Friday, October 31, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 25-31 Korean Village, Caffe Artigiano, Ace's Place and Maison Le Grand








The Korean Village Restaurant



We made a last minute decision to go out to eat at around 7:45pm on Saturday so we were not surprised to find a lineup at the Korean Village Restaurant in Koreatown on Bloor. This place was my very first introduction to Korean Food almost 30 years ago (it's been around for 35 years, opening in 1978) and it's still a restaurant that I want to return to, even if there have been a zillion Korean restaurants that have opened since then.

That said, we almost never go out for Korean and I hadn't been here since The Kid was small and we would come for lunch when we were in the neighbourhood.

We joined the queue and waited for our turn to be seated. The only male waiter, who may or may not be the son of the infamous owner, reputed to be a former movie star and still quite glamorous as she quietly lords over the front desk, kept looking nervously in our direction. We were actually quite happy to wait our turn since it was 9pm on a busy Saturday evening but he kept making eye contact and apologetic gestures. Finally he walked over and gave us a coupon, said "this is for a free order of dumplings, I apologize for the wait" and scurried off. There was no need to do this as the wait was much shorter than it would have been at 100 hipster restaurants where we would be ignored forever and a day.
banchan - picked things, spicy pickled things to share

Once we were seated, a waitress came to take our order within a minute of sitting down, which is certainly prompt service but with a bible like menu, we weren't even close to making any decisions. Eventually, we all decided on some food and worked around the language barrier and settled in, again expecting a long wait since the place was jam packed. Nope. Food started coming almost immediately, starting with the array of banchan which are kind of like the Korean version of tapas. These are placed in the centre of the table to be shared.
from upper left: Duk Bok Ki, Jap Chae, Short Rib, BiBimBap

Our complimentary dumplings arrived next, followed by the rest of our food. We shared some Jap Chae ($9.99) and Duk Bok Ki ($10.99), which are almost like a rice gnocchi in a spicy red sauce from the appetizer menu. The Short Rib app,  which our male waiter assured us were marinated for two days, were so delicious that we ended up fighting over them so I guess I know what we were going to splurge on when we go again. Shack got himself a BiBimBap Stone Bowl with Bulgogi ($15.99) but by that time we were full and he couldn't finish and he brought it home with him. Let me just say that it makes a fine breakfast with a freshly fried, runny egg plopped on top.

This may no longer be the very best Korean Food in the city anymore but the service is fantastic, the food is very good, it's packed all the time and I still love the place. If you really want to have fun, order the BBQ  dinner and they will plop a portable grill at the table and an array of marinated meats and/or seafood and you grill it yourself. We wanted to taste a bunch of different stuff this time but we will most definately try that with the short ribs.

All in all, a fun place to come with friends (not really the place for a romantic date although they do seem to have a bunch of private little cubbies scattered around), good food, attentive service and a wall of celebrity photos that span three decades with the glamorous owner who never seems to age smiling out at you while you wait for your table.


Korean Village Restaurant on Urbanspoon



Ace's Place Bar Grill Hub


On Sunday we met up with friends who live way out in the Guild area of the city for dinner at their new, favourite neighbourhood haunt, Ace's. It's a bit hard to find since it's hidden behind a block of businesses in a strip mall beside a grocery store and we would have NEVER found it if we hadn't been told exactly where it is. That said, we were lucky to even get a table so the terrible location must not be hurting them at all.

Our friends are clearly regulars because our server immediately brought their toddler some crayons and a colouring book was very friendly and chatty with them, which was nice. After ordering a round of drinks, we were all decided on what we wanted to eat. The Kid and I got fish and chips, which I almost never get but I had read a couple of reviews extolling the virtues of that particular dish. Jen got the beef dip with onion rings ($14.99), Shack got a the 8oz striploin ($23.99) and we all shared 2 lbs of wings with fries ($18- $10.99 for 1 lb and a very reasonable $6.99 for the second lb) and Ace's Poutine just because we had to try it. This comes as a big mess of hand cut fries, herbs, charred jalapenos, white cheddar curds, tomato confit and chorizo for $10.99 and let me tell you, it is a big, ol' sloppy mess of gooey, fatty deliciousness. The only one who didn't like it was The Kid, who thought it smelled like feet. Take that under advisement. The basket went back empty.

The fish and chips (i got mine with crispy sweet potato fries) was crispy, lightly battered and a good size which all you can ask of a piece of deep fried fish and everyone else appeared to enjoy their food just as much. 
The same kid polished off a generous sized chocolate lava cake ($5.99) and since I am stealth, I managed a bite before it disappeared and it was certainly rich and chocolatey.

If I lived in the bowels of eastern Scarborough, this would be my home away from home.




