Batter Up: Canteen Serves Up Corn-Dog Realness

Listen up Toronto and listen up real good. I have found some legit corn-dogs.

None of this fried and disgusting stuff that makes you feel like you’re going to be sick afterwards. Oh no. This corn-dog was heaven-sent and thy heavens name is Oliver & Bonacini’s Canteen!

To celebrate the beginning of a new Blue Jays season (I wonder if my homeboy Drake has stocks in the Jays too?), the O&B team developed this fab new deal titled, Dugout Dogs. Beginning on April 4th, enjoy a blue cornmeal Dugout Dog, doubled up, for your pleasure for just $12 with a pint of Mill Street Tankhouse to wet the whistle for $5.

The Dugout Dog offers up more than just dogs & beer, which in theory you could get at the Jays game (for way more than $12, might I add). This thick and juicy realness is all beef, gluten-free served up with house-made mustard and ketchup and plated up with dem thick Yukon Gold fries.

This deal happens on every time the Jays play at home from 11AM onwards. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat dem dogs in-house at Canteen, then don’t feel like you’ll strike out on this deal. Take them to go!

Go march your butt down to Canteen and check em out for yourself. Sports fan or not, Dugout Dogs are where its at.

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Lookin’ Good Girl — Food for Your Face

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By Vanessa Vaillant

Here at Fat Girl Food Squad, we’re always talking about delicious food. We all love to nourish our bodies with food, but it can also be great for nourishing our skin! Often when you think of foods that are good for your body, they will have properties that are nourishing to the skin as well. Feeding your face and body with food-­based ingredients is a fun and healthy way to take care of yourself.

Green Tea

We all know that green tea is good for the body but it’s also fantastic for your skin. Green tea is very high in antioxidants and also has antibacterial properties. Antioxidants help to fight against free radicals that are all around us, coming from a variety of sources like pollution and cigarette smoke. An easy way to get green tea into your skin is to simply brew up a cup and tone your face with it. Toning your skin before adding moisturizer will keep your skin more hydrated, and you won’t need to use as much moisturizer. You can also use matcha green tea powder mixed into a face mask.

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Papaya

Papayas are not only delicious, they are also jam packed full of vitamins for your skin. They’re full of vitamins A, B, and C, contain powerful alpha hydroxy acids, and also their own powerful papaya enzymes. Fruit enzymes are a great way to naturally exfoliate the skin without actually scrubbing it because they’ll eat away at dead skin cells. This is especially good for anyone who has a sensitivity to exfoliating. The naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acids and papaya enzymes will brighten up the skin and help to remove dead cells. You can also look for fruit enzymes in facial cleansers, masks, and moisturizers.

Lush Cosmetic’s The Sacred Truth face mask combines papaya, matcha green tea, and fresh wheatgrass to pack a foodie punch to your skin!

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Beet Root

Eating a rainbow of colourful foods is what you often hear about when aiming for good internal health. If you’ve ever prepared beets before, you will know that they are incredibly pigmented. Beets also contain a high amount of vitamins and phytochemicals. Beet juice can be used to naturally stain the skin — you can use it all on its own as a lip or cheek stain. The colour that beets give is very natural looking on the skin, and can be layered for a bolder look.

Small-batch organic skincare company, Fat and The Moon, make a great lip and cheek stain that
uses beet root for pigment.

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Peach

Peaches were once thought of as the fruit of immortality, so it’s no wonder that peach kernel oil (and as apricot kernel oil) is often used in “anti­-ageing” products. Peach kernel oil is extracted from the pit of the fruit; this oil is naturally high in good fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A and E, meaning it’s great for keeping skin looking fresh and youthful. This type of oil is also easily absorbed into the skin, so it won’t feel heavy or greasy. Look for apricot or peach kernel oil in moisturizers for the face, lips, and body.

Tony Moly makes a super adorable peach hand lotion!  I picked mine up at Pacific Mall.

