Tickets on sale for The Stop’s Night Market this week

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket11

Written by Siobhan Ozege, photos by Yuli Scheidt

The Stop’s annual Night Market is nearly upon us. For those in the know, it’s one of Toronto’s most coveted and cherished food events with tickets selling out within hours every year. This year, you’re lucky to have Fat Girl Food Squad watching out for you and giving you the heads-up: tickets go on sale THIS WEEK. On Thursday May 1st for just $65 you get the double-whammy: support the amazing and important food security work that The Stop does, AND eat some of Toronto’s best foods.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket_Plate

The event itself takes place over two nights, with different vendors each night. Happening on June 17th & 18th from 7-11pm in the Honest Ed’s alleyway, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. Your ticket includes all-you-can-eat and drink from such FGFS faves as Fonda LolaDundas ParkSmall Town Food Co., and the Dock Ellis among many, many more. There will be savoury apps, sweet desserts, craft brews, local wines, and even some delicious coffee roasters on site. For a complete list of food vendors, you can visit the Night Market website.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket12

If you’re still on the fence about buying a ticket, we’d suggest reading a bit on what The Stop does. In their own words, “The Stop works to increase access to healthy food in a manner than maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.” This organization runs a number of food programs across the city, including after school programs, community markets and bake ovens, and a drop-in food bank space that serves Toronto’s West End. They’re a great cause, and we’re proud to support them.

YuliScheidt_StopNightMarket14

Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss out on these amazing eats. This will be our second year attending this event, and our mouths are already watering.

Advertisements

Luma serves up a whole lotta Group Love on Valentine’s Day

So for many single and couples in Toronto, Valentine’s Day comes with a bit of dread.  So much anxiety and pressure built up over a fabricated holiday to share your feelings for another.  My life partner, Simon and I decided to keep it cool this year.  We wanted to do something that we felt was relevant to both of our interests (food), relevant to both of our wallets and relevant to both of our lives (being social).

That’s where the Luma Group Love package comes into play.  Luma (the Oliver and Bonacini restaurant at the TIFF Lightbox) held a pre-fixe menu for solo foodies ($25/per person) or groups of three or more ($50 per person).  For those that were ‘riding solo’, you got to saddle up to the Communal Table and share your evening with a night of fabulous new friends.

IMG_5009

We took our seat at the communal table seated amongst a diverse group of new friends.  The table was set with a beautiful array of Valentine’s Day candy and the wait staff started us off with a lovely drink titled the ‘Icebreaker’ (double black cherry infused bourbon), which did just that.  All of us went round-table and introduced ourselves and what we did.  Finally once we were all done, we cheers to a fabulous Valentine’s Day.

IMG_5010

IMG_5013

Now a dinner like this may not be for the brave at heart.  Having to make conversation over a great meal with strangers for at least one hour might get awkward and trust me, at times, it did.   But thankfully we had our wonderful servers who had impeccable timing and always made us feel like we were the stars of the evening.  Well that is, next to the food – of course.

Our Ted Allen looking waiter served up one-half dinner theatre style theatrics and one-half food guide for the evening, as he told us everything would be served: “family style, because group love and sharing is caring”.

First up, platters of Fritto Misto of squid and fanny bay oysters fried up with duck egg and radish crudités were put onto the table for all to enjoy.  Each person had their own oyster and each section of the table had their own Misto platter, so we didn’t have to fight over who took the last piece.   Next up, we were plated what (at first) looked like art.  Beautiful and delicate pieces of smoked trout and celery root in a deep bowl which our server then ladled in a lovely herb creme fraiche base.  Can I just say that I wanted to lick the bottom of the bowl.  I thought it may have been a bit rude of me to do so, but the chowder wasn’t heavy or too creamy.  It was rich and perfect.

