Thursday, July 31, 2014

iYellow Wine Club

A few weeks ago I attended a wine sampling event hosted by the iYellow Wine Club at their secretive space called the iYellow Wine Cave.

The iYellow wine club is a place where you can taste wines from all over the world, learn about the wines you love and meet other wine lovers! The club hosts events, tours and wine school classes for those who want to brush up on their wine knowledge or for anyone who is interested in learning more about wine tasting and it's culture. iYellow Wine Club is always looking to make their members happy by hosting great events and classes but also by allowing you to access their blog, videos and photos that will guide you in the right direction to becoming a wine connoisseur or maybe just acing the wine category at your weekly trivia nights. Membership is free and you can sign up here to start receiving emails and invites to upcoming iYellow wine events!

The event I went to was called Summer Sippers and we had the chance to sample some of the best VQAs paired with sliders, skewers and slaw.  For those of you who aren't familiar with VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), it means that the grapes used to produce the wine were 100% fresh Ontario grown grapes.  There were both red and white wines from Jackson-Triggs, Le Clos Jordanne, and Inniskillin and different types of food paired with each. 
The entrance to the iYellow cave is in an alley and I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt trying to find it. The doors were bright and inviting and the stairs inside led down to a rustic and cozy ambiance. The space had a vintage vibe to it thanks to the charming decor meticulously placed throughout the basement.  There were couches, vinyl records, books, candles and corks, all of which added to the homey vibe. If I could host parties at this venue I would!  

We ended up walking around and trying the whites first and then finished off with the reds.  Unfortunately some of the food ran out rather quickly so that was a bit of a disappointment when it came to pairings. Luckily the cheese was plentiful, so that complimented the wines quite nicely.  Everyone that worked at the iYellow Wine Cave was very knowledgeable, friendly and more than willing to educate us about the wines we were sampling.
My favs of the evening were:

                                      Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 - $30
Lending three vineyards, our Village Reserve Pinot Noir is intense and complex with notes of spicy oak and ripe wild red berry fruits such as strawberry, red current and blueberry. The bouquet displays floral notes of dried flowers with an intoxicating hint of violet. On the palate the attack focuses on freshness and red fruits while the mid plate shows a balance between tannin, texture and acidity. Intensely concentrated with a smooth texture, the wine is well balanced by a core of ripe tannins creating nice tension on the palate.

2013 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Series Pinot Grigio - $13.45

This Pinot Grigio, offers aromatics of green apple and lemon lime. The balanced palate has a touch of residual sweetness to complement the tropical flavours and crisp clean finish.

Jackson Triggs Reserve Shriaz-Cabernet 2013 - $13.95

This wine has intense aromas of cherry, black currant, white pepper and raisins. The wine has an elegant balance, with fruity flavours and nice round tannins. It is a luxurious and elegant wine.
Be sure to stay up to date with all of the news from iYellow Wine Club by singing up for a free membership and following iYellow on twitter. Not all of their events are hosted at the wine cave but if you do get a chance to check this place out you will absolutely love it! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fresh Canteen

I love to cook but am not a fan of how long it can take to prepare a meal. Marinating, chopping, blending and washing all take up so much time that I can’t even be bothered to prepare homemade meals in the evenings anymore.  It’s a shame because there are an abundance of great recipes out there that I could be making instead of always eating out or heating up frozen meals. Luckily the food Gods have heard my kitchen whimpers and have put me in touch with a neat company called Fresh Canteen that delivers fresh ingredients to your door to create a home-cooked meal.

Fresh Canteen’s services offer a variety of recipes to choose from and the ingredients to prepare the recipe are all delivered right to you. The ingredients are all local and fresh and are measured out according to the number of servings you've chosen. The loose ingredients such as spices or pasta come in a little bag that has a label on it so you know exactly what it is and the vegetables come whole so there is a little chopping involved.  Once the ingredients are all ready, just follow the directions on the handy recipe card that comes with your package and you’ll have a wholesome cooked meal with little to no preparation involved.

Fresh Canteen costs $12.50 per serving which ends up being about $78 a week for two people. Just pick how many recipes and servings you want and Fresh Canteen will handle the rest.  Your box will arrive on Tuesdays between 12 pm and 6 pm at your home or office.  No need to worry about the food going bad because all of the fresh ingredients are delivered in an insulated bag with gel packs. The convenience of having pre-planned meals saves so much time and money.  You don't have to worry about buying each ingredient for a meal, or having leftover ingredients that go bad after a few days.  Fresh Canteen delivers the right amount of ingredients so you don't have to worry about storing anything in your fridge or cupboards afterwards.  

