Search This Blog

The Week in Yum May 23-28 Local 1974, Travel Massive, The Halal Food Festival and City Fare

Snacking with fellow bloggers at Travel Massive 

Local 1974

I'm pretty excited by what I see happening up on the Danforth right now and even though it's not exactly in my neighbourhood, it's a hop, skip and a jump from the wings and fries of the Upper Beach, so I'll take it.

One of the newest restaurants to open up this year is Local 1794 at... you guessed it, 1794 Danforth, between Coxwell and Woodbine. It's billed as a Gastropub and although I am kind of hating that term, I guess it describes it pretty well. The food is much nicer than you would expect at a pub and much better than most of the restaurants you will find this far east.

The local, in Local 1794, is a nod to the kitchen's promise to keep ingredients sourced locally as much as possible and the owner's desire to create a real local hangout where the people who live in the neighbourhood will start treating as "their" spot. I can tell you that if we lived within easy walking distance from this place, all of my free time would be divided between this place and The Wren.

Decor is warm and cosy with an old timey feel - think lots of exposed brick, dark wood and the booths not only have a light switch so you can actually see what you are eating if you care about such things (and I do) but......wait for it......wait for it....... AN OUTLET SO YOU CAN CHARGE YOUR PHONE.

They have an extensive beer selection with tons of local craft beers on tap (I had that lovely Thornbury Cider up there) and a nice wine list to boot.

The only thing we have ordered that has not been amazing was the burger. Shack deemed it "fine" and I think he was unhappy that it came without condiments and he had to ask the server to bring him ketchup, mustard and some relish. He gets funny about stuff like that so it is possible that this oversight coloured his final thoughts on the burger, so take that with a grain of salt.

Interestingly, my friend who ordered the carpaccio is the friend who told me she didn't care for it when she dined there soon after they opened. She also said the waitress asked her for her opinion and also took note of her suggestions about what might make it better. She was thrilled to see that most of her suggestions were now there, on the plate, and the dish was wonderful this time.

I loved my crab cakes - super crispy, not greasy and full of crab as opposed to filler with a bit of crab. I think the apple celery root slaw might have been my favourite part of the plate too.

On a previous visits we have had butter poutine, which was amazing, a couple of pizzas that were lovely with thin crusts and just the right amount of toppings and the charcuterie board, which at $16 for 2 ($25 for 4 and $45 for 8) is a steal.

Click to add a blog post for Local 1794 on Zomato

I spent five hours in the ESPN booth this week, powdering commentators - it's not all town cars and lattes people

This bag of tea sample arrived from China this week and so far, the tea is amazing
I was offered some sample from a Chinese tea company with an online shop called Tea Vivre and the bag of tea finally arrived this week. So far I have tried the white tea and the  oolong and it's delicious. The packaging is airtight so the tea leaves are really fresh and when you open the top of the little bag, the fragrance whooshes out at you, which I love and their worldwide shipping is free if you spend more than $30. Oh, they also have a good selection of organic tea, if that's your thing.
 Read their manifesto here to see what they are all about.

My monster iris plants are finally in full bloom

Travel Massive

A little teaser of olives and peppers at Czehoski 
I belong to a group called Travel Massive, an international groups of travel media, innovators and insiders (the Toronto branch has been around since 2010) and they have monthly meet ups where travel bloggers, tour operators and other people in the tourism industry, can hook up, mingle and network. This month the event was held on the rooftop patio of Czehoski on Queen West. I have never been to this trendy west end eatery but I can tell you that the rooftop patio is lovely and I will certainly be back to enjoy a very cheap ($6.50!!) G&T.

If you are round this weekend it's not too late to try to grab a ticket for this boozy event at Wychwood Gardens (I will be there for the afternoon session) just click this link and use the code: OSWCityFare and you will get 40% off the price of your ticket. Smoking good deal for an inclusive ticket that will let you eat and drink til your heart's content.

Also, this weekend is the Halal Food Festival  at Mississauga's International Centre, entrance 5 so make an effort to get out to the way, way west for a plethora of grilled kebobs and all of the other halal delights that you will find there.

Instagram of the week: another stunning food filled feed

Facebook share of the week: 

Because, RIGHT?
Posted by The Yum Yum Factor on Friday, May 29, 2015

Tweet of the week:  

Farms of the Headwaters - Landman Gardens and Bakery and Heatherlea Farm Market

Heatherlea Farm

Landman Garden and Bakery

I loved almost everything we experienced on our tour of the Headwaters but the things that always stick out, for me anyway, are the people I meet. I love getting to meet the people who dedicate their lives to growing and producing the food that we eat and if I can't kind of fall in love with the people, I can't fall for the place.