IMG_5022
IMG_5017

We decided to keep the juices flowing by ordering a carafe of Punch Drunk Love (rose, passion fruit liqeur, juice and lemonade).  It reminded me of Beyonce and for that, I thought it would be a good choice.  Verdict: it made me Drunk in Love. I may or may not have sent Simon a text midway through our meal that read: “I think I’m drunk” because clearly I’m old and a lightweight now.

Our next grand dish was the Lemon & Rosemary Cornish Hen served up with a warm chicory & chicken liver salad and a yukon gold potato & kale dauphinoise.  Simon had never had Cornish Hen before and he was won over immediately.  Where as my favourite thing was the potato, which whilst fumbling around trying to dig into this accidentally sliced through half a lemon.  Yep, I’m a class act.  Note: I did not eat half the lemon, just almost ate half of it.  Also: the chicken livers – so baller.  I am proud to say that our side of the table may have taken the salad home with them because: waste not, want not.

IMG_5024

IMG_5026

By this time, we were beginning to feel sluggish with Luma Group Love feels and food.  Not only that, our dinner reservations began at 9PM and it was it was nearing 11.  I felt that we were at an authentic Italian style family feast.  The dishes and courses would not stop coming and while I was feeling quite blessed (and well, Punch Drunk Loved) — I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the dessert course without at least unbuttoning my jeans.  However, I took one for the team and dove into (without falling into a food coma) my Warm Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel Chicharrones.

IMG_5028

This evening was everything I could have asked for food-wise and budget-wise.  I mean, I rolled out of Luma with a 3 course meal including 2 solid desserts for $25!  This deal was better than any other Valentine’s Day evening out.  I mean, let’s be real: even if we had cooked dinner and bought a bottle of vino, it probably would have cost as much as our Luma dinner date (or more)!  But thanks to Luma, they guided our entire evening plus gave us some rad new friends and I didn’t have to do the dishes afterwards.  This was something I am so thankful for.

Best part?  They are offering this amazing special for just ONE MORE DAY!  For those that live in Ontario and celebrate Family Day, you should march your butts over to Luma & partake in the Group Love menu.  You can be like me and stuff yourself silly all in honour of FAMILY!  Then pass out in a wonderful blissful food coma.

Pukka spices up St. Clair West

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Greece makes its mark on the Beaches with Trinity Taverna

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Meat on Meat on Meat: the official FGFS Turducken Potluck Experience

For those of you following FGFS, you may have come to realize that we’re all about community. The FGFS HQ is located in Toronto and lots of times, we love to just kick-back and hang together with our writers in the GTA as a big grrl gang.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the holidays coming up, many of us had families we just couldn’t get to or other circumstances that just didn’t have us partaking in the holiday season. For that, we decided to do what any righteous and bodacious grrl gang would do: have an End of 2013 Potluck!

Each of us were tasked with bringing our own inspired dishes to the table and we invited some of our nearest and dearest friends to join us. Thanks to the lovely people at Echelon Foods, we were treated to the fine wonders of what any holiday dinner should have: a huge ass turducken. So what exactly is a turducken? Well, for those of you not in the gastronomical know: it’s meat (turkey) on meat (duck) on meat (chicken). All in one bird. All prepped.. for your pleasure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We ended up getting a Italian Sausage stuffed Turducken and well, the Potluck journey was on! The lovely Leigh Van Maaren took over official turducken cooking duties and well, she did a marvellous job. Not only is she a babe but she’s a badass ninja in the kitchen providing us with gravy, stuffing and glazed carrots as well. The charming and hilarious Aviva Cohen took on the vegetarian pot pie and also provided us with the most badass dessert of the evening: Momofuku Birthday Cake, made from scratch. Yes, we got spoiled. We love you, Aviva. Provided by yours truly (that’s Ama) was a holiday classic: brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower gratin, made up in four-cheeses. And lest we forget the OG Mac & Cheese and Grandma’s Classic Broccoli and Tomato Mac & Cheese put together by FGFS fave Tabby. Oh, plus we had some mashed potatoes. Because: fuck yea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
AvivaBDayCake

It was a night of friends and FGFS family and well, Turducken. The prep time of the turducken took seven hours and well, wasn’t all that difficult. The bird (which weighed in at about 10 pounds) fed between 10-12 people with several leftovers. The taste of the Turducken was… magical. Given there was so much density to the bird, I wasn’t sure how all those meats (on meats) would taste. But it was juicy and tender and full of turducken goodness. If I’m not selling it, check out our Twitter feed for the live results.

