Saturday, April 29, 2017

Food, Travel & Photographer/Chef Dennis Prescott


The Tourism Authority of Thailand invited me to a lunch event recently with  none other than celebrated Canadian ‘foodstagramer’ (357k followers and counting) and newly published author of "Eat Delicious”, Dennis Prescott (@dennistheprescott) hosting the lunch to learn all things Thailand and #foodstagram shooting tips! 
The event took place at Mengrai Gourmet Thai located at 82 Ontario Street (at Richmond Street East). 



Dennis is a  former musician and self-taught cook who learned to cook by taking out Jamie Oliver cookbooks and working through them.


We celebrated their travel brands’ 2017 Asia launches and guest culinary experiences. 

We viewed a presentation on travelling to Thailand before Dennis gave us some of his tips to taking better food photos.  A couple of his tips included telling a story with your photos and try and get movement into your photos.  After the presentations we sat down to some delicious Thai food prepared by Mengrai Thai.  I didn't know about this hidden restaurant but I heard it's in the know of some celebrities.  My favourite dish was the Chicken Curry served in a Pineapple, it's a showstopper with amazing comforting flavour.



Check out Thai trips at https://ttc.com/destinations/asia/ and make sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @ttc_canada and @thailandinsider


For more information on their brands, check out https://ttc.com/destinations/asia/;  follow  on Twitter and Instagram at @ttc_canada and @thailandinsider. 

I have loved Thai food for years and have been wanting to go to Thailand and see all the beautiful traditional foods and beautiful views.  I hope to get there one day.










Brewers Plate -Beer-Food-Music


The Brewers Plate rolls through Toronto to #RockThePlate for War Child Canada, marking 10 years of bringing the best of beer and food together

It's only rock and roll but they like it! Celebrating 10 years of food, brews and fundraising,
the annual Brewers Plate returns to Toronto on May 4, 2017 at the Corus Quay Building (25 Dockside Drive) in support of War Child Canada. Featuring an incredible roster of brewers, restaurants and Chefs to create the ultimate sampling experience for attendees as they come together to #RockThePlate, in partnership with Q107 and 102.1 The Edge.

The 2016 Brewers Plate raised $9,200 in support of War Child Canada to help children in war-affected communities reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity and justice. With the support of incredible chefs, restaurants and brewers, this years Brewers Plate will deliver an unforgettable culinary experience while raising thousands of dollars for a great cause.

The 2017 Brewers Plate is proud to present its curated list of brewers, restaurants and Chefs including:

Restaurants

· Palais Royale
· Trattoria Nervosa
· Le Dolci Toronto
· Heirloom Toronto
· Ted’s World Famous BBQ
· Hangry Catering Co.
· Tundra Restaurant & Bar
· Globe Bistro
· Cheese Boutique
· Mangia & Bevi
· Beaus All Natural Brewing
· ChocoSol

Tickets to the Brewers Plate 2017 are now on sale through www.BrewersPlateToronto.org and start at
$90 each + taxes and fees. New for this year: Brewers Plate is offering an Entourage 5 Pack, valued at $400 + taxes and fees, so if attendees are planning on bringing friends this may be the ticket pack for them. They'll be able to see savings of $10 per ticket with this package.

About Brewers Plate:

The Brewers Plate is a celebration of locally curated food and locally brewed beer. It's an
indulgent evening featuring unlimited sampling of collaborations between renowned Toronto restaurants and Ontario brewers. Now in its 10th year, this charitable event is a one-of-a-kind tasting experience wrapped in a rock and roll theme! Proceeds raised at this event are being donated in support of War Child Canada.

Brewers

· Old Tomorrow Beer
· The Collingwood Brewery
· All or Nothing Brewhouse
· Station Cold Brew Coffee Co.
· Henderson Brewing Co.
· Walter Craft Caesar
· Beaus All Natural Brewing
· Sawdust City Brewing Co.
· Great Lakes Brewery
· Muskoka Brewery
· MacKinnon Brothers Brewing
· Steam Whistle Brewing

About War Child Canada:
War Child’s mission is to help children in war-affected communities reclaim their childhood through
access to education, opportunity and justice. War Child takes an active role in raising public awareness around the impact of war on communities and the shared responsibility to act. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sial Innovation Award 2017 Finalists

SIAL INNOVATION 2017 AWARD

Unveiling of the SIAL Innovation 2017 Finalists!


