Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HALFPOPS Giveaway

I'm giving away a jam-packed box full of 2oz & .75oz bags of Butter & Pure Ocean Sea Salt and Aged White Cheddar flavoured HALFPOPS!


HALFPOPS (Twitter: @HALFPOPS, Facebook: Halfpops) are partially popped popcorn. Instead of the light and airy fluff you get from traditional popcorn, these compact little popcorn balls packs much more flavour and crunch. They are great for snacking or as a delicious crunchy addition to ice cream, soups and salads. I tried HALFPOPS for the first time yesterday and no joke, after my first bag I had to stop myself from opening another; these half-popped little orbs of kernels are very flavourful and highly addictive.


HALFPOPS are gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO, and have no preservatives, no corn syrup, no artificial flavours, and no hydrogenated oils. They were featured in Food & Wine, The New York Times, Bon Appétite and Backpacker Magazine.


HALFPOPS are now available at Costco where they are sold in 18 packs of convenient 1.8oz individual bags. Or you can win a box full of HALFPOPS for FREE by entering my contest ;)


HOW TO ENTER
1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter
AND
2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

Hey @foodieyu I want to win a jam-packed box of partially popped & fully delicious @HALFPOPS! http://bit.ly/1t3KJ0T #fjchalfpops

1. For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown
2. You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry
3. Contest is tracked by the #fjchalfpops hashtag. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream it means there is no entry from you. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up
4. Contest is valid in Canada only.

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Tuesday, October 21 and ends on Tuesday, October 28 at 12PM. 
One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner on Tuesday, October 28. 

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^




Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Whole Shebang + More at Patois

When "Caribbean meets Asian Soul Food" you get Toronto's newest Asian-Caribbean restaurant, Patois. Chef and owner Craig Wong's repertoire of casual dishes not only pays tribute to his Chinese-Jamaican heritage but also includes delightful mash-ups of different Asian flavours inspired by Korean, Japanese and Thai cuisine. Opened three months ago in July, Patois is one of the hottest restaurants in the city right now, and rightfully so.


Me and three friends visited Patois (Twitter: @patoistoronto, Facebook: Patoislast Thursday night. The place was packed at 6:30pm - thank goodness we made reservations.


Off-the-menu cocktail features, specials and desserts can be found on the message board hung one end of the bar.


My photos of the dining room didn't turn out so I didn't include them here (I'm sure you can find them online.) However, the photo of these kids' inflatable flotation devices hung on the ceiling turned out quite well.




Thursday, October 9, 2014

The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro - Cooking With Beer

As if 50 gourmet burgers weren't enough, The WORKS has introduced three new limited time only burgers. From October 20 through January 4, 2015, the gourmet burger bistro will be featuring "Cooking With Beer" burgers. Think root-beer BBQ glazed pulled pork, beer barbecue sauce, and beer-battered beef patty. 

I was invited to The The WORKS
(Twitter: @WORKSBURGER, Facebook: The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro) for lunch last week for a sneak preview of their "Cooking with Beer" burgers. The WORKS opened its first restaurant in 2001 in Ottawa and has now expanded across Ontario and Newfoundland. It has won numerous awards including Ottawa's best Burger for the past 13 years in a row, Kingston's / London's / Milton's Best Burger, and MacLean's Best Small & Medium Employers in Canada. The WORKS now has 25 locations across Ontario.


The WORKS is a full-service gourmet burger restaurant offering over 50 hand-prepared gourmet burgers, hand-cut fries, milkshakes and beer, which are all 100 per cent Canadian. Guests can choose from seven different patty options (beef, elk, chicken, turkey, veggie, cheese stuffed beef and mushroom cap) as well as gluten-free and vegetarian combinations. 


It was an ideal day for the rooftop patio. We didn't even need to turn on the heat lamps.




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kintori Yakitori

Located on the second floor of Kinton Ramen on 668 Bloor St. W., Kintori Yakitori is the newest addition to the Kinka Family of restaurants. I've had countless meals at GuuKinton Ramen and JaBistro (all Kinka restaurants) and because they are some of my favourite restaurants in the city, it's somewhat surprising that it took me more than six months to get my ass to Kintori (they opened in March of this year.)


