Poppin’ Bottles of Fresita in the Petite and Sweet lab

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Just the other week, I was invited out alongside my Fat Girl Food Squad co-horts to a fun and fabulous evening hosted by Fresita and Petite & Sweet Bakery.

This event was unlike any other event I had ever been to with promises of sweets, treats, some crafting and a lot of Fresita. I had never had the chance to try Fresita before and it was a pink Chilean sparkling wine that was made with hand-picked strawberries. Sound delicious? Well, it was.

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I got to share in the evening with some other radical blogger babes like Lisa Jackson (from Eat Drink Travel), Kaitlin Wright (from She Does the City) and Taylor Stinson & Nathalie Sehgal (from the Girls on Bloor) while we walked through the doors of the Petite & Sweet headquarters (who were featured on Food Network’s own SugarStars) and took in the elegant beauty of the sweets table. It had everything from macaroon chairs to Fresita-flavoured marshmallows. It was heaven.

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Bottles of Fresita were popped and we sipped and nibbled our way through the evening. The lovely ladies at Petite & Sweet gave hands-on instructions on how to frost our own cupcakes. For me, I had never used a piping bag so this was a whole new experience. For my friend Ashley who tagged alongside me, she was an old pro at this and helped me out. The results weren’t too shabby.

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For me, I am not the biggest sweets person in the world so when we were shown to make Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Icing and Toffee Bits – it was game over. It was obviously my favorite snack of the evening and so simple to make. Melt some chocolate in the microwave, double-dip (no one is judging) and then carefully drizzle icing and toffee bits on top. Let sit for 10-15 minutes and you’ve got yourself one delicious snack.

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As the night winded down, we were asked to take part in a little DIY crafting and prepare our own gift boxes. I’m not going to lie: I am not a crafty person what so ever. Thankfully my friend Rachelle who I brought alongside me was because the box she put together was off the chain! I attempted to make something myself but after getting two strands of ribbon and feeling disappointed in myself, I just gave up. Thankfully I had a glass of zee ol’ glass of Fresita to ease the pain.

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This evening was everything a girl would want: sweet and crafty and delicious. Plus: I got to make some amazing new friends in the process. Thanks to Fresita Canada and Petite and Sweets Bakery for having me out.

All photos taken by Kailee Mandel

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Pukka spices up St. Clair West

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Originally posted to Ama’s weekly column on Toronto is Awesome.

For many of us in Toronto, good Indian food is a hard thing to come by. We’re accustomed to buffet style or muddled flavours. Thankfully, Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawla (both formerly of Amaya The Indian Room) have taken on what they believe has not been filled in Toronto yet: a fine-dining Indian food spot that leaves you comforting for more. That spot is Pukka (778 St Clair Avenue West).

The space is fresh and modern with reclaimed wood table and pops of green, purple and orange throughout. You’ll find lots of funky paintings and soft lighting, which gives it a bit of a romantic touch. I had mentioned to Derek & Harsh when I first arrived that when I lived in the St Clair area some year back, restaurants like this were missing. Derek told me candidly that the area and its residents have been quite kind in their support, especially over the winter months. When Yuli and I attended on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant had ever seat full. This was even on one of the coldest winter nights we were having.

Pukka sticks to classical Indian cuisine. The kitchen is equipped with a clay tandoor oven and the menu is chalked full of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients while using rich spices and creams to take on their house-made curries and rubs.

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The menu itself is divided into snacks & eats. The snack portion has you covered with some intoxicating dishes such as: Baby Kale Salad ($8.90), which seems simple enough but with dates, cashew nut dressing and lotus chips – it brings it to a whole other level. The Vegetable String Chaat ($8.40) is serving up ripe mango and granny smith apple with a little bit of pomegranate seed just for flavour. Mix that in with some delicious yogurt and chutney and you’ve got yourself a winning dish. Another killer starter was the Chicken 65 ($9.60) which had all the feels of good fried chicken. But should you be in the South of India. This dish was spiced with curry leaf, red chili, tamarind, cumin, garlic and other spices and was pretty much, this was off the chain. I could really seem them developing this into a main. But that’s just my personal opinion.

