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The Week in Yum July 19-25 Savour Stratford, Little Sister, PanAm Food Fest

my new best friend from Little Sister

Saturday was Savour Stratford day at last! I hopped on the shuttle bus that the theatre provides for anyone who has a valid ticket to any play during the current season for $20 return, which is the best deal going. It costs more than that in gas and it's on nice, new coach buses with bathrooms, plugs for my phone charger so I can play words with friends the whole way there and still show up with a full battery. It doesn't get better than that.
the rain held off until the very end of the afternoon

When I showed up to the Intercon at King and Simcoe to board the bus, I was very amused by the pack of well heeled seniors who were the self appointed queue police. Every single time someone would wander over, looking slightly confused and clutching their Stratford Theatre brochure, to ask if this was the place to catch the shuttle, this group would firmly, and loudly, tell them poor sod that this WAS the line but that they were standing at the FRONT and that the back was, well, back there. They would point the poor bugger to the back of the ever growing line while they clucked and worried that someone was going to try to butt into the line, that if that happened they might not get on the bus, they worried that the bus was not going to come, that they might miss it (how can you miss the bus when you are 45 minutes early and standing at the front of the line?)

Then it was time to get on the bus and the driver, a bit long in the tooth himself,  asked for my name. I told him and he said, exasperated, "well, is it Nelson or Brown?"
I replied "it's Nelson Brown"
We went back and forth about this confusing topic.
He decided that it must be Brown then and proceeded to scour the Bs on his list. I told him he might have better luck looking under the Ns since the Nelson part comes first but he had his own ideas. He couldn't find me there, of course, because, as I said, the name is Nelson Brown.
After much muttering,  he finally turned to the N page, found me there and acted like it was the darndest thing. Imagine finding this Nelson Brown person under the Ns???

I felt like I was on a field trip with the casa kids from my magical unicorn school and I mean that in the best possible way. I wanted to hug everyone on my bus.

Unfortunately, I only made a hit and run visit to the actual Savour Stratford festival because I had to work on Friday and Sunday and because Shack had to run off to Montreal to work at the last minute, I had no way to get there. The wonderful Cathy Rehberg of Stratford Tourism arranged for me to hop a ride on the bus so that I could come for at least a few hours and I am so glad I did.

I called up my brother and his wife, who live in north London, and invited them to join me so we wandered around, tasting and sampling and they loved it. I took them for lunch at Monforte and then we hit the tasting tent where my sister in law and I tried out some Ontario wines, a delicious dry cider from XXXX and a tasty gin cocktail from Dillons. I bought some aged gouda from Mountain Oak Cheese on the way out of the tent to make my way to Olive Your Favourites since the store has been closed every time I have tried to stop in. I brought home a bottle of mushroom/sage infused olive oil that I think I could drink straight out of the bottle.

Oh, something cool I had not known about Monforte: Instead of selling wine by the glass, they weigh the bottle and plunk it down and you pour yourself as much or as little as you want and they weigh it again after and you pay for the exact amount you consumed. LOVE!

The festival attracts over 150 chefs, farmers, Because of the timing I didn't get to check out any of the cooking demos (I would have loved to attend the GE Chef Series with Dale Mackay) that took place but I was pretty happy to just wander around and take in all of the offerings downtown.Luckily, you can watch video of the demos you missed here .

Dillon's Gin was slinging a mighty tasty cocktail in Tasting Alley

I was feeling terrible for these wonderful people who spend the year pouring so much energy into this festival on the drive down. They changed the usual fall date to mid July to ensure that they would have a better chance of great weather and here it was, mid July and it was supposed to be chilly and rainy all day. Well, despite the threat of rain, the crowds came out in droves and, in the end, the rain held off until the very end of the day anyway and, in the end, it was successful  Savour Stratford. Don't forget Stratford though, because the whole summer is packed with more food fun.

The Workshop By Latitude

Sunday, I hit up lovely The Workshop by Latitude on Roncesvalles for their Samuel Adams Backyard BBQ where for $25 go you a lovely cheese plate, a big Samuel Adams beer and a lamb burger. You can find my thoughts on that here

Now, this is something I am super excited about. I attended the press conference on Monday for the 2014 Pan American Food Festival press conference at Valdez Restaurant on King W. Although the featured country is Peru this year , the festival showcases the cuisine and culture of the 41 countries of North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. There will be a tamale showdown, dancing lessons, lots of kid's programming and Valdez will be running the patio bar all weekend. It's free to the public allday Saturday and Sunday so you can go and enjoy food demos, the vendor's market and all kinds of other fun stuff.