I guess the reason why it took me so long to visit Kintori Yakitori (Twitter: @kintoriyakitori, Facebook: Kintori Yakitori) is because I never have "skewer cravings". I often have "sushi cravings", specifically Jabistro's Kyukyoku 'cause it's so mind-blowingly good, and "ramen cravings" usually for Kinton's Spicy Garlic Ramen, I will also never say no to Guu's Kakimayo, Carbonara Udon and Salmon Natto Yukke either. But "yakitori craving"? Not so much.

As I mentioned earlier, Kintori Yakitori is on the second floor of Kinton Ramen on Bloor. It's a pretty narrow and cozy space. I noticed that all four Kinka restaurants have very similar finishings with contemporary and simple decor.


Kintori's counter seating.


The window looks out to Bloor Street.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Easy & Delicious Fall Recipes...With Jam!

Where did summer go? Did it even happen? I think many of you are just as confused as I am but like it or not, we need to wake up and smell the roses - it is now officially fall. Hey, don't you get depressed on me now because one thing's for certain: fall always means warm and delicious comfort food! Pumpkin, cinnamon, orange, nutmeg, apricots - they all conjure up such wonderful visions of cool-weather comfort foods. 

In the spirit of a new season, I've included three super-easy pairing recipes using jam and various fall ingredients. Each recipe takes only 15 minutes to create and has 5 ingredients or less. I think they all taste great and are worth a try if you want to embrace the cool weather as we head into autumn.

ORANGE GLAZED SWEET AND SPICY PORK
September has arrived and with it, hints of autumn, leaves turning orange and red, and kids everywhere going back to school. With orange already a natural choice for flavouring pork in fall, the addition of chili flakes in this pairing recipe serves as an additional fall dimension to the dish. The pork loin, which is sliced thin, makes this dish perfect as a canapé or as an hors d'oeuvre at dinner parties.

Ingredients
2 boneless pork loin chops, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste

Directions
In a shallow dish, mix together salt, pepper and chili flakes. Add pork slices and turn to coat evenly with mixture. Preheat grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Cook on grill for 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. Remove from grill. On a plate, brush on orange marmalade before serving.


SKINNY PUMPKIN SPICE GRANOLA PARFAIT
Since pumpkin and cinnamon are so popular this time of year, I thought it would be a great idea to add the two ingredients to granola, which is super tasty as a snack, with milk, or in this case, over yogurt. As a food blogger who dines out way too much, I often have granola and yogurt for lunch. It is quick, healthy yet tasty and filling. This particular parfait uses non-fat yogurt and Smucker's Sugar-Free Wildberry Jam, making this a really nutritious, low fat, high-energy lunch. 

Ingredients
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt 
2 tablespoons of Smucker’s Sugar-Free Wildberry Jam
2 tablespoons granola
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

Directions
Mix granola, pumpkin spice and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Layer mason jar with yogurt and jam, then top with spiced granola.


VANILLA SPICE APRICOT OATMEAL
Brrrrr! There's a chill in the air. You know summer is long gone when 1) It's still dark outside when you open your eyes, 2) You find yourself huddled under the covers, contemplating whether you need to start turning the heat on, and finally 3) You crave a hot breakfast. With the temperature creeping lower and lower these days, the one thing that motivates me to get out of the bed is the promise of a bowl of hot spiced oatmeal. This hearty breakfast is so fast and easy to make that it almost seems wrong to just have it for yourself. So, in honour of chilly mornings, I cooked up a batch on Sunday so that everybody in the house could have some to eat all week.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apricot jam
Pinch of nutmeg

Directions
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered, for 5 minutes. When the oats are cooked, remove pan from the flame and stir in the vanilla extract and nutmeg. Place the oatmeal in serving bowls, add jam, stir and serve. 