Ace's Place Bar Grill Hub on Urbanspoon

Caffee Artigiano

The wildly popular Caffe Artigiano has finally landed in Toronto, with 11 shops in Vancouver and 4 in Calgary already, taking over a former luggage store's space on Yonge, just south of King. It's huge, with tons of seating and is all set to take on the competition.

 When they offered me a sandwich to try, I was actually going to pass until I saw that they had a roasted lamb sandwich($8.49), which is something you don't see often enough so I split one of those with my lovely host, Tiffany. I am happy to report that it was chock full of thinly sliced lamb, roasted red peppers on buttery toasted bread. I would return just for the sandwich although the bites of scone from Liberty Village's Circles and Squares Bakery were fresh and delicious too. My cappuccino ($3.32) was nice, all of the sandwiches and salads are freshly made in house and everything I tried was very good. They are going to be directly competing with the Starbucks at the corner and I think they will give them a run for their money with the morning coffee/lunchtime crowd.

I was comped my food and coffee but, as always, my opinions are very much my own.

Caffe Artigiano on Urbanspoon


Maison Le Grand

Last, but not least, I was invited to a tasting of sauces from Maison Le Grand. You may have spied these in the refrigerated section at Loblaws, although they are also available at Pusateri's, Highland Farms and Whole Foods. You may be thinking "why would she want to even go try a ready made sauce when she is such a nut about home made everything?"

You forget that I love condiments and sauces of all shapes and sizes and I have heard nothing but great things about this stuff, so I accepted.

This Quebec based,  family run company was founded by Bernard Le Grand, former musician and his partner, Tatiana Bossy after the realization that his vegetarian sandwich delivery enterprise was no longer enough to support their growing family. Tatiana joined him to grow the business into what is now Maison Le Grand, maker of all natural, small batch sauces, dips and coming soon will be a line of soups.

They make all of their products weekly, by hand and ship out in small cases of six to retailers. Before opening, the Basil pestos have a shelf life of 3 months, the tomato pesto 5 months and the rose sauce is good for 6 months in the fridge. After opening, the pestos will be good for a couple of weeks although they won't last that long, trust me. 

Maison Le Grand has teamed up with the ladies at Bite Me More to come up with recipes using their products. Sisters, Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat,  hosted us in their beautiful Bite Me More kitchen where Lisa (the chef) fed us three treats made using different Le Grand products. 

We had a crostini using a smear of the sun dried tomato pesto, a tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons made with the 4 nut and cheese pesto and a round of baked polenta topped with rosee sauce and caramelized onion. 
The sisters LOVE to throw theme parties and the place is packed with chotchkes, a pez dispenser collection, cheeky food photography and more. Julie (the writer) and I share an obsession with teeny, tiny miniatures of everything and I couldn't stop touching all of her amazing little things. 

would you look at that tiny hose and those little rain boots????

a fun display of all of the ingredients featured in the pestos and sauces we were about to try
 I was told to bring a guest, so, instead of bringing another food blogger, I dragged along my friend and makeup colleague, Alice Kilpatrick because she is a busy, working mother who loves to cook but doesn't always have time to cook from scratch but she prefers to use fresh, whole foods. I would let her try these products and see if what she thought. She loved everything about them from the packaging to the fact that they are all natural to the fresh, homemade taste. In fact, she used the rosee sauce that came in her gift bag that evening to make her family dinner and gave it two thumbs up.

there must be 400 hundred pez dispensers along this shelf.....GAH
 I have to say, it all tastes like it was homemade and if you served any of these pestos or sauces to me and told me you made them yourself, I would absolutely believe you. I have three pestos and the rosee sauce in my fridge, waiting for me to come up some recipes and when I do, I will share them with you but honestly, they are great straight up, right out of the package. If you want some inspiration, there are a bunch of recipes on Le Grand's web site.
adorable



They recently switched from glass to these cool, recyclable soft pouches which are not only lighter, but in the case of the pestos, they have a screw on little lid so that hardly any air gets into the container, allowing the pestos to have a much longer shelf life than jarred sauce. At $6.99 for the pestos and $5.99 for the rosee sauce (that's the Loblaws price anyway - look for it at Pusateri's or Loblaws at your own risk) I think it's priced fairly. I don't know that I could make 200g of pesto for less than $7 in the first place.

If you care about such things, everything but the Tzatziki and the Four Nut Pesto are vegan as well. I was gifted a bunch of sauces and a pesto to try out, as well as a Bite Me More cookbook, which I can't wait to dive in to for a peruse so stay tuned for a recipe or two using one or two of them.
I don't generally use a ton of "processed" foods unless they are something I really think are worthy and although I do prefer to make as much of my food from scratch as humanly possible, I know that sometimes that can't happen and when that time comes, I like to know that there are healthy, tasty options out there for me to use. 

