Monday, November 28, 2016

Grey Cup at Casa Di Mama



I won an invite to go to a special party to watch the Grey Cup from Do the Daniel's instagram contest, but since I am not a football fan and don't know anything about football I asked my friend who is into sports to go in my place.  He is always looking for cool places to watch sporting events and free pizza was a bonus for sure. Thanks to Daniel I was able to send my friend Brian Moran to the special Casa di Mama house to watch the game with a few other chosen people.  Brian said he really enjoyed watching it there and he has taken a few pics and written a few words about his experience. 

Mama and Brian
Grey Cup - by Brian Moran

You can’t predict the result however, you also know it will be competitive game. And that’s exactly what happened while we watched the game and celebrated at Casa di mama and her famous Dr. Oetker pizza in Toronto.

We entered the Casa and were warmly greeted by Mama. She reminded me of a neighbour’s Nonna. She was so sweet.

The game began with Alessia Cara who seriously rocked out during the pre-game show. Great voice and style – she is awesome.

Then we checked out all the tats Dr. Oetker pizzas while waiting for the game to start. My favourite was the hot & spicy Infernal version. Let’s just say I like it spicy!

During half-time we were  treated to  the cool vibes of Brass Tracks in their basement. Think New Orleans horns meeting some very cool hip-hop beats. Perfect mash-up – the sound was vibrant and energetic.

We then settled down to watch the game and in the last few minutes the Calgary Stampeders tied it at 33-33.  Talk about exciting!


In the OT, the Ottawa Redblacks sealed the deal with a 39-33 win ! Incredibly exciting right down to the overtime!

Thanks to Dr. Oetker and Casa di Mama for inviting me to their Grey Cup bash! Great pizza, awesome people to watch with and a beautiful casa to take it all in.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rice Krispie Treats turn into Real Toys for Kids

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…

Toy-shaped Rice Krispies Treats Transform Into Real Toys 
For Canadian Children in Need This Holiday Season

Snowman Igloo with Rice Krispie treats

When you think about Christmas time you think about all the snow, treats, presents and family and friends.  It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year so they say.

Sadly, however, the holidays don’t shine as bright for everyone. Many children across Canada will go to sleep on Christmas Eve knowing that there may be nothing waiting for them under the tree the next morning.

To ensure no child goes without this holiday season, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies* has once again partnered with The Salvation Army for the Rice Krispies Treats for Toys program. This annual tradition, now in its fourth year, has raised more than $100,000 and makes giving back easy by transforming delicious Rice Krispies treats into real toys for less fortunate kids.

With the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys program, holiday treat-making is a fun, delicious family activity and a tangible way to give back and create a new holiday tradition.”

I was asked to share this initiative by posting my Rice Krispie Treat Toy and posting to my social media channels and Kellogs will donate $20 for each photo posted.  I couldn't say no to this even though I have a bit of a gimp arm after falling in the subway... so excuse my messy version. I made the Snowman Igloo above with sprinkle trees.  I was also fighting the short daylight hours and a pre-made icing so this isn't perfect but that's ok, it looks like a 5 year old did it so you can let your kids go crazy trying to decorate and fabricate Kellogg’s Rice Krispies* into their favourite toys and they get to eat the treats while giving back to another child that might not have the opportunity to enjoy the treats and toys. See below for more inspiration from Kellogg's.

So you want to join in on the fun right?  Well here is what you can do too.

Make. Share. Give 

All it takes is three easy steps for parents and kids to make a big difference in the lives of other Canadian children. Here’s how:

1.       Make:  Choose a favourite Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal variety, like the festive multi-coloured Limited Edition Holiday Rice Krispies cereal, Rice Krispies Brown Rice Gluten-Free cereal, or even Rice Krispies with Vanilla Flavour for a bit of sweetness. Then, using the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies treats original recipe as the base to get started, create a toy-shaped treat using the recipes available on treatsfortoys.ca or get creative and design something new!

2.       Share: Take a picture of the treat and upload the photo to treatsfortoys.ca. Photos can also be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram using #TreatsForToys.

3.       Give: For every photo received on the website or shared on social media before December 21, 2016,Kellogg’s Rice Krispies will donate $20 to The Salvation Army to buy a real toy for a child.

For all the need to know information on the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys program, check out this fun 0:30 video: http://bit.ly/2esXjUQ.
                                                                                  
Need Inspiration? Follow Our Recipes or Let Your Imagination Run Wild!

With Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, there are endless DIY toy-shaped treat possibilities. And there’s no baking required. So grab some Rice Krispies cereal, decorative icing and colourful candies, and dive into creating a unique recipe or get inspired by these creations developed by beloved Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys Ambassadors:



Christmas Morning Smilies
Smiles, silly faces and giggles, oh my!  Check out how to DIY these smiley guys: http://bit.ly/2fC2nWK
Good Tidings Teddy
This cuddly toy is adorable and will warm the hearts of all who bring him to life! Bear in mind these how-to steps:http://bit.ly/2f0Hia8

Little Toy Drum
With every toy-shaped treat transforming into a $20 donation to The Salvation Army to buy a toy for a child in need – this festive drum can’t be beat! See how to go from drum to yum: http://bit.ly/2eBE7qP


ABOUT KELLOGG CANADA INC.
Kellogg Canada is the leading producer of ready-to-eat cereal in Canada. Every day, our beloved brands nourish families so they can flourish and thrive. These include All-Bran*, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes*, Corn Pops*, Eggo*, Froot Loops*, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes*, Kashi*, Kellogg's* Two Scoops* Raisin Bran, Mini-Wheats*, Nutri-Grain*, Pop-Tarts*, Pringles*, Rice Krispies*, Special K* and Vector*. Through our Breakfasts for Better Days™ global hunger initiative, we’ve provided more than 1.4 billion servings of cereal and snacks to children and families in need around the world. To learn more about our responsible business leadership, foods that delight and how we strive to make a difference in our communities around the world, visit www.kelloggcompany.com. To learn more about Kellogg Canada’s efforts in these areas, please visit www.kelloggs.ca.

* © 2016, Trademark of Kellogg Company used under licence by Kellogg Canada Inc.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chef and the Dish at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo



Event:  Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
Date:  Nov. 17-20, 2016
Location:  Metro Toronto Convention Centre - North Building
Tickets:  Start at $20 and $20 for 20 sample tickets
Website: www.foodandwineexpo.ca
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/gfwe
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/gourmetfoodandwine

Unlike most people I am not a wine drinker, although I don't mind cooking with wine, I just haven't developed that love of wine drinking that most people have.  But I went to the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo which I think should be rebranded because it's mostly wine with about 20% food.
I got tickets from the people from Persimmons from Spain and was also invited to attend by my friend Mary Tang (Mary's Happy Belly) who was there with The Chef and the Dish a new online cooking class that allows you to skype with a Chef around the world for an online cooking class.


Mary was invited to cook along with Chef Yoshimi in Tokyo, Japan and she jumped at the chance to learn some new recipes and to cook on stage at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo.  She was allowed to invite some of her food blogger friends to attend to support her and pretty much be her papparazzi.
It was great to hang out with everyone and watch Mary in her element.  Mary has been on a cooking competition show in the past and really enjoys it. Mary even had a couple of fans of her blog go up to meet her and take photos.  She was thrilled that they came out to meet her.


Mary made 2 dishes in about an hour.  One was a really flavourful edamame dish and the other was a more complex Tofu dish that uses specific Japanese ingredients that might take a little more effort to find.  I really loved the Edamame and could see me making that at home because it was pretty simple and very tasty.

Before Mary's cooking demo we wandered around the show trying to find something to eat and drink. We tried many of the samples and we both go some fantastic Tito's Vodka drink that was served in a Mason Jar Mug that you could keep and get refills.  It was the best deal for 4 tickets or $4.


One of the samples I really liked was a new Jerky by Lorissa's Kitchen.  Not too salty and really smooth flavour and texture.


I also liked Skinny Dip Cottage Cheese Spreads.  Very healthy dips with the same taste as the high fat equivalents.

The only other thing I got besides the samples was the Bubble Waffle sample, even though I actually had some at lunch the same day it was the only thing I wanted to use up the last 2 tickets I had.  I love Bubble Waffles (Hong Kong Waffles).  If you haven't tried them you will love them when you do.

I also sat in on Casa Manila's owner Mila doing a cooking demo of her newly launched to the public special cooking sauces.  I knew about her from a blogger event she hosted at her restaurant last year.  She prides herself into not using anything processed and created her sauces with natural ingredients.

I can't speak about the wines so I will let other bloggers tell you about the Wine and Beer and other foods available at the show.

One thing I must tell you is that during Mary's demo there was very loud music happening on the other end of the show.  There is live music and DJ's and a lot of the booths have music.
It's a bit of a younger crowd of adults and a bit of a club atmosphere.  It gets very busy on Saturday nights and the opening VIP night on thursday.  Dress light and wear comfortable shoes.  It gets hot in there and you will be standing around for a while.