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After inhaling all of these delicious snacks, we thought it would be wise to test some drinks off of the cocktail menu. You know to – ahem – cleanse the palette. First up was the Snapdragon ($9.20) which consisted of vodka, pear nectar, ginger beer & lime. It was sweet and fun, not too over-powering and reminded me of summer. Thankfully, it went so well with everything we were eating. Yuli decided to test out the Chai Town ($8.40) which had bourbon, chai tea, pomegranate liquors and bitters. From my sip, it was pretty delicious.

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Our servers (who were incredibly lovely and so helpful) brought out our dazzling course of mains, who informed us that most of the dishes were gluten-free. So fear not gluten-free fans, you are in luck! First up, we were brought out one of my favourite dishes of the night: Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Paneer ($17.30). This dish was rich and bold and filling. Plus: paneer cheese is heavenly. Next up, the Pan Seared Sea Bass ($22.40) which consisted of coconut milk, curry leaves and roasted spices. The fish was beautifully cooked and the aromas of the curry was hypnotizing. You know you cannot visit an Indian food restaurant without having Butter Chicken ($17.90) and while it was good, it was not Pukka’s best dish of the evening. Oddly enough, I enjoyed everything else so much more than the Butter Chicken. The tomato infused butter sauce was rich and delicious but the chicken was a bit dry. Nothing terrible but again, not my favourite out of everything that came out. Next up, we had the Madras Pepper Steak ($19.70) which was tender, juicy and served up with caramelized onion and coconut. It was beautifully rich and delicious. This was probably my second favourite main of the evening.

Don’t forget, you have your options of sides too. We opted for the Green Beans ($8.70) with caramelized onions, coconut and turmeric and Rice ($4.60) served up in a lovely little jar (resealable) with so many aromatics. These pair deliciously with all the mains.

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If you’ve left room for dessert, there is that. We opted for the Eton Mess ($7.60), which was a mess of all things delicious: rosewater-soaked meringues in pomegranate syrup and sweet lassi cream. Um, so into it.

So if you’re craving authentic Indian and feel like making the trek to St. Clair West, make a date for Pukka. You will not be disappointed. Reservations can be made daily.

Zengo’s Test Kitchen: A Melody of East & West

Words by Gillian Kreft
Additional words by Lauren Edward

When you start thinking about fusion cuisine a few things cross your mind, but something that most of us wouldn’t think of is mixing Japanese & Mexican food, but the culinary genius that is Richard Sandoval did it, and it is amazing.

My lovely taster for the evening, Lauren.

My lovely taster for the evening, Lauren.

Sandoval’s restaurant Zengo, recently announced its new Test Kitchen Menu combining the forces of Mexican & Japanese food. The menu rotates every few months mixing different Latin & Asian cuisines into one extraordinary melting pot of flavors.

I was invited to test out the TK menu and I jumped at the chance. Since I’m vegan, I brought one of my good girlfriends, Lauren, with me to devour everything that I couldn’t. While Zengo doesn’t advertise as being vegan friendly, they do have a separate vegetarian menu that includes a few dishes that are already vegan or are easily adaptable.

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They started by bringing us out a drink from the TK cocktail menu, the Shiro margarita which included nigori, agave blanco tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and house-made sour. I’m not usually a tequila drinker but this was amazing, a sugar rimmed glass added just the right amount of sweetness without making it into something that was all about the sugar and not enough about the fusion of sake & tequila.

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Next were the appetizers, a vegetarian sushi roll to share, Terikayi Pork Belly Gorditas “Sliders” for Lauren, and Arepas de Shiitakes for myself.

For me, the corn meal cakes topped with shiitakes, and guacamole  were a bit too spicy but that was easily remedied by taking off some of the jalapeno on top. They were perfectly crunchy while the mushrooms added a nice meaty texture to them.

