Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The 2015 Almanac Dinner

On Monday, April 20th, six of Toronto’s top chefs – Kevin Castonguay (Provisions), Steve Gonzalez (Valdez), Robbie Hojilla (The Harbord Room), Basilio Pesce (Porzia), Scott Vivian (Beastand Nate Middleton (Home of the Brave) – collaborated with Ontario farmers and beverage producers for The 2015 Almanac Dinner in support of The Stop Community Food Centre.

Hosted by Provisions and Pass The TableThe 2015 Almanac Dinner (#2015AlmanacDinner) took place at The Burroughes BuildingThe evening began with a cocktail reception at the beautiful loft space.

Photo Credit: Brooke Wedlock (IG:@brookewedlock)

Delicious cocktails + Canapes = No more Monday blues!

Photo Credit: Brooke Wedlock (IG:@brookewedlock)

I enjoyed the following tasty snacks prepared by the chefs:

Squid ink rice chip, lemon grass, ginger and Acadian Sturgeon caviar

Crispy salmon skin, avocado, anaheim chili and raw cucumber

Multigrain raw cracker, kozliks mustard, parmesan cheese and chives

Walnut and goats yogurt espuma, anjou pear and earl grey raisin puree

Photo Credit: Brooke Wedlock (IG:@brookewedlock)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

&Company Resto Bar

Looking for a place to wine and dine with your friends then party late into the night? If your answer is a resounding "Yes!" then you should check out &Company Resto Bar (Twitter: @AndCoRestoBar, Facebook: &Company Resto Bar). Located across from Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, &Company Resto Bar is a bar, a restaurant, and a club all in one. 

The supper club was opened in December 2011 and has now become a popular local hotspot.

As &Company Resto puts it: "Go for dinner and stay for the party!" The full experience at this Mississauga hangout begins with dinner with friends and transitions into bustling nightlife at 10pm.

A few shots I took of &Company Resto Bar before dinner. The venue can host up to 300 guests for dinner and 800 guests for cocktails comfortably and seamlessly (great for corporate events and private parties).

Friday, April 17, 2015

Boralia (formerly "Borealia")

People ask me this a lot: "So where have you been lately that's good?" and of course by "where" what they really mean is "what new restaurants". Normally I would need at least a good 20 seconds to recap in my head all the places I've been to in the past couple of months (which is usually a lot) and at times, to his / her disappointment, my answer would just be "Nowhere really". Sure I may have had a few good / decent meals but to specifically name a place knowing that the person may end up going because of my recommendation? That's pressure, guys. Major pressure. In my head their question actually becomes "So where have you been lately that's spectacular? Somewhere you would go back to again and again" Well, these days my answer would be "Boralia". No hesitation whatsoever. Boralia (Twitter: @Boralia_To, Facebook: Boralia Restaurant) is certainly one of the tastiest, and one of the most interesting dinners I've had in a very long time.

Unlike the other two memorable dinners I had earlier this year at Buca Yorkville and SplendidoBoralia doesn't offer a tasting menu. Instead, a group of us (five to be exact) ordered Boralia's entire menu minus three dishes (that would be a total of nine "To Share" dishes, three "Snacks" and three "Desserts"). The actually worked out quite well for us; we didn't leave feeling gross or overly stuffed. Just right.

So, what makes this cozy little restaurant on Ossington so unique? Well, it's the fact that there's no other establishment in Toronto that serves their kind of food. Boralia's menu showcases Canada's indigenous cuisine; think dishes inspired from historic recipes of Canada’s early settlers and First Nations, with some plates dating back as far as the 1600's. As Boralia puts it, their dishes are

"...created through the inspiration provided by the wealth of tradition and history in old recipes melded with the simplicity of Chef’s preparation and modern techniques and a lighter, more sophisticated touch.

Chef and owners Evelyn Wu and Wayne Morris' distinctive dishes celebrates the rich bounty of Ontario farms, and feature game and sustainably sourced seafood. Long story short, prepare yourself for one-of-a-kind dishes like braised whelk, bison bresaola, mussels smoked in pine needles and pigeon pie. To me, Boralia's menu is a breath of fresh air in a city saturated with fried chicken, bone marrow, and Mexican food (there's a time and place for all of those things but it's getting extremely redundant).

Boralia’s space is modern and polished, with a definite European feel to it. I really like all the wood accents especially the arched thick wood beams wrapping the ceiling. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

7 Enoteca

If you're ever looking for exceptional Italian food, try venturing outside the downtown core to Oakville's 7 Enoteca (Twitter: @7Risto, Facebook: 7 Risto). Yes, I said Oakville! I know it's a bit out of the way for some of you urban dwellers living in downtown Toronto but if you own a car and don't mind driving a bit further for good food, then I highly suggest you check out 7 Enoteca (and if you're already in the Mississauga / Hamilton / Oakville then you have no excuse).