This show is great for people that like to sample a lot of different wines in one place but bring lots of cash because you will burn through those sample tickets.

Enjoy and please take public transit... for the yours and others safety and it's crazy down there and parking is expensive.  

Uncork, Untap, Unwind, for West Park Hospital


I got to tag along with my friend Natalie who was invited to attend Uncork, Untap, Unwind, a charity fundraising event that benefits West Park Hospital Centre.  A rehab centre that is very highly regarded and the funds raised will be used to build a new hospital.

Normally when we attend events we see a lot of familiar faces but this time there was only one other Blogger that we knew.   But it was a very interesting evening.  It's nice to go to something that's a bit different with different people around because it becomes too familiar sometimes.

The event was held at Airship 37, a tucked away event space just behind the Distillery District.  I have been there once before so I knew it would be nice there.  It was set up completely different this time with 2 separate rooms adjoined by the entrance and coat check.  They even had different food in the 2  rooms all catered by Chef Mark McEwen's Catering team.

Former Bachelor and Chopped Canada Host Brad Smith was the host who got a little frisky with the women on stage.   I saw Noah Cappe also from Food Network around the crowd and I thought he was going to go onstage but he didn't.

There was a live Auction with some great prizes like a cruise and a whole BBQ package that included steaks even.  A couple of smart bidders got a pretty good deal on those prizes.   There was also a silent auction with a lot of fantastic restaurants and other great packages.

There was a live band and a female roaming Violinist and a DJ.  There were raffle tickets being sold for $25 with a chance to win cash or the final prize of a Jeep.  I purchased a ticket and crossing my fingers and get lucky and win new wheels.  It could happen... I wish..

The food as expected was fantastic.  The appetizers were amazing, from miniature lobster tacos, seared tuna with mango salsa, fig and goat cheese crostini's and duck confit and Natalie's favourite were the mushroom tarts.

There was also pickled beet salmon and slaw and braised short ribs with barley risotto.   On the other side was Mark's own Gnocchi and chicken popsicles and mashed potatoes.

We stuck around to hear the winners and see if there was dessert and we were rewarded with delicious and light Churros with chocolate and caramel sauces.


There was even a Volkswagon photo booth bus and of course we did the silly photos to add to our ever growing collection.

The one thing we both noted was the fantastic staff, from the friendly volunteers selling raffle tickets to the lickety quick waitstaff.   You would put something down and 5 seconds later it was gone.   No glasses and plates piled up anywhere.  When you attend a lot of events these things stand out.


t was a very well organized event and I was really impressed with the venue and the fact that they could open a huge garage door to freshen up the place when it got really hot and people could go outside to an astroturf patio for a breather.

All this was to raise funds for a new Rehabilitation Hospital for West Park Hospital Foundation.

I hope they raised a lot of funds while everyone was having a great time.


West Park Healthcare Centre
82 Buttonwood Ave
Toronto, ON M6M 2J5
T. 416-243-3600
E. feedback@westpark.org
Twitter https://twitter.com/westparkhcc

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Taste Canada Award winners for 2016

I submitted my Blog for Consideration to the Taste Canada Awards and although I didn't make it to the short list I was invited to attend the Gala Awards presentation.  This is my 3rd year attending the Awards but it's the 19th year of  the Taste Canada Gala Awards.

The competition honours Canada’s culinary writers. This year they received 150 submissions and included 96 books and 54 food blogs.  
Winners were chosen in both official languages and across six categories, including general cookbooks, culinary narratives, and in the new category of health and special diet cookbooks.

I was there to take photos on the red carpet of all the nominated attendees.  Here are just a few of them.
Twenty-two winners received awards.  Mary Ito from CBC's Fresh Air was the host for the evening and BBQ Master Ted Reader was the pinch hitter to introduce the awards filling in for Donna Dooher the National Chair.