Smucker’s Pairings for Fall Entertaining are a simple, easy way to create delicious food combinations with jam and other ingredients, designed help you discover how Fall flavours mingle together for mouthwatering results. Each pairing has 5 ingredients or less, and is ready in less than 15 minutes. Because with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good. For specific information on our jam flavours and varieties, please visit www.smuckers.ca


Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Smucker’s Foods of Canada via Mode Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Smucker’s Foods of Canada.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dufflet® Launches Gluten-Free Desserts

Dufflet Pastriesthe Canadian bakery founded by Dufflet Rosenberg, is set to launch an expanded product line of gluten-free treats coming this fall (#DuffletGF). 


The brand's gluten-free desserts are certified by the Canadian Celiac Association and are hand-crafted with premium gluten-free ingredients. Each dessert stems entirely from natural sources and contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, no hydrogenated fats or oils, and no mono-diglycerides. 

Dufflet® (Twitter: @dufflet, Facebook: Dufflet Pastrieswill launch their gluten-free line in stores across Ontario and Quebec in the fall, which will consist of the following items:

CAKELET® GLUTEN-FREE SELECTIONS ($16.99 each)
Carrot Cakelet® – Moist carrot cake with cream cheese icing.
Chocolate Cakelet® – Devil’s Food chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and dark 
chocolate glaze.
Pink Velvet Cakelet® – A new twist on a classic favourite, Dufflet’s cocoa and spice 
cake with natural pink cream cheese icing. 

TART GLUTEN-FREE SELECTIONS ($4.99 / 2pk):
Lemon Tarts – French tart with lemon curd baked in a sweet butter crust.
Fudge Tarts – Dark chocolate filling in a dark chocolate crust, topped with bittersweet 
ganache and white chocolate shavings.

CUPCAKE GLUTEN-FREE SELECTIONS ($8.99 / 4pk):
Devil’s Food Cupcakes & Heavenly Vanilla Cupcakes – Classic cupcakes without the 
gluten and packed with sweet flavour. 

BROWNIE & MACARON GLUTEN-FREE SELECTIONS ($2.99 each):
Chocolate Chunk Brownie – Chewy fudge brownie with dark chocolate chunks.
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroon – Chewy, moist, and sweet coconut dipped in 
delicious dark chocolate.

(Photos from Dufflet)

So does going gluten-free mean eliminating taste? Let's find out! I received a pack of Dufflet®'s Gluten-Free Chocolate Fudge Tarts yesterday.


Each pack comes with two 3" tarts.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Love Food Fest & The Hungry Artisan

What did you crave as a kid? Hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese, PB&J sandwiches? Whatever it may be, sit tight and get ready for a night of childhood food nostalgia, with a twist!

On October 7, Action Against Hunger Canada (Twitter: @ACF_Canada, Facebook: Action Against Hungeris putting on Love Food Fest. This once-a-year event combines some of Toronto's best chefs where they will compete for top honour by re-imagining our childhood favourites.


"Love Food Fest is an ode to the food you loved as a kid. It is a love letter to the people who fed you as a child, who made you realize how good food could be. And it is a fundraiser for those who lack even the most essential benefits of food: its nutrients, its fuel, its life."

Love Food Fest invites you to re-imagine, re-discover, and fall back in love with the foods you enjoyed as a kid. The fun event is about the heart of eating but its cause is serious: Action Against Hunger is raising money to help put an end to child deaths from hunger. 

Founded in France in 1979, Action Against Hunger / Action contre la Faim ("ACF") is a leading international humanitarian organization devoted to treating and preventing malnutrition around the world. Working in over 45 countries, its network of 5,000+ staff and volunteers reach more than 7 million people annually. Their programs save lives and provide communities with long-term solutions to hunger and its underlying causes. They focus on feeding the world’s most vulnerable – especially children. Their efforts restore health dignity, and self-sufficiency to those suffering from lack of essential nutrients so they can live full, happy lives. 