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Honey

Honey has been used topically on the skin since Ancient Egyptian times. It has both antibacterial and soothing properties, which makes it exceptionally good for anyone with skin conditions like eczema. It’s wonderful for healing because it will sooth the skin and encourage the growth of healthy skin cells. You can apply honey directly onto your skin, or look for skincare products containing honey in the base. You can also make your own body scrub by mixing honey with an exfoliating base like sugar, salt, or ground coffee.

iYellow Wine Club: South Africa Earth Day Taste + Tweet‏

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By Megan Stulberg | Photos by Alice Prendergast

You know that dreadful folk song, “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? If you replace “99” with “14” and “bottles of beer” with “glasses of wine” then you have my Tuesday evening. The iYellow Wine Club is a group based in Toronto that invites its members (and guests) to sample wines from all over the world, and meet and mingle with Toronto’s fellow winos. When I received an invite to attend their “South Africa Taste + Tweet”, I jumped at the chance to spend Earth Day 2014 learning about the growing sustainable wine industry. Hosted at the iYellow wine cave (243 Queen St. W) with an alleyway entrance, the event was hard to find but definitely worth the struggle.

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The moment I walked in the door, the coat in my hand was swapped with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Sweet to the taste, this was a great drink to start the night off with. Guests were given markers to label their glasses with in order to avoid confusion. Next up was a Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc. John McFarland recommended that guests pair this wine with a camembert cheese in order to balance the drink’s slight astringency, as this wine is less fruity than most being sampled. I decided to switch over to red at this point, and continued alternating back and forth throughout the night. Apparently this is a no-no — who knew? Ah well, a rookie mistake. Next I sampled Honey Badger Sweet Red 2011, a 95% Shiraz and 5% Pinotage from Western Cape. This wine was by far the sweetest of the night. Perhaps a little too sweet for regular consumption, but perfect if having a small glass with dessert. iYellow Wine Bar used the terms “approachable” and “picnic” to describe the new Inception Pinot Noir. My photographer/self-proclaimed wine connoisseur called this “the soda of wine” due to its easiness to drink and lack of aftertaste. A full-bodied beginner’s wine that should be monitored, due to its 13% alcohol content.

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About halfway through the evening, a short presentation was given by Oliver Kristen, founder of The Grape Grinder. Oliver described the importance of eco-friendly wine, explaining that Grinder’s goal is to make a better product while encroaching less on the environment — keeping their “ecological footprint” to a minimum. Oliver explained that most South African wines, including Grinder’s, are labelled with a sustainability seal that certifies the wine has been produced sustainably, can be traced back to its exact origin, and confirms that it was bottled in South Africa. Individual bottle seal numbers can be checked online at swsa.co.za. After trying the Grinder Pinotage, I tried another Pinotage made by Cafe Culture. Hints of a smokey mocha were tasted in this; definitely one of my favourites. I was told that it would be paired well with a smoked meat or a pasta dish. Of the Pinotage wines, Grinder tasted smoother and Cafe Culture felt a bit heavier. 1625591_10154040716125133_7813166010512065751_n 10268399_10153962197650538_2126312175_n Next I tried a glass of Roodeberg red, the label describing it as a “classic blend of red varieties”. I found this wine to have a slightly lighter body than the other reds without losing that concentrated rich flavour. Seven glasses done, seven to go! If you’re wondering how I was even still vertical at this point, you’re not alone. Wine #8: The Pavillion Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. iYellow Wine Club used the terms “mellow,” “easy,” and “mineral” to describe it. Fruity and flavourful, my photographer and I both agreed that its aftertaste was strong but sweet, similar in taste and consistency to Bellingham Big Oak Red 2012, which we tried next. At this point I switched back to white, opting for a glass of Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013. This was not only my personal favourite, but the most popular wine of the night for everybody! The aggressive taste was an overall crowd-pleaser, and I overheard guests describing the wine as “punchy”.

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Number 11: a glass of Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2012. This wine had a rather bitter taste. I enjoyed it, but its bold aftertaste was a bit too strong for my palette. Number 12: A second variety from The Pavillion: a Chenin Blanc Viognier from 2013. An incredibly dry and crisp wine that I liked very much. At this point in the night, my handwriting had become increasingly problematic. In my scribbles about this wine, I can make out “smells floral and tastes carbonated, so it’s pretty great”. Trust my drunken hand. Number 13: A 2011 Shiraz also from Durbanville Hills. This wine had a definite earthy taste to it, brought out by a variety of spices. Number 14: Place in the Sun Shiraz 2012. The sweet spiciness of this wine made me want to turn it into sangria and serve it alongside heaps of guacamole to all my friends.