Two of the farms that that really stuck out, for me, were Landman Gardens and Bakery and Heatherlea Farm Market. The best part is that both of these farms are an easy drive from Toronto - an hour, at most- making them great places to haul an ice packed cooler to, if you know what I'm saying.

Win Passes to the Toronto Halal Food Festival May 30-31

Toronto Halal Food Festival - May 30-31

International Centre, entrance 5, Mississauga, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-8pm

You know what I love best about Toronto? I love the cultural diversity, the celebration of food and family and tradition that are enjoyed by the entire city, regardless of where we all come from, how we worship and what we grew up eating. The Toronto Halal Food Festival will be packed to the rafters with delicious food from the best halal restaurants, manufacturers, bakeries and specialty stores representing cuisine from all around the world. You know I will be there, wearing stretchy pants with my eating bib firmly secured around my neck.

There will be Sample City, where you can try all kind of food sample from dozens of vendors

Redpath stage will have non stop demos, competitions and performances

The Shop sections where you can pick up some stuff to take home

The outdoor Street Fest where all the tasty grilled stuff will be found. That's where I will be.

Mina's Playground with jumping castles and all the stuff that kids what in a festival

Want to win four passes to the TO Halal Food Festival and 20 sample tickets? All you have to do is like some stuff, tweet some stuff and follow some people. Easy Peasy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Week in Yum May 15 PcCooking School, The Halal Food Festival, Madjack Apple Lager and how Lolita's Lust Saves the Day

My first vegetable garden in almost 20 years!

This was a very low key week, spent gardening, finishing up a recipe for the #GrillWithGrace campaign and just staying close to home.

Although, as a makeup artist, I often get to work with celebrities and all that stuff, I rarely get starstruck and when I do, it's often someone who other people don't know. I am a serious director geek and often get more excited over meeting a movie director than the star of the film. With that in mind, I got to work with Stewart Copeland this week, drummer and co founder of a little band called The Police. He also wrote the score for the film, Rumblefish, one of my favourites.

The other members of the ensemble were lovely - the beautiful violinist, Yoon Kwon, is not only a ridiculously gifted musician, but I found out she is a blogger too, so you have to go and look at her blog Yoon Kwon because it's not everyday that you encounter a true musical master who also writes eloquently about life, makeup, food and music. I have a good life and the next time I complain about my old lady muffin top, someone should punch me square in the kisser.

photo: Shayne Gray

the poor family had to eat a lot of jerk lamb until I got it right lol Jerk Lamb Kofta

So thrilled that I got to attend the performance the next night - I only got photos of these two because of where I was sitting but there were three other amazing musicians up there, swear to god.

Eggs-Ceptional Cuisine Cooking Class

Okay, Toronto people, my next cooking class is this upcoming Tuesday, May 26 at 6pm at the Musgrave Loblaws (Victoria Park, south of Danforth). It is a class that is all about eggs and we will be doing a
devilled egg, Rustic Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce, Broccoli Cheese Souffle and a power smoothie. Now is the time to pay $30 for the chance to heckle me and have a fun night, eating and laughing and hanging out in the kitchen. To sign up, click the link down there and register for the class:

Just choose the class from the pull down menu

Speaking of Loblaws, look at this clever packaging for take out udon noodle soup from the new and improved Gucci Loblaws on Leslie. No more soggy, water logged noodles that have soaked up half the broth by the time you get home.

The Halal Food Festival

The Halal Food Festival is going to take place the on the weekend of May 30-31 at the International Centre in Mississauga. If there was ever a reason to make the drive, this is it. Lots of tasty treats from more than 100 food vendors, an outdoor street food area , lots of performances, activities and seminars if you are interested (schedule is here)

I am going to be giving away 4 tickets to the event and a pack of 20 sample tickets this weekend so stay tuned and enter for a chance to win.

