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SLURP Noodlefest Returns

On Sunday March 3rd 2013 some of Toronto’s best and brightest chefs converged on The Great Hall for the first SLURP Noodlefest presented by NOW Magazine, delivering their unique culinary spin on pho, ramen, and other popular noodle dishes, as well as a wide array of globally-inspired streetfood snacks.

A brand new line-up of Toronto chefs will gather at 99 Sudbury as SLURP Noodlefest returns on April 20, 2013 for the second (and possibly final) instalment that promises to be bigger and better than the first!

Confirmed vendors Include:

SLURP Noodlefest v2 will also feature more of the best in local brewing and distilling from Double Trouble Brewery, Tequila Tromba, Dillon’s Distillery and Chateau Des Charmes winery.

Tickets are $10 and are now available at Uniiverse.com. A limited number of tickets are available, so be sure to order your ticket today. Note that admission does not include the price of food or drinks. Food items will range between $5 and $10 and will be priced at the vendor’s discretion. This is a 19+ event.

April 3, 2013 | By | Reply More

Death Row Meals and Uniiverse present SweetTO

Get ready for sweet tooth satisfaction in Toronto! Uniiverse and Death Row Meals have teamed up to bring us SweetTO: Three sugar coated food events in Toronto from March 25 – March 28.

Learn How to Make French Macarons with host Michelle Edgar, Owner & Pastry Chef at The Sweet Escape Patisserie

We all love the French Macaron, and now we have an opportunity to learn how to make these delectable treats in our very own kitchens! We will be making chocolate, buttercream, and salted caramel fillings for our Macarons. There will be sampling as we go along and everyone will get to take some Macarons home to share with their families and friends (that is if you’re willing to share something so good). This class will be taught by Michelle Edgar, Owner and Pastry Chef of the Distillery District’s Sweet Escape Patisserie.

French Macaron Workshop, Tuesday, March 26, 7-9pm, $35 per ticket. Purchase tickets here.

Candy Sushi Workshop with Jessica Schwartz, Owner of Sweet Sushi

For this week of sweet adventures, we have arranged a sushi making class. But this is not your average kind of sushi… we’ll be learning how to make candy sushi!! Fun times guaranteed while we manipulate rice crispy treats and gummies to make delectable sushi for post-meal enjoyment. Jessica Schwartz of Sweet Sushi will be teaching us how to make rolls like the Rainbow and Glitter roll, the Cocoa Maki roll, and more, with a sample platter to take home. You’ll leave this workshop with a new creative and unique cooking skill that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Candy Sushi Making, Wednesday, March 27, 7-8:30pm, $35 per ticket. Purchase tickets here.

Uncorked: Sweet Wine Tasting and Seminar with Allison Slute, Beverage Director of Death Row Meals, and Sommelier

Join Allison Slute, Beverage Director of Death Row Meals, for a lesson on sweet wines. The objective of this tasting is to dispel the myths of sweet wines and to educate you on this category so you have a better appreciation for this style of wine and how best to enjoy it. We will learn about different sweet wines from around the world – how they are made, and what makes them unique. The tasting will include a port, sherry, a botrytis affected, vin santo, Icewine, and a surprise 6th entry!

Uncorked: Sweet Wine Tasting and Seminar, Thursday, March 28, 7-9:30pm, $35 per ticket. Purchase tickets here.

For more event details and to purchase tickets for SweetTO visit uniiverse.com/sweetTO.

March 22, 2013 | By | Reply More

Cheesewerks at the 2013 National Home Show

We recently caught up with Kevin Durkee, the big cheese of Cheesewerks, at the 2013 National Home Show. The Cheesewerks booth showcased many great local products, including sauces, tapenades and salsas from La Natura Fine Foods, freshly popped caramel corn from Crazy Corn, and even some house made pickled veggies from Cheesewerks themselves. Cheesewerks is hosting the IDEA Stage presented by Reno & Décor Magazine. By adding a culinary element to the show with the main stage, they’ve reinvigorated the familiar home show format. To intrigue all of your senses, they’ve featured new food ideas from chefs and products like Lirad Kligman from Neptuno Oysters, Geoff Wiseman from Mill Street Brewery and Chef Scott Savoie from the Culinary Adventure Co.

Cheesewerks is an unique Toronto-based restaurant and retail operation that places cheese and artisan products at the centre of every offering. A menu of artisan grilled cheese, house-made soups, fine cheeses and other gourmet food can be enjoyed with their house-made sodas, a glass of wine or a small-batch artisan brew. Cheesewerks is located at 56 Bathurst Street in Toronto. Visit cheesewerks.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The 2013 National Home Show runs through March 24, 2013 at the Direct Energy Center at Exhibition Place in Toronto. For more information visit nationalhomeshow.com.

March 20, 2013 | By | Reply More

Abbey’s Kitchen at the March 2013 Toronto Underground Market

This is a guest post by Abbey Sharp, of Abbey’s Kitchen. Read about Abbey’s full March 2013 TUM experience at abbeyskitchenblog.blogspot.ca.

