but are the perfect mix of glam and practicality. If your mom is more into sneakers or heels though, Town has plenty of selections in both of those categories!
The Mom Who Loves Sleep (aka Every Mom)
CASPER You have likely heard about Casper's incredible line of mattresses that have revolutionized the industry. And while a mattress may be a super-big gift to buy for your Mom, you can explore their other products to make sure she gets the incredible sleep that she needs. Casper's Pillows are equally amazing, featuring a unique pillow-in-pillow system that supports side, back or front sleepers with the perfect blend of support and cushiness. Plus - their sheets are also a wonderful option: chic, 400 thread count supima cotton that breathes and feels wonderfully luxurious. All things that add up to extra zzzz's.
THIS WORKS Available exclusively at Sephora in Canada, this skin care line was developed by former beauty editors in the UK (you know, the people that test out ALL of the products out there, so they know what works!) And - this should come as not such a shock - what really works when it comes to beauty is getting more, good quality sleep. So in additon to their skincare products that help you get the most of your time between the sheets, they have also developed their DEEP SLEEP and SLEEP PLUS+ lines of pillow sprays, roll-ons, body creams, and a bath soak that work with properties of aromatherapy and microencapsulation to help your Mama (or you!) fall asleep faster, and deeper. Use (liberally), and repeat!
One of my favourite weekend things (or let’s face it, any day of the week) is a cappuccino and a cookie of some sort. These Double Dark Chocolate Cashew biscotti are from a recipe that I’ve been working on for a few years. They happen to be grain-free (and can be vegan if you use dairy-free chocolate chips, which I didn’t do here) as I used to follow a mostly grain free diet because that’s what worked for me. Now I’m on more of a 70/30 kind of thing. Regardless, these are delicious and will satisfy the cookie monster in you however you prefer to eat. They are made of almond and coconut flour, so have a crumblier texture than regular biscotti, but are super chocolate-y and delicious. I also add Central Roast cashews for even more nutty goodness. If you are looking for a cookie fix, give them a try! (Note, I live life in metric because it is the superior system of measurement, but for some reason I still bake in imperial measurements. Probably because I learned it from my Mom & Nana. It’s confusing, but it’s my way. Just don’t talk to me about the weather in Fahrenheit, it drives me nuts.)
- 1 ½ cups almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder. (Use the good stuff)
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup Central Roast Raw cashews (you can toast them ahead of time if you would like.)
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips (obviously I usually end up putting more than that in, plus eating a few more. Obviously).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Pulse cashews in food processor for a sec to break them up a bit and put aside. Put all dry ingredients except cashews and chocolate chips in food processor to combine. Add wet ingredients to combine then put the mixture in a bowl – it will be a bit sticky. Fold in cashews and chocolate chips (eat a few more chocolate chips. Repeat). On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form mixture into a loaf shape. Bake for 15 mins at 350 F. Let cool for at least an hour. (Overnight is fine too.) Slice into biscotti. Re-bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy the chocolatey goodness.
If you know me, you know my love for all things Cheese Boutique. I first discovered them when I moved into Bloor West Village in late 2000. (Yes. As in Y2K. Let's take a moment to digest that fact.) Hands down it is not only my favourite place to buy cheese, but food in general. Not only because of the quality and variety of products they offer, but also because of the people there. I pretty much love everything they do. SO - when they have parties or food events of any kind, I know they're going to be fantastic. Obviously then, when I found out that Afrim Pristine, Mâitre Fromager of Cheese Boutique (his family's business since 1970) was regrouping the League of Extraordinary Chefs at Langdon Hall (of all places) this summer, I thought it would be a great place to be. So I invited my bestie and booked a couple of spa appointments and planned for a great summer road trip.