CookedTurducken
FGFS Twitter
Leftovers

Each of our plates were full of delicious food and cups filled with FGFS writer Siobhan Ozege beautifully handcrafted rosemary-infused vodka. We were all feeling in fine form and quite thankful for the year we’ve had as individuals but also, the (almost) year we’ve had together as Fat Girl Food Squad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Praise be to the Turducken overlords for gracing us with this beautiful bird. You gave us just another reason to hang out and well, be our awesome foodie selves.

BIVY introduces their Parisian-style dinner menu

YuliScheidt-BIVY-2

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

Dundas West is changing and owner Pascal Vernhes saw that when he opened up his casual dining restaurant and cafe, BIVY. As I chatted with him briefly one cold November evening, he told me that living in the area, he noticed the lack of serious eateries in the area and felt it was time to introduce something relaxed and comfortable while presenting them good tasting food.

The interior of the restaurant has a bit of a kitschy cottage touch mixed in with a bit of Canadiana. Adorned on the walls are maps and painted murals of mountains, alongside reclaimed wood shelving (housing different products they sell within the cafe). The restaurant itself feels rustic and small, almost as if you’ve been invited to your friends cottage kitchen. The kitchen is fairly open, so you are able to watch your food being prepared.

The dinner menu takes more of a Parisian style approach to food, with prices ranging between $4.50-$12.00, for appetizers and mains. Our server started us off with BIVY’s own take on a charcuterie boards loaded with cured meats and country paté. All of the meats are locally sourced (some suppliers even within the Dundas West area) and all the pickling is done in-house. The board comes in at the price point of $9.00 and adds an element of social eating over a glass of wine. We were treated to several different types of meats and cheeses and loved every moment of it.

YuliScheidt-BIVY-3

Next up, our server suggested one of BIVY’s top menu items: 2LB of P.E.I Mussels ($12), which come in several different flavours including Bombay (curry & cream), jerk (white wine, onion, tomato & jerk seasoning) among many others. Tonight, we decided to partake in the Catalane, which consisted of chorizo, paprika, cream and peppers. The perfect cook of the the mussels and the delicious sauce was magical. I was literally spooning up the sauce (with its rich, bold flavours) with the Mussels shells and we didn’t leave one single drop in the bowl.

YuliScheidt-BIVY-4

For our mains, we were treated to bistro standards such as duck confit ($12) and slow-roasted ribs ($9), each which you could pair with sides (extra $4) such as mixed greens, potato salad, fries or coleslaw. The duck confit was juicy and tender and served up directly on the bone, adding in additional flavouring. The slow-roasted ribs used, what looked to be a dry rub and had a small kick. It was not overcooked, just perfect.

YuliScheidt-BIVY-5
YuliScheidt-BIVY-6

For those with a sweet tooth, BIVY has been known for their Crème Brûlée and the verdict: its great. They do have other offerings for dessert as well, which seem to be seasonal. But the Crème Brûlée is top-notch in our books.

YuliScheidt-BIVY-1
YuliScheidt-BIVY-7

If you’re looking for a romantic evening out with fabulous well cooked food (I know I have been dreaming of those Mussels since we went), then make the trip to BIVY. You will not be disappointed.

Parlour’s winter sharing bites get me off my couch and on to theirs

Written by Leigh Van Maaren

parlour270_4

Tucked in to the basement of one of the oldest rowhouses in the neighbourhood, Parlour at Adelaide and John has turned an old basement in to something great. The actual restaurant isn’t that much bigger than your basement 1-bedroom, but the super cozy furniture and ultra-low lighting give the room a warm feeling that your basement apartment never achieved. It’s impossible not to want to curl up with a stiff drink as soon as you’ve escaped the cold winter streets in to this downtown speakeasy-style bar.

