The Toronto Festival of Beer
I was invited to bring a guest and hit the Toronto Festival of Beer's Spring Session and to be honest, I almost declined. I have been to the Summer Session at Exhibition Place and it's not really my thing. Maybe I am getting too old for a weekend long, beer fuelled outdoor frat party but it is just too crowded, too overrun with drunk kids barely into their twenties wearing giant beer hats and falling out of their flip flops. The spring session consists of two ticketed events on a Friday and a Saturday afternoon with a much shorter time frame, in a much smaller venue so I was intrigued enough to give it another try.
I am thrilled to report that it was great! Because the event is ticketed, you have to decide whether you want to go on Friday evening or Saturday afternoon, avoiding the dreaded overcrowding. Also, the venue is much smaller so you can actually see all of the vendors, enabling you to make your tasting decisions more efficiently. The crowd felt decidedly older, a bit more laid back, with plenty of hipster beards and old timey barber cuts in the crowd. Also, for the first time EVER, there was no lineup for Fidel Gastro's so we started our visit off with a delicious pulled pork sandwich. At the summer session, I have never seen less than 50 people lined up for all of the good food vendors, so this visit was off to a great start.
|I had no idea that we have our own downtown brewery - loved the IPA from Junction|
|Popular Ontario brewery, Beau's always boasts a line up of thirsty patrons|
|BC's Central City with their IPA for Autism (they are donating $2 from the sale of every six pack to Autism Research)|
|for the first time ever, I didn't have to line up to get me some Fidel Gastro grub!|
Highlights, for me, were the Beau's St Luke's Verse, an almost medicinal brew that harkens back to the middle ages to me - I felt very Game of Thrones sipping this lavender scented beer, rich with botanicals and herbs. Yum.
I also really enjoyed the IPA from local brewery, Junction Craft Brewing located in, you guessed it, the Junction in the Toronto's west end. You can swing by their retail store/tap room for a four beer flight tasting and take home a 2L Growler for when you are really thirsty.
I will continue to pass on the summer session but, if you are a bit older and want a more relaxed pace, make sure to put the spring session in your daytimer for next year.
SIAL Canada 2015
Sial Canada is a huge trade show where people come from all over the world, hoping to find North American distribution for their products. Some of the things that I saw were products that are already available here, but there were so many exciting new products that may or may not be coming down the pipe for us in the future.
|this canadian distributor understands that we eat with our eyes - best packaging of the entire show|
Two of the most exciting products, for me, came from Mexico.
Sierra Madre . They brought slim,vacuum packed portions of thinly sliced, cooked octopus and tuna that they are hoping to sell here in Canada keeping the price at about $4/package by bypassing the middle man and selling directly to grocery chains themselves. Let me tell you, if I can buy these packages of cooked octopus carpaccio for $4 I will stock my freezer with them immediately. You just thaw them out, pour on a little drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of fresh cilantro. GENIUS.
I would have loved to taste this one and perhaps they were offering samples later on in the trade show but even without tasting, I found this to be the most exciting product in the entire show. Keep an eye out (maybe Loblaws? ) for this product and if anyone sees if first, make sure to let me know because I am dreaming enjoying of a plate of octopus and a cold glass of rose on my porch, like yesterday.
With all this talk of avocados going the way of the dodo, due to the fact that California is out of water, I was also very excited about Avo King, from Michoacan, Mexico. Even without the drought, as a Canadian who loves guacamole, I know what it is to have to buy rock hard avocados mid winter and have to put them in a bag with a banana and wait for days for it to soften enough to even attempt to mash it. This company is selling frozen avocado pulp, guacamole, avocado halves and avocado sauce. I was sent home with a small e-z squeeze pack of guacamole to try and it was great. Who wouldn't love a freezer stash of frozen avocado halves to use when finding ripe avocados in the store is just not happening?
One other company that had two great products that I would buy in a hot minute if it were available here was Rembyung Sakha . They have a delicious, organic red ginger drink, sweetened with organic, coconut palm sugar and hand pounded raw red ginger. Unlike other drinks, made from powdered ginger, this drink is spicy and full of flavour.
They also make purple yam chips (they also had jack fruit, banana and sweet potato chips there) that are light, crisp and not nearly as oily as what I am used to and why I generally don't buy things like yam chips. The secret is in the cooking method - they are vacuum fried with uses 50% less oil and the product retains 90% of the nutrients to boot. This is small Indonesian based company and was a stark contrast to the rows of Indonesian candy hawkers that shared the pavilion with them.
After spending a day wandering around the trade show, there were some clear paradoxes as far as food trends seem to be headed. On one hand, there was an abundance of small batch, all natural, healthy products, lots of "artisanal" labels strewn about and then, on the other hand, there was a ton of candy, cookies and confections which seems to parallel everyone's desire to eat more cleanly and more thoughtfully while secretly keeping a stash of Strawberry Milko Choco Cakes in the glove compartment.
I have been tasked with coming up with a delicious recipe using some of these yummy Grace's jerk sauces. If I am not going to make my own jerk, Grace's is my go to brand so I am pretty excited for the coming month of testing and eating.
I was contacted by a lovely young man last week and given the opportunity to try out this stack of Korean side dishes. Delucious is the brainchild of Mark. Mark's mom, Lucy, is a Korean chef who works 6 12 hour days a week in a restaurant. Mark wants to set Lucy free and wants us to help him achieve this goal. Lucy will be spending her one day off cooking in her own kitchen and Mark will then deliver the orders every Thursday. For either $25 for 6 16oz containers or $17 for 6 8oz containers, you can choose your six dishes from an offering of 8 things from kimchee to sweet and salty yellow beans and your order will be hand delivered Thursday evening. I am making a bibimbap dinner with mine and will be reviewing the properly later in the week (I have snuck a little taste and everything is fresh and delicious)
This week saw some hard core recipe testing for Mushrooms Canada and I am dangerously close to locking up a new dish. It's all very hush hush top secret so I can only tease and hint but it will be going live on Mushrooms.ca next month. The Kid is being well fed in the meantime.
Pin of the week: crispy chicken skin chips? I'm in
Instagram of the week: beautiful feed from whole larder love
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