But this was definitely not just about the destination - because I was lucky enough to be behind the wheel of a shiny new 2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring for the weekend. It was the perfect vehicle for our getaway. It really strikes a balance that so few SUV's do - roomy (without feeling like you are driving a bus), sensitive steering, plenty of pickup and good looks to spare. Subaru hasbe always been known for innovative engineering, safety and quality. The 2018 Forester comes with updated features and more safety technology than ever before. On all models, improved child seat anchors and updated seatbelt reminder warnings ensure that passengers are kept safe at all times, while the 7-inch infotainment system with navigation on the Limited models see the addition of new Starlink apps, including Yelp, Best Parking and Glympse for even more usability than before.
So the trip there was great, and I was immediately impressed with my first visit to Langdon Hall. It really is the picture perfect example of an elegant country house. Personally, I was due for a little dose of luxury, and our massage appointments were a fantastic start. It was a pretty rainy afternoon, so being inside in the spa was more or less perfect.
After that, it was time to get ready for the main event - which was a feature part of Langdon Hall's Summer BBQ Series.
Just in time for dinner, the rain cleared. We made our way out to the garden at Langdon Hall and were greeted with a beautiful scene (they sky was getting particularly cotton candy-ish) and a glass of wine. The lineup of chefs for the evening made it a "TLoEC" classic: Afrim Pristine, Cory Vitiello of Flock, Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall, Victor Barry of Piano Piano and Café Can Can, and Jonathan Goodyear. Prior digging in, we had the opportunity to tour around the garden and some of the unique items being grown there for Langdon Hall's kitchen - in many cases dishes are built around items that are planted in the garden. There were several BBQ stations, each belonging to a feature chef and their team. But before we even got started on those, there was (literally) a canoe full of fresh shellfish and all the things you'd want with it and a rather epic cheese and charcuterie table. Naturally.
Of course the meal was fantastic - wood-fired pizza, beef, salmon, lamb - and yes, grilled cheese. All paired with wines selected by The Vine Agency. Plus a pretty impressive table of desserts. Dinner under the stars at Langdon Hall is hardly roughing it, and as it got chilly we wrapped ourselves up in warm blankets and continued to chat well into the night. And perhaps had more dessert, and wine. A stay at Langdon Hall is worth it, regardless, but if you ever have a chance to get in on one of these special dinners put on by The League of Extraordinary Chefs, I highly recommend that you do so.
Many thanks to Cheese Boutique for having me at this wonderful event as their guest, and to Alex Eidelman for so many great photos!
Whatever your persona, there's a new Bee in town....Read More
Brunch is a meal that is all about luxury and indulgence. Brunch for dinner? That's just next level. Chef Matt Dean Pettit creates a decadent meal for myself and a group of Toronto food lovers to brighten up a cold January evening.Read More
Pinch me, I'm on my way to a chocolate-tasting dinner with Cacao Barry.
That was my tweet, mid-makeup application, this past Monday night as I was getting ready to head out for what I knew would be a truly memorable dining experience. Can you blame me? I was on my way to Colette Grand Cafe, a venue known for creating luxurious French culinary experiences, to experience one the notorious flavour dinners by conceptualized by legendary French chocolate company Cacao Barry. Now, if I had you at "Cacao Barry", hold on a moment longer while I explain: this is no ordinary chocolate tasting dinner. These #FlavourDinners are a series of dinners where chefs cook primarily for other chefs and create menus inspired by Cacao Barry chocolate. Each menu item incorporates Cacao Barry into it, along with one additional particular ingredient as a through line for the entire menu. This scenario creates a particular challenge, because not only are the host chefs cooking for their peers, but also bound by the intricate dance of two flavours that must be included in each menu item. No easy task for the host team of chefs, sommeliers and mixologists, but a total no-brainer for me when I was asked if I would like to have a seat at the table.
There is a lot of history behind Cacao Barry. With over 170 years of of tradition behind the name, it has become a name that chefs trust to create memorable dishes for their guests. But they are also a brand that continually strives to innovate, by collaborating with chefs to push boundaries when it comes to flavour combinations and to ensure the sustainability of cocoa for future generations. Given that, and the nature of the Flavour Dinner challenge, it is no wonder that Colette's Executive Chef Jennifer Dewasha and Pastry Chef Annegret Henninger were inspired to create a bold menu to showcase not only the versatility of the chocolate, but also of the modern French fare that they do so well.
