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Tag: abbey sharp

TUM presents Sips and Nibbles with Abbey’s Kitchen

On February 16, Abbeys Kitchen hosted Sips and Nibbles (SnN), presented by the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) for a food-themed Valentine’s Day event. SnN was held at Steam Whistle Brewery and featured an all-you-could-eat menu from La Carnita, Fidel Gastro, Rock Lobster, Babi and Co, ESE, Neptuno Oysters, Hotbunzz and more. There were also fabulous cocktails provided by alcohol sponsors including Sailor Jerry’s Rum, Forty Creek Whisky, Dillon’s Distillers, Huff Estates Winery, Tromba Tequila and of course, Steam Whistle. Gastropost was there handing out pictures snapped by #SnN attendees to remember the night. All in all, Sips and Nibbles was the perfect way to spend a snowy and romantic February evening.

For more information on the Toronto Underground Market, visit yumtum.cafacebook.com/TOundrgroundmkt, @TOundrgroundmkt.

Follow Abbey at www.abbeyskitchen.com, @AbbeysKitchenfacebook.com/abbeys-kitchen.

Tickets for the March 6, 2013 TUM are still available, purchase here.

March 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

Sailor Jerry at Sips and Nibbles

Sailor Jerry is a straight-up, no-nonsense rum, crafted from a selection of rums distilled in the Caribbean. Master blenders “marry” the rums to an exacting recipe, then infuse it with a one-of-kind mix of spices and other natural flavors, most notably vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. The result is high-quality, old-school spiced rum. An enduring classic, not a fly-by-night fancy.

For more information, visit sailorjerry.com.

March 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

Neptuno Oyster at Sips and Nibbles

Neptuno is a boutique oyster catering company that specializes in sustainably-sourced Canadian oysters and amuse bouches. Experience by Design. Oysters Reimagined. The Neptuno commitment is to consistently deliver an experience that fuses classic delicacies with artistic design, while operating with exceptional service and attention to detail. Based in Toronto, Neptuno was founded on the principle that what’s important about gourmet cuisine is not simply what it can take you, but where it can bring you. Flavour, texture, design, and scent are the building blocks of the Neptuno approach and form the holistic sensory experience that makes us unique.

For more information on Neptuno, visit neptuno.ca.

March 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

Valentine’s Day Food Event Ideas

Valentines day is just around the corner. On Thursday, February 14th some of you will be going out and some of you will be staying in. Whether you are looking for something romantic or just good old-fashioned family fun, we have you covered in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto! Staying in? Check out our Valentine’s Day Recipe Ideas from Melissa d’Arabian of the Cooking Channel’s “Drop 5 lbs. with Good Housekeeping.” We also have some great Valentine’s Day food and drink ideas that will help you impress that special someone. Happy Valentine’s Day!

In Vancouver, go Ice Skating at Robson Square and then check out the annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, where new and extremely unusual hot chocolate flavours can be had (yes, there is bacon!) from the 23 participating Vancouver chocolate makers and artisans. The Vancouver Farmers Market is hosting a February Food Truck Fest food truck fest.

In Montreal, go for the “Bare Your Heart” Package at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel. At $219, you get one night accommodation, breakfast in bed for two, and two “En Coeur” cocktails to enjoy at night. For an exclusive Valentine’s Day option visit Toque! in the Old Port and discover true gastronomical love with a special eight-course tasting menu with carefully selected wine pairings. Le Carte Blanche on Ontario Street is doing a special Valentine’s Day menu, for $55 you get a four-course meal as well as a take-away option. Go ice skating at the rink in Old Port or partake in the skating/walking hybrid event, Skates & the PlateauPatisserie Rhubarbe is hosting a 3 course sweets tasting menu event featuring some of the most light, fluffy and creative patisseries in town.