Overall, this was a great night! I loved having the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable wine movement. To keep up to date with iYellow Wine Club’s future events, go “like” them on Facebook. Interested in seeing more from the night? Check out anything my fellow guests might have posted while live tweeting with the hashtag #ILoveSAWine.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

[GIVEAWAY] Interview with Chef-Turned-Artist Kristina Groeger

I’m really drawn to people who hold many talents. It might be that I see myself in them, but I think it’s mostly because it excites me to think of all the collaborations and conversations we could have, and the things that we can put out into the world. Chef-Turned-Artist, Kristina Groeger, has been a FGFS Fan Club member since Day One and was the first submission to roll in when we announced our gallery show, Fat In Public. If you live in or around Roncesvalles, or are an adventurer, you can see Kristina’s design work in the logo for Extra Butter, a nifty addition to the bourgeoning strip. I recently roped Kristina into answering a few burning questions about her work and life. kristinaG FGFS: Who are you?

Kristina: Oh, hi hello. I’m Kristina Groeger.

FGFS: What do you do?

Kristina: I am a visual artist that lives in Toronto. I was a chef for a good number of years and decided to do a bit of a career change to focus more on making art and comics.

FGFS: What gets you excited about what you do?

Kristina: Half of my life ago (in high school), I can remember feeling really excited by creating a whole world with paint or pictures. I loved the idea of telling a story through something so simple. It’s exciting to watch a blob of paint or plate of food turn into a person with personality or a symphony of colour and taste.

FGFS: You’re like me in that your talents are varied. We do it all. Web, photography, art, cooking. I can’t imagine life being any other way. How about you? Is that just who you are, and how you function?

Kristina: I think this is definitely something I still explore and struggle with a bit. Without seeming like a “Jill of all trades, master of none” I like to think of myself more as an absent minded professor who is super close to a breakthrough. I’ve tried very hard to string together why I am such a “renaissance woman” (read: distracted aquarius). But, as far as web, photography, art, cooking? I see them all as forms of creation, story telling, or challenge and those are my favourite things to explore.

FGFS: What dish are you really, really good at making? Either you’re known for it, or just can just bang it out no problem and impress everyone.

Kristina: I would say that I am fairly known for my savoury or sweet pies. I really love working with pastry, also encompassing pasta and bread. I love kneading and sculpting the mixture of water, flour, and fat. It’s crazy how powder and liquid takes form into a delicious vehicle for flavour.

FGFS: Why is it that you create imagery and art that deals with food so prominently?

Kristina: Food for me has been an enormous part of my life for a really long time. I’ve been on a strict regime for the past six months to have more energy and start getting back into some sporty stuff I used to enjoy (skiing, swimming, baseball). When I was painting the donuts [paintings featured in Fat in Public], it was having an intense internal struggle about eating for pleasure vs. eating for body fuel. I also notice that everyone takes photos of their food the same way people would take photos of their family. The way we view food has shifted. When you see the way chefs like Michel Bras, Jason Bangerter, Daniel Humm, or Graham Elliott plate food you realize that this is art. They are using textures and viscosity to paint a beautiful landscape and story. I love exploring this in all types of mediums.

Ref: Chef Michel Bras Gargilou Source

FGFS: Anything else to add?

Kristine: This is one of my favourite videos of all time that shows the melding of food/art : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ_zMnxR9z8

Kristina has generously given us some prints and stickers(!) of the donut paintings from her series, Round Food Makes You Round, that hung in out gallery show in February.

To be one of the lucky winners follow these steps: 1. Go follow Kristina on Twitter 2. Tweet using the hashtag #FGFSxRoundFood and let us know why you want to win!

For further exploration find Kristina at these hot online places:   Tumblrhttp://tumblr.kristinagroeger.com/ and Etsyhttps://www.etsy.com/shop/KristinaGroegerArt
Portfoliohttp://kristinagroeger.com/

Fresh To Death Photos: Bloggers Who Brunch II & Next Brunch Announcement

FGFS friends Ron & Amarina of Ursa Major + getting into it.

#WeBrunch is a hashtag I use often on the FGFS Instagram account, because it’s true. The majority of our contributors live in the brunch capital of the world: Toronto. We love it. Not quite breakfast (so you can still sleep in), not quite lunch (so you can still eat one later); brunch really is the perfect meal. That’s partly why we love throwing our brunch series Bloggers Who Brunch. It’s a chance for us to sit down and relax over our favourite meal with some of our favourite people. It’s also chance for us to not only make connections with bloggers outside our food writers’ circle but also with the chefs, owners, and staff at some truly great restaurants in town.