I recently tried out the services from Fresh Canteen and decided on the Sole Almondie recipe. I got home from work on Tuesday and my Fresh Canteen box was waiting at my doorstep.  I opened the box and found all of the ingredients neatly packed within insulation to ensure everything was kept fresh. 
Some of the recipes require that you have staple pantry items such as oil, butter, pans, etc. so be sure to check out what is needed for each recipe you order.  All of this info can be found on the website in the recipe section.

I followed the clear instructions for the Sole Almondine and my meal was finished in less than 40 minutes! I only had to chop up the tomato and parsley and everything else was just combining and cooking. The meal was healthy, fresh, DELICIOUS and best of all, home-cooked. 

Overall I think Fresh Canteen is definitely a great service for busy people who love to cook but don't have the time to buy and prepare ingredients. Fresh Canteen will plan, shop, measure and deliver your food and all you need to do is cook it. The service is definitely worth trying out and you may just get hooked on convenience!

Stay up to date with Fresh Canteen on twitter and let them know which meal's you'd like to see on their menu.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We all go through the ‘I don’t know what to eat for lunch’ blues and usually this results in three options.  Trekking to a fast-food place down the street for take-out, debating with co-workers on where to dine and how to avoid the huge 'lunch rush', or succumbing to eating your 3 day old leftovers stuck in a tupperware container at the back of the office fridge. While all 3 options are viable, I personally like to get my lazy on every now and then and have good quality food delivered right to my office door!

Whether you have a lunch meeting, tight deadlines, bad weather or just feeling down right slothful, the delivery services from allow you to conveniently choose from hundreds of top-notch restaurants throughout the GTA that offer excellent lunch and dinner options with an assortment of cuisines to suit your tastes. The website is extremely user friendly and cuts to the chase immediately. Just enter in your postal code and a list of restaurants within your delivery area are populated.  You can view these restaurants by cuisine, price range and delivery fee. Each restaurant listed also has their menu posted so you can easily browse through their offerings. Choose the items you want to order, enter your delivery info and check out online using credit card, interac or cash. You can even place the order online and choose to pick the food up yourself, or place the order in advance and choose the time-frame in which you would like it to be delivered, the options are suitable to YOUR needs. provides web-based meal and catering solutions for your corporate requirements, with excellent local restaurants and caterers to choose from. Orders may be placed for same day delivery or you can place an order up to 15 days in advance.  Your order can be customized to meet your catering needs and containers can be individually labelled or placed on platters for larger meetings or groups. You can save time, cut costs and streamline all accounting associated with your food order with’s effortless food ordering and billing tools.

Last week I tried the lunch delivery services from for an office lunch and decided on Thai cuisine from Swasadee restaurant. Swasadee is located in the Rosedale area and serves delicious authentic Thai cuisine at an affordable price.  I've visited their restaurant once before and dined on their cute outdoor patio that faces Yonge Street. The restaurant offers great specials throughout the week for lunch and dinner and the menu has a wide variety of delicious dishes to choose from.  All of the dishes are prepared by a Thai chef from Lumpoon (North of Thailand) and his signatures dishes are the 'Pad See Ew' and 'Khao Soi'.

For lunch, the girls and I ordered some lunch specials which included cashew nut chicken, basil beef, basil eggplant, vegetable spring rolls and mango salad.  The lunch arrived in about 45 minutes right to my office door! The food was HOT, plentiful and absolutely satisfying. It was nice to just gather around at work and have food delivered to us rather than wandering around Dundas in hopes of all agreeing on a restaurant to dine at.  No long lunch line-ups or worries about being late, just kick back at your office and let handle your lunch needs.
Sawasdee Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon has a remarkable list of restaurants to order from and we want you to try out their effortless services by giving away a $50 gift card to use on for ANY restaurant located in your delivery area.  Enter below to win!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taste of Toronto 2014

Summer is heating up this weekend with the Toronto Festival of Beer 
and the Taste ofToronto!