In Toronto, Todmorden Mills Heritage Site is hosting a Valentine Candy Making Family Workshop, on Sunday Feb. 10, from 1-4pm. Casa Loma is offering a Valentine’s Family Brunch at Casa Loma on Feb. 19. Go ice skating at Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel ice rink and then walk over to a nearby coffeeshop and have a hot chocolate to warm up. Or check out Valentine’s Day at The Distillery District, The Distillery has just been named one of the 10 best places in Toronto to propose this Valentine’s by the Toronto Star. If you do happen to visit The Distillery, stock up on chocolate for your sweetheart from Soma and grab a hot chocolate or coffee from Balzac’s. Other great chocolate options in the Toronto include Cava and Teuscher. Soma will also be joining up with the Group of 7 Chefs for a Chocolate Inspired Dinner, tickets are available here. Finally, join Abbeys Kitchen for Sips and Nibbles (SnN), presented by the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) for an elegant, all-you-can-eat Valentine’s Day food event on February 16th. The event will be held at Steamwhistle Brewery from 7PM – Midnight and tickets can be purchased online at for $75 plus tax and service fee.

What are you planning on doing this Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Story Astoria via Photopin cc

February 8, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Lidia Bastianich Speaks To Us About Family, Her Inspirations, And Some Of Her Favourite Foods

Photo Credit: Diana DeLucia

Celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich is bringing her Italian gusto to Canada with Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!” February 10, 2013 at 3pm, at Toronto Centre for the Arts. Beloved celebrity chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich has spent the last forty years promoting Italian culture and cuisine across North America. And while adoring Canadian fans have enjoyed watching Lidia on TLN, they’ve never had the opportunity to see her in a Lidia Live performance… until now! Lidia’s culinary roadshow, Lidia Live!, makes its Canadian debut this February 10, 2013 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen recently spoke with Lidia for Foodea about her live tour, Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”, her inspirations, her family, the importance of eating together at the table, and much more! Read the first part of our interview here.

Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?

None of the recipes are my recipes. They are recipes from the Italian culture. I borrow them and I modify them. I travel. I taste. I see. The rest I might get an idea. But basically I’m very true to the Italian tradition. I don’t go wild with recipes and I don’t invent recipes. I modify them.

When you were learning these traditional recipes, who was teaching you to cook when you were growing up?

In Italy you’re at the restraints of your grandmother, mother and aunts. I would say it was my grandmother, my maternal grandmother and my maternal great aunt. Because my mother was a teacher and she was working. I spent a lot of time with grandma. She lived not to far away. She lived out of the city and had all kinds of animals; so fresh eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs. I would run and get them when grandma wanted to make some pasta, still nice and warm. Or if we wanted to make a frittata. She had a goat, and she would milk the goat and we would make goat cheese and ricotta. We had pigs and when it was the season, we’d make prosciutto and all of that. We had a garden with olives. Grandpapa made olive oil, he made wine.

My great aunt, on the other hand, was sort of herbalist, and she would take me foraging for herbs like camomile flowers. We’d pick them and leave them to dry. All of the different fruits. She’d make them into different teas. So I had this connection to the earth, a sensibility for food at an early age. I think that set the stage for my whole repertoire of flavours and references. I remember harvesting potatoes with my grandmother and they were still warm in my hand, they had life. You take the potatoes, you clean them, and you fry them in just plain olive oil. It’s completely a different world. And I think all of those things set the ground for my passion.

And then having to go away and migrate and leave all of that. I think that cooking is my connecting link, the perpetual connecting link to those wonderful memories I had with my grandmother. And also I realized that maybe food is the carrier of culture and family. In retrospect now I can see that was it, but I didn’t know what was happening then. People loved what I did. I had a great time. When you’re good at something and people love it, you do more of it.

What made you decide to take your knowledge to the public and embark on a career in food media?