Dining at Colette always feels like a special experience, but as this was an evening in early December, things felt extra sparkly. (The very tempting display of Cacao Barry Couverture certainly made the atmosphere extra special as well. Chocolate everywhere always helps. Note to self.) It turned out that while the guest list was indeed mostly chefs including Nadege Nourian, Mark Thuet, Louis Lim and Atul Palghadmal. There were also other food writers and personalities in the mix as well such as Bonnie Stern and Amy Rosen. Suffice it to say, I was in very good company.
Obviously we were all wondering what the mystery ingredient that would be pairing with all that delicious chocolate was. Our welcome cocktail held the key: a potent mix featuring Absinthe, chocolate-infused vodka, Luxardo liquer, chocolate shavings and more. In case you missed it....the Absinthe was the tell. Our second feature ingredient (or flavour) for the night's dinner would be liquorice. Or licorice. Potato, potato. (For the sake of continuity, I'll use licorice in this article as that's how it was spelled on the menu). However you spell it, it's a vivid, unapologetic and rather polarizing flavour. I'm a fan, but I know many people find me strange for liking that deep, dark Dutch salted stuff, but I do. (Red "licorice" is just weird, sugary wax in my opinion). It is also a flavour that appears in a number of ingredients: including tarragon, star anise, fennel, licorice root and licorice mint. But is it versatile enough? Any way I looked at it, I knew this meal was going to be an adventure.
Here is a look at the beautiful dishes that Chefs Dewasha and Henninger created for us, and that Sommelier Brian Davies chose the most perfect pairings for.
TARRAGON: Venison Tartare, Cocoa Nibs, Puffed Grains, Pumpernickel, Tanzanie Origin Chocolate, paired with sweet vermouth.
FENNEL: Clay Baked Salmon, Parsnip & Zeyphr White Chocolate Puree, Braised Fennel, Sauce Meurette. (I wish I had written down the name of this wine, because it was incredible.)
STAR ANISE: Wild Hare Civet, Cavatelli, Wild Mushrooms, Extra Brute Cacao Powder
SWEET ROOT: Apples, Licorice Cake Alunga Milk Chocolate, Apple Cremeux
LICORICE MINT: Cassettes, Haiti Origin Chocolate Cream, Cucumber Aloe Vera Jel
Pastry Chef Annegret Henninger offered some great insight about working with Cacao Barry chocolate. Like any true icon, it stays true to itself rather than playing to the crowd.
It was an adventurous meal, full of flavour, beautifully plated, and as I mentioned, perfectly paired by our host sommelier. It was a testament to the skill and imagination of the team at Colette Grand Cafe, and to the range and quality of the chocolate used.
Oh - and should anyone really want to push the limits of their chocolate skills while making me dessert, head on over to the Cacao Barry website and check out this number for Anarchy. I'll be waiting.
All photos by Jeffrey Chan for Cacao Barry.
While I’ve always considered myself to be relatively tech-savvy, I really was a little lazy when it came to learning more about how the Web actually works. Someone else would do that stuff for me, right? Maybe. But eventually I realized that even if that was the case, it’s way more empowering to have that knowledge. Especially when it came to my own website. So, I signed myself up for the SEO Bootcamp at Brainstation Toronto. It was definitely an eye-opener. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend their courses & workshops. I’ve shared my experience on their blog, so head on over and check it out here. Also, side note - SO excited that my home office is finally coming together. Extra love for my Mister for keeping it stocked with fresh flowers. It’s the little things, right?