Taste of Toronto, an IMG event, runs from July 24th to July 27th at the historic Fort York grounds and is a must attend event for foodies in the city.  The Taste festival concept actually began 10 years ago in London, England and has now grown into an international event with festivals being held in over 20 cities across the world.  The Taste festivals represent a  culinary haven for foodies where excellent renowned chefs and restaurants come together to bring you exquisite dishes alongside drinks, music and a wonderful outdoor setting!

At Taste of Toronto you will have a chance to participate in cooking classes, chef Q&A’s, book signings, staging demonstrations and of course EAT excellent food from local top chefs and notable Toronto restaurants.  Visitors can purchase CROWNS which is the official dining currency at the event and each crown purchased is worth 1 Canadian dollar. The average dish is between 6 – 10 Crowns.

Operating much like a restaurant with lunch and dinner services, Taste of Toronto will be comprised of six half-day sessions lasting anywhere between 4- 5 hours (session dependent) to give you time to enjoy your pick of restaurant dishes, browse the artisan stalls and enjoy some of the many attractions including the Electrolux Taste Theatre, Cookery Master classes, the Tasting Room, a VIP Lounge and a Music Stage.

Session Times
  • Thursday July 24th 2014  5:30PM – 9:30PM
  •  Friday July 25th & Saturday July 26th 2014  12:00PM – 4:00PM & 5:30PM – 9:30PM
  •  Sunday July 27th 2014  12:00PM – 5:00PM

The line-up of restaurants and chefs are very impressive and include some of my favourite places to dine. This year’s lineup features:
  • Barque Smokehouse, David Neinstein
  • Bosk, Damon Campbell
  • Guu Izakaya, Ippei Iwata / Kinton Ramen, Aki Urata / JaBistro, Koji Tashiro
  • Hudson Kitchen, Robbie Hojilla
  • Khao San Road, Chantana Top Srisomphan
  • Los Colibris, Elia Herrera / El Caballito, Gerry Quintero
  • Patria, Weslodge and Byblos, Stuart Cameron
  • Richmond Station, Carl Heinrich
  • Rose and Sons, Big Crow and Fat Pasha, Anthony Rose
  • Splendido, Victor Barry
  • The Grove, Ben Heaton
  • The Harbord Room and THR & Co., Cory Vitiello
  • The McEwan Group, Mark McEwan
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar, Sam Gelman (Thursday only)
  • Yours Truly, Lachlan Culjak (Friday only)
  • Hopgoods Foodliner, Geoffrey Hopgood (Saturday only)
  • Valdez, Steve Gonzalez (Sunday only)

You can conveniently find out the dishes that the above restaurants will be serving up at Taste of Toronto by viewing the Menu here or downloading the menu card here which includes very useful information about the event and programming.

There are a number of great programming highlights happening at Taste of Toronto from real-time cooking classes in the Metro Master Class with expert chefs such as Steve Gonzalez from Valdez, Richard Brault from Ninutik and Robbie Hojilla from Hudson Kitchen. 

The Tasting Room will host a panel of sommeliers and wine experts that will guide you through 30 minute interactive sessions that include tutored tastings, tips for pairings and how to cellar wine.  Session are $6 crowns and are on a first come basis.

There will also be top chef’s hosting live demonstrations in the Electrolux Taste Theatre.  Chef’s like Shereen Arazm (Terroni), Damon Campbell (Bosk), Victor Barry (Splendido), and Donna Dooher (Mildred's Temple Kitchen). They will engage the audience with gastronomic delights that will be sure to make you hungry.  The theatre is free but seating is limited so be sure to check out the schedule and arrive early.

Among all the wonderful attractions at this event you can also sip, sample and shop from the boutique food and drink market where over 70 artisan producers and premium brands showcase their finest.

Lastly with any outdoor festival, you need music and it just so happens that Taste of Toronto will have superb Canadian talent such as Jason Collett, The Treasures, Emilie Mover, Jane’s Party, Shadrack Jackman, Bellows, Grounders, Dirty Frigs, Tim Moxam, Rival Boys, as well DJ sets by Brendan Canning, The Darcys and Eon The Soul Proprietor.