LOVE FOOD FEST
Date: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Time: 6:00 – 9:30 p.m.
VenueArtscape Wychwood Barns. 601 Christie St, Toronto
Cost: $125 (a portion is tax receiptable). Included in your ticket, you’ll receive unlimited access to the event, sampling items from over 20 chefs plus 20 boutique wine, beer and food vendors

At Love Food Fest some of Toronto’s best and brightest chefs will be competing in the Nostalgia Challenge, cooking up their interpretations of childhood favourites. Participating chefs include:

Ayse Aydemir (Anatolia)
Matt Basile (Fidel Gastro / Lisa Marie)
Matt Blondin (Junk Bar)
Rodney Bowers (Hey Meatball on College)
Howard Dubrovsky (Fonda Lola)
Alexandra Feswick (The Drake Hotel)
Claudia Gaviria (Cruda Café)
Trish Gill (The Dock Ellis)
Brook Kavangh (La Palette)
Sang Kim (Sushi Making for the Soul)
Yumiko Kobayashi (Wind up Bird Cafe)
Shahir Massoud (Levetto Restaurant)
Josh Molot
Jacob Sharkey Pearce (Ursa)
Tyson Porcellato (Rasa)
Ivan Tarazona (Celestin)
Eric Wood (Port)
Shinji Yamaguchi (Gushi)
Vanessa Yeung (Aphrodite Cooks)

The grand prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to Peru! A distinguished panel of judges, with the help of guests, will choose a winner at the end of the evening. The night will also include local wines, craft beer, fine spirits, and a top-notch foodie silent auction with fine treats you can’t get anywhere else (click here for a list of restaurants, sponsors and food & beverage vendors).

I'm proud announce that The Hungry Artisan will be a food vendor at Love Food Fest

My friend and business partner, Nicholas Wong, and I founded The Hungry Artisan Inc. (Twitter: @HungryArtisan, Facebook: The Hungry Artisan) earlier this year. We specialize in importing the most delicious and unique artisanal foods from around to the world and distributing to retailers and restaurants across Canada.

We'll be showcasing one of our products, 'Nduja, at Love Food Fest'Nduja (pronounced "en-doo-ya") is a traditional spicy spreadable Calabrian salami. Manufactured by Nduja Artisans, our 'Nduja is guaranteed to be the best quality 'Nduja you'll find on the market. Our delicious spreadable salami is made with only four ingredients: Berkshire pork, salt, dry pepper and lactic acid culture (a natural preservative) with no antibiotics, nitrates nor chemical preservatives. This incredibly versatile salami can be used as a spread, incorporated in your pasta (it melts once you cook it,) as a pizza topping, in burgers and sausages, and even as mayo-based dip! The possibilities are endless. We look forward to seeing you at Love Food Fest!

More on 'Nduja:




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Foxley: Three Years Later

It has been three years since my first and only visit to Foxley. I've tried to go again a couple of times since then - the most recent attempt being a few months ago in June. I remember the visit clearly too. It was a Saturday evening around 7pm and the neighbourhood was bustling. A beautiful summer night, one would be crazy to stay indoors. Anyway, the moment I stepped inside Foxley I knew I was in trouble... the restaurant was jam packed. There wasn't a single empty seat in sight, not even at the bar. There was absolutely no way I'll get a table any time soon. My suspicion was promptly confirmed - I had to wait two hours for a table of four (as you may have guessed Foxley does not take reservations.) I was outta there in a flash; I cannot justify waiting that long for food. Ever. We ended up going to Café Boulud and as always, they never disappoint.

So, lesson learned and I was smarter this time around. Instead of going on a Saturday I went to Foxley on a Wednesday evening at 7pm, and oh my, the difference was astounding. I also thank the crazy downpour and thunderstorm that started at 6:30pm :)


Chef Tom Thai is still busting out some really great food in his small kitchen. The bistro's South Asian inspired menu has been updated from my last visit but a lot has stayed the same (especially his signature dishes.) I should mention that some things never change at Foxley. First, its food menu is still presented on plain white paper. Also, there remains to be a staggering 30+ dishes but no desserts. Secondly, decor hasn't changed one bit either.


