Thursday, August 6, 2015

Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival 2015

Toronto has been kind to us this summer with a plethora of amazing food and drink events and although the summer is winding down, fall is an exciting season for foodie affairs.  The city brings you the first ever Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival taking place Sept 18th to the 20th at Evergreen Brick Works. The event will showcase some of the best food and culinary talent that Canada has to offer.

Some not-to-miss features include:
  • The Grand Tasting Pavilion presented by PC Black Label will allow guests to sip and sample exquisite food and drink from over 130 quality vendors from Ontario, Canada and around the world
  • Celebrity chefs such as Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, Gail Simmons, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking, Mark McEwan, Antonio Park and many more will be taking the celebrity stage to provide guests with live cooking demos, talks and workshops over the three-day weekend
  • For the first time ever, Cochon 555 is bringing its signature event series to Canada inviting guests to indulge in over 1400 pounds of quality prepared pork dishes
  • Educational workshops held by some well-known masters such as Kevin Kent, Tetsuya Iizuka and Antonio Park will teach you their expertise in culinary customs such as knife skills and soba noodle making
  •  An exciting cooking competition titled Taste Canada Cooks the Books will take place with the winner being crowned Canada’s Best New Student Chef.  Talented new chefs from schools all across Canada will gather in the Miele Kitchen to prepare a dish from a well-known Canadian cookbook
photos provided by TFW 15

These are only SOME of the exciting highlights at the upcoming Toronto FOOD & Wine festival. Many more must-see features will be taking place and we would love to give you the chance to experience it all by winning a pair of tickets to this amazing foodie event.

One lucky winner will win a pair of tickets to the event on any day of their choice. The contest will be up and running until September 1st, 2015. Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more information about tickets to the event please visit the website at :

Stay up-to-date with all Toronto FOOD & WINE news on social media at:
Facebook: /Toronto FOOD & WINE
Twitter: @TOfoodandwine
Instagram: @tofoodandwine
Event hashtag: #TFW15

Friday, June 26, 2015

Savour Summer Menu at Aroma Espresso Bar

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of trying out some of the items featured on the new savour summer seasonal menu at Aroma Espresso Bar.

I have been a long-time Aroma customer and featured a blog post last year about the top 5 reasons why Aroma is my go-to spot for a quick and delicious meal.  The variety of tasty and healthy food items have always been one of the main factors that keeps me interested in eating at Aroma. I love their selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, drinks and pastries and their seasonal additions keep things exciting. For the winter months they introduced a delightful s'mores hot chocolate and now for the summer they've introduced a Mediterranean freekeh salad.

The freekeh salad was introduced to 28 Aroma locations in Toronto and the GTA earlier this June and is one of the few restaurants in Toronto that feature freekeh on their menu.  For those of you who aren't familiar with freekeh, it is an ancient middle eastern grain that is high in protein, calcium and wholegrain fibre.  This superfood is the base of the salad and provides a slight sweet and nutty taste that pairs lovely with all of the other fresh Mediterranean ingredients.  The salad itself is compiled of freekeh, black quinoa, sprouted brown rice, organic baby kale, tomato, cucumber, carrot, pickle, red onion, parsley,  za’atar seasoning and topped with labneh cheese (thick and creamy Mediterranean cheese made from strained yogurt) and house made lemon olive oil dressing.  The combination of fresh wholesome ingredients really makes this the perfect summer salad. I love that it’s refreshing and light yet leaves you feeling satisfied thanks to the nutritious fibrous grains.  The chopped pickles is oddly enough the winning ingredient for me.  The pickles give the salad a nice tang and crunch and really brings the salad to life.  

The savour summer menu also features the Signature Ice Aroma, Italian Cheese and Pesto Sandwich and Coconut Orange Cake.

The savour summer menu launched on June 9th so be sure to head over to your nearest Aroma Espresso Bar to try out one of the great featured items!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Brickworks Queen Street 501 Cider

Exciting news for cider fans, Toronto’s very own Brickworks Ciderhouse has officially launched their new Queen Street 501 Cider. Brickworks Ciderhouse founders Chirs Noll and Adam Gerrits made their long time dream a reality in 2013 by launching the city's first craft cidery and releasing their first cider called 'Batch 1904'.  The 1904 cider is crisp and tart yet very refreshing and the name refers to the year of the Great Toronto Fire, when much of the city was devastated by flames. The new cider garners it’s name from the notable 501 Queen Streetcar route which is actually the longest operating streetcar route in North America. The route travels throughout 8 major neighbourhoods of Toronto which inspired Brickworks to craft their cider with 8 types of Ontario Heritage apples representing the diversity of the route. The new cider is semi-sweet with a bold burst of apple flavour and is quite easy to drink especially on a sweltering day.