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March’s brunch took place at the Libertine where Chef Jordy made us up a spread of chicken and waffles (chicken lovingly supplied by Blue Goose Pure Foods), lobster quiche, mixed greens, bacon (like boxes of bacon), fresh fruit, and tofu scramble for those who veg. Plus, an amazing deconstructed lemon poppyseed cake to finish it off.

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Some really rad people came out and even wrote up some pieces about the brunch. These things are supposed to be fun getaways from #bloglife, but I guess you can take the girl away from the blog but you can’t take the blogger out of the girl?

We’re happy to announce that the next Bloggers Who Brunch will be happening Saturday, May 17th, once again at the Libertine. Watch this space for more details to come!

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Matt Basile is not just another Rebel without a Kitchen

For those who are familiar with the food truck scene in Canada, the name Matt Basile is one that should ring a bell. He is the owner/operator of the Fidel Gastro food truck and his most recent endeavour, a “brick and mortar with the heart of a pop up”, Lisa Marie on Queen St West.

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But in the last two years, Basile has taken on a new journey.  Thanks to the Travel + Escape Network, he now spends three months of the year on the road. His whirlwind new show, “Rebel Without a Kitchen” (airs Tuesday at 9PM ET/10PM PT) shines a spotlight on street food scenes all throughout Canada and the US.

The second season just launched a few weeks ago and I had the chance to sit down with Matt to chat about food, television, and creature comforts.  We even had time for an arm wrestling match.

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FGFS:  So how did you decide where you wanted to visit for this season of Rebel Without a Kitchen?

Matt:  The whole thing about season one was us building our business here in Toronto. What we wanted to do with season two was take what we had created and bring it to other cities and bring some of that influence to other cities and how does that reciprocate. The cities that we picked were a combination of places that we really wanted to go and that were really setting the stage for street food in North America, the cities who would let us visit and finally was there an event that we could really tap into or that made sense for us to really visit. We definitely hit some really important cities [in season two] that tell a really important food story.

FGFS: In your three-month journey, where was the most memorable and why?

Matt: Are we saying memorable or best city — because I have two for totally different reasons. I would say LA was my favourite city. It was warm and I think overall they just have everything there including an emerging restaurant scene. They are in the midst of really changing how people approach food concepts and also pushing the street food scene. There is this casual coolness with LA but it is also very business-focused as well. It has the best of all these world. I kept thinking, “You know what? I could live here.” It was very cool. It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. The most memorable stop I would have to say was Cape Breton. From the second we got off the plane to the second we arrived in Sydney, everyone was so helpful and so lovely. Everyone loves what they produce locally there and is so proud of what they do. They are so incredibly local in what they do but are so open to worldwide culture and food. There were people at the street food event I was at from Jamaica and Pakistan and all over. The chef that I was working with was so genuine and we still text to this day. I’d have to say Philly was the biggest food surprise for me. I wasn’t expecting much from there and it was incredible. Great food scene, great bar scene, and really heavy into craft beers. The city was also very musical and historical. I wouldn’t have put those words into my preconceived notions of Philadelphia.

FGFS:  Are there any recipes or tips/tricks that you found while out on the road for Rebel without a Kitchen that you have now brought back and implemented into your own kitchen?

Matt: 100% I would say not so much recipes but more so types of cooking. So for example, our trip to New Orleans had a really big influence on our cooking. The sauces that I pushed myself to learn while in New Orleans immediately came back with us to Toronto and played a role with us in the restaurant. Same with when we went to Austin, Texas and learned the concept of BBQ. Bringing it back with Moroccan flavours (like they do there) and then making it something different here in Toronto. It was really easy to say, “Whatever dish I make in this city, I’m bringing back” but in other cases, those dishes sparked new ideas using those influences. I think specifically because I don’t have any formal training, that is how you learn — the more you eat, the more you learn.

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FGFS: You left a job in advertising to follow your dream and work in food. What made you do it since you didn’t have any formal training?