You know you want to win a wine tasting trip for two to Italy from Wine Butler so you better click here and enter. I did. Because I certainly want to win a trip for two to taste wine in Italy.

nothing says happy Thursday like a hand delivered gift box of two big cans of booze, in this case, Madjack Apple Lager. It's light, fruity and refreshing over a big glass of ice (I am not even sure that's allowed but that is how I drank it)
How cute are these tiny Smart Cars? Cheaper than taking transit for two

The week ended on a mix of high and low. After a day well spent putting the finishing touches on a great, new recipe for Castello Blue Cheese and drinking my Madjack, I grabbed Shack and we ventured downtown for a media event to showcase a new summer menu for a restaurant. For the most part, I have a really enjoyable time at these things, I taste some great food, meet lovely chefs and hear their stories and go home full and happy. Sadly, I have the worst luck with Shack because every time I can bring a guest, it always turns out to be underwhelming and we have had to leave early and go and buy ourselves dinner afterwards. Every, single time. Food is either cold or non existent, comes in 45 minute intervals, if at all, the place is so crowded you can't get within five feet of a morsel of food to even taste anything or food is plentiful but it's just bad. It's not all delicious free food and drink 24/7 people.  Last night was no different so, once again, after 19 years of enjoying solid food and service, we grabbed a Car2Go and drove to the Danforth so Sydney, the general manager of Lolita's Lust, could make us happy with delicious food and a perfect gin and tonic. Shack and I have been loyal guests, through thick and thin, changes in ownership and a few years of a rough patch in food, babies and changes in lifestyle, grey beards and wrinkles so going there always feel like home. We were cranky and hungry but it was nothing that a perfectly cooked beef AAA tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce couldn't fix. For that, I thank you Sid. I thank you Lolita's Lust.

A complimentary app of grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto made everything right

Pin of the week: This will come in handy for travel planning this year

Instagram of the week: stunning feed from Russia

Facebook share of the week:

HOLY CRAP Momofuku Birthday Cake - Liv for Cake - (via @livforcake)
Posted by The Yum Yum Factor on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tweet of the week:  

Jerk Lamb Kofta #GrillWithGrace

In my continuing efforts to attain world peace through food, today we are going to look at the similarities between Middle Eastern food and Jamaican food.

I was asked to come up with a BBQ recipe using a Grace's Jerk Product as part of their #GrillWithGrace campaign and since you will always find Grace's Jerk Seasoning as well as the marinade in my fridge, I didn't hesitate to accept the gig. I have never really perfected my own jerk, to date, and so I use Grace's all the time. Shack is really picky about jerk and he doesn't like it too allspicey and he doesn't like too hot and since he loves the flavour of Grace's Mild Jerk Seasoning and Marinade, that is what we go with. We always have to keep the picky toddler happy.

The traditional way to use this stuff is to rub the seasoning paste all over your chicken or pork and let it sit in the fridge overnight and then cook it, preferably over a grill and it's delicious as is, straight out of the jar with nothing else added.  When you are in a hurry, the liquid jerk marinade is what you want to use and they even have a really tasty jerk BBQ sauce that is the perfect marriage of spicy, tangy jerk flavour and a sweet, sticky BBQ sauce that is great for basting. I used some of that on some slow baked pork ribs and it was great but my job is to take this stuff and run with it and try to find other things you can do with it, so that is what I did.

So, we love kofta and if you poke around, you will see that many recipes for kofta (sometimes called kefta) contain allspice, and cinnamon, both very prevalent spices in Jamaican food along with allspice (or pimento, as it is often referred to in Jamaica) which is a really important ingredient in jerk. I couldn't help but think that making jerk kofta makes all the sense in the world and I was right. In fact, I don't know if I will ever make kofta WITHOUT the jerk seasoning from now on. Even Shack, who is a bit of a lamb hater, gobbled them up and promised that as long as I keep making lamb that tastes like this, he will eat it.

Jerk is often served with coleslaw, while kofta is often served alongside tabbouleh. Both are salads that contain, raw, finely chopped or shredded, crunchy vegetables with an acidic dressing (vinegar for the slaw and lemon juice for the tabbouleh) and each offer some colour and crunch to the complement the meat.  Traditional tabbouleh even has allspice in it so with the addition of some shredded red cabbage to stand up for the 'slaw and some scallions - another important ingredient in both cuisines, I didn't have to do too much to my usual tabbouleh recipe at all to bring together the flavours of two cuisines that would appear to be world's apart, but that are actually closer than you would ever guess.

Lamb is not all that popular in Jamaica, where it is the goat that is king but, both animals say baaaaa, and the East Indians who emigrated to Jamaica substituted goat for the beloved lamb of their homeland and are responsible for the whole curry goat thing as a result so, in a round about way, even the jerk lamb makes sense and world peace is one step closer, thanks to the delicious cross pollination of classic dishes.

I was hired to come up with this recipe but, as always, I only work with products that I truly believe in and love, my word is my bond, my opinions cannot be bought etc etc etc.