The launch party started off at Betty’s pub located at 240 King Street East .  Guests were able to try the new cider and meet some of the team who work at Brickworks.  The party quickly moved aboard the vintage 501 Queen Streetcar specially commissioned for the event.  We rode down Queen Street as pedestrians waved and took pictures at the rare sight.  While on the bus we all sang to some well-known covers played by a 3-piece band and feasted on complimentary hot dogs by Fancy Franks.  The last stop of the night was at the Firkin on King where there was an abundance of cider, food and music available.

Photos provided by VOCAB Communications

Supporting local beer/cider companies has always been important to me so it's really great to see that Brickworks now has two available ciders at the LCBO. Brickworks takes pride in creating small batch cider using 100% Ontario apples that are no further than a 300 km radius of the ciderhouse. They also give back by donating 5% of all profits to charities focusing on green initiatives.

I hope you all get a chance to pick up a new Queen Street 501 cider this summer at your local LCBO! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Ontario Brewing Awards

Last week I had the chance to attend The 2015 Ontario Brewing Awards, an event that recognizes the excellent beers and brewers that come from Ontario.

In order for breweries to be qualified for judging they must comply with the Ontario Brewing Awards criteria. The beer must be brewed in Ontario, one rep should be on hand at the ceremony and most importantly lots of samples of the beer!

The judging took place on March 10th and 11th at the Three Brewers on Yonge and qualified judges that take part at the Canadian Brewing Awards were there to assess the fine brews in over 30 different beer styles.

Each beer will be assessed individually in its style-category based on BJCP judging standards. The standard ‘blind taste' technique ensures an unbiased opinion. The judges will score each beer independently and winners will be decided by consensus of the judging team. Brewers will receive judging sheets upon completion of the Awards Ceremony if requested.

Here were the winners of the night:

North American Light Lager
Gold: Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Stonewall Light
Silver: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Antigravity 
Bronze: Laker Brewing Company – Laker Light

North American Lager
Gold: Triple Bogey Brewing Co. – Premium Lager
Silver:  Laker Brewing Company – Laker Lager
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – Original Draught

Gold: Steam Whistle – Pilsner
Silver: Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd – Lot 9
Bronze: Kichesippi Beer Co. – Donny’s Dort

Amber Lager
Gold: Old Flame Brewing Co.- Red
Silver: Hop City Brewing Co.- Barking Squirrel
Bronze: Cool Beer Brewing Co. – Millennium Buzz

Dark Lager
Gold: Silversmith Brewing Company – Black Lager
Silver: Hop City Brewing Co. – 8th Sin Black Lager   
Bronze: F&M Brewery- StoneHammer Dunkel 

Gold: Lake of Bays Brewing Company – Crazy Eyes Darcy Tucker
Silver: Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd – UrBock
Bronze: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Rye Pale Ale

Honey / Maple Beers
Gold: Haliburton Highlands Brewing – Honey Brown Ale
Silver: Railway City Brewing Co. – Shambock           
Bronze: The 3 Brewers – Maple Ale

Gold: Side Launch Brewing Company – Wheat
Silver: Smithworks Brewing Company – Hefeweizen
Bronze: Muskoka Brewery – Summer Weiss

Gold: Mill St. Brewery – Belgian Wit
Silver: Northwinds Brewhouse – Moonlit Wit
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Solstice Saison

Flavoured Beer
Gold: Wellington Brewery – 2014: A Spice Odyssey           
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Ginger Beer   
Bronze: Mill St. Brewery – Lemon Tea

Farmhouse Ales
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Le Paysan Saison 
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Into the Shade Saison        
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Howl

Lagered Ales
Gold: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Gateway Kolsch
Silver: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Cause and Effect            
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – Cream Ale

British Pale / Bitter
Gold: Big Rig Brewery – ESB
Silver: Wellington Brewery – Arkell Best Bitter
No Bronze Awarded

American Pale Ale
Gold: Great Lakes Brewery – Canuck Pale Ale
Silver: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Naughty Neighbour
Bronze: Liberty Village Brewing Co. – 504 Pale Ale

British IPA
Gold: Longslice Brewery- Hopsta La Vista
Silver: Railway City Brewing Co. – Dead Elephant Ale
Bronze: Sleeman Breweries – India Pale Ale

West Coast IPA
Gold: Sawdust City Brewing Co. – Twin Pines IIPA
Silver: Stone City Ales – Green Goddess Imperial IPA
Bronze: Stone City Ales – Uncharted IPA

Dark IPA
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Malevolent Black Imperial Ale
Silver: Manantler Brewing Co. – Dark Prince
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Netherworld

Amber Ale
Gold: Kilannen Brewing Co. – New Zealand Red Ale
Silver: Orange Snail Brewers – Rattle N’ Nemo
Bronze: Old Tomorrow Brewing  – Canadian Pale Ale

Dark Ale
Gold: Wellington Brewery – County Dark Ale 
Silver: Clocktower Brew Pub – Bytown Brown
Bronze: Wellington Brewery – Iron Duke Strong Ale