Innovations at SIAL Canada 2017: A Spotlight on Health, Enjoyment and Convenience



Out of 92 submissions, 10 products were chosen based on their excellence in innovation. The Grand Award announcement will be made at SIAL Canada on May 2nd at 10:30am.

For its 2017 edition, SIAL Canada has registered 1,000 exhibitors, who will be exhibiting from May 2 to 4 at Toronto's Enercare Centre.  SIAL Innovation's international jury met at a secret Toronto location on April 13 to select the 10 finalists for the SIAL Innovation Grand Award 2017.

Today, over one in four new products launched worldwide (27.7% to be exact) makes a health claim. In North America, the rate has reached a record high of 40%, which is huge!

However, one should proceed with caution in reading too much into this phenomenon, and avoid getting carried away. It would be a mistake to conclude, as we often hear, that this is simply a consequence of consumers choosing products primarily based on health claims. As far as food is concerned, beyond its vital function, enjoyment will always remain the chief motivation. 


Dana McCauley, the jury's Master of Ceremony!
It was with great enthusiasm that Dana McCauley, Food Innovation Ambassador at SIAL Canada 2017, led this 10thSIAL Innovation finalist-selection session. The five-hour session, during which Dana McCauley led a group of eight industry professionals, took place in the privacy of the Enercare Centre's kitchen on April 13.
The chef was thus able to present the committee with the products just as they would have been prepared by the producer. Among the 92 innovations presented by exhibitors, 10 caught the eye of the experts on the jury since they were seen as representing today’s strongest trends:

1.     Le Moulin à champignons, SABAROT – France, booth # 2327
A select blend of mill-dried mushrooms. A truly convenient way of using mushrooms when cooking at home.

2.     Le Petit Quinoa, SABAROT – France, booth # 2327
Another product by this French company has been noted for its convenience as well as its health benefits: Le petit Quinoa, a blend of cereals and quinoa sold in the shape of a sausage, designed to be sliced and pan-fried in minutes. High in protein and gluten-free, health, and convenience.

3.     Turbana Plantain Chips, Turbana – Canada, booth # 1110
Consumer health benefits pop up again, along with novel taste, in these Plantain chips, which are cholesterol, saturated fat, and gluten free.

4.     SAUCE MAC & CHEESE, Les Aliments O ’Sole Mio – Canada, booth # 649
Sole Mio is a fresh, readymade mac-and-cheese sauce sold in a spouted container. The product scored well with the jury for its convenience and time-saving nature.

5.     29 FEVRIER MAPLE-IN-A-TREE, Groupe 29 février – Canada, booth # 851
29 Février (“February 29”): What a novel name for a Canadian classic – maple syrup. The jury had great things to say about its “bag-in-tub” configuration, which protects the product and allows it to keep longer.

6.     Saffron Sugar Cube, Taj Food, Minami Inc. – Canada, booth # 1219
Saffron and sugar combine in an interesting mix of flavours. Saffron Sugar Cube is 100% natural and sold in highly convenient re-sealable packaging.

7.       VERMOUTH VINEGAR, Vinagrerias Riojanas – Spain, booth # 2000
Vermouth Vinegar. A product that reacquaints consumers with vinegar through a premium taste.

8.       Quinta Quinoa, Katan – Canada, booth # 1543
Did you know quinoa grows in Ontario? Get ready to rediscover it as a local product. High in protein and iron, Quinta Quinoa is sold in a freestanding re-sealable bag.

9.       Crispy Dill Pickled Carrots, Safies Speciality Foods company – USA, booth # 1028
While this may look like a traditional product, these spice- and vinegar-marinated Safie carrots, with their elegant packaging, are as innovative as they are delicious. You'll just love this new product!

10.   Patty Fresh, Tiffany Gate Foods – Canada, booth # 2033
Many vegan products will be exhibited at the show. One of those, Patty Fresh, is a fresh, vegetarian pre-cooked roll that is meant to be sliced by the consumer for added convenience.