Alice and I give a sauce four thumbs up to Maison Le Grand and a big thank you to our gracious hosts, the Bite Me More chicks.


Thursday I baked a Halloween Cake to raffle off at the Magical Unicorn Montessori School's Halloween Party, which The Kid and I also attended, much to our delight.

Halloween proper is tonight and I no longer have a little one to dress up and nobody comes to my house to trick or treat because we are the lone residence on a busy street surrounded by a community centre, fire station and nursing home. This makes me sad but worry not, I will fill my Starbucks container with some nice red wine and walk around the neighbourhood, admiring all of the little ghosts and goblins squealing around the hood. 



Facebook share of the week: I am getting soooo excited about our impending 99% sure trip to Jordon this month

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Cake For Grown Ups - Pumpkin Spice Cake with Spekulas ButterCream and Inky Ganache


I wanted to make a cake to raffle off at our Magical Unicorn School's halloween party and the only thing I knew that I wanted to do was use black food colouring in ganache and drip that down the sides. I found some rubber black mice and and really liked the idea of black on black. Red Velvet cake was the original plan when I came across the most delicious sounding recipe for a pumpkin spice cake and I changed my mind, which is, of course, my prerogative.

I would make a Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Spekulas Cookie Buttercream and Spooky Ink Black Ganache.

The cake, From the blog Use Real Butter,  turned out even better than I had hoped and it is going to go straight into the bag of tricks to be made again and again. It's moist and nicely spiced - the only change I made was to sub in 1/3 cup of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter for some of the pumpkin puree but if you don't have that, just follow her recipe to the letter.

Butter cream made with a big glop of Trader Joe's Spekulas Cookie Butter between the layers and spread around the perimeter is topped with a ganache made with a mixture of dark and milk chocolate to finish it off.

For the raffle cake, I only used three layers because if I didn't hold back a layer to use for a little cake to keep at home, I am afraid my son would petition the court to have me fired as his mother. Your cake will be higher than the one up there.

I apologize for the lack of beautiful photos. I worked on it all day and only had a few minutes to snap a picture of it before taking it to school but the recipe was too yummy to not share.


Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Spekulas Buttercream and Inky Ganache


I used this recipe by Use Real Butter - it makes 2 - 9" cakes

Spekulas Butter Cream

3/4 cup soft butter
generous 1/3 cup Trader Joe's Spekulas Cookie Butter (I used crunchy)
about 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar
about 1 tbls milk to thin out a bit

Put the butter and the cookie butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a deep bowl if you are using a hand mixer)
Beat the butter and cookie butter for 2 or 3 minutes on med high until light and fluffy. Turn the speed to low and slowly start adding in the powdered sugar until it's all added and smooth. Lastly, add in the tbls of milk or almond milk to thin it out a bit and mix for another minute. Set aside

Inky Ganache

1/2 cup whole milk
black food dye (use a drop by drop until you have the colour you want)
100 grams dark chocolate, chopped up
40 grams of milk chocolate, chopped up
3 tbls of corn syrup
1 tbls butter

Heat the milk until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Add in the chocolate and whisk, off the heat, until the chocolate has melted. After it's completely melted, add in the corn syrup and butter, whisk again and start adding in the food colouring. I used black gel from Wilton and kept dipping a skewer into the gel and adding it to the bowl until it was almost black - it was just the size of couple grains of rice in the end. Set aside and let cool for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, you have to slice any rounded tops of the one of the cakes so it has a flat top. Now, cut both cakes in half horizontally so you have four layers. Put your bottom layer on a cake plate or a cardboard cake base. Use a spatula to spread some buttercream on the bottom layer (remember it has to go between all the layers and then spread around the sides)
Put the second layer on top, spread more buttercream, add the third layer, more buttercream and top with the last layer (This is the cake that you didn't trim so it doesn't really matter if the top isn't flat).
With the remaining butter cream, use the spatula to spread the icing all around the sides of the cake but don't put it on the top.

Now, starting in the middle of the cake, start pouring the ganache slowly onto the cake, spreading lightly with a clean spatula, until it starts to drip down the sides.
Because it's Halloween cake and we want it to look spooky, don't worry about being too neat or if the ganache pools a bit at the base in spots.

When you have used all the ganache you want to use (i had some leftover because I didn't want to cover all of the icing up), you can add any decorations you want to add. I like my stretchy, rubber mice but you can use spiders or anything else that takes your fancy.