We visited on a Tuesday night to preview the winter sharing menu – which, we were shocked to learn, is created entirely in a kitchen that doesn’t go far beyond that one you’d expect to find in your basement apartment. With no exhaust hood, that means no fryer and no high-temperature cooking, lest the chef fill the entire restaurant with the smell of whatever tasty bite is being prepared.

We settle in to a couple of cocktails – I try the Pink Parlour Martini ($15) and my partner opts for an Old Fashioned ($15). Our drinks arrive promptly and the service throughout the evening is fantastic – far beyond what a couple of mid-20’s OCADU students usually expect. I’m not a huge alcohol drinker, so I’m surprised by just how much I love my little pink drink. The glass arrives, mercifully, without the garish fruit garnish that usually adorns these kinds of drinks. The cocktail is much greater than the sum of its parts – white grape and lychee juice with vodka turn in to a refreshing, not-to-sweet concoction. The Old Fashioned is similarly well balanced; it’s boozy and a bit sweet, with a nice bold kick from the bourbon.

Our food starts to arrive quickly thereafter; we open with the Quinoa Canoes ($7), a chilled quinoa salad in a boat of endive. It’s got a great crunch and makes for a very satisfying vegetarian dish. The balance of flavours and texture reminds me of a spring roll in a lot of ways, but it’s free of the trip to the deep fryer that spring rolls need to make them delicious. This is a dish I liked so much I’ll probably try to replicate it at home, so I can also enjoy it in my pajamas.

parlour270_3

Out next comes out two trays – Beef Tartare ($14) on one, and Albondigas & Sofrito ($13) on the other. We dig in to the Albondigas & Sofrito first – henceforth known by its peasant name, meatballs & red sauce. The meatballs are lamb and beef, which has the benefit of actually having the meatball taste like meat. The lamb gives the beef the flavor that I always wish beef had; so much so that I may have to use this meat blend in my meatball recipe in the future. It’s served up with focaccia studded with beautifully caramelized onion, and we’re happy campers.

parlour270_2

The beef tartare is up next – you can see how a dish like this would work extremely well in their small kitchen, but it’s also excellent for sharing. One of the big priorities when developing the winter sharing menu was food that could be eaten in the variety of different seating setups throughout Parlour; and that means food you can eat while curled up on a period chesterfield or while perched from a bar stool. When it comes to the tartare, I’m an easy sell for uncooked beef, so I’m enthusiastic to dive in. I’m not at all disappointed; it doesn’t have that strong meaty flavor like the meatballs did, but it’s decadent without being too heavy. The truffle aioli and Dijon mustard act as fantastic accents as we scoop up the gems of beef on perfectly toasted bread.

Not long after finishing our tartare, our Kobassa & Mushroom flatbread ($14) arrives. It’s well executed, with little bits of kobassa and sliced cremini mushrooms throughout the perfectly melted fior de latte. The kobassa really steals the show, though – it’s amazingly smoky, and leaves us asking where we can procure such a glorious meat product. It’s sourced from one of the owner’s favourite Croatian delis in Mississauga, we’re told – it’s good enough that we’d be tempted to make the trek there ourselves.

parlour270_1

Finally, our dinner comes to an end with a cheese board for dessert. The board doesn’t offer up anything we haven’t seen before; Oka, Manchego, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. While there are no super soft cheeses, which might be a problem for some, the selection makes it a nice after-dinner snack to work through. The cheese is paired with a delicious marmalade and a house-made truffle honey. We try every conceivable combination, but the consensus is that truffle honey can go on pretty much anything.

The service throughout the evening is exceptional; we felt welcome and well attended to throughout our stay. When I find myself working at an advertising agency instead of slaving away over my thesis and want to unwind in a comfortable place with a drink and some bites, I’ll consider heading over to Parlour rather than heading home with my usual ‘sharing’ snack – a bag of cool ranch Doritos.