You will find these products at the SIAL Innovation space (booth # 727), and all visitors will be able to ask experts all their questions during observation tours, not to mention attend the filming of video presentations. Of the ten products that were selected by the jury, only one will be awarded the SIAL Canada 2017 Grand Award. 

Here are the members of the SIAL Innovation 2017 jury:

·         Dana McCauley, CEO, Blue Unicorn Innovation and Innovation Expert at SIAL Canada
·    Karen Proper, Technical Manager, Product & Process Development, Consulting & Technical Services, NSF International
·         Marie-France Gibson, Vice President, Private Brands, Metro Inc.
·         Birgit Blain, President, Birgit Blain & Associates Inc.
·         John Placko, Culinary Director, Modern Culinary Academy and Powder for Texture
·         Jane Dummer, Principal and Founder, Jane Dummer Consulting
·         Laura Calder, Writer and James Beard Award-winning television host
·         Brian Hircock, President at Raining Communications

Read more about our jury members by visiting: https://sialcanada.com/en/concours-sial-innovation/
Follow us on social media: LinkedInFacebook, Instagram Twitter #SIALTO2017.

New! For the first time in North America, SIAL TV will be broadcasting interviews with finalists and experts, presented by chef and blogger Julie Miguel. Tune in at sialcanada.com.

SIAL Innovation is the only international contest with a presence in the four corners of the world. The jury is composed of experts from the food industry and will award 10 finalists and 1 Grand Award in partnership with XTC World Innovation. All finalists, along with the Award winner, will be given the opportunity to travel to all SIAL shows around the world: China, Philippines, Indonesia, Paris and Abu Dhabi.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day - Tips to Waste less food

TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE FOOD YOU BUY

I have been thinking about FOOD WASTE for a long time now and it seems like today is a great day to do a post about some of the things I have been trying to do over the past year.  I have wasted so much food since I moved because I used to have an extra freezer that I could always put leftovers in it if there was too much.  Now that I have one small freezer and I am cooking just for myself I am finding it a lot more challenging to save money on food and still eat a variety of foods.
I hope that some of these tips will help you waste less food and money and respect the food that people break their backs to grow and sell as fresh as possible.
EARTH DAY TIPS:
1.  Some vegetables can be re planted like the ends of these Green Onions.  Just put the white end into water and you will see it sprout again in a few days.   You can just snip off the tops when it grows.  You might want to change the water to keep it fresh.

2.  I just started saving all of the trimmings off of vegetables and putting them in a ziploc bag in the freezer and I will use them to make a vegetable stock that can be used for soup or other recips.


3.  Not long ago I went to a Food Waste event and they let us take home some produce so I took lettuce, tomatoes and potatoes.  With the lettuce and tomatoes I made this BLT. 


4.  I made a potato salad using the event's potatoes but another tip would be to boil a bunch of eggs to have in the fridge to either grab for breakfast or lunch or to make egg salad or to add to your salads and sandwiches during the week.  It wastes less energy to boil a pot than one egg at a time and it's a great source of protein.  I suggest buying organic because it tastes better and also if it's a reputable supplier it's better for the chickens and the environment.



5.  I also got Roma tomatoes and they aren't as good for sandwiches by are amazing for soups and Pasta sauces because they have less seeds.  It's great to use them when they get a bit soft or have blemishes.  You can also do this with peppers.  Keep the ends of the rind of Parmesan Cheese and put it in the soup while it's cooking for added flavour and then just take it out before you serve the soup. That's kind of 2 tips in one.


6.  I also went to a Food Trade show and one booth were giving out all of the breads they had on display so I took home a massive loaf of bread.  I couldn't possibly eat it all, so I made some stuffing with it.  You can make bread pudding, croutons or bread crumbs with stale bread too.  The stuffing also cleaned up some stuff in my fridge like carrots, celery and onions.


7.  Quiche or Fritattas are a great way to use up bits of cheeses and leftover vegetables and you can do it with or without a crust.   I used the one Russet potato and grated it to make the crusts for 4 of these muffin tin bird's nest quiches.  I used a bit of leftover goat cheese, gruyere, parmesan and some leftover fresh dill and some frozen spinach and the caramelized onions I made above that I save the peels from.   I ate one for breakfast and have one in the fridge for tomorrow and the other 2 I put in the freezer for a quick breakfast or lunch or snack even.