Put the cake in the fridge so that ganache can set up for at least an hour before serving.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chili with Pork and Mushrooms


It's time to revamp an old recipe using a version of my new beloved blend and extend method but this time I am trying it with ground pork. I am happy to report that it works just as beautifully with ground piggy as it does with ground beef and I am plan to blend and extend all of my ground pork recipes over the winter.

This is really just a solid, basic chili recipe using ground pork instead of ground beef and you could totally replace the pork with beef without losing anything. For that matter, you could sub in ground poultry as well.




Chili with Pork and Mushrooms

350g ground lean pork
150 g mushrooms of your choice, ground in a food processor until crumbly
glug of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, small dice
2 cups tomato puree
3/4 cup chicken stock (or beer but I didn't have any)
1 540 ml can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomatillo salsa ( I use the PC brand but use what you have)
salt and pepper
1 tbls mexican oregano
1 tbls ground cumin
1 tbls chili powder
cilantro
l tbl lime juice

Heat a heavy pot over med heat. Add a small glug of oil and brown the ground pork. When it's cooked, remove it to a bowl using a slotted spoon and set it aside. If there is more than a tbls or so of fat in the bottom of the pot, get rid of enough to leave you with about a tbls. Throw the onions, garlic and celery into the pot and sauté until softened, about five minutes. Now, add in the ground mushrooms and cook until they start to brown up a bit. At that point, add the pork back in and stir to mix well. Add the tomato puree, the salsa, the chicken stock, black beans, oregano, cumin and chili powder and bring to a light simmer. Lower the heat and let it simmer gently for about an hour or so. It's chili so it can certainly simmer a bit longer than an hour but not less that that. During the last ten minutes of cooking add a handful of chopped cilantro and the lime juice, stir and let it simmer for ten minutes before taking it off the heat.

Chili is always better after it sits so if you can make it in the morning and then reheat it for supper that's great but it will be even tastier the next day.

Of course, you could also throw the whole think in a slow cooker after the meat and the onion/garlic/celery have been done and let it cook on low all day too.


serve with more cilantro, a wedge of lime, whatever things you like on your chili - we do sour cream or crema and some tortilla chips

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 18-24 Lamesa, Trader Joes and the Wood Firepit and Tap



a Kamayan dinner at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen





The week started off with a bang with a visit to Seven Lives in Kensington Market for breakfast ceviche. We met a lovely couple from Barrie who were somewhat of a culinary safari and chatted while we waited for our food. They were here for their anniversary and attempting to eat at every hot spot in the city in a 24 hour period so we gave them some suggestions (including forcing them to go back to the counter and order the ceviche PRONTO). This sort of thing makes me appreciate living in such a great place and taking all of this edible bounty for granted sometimes so thank you , adorable couple from Barrie if you are reading this.

The Wood Firepit and Tap

Sunday meant brunch because we have to eat people. It was a lovely day and we were strolling Queen Street in the Beaches and decided to stop in at The Wood Firepit and Tap to try it out. I had brought home take out the first week they were open but we had never actually eaten in yet. There was only one other table occupied, which is too bad because brunch was really good. Soft boiled eggs cooked perfectly for my Eggs Standard ($9) - actually, the chef deemed one of my eggs not to be perfect so he sent out a third which was totally unnecessary but appreciated. The home fries were really crispy and more like little chunks of french fries but I liked them. The applewood smoked bacon could have been more smoky flavoured but that is about the only complaint I could think of.

The kid absolutely killed his Breakfast Poutine ($10) and Shack was also very happy with his Pork Duo eggs benedict ($14). Just the right amount of pulled pork and some more of the applewood smoke bacon, more perfectly cooked soft poached egg and a solid hollandaise sauce and you have yourself the makings of a very good, affordable brunch option in the heart of the Beaches.
Hallelulah


Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

a beautiful fruit juice drink that was waiting for me at the table when I got there

I had been looking forward to my media Kamayan dinner at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen since the day I was invited to it. I have reviewed Lamesa before here and have been back a few times since. I got there a bit early so I could make sure to get a seat up in front where I knew the lighting would be better so that I could get some good shots and found my buddy, The Tasty Gardener had beat me to it and was waiting for me with a nice saved seat.

If you have never heard of it before, Kamayan translates to "eating with your hands" , kama being the Tagalog word for hands. Ever since I first heard that Lamesa was starting to offer Kamayan dinners (they started out monthly and now it has become a regular, Sunday dinner staple) I have been trying to organize a small group to go. We have even made reservations a couple of times but had to cancel them. Damn you film industry that makes it nearly impossible for any of us to plan anything farther ahead than 12 hours!

 I will be writing up a full description of the meal next week but, for now, here are some quick photos of the extravaganza that starts with a table covered with banana leaves which the chefs use as their canvas as they proceed to paint and arrange a dizzying array of sauces, meats, seafood, rice and salad that looks like utter chaos until you realize that they have managed to provide each diner with their own "plate" of food. Amazing.