Recently, I was presented with a pretty awesome opportunity: A day off in the country courtesy Canola Eat Well, touring a farm, talking and learning about good food, and enjoying lunch made by one of my favourite chefs, Victor Barry of Piano Piano restaurant. So obviously, I was totally ok with that idea. I also was lucky enough to invite people to come with me on this awesome day. One morning after one of my son's very early wake-ups (he's 18 months, so it happens quite a bit) while drinking a rather large coffee, I realized that no one needs a little vacation quite as much as mamas do. So naturally I reached out to some of the coolest mamas I know to join me on this little adventure.
On a rather summer-like day in October, we all set out to Link Greenhouses near Bowmanville for the day. We were joined by Ellen Pruden of Manitoba Canola Growers, and Jeannette Andrashewski, a Canola Farmer from Alberta. On our way to the farm, we had the opportunity to talk to them about the health benefits of Canola oil, as well as the process of farming in Canada. As I have worked as a weather specialist for almost a decade, much of that time covering weather in the Prairies, I have a good understanding of just how complicated life as a farmer can be. As Western Canada has already had snow so early this year, it very likely means a huge challenge for farmers. It was an enlightening conversation, and we appreciated getting to know some of the people that bring food to us on a daily basis. Once we arrived at the farm, owner Lisa Mulders took us on a tour of the facility, where we could see the process of growing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and more in their greenhouses. As with Jeanette, I was impressed by her knowledge and passion for farming.
We also had the opportunity to do a little learning experiment known as the canola crush: the process by which the value of a canola seed crop is determined. By crushing a number of seeds and looking for the right colour (yellow, not green) and the amount of oil expressed, we could tell if the seeds were mature enough for harvest or not.
There are a lot of reasons why taking this little day trip appealed to me. I love food, and I love good food even more. I want to be connected to where my food comes from, and understand the process by which it is grown. I love cooking and baking, and since becoming a parent, I love it even more. In fact, my relationship with food and interest in health has continued to evolve for the better since becoming a parent, and I think the other mamas that joined me on the trip all felt the same. The stakes are even higher, now that we are responsible for the well-being of our little ones.
I did also mention that Victor Barry was making us lunch though, right? So there is also that.
Before we ate, we had the chance to hear a little more about the health benefits of Canola oil from Registered Dietician Erin MacGregor of HowToEat.ca. For example:
Then I had the pleasure of introducing Chef Victor Barry to the group. I've worked with him for the past three years at Taste of Toronto and I have a great deal of respect for him. He's an incredibly talented chef and like me, loves to talk about food and dining. It's so obvious that he loves what he does. It was great to hear why he uses canola oil in his restaurant, and at home when cooking for his family.
Then it was time for lunch. You pretty much know that's what I was looking forward to the most, right? (Back to that whole "I love good food" thing, etc. etc.) Not just any lunch - pizza, which is one of the most beloved things on the menu at his Piano Piano (and we had four to choose from!) , plus two of the best salads I have ever had, wine, and one seriously indulgent 77% Cacao Barry Chocolate Cake for dessert. All of the menu items - including the pizza dough, the flavourful salad dressings - were made using canola oil, which showcased its versatility for cooking.
Needless to say, it was a delicious meal, and we had a great time chatting about our families, food, and pretty much everything else. I feel lucky to have shared this day with a great group of friends (old and new) and have taken away with me a renewed appreciation for Canadian Farmers and food producers. They have an incredibly important job, and a very difficult one. It's important that we support what they do.
If you'd like to make a delicious pizza dough and sauce at home, here's a link to great recipes for both on the Canola Eat Well website. Have a glass of wine, make some pizza, and don't forget to invite me!
All photos by Jeffrey Chan courtesy Canola Eat Well.
Note: This post is sponsored as I was the host for the event, however all opinions and views are my own.
In a city with such culinary richness as San Francisco, it can be tough to choose a spot to have dinner. On our recent trip there, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and experience at Rintaro.