Matt: I grew up Italian, so food was always a very big part of my life. I grew up working in butcher shops to pay for school. I went to school for advertising and marketing because I loved coming up with ideas and concepts and connecting with people. I was at a point in my life where I was putting a lot of time and effort into these ideas, but I should have been doing this for myself. By process of elimination, I realized the only thing I really knew how to do was food. When I met my partner Kai, she gave me this extra push to go forward with what I wanted to do. Sometimes you need this perfect storm of the right people around you that help you believe in yourself and that help you create an extension of who you are. If you can make a living — albeit a thin one — of it, then it is something worth going for. If you can make your own job and your own path and a positive contribution, then why not?

FGFS: What prompted you to start Lisa Marie (the restaurant extension of Fidel Gastro)?

Matt: We sat down and said, “We have all this business but we aren’t capitalizing on it the right way”. So we just realized we weren’t running the business effectively and it was very fly-by-night and realized we needed to operationalize. So what that meant was: we wanted a commercial kitchen in this city. Nothing more, nothing less. We were recommended by a friend of ours that someone had a space on Queen West with a kitchen. It wasn’t until this point where it dawned on us, “Wow, are we looking to open a restaurant?”. Thanks to Kai — she handled all the negotiations — we put a bid in on our current space. Originally, our bid didn’t go through.  So we just kind of gave up and figured we would find something eventually. But the day after my grandfather’s funeral, we got a call saying we got the space. The rest is history. We didn’t have a concept, but we just knew what it would be. Keeping it on brand, we named it Lisa Marie — since the food truck’s name is “Priscilla” and Elvis is on everything. The menu is constantly changing and evolving. It’s fun and approachable food.

FGFS:  What is your idea of relaxation?

Matt: Kai and I love cooking big Italian meals for one another. We also really like going to get massages. Sometimes when we order out, we love getting Vietnamese, Korean, or Thai food and eating it in bed. This concept may or may not be called “picnic,” and may involve watching television. But so much of what we define as relaxation does not include work, as so many of our work days are 22 hours. Anything that is not work-related is relaxation.

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All photos by Rochelle Latinsky

 

Amaya Group of Restaurants take on Indian Street Food

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I am a huge Indian food fan. One of my go-to take out joints on Just-Eat.ca is Amaya Express on Ossington. So when we were invited to check out the new spring menu at Amaya the Indian Room on Bayview, I was pretty excited. This would be some OG stuff, as it is one of the original Amaya Group of Restaurant locations.

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The Amaya Group of Restaurants was founded back in 2007 by Chef Hemany Bhagwani which currently has 15 locations to date. Chef Bhagwani told us that for the new spring menu he waned to recreate the Amaya experience from start to finish with some new dishes drawing inspiration from India’s vibrant street food culture whilst dipping its toe into some molecular gastronomy.

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Chef Bhagwani started us off with a beautiful amuse bouche consisting of a Yogurt Egg filled with Pomegranate Juice. This was a light airy and simple bite that started off our meals just right.

From there, we were given another amuse bouche of sorts, which was one of their street foods inspiration dishes: Prawn Papdi Chaat with cumin and chutney. Very similar in texture to a ceviche, it was absolutely delicious and all the flavors married so well together. I could have had several more of these, if offered.

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Next up, we were served this new version of Pakoras. Now with kale and tomato chutney. Oh my glob, these were out of this world. Kind of like crispy, deep fried kale chips but little balls. Then with the chutney? Get out of here!

We were finally shown a bit of the seafood side of Amaya with some Scallops paired with pickled lemons, shallot confit and coconut snow. It was beautiful presented and a lovely light taste.

You would think that Tandoori Chicken could not be any different but this was incredible. Spicy, tender and delicious – something about it was great. Plus the foam on it that created a enhanced simple flavor.  Oh, and dem cheese balls. Need I say more?

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Back on the seafood tip, we were treated to some more Prawns (simply titled the Amaya Prawns) – which were juicy and bursting with flavour. Add a bit of beet gel to it and you have yourself a whole new dish. Plus: I am not lying that these were some of the biggest prawns I have seen in my life.

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I would have to say that my favourite dish of the evening though was the Lamb Tenderloin with the Wasabi Ice Cream on top. I was a little bit taken aback when I heard Wasabi Ice Cream but trust me: it works and with all of these flavours. I want more. Please just give me more of this dish forever and always.