8.  One thing I need to do more often is freeze certain fruits when I buy them fresh so they don't spoil before I use them up.   Things like pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries.  They come in containers that I don't end up using it all at once.   I need to get better at this.

9.  Another thing that I should do more of is meal planning.  My plans change at the last minute and sometimes I grocery shop with the intent to make a certain thing but then I run out of energy to actually make it and then when I have the time and energy it's too late.  If you can meal plan and have a well stocked pantry of basic items that you can add to make anything that will be helpful.

10.  Batch cook as much as you can.  I wish I had a spare freezer still because it's great to make a big pot of soup stock and store in single serve containers.   It's also great to make lasagnas and either freeze portions or even half of it to put in the oven when you want a complete meal that is no fuss later.  Chilli is one of the best things to do in a huge batch because it freezes great.  You can also make pulled pork in a Crockpot using a great spice rub and a big piece of Pork Shoulder when it's on sale and let it cook while you are doing other things and when it's done shred it and portion it and store in ziploc bags in the freezer for fast tacos and other dishes.

I am not always the best at doing all the right things for the environment but these things are mostly pretty simple and they will save you money and time and hopefully less trips to the grocery store.

There are so many more ideas and I hope to do more posts in the future with more useful tips.

Let me know if you do any of these or have other things you do.

Reduce Reuse Recycle and Eat Well and Save Money.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Figures packs a POW in Yorkville

Location:  Figures Restaurant (prev. Coco Lezzone)
Address:    137 Avenue Rd
Phone:      416-900-1022
Website:   www.figuresto.com
Social:      @figurestoronto

Owner:  Patrick & Nader Marzouk (&Company Resto Bar)
Chef:     Ron Stratton (&Company Resto Bar, Centro, Auberge du Pommier)

When you walk by this Avenue Rd storefront you aren't quite sure what it is with the red velvet stancions in front and the name Figures and a cartoon bubble beside it.  You peek inside and you see a Mickey Mouse sculpture and a wall of old comic books and a display of Comic Book Figures and collectibles but if you know the secret then you know there is a restaurant behind those comic book covered walls and the storefront employees are your restaurant hostesses as well as retail staff for the figures that are for sale.

As you step through the comic book covered doors you enter a whole other world.  There is a large commissioned original Art wall of Comic book figures that is both modern and classic with Mickey Mouse to the current Wonder Woman and Iron Man images.  But shhhhh,  it's all a Secret.  They don't want anyone taking photos of it because they want you to go there to experience it.  The restaurant is midsize with booths on the lower level and tables and the bar steps up from the entrance.  There is also other art on the ceiling like Pacman and a Barbie Time Magazine poster.  This is no Disneyland restaurant though,  it's made for the modern Action movie Marvel type fans who like to eat in upscale restaurants.

They don't publish their menu on their website because they want to be able to change it by the produce they have to work with.  It's not a crazy food menu but you do have to be open to eating a lot of different things to enjoy it because it won't be predictable.


Their Cocktail Menu will probably have more consistent favourites and they are pricey but they are also show stoppers and Instagram worthy.  They were created by a Michelin trained chef and they are named after movies and characters.   My friend ordered 3 cocktails but I chose the Bramble Bee, the more fruit flavoured drink.  All of the drinks are made with house made juices.  I tried the Maleficent drink and it was fantastic. It also looks really cool and arrives with a lime on top that is lit on fire.

Maleficent $19
Rarely on Target $20
Le Diable Blanc $1

COCKTAILS


Maleficent - J.P Wiser's Double Still Rye, Bruchiaddich Cassic Laddie, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, Cashew Orgeat, Fresh Sage, Activated Charcoal, Angostura Bitters  $19
Bramble Bee - Havana Club, Passion Fruit Juice, Pineapple Juice $14
Rarely on Target - Bacardi Maestro, Dillon's Absinthe, Egg White, Lime Juice, Pineapple Cordial, Almond Oregeat, Coconut Milk  $20
Le Diable Blanc: rye, Remy Martin VSOP, Dubonnet, Benedictine, fino sherry, Creole bitters. $19
Le Diable Blanc: rye, Remy Martin VSOP, Dubonnet, Benedictine, byrrh, fino sherry, Creole bitters. $19

The Menu is split up in into the sections for Earth, Sea and Land.  These are the dishes we sampled.