I absolutely love to travel. I love exploring new places, trying new food, revisiting old favourites, and getting a little bit lost. I even love airports. Really. Luckily for me, it’s looking like a good year for me for getaways. I visited California in the spring, am looking at heading to Taiwan again at the end of the year, and right now I’m all set to embark on a trip back to my favourite place in the world, Spain. I’ve been trying to plan what to bring for a while now, because to be honest I am not the world’s most efficient packer. However, I will say that I have learned some lessons in recent years about how to make my journeys more enjoyable.It all comes down to having the right things with you (this means leaving the clutter behind), being open to new experiences, and staying reasonably healthy.
I used to always travel in the closest thing to pyjamas as possible. Now, I like to feel good about how I look, even on the plane. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to dress uncomfortably or wear a bunch of makeup (ick) for a long haul flight. But a great jacket and a big pair of sunnies always help add a little polish to any situation. Having the right flight gear makes a difference too. I’m a sucker for a great set of luggage. Who wants to spend hours struggling with a rolling case that flips all over, or looking for the same old black suitcase with hundreds of others around a baggage carousel. Personally, I’m a bit in love with what Rimowa has to offer: colours and fabrications that will set your case apart, not to mention the functionality you need to travel a little more effortlessly.
Once you are outfitted with the right carry on, don’t be that person at security that has all those oversized bottles of skincare and whatever other liquid that is holding up the line. Please, just no. This doesn’t mean leave out the essentials. Get wise about travel size, and find yourself some minis. I’ve made a great find lately at Saje Natural Wellness with their Travel Safe Kit. A little bundle of all-natural products that combat minor traveller’s ailments: a chemical-free hand sanitizer (NOT that stuff full of triclosan my friends, NO WAY), essential oils that combat jet lag and tummy aches, and more. It’s nice to have because it’s hard to enjoy the journey if you’re not feeling so well.
As I mentioned, I like to try and stay as healthy as possible when I am out there in the world. So bear with me here….because here come the most important parts….
I need to move when I am on the move. Yes, I have totally been that person that works out while on vacation. Why not? Running can be a great way to check out a new city. A few laps in the pool will make you feel ready to relax even more. Now, of course if I’m doing tons of walking (which I often do) I will chill out on the cardio a bit, but I have been known to bring resistance bands with me to sneak in some conditioning exercises. I find all of this extremely helpful, because trying out all the wonderful new food is totally part of the joy of being in a foreign place. So I might as well achieve a little balance so that I can indulge.
But – what I don’t count as an enjoyable indulgence at all is the less than palatable and certainly WAY less than nutritious food that we often encounter when we are en route to our destination. I don’t want to eat that stuff, and you don’t want to eat that stuff. Trust me. This is why I have learned to be prepared so that I have something to eat that gives me the nutrients I need, without a ton of sodium or nasty preservatives, and prevents me from getting hangry. (I have had some seriously hangry episodes in the past when travelling – don’t ask my husband about our first trip to Barcelona.) Krave Jerky to the rescue once again. I’ve mentioned before that it is my go-to snack to stash in my gym bag. I also make sure that I bring it with me when I am travelling. I know that it’s a healthy choice that is a good source of protein, will give me the energy I need, tastes great, and won’t make me feel gross like the fast food at the airport or (eeek) whatever I might encounter at rest stops on road trips. Krave Jerky is also gluten free, so if that’s what you need, you know how tough it can be to find foods of convenience that are safe for you. Krave is widely available across Canada now in four tender and delicious flavours. It’s definitely something that I recommend checking out. There’s that whole balance thing again. A tiny bit of planning (as in stashing this in your purse or carry on) is all it takes to stay on track with having the fuel your body needs so you can really, really get lost. In the best way possible.
You can find KRAVE Gourmet Jerky in Canada at the following retailers: Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Loblaws, Sobeys, London Drugs, Jean Coutu, Overwaitea Foods and Federated Coop. It retails from $6.99 - $8.99. Available in four delicious flavours: Sweet Chipotle Beef, Chili Lime Beef, Black Cherry Barbecue Pork and Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork.
This post was generously sponsored by Krave Jerky, but all opinions are, as always, my own.
It's one of the most innate, natural things that we do as human beings. Putting one foot in front of the other. So how can it be hacked? Can running evolve? It has in my life.Read More
Executive Chef Steven Gonzalez has big plans and a great menu that will challenge you to #AwakenYourInnerLatino. In other news, I ate crickets.Read More
There are a lot of food and drink-related events out there in Toronto. Lucky, lucky us! But let's face it, some of them are more worth attending than others. Some are downright dismal - so let's stick to the positive here and talk about what is worth it. You know of course about my love for Taste of Toronto and Pintxos TO (which I hear is returning again this year!) . I love an event that celebrates the incredible talent we have here in Toronto's culinary scene, showcases the diversity of this city, are well-run and encourage people to check out restaurants that they perhaps haven't experienced before.
From June 6-12, 2016, there is a new festival in town that does all of that, and is a pretty amazing deal as well. Lovers of BBQ and beer alike, take note. This one's for you. The first ever Toronto BBQ Week kicks off tomorrow, presented by Samuel Adams and in partnership with Now Magazine. This one is a winner for sure: fifteen participating venues offering their spin on a BBQ dish paired with a pint of Samuel Adams Boston Lager for just $15! I love the fact that there are so many different takes from around the world on BBQ - from Indian, to down home Southern, to Northern Thai to Chinese-Jamaican. Whether you are looking for ribs and brisket, or something a little lighter like grilled ocean trout, there is a range of delicious options that all pair excellently with a frosty Sam Adams. The balanced flavour profile, upfront malt flavour and hoppy finish matches up well with the punch of BBQ spices and the caramelized flavour of the meat.
Because I know your time is valuable and it's so hard to decide which of these 15 amazing restaurants you are going to visit during Toronto BBQ Week, I have graciously spent an evening with a few friends touring three of the venues on the west side of the city so you can have a little sneak peak. I know, huge sacrifice, right?
Until now, I hadn't had the chance to visit Pukka on St. Clair West. After sampling this one offering for Toronto BBQ Week, I guarantee you that I will be back! Wow! Chef Dinesh Butola's tender North East Indian pork ribs had just the right texture and hint of spice, and the slaw with hits of crispy chaat were the perfect pairing. It was the perfect showcase of the quality and forward-thinking take on Indian food that you can expect at Pukka. I was torn between wolfing them down and savouring the ribs slowly, and will admit that I was lingering a little longer with my pint of Sam Adams because I just didn't want to leave this beautiful restaurant. But, there was more delicious BBQ awaiting us, so off we went.....and it's tough to say no to our next destination, which has become one of Toronto's most well-known place to savour BBQ for a reason.
BARQUE BUTCHER BAR
Toronto couldn't get enough of the decadent smokey offerings at Barque Smokehouse on Roncesvalles, so in May 2015 Barque Butcher Bar opened up just down the street to accommodate lovers of meaty goodness. Co-Owner and Executive Chef David Neinstein is a certified BBQ judge and has competed in some of the toughest grill and smoke-off competitions in the US. For Toronto BBQ week, David and his team have cooked up a delicious pulled pork sammy topped with a refreshing apple slaw and crispy fries. Pretty amazing deal paired with a pint of Samuel Adams for just $15, right?
PARTS & LABOUR
Our last stop of the evening was at Parkdale favourite Parts & Labour. Always a great spot to be at any night of the week for a lively but laid-back vibe and decadent eats and drinks. For Toronto BBQ Week, chef Brent Pierssens has cooked up one of my favourites: Grilled Merguez sausage with confit fingerling potatoes spiked with creme fraiche. I love this spin on BBQ from beyond the borders of North America, and again, paired with that pint it's the perfect thing for sharing or just keeping all to yourself.
Three very different takes on BBQ, three amazing reasons to check out Toronto BBQ Week. You've got until June 12th, 2016. Oh, and did I mention you can also win a trip for two to Boston? Details are at torontobbqweek.com. You're welcome!