Finally, after seven years in business Foxley still doesn't have a website, Facebook page or Twitter account. I guess their mantra is: "Why change something that works?"

SEA BREAM CEVICHE WITH YUZU AND SHISO ($16)


KALE SALAD WITH PECORINO TOSCANO AND LEMON DRESSING ($10)




Friday, September 19, 2014

Paying with Tab at Cafe Bar Pasta

Imagine never having to wait for the bill again. Just eat and leave. Kinda like "dine and dash" without breaking the law. Trust me, it does feel weird at first - just getting up and leaving without physically taking your out wallet and paying.

 What I'm talking about is Tab (Twitter: @tabpayments, Facebook: Tab), a mobile payments app for dining. Whenever you're ready to leave after your meal, you essentially do just that: Leave. You will never have to hunt down your server, wait for him / her to bring you the bill, then wait again for the wireless terminal. The Tab app also lets you split bills with friends, which means you will never have to wait for each person to pay (this is extremely tedious when you're dining out with 4+ people and everybody is paying separately) Again, the key point is no more waiting. Time is precious, folks.

To get started with Tab, all you have to do is download the app on iTunes or Google Play, create a profile, and register your credit card information (Tab uses AES-256 encryption). You can even set your default tip % amount in the app. Once you arrive at the restaurant, check-in and input whether you're splitting the bill with other diners or plan on covering the entire bill.


When your server comes over remember to tell him / her that you'll be paying with Tab - and once that's done you are all set. Tab will email you a receipt after your meal. 

I was invited by the Tab payments team to try their app at Cafe Bar Pasta (Twitter: @CAFEBARPASTA, Facebook: Cafe Bar Pasta). I was offered a $30 Tab credit for this dinner.


Once I sat down, I opened Tab on my phone to check-in and create a new tab.


After I placed my order I informed my server that I'll be paying with Tab.

OCTOPUS & BONE MARROW ($15)
Chilled & marinated with balsamic, mint, basil, garlic, chili, served with chicken liver marrow stuffed bone
The velvety texture of blended chicken liver and bone marrow was superb. I also love how this creamy offal concoction was piped back into the bone. I wasn't a fan of the chilled octopus; it lacked flavour and was somewhat rubbery.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

DaiLo: Restaurant & Dim Sum Bar in Little Italy

After what seemed like an eternity awfully long time, chef Nick Liu, formerly of The Niagara Street Café, finally opened DaiLo last month. Located on 502 College Street beside Mexican taco spot La Carnita, the Asian Brasserie - which was to be called "GwaiLo" initially - encountered some tough times when it was supposed to open two years ago. With potential locations falling through, investors pulling out and business partner Christina Kuypers departing the venture, Liu's aspiration to open his own place seemed increasingly uncertain. Regardless, even without a kitchen, Liu still generated a ton of buzz for GwaiLo with his creative pop-ups and dinners (write-ups on those dinners can be found at the end of this post). He successfully captivated local foodies' palettes with his modern twists on traditional Asian cuisine. The dish that made a lasting impression on me two years ago was undoubtedly Liu's Whole Fried Trout and I'm thrilled that this stunning dish has finally found a permanent home on DaiLo's menu...but more on that later.

It has been quite a journey for Liu and thankfully, all that is now in the past. With co-owners Anton Potvin (who owned The Niagara Street Café), Jen Grant and David Dattel, Liu's much anticipated Asian fine dining restaurant is once and for all, a reality.


DaiLo (Twitter: @DaiLoTO, Facebook: DaiLo) is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 PM to 2:00 AM. DaiLo is the 80-seat, main floor restaurant while LoPan is the casual, 55-seat cocktail and dim-sum snack bar on the second floor (and it's certainly not your everyday dim sum like "har gow" and "siu mai"...think Big Mac Bao). My four friends and I had dinner at DaiLo a few Fridays ago so all the photos here are of DaiLo, not LoPan.


The room is distinctively Chinoiserie with a mixture of European and Chinese artistic styles and design.