Chef Becky Ross organizes a Holly Jolly Feast

It’s the holidays and everyone knows that the holidays are filled with food, food and more food. But should you not be so culinary inclined, not to worry. Top Chef Canada alum Becky Ross alongside her partner Alex Bruveris are looking to fill bellies with their Holly Jolly Feast, held on two nights in December.

HollyJollyFeast

Becky posts on the Tumblr event page that, “Holly Jolly Feast is about memories and sensations.  We want to bring back the magic of your childhood holidays, back when just the sparkling lights were enough to make your heart flutter with excitement; back when the food tasted better, the smells stronger, and the colours brighter.”

Two dates have been organized December 10th (at Porzia Restaurant) and December 15th (at L’Unita Restaurant) to help everyone get in on enjoying all the fixings. So what does the $100 ticket price get you?

BeckyRossMenu

Don’t hesitate to purchase your tickets, they will sell out quickly. Visit their event page for more details.

Eyal Liebman delivers Chocolate for dinner

Eyal

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate is one of the world’s most luxurious food items. So when I was invited to this Chocolate inspired dinner by Abbey Sharp (of Abbey’s Kitchen), I could not resist the chance to say no. The other selling point? Chef Eyal Liebman (Boehmer) & Sommelier Rebecca Meïr (Luma) would be curating the event and taking us on a culinary journey like no other.

For those that know, Eyal is no stranger to the delicate art of chocolate, and is on a mission to prove to Toronto foodies that it’s not just for dessert. He is a successfully trained pastry chef and promised guests that evening a sophisticated tasting menu that will seamlessly blend the worlds of sweet and savory.

This ambitious and delightful 7-course meal started off on the fresh side with an amuse bouche of Oysters with an infused cocoa nibs mignonette. Perfect start with subtle hints of chocolate. Next up, we were treated to probably one of my favourite dishes of the evening: shrimp with a Madagascar chocolate molé sauce. The presentation was well done and the mole sauce was rich and just the right amounts of spice. Mole is a laborious thing to make; fortunately, it paid off here.

Oysters
ShrimpMole

Skillfully matching the different chocolates to the varied flavors and textures. we were treated next to an ambitious but incredible Rabbit terrine paired with a Chocolate Brioche crisp. Terrines can be a difficult thing to perfect, but Eyal did a great job keeping all the flavours staying together and being cohesive. One diner at the table proclaimed this was one of the best terrines they had have.

Terrine

Our fish dish was a Mediterranean style white fish cake, parsnip & pure Venezuelan chocolate purée, which was perfectly cooked, soft and lovely. The remarkable thing about this fish dish was the chocolate purée almost added an enhancement to the flavour profiles of the dish. It was present but did not overpower. Eyal is so aware
of the balance in his dishes and this showed in the fish course.

Fish

Our next course was the visually stunning Beef & Valrhona Caraïbe with pure Caribbean chocolate, maple glazed baby carrots & asparagus. The medium-cooked beef was juicy and had loads of juicy flavour. The cocoa flavours of the Caribbean chocolate enhanced the meat’s natural sweetness.

Beef

I finished off the evening on a high-note which left me wanting more, an avant-garde approach to dessert: tomato gelée, olive oil & white chocolate mousse, strawberry & lemon confit salade. Everything about this dish was delicate and soft and drool worthy. You might not think that tomato and white chocolate go well together, but trust me: they do! Plus, this dish looked like a piece of art.

Dessert

Chef Eyal Liebman set out to showcase chocolate in all its forms and he did just that. I left the dinner on such a chocolate high that I was clearly feeling inspired by Eyal’s chocolate dreams. Each dish was successfully pulled off and I can’t wait for another Chocolate Dinner in the future.

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhotos by Yuli Scheidt

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Winter Spiced Beet Salad ($12)
Huge pieces of beets, which were a bit undercooked for my liking.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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?
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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