Don’t miss out on one of the best foodie events this city has to offer! Tickets are still available and can be purchased here: Tickets

All photos are from the Taste of Toronto Website

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mata Petisco Bar

Mata Petisco Bar brings South American petisqueria (shared-plate dining) to Parkdale thanks to the expert culinary team of Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa, Patrick Fraser, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan. Each of the men bring their own unique flair to the menu from having worked at such notable Toronto establishments such as Salt Wine Bar, Chiado and Fishbar. Some of the men also hail from South American countries so their knack for authentic cuisine is deep-rooted.  The restaurant pays homage to Brazilian culinary traditions by using staple ingredients like catipury cheese, chorizo and picanha and then combining them with local ingredients to evolve the cuisine in an enticingly creative way.

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Media Launch at Mata Petisco Bar to sample their South American tapas-style menu.  The menu had some items that I knew I would love such as the Beef Cheek Poutine and Lobster Pastel. There were also some items that were new to my palate such as the Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts.  Although I am a foodie,  chicken hearts fall into the 'peculiar'  category for me and are not high on my priority list of new things to try. However, I will try anything once and I like to save my adventurous tastings for times when the food is prepared in a way that is appetizing to my fastidious ways.  Luckily for me, the hearts were prepared crispy and smoky so this was my opportunity to try the little organs out.

We started the menu off with a creamy Lobster Pastel and Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão De Queijo) with a side of Requeijão Cheese Sauce.  I have had the crowd-pleasing cheese bread before at South American restaurants so I was happy to taste the authenticity in these puffs. The pastel, which is a popular Latin fast-food dish was crispy but not oily and had a rich and flavourful creamy lobster filling.

Next was the Corvina Ceviche with maple candied sweet potato, celery and lime marinade, red onion, cucumber and fresh cilantro.  This ceviche was very mild and refreshing thanks to the small chunks of cucumber and sweet potato. The fish was very tender but the pieces of fish were quite large. I personally would've preferred smaller pieces but I still enjoyed the freshness of this ceviche.

Now on to the hearts! I know you all are dying (ha ha) to hear about my first experience eating a chicken heart so here it goes.  The dish came out beautifully prepared with the crispy hearts thread through skewers and placed on top of cauliflower purée with ancho chili oil and smoked pecans.  I picked up a skewer and carefully inspected the hearts.  They were small and reminded me of a Kalamata Olive. I dipped one heart into the purée and ancho oil and popped it in my mouth.  The first few chews were interesting as the texture was very new to me. I still can’t pinpoint what the heart tasted like after eating two but I do know that they were a bit springy and chewy and had a musky offal flavour. Needless to say I didn't love them but I didn't hate them, but according to the heart-eating experts at my table, they were top-notch!

The Picanha Sliders were next and I was ready to dig in.  Picanha is a popular Brazilian cut of beef that encompasses wonderful flavour and tenderness. These sliders were topped with cachaça (a spirit distilled with sugarcane juice) caramelized onions, house made catupiry cheese and malagueta pepper aioli. The toppings paired perfectly with the juicy beef and every bite was irresistible. 

The sliders were followed up by the Grilled Octopus served with heart of palm puree, raspberry/balsamic reduction and taro root chips.  The octopus was grilled perfectly and the char on the outside gave the octopus a light smoky flavour that really made this dish wonderful.  The heart of palm puree was quite tasteless so I didn't really feel the need to slather it over the octopus.  The balsamic and raspberry reduction however paired lovely with the octopus and I wished for more of it on the plate.

The last main dish was the Beef Cheek Poutine and boy did this hit the spot.  Cassava was always around the dinner table growing up so I was excited to see it being used in a Canadian inspired dish.  The cassava frites were crispy and had a lovely chewy centre and the generous amount of cheese curds, beef cheek and scallions brought this dish together in a blissful manner. I tried to be lady-lake with this dish but overly helped myself with the servings.

At last there is always room for dessert and it was an Avocado Crème Brulee.  I immediately knew that this would be a hit or miss for me and unfortunately it was a miss.  I found that the creamy avocado filling was exceptionally sweet and lacked flavour. This was just a bit of an odd dessert to me and next time I visit Mata Bar I'll be ordering their other dessert that sounds more suited to my tastes, the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Sailor Jerry Caramel!

The two cocktails I tried was the Pisco Sour (pisco, egg white, lime, simple syrup, lemon grass) and Classic Lime Caipirinha (cachaça, lime, simple syrup, sugar cane) both of which were crafted perfectly and made me wish I was laying on a beach in Rio.

Mata Bar is located at 1690 Queen Street West and opens at 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday. There are also plans to open for weekend brunch in the future.

Mata Petisco Bar on Urbanspoon