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If I haven’t sold you on Amaya’s new menu or on heading to Amaya, then I don’t know what could. They have put so much heart and soul into all of their new offerings, it comes through in each of the plating’s and each of the menu offerings. All of the menu items are so innovative yet so familiar that it’s so comforting. Worth heading to the main location on Bayview! Also of note: all menu items are reasonable priced (between $12-$18) so this makes a great dinner out.

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Photos by Yuli Scheidt

50th Annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

By Megan Stulberg

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I was recently invited to spend a weekend at the farm where my best friend grew up in Elmira, Ontario. Visiting a town with a whopping population of 9,931, you’d expect a relaxing and quiet weekend in the country, no? Well, it certainly started off that way: I spent Friday evening playing with the family’s seven household pets and watching Come Dine With Me reruns. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am and then walked around outside in the cold for the next 10 hours. And I had the best time.

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been an annual event for the past 50 years. The main attraction is, of course, the maple syrup and related food vendors. The event attracts 60,000 people every year, and most can be seen walking around, munching a lamb’s leg, a stack of pancakes or something deep-fried.

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Oh, the maple syrup! It was heavenly. There was maple syrup on everything: maple lattes, maple taffy, maple kettle corn, maple syrup baked beans, maple syrup candies, and Beaver Tails with maple butter. I didn’t want to slip into a sugar coma, so I decided to limit my syrup intake. Well, I tried.

First, I decided to sink my teeth into some maple taffy. Maple taffy is made by boiling maple sap over a fire until it turns into maple syrup and then continuing to boil it until it becomes thicker. It is then poured onto snow and picked up with a stick, once partially cooled, and then served. I had to wait a solid 45 minutes for one small piece, but it was worth it to get such a decadent start to the morning.

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Next, I tried maple sugar. By “tried” I mean I sampled a small piece for free and then proceeded to buy 12 more. Maple sugar is prepared much like maple taffy, but is boiled for much longer until it solidifies. These soft and sweet candies were sold by countless vendors all over the festival, but I bought mine from a small table run by local Mennonites on the outskirts of town in front of a McDonald’s for 25 cents a piece. I also bought a few small tubs of pure maple syrup to take home for loved ones.

By midday, my friends were getting hungry so we decided to venture away from the festival for a bit in an attempt to get a healthier lunch. Luckily for us, there were tractor-pulled wagon rides available: the town’s adorable version of a free shuttle bus. This was the first — and probably last — time I rode to a fast-food restaurant sitting on a bail of hay, sandwiched in between two teenage girls in bonnets.

The festival really is an event for both the locals and the tourists.

Overall, it was an incredibly fun, family-friendly day. Sometimes I forget how Canadian I am — and then I go to something like this and have a blast. To keep updated on next year’s festival, “Like” their official page on Facebook here.

I’ll just go ahead and tempt your tastebuds with a few more photos that show off some of the many treats that were enjoyed at the Maple Syrup Festival:

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Salted soft pretzel with Dijon mustard

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Deep-fried Mars bar on a stick

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“Tornado Potato” paired with ghost pepper ketchup. Other ketchup flavours included maple and banana

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Deep-fried apple fritters

Select photos by Aine Davis

Lookin’ Good Girl – Pat that weave girl: Toronto’s own Palm Sunday hair salon & gift shop

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Palm Sunday (384 Harbord Street, Toronto) seems more like the Internet come to life and I mean that in the best way possible. Unlike any other salon and gift shop I have ever walked into, you are greeted with beautiful white washed walls with vibrant pops of neon everywhere. It seems to whisper out, “Spring Break” in that James Franco way but less obnoxious and more fabulous. This salon and gift shop works in all type of design with kitschy cool.

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Welcome to Palm Sunday, the brainchild of Kat Marcus, Ronnie Dag and Shane Lyon.

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Just having had their re-launch party over the weekend (being re-branded and re-renovated from their former space, The Saloon Salon), the dream team decided to “turn a new leaf” for the new year and bring their guests a more fun and interactive sensory space while introducing two new members (Shane Lyon and Mark Boots). In the re-brand, they decided to team up (in the gift shop) with more artists, designers and originators who dedicate themselves to craft.

I decided to chat with them prior to their relaunch to get the scoop on Palm Sunday and find out what exactly Palm Sunday means to them!