Gold: Clifford Brewing Co. – Porter
Silver: Innocente Brewing Company – Charcoal Porter
Bronze: Block Three Brewing Co. – Pushbroom Porter

Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co.- Schwartzy 
Silver: Liberty Village Brewing Company – Black Blessing
Bronze: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery – Cadillac Graveyard

Imperial Stout/ Baltic Porter
Gold: Wellington Brewery – Imperial Russian Stout
Silver: Big Rig Brewery – Cherry Bomb Imperial Chocolate Cherry Milk Stout
Bronze: 5 Paddles Brewing Co. – Midnight Paddler

Fruit Beer
Gold: Mill St. Brewery – Frambozen
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co.  – Raspberry Mint
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – KLB Raspberry Wheat

Vegetable Beer
Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Pumpkin Ale
Silver: Wellington Brewery  – Farmers’ Market Rhubarb Saison
Bronze: Garden Brewers – Green Thumb IPA

Flavoured Porters / Stouts
Gold: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Schwartzy Xpresso
Silver: Barley Days Brewery – Scrimshaw Oyster Stout
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Full City Double Tempest

Strong Beer
Gold: Smithworks Brewing Company- Blonde
Silver: Side Launch Brewing Company – Belgian Hat Trick 
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Vicars Vice

Gluten Free
Gold: Snowman Brewing Co. – The Rambam
Silver: Trafalgar Brewing Co. – Ginger Mead
No Bronze Awarded

Barrel Aged – Whisky
Gold: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Double Tempest
Silver: Cameron’s Brewing Co. – Deviator Doppelbock
Bronze: Amsterdam Brewing Co.  – Recidivist

Barrel Aged – Wine
Gold: Nickel Brook Brewing Co. – Winey Bastard 
Silver: Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Sour Cherry Imperial Stout
Bronze: Sawdust City Brewing Co.  – ODB

Smoked Beer
Gold: Black Oak Brewing Co.  – Nox Aeterna
Silver: Covered Bridge Brewing – La Cabane à Sucre 
Bronze: Mill St. Brewery – Rauchbier

Newcomer of the Year
Trafalgar Brewing Co.

Beer of the Year
Amsterdam Brewing Co. – Double Tempest

It was great to see some well-deserved wins such as Nickel Brook winning gold with their Winey Bastard (Pinot Noir Barrel Aged) in the barrel aged wine catergory. The dark IPA was awarded to Nickel Brook again but this time for their Malevolent which is a dark, thick and toasty beer with lots of hop flavour. The wheat beer by Side Launch won gold which seems to be a real fan favourite when it comes to finding a proper Ontario hefeweizen. The imperial stout went to Wellington Brewery for their brilliant Russian Imperial Stout. Best Porter went to Clifford Brewing Co which I tried for the first time that night and absolutely loved.  Such a solid, drinkable porter with tasty notes of cocoa and coffee.

The brewing awards was a great event and the continuous efforts to honor Ontario's best beers and breweries each year is an achievement in itself. Thank you to the team at Beerlicious who put on a great event and congrats to all of the 2015 winners!

Although I'm only a craft beer fanatic and blogger, the event inspired me to dabble into home brewing.  I'll be starting out with the everyday IPA kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop and will be documenting my experience on the blog within the next month or two!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

North American Craft Beer Experience

Spring is here and with warm weather comes increased beer consumption (as if we didn't already do a number on the belly this winter with toasty stouts). I usually try to attend almost every craft beer event in the city because of two main reasons.  The first is that I really enjoy drinking beer so an event dedicated to just that is right up my alley.  Secondly, beer events are an excellent way to discover new craft beers and learn more about the breweries that make them.

There are a ton of great beer events coming up this year and one that I am particularly looking forward to is the North American Craft Beer Experience.  NAC (North American Craft) is an agency that supports small craft breweries throughout Canada and some of the US. NAC’s goal is to represent and support distribution of the independent breweries and promote the many different beers they produce.

Canadian breweries represented in Ontario by NAC include Phillips, Tree, Dead Frog, Parallel 49, Paddock Wood, Wellington, Black Oak, Spearhead, Sawdust City, Highlander, Double Trouble, Kensington, Hogsback, Propeller, Radical Road, Dukes Cider and Denison’s. NAC also represents Elysian, Green Flash, and Bard’s from the United States, and Warsteiner from Germany.

The event takes place on Friday May 8th from 6 to 11 pm and will be held at one of my favourite venues in the city, Berkeley church. This is a pay as you go event and sample vouchers cost $1 for a 4 oz. sample. Tickets to the event are only $20 and you can buy them online at: . Be sure to buy your tickets in advance as the price will go up at the door.

Food will be available for purchase at the event provided by the wonderful culinary team at Berkeley Church.

This event is a great way to support North American craft beer and discover some new independent breweries you may have never heard of before.  To help you get into the spirit of spring, Drinks Inc. Events is giving away a pair of tickets to the event.  Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway