Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shopbake.com - Online Bakery Marketplace

I have some ‘sweet’ news for you foodie lovers out there! Canada’s first and only online bakery marketplace, Shopbake.com, is launching tomorrow in the GTA.

Shopbake.com allows users to order baked goods online from numerous bakeries across Toronto. You can choose from a variety of delicious treats such as cookies, cupcakes, cakes, breads etc. There will also be baked good that are nut-free, Kosher, gluten-free and vegan for those with dietary restrictions.

The convenience of ordering from bakeries online really suits my needs as a lot of the bakeries I love are across the city and getting there can be a bit of a mission.  Now I can just peruse the site for sweets and order from the comfort of my home. Shopbake.com also makes my life easier when it comes to deciding on what to buy someone for a birthday or congratulations gift....Everyone loves baked goods delivered to their doorstep right?!

The founder of Shopbake.com, Monica Abramov, was inspired by the many online marketplaces already in existence for everything OTHER than baked goods.  Her vision came to life with Shopbake.com, allowing talented bakers access to their customers with an online platform.

Shopbake.com launches on September 17, 2014, so be sure to join-up and access delectable treats from our local bakeries.

I've already had the chance to try out some goodies from notable bakeries such as Petal DustBake Shop, Cookie Scoop, Branded Bites, Short and Sweet Cupcakes and Dollop Bakery. Some of these bakeries are completely new to me, so it's nice to know that Shopbake.com will allow you to discover and try out new bakeries that you didn't even know existed.  

Broaden your sweet-tooth tomorrow with the launch of Sweetbake.com and follow all of their updates and mouth-watering pictures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taste Local - A Celebration of Ontario Wines

Wine Country Canada and the LCBO presents Taste Local, a celebration of Ontario wines taking place at LCBO stores across the province from September 14th to October 11th. Taste Local will be celebrating all things local by featuring locally-produced wines from Ontario’s wine regions and foods harvested by our own home-grown talents. This exciting wine promotion will feature 173 wines from more than 30 different Ontario wineries making this month-long event one of the largest of the year.

Eight LCBO event kitchens will feature live demonstrations by local chefs every Saturday during the Taste Local promotion.  Customers will have the opportunity to sample local food and wine and learn more about the distinctive Ontario wine regions. 

Over 200 LCBO locations will participate in wine-tastings to help you discover a new local wine for the Autumn season. There will also be some unique events during Taste Local such as an Ontario Wine and Pie Pop-up tasting event on September 19th at 1095 Queen St West. Tickets include three sampling chits and the chance to meet local wine and pie makers. As well as an event at the Royal Ontario Museum on October 2nd where VINTAGES presents Taste Ontario. This event will showcase more than 100 premium Ontario VQA wines.

I had the chance to preview some of the local wines paired with local pies at a pop-up LCBO Taste Local event where I learned about the different wine regions and discovered some great new local wines. The regions represented at the event were the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore. Each section of the venue was dedicated to one region and featured an array of wines to sample. 

My favourites were:

Region: Niagara Escarpment
Description: Medium-bodied & Dry
Price: $14.95

Region: Prince Edward Country
Description: Medium-bodied & Fruity
Price: $39.00

Region: Lake Erie North Shore
Description: Full-bodied & Firm
Price: $11.95

Region: Lake Erie North Shore
Description: Full-bodied & Rich 
Price: $13.95
The pie companies in attendance were all from Ontario 
and each delicious treat was paired perfectly with a local wine.

Get cozy this fall with a bottle of Ontario wine and some local foods for a Taste Local, Love Local experience! Be sure to share your photos and stories of how you've celebrated Taste Local through facebook, twitter and instagram (#LCBOtastelocal).

For more information on Taste Local please visit the LCBO site

Monday, September 8, 2014

Eat to the Beat 2014

When Canada’s top female chefs, live music and a worthy cause join forces, you end up with an incredible gala event called Eat to the Beat which benefits Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support.

Eat to the Beat is celebrating it's 19th year and is a renowned event that has made it to BizBash Magazine's Top 15 Food, Wine and Hospitality events in Toronto. The night features the talent of over 60 of the top Canadian female chefs lending their time and aptitude to create delectable dishes for this worthy culinary fundraiser.  It is the only event in Canada that exclusively features the talent of 60 female chefs signifying women supporting women. Eat to the Beat has raised over $3.5 million for Willow Breast and Heredity Cancer Support with over 80% of the evening proceeds being directed to the free services and programs that Willow offers to diagnosed individuals.

Donna Dooher - Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Eden Hertzog, New Moon Kitchen

Vanessa Le Page - The Cake Lady
The Event

When:  Tuesday October 21, 2014
Time:    7 pm
Where: Roy Thompson Hall
Cost:    Early Bird Ticket: $150.00, General Admission Ticket: $175.00 (after September 10)
Dress:  Smart casual

Eat to The Beat will have an abundance of sweet and savoury foods, wines, premium beers and spirits to sample making this event a hub for GTA foodies.  Eat to the Beat will also host a silent auction, raffle, live music, and have many breast cancer survivors wearing an array of  ‘food’ corsets that represent the spirit of being feisty in the face of breast cancer.

I hope to see some of you at this event as your contributions will be going to a great cause in supporting those faced with the challenges of breast and heredity cancer.  Help someone get the much needed support while helping yourself to delicious bites from Ontario's culinary scene!

Some food from the last couple of events:

Almond-flour Chocolate Brownies from Madelaine's Cafe

Ice Wine Cheesecake Walls from Inn on the Twenty

Pimenton Spanish and Mediterranean Fine Foods, Rossy Earle - Mini Chorizo Tarts

Jacqueline Lo, Ruelo Patisserie - Macarons

Donna Dooher, Mildred's Temple Kitchen - Breast of Duck with a Polenta Cream and Wild Blueberry Peppercorn Chutney

Wanda Beaver, Wanda's Pie in the Sky - Rustic Pear Tarts

 Viva Tastings, Karen Viva-Haynes - Fig and Red Cabbage Salad Rolls

Check out the chefs participating this year at Eat to the Beat:

Tickets can be purchased on the website at: 

Find out more about Willow Breast & Hereditary Support: 

Full review will be posted after the event!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bent Restaurant - Veggielicious 101 Workshop

A few weeks ago I had opportunity to visit Bent, one of Chef Susur Lee's family of restaurants for a Veggielicious 101 workshop hosted by the culinary master himself.

I was extremely excited to meet Chef Lee and to experience a workshop that focused primarily on vegetarian cooking.  I've tried many of the creative Asian-fusion dishes at some of Lee's other restaurants so I knew that he would create a variety of exceptional vegetarian dishes at the workshop.
Photo by Mary Tang

About 15 food bloggers from Toronto were in attendance and it was great to finally put some faces to the names I've been following on Twitter and Instagram.  The afternoon started off with some Bent appetizers to snack on while Susur talked to us about Bent and the exciting Veggielicious menu.

Susur took us outside to his neighbours yard where a plethora of fresh vegetables and herbs were growing, many of which Susur uses in his dishes.  It was refreshing to hear Susur talk about his culinary experiences in a very humble manner.  He was friendly and engaging which really made me appreciate his talent even more. He was genuinely interested in talking to each and every one of us about our blogs and hearing about our opinions on various food-related matter.

The first item that Susur taught us how to make was a dessert.  I was happy about this because I have a serious sweet-tooth and to my excitement we were making a French Meringue with Golden Licorice.  I have never made meringue in my life so I paid close attention to what Susur had to say about the intricacy involved in making the perfect meringue.  After whipping up a fluffy batch of the meringue, we all piped our own mini meringue nests. My nest turned out to be small and dinky but after a slow and long bake, the outcome was absolutely delicious. 

After making the meringues, Susur whipped out his famous signature Singapore Slaw which is currently on the menu at Lee, soon to be found on the BENT menu, rejoice ya’ll!  This slaw is seriously one of my fav dishes in the CITY. With over 19 ingredients, this slaw mountain of colour, flavour and texture packs some heavy nutrients and vegetarian proteins. The dish is inspired by a traditional Chinese New Year offering, where the more ingredients, the better one's luck in the upcoming year.

Next up we had the opportunity to sample the Veggielicious dishes on the ‘Best of the Season’ menu that will be featured at Bent from September 9th to the 20th. This $45 prix fixe menu is a blessing for all vegetarians who relish in good food and flavour but also for anyone who wants to get better acquainted with the versatile ways of incorporating vegetables into everyday dishes that taste wonderful.

The Veggielicious Menu
Three-way Dip - Hummus of Romano beans with salted chillies and sherry vinegar, roasted olives with sumach and lemon preserve, Caribbean eggplant baba ganoush with cilantro and spicy mustard seed tomato stew with walnut and curry leaf, all served with baked garlic lavash.

Tingly Chilled Soba - Shredded local vegetable and yuba cake, confit of shiitake, shisho leaf, nori crisps in a Taiwanese vinaigrette.
Chickpea Tempura Tofu - pickled brassica and fish mint, shishito peppers, Korean sweet chili sauce and braised burdock root.  
Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto - roasted cauliflower, parmigiano reggiano emulsion and tempeh crouton.  There is also a vegan option available without cheese.

French Meringue with Golden Licorice -  Lemon curd, wild blueberry, peaches, passionfruit syrup and raspberry coulis.

With good food comes good drinks and the signature cocktails we learned how to make from bartender Manuel were impressive! He taught us how to make the Karate Kid 2 cocktail and the Asian Caesar.  Both are made with a lot of homemade ingredients which gives these drinks a unique and authentic flavour.  The Karate Kid 2 cocktail is a sake based cocktail with nigori (unfiltered) sake, yuzu and lime juice, vanilla syrup, egg white, coriander and best of all the jasmine tea infused gin that literally karate kicked this drink up into the Amazing category. 

The Asian Caesar was a concoction of a homemade clamato mix with hoisin, soya, chili sesame oil, sriracha and some other secret spices. The oyster is optional.

Having had the chance to work with Chef Lee was a truly an honour and I want to thank everyone at Bent who made this experience one to remember!

The Veggieliocus menu kicks off on Sept 9th so be sure to stop by Bent to indulge in some of the best produce of the season in this truly flavourful and fresh vegetarian menu.

Bent on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Toronto Beer Week 2014


Beer lovers are in luck this September as Toronto Beer Week is back once again to celebrate all things craft beer.

Toronto Beer Week honours the craft beer evolution by showcasing some of the best local craft breweries and the beers they've created throughout a series of events across the city. Over 60 bars, pubs and restaurants in Toronto participate in TBW by hosting various events ranging from beer dinners, cask beer tastings, brewing demonstrations, pub crawls, beer education and just plain ol craft beer drinking! With over 100 events happening in the span of one week, there is sure to be a beer tasting event that suits your brew-mood.

To help you get better acquainted with Craft Beer, I've picked my top 5 Toronto Beer Week events!

Photo from www.beerexperience.ca

This kick-off event takes place at the Berkeley Church and is a real treat for the cultured beer drinker. Each brewery in attendance has either brewed something unique specifically for this event or will be showcasing something exclusive that has yet to hit shelves.  Some of the breweries at this events are Mill Street, Kensington Brewing Company, Muskoka Brewery and many more.  Tickets are $25 and this price includes 5 sample tokens. Additional tokens can be purchased for $1 per 4 oz sample. There will also be delectable food items at this event and live-music. 

This is the first annual craft beer cruise and a few time slots are already sold out. Two unique sailings are scheduled on Saturday, September 13th; 3:30pm and 8:00pm. Each sampling session will run for a “three hour tour” on the water aboard The River Gambler. $39.95 gets you a ticket on board, a commemorative mug and 5 sample tokens. Breweries such as Left Field Brewery, Wellington Brewery and Great Lake Brewery are just a few of the great craft breweries in attendance.

Mill Street Brewpub Toronto and Mill Street Beer Hall are hosting many great TBW events throughout the week.  On Sept 12th the beer pub will host a 5-course dinner paired with 5 different Mill St. beers. The evening will be hosted by Brewmaster Joel Manning and tickets are $59.95. The menu looks incredible and since seating is limited be sure to purchase your tickets fast.  

This unique event invites young professionals to experience a social community dedicated to beer and finding fun and creative ways for professionals to connect and socialize.  Join Crystal Luxmore and Big Rock Brewery at Project: OWL for a good time and great beer. Tickets are $30.

This awards event presents the BEST in craft beers decided by you! The event takes place at the Beerbistro and is free to attend. Door opens at 5 pm and you will have the opportunity to sample some of the breweries and purchase full pints after the award show. 
Vote now for your favourites: http://goldentap.com/vote/index.php/274435/lang-en

These are just a few of the top events for Toronto Beer Week! The entire list can be found here: http://torontobeerweek.com/calendar/

I hope to share a pint with many of you at one of the greatest weeks dedicated to craft beer!