Trader Joe's

 Later in the week, Shack and I drove to Buffalo to pop into Trader Joe's. It was a nice day for a drive, he didn't have to go to work and he is leaving in a couple of weeks to work out of the country for a bit so we are spending as much time as we can hanging out. For some of you a day spent driving to another country to grocery shop might seem like an odd outing for a "date" but this is how we roll.

For a mere $80 we filled our cart with spekulas cookies, sea salt, tea, a couple jars of cookie butter, pumpkin butter, Greek olive oil, a couple gallons of their spiced apple cider, coffee beans and tons of chocolate treats - is there anything they don't roll in chocolate at Trader Joe's???
Much of this is destined for Xmas gift baskets but the prices are really amazing - we get burrata cheese there for $4.99! That is nutty.

Right before we crossed the border , the news broke about the shooting in Ottawa and so we listened to the CBC radio coverage all morning and for the rest of the day and then got home and watched, in horror, as the CBC continued to give the most restrained, responsible, respectful coverage of this tragic event that I have seen in a very long time. In this age of CNN's BREAKING NEWS, complete with tragedy theme songs, jumping the gun and reporting rumour and innuendo before it's verified as fact and the whole tragedy porn style of news that we have gotten far too used to, I felt so reassured by the comforting voice of Peter Mansbridge letting me know that he was there to just keep the country apprised of the facts. Thank you Canadian news people, for reminding me how important it is to retain the CBC as our national news source that shouldn't depend on ratings and advertising $$ to stay afloat.

After that, nobody around here felt much like eating out and merry making so I will leave it at that for the week and see you next Friday.

Don't mess with a mace bearing Canadian > Sgt At Arms Kevin Vickers. A true, Canadian badass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Win A Smoker - Duff and Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

You might think that BBQ season is on the way out, but now is the perfect time to haul out your smoker. To celebrate smoking season, Ontario Gas BBQ is giving away 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers. You heard that right, 5 Free Smokers are up for grabs.


If you have never been out to the Ontario Gas BBQ store, you are in for a treat because it is truly BBQ heaven. With over 150 different kinds of barbecues from propane and gas to charcoal and electric, smokers and more, it's impossible to not find what you are looking for. They are also home of the Charcoal Room featuring Charcoals of the World with over 10 brands of premium hardwood free of chemicals and additives. They regularly stock charcoal from as far away as Africa and Indonesia so if you think all there is to buying charcoal is running up to the corner store, think again. 


In our house, the smoker is Shack's domain and he takes great pride in his secret recipe for dry rub that he uses on both his pork ribs and his pulled pork.  He won't even let me in the kitchen when he makes it, never mind share the actual recipe with me. He guards that thing more closely than Colonel Sanders guards his 11 secret herbs and spices and don't think I haven't tried to sneak a peak. Not happening. I don't complain too much because as long as he bequeaths the recipe to me in his will, I will happily let him do all the work for now.

getting the ribs ready for the smoker with his "secret" rub. 



No need for any smoker envy though because, now,  you can win one for yourself.

All you have to do is go  here and print out the ballot, fill it out and bring it to the Ontario Gas BBQ Store on Saturday, October 25th. The first draw will be at noon and the last will be at 2:30 but you don't need to hang around til 2:30 to win. If you leave and you win, someone will get in touch with you.



The Hoptimus Prime Fire Truck will be on hand giving away free pulled pork sandwiches to the first 200 people to show up and donate a minimum of $5 to Camp Bucko- a camp for kids who are burn survivors.

Saturday, Oct 25th, 2014
10am-3pm
Ontario Gas BBQ, 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughn, Ontario, L4K 4Z8


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 11-17 The Delicious Food Show, Kimchi Korea House


chefs Gentile, Batali, Florence and Hughes testosteroning the joint up at the Media Press Conference for the Delicious Food Show



Last weekend was Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North and so we drove out to Westport, Ontario to spend the weekend with family. Like all good Canadians, I cooked up a turkey feast for the first time in ages and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. Why, oh why do we not eat a full turkey dinner once a month?? WHY?







On Monday, Shack and I went downtown, thinking we would pop into the Salad King for thai but, being a holiday, The Salad King was closed. CLOSED!! We then thought, hey let's go to Pai.
CLOSED!
Sansotei on Dundas.....
CLOSED!