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LE: “My first plate to try was the TK Terikayi Pork Belly Gordita “Sliders”, a sort of dressed up McMuffin as the manager called them. Hearing this I was initially a little skeptical, but these little suckers knocked my socks off.  Piled atop a crispy masa cake was sliced pork belly, oaxaca cheese, guacamole, carmalized pineapple, and pickled chiles for just the right amount of heat. The meat was tender and tasty and couldn’t have been better complimented by the array of flavorful fixin’s.”

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As someone who eats a lot of vegetable sushi, I can’t say that this roll stood out. It was delicious but nothing that I haven’t had before. They served the aioli on the side and it was so good Lauren kept it at the table “just in case there’s something else” she could slather it on.

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The next drink they brought out was described as an “updated Old fashioned.” Its formal title: The Calamansi Old-Fashioned; consisting of Japanese whiskey, fresh calamansi juice, agave, and bitters. It was a little heavy on the whiskey but still delicious. I can’t say it read much different than the old fashion my grandmother makes when I visit her but maybe she’s ahead of the times.

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When they brought the entrees out I have to say that I wasn’t super excited. I had read the menu prior and noticed the only dish that was vegan was a tofu one. I love tofu, but as a vegan it can get a little lackluster after a few hundred dishes. When the dish was put in front of me, I couldn’t deny that the presentation alone was enough to make me want to lick the plate clean but once I took a bite of perfectly cooked tofu and a chili sauce, there was no stopping me. I finished my plate before Lauren and was begging for one more piece of tofu to soak up what was left of the sauce but alas, I was left with bokchoy & beansprouts which did the job just as well as the tofu.

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LE: “The TK entree was Kabayaki Glazed Lamb Shank Barbacoa. Now, I will admit I am not the biggest fan of lamb, but this dish prompted a change of heart. You know that melt-off-the-bone meaty goodness that so many of us barbecue lovers can’t get enough of? Well, try this. Aromatic ginger, chiles, and tamarand gave this shank some zing, without overpowering the lamb itself. As for the pairings, this is when things kind of fell apart. The lamb was served over a bed of “arroz verde” and pickled vegetables. I really wasn’t a fan of either of these sides as I felt they offset the composition of the dish and added some strange contrasting flavors. The rice was bitter… pungent almost, and spicy. Not the good flavorful kind, but the burn your taste buds spice. No thanks. As for the veggies, well, okra and carrots, they  were arranged nicely but added very little umphf to the dish. Let’s just say that after finishing the lamb itself, I was ready for dessert.”

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What is a meal without dessert? (The answer: sad) I was able to try all three of their sorbet flavors that rotate, Strawberry-yuzu, Blueberry-ginger, and Mango. I would venture to say that the strawberry and blueberry are made in house while the mango is store-bought. Either way, they were all delicious; the strawberry and blueberry were amazing and the addition of the yuzu and ginger made them undeniably the best sorbet I’ve ever had.

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LE: “Dessert, the showstopper of all showstoppers. Folks, on this night the stars aligned and the culinary Gods above sent to earth the perfect post-dinner treat. The TK Avocado Panna Cotta. I don’t think I can effectively do this dessert justice through any description, but if you ask Gillian, there was very little talking and a whole lot of om-nom. Fresh avocado custard, similar to flan, was perfectly sweet with a subtle hint of that avocado flavor. Served alongside this was a mango chutney of sorts with fresh mint, and peanut chocolate cookie crumbs. What kind of mad world do we live in? I never would have expected this to be as good as it was, but it blew my mind and left me wanting seconds. Cheers to good food.”

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Overall, I was impressed with Zengo. The service was impeccable (thanks Ryan!) and they were more than happy to accommodate two diets into one perfectly presented meal. The tofu alone makes me dream about returning. I look forward to what Sandoval’s next culinary mash-up will be.

Greece makes its mark on the Beaches with Trinity Taverna

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Originally posted to Ama’s twice-weekly column on Toronto Is Awesome.

It is not often that food has brought me out to the East End, but on this cold blustery night – Yuli and I decided to make the trek to an oasis hidden within a beachfront restaurant property with promises of authentic Greek food stylings. That place was Trinity Taverna.

Owned and operated by Peter Morentzos of Morentzos Restaurant Group and Danny and George Foulidis, the team has spared no expense at making this expansive (600 seated) restaurant with stunning lakefront views pleasing to both the eyes and stomach.

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Upon entry, you’re greeted by bold Mediterranean colours and a gorgeous ceiling made-up from thousands of birch branches, creating a Greek villa feel. The bench seating comes equipped with glorious pillows and a beautiful view of the open-kitchen. Beside the kitchen, you’ll notice the fresh seafood counter, whom Peter Morentzos told us shipped in fresh almost daily. They also have a very expansive wine list, including many Greek wines. If you’re uncertain of which wines to pair or have never had a Greek wine, not to fear — their sommelier is very wise and knowledgeable in all things Greece and wine. For example, he treated us to a beautiful red (Boutari Naoussa Xinomavro), which just made the top 100 of the Wine Enthusiast list.

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Chef Pierre Restivo and his kitchen team turns each ingredient into journey through the roads of Greece. For our appetizers, we were delighted with the Trilogy of Spreads, which included six different tastes such as house-made tzatziki (using a goat-milk yogurt, bringing out a smoothy richness and tang), tarama (smoked salmon, caviar and garlic) and htipiti (feta and spicy red pepper). Each of the dips had their own richness and I was seriously considering asking the kitchen to send me with a vat home. Alas: I did not work up the courage to do so. If only snacking at home could be this — elegant.

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Next up, we were brought out a Lamb Tartare (lean lamb loin, fresh mint, shallots, thai chilli oil and quail’s egg). I have never been much of a tartare fan but thought, when in Rome. So I took a chance on this dish and have been dreaming of it ever since. The kick of the thai chilli oil mixed in with the beautiful fresh taste of tartare. Perfect, especially for a lamb tartare. Something so very rarely seen.

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To balance things out, we tried out their Iceberg and Romaine Slaw where razor-thin cucumbers and julienned iceberg are married together with a sweet, simple white-wine vinegar dressing. The results are light and refreshing.

We decided to take the seafood counter out for a spin, testing out the following hot offerings: Shrimp & Feta, Baked Scallops and their standout trophy dish, the Octopus. The tomato and feta sauce served up with the shrimp was hearty and brilliant. If I’m not mistaken, we scooped up every last bit of the sauce. Now let me tell you about those scallops in three words (and trust me you’ll thank me later): saffron béchamel sauce. If that doesn’t scream to you: get in my mouth, I don’t know what will. But that Octopus – it was glorious. Grilled and prepared with an aged balsamic, it was pretty much everything.

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We also munched on some of my favourite offal meat, sweetbreads. Pan-seared in a lamb stock, white wine reduction and truffle oil, the meat was juicy and tender and packed many of the flavours in. The house-made sausage was up next, delivered with hints of citrus and delicious flavour.

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But let me tell you this: the main dinner offerings is where they win everything. We were treated to a sampling of four dishes: Rabbit Stifatho, Veal Cheek Moussaka, Trinity Taverna GYRO and Pan-Seared Lamb Chops. From these four dishes, the two that stood out to me the most were Rabbit Stifatho and Veal Cheek Moussaka. First things first, the rabbit in a delicious stew of onions, tomato confit and cinnamon. The braise leaves the meat to be tender and the flavouring really comes out in this winter hearty Greek dish. With the Veal Cheek Moussaka, you’re taken into a cosmic heaven of foodie delight with layers of scalloped potatoes, braised and stewed veal cheeks, tomato-confit sauce and eggplant once again in a beautiful béchamel sauce. Decadence at its best.

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A note of advice: leave room for dessert because you will want it and well, by the end of this feast you will be sluggish with so much delicious food. Treat yourself to the wondrous Feta Cheesecake (topped with caramelized figs) or Baklava.

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This restaurant is a perfect escape from the everyday Winter blah’s and also to find your own road to Greece right here in Toronto.

All photos by Yuli Scheidt.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Big Bites – Cheddar Ale Soup in a Soft Pretzel Bowl

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2. Kitchen Envy – Casa Brutus

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3. Know-How – Homemade Herbed Sea Salt

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4. Cakes – Chocolate Poppyseed Cake

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5. Little Bites – Cured Salmon 

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Fonda Lola: the ultimate Mexican Fiesta opens on Queen Street West

What can I say about the newest restaurant opening on Queen West, Fonda Lola? Well for starters: this is quite a bit of history packed into that resto. First things first, as I walked through the door that cold November evening, I was greeted by energetic and kind, Andres Marquez who was slinging drinks behind the bar who handed me a margarita (more on those later).

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From the kitchen walked out Ernesto Rodriguez and Howard Dubrowsky, the two other owners (with Andres). For foodies with knowledge, Howard use to be the former chef and owner of L.A.B. on College. But after coming together as partners and creating the ultimate in Mexican Fiesta, they settled upon the old Lafayette Bistro location (942 Queen West) and Fonda Lola was born. Many renovations and menu preparation was done in advance of this day and night, where several of their friends were invited into the space to join them in celebrating.

So let’s get back to that Margarita, shall we? Fonda Lola makes several tequila-based drinks using (wait for it) kombucha, which is a fermented black tea. At first, I was somewhat skeptical on how this would taste. But let me be the first to report back: it’s good. Like, really really good. Andres has a way at making you feel at ease, letting me try an original kombucha margarita and then a cherry kombucha margarita. All their margaritas come in at the price of $10.50 each. You have the ability to order other drinks such as beer and wine.

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All of the food takes a very traditional approach with recipes straight from Mexico, we are told. The menu is divided up into three different parts: Frio (which consists of appetizers and snacks, $5-8), Caliente (main dishes, ranging from $5-14) and everyone’s favourite dessert. The other appealing thing about Fonda Lola? You can buy out the entire menu for $100 which they have aptly titled the “Mexican Fiesta”.

For starters, we were brought out their Guacamole & Chips ($5) and Trout Aguachile ($8). All of the dishes were paired with chips (made in-house) and the guacamole had an extra little kick to it, which caught you just at the end. It was nice and refreshing. The balance of the Trout Aguachile (very similar to a ceviche dish) was perfect with lots of lime flavours. Nothing overpowered the fresh taste of the trout here, which was excellent.

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Next up, we were treated to their thick-cut Candied Bacon ($5), which had some chill flavouring. Just the right sweet and heat, which makes it good for either a snack or a dessert, in my humble opinion. I mean, you can’t go wrong with bacon and this did just the trick.

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If you’re into Jalapeño Poppers, then you will love Fonda Lola’s take on it: the Panela Popper ($7). This jalapeño marinated Panela Cheese, which is then coated in corn meal is ooey-gooey good while still being light and crispy. Plus, the kick of the jalapeño is still there without being too overpowering.

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Now what would a Mexican restaurant be without tacos? Tacos al Pastor ($10) are served in a hot skillet in three types: pork, beef and marinated tofu. This family style offering also comes with home-made tortillas, salsa and other fixings (including delicious pineapple). I had the chance to try out all three types of tacos and they were all seasoned well and better than tacos I even had while in Mexico, where I had just returned from.

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Open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 – 11 PM, the restaurant is small and is definitely going to become a hit on the Queen West strip amongst those who crave authentic Mexican. Thankfully, you can make reservations. Prepare yourself for the Fonda Lola experience!

Winter is coming to Spin Toronto

Originally posted to Ama’s twice-weekly column on Toronto is Awesome.

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When one thinks gourmet, high-end food – one does not think: ping pong club. But Executive Chef Jon Lovett has taken to changing the minds of King West ad execs and ping pong lovers with his beautifully crafted and inventive table treats specifically with his new Fall/Winter offerings.

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With an in-house meat and breads program, one of the dishes that Jon prides himself on is the Charcuterie Plate ($12). All the meats are cured in-house for perfect smoke and great flavouring. Included was a delicious terrine, which made this just a bit fancier than your normal board and some classic crisps with preserves.

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Next up, we were treated to an array of beautiful and fresh Oysters (3 for $8, sourced from Rodney’s Oyster House) and served with a molecular gastronomy technique of hot sauce caviar pearls. This served as an extra little kick but also made for a stunningly gorgeous dish. I mean, how can you go wrong with freshly shucked oysters?

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Now this could only be a treat your grandmother would love but something that the adventurous and willing will try: beet-root flavoured deviled eggs (6 for $9) and let me tell you: they were probably one of my favourite items. But if that wasn’t up your alley (are you crazy) then these lightly battered in-house preserved pickles, deep-fried (of course) would be more your speed. $8/serving and with a wicked Ranch sauce, it was served up like one of the Blooming Onions you would have at the CNE in the Summer.

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Next up we had an impressive take on an old classic: the Chicken and Waffles Platter ($19), only this time we are delighted with a Stuffing Waffle and King Capon drumstick and yams. The chicken was incredible juicy and married well with all these holiday classic flavours, however I still think I prefer the OG Chicken and Waffles Platter. I’m a die-hard Spin Chicken and Waffles girl, what can I say? Chef Jon has always strived to make fun and unique food and this takes the cake.

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I have to say the next two dishes were two of my other favourites from the night: King Capon drumsticks (3 pieces for $12) and the Pretzels Bites with Cheese Sauce (9 pieces for $9). This chicken was off the chain. The sauce was rich and finger lickin’ good. Lots of Asian flavours and honestly, 3 pieces would not be enough for me. I’d want a bucket full! With the pretzel bites, it was squishy and the epic cheese sauce sold the dish. Just enough tang and the pretzel was not overly salty which was perfect.

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SPiN is a great place to let your hair down after a long day at work and take in some good eats, delicious cocktails (might I suggest the BFF or the Gin Blossom, $12.40 for 2oz. of alcohol love) and night to laugh at your pong mishaps.

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Photos: Yuli Scheidt

Whippoorwill’s Simply Seasonal Fall/Winter Menu

I have been a huge fan of The Whippoorwill since moving into the Bloordale area and have been a huge advocate of their brunches. So when they told me they were going to be launching their new fall/winter menu, I jumped at the chance to help out with the event and well, indulge in their new offerings.

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Everything about The Whippoorwill is so comforting: old timey photos, candlelight and a warm retro diner feel. All the staff greet you with a smile and are more than knowledgable about all the food/drink they are serving up. One such gentleman is Japhet Bower, head mixologist at The Whippoorwill. He started off our evening with some beautifully made cocktails (off-menu, of course), titled Blogger Love. For those who have been following Japhet’s master mixology, he previously was at La Carnita and has a way with the spirits. All cocktails range in price between $10-$18 and range from sweet to sassy. More on that later.

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Executive Chef Tyler Cunningham walked us through the fall/winter dinner menu that was simple yet sophisticated. It was seasonal and packed so many intense flavours, from appetizers .

Rosemary Cured Coho ($13)
Just a slight hint of rosemary with a beautiful array of fresh coho pieces. This dish really spoke for itself.
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Winter Spiced Beet Salad ($12)
Huge pieces of beets, which were a bit undercooked for my liking.
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Beef Carpaccio ($13)
Probably one of my favourite dishes of the night. It was sliced perfectly and mixed up with tahini, which doesn’t sound like it would work: but it does. Great combination.
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Roasted Cauliflower ($13)
The roasted cauliflower had this slight Indian feel, with its use of cumin, raisins, caramelized onion and almonds. Would make a great side-dish to any main.

Potato Gnocchi with Braised Beef Cheek ($13)
This gnocchi was heaven-sent, no word of a lie. Light and paired together with braised beef cheek, which was tender and juicy, everything about this dish was pretty alright.
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Korean Ribs ($22)
I have an affinity for Korean BBQ and there was something about this shareable Korean Rib plate that made me want more. Could have been the juicy, tender meat. Could have been the delicious teriyaki sauce on top. Whatever it might have been: I want more.
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Braised Duck Leg with Swiss Chard and Carrots ($21)
This reminded me of a good ol’ country cooking home-time meal. We ate this family-style and it gave me all the good feels to dig in to that leg and dig down to the bone. Plus let’s be real: who doesn’t like swiss chard?
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Alright, so in between all those dishes Japhet was hard at work on the bar mixing us up cocktails like The Miss Piggy (Napolean Cortel Brandy, Grand Marnier, Briottet Chestnut, Sage, Lemon, Celery Bitters at $12) which tasted like an explosion of autumn in your mouth.