It’s all the road taken or not taken. I think that my passion, and I’m also very positive and I’m also academic about food. I want to know. I wanted to understand the ecology of food, I wanted to understand the science of food. Way before it was in vogue. I continue to do that. When you have this knowledge, I guess because my mother was a teacher, you want to share it. And then along the way come opportunities. Certainly for my first book it was Jay Jacobs who was a writer for Gourmet where he wrote restaurant reviews. He said “Lidia you should write a book” and I said “Well I’m not a writer” so he said “Let’s do it together!”. And that was my first book, La Cucina Di Lidia in 1990, still in print and I’m very proud of it. Along the way I opened to the idea and really became a regional Italian chef. I sort of cooked regional Italian food, which was maybe a novelty of going from Italian American to North Italian food to regional. I realized that regional food is what Italian food is. I knew my region. Then I went on and visited every single other one and how much they offered. By then as Lidia, I had a following. Julia Child asked me to do one of her shows. I did two of her shows, The Master Chefs series, and the producer said “Lidia you’re pretty good. How about a show?” I think my style of cooking show, my mentor was Julia. How she approached teaching for her was important that the audience cook. That the audience gets to see. It wasn’t about how much she can do. She wanted to share with them and she wanted them to do it and so I knew it, but it wasn’t about showing how much I could do. It was about me transmitting that knowledge and empowering the viewers whether through my books or through my television show. And that meant really simplifying things, and explaining the why, the how, the context, making people happy and comfortable and to some extent I think I achieved that and maybe that’s why the following. Most people out there that cook my recipes. In middle America someplace, Arizona, or Missouri, they send me emails that say “when my kids come home and ask what’s for dinner, and I say Lidia’s for dinner. They say, “Yay! Lidia’s for dinner!”. That’s a great feeling.

What were meals like for you when you were growing up with your family?

Tables full of people, not necessarily candles and all that, but people were gathered and trans-generational. It was three generations most of the time at the table. I loved it! There was a sense of security, the aromas, the smell. Food was part of life. Life dedicated to nourishing the family, at least for my grandmother and grandfather. They dedicated their whole life from early in the morning until night to go out, to plough, to harvest, salt and cure in the winter time, shell the beans and peas, so we’d have some in the winter. This whole idea of dedicating almost 24 hours to the existence and the pleasure in doing so. Of your family, and your children and your grandchildren. If that isn’t love and dedication, I don’t know what is.

Everybody had a role. My grandfather worked in the shipyard. He came home and tied the grape vines and pruned the tomatoes. And we would always be in tow and running around. I remember, we would play hide and seek in the rosemary bushes and we would come out smelling like rosemary. For us as kids, it’s not like now when you have a hot bath or shower every night, so I was a whole perfume of rosemary, it was beautiful. Tomatoes, the smell of tomato leaves. I don’t know how many children know that smell. It’s a shame that we are so distanced from the source of food, especially the children today. So I’m trying to recapture all of that. I have written also, two children’s books. Where I’m trying to communicate this to children. It’s all about Nonna telling a story, the stories I would tell my children, and then the grandchildren. I told you we had goats, and then baby goats. We used to put nice red ribbons on their neck. And the baby kids, if you tie the mother, they will not go distant. So you don’t have to tie the baby kids. And we used to play with the goat kids. We used to drink the milk that they drank, because the goats would give an abundance of milk. Kids are not as blessed today. It’s a different world. It can’t be the same, but how can we make them conscious of it? We have every means of communicating, so let’s communicate it! I’m trying.

How important do you find having dinner with the family at the table is?

I think it’s the most important place for talking and understanding each other and developing good skills. Unless the children get familiar with these smells and grow up with them, let’s take for example broccoli or cabbage. The smells when they cook, it’s huge. If you’ve never smelled it, then all of the sudden when it’s put in front of your nose when you’re 6 or 7 you’re gonna say “what’s this?”. I always say that diverse vegetables have to be eaten by the expectant mother, have to be cooked in the house as the children are growing up, eaten so it permeates the milk of the babies, the smells, so on. Because smell is the first sense that children learn, they smell their mothers, they know their mothers milk. So can you imagine how important introducing all of these things through that are. It’s a non-evasive way of teaching children, just by cooking in the house. Whether it’s garlic, or onion, all of these. Cooking in the house, eating it. Children will eventually fall into place and taste it, it’s part of the family. And these foods being part of the family, will be cooked by the family, and served at the family table.

The one thing growing up about food being part of your family, the smells and all of that. The table. It’s such a venue for communicating. Why do we do business lunches? Why do we celebrate special occasions? All at the table. Basically we are animals, and we need to eat to live. Eating is not an option. It’s that animal instinct at the table that kicks in. What that does is our human defence systems, subside and go down. And we are taken in with nourishment that keeps us alive. So when you are in that stage of taking in whatever is being said, whatever is being discussed. You’re not allowed to let the sense load, you’re not supposed to do because you’re at the table. You’re much more predisposed to taking in what’s being said. How you then process it is another, but if you’re at the table, and everyone eats, children eat, parents say things, children listen. Sometimes it becomes confrontational, maybe sometimes. I remember arguments at the table. The table is such a special place. If you want to discuss drugs or whatever, you begin to talk with your husband about it, and everybody all together. The table, if you do it nice and easy, is a great place to do it. Children learn from you, and if you just say ok, we’re going to talk about drugs. Your kid is going to be on the defence. That’s it, that’s the end. I think not enough parents, for that matter, or anybody, understand the potential, or the strength of being at the table and eating and the power that can be communicated at the table.

Are there any rituals that you keep with your family that you learned when you were growing up?

I think children should always stay at the table with the grownups. I don’t believe in separate tables. I don’t believe in separate menus. I do believe in diversity so that the children can taste and enjoy. I think they need to be a part of the table, and be a part of the adult conversation and food. I think children should be free at the table. Yes, there’s the elegance that if you go out to dinner, you don’t get up until everybody else. But I think there should be some freedom allowed. I need to go to the bathroom, I need to scratch my back. It should be relaxed. I think that with food, children should learn responsibilities and chores. They should be part of setting up the table, cleaning, helping, even shopping and understanding. There’s so much opportunity to teach with food. How does an eggplant feel? How does a tomato smell? And so on. It’s all when you go shopping and you bring your children and to the market. Food offers endless opportunities to connect. It’s fathers day, what’s dads favorite dish? Mother’s day? Those are all based around food. I think that professional men now use cooking as a connector. If they can make something delicious for their families, they are literally providing food for their families.

What would be your ultimate comfort food?

It all depends on what season it is. I love all pasta of course. Spaghetti, garlic and oil. Or spaghetti with clam sauce. And a good glass of Friulano.

What is your favourite dish to make?

It’s like picking my favourite child, or grandchild. There is none. It’s different all the time. So it depends. But the most exciting is to see a product just come into season. It’s beautiful and I haven’t had it in 9 months. The first fava beans, the first peas, the first chicory, all of that. Responding to a great seasonal product. It all goes back to a recipe. But what are the products. That’s the recipe that will work well with the product. And watching my shows and having my books, it’s about that feeling. And I tell them all the time is that I have a Chicken Gratinate and I make it with mushrooms now because it’s seasonal, but i do the same dish with chicken and eggplant in the middle of july. So being able to master a recipe, and be so comfortable with a recipe that you can change it according to the product that you get.

About Lidia

Lidia’s live and interactive performance is being admiringly entitled “Stirring Stories: From the Kitchen and the Heart” and comprises a live cooking demonstration of favorite recipes intertwined with enthralling personal story telling.  Audiences have a rare chance to see Lidia in action, live and in-person, ask her questions and learn tips from the Queen of Italian Cuisine herself! From humble immigrant roots, Lidia’s passion for food, family and pleasing people drove her to build a gastronomic empire consisting of six restaurants, vineyards, a cooking school and Italian food emporium (EATALY in Manhattan), a television production company and a series of best selling cook books.  According to Lidia, “Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways.  It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from”.

Saputo Presents… “Lidia, Live on Stage!”, Sunday, February 10, 2013, at 3pm, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Purchase Tickets through Ticketmaster.

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.

February 7, 2013 | By | Reply More