This is a complete list of this year’s winners:
Culinary Narratives
GOLD
Mechefske, LindySir John’s Table: The Culinary Life and Times of Canada’s First Prime Minister. Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton
SILVER
Alford, Jeffrey. Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village. Douglas & McIntyre, Madeira Park
General Cookbooks
GOLD
Canadian Living Test KitchenCanadian Living: The Ultimate Cookbook. Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal
SILVER
O’Brady, TaraSeven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day. Appetite by Random House, Vancouver
Regional/Cultural Cookbooks
GOLD
Musgrave, SusanTaste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World. Whitecap Books, Vancouver
SILVER
Nimji, Noorbanu and Karen AndersonA Spicy Touch: Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen. A Spicy Touch Publishing (Canada) Inc., Calgary
Single-Subject Cookbooks
GOLD
Mundy, Jane. The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2: More Seafood Recipes That Are Good for the Planet. Whitecap Books, Vancouver
SILVER
Walsh, Victoria and Scott McCallumField Guide to Canadian Cocktails. Appetite by Random House, Vancouver
Health and Special Diet Cookbooks
GOLD
Telpner, MeghanThe UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life. Appetite by Random House, Vancouver
SILVER
Eustace, Mary JoScared Wheatless: Delicious Gluten-Free Recipes That Won’t Make You Lose Your Mind. Whitecap Books, Vancouver
Food Blog
GOLD
In Pursuit of More, Shira McDermott  www.inpursuitofmore.com       

The always hilarious Home Economist Mairlyn Smith rocked the red carpet but even though all of the boggers were rooting for her she didn't win in her category.  Canadian Living took that award.   

The French language winners are:
Les Narrations Culinaires
GOLD
Chartier, FrançoisL’essential de Chartier. Les Éditions de Presse, Montréal
SILVER
Dô, Sylvie. L’Épicerie: Le plaisir de faire les bons choix. Les Éditions Caractère, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Générale
GOLD
Robitaille, JoséeC’est l’hiver! Les éditions de la Carotte blanche, Montréal
SILVER
Coup de Pouce, St-Germain, ClaudineCuisiner pour une semaine, un mois, un an. Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Régionale et Culturelle
GOLD
Loureiro, HelenaLa cuisine d’Helena: 80 recettes portugaises pour ensoleiller votre table. Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal
SILVER
Di Domenico, MariaFine cuisine italienne des Abruzzes. Les Éditions Glénat Québec, Montréal
Livres de Cuisine Sujet Unique
GOLD
Vézina, DanielLa cuisine réfléchie: Bien manger sans gaspiller. Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal
SILVER
RicardoMon premier livre de recettes. Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal
Santé et Diète Particulière
GOLD
Côté, Stéphanie et Philippe GrandNutrition Sportive: 21 jours de menus. Modus Vivendi, Montréal
SILVER
Michaud, ElianeNaturellement sucré: 100 desserts à base de sucres naturels. Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur, Laval
Blogue Culinaire
GOLD
The Green Life, Sophie Bourdon  www.thegreenlife.ca

After the Awards were presented the party moved upstairs for some amazing food by Fidel Gastro, Dufflet, Ted Reader, SoCo, Bonnie Gordon Cakes, Succulent Chocolates and more.

It was a super fun night and 3 years later I knew so many more people than I did the first year I attended and really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow bloggers now that there is a new Blog Category.  My goal is to keep improving my Blog and enter again next year.  There are so many fantastic bloggers that my chances are slim but I will keep trying anyway because you never know.

I hope to be there again next year for more fun.

Fore more info about Taste Canada visit their website:  www.tastecanada.org

Friday, November 18, 2016

Evening at the Market


I finally got a chance to go to St. Lawrence Market's Evening at the Market. I knew it was a great event because my blogger friends have attended in the past.  This time my foodie partner Mary (Mary's Happy Belly) brought me along as her plus 1.   We love to go to events together because it's way more fun when we run around and take photos together.  I really wanted to attend this event for a couple of reasons.  I really like St. Lawrence Market and my dad used to get seafood and other things from there when I was a kid so there is a long history. I don't get a chance to go as often as I would like to go so I was really happy to be there to taste all of the in house vendors food.  I have sampled a great deal of food from there but a lot of it had to be prepared at home.  Things like mussels, ribs, and a whole assortment of all kinds of foods.  There are classics like the Peameal bacon on a bun and a favourite of mine was the churrasco chicken on a bun too.  Sadly Buster's seafood wasn't open to their full array and I bet that would have been insane if it was.  Always a popular spot.  My first stop was for some perogies and beets.  I was looking for my favourite foods and things I don't get all the time.  I was so full so quickly that I kept saying it was my last thing and kept going.  Mary did a lot better than I did and tried a lot more things.  It's a great showcase of the vendors but it's also a fundraiser with the proceeds going to one of my favourite charities Second Harvest.   I have about 3 food related charities that I really like and Second Harvest is one of them.  The do food rescue and have great programs but mostly their administrative costs are low so more good is done with the money and food gained from the fundraising events.  They also had a contest for $20 you pick an organization on a map that your money will be donated to and you could win $1000 travel voucher.  Win Win I would say.