EARTH
Beet, Chevre Truffle $14

Fettuccine Pasta with Chanterelle Macadamia sauce $22


SEA
Cherrystone Clams, Fava Beans, Kathi Lime $16
Octopus Escabeche Black Garlic $20

Lump Crab, Watercress, Old Bay $26
Lobster claw, salad, Egg Caviar $38

LAND
Oxtail Plantain, Red Stripe  $18  (photo too dark to use)

DESSERT
White chocolate brownie, rum soaked banana "spring roll", rum ice cream $14
The stand out dishes were the Lump Crab Cake, perfectly seasoned with the cake and crab salad,  and the braised Oxtail in Red Strip was sweet, savoury and very tender. It was probably the best value for your money.   Their fresh made pasta with chanterelle mushroom and Macadamia nut sauce was really well made and the crunch from the nuts added some great texture.
I really liked the preparation of the lobster claw.  Coated in a panko crust it was perfectly cooked but the portion was pretty small.

Figures is a bit out of the way I think because it's not near any attractions so it's more of a destination restaurant and a place you take a date you want to impress or to celebrate a special occasion.  It's a great place to have fantastic cocktails if you have a lot of cash to spend or you are a lightweight in the drinking game.

The restaurant is really beautiful and the staff provided a lot of assistance in explaining everything.

We didn't select our dishes and I wish we were able to because there are other dishes I would have liked to try.

This would be a great place to go for dinner before seeing the next Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Iron Man etc.  movie.  You get the picture.  It's a super fans dream restaurant.

Be prepared for an adventure.


*Disclaimer:  The meal was complimentary but the opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Culinary Adventure Co. Brunch Food Tour


I had an opportunity to join one of Culinary Adventure Tour's walking Tours recently.   I was able to choose from a few different tours and I chose to join their Brunch Tour of Queen and King Street West in Toronto.  Some of my favourite food places in Toronto are in that area but because it's not near where I live or work I don't get a chance to go as often as I would like to.  This was a great way to hit a bunch of places in one day and sample a lot of different bites.  Although I might call it the Carb tour because we had a lot of carb foods.  They jokingly called it the "diet tour" (not) but you do burn off calories while walking to each location.  We were super lucky that the weather was perfect that day.  It was sunny and clear and the perfect temperature for walking so I was super happy about that.  It always makes it more enjoyable when you can stroll around in comfortable weather.
The group I was with were mostly Food Bloggers and Instagrammers, although I have never met any of them before so some may be new to the scene or I just haven't crossed paths with them before.  There are so many Foodies in Toronto of varying degrees of seriousness from the odd Instagram of Food destinations to serious Bloggers who do it all.


We visited 6 locations and I will break it down in order of the tour we took.  They may not always do the same locations and order depending on the businesses but this was the tour we took.  They also have some special tours coming up for Canada's 150 Celebrations.  There will be a lot of new summer tours as well so you will want to keep checking their website for details.  They have also partnered with Meal Share a great organization that provided food to people in need with partnerships with Restaurants.  When you are on your walking tour you are actually doing some good for people that are in need so it's a great thing.


Culinary walking tours are a great thing to do when you don't know a city well.  If you travel and don't have a lot of time it's a great way to see recommended spots quickly.  For people like me who live in the city of the tour it's a great way to do a food crawl with new people and get curated food and because it's all pre arranged you are in and out quickly, no waiting in lines for a table or waiting to order your food.  It's a pretty efficient way to pack a lot in a short time.  Although I knew every location we went to I hadn't had a chance to get to a couple of them before.

Here is the recap of the Brunch Tour:


Stop 1.    PORTLAND VARIETY - Home of my favourite chocolate chip cookie and we paired it                      with a great coffee.




Stop 2.    LAMESA -  We were able to have a sit down plated Brunch dish of a fried egg, greens,                        potato hash and a chorizo patty.  We also had a Calamansi Mimosa.



Stop 3.    NORTH OF BROOKLYN - A well known Pizza place in Queen West.
               We had a great slice of white pizza.