(1) Who and what is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is a contemporary space fusing hair, fashion, art, and culture. We provide an individualized salon experience that reflects your habits and your hairstyle. Our environment is inspired by radiant beaches to reflect our sunny disposition. We are your all inclusive hair retreat!

(2) What is life like at Palm Sunday?

Life is always busy at Palm Sunday. During the day, we are a full-on hair salon! Cuts, colours, beard trims, wigs and secrets! Our gift shop brings in curious neighbours to browse and get to know us better. Sometimes people stop by to just hang out for a while in our sunny waiting area, and chat with Shane.

During the off hours, we are always collaborating with artists, musicians, designers, makeup artists and videographers on producing interesting content. Some of it serves a purpose, some is to test the waters on other fashion concepts. So far, we have started dipping into photography, wardrobe styling, set design, concept design and creative direction. It is incredible how excited it makes us to then take that energy and apply it to our lives behind the chair.

It is a really exciting time for all of us, it all feels very limitless.

(3) What made you decide to re-brand from The Saloon Salon to Palm Sunday?

Our re-branding came naturally, as we are continually evolving as people, artists and a united team. The Saloon was such a success, and we were excited to create a new endeavour, combining our love for our craft with our admiration for one another. Throughout the process, our dream concept came to life – we wanted to inspire our friends, neighbors, and clients. Our new light airy persona leads to a more relaxing, invigorating experience. We feel rejuvenated and want to share that with everyone who passes by!

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(4) Who are Kat, Shane, Ronnie and Mark? Who makes up the Palm Sunday team?!

Shane Lyon is our new salon director and co-owner. He is a math prodigy, and thrives in customer service. Your Palm Sunday visit begins and ends with Shane. As our salon director, he is in charge of keeping everything flowing. He has built strong relationships with our suppliers – on the hair side and in the gift shop. We lean pretty hard on him, we call him Papa.

Kat Marcus is a vibrant master stylist and co-owner with over ten years experience transforming the way her clients feel about the way they look. She is co-owner of Palm Sunday, and her previous salon (located here) won several awards, including the NOW Magazine readers poll for Best Salon, for two years running. Always open to evolution, she formed her dream team and has finally made the exciting salon she had always envisioned.

Ronnie Dag is a gifted master stylist and co-owner at Palm Sunday. Entrepreneurship comes naturally to Ronnie – she also has a very successful bridal business, and is incredibly innovative. She is a tastemaker, a rebel, and can only be described as a true original. She brings with her a strong styling background in music, film, fashion, and television. Her ability to deliver a vision has kept her busy for over a decade, and her infectious personality keeps her in high demand.

Mark Boots is a talented stylist with a refreshing personality. A designer by nature, Mark’s roots are in fine arts and theater. He has combined his love of hair, design and theater through his work for Mirvish, Canadian Stage, Canadian Opera Company and other theatre productions. He divides his time between the chair and the stage, and is a regular fixture at Palm Sunday.

(5) What can people expect when they sit in the chair at Palm Sunday?

People can expect their experience to be all be about them. They will always be heard, and never judged. We all work together to collaborate on the perfect look for every client, and go out of our way to make sure everyone feels included. We are upbeat, friendly, and reflect a positive, sunny disposition – you are always guaranteed a laugh with the light antics taking place throughout our day. We always listen to our clients carefully to ensure everyone has the perfect look to suit any lifestyle. We want to break free from the antiquated notion that you can’t ‘cheat on your stylist’. We don’t own you, but we will love you like we do.

(6) Who are some of your inspirations

We are inspired by everyone and everything around us. We are constantly evolving as a team and using our life experiences to help one another progress. Our clients always have amazing experiences to share that keep us intrigued and wanting to grow. We collaborate with numerous, artists, musicians, and neighbors, and outside stylists who keep our creative force forever progressing.

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(7) If you could style anyone who would it be

Kat: I would love to give Leo (Dicaprio obvs) a therapeutic scalp treatment and a line up.
Ronnie: I would love to flat iron Donatella Versace’s hair
Mark: I would travel back to 1972 to style Burt Reynolds for his infamous Cosmopolitan shoot

(8) What is your #1 tip for feeling fly?

The simple truth: “always do you.” There is nothing more fly than confidence in your individuality.