Jerk Kofta 

because the jerk seasoning is already salty, I did not add any actual salt to the meat

545g of ground lamb
350g ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1 small onion grated (about 1/4 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
3 tbls sweet paprika
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
few grinds black pepper
4 tbls  or 1/4 cup Grace's Mild Jerk Seasoning (use the hot if you want extra heat)

Mix all of your ingredients together either by hand, as you would for meatballs or with the paddle attachment in a stand mixer on low for a minute. Always take a pinch of the meat mixture and fry it quickly so you can taste it and adjust seasonings if necessary.

It's best to let the meat rest for at least an hour or so (I left it for the day) store the kofta mixture in the fridge.

When it's time to grill them, you have a couple of options:
form a handful of the  meat into a long cylinder around each skewer - I prefer to use metal skewers for this but if you use wood, make sure they are really well soaked.

You can also just form the meat into cylinders without using skewers , or, you can make small patties by rolling large meatballs and flattening them down.

Cook over hot coals or a preheated gas BBQ (on high) approximately five minutes per side, depending on the heat of your coals and the size of your kofta. Try to get the meat evenly packed on to the skewers to ensure even cooking.


1/4 cup fine bulgar wheat
approx 125 g of finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1 small bunch)
approx 65 grams of finely chopped cilantro ( a couple of handfuls)
about 65 grams of fresh mint or to taste (mint can be very overpowering so start small)
450 g of finely chopped, ripe tomato, small dice
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
3 or 4 large radishes, julienned
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Jamaican allspice
a few grinds of black pepper
juice of two lemons
100ml extra virgin olive oil
handful of pomegranate seeds

Carefully wash the bulgar (using a really fine strainer to catch it) a few times until the water runs clear. Drain the bulgar, using that fine strainer and set aside in a bowl to soften, fluffing it up from time to time with a fork, for about 30 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Put your chopped tomato in a strainer over a bowls so some of the juices can drain off.

Prep the rest of your vegetables and your herbs. Gather big handfuls of fresh herb and rinse quickly under cool, running water, shake it off and then slice finely. If you get to vigorous with your chopping it will bruise.

In a bowl, mix the fresh herbs, the tomato, cabbage, radish, scallions, salt, cinnamon and allspice with the black pepper and stir well. Scatter the bulgar over top, give another toss and taste. Adjust for salt if needed. Now add in the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Scatter a handful of pomegranate seeds over the top.

It's best served on the same day and if you are making it ahead of time, hold off on chopping and adding the mint until right before you are serving as the mint tends to blacken.

The Week in Yum May 9-14 Paramount and a taste of Terroir 2015 at Jump

Four course journey into rediscovering Flavour at Jump

See that beautiful, blueberry pie up there? That pie was baked for me by the mayor of Mono. You heard me, the Honourable Laura Ryan hand baked a slew of pies for the members of the media who joined in on the media tour of Headwaters. I just want to say that if this whole Mayor thing doesn't work out for you, Ms Ryan, you have a bright future in baking ahead of you.

Can you imagine what our former mayor might have whipped up if the roles were reversed?? Gives crack pie a whole new  meaning.

Paramount Fine Foods

As a nice little treat, Paramount Find Foods invited me to bring a guest to their newest outpost on Bay St, just north of Bloor. As a lover of Middle Eastern food and seeing that I have never been to Paramount, I was pretty happy to say yes and I grabbed The Kid and we enjoyed a Mother's Day lunch on the house. Well, it was not totally on the house as this soft opening also served as a fund raiser for Jesse Ketchum public school, we left a hefty tip as our donation. In addition to the ash donation towards Jess Ketchum's Nutrition Initiative, Paramount will also be lending their executive chef to the school for a hands on cooking experience. It just so happens that both my Mother in Law and my Grandmother in Law both attended Jesse Ketchum back before Yorkville became the tony neighbourhood that it is today, so I felt like it was kismet.

We shared a bowl of Moutabbal($5.99), a puree of smoky eggplant and tahini and a couple of pitas and it was my favourite part of the meal. The falafel plate ($8.49) came with 6 big, crispy falafel and the lamb skewers ($18.99 for two) were quite good - for some reason it did not come with the promised side of hummus, which would have rounded the plate out nicely-  but it was the moutabbal that I would return for.

It is being billed as a higher end dining experience but I didn't see any evidence of that. A side of garlic sauce was brought in a little plastic take out container, tea was served as a cup of hot water in a mug with tea bags and sugar that you steep yourself and the turkish coffee was served in styrofoam cups. There is nothing wrong with these things but nothing about it would indicate that this is a higher end dining experience, right?