A huge group of chefs will be coming to Toronto from all over the place but I am most excited about seeing Norman Van Aken (the father of the New World Cuisine) and Lima's Roger Arakaki who will be bringing his brand of Japanese/Peruvian fusion.
The press conference took place at Valdez, the latin american King St restaurant owned by Steve Gonzalez (Top Chef Canada, Origin). I hadn't been to this place yet so it was a good excuse to go inside, snack on some really tasty Colombian style empanadas and check out the rooftop patio which will be calling me back asap. I am anxious to enjoy an actual meal here and the cocktails list looks promising too.

Tuesday was lunch at  Xiang Long Bao which is so new, it's almost impossible to find anything about it online. Only two months old, it's the sister restaurant to Ding Tai Fung in Markham. Way out at Sheppard and Brimley, it's closer to the city and I think I might like the food even better. The soup dumplings were my favourite but they make a mean hot and sour soup as well.
One of the things that I like about Shanghai style dumplings is the dough. It is much heartier and sturdier than Cantonese style rice wrappers so they really stand up. The whole wheat flour dough has a really nice chewy quality that I enjoy and it's a nice change from our standard dim sum fare.

Little Sister

One of the week's highlights was my visit to Little Sister, a brand, spanking new Indonesian food bar on Yonge, north of Davisville. Back in the day, I worked in Munich quite a bit and, for some reason, Indonesian food was quite popular so that is what I ate more often than not. If I had the choice between sausage and sauerkraut or nasi goreng, it wasn't really much of a choice. I also always chose Indonesian when I was in Amsterdam as I am also not a huge fan of Dutch food, although I love Dutch people so never mind. If given the choice between pretty much anything european and some sort of Asian, I will almost always take Asian. Over the years, I have watched pretty much every sort of Asian and SouthEast Asian cuisine take hold in Toronto except Indonesian food and I don't know why that is.
sleek and modern, full of gorgeous flowers and shots of rich colour abound inside

When I was contacted by Shannon from The Canadian Office about attending the media preview for Little Sister, I almost wept... Indonesian food at last! It's the second restaurant from the crew at Quince so I was sure it would be good and I was not disappointed. Tender, flavourful skewers of satay chicken and pork with creamy, spicy peanut sauce, crisp fried pangsit wontons, little bowls of sambal daging and udang kari.... I was in absolute heaven.

From the sleek, beautiful decor to the delicious food, I loved everything about this place. I was welcomed with what is going to become my summer elixir, The Ubud Hangout. Gin, jalapeno black pepper syrup, cucumber, fresh cilantro and orange combined to make the most refreshing cocktail I have had in ages. It had elements of a Pimms Cup, which I love, but with that spicy kick from the pepper syrup and one single hot chili floating in the glass. YUM.

this thing is dangerous

The menu covers everyone you need to eat, from skewers and snacks through to more traditional servings of braised meat and seafood dishes and a selection of tasty little sides. Food is meant to be shared, as all food should be shared and I can honestly say that out of the bazillion of dishes they plyed me with, I did not dislike one thing. In fact, I think that if you had to ask me to pick one thing I wouldn't happily reorder on another visit, the only thing I could come up with is the rum cocktail, The Little Brother, and that is only because I am not really a rum fan.

Bottom line - loved this place, loved the look, loved the food, will be tormented by the Ubed Hangout in my dreams and can't wait to take my boys here.
you can watch them cook through the window wall in the back

Little Sister Indonesian Food Bar on Urbanspoon

On Thursday, I helped the lovely and talented Ivy Lam do the hair and makeup on some models for the splashy 5 year anniversary bash for Candace and Alison Events Group. The party, at Malaparte on the 6th floor of the Tiff building, was catered by Oliver & Bonacini and the food was really, really good. Standouts were the three down there:
a glass filled with smoke trapped inside by a thin film of plastic wrap and topped with a dollap of creme fraiche and caviar that you had to lick off the wrap. A tiny hole had been cut into the plastic so that the smoke permeated the creme fraiche - DELICIOUS

Next up was a little boccaccini ball that they stuffed onto the end of an seltzer bottle looking contraption, blew up with air until it was a larger, hollow cheese ball and then floated in a little bath of tomato water. you would chop down on the cheese and the air would rush out and you would be left with this lovely, chewy mass of cheese. So good.

The third thing that I could have eaten all night was a little nugget of rabbit that sat on top of some sort of crunchy, wasabi pea or something. Tasty little bunny.
6 girls had to have those spiky greenery mohawks, decorated with orchids and we did their makeup in one hour

Check out my Lisbon Trip Planner Day 2 here

Pin of the week: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Instagram of the week:  I love this guy's instagram feed

Facebook share of the week:

Tweet of the week: see? It's the chef blowing up the cheese!

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