Stop 4.    CUMBRAES - They are meat mecca in Toronto.  I have gone to other locations but this                      Queen Street location is huge and has a lot more than the other locations.  
               We enjoyed a piece of thinly sliced Parma Prociutto there.


Stop 5.    SUD FORNO - They are known in to the Queen Street hipsters for their authentic
               baked goods.   We sampled the Nutella mini Bomboloni - An Italian donut.


Stop 6.    DELYSEES - The best stop was the last stop.  I have been craving well made
               French pastries for a while and have been wanting to visit Delysees for a long time.
               It's owned by a French chef who looks for French trained chefs to hire for authentic pastries.
               We sampled their excellent light and buttery croissants and were in heaven looking at their                  works of art in their eclairs, macarons and other cakes and pastries.




EVERY BITE TELLS A STORY  #everybitetellsastory - Culinary Adventure Co.

This Tour was the King & Queen West Brunch Tour.  

It runs on SUNDAYS
11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
$99 /pp + HST
To book your spot or to see what other tours you can take:  http://www.culinaryadventureco.com/
*Disclaimer:  The tour was complimentary but the opinions and photos are my own.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

[Charity Event] Dixonlicious a delicious fundraiser for Dixon Hall




Event:  #Dixonlicious Fundraiser for Dixon Hall
When: Wednesday, March 29, 2017  
Where: Daniels Spectrum at 585 Dundas Street East
What: An evening of delicious food and beverage, musical entertainment, and a live and silent auction
Website:  www.dixonhall.org 
Why: Proceeds support vital programs that provide food for people in need

For over 85 years Dixon Hall agency has served many people with support to many community organizations.  With proceeds from fundraising events like #DIXONLICIOUS they are able to feed homeless individuals and isolated seniors and also provide help to in need youth.  They provide funds for Out of the Cold programs, HIV/AIDS, Summer camps and more.  They provided 66,000 meals to people in need last year. There is a growing need in this city as housing costs sky rocket and the gap between the rich and poor widens.  Dixon Hall is there to lend a hand so it's very important for them to raise as much money as they can for their programs.

I was very fortunate to attend their Dixonlicious 2017 event with some of my fellow Food Blogger friends.  One of my friends has been to this event before but it was new for the rest of us and we are all eager to spread the word about the great things they do and the great event that brought together very generous people who wanted to help make it a successful event.  Daniels Spectrum is a great venue and super easy to get to and reasonable parking underground too.


Photo by BKONTHESCENE (Mary, me, Natalie, Shuang)
It's always great to attend well organized events that happen to raise money to do good things.  That's a WIN WIN for everyone.


There was live entertainment and a silent auction and a great bunch of Food Vendors and Wine and Beer vendors spread around the room.   No bunching up in a crowd trying to get food.  It was well laid out for mixing and mingling and sampling food and drink.

One of the notable dishes we all went crazy over was the Chili spring roll stuffed with cheesy goodness from Daniel et Daniel.  
I was so full but they went back for seconds.

Hooked
We all really love it when the Hooked women are at all of these great Charity events because they bring delicious Oysters that are addictive.


And for the second day in a row we see our new Chef Friend Ricky Casipe from Hawthorne Food & Drink.  Ricky is a guy you want to follow because not only does he make great food but he trains future food industry workers in his Restaurant and does a lot of catering at a lot of local charity events and festivals.

There was also Longos who provided Cannoli, and George Brown College who made a couple of different dishes.  The Food Dudes made Macaroni and Cheese.

I don't know how much money they raised at the event but I hope it was a lot and I hope it brought some attention to help them receive more donations in the future.

If you can support them they have some great new ways to team up with your partner and be part of the Board of Directors with a say in what they do.

Please donate, volunteer or do whatever you can to help them out.  Every little bit helps.  I hope my little scribbles on this post inspire you to step up and do a bit of good for people that need a hand.

*Disclaimer:  The ticket was complimentary but all of the opinions on this post are my own.


Captain's Boil Pirate Ship Party

AYE Matey! FEAST LIKE A PIRATE, DINE LIKE A CAPTAIN Event:               Captain's Boil Pirate Ship Party Location:         ...