Don't get me wrong, the food was tasty, well priced, the servers were lovely, it's a bright airy space and I would definitely return. For a chain restaurant with locations all over Ontario, it's a wonderful alternative to similar chain restaurants, serving really fresh, tasty food. I would rather eat here than at most any other chain restaurant, that's for sure.

If you go, don't miss out on that Moutabbal and bring some back for me.

Click to add a blog post for Paramount Fine Foods on Zomato

Three perfect little pork meatballs in delicious tomato sauce at Hey Meatball in Leslieville. Who needs pasta when the meatballs are this good?


I have just begun to start to work my way through this crazy pants, generous gift basket from the Headwaters folks.

Terroir 2015 - Rediscovering Flavor at Jump

The week ended with a surprise invite to a Terroir dining event at Jump Restaurant, courtesy of my pals at Gastropost. I met up with Fouad of Zero to Gourmet , a fellow Gastroposter, and together we enjoyed a great evening of tasty food, great wine from Niagara's Flat Rock Cellars, Beer from Samuel Adams and at the end of the evening, everyone got to take a signed copy of The Dorito Effect, by Mark Schatzker. Mr Schatzker kicked off the evening with a really thought provoking talk about the links between flavour and our health and how the invention of Doritos was a pivitol moment in the death march away from natural flavour. For the last fifty years, we have been making the food we SHOULD be eating blander while making the foods we shouldn't be eating more flavourful more exciting. In other words, as chickens, pigs and produce have been bred to larger but blander, chips, pop and breakfast cereal have been engineered to pack more and more flavour punch, but there is hope. The farm to table movement is just one attempt to redirect flavour back into food again - really interesting read.

As I said, we were served beautiful wines from Niagara's Flat Rock Cellars as well as yummy Samuel Adams Beer (Sam Adams sponsored the dinner). The meal started things off with a really interesting dish. I missed the description but I didn't miss the flavour with this one. Fuoad and I agreed that although it was a challenge, aesthetically - ashy grey is not generally thought of as being a beautiful tonal palette when it comes to food, the flavours were outstanding. Perfectly poached, tender shrimp sat on top of a smokey looking poached egg - think a Chinese tea stained hard boiled egg except that when I plunged my fork into it, soft, creamy yolk came streaming out, melting into the surrounding dollops of creamy something or other to make the afore mentioned unattractive but DELICIOUS grey sauce. We both stopped just short of licking our plates.

Mexico City is home to so many fabulous restaurants and I was really excited to taste whatever MeroTro's Chef Jair Tellez was slinging. I was rewarded with a delicious slab of white turkey meat that was hiding some velvety nuggets of dark meat that were snuggled in underneath, all napped with two different sauces - one clearly a pepita mole of some sort. Again, I couldn't hear the description of the dish and my only complaint of the evening was the lack of printed menu.

Chef Luke Kennedy had home advantage, bringing out a tasty plate of pork three ways from a local farm. Again, we were told very quickly where things came from and there was a card listing all of the sources for everything on the menu but it didn't specify what was from where.

The meal finished with a perfectly cooked chunk of beef with local fiddleheads, swimming in a really flavourful jus like sauce. By this time, we were on our third beverage, things were getting blurred together and I was pretty full so that by the time our dessert of alfajores showed up, I was unable to manage more than a wee bite.

All in all a great evening and a wonderful testament to flavour. It was a meal that celebrated the food on the plate, nothing was strongly spiced or overpowered by smoke and mirrors. It was all just delectable egg, turkey that tasted like turkey and grassy fiddleheads that were allowed to shine.
My belly thanks you, Gastropost.

Litehouse Foods, a company that is actually owned by it's employees, sent me some stuff to try out last week and I have been loving these freeze dried herbs. Unlike dried herbs, this stuff reconstitutes when it hits moisture making them a much nice alternative to fresh herbs than dried. The dilly salad blend in my smoked tuna has made a great sandwich greater. These are getting a definite THUMBS UP from me.

I closed out the week by teaching a What's For Dinner class at the Musgrave Loblaws

Pin of the week: Click this and win a trip to Jordan. You know you want to.

Instagram of the week: This St John's Newfoundland's feed is a joy

Facebook share of the week:

this should happen this weekend
Posted by The Yum Yum Factor on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tweet of the week:  

Featured Post

Lobster Fondue Mac with Crispy Bacon and A Giveaway from duBreton

I don't trust people who don't love bacon. Even my friends who don't eat meat will admit that the smell of frying bacon is ...