Chef Claudio Aprile, Origin Restaurant owner and Masterchef Canada judge was there doing a fun Turkey roll demo for a holiday meal.  He is very particular about his salts it seems.


St. Lawrence Market also had entertainers like this silks acrobat and there were DJ's and a band.
TV Personality Shoanna Jensen was spotted enjoying the silks acrobats moves.  The hall was decked out with chandeliers and lights.  It was mostly fantastic for food photography compared to a lot of dark events.   The event took over the 2 levels of St. Lawrence Market and as usual I wish I could have tasted a lot more of the food.


They have done a few of these Evening at the Market events so I hope that you can attend the next one.   You can meet and chat with the vendors that provide your food and have fun at the same time while doing a bit of good for your community.




Chowder Chowdown sustainable Chowder battle

CHEFS CHRIS TORGIS AND JOEL GRAY OF BRUCE WINE BAR TAKE HOME TOP PRIZES AT VANCOUVER AQUARIUM’S OCEAN WISE® CHOWDER CHOWDOWN



It was a hot night at the Fermenting Cellar in The Distillery District, as top chefs from 12 Ocean Wise partner restaurants put their best ladle forward at the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown. This annual event, which takes place during Ocean Wise Month, brings together some of the region’s culinary heavyweights as they vie to have their chowder recipe be crowned the winner.


This year, a judging panel of food-savvy media and esteemed chefs selected Chefs Chris Torgis and Joel Gray of Thornbury’s Bruce Wine Bar as the 2016 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. The judging panel was wowed by the chef team’s New England Corn and Smoked Whitefish Chowder. Featuring fresh herbs, pickled potatoes, whitefish roe and a corn tortilla ash, the chowder had the crowd buzzing and their mouths watering.  Bruce Wine Bar also took home the People’s Choice Award, selected by hundreds of chowder lovers who cast their vote.

\

I can't believe I actually missed trying the winning Chowder, probably because there were so many people around their table that we didn't get near it.  We tried every other Chowder except for the the GeoDuck,  sorry guys,  I wasn't feeling that adventurous.  We literally worked up a sweat with all the hot Chowder sampling.  But I have to say that our favourite was the very first one we tried and then we went back for it again for our last one just to make sure.  That one was from the Chase Fish & Oyster. 

To cool down after the hot chowders there was a delicious selection of beverages including bright white wine from Whitehaven Winery and the perfect, sustainable caesar from partner Walter Caesar.

 Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown in Toronto showcased 12 top Ocean Wise chefs in total, who all joined the sustainable seafood movement by bringing the heat to this friendly competition. Chowders featured an impressive array of seafood, from octopus to geoduck. A list of participating chefs and beverage partners can be found he​re.
 
This year’s panel of distinguished judges was:
·         Chef  Martin Kouprie, The Globe Restaurant
·         Chef Brad Long, Café Belong
·         Liora Ipsum, Food Editor, The Daily Hive
·         David Ort, Post City Magazine

Ocean Wise began as a grassroots movement in Vancouver in 2005 and is now Canada’s most recognizable sustainable seafood program. What began as an initiative involving 16 chefs has expanded to include more than 675 partners with locations from Victoria to St. John’s.  In addition to Chowder Chowdown in Toronto, Ocean Wise Month is being celebrated with similar events in Vancouver, Calgary and Wolfville and partners across Canada are sharing their stories about sustainability using the hashtag #OceanWiseMonth.


This year’s Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown in Toronto was made possible with the support of Seacore Seafood Inc. and Distillery Events. 





The reason I was really excited to go was because I think that Ocean Wise has been doing some great work getting the message about how important it is to think about buying Ocean Wise approved sustainable fish.  Why is it so important?  They research the species that are in danger of becoming over fished to the point of forever changing the balance of the Oceans and having all of the different species survive which keeps the planet in good health.  It is all connected.  The Ocean's eco system has been slowly eroding and if we don't change a few of our habits we will lose species of fish and cause other factors that contribute to Global Warming.  Yes it's real and if everyone makes conscious choices about what they eat it could make a huge difference.

For more information about Ocean Wise visit their website:  www.oceanwise.ca
For information about the Vancouver Aquarium:  www.vanaqua.org



Back to School & Work Lunches

September is either a sad or happy time of year.  You are sad that summer is over but if you are going back to school you can be excite...