For many people, the coming of Spring is signaled by melting snow, chirping birds, planting tomato seedlings, and losing a precious hour of sleep (ugh). Well, I don’t really “do” nature, and daylight savings hadn’t even crossed my mind until I got the hint from my twitter and facebook feeds.  So for me, the advent of Spring is best evidenced by the return of one of the city’s most popular food events, the Toronto Underground Market (TUM).

If you haven’t visited TUM in the past, you should know you’re seriously missing out. Each month, dozens of budding food entrepreneurs set up a “pop-up” booth at the Brickworks market and sell their goods to the hungry masses at remarkably affordable prices.  While a percentage of successful vendors return in subsequent months, there are always passionate new chefs to meet and delicious new dishes to sample.

Having been invited to sample day this year (where vendor hopefuls are selected for each event), I had no doubt that the entry fee was worth it. So I brought together some of my favourite foodie friends so that we could divide and conquer the premises and sample as much as our tummy’s allowed.  This is what I tried:

From the Kitchen: Grilled Short Rib Sammies (Sherry Braised Short Ribs, Sriracha Tomato Jam, Pickled Caramelized Onions, Monterey Jack Cheese, Arugula on Brioche)

One of the top dishes of the night, it was well balanced, refined and not excessively rich. The short ribs were sweet and tender, the tomato jam had a good kick, and the onions brought the acid and crunch. I also appreciated that they didn’t overwhelm the beef with too much cheese, which could have been a tempting mistake to make. I was a bit disappointed, however, that I couldn’t sample their ice cream which apparently had melted and was still in freezer recovery. Next time!

How Bout Them Meatballs: El Gardo (Old Skool Meatball Wrapped in Pancetta) [left] / Sloppy Saucy (Ciabatta in Nonna’s Saucy) [right]

The meatball was really well seasoned and had good meaty flavour, but I did find it a touch dense. I was mainly disappointed that the “Sloppy Saucy” was actually just bread with tomato sauce and parmesan on it – I guess when I read menu description I was envisioning a Sloppy Joe type Sammy, but perhaps one with a little more cheese. Ah well. You win some, you lose some.

Rebel Food Inc: Pulled Chili Chicken Bahn Mi (Lettuce, Carrot, Slaw, Cucumber, Sriracha Aioli) / Root Beer Braised Short Rib (Aged Cheddar, Coleslaw, BBQ Sauce)

The buns for both were too tough to cleanly get through, so after fighting with the bread a bit, we all just resorted to dissecting the works. I found the chicken a bit bland in the bites I got without any mayo, and I wasn’t able to detect any root beer in the beef. I also didn’t like that the beef sandwich was served cold so that the cheddar had not melted at all.

Meat Pie Mates: Butter Chicken Pie and Pulled Pork and Apple Pie

Another favourite vendor of mine that I was happy to see return. Both pies were served fresh and piping hot (an unfortunate anomaly on Saturday night) so that the golden brown pastry remained flaky, buttery and moist. While I really liked the rich aromatic curry in the chicken, the winner for us was the pork, which brought a bright balance of sweetness and acid to temper the rich pulled meat.

Bricks and Mortar: When Pigs Fly (Pulled Duck in Citrus Hoisin sauce, with Pork Rinds and Arugula) served with Potato Salad / The Xhibit (Pork Belly Slider with more bacon, smoked gouda, arugula, tomato on avocado crema)

Another star of a vendor! I loved the sweet tender duck, especially in the bites a little piece of crunchy pork rind joined the mouth party. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pork on pork slider, which offered a wicked crunch factor, a nice smoky element, and a bright herbaceous note from the avocado cream. Definitely a vendor to watch.

The Golden Apple: Skor Caramel Apple

Great crunchy apple, deliciously chewy caramel and a little bit of chocolate toffee bits for crunch. Despite being coated in caramel, the dessert wasn’t cloyingly sweet, making a second, third or fourth piece much too hard to resist.

Jack n’ Lils: Nougatine, Coconut, Lemon, Dulce de Leche, Turkish Delight / Nuts by Edith: Artisan Caramelized Pecans and Milk Chocolate Pecan Clusters

Top dessert of the night. Jack n’ Lils’ meringues are marshmallowy on the inside and crispy on the outside and are easily complemented by their fabulous flavours. The stars of the evening were definitely the creamy dulce de leche with little bits of toffee on top, and the beautifully bright lemon curd.

Our last take-home treat. The pecans were fresh with just a hint of sweetness, certainly not the sugar-bombs I am used to making at home. Like the whole nuts, the clusters (a combination of crushed pecans, chocolate, sugar, vanilla and spices) were also not overwhelmingly sweet, and made for a tasty midnight snack few hours later before going to bed. I wouldn’t call these addictive (I have the two bags sitting right in front of me right now and don’t feel the urge to pounce), but they were tasty nonetheless.

As always, thank you to all of the hardworking staff and volunteers for enabling another tasty food adventure for Toronto foodies, and another opportunity for food-biz hopefuls to shine. If you were at this month’s TUM, who do you foresee becoming the next wickedly successful TUMalum?