 Kimchi Korea House

What the hell was going on? On the walk back to the car, we passed by Kimchi Korea House on Dundas and you know what? We were starving, it was opened, it looked to be pretty busy so we walked in and took a seat.  Shack ordered the Bulgogi BiBimBap ($10.95) and I got a big bowl of spicy beef soup ($9.95) instead of bibimbap - i like to order something different so we can taste more things. The tiny salad was really great but I could have eaten four more bowls. The little array of small bits of this and that that accompany Korean meals were also very nice and kept us from getting cranky until our mains came. The soup was quite spicy- not make your eyes water spicy but just right and full of shredded beef but Shack certainly hit the jackpot with his bibimbap - a lovely, bubbling cauldron of rice with bulgogi and a fried egg on top (spend the extra buck and get that egg) and two bottles of addictive sauce - one sweet and salty and the other a hot sauce. He has not shut up about it ever since so I assume we will be back sooner rather than later.  My beef soup was fine but it wasn't nearly as good as his bulgogi so I will never doubt my first instincts again. If I hadn't tasted his bulgogi I would probably be raving about the soup, to be honest.

spicy beef soup

On Tuesday,  we drove to Holland Marsh again because it was nice enough to have the top down on the car and at this time of year, you don't waste top down days.  If you have watched True Detective, you can imagine what Holland Marsh looks like and this is the second time in just over a week that he has taken me out there. Should I be reading into that?

Anyway, on the way home, Shack took me for butter chicken at one of his secret restaurants, Shivas Chicken in Port Perry, of all places. Who goes to Port Perry for butter chicken??
Shack does, apparently.
and it was a damned fine butter chicken too

By Tuesday night, I was starting to feel a bit under the weather and it was a quick descent into fluish hell so the rest of the week involved me lying on the couch and not eating right up until today.


The Delicious Food Show

Thanks god I woke up today feeling like I could actually get up and move around so I popped a few advil, packed my hand sanitizer and made it to the media preview of the Delicious Food Show and I am so glad I did.


Chef Hughes showed us his tattoos, I mean the kitchen where the chef's will conduct the hands on cooking classes throughout the weekend. The price tag might sound a bit steep, ranging from $100 to $300 but these are fully hands on cooking experiences with some incredible chefs and a chance to cook alongside and then sit and enjoy a meal, drink some wine and rub shoulders with the likes of Tyler Florence, Roger Mooking and Mark McEwan. Lets face it, every lady in the room would happily drop $300 just to chop Chuck Hughes' onions so that is a small price to pay to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen with him, am I right?

Tickets for the classes can be bought here


We continued on with a little tour of the show, Abbey's Kitchen Stadium and finished with a press conference with Chefs Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Toronto's own Rob Gentile of Buca, who also provided a lovely spread for us as well. Food bloggin' is hungry business.
In Abbey's Kitchen Stadium you can sample the offerings from 8 of Toronto's top chefs and then vote for your favourites right up until 4pm on Saturday. On Sunday, the top four chefs will go head to head to compete for the title of Champion, so, if you like a bit of interactive fun, Abbey's Kitchen Stadium is for you.

With more than 200 exhibitors, 40 live cooking demos and classes and more celebrity chefs than you can shake a stick at, this is the place to be this weekend.

Some of the highlights, for me were:

Santo Pecado is there with their tasty Mexican fare. Love these girls

Aracataca debuting their Columbian style Arepas topped with non traditional offerings like the Bangkok thai beef. YUM

Former Top Chef Canada Competitor, Cook Book writer and illustrator Pierre Lamielle is there with his awesome food Tshirts from Food On Your Shirt 

Michael Malleau of Louise Prete , with his delicious, gourmet, all natural sauces modelled after the recipes his grandmother handed down to him (the company is named after her)
This popcorn is CRAZY! Crazy good. The Pumpkin Spice is like a crunchy, salty, sweet pumpkin spice latte but if a latte was caramel corn with a white chocolate drizzle. Absolutely addictive. Crazy Corn - don't forget it

these teeny tiny cookies from the teeny tiny bakery are seriously cute


Parachute Coffee kept me alive all morning. Thank you for that.

Sophia Saunders has brought some of her wonderful linocut prints - need one of these for my new kitchen!

A pine nut butter tart with a hint of orange and mint. The. Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Put. In. My. Mouth
The profiteroles were great too. Props to Chef Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto 


The Delicious Food Show runs from right now until Sunday so make sure you haul your butt down to the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.

you might get lucky and see this guy out walking around among the regular humans too

Pin of the week: YEAH BABY!

Instagram of the week:  Love this feed this week

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Week in Yum Oct 10-17the - La MexiCanada, Feed Tomorrow Week, Nuit Blanche and Tilde Tacos



Pretty much the only interesting things we saw all night at this years Nuit Blanche



We had so much fun last year at Nuit Blanche that we stayed out til the wee hours, just wandering the downtown core, looking at all of the cool stuff and enjoying being out in the city while it was alive and bustling and full of life. It was like falling in love with the city all over again and all year, we have looked forward to going back. On Saturday night, we bundled up, hopped on the subway with our $11 special events pass and hoofed it down to University and Queen. 