After that, we were treated to one of the final concoctions: Lemmy, which looked like an ice cream float and paired perfectly with our desserts. The Lemmy includes Alberta Premium Dark Horse Rye, Murphy’s Irish Stout Reduction, Maple, Agave, Lemon and Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum Foam all for $12.

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So if you’re looking for some cozy, comforting fare with delicious cocktails – Whippoorwill Tavern may be the place to check out.

Gourmet Food & Wine Show is Coming

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Next Thursday (November 14, 2013), the 2013 Gourmet Food and Wine Show kicks off for another year for an entire weekend of all things food and wine. Taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, you’ll encounter everything here from wine seminars, cheese tastings and people walking around in bacon costumes. True story.

But the Gourmet Food and Wine Show is more than just a expo of all thing gourmet: it’s more of a mingling party. Down aisle one you’ll find Caesar Clint from Mott’s but if you’re feeing a bit pretentious you might find the boys from BarOne putting on a mixology show and mixing you up a Cosmopolitan. No matter what you’re looking for: this show has your bases covered and let’s your inner food & drink geek come out.

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Be warned: there are crowds at this event, but the wait times are surprisingly short. You can either make a game plan ahead of time or just play it by ear. Either way, wait times are never more than a couple minutes for sampling tickets.

Most importantly: have fun with it and experiment. Last year at the Gourmet Food and Wine Show, I took a Chilean Organic wine tasting class and also tried a Molson Canadian cocktail, which was surprisingly tasty. Don’t stick to the old favourites. Push your boundaries, make new friends and have fun. There are over 1,500 wine, beers and spirits to choose from – so go nuts.

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Tickets often sell out and are limited to those 19 years of age or over. Pricing ranges from $40 (VIP) to $25 (Weekend). Check the website for more details.

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Lincoln MKZ Takes Boehmer Out for a Spin

Paul Boehmer’s namesake Ossington restaurant, Boehmer, recently took part in the Lincoln Motor Company’s Savour the City event. The event paired classic contemporary restaurants with beautiful new Lincoln vehicles, namely the MKZ.

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It was the first time that Yuli and I had stepped into Boehmer and the room centred around an enormous bent-wood and crystal chandelier. The design aspects were breathtakingly fabulous and brilliant. No detail missed. In the corner is a funky lounge and the bar is long & inviting. Funky, yet modern.

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The food mixes everything from French to Canadian techniques and ingredients, keeping a good mindful eye on the seasons. For example, the Beet Salad with Argula, Goat Cheese and Baco Noir Vignette that I had started with. It was light and fresh and healthy. However, the winner was the Grilled Calamari with Curried Jus, which Yuli ate. I may have had a bit of app envy.

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As Yuli and I sat at our table sipping on some MKZ Martinis and waiting for our mains, one disappointment we had was the kitchen staff and its somewhat terrifying demeanour with the servers and guests. With our table so close to the open kitchen, we were privy to almost everything that was happening. WIth an event like this, the kitchen was somewhat slammed and the service was almost uncomfortable to watch at times.

When our main dishes did arrive, Veal Cheeks with Mashed Potatoes and Braised Red Cabbages, the dish tasted heaven sent and was well worth the wait. Apparently, one of the top dishes to order from their regular menu as well. What we didn’t end up trying was their Black Cod, which looked heavenly.

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Finally to round out the evening, we finished it off on a lighter more tart note: Lemon Curd Pistachio Cake. But who doesn’t love cake?

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Boehmer’s food was delicious and the decor was fabulous. Perhaps worth another visit on a less busy evening sans the Lincoln test drive.