For more information on the Toronto Underground Market visit yumtum.ca. Follow TUM on facebook.com/TOundrgroundmkt, and on Twitter @TOundrgroundmkt. Tickets for the April 6th, 2013 TUM go on sale March 22nd. Purchase here.

About Abbey

Abbey Sharp is a registered dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger (for both a personal blog, and Eat St. Food Network’s blog), a passionate home chef, and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen. She has a BASc. in Nutrition and Food, and has participated in numerous formal and informal professional culinary courses. Balancing the ideological demands of being a foodie and dietitian, Abbey understands that food represents so much more than nutrients, numbers, calories, and portions. It can symbolize culture, family, love, identity, and sensuality at its peak. With its role in such a variety of delicious domains, Abbey believes that a pleasurable relationship with food is inherently essential for good health. Abbey has embraced this philosophy in all aspects of the Abbey’s Kitchen brand including her social media activities, speaking appearances (i.e. TEDx), blogging, food events (ie. Sips and Nibbles), food demonstrations, as well as through academic and popular writing. Her goal has been to break the common association of healthy food as boring and bland, and demonstrate instead its inherently satisfying, flavourful and sexy qualities.

For more information on Abbey visit abbeyskitchen.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/abbeyskitchen and @AbbeysKitchen on Twitter.

March 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

St. Patrick’s Day Food, Drink and Event Ideas

St. Patrick's Day cookie bouquet by The Cookie Messenger

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, the religious feast day and the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick. St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland, and is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. Although now commonly associated with green beer, shamrock shakes and boisterous festivities, the Irish have been observing the religious significance of this day for centuries.

Looking for something to do this St.Patty’s day weekend? Take part in a parade and then head out to your local beer master/pub/watering hole. Whether you’re in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver fill yourself with a hearty breakfast, colourful festivities and some drinks!

Toronto

In downtown Toronto, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held every year on March 17th. The procession will begin at noon on Sunday at Bloor and St. George. There are pipe and drum bands, Irish dancers and many more. The parade will make its way east to Yonge St., then head south to Queen, and turn back west where the parade will end at Nathan Phillips Square.

The City of Toronto’s historical site Montgomery’s Inn is holding two St. Patrick’s Day events; St. Patrick’s Eve Céilidh on Saturday night, and St. Patrick’s Day Tea on Sunday afternoon.

Of course there are also plenty of Toronto pubs and restaurants hosting St. Patty’s Day festivities. These include: Dora Keogh, Allen’s RestaurantFlynn’s of Temple Bar, Ceili Cottage, Irish Embassy, P.J O’Briens, The Pour HouseBrazen Head, Grace O’Malleys, The Roy Public House, Starfish.

Chow down on some St. Patty’s Day cookies! The Cookie Messenger specializes in cookie bouquets, like the St. Patrick’s Day bouquet (above). As the premier and only cookie bouquet company in Canada, they pride themselves in creating edible works of art. Each cookie is hand-decorated and baked from scratch using 100% natural ingredients, without any additives or preservatives. Find them on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.

Or venture down the road to Niagara on the Lake to Niagara Oast House Brewers and join El Gastrónomo Vagabundo for a t’Oast! Oast has a brand new Smoked Irish Stout, and El Gastrónomo Vagabundo is going to be incorporating it into the menu. From 1-5pm they’ll be serving up smoked stout lamb shank and beef pie with mushy mint peas, smoked stout apple crumble with smoked malts and whiskey cream! Aside from the great eats, there will be lots of music and beer and best of all there is no cover.

Vancouver

One of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Vancouver, The Blarney Stone throws a huge St. Patrick’s Day party on March 17 with green beer, Irish Dancers, full Irish menu, and live music.

Doolin’s Irish Pub joins forces with the Vancouver CelticFest March 13 – 17, for five days of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, including live bands, Celtic Folk Singers, dancers, Irish food, and more.

Looking for more ideas in Vancouver, Notable.ca has some great pubs and party spots you should visit.

Montreal

The Montreal St. Patrick’s Parade has run consecutively since 1824 and has been organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. Each year, Montrealers are invited to enjoy this celebration of St. Patrick, the Irish community and the welcoming of Spring.

If attending the parade, have breakfast before at McKibbins. They’ll be serving up an Irish breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Costs $15. Live music starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 3am, including Celtic Grace Dancers. Ye Olde Orchard is also serving up breakfast and Irish coffee from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. costing roughly $7 to $10 à la carte, depending on the order.

How about an old fashioned pub crawl? Head to Old Montreal for the classic pub crawl. You can purchase a one day or three day pass, the crawl starts at 11. Quench your thirst at these pubs and bars including Winnie Bar Restaurant, Irish Embassy, Le Vieux Dublin, McLean’s Pub, Bar WaverlyHurley’s Irish Pub, and L’Ile Noir.

Rather stay in this St. Patrick’s Day? Try these recipe and drink ideas from Foodea.com.

No matter what you decide to do this Sunday, drink responsibly and have a great St. Patty’s day!

March 14, 2013 | By | Reply More