I am sorry to report that it didn't even feel like the same event. Shack thought it appeared that the job of curating the event had fallen into the hands of one of the account managers this year. There was nothing even close to last year's Ai WeiWei's amazing bicycle piece at Nathan Philip's Square. Things were on a much smaller scale and it was impossible to get close enough to see most things. After four hours, I was left with nothing but really sore feet and a headache from all of the screaming drunk kids. Those stairs at Fort York were cooler than any of the actual installments and the guys with the colourful heads giving out the disease juice were fun at least.

FBC Weekly Meal Plan with Yours Truly


Oh yeah, check out my weekly food plan over at Food Bloggers of Canada. They let a featured blogger plan a week's worth of dinners, comprised of recipes from their blogs. Anyone who knows me, knows that planning ahead is not really my forte but I managed to pull one together and I am toying with the idea of starting to do a little bit of planning ahead myself this winter as a result. I said I am toying with the idea, so settle down.

Some very tasty poutine at the hot counter at the new Whole Foods at Yonge and Sheppard
On Sunday we took a spin to check out the new Whole Foods on Yonge at Sheppard and it is a really nice store. The prices were not as bad as expected and, in fact, I got a couple of really great deals and the food at the hot counter looked great. The poutine, at $7, was huge, fresh and tasty. It's still no Trader Joe, but I'll take it.


La MexiCanada


Shack and I took a drive out the Holland Marsh and stopped in at Mexicanada  for lunch while passing through Bradford, Ontario. The restaurant was originally opened to service all of the Mexican migrant workers who come to work in the Marsh. They were homesick and wanted to eat food that was familiar and comforting so a restaurant was born. Because the food is so great, it soon became popular with the local residents too, serving fresh, authentic Mexican food to happy customers.

We had not been for some time so I was thrilled to see that they have done some renovations since my last visit and the place seems to be almost twice as big with a bright, airy addition in the back.
On this visit we had guacamole and chips ($6.95), tortilla soup ($6.50), five mixed, soft tacos($9.95) and something off the new menu called Choriqueso (($8.95). The Choriqueso was tasty but a bit on the dry side but it was really big and rich and so it would certainly serve a few people as an app. The only thing I wouldn't order again was the soup. I am not sure why a bowl of tomato broth with a ton of crispy fried corn tortilla strips costs almost $7 and I am not saying it was bad. It was just too much tortilla strips, not enough substance to the soup and too expensive for what it was.

That said, the guacamole with chips was delicious and a great price, the five tacos (beef, pork and chicken) were simple and delicious, the service is slow but warm and friendly and I love it there. Don't come here looking for fancy, designer, downtown tacos or upscale Mexican cuisine because it's not about that. The food is simple, fresh and delicious and, although I have only ever been for lunch, I get the impression that can be quite lively in the evenings.


La MexiCanada on Urbanspoon 




Second to last week for the Fairmount Farmers Market resulted in those gorgeous radishes and golden turnips

Feed Tomorrow Week

inspiring kids from the 3:30 club, a volunteer mom who feeds over 2000 kids every day at Thorncliff Park PS at the launch
Food publicist, writer and all around superwoman, Mary Luz Mejia always invites me to the best events. When she asked if I would like to partake in some of the things happening to promote Feed Tomorrow week, I was thrilled. I know, I know, I write about delicious food, I photograph it, I eat it in restaurants, I cook it at home and I travel to eat some more but I am also a mother. The fact that 1 in 3 children here live in poverty and at some of Toronto's schools, up to 70% of the students live below the poverty level makes me stand up and take notice.

The Toronto Foundation for Student Success, or TFSS, helps students in need by dealing with issues of poverty, hunger, poor nutrition and the effects that those things also have on a child's ability to learn. Study after study shows that when children are being fed nutritious food, their test scores improve noticeably, especially in math and science. Not only are hungry kids too busy being hungry to learn, our brains cannot function without fuel.

The TSFF supports over 700 breakfast, lunch and snack programs, providing more than 160,000 meals a day within the TDSB. I am particularly interested in the 3:30 program that keeps more than 1200 middle schoolers in high risk areas safe and engaged from 3:30 to 6:30 every day. All of our servers and kitchen helpers throughout the two days of events I attended were 3:30 club kids and they were an engaged and enthusiastic bunch of kids.
Sang Kim hosted the launch at his restaurant, The WindUp Bird Cafe, where we heard from various speakers, people on the board of directors as well as a parent volunteer and some students.

Rifat Khan is a mom who moved to Canada almost a decade ago and although she no longer has kids in elementary school, she is still active in the system and is now the parent coordinator of the meal program at Thorncliff Park School. Here, she and her merry band of about 30 parent volunteers feed over 2000 kids a day. Yes, you heard me. There are 1400 children between grades 1 and 5 and then there are 700 full time kindergarten students at the attached Fraser Mustard Kindergarten Academy, which makes it the largest in North America. Oh, and they do it twice a day since Thorncliff Park has both a breakfast AND a snack program. That means they make over 4000 meals day. I am exhausted just saying that.



On Thursday our big group of sponsors, media and supporters met up at the St Lawrence Market Kitchen for a quick coffee before boarding a yellow school bus to take us first to Nelson Mandela School where we were introduced to some of the teachers and kids and heard a bit about their breakfast program. The TFSS was presented with a giant cheque for $658,000 from the Breakfast Club of Canada while we were there which was a very large cheque, both figuratively and literally.

Back on the bus and off to Spruce Court, a Toronto Model School where another benefactor, Glen Haddon of the Haddon Family Foundation, handed out another giant cheque for $150,000 to TFSS. We were divided up into small groups and were joined by students who took us back to their classrooms with their snack box where they chatted with us, showed us their classroom and answered questions about themselves, their school, what sort of things they like to eat and how much they LOOOOVE snack time. After big hugs all around, we hopped back on our yellow school bus to return the the market for our big, group Sushi Making For The Soul Class with award winning writer, chef, restaurateur and TedX speaker, Sang Kim. 

 

I had taken The Kid to a children's class at Sang's restaurant,  The Windup Bird Cafe a couple of weeks ago and so it was my turn to take the class with the adults. Sang, a tireless advocate for food security, especially for children, uses his sushi class to teach lessons about poverty, hunger, compassion and love. We learn a bit of sushi trivia, some techniques to improve our rolls and leave with a little extra something to chew on for the rest of the day. If you have never attended one of his classes, you must check it out. 
Click here for more info
For more information about TFSS and how you can get involved, click here

Tilde Taco


We ended the week with a trip out to Danforth and Pape to have some tacos at a new spot I keep hearing about called Tilde Taco . The place is long and narrow, and surprisingly well lit, so I was pretty happy as soon as we walked in the door. I know that most people might not care about that but I always want to take a couple of decent photos to share with you guys AND unless I am on a romantic date where it is important that I am lit by the flickering light of tea lights filtered through the finest baby angel hair, I like to see what I am eating. Two of my pet peeves are music played so loudly that I can't have a conversation and lightening that is so dark that I can't tell if I am eating steak or flourless chocolate cake.


The wines by the glass are offered by the oz, which is something I am seeing more and more and I heartily approve. As much as I appreciate a generous pour, sometimes I don't want 2 nine ounce glasses and at $1/oz, I can get just another couple of ounces as a second glass. I can't tell you how much I love this option. It's also a great way to see if you even like it enough to have an entire glass.

We shared some guacamole while we perused the menu and was relieved to see that it was really tasty, fresh and it had some texture. Lately, everyone seems to be pureeing their guacamole and I don't get it - I am always slightly suspect of pureed guacamole, much like the fact that I don't trust people who don't like bacon. Irrational, perhaps but I find that it works for me. I like a fork mashed guacamole and this one was very nice. The chips seem to be fried in house as opposed to bagged, commercial chips, another score.

We had an array of the tacos off of the regular menu and we loved a couple and a couple were not as beloved, as is to be expected from a brand new place. Highs were the Bengali Fish, the Korean Chicken and The Manchurian Mushroom Tostada and, of course, that guacamole. We will definitely be back  to taste more of engineer turned chef, Gauravi Shah's food as the restaurant finds it's sea legs. I am sure this is not the last you will hear about Tilde from me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian friends. Now, go eat some turkey!


So, coming up:


Hurry up and get tickets to The Delicious Food Show Oct 17-19 and catch some of the hands on cooking workshops in the Sub Zero Wolf Classrooms

BlogTo's list of restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner

There is Chocolate High Tea happening from Friday to Sunday starting this weekend and ending Nov 2 at the Omni King Edward Hotel. The $45 lunch ($5 of that is a donation in support of the prostate and breast cancer initiatives program) will get you an array of savoury sandwiches, chocolates and chocolate pastries and their special blend chocolate teas. Take your mother.

I bought this gadget in the gift shop of the AGO. It is a peeler that has two extra blades - one to julienne and one to do that serrated cut up there. LOVE IT. It's a rotary peeper by Joseph Joseph


Pin of the week: hone your culinary samurai skills

Instagram of the week: This guy's feed is worth a look see

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