Serving authentic and inspired dishes from Italy, this upscale pizzeria in Oakville's Town Square strives to bring to their diners the authentic Italian dining experience. With many of their products flown in from Italy - from the wheat flour for their Neapolitan pizzas and cheeses, to truffles and wines - 7 Enoteca is fully dedicated in having the most authentic Italian ingredients and flavours on their menu. Having said that, the restaurant still sources fresh seasonal ingredients from local vendors whenever possible.

7 Enoteca reminds me of the restaurants in the King West neighbourhood; the crowd is bustling and lively, and the decor is modern with a touch of rustic. Those uber cool Edison light fixtures immediately caught my eye when I walked in. I want one in my house.

Notice the cowhide-lined marble bar. And FYI, those bar stools are upholstered in Lamborghini leather.

This is my first time seeing arched ceilings at a restaurant. So pretty.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dinner with Master Charcutier Gilles Verot

On March 23rd & 24th, Master Charcutier Gilles Verot visited Café Boulud (@CafeBouludTOat the Four Seasons in Toronto for a special dinner and charcuterie night. Gilles Verot - originally from the Loire Valley in France and a third-generation Gallic charcutier - is the legend behind the charcuterie programs in many of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, including Café Boulud and dbar. Ever since a chance encounter ten years ago with Daniel Boulud, Verot (@GillesVerot) has been working with the Chef in bringing his artisanal approach to French charcuterie across North America.

I was one of ten lucky guests to be invited and savour a special three-course dinner at the Yorkville restaurant designed exclusively by Gilles Verot with wine pairings by Wine Director Drew Walker. 

Master Charcutier Gilles Verot (middle) explaining his specialties to us.

Here's a look at what we had:

Provence style marinated poultry, salad of olives, tomato, zucchini & eggplant

Nantua sauce

Meat pie, reduction jus, pommes anna 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hanmoto: An Izakaya-Style Snack Bar in Little Portugal

Opened a little bit more than a month ago in Little Portugal is Hanmoto, a modest izakaya-style snack bar from the team behind OddSeoul on Ossington. Unlike OddSeoulwhich specializes in Korean-American style small plates, owner and executive chef Leemo Han is serving Japanese-inspired snacks at Hanmoto.

Tucked away on Lakeview Avenue just off on Dundas West, Hanmoto is discrete and very cozy. To the left is the main room with the kitchen, bar and 80% of the seating (above) and to the right is the remaining 20% seating (below).

All the tables were already taken before 6:30pm on a Wednesday night so we took the remaining two seats at the bar. Even better. I am really diggin' the vintage, grungy-garage decor here, by the way.

The drinks menu at Hanmoto consists of mainly beer with a few cocktails, sake and two wines by the glass (one red, one white).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dessert Bar by Pastry Chef Cora James

Pastry chefs are garnering more attention lately. Instead of being stuck with the last course where most diners are beyond bloated, pastry is now stepping into the limelight (finally!) One way pastry chefs are giving their creations the stage it deserves is by offering a dessert tasting menu, and Cora James (@CoraCake) is doing exactly that with Dessert Bar.

Cora, a pastry chef at Bar Buca, founded Dessert Bar last summer with the vision of bringing plated desserts and cocktails together. This is further explained on Dessert Bar's Facebook page:

"By placing equal emphasis on both, Dessert Bar encourages indulgence and sin...It is the sort of place you bring a date after dinner, but before you go home. It is the sort of place you gather with friends, over cocktails and loud music and gossip. Dessert Bar is excessive and indulgent. It seeks to be the space where all your sinful behaviour is tolerated, if not encouraged."

I, for one, feel encouraged that I am encouraged to indulge in as many cocktails and dessert plates as I please. I welcome this behaviour!

 I had the pleasure of attending Cora's third Dessert Bar event a.k.a Dessert Bar 3.0 at Belljar Cafe last week. The four-course tasting menu offered a multitude of flavours and textures, beginning with the palette cooling vanilla milk custard with pickled mango. Served alongside a cocktail made with Mezcal, amarena cherry, creme de cacao rinse and habenero bitters, this certainly is a good sign of what was to come. I especially enjoyed the stampede of the senses coming from the pickled mango, the slightly chewy mochi and the crunchy puffed rice granola. I have to admit that I was confused, then thrilled.


The second plate is a delicate assembly of profiterole topped with balsamic cheesecake surrounded in peanut butter praline and pecan. I deliberately split the one-bite profiterole into a three bites since the only way to achieve a perfect bite (to me at least) is to have on every spoon a pastry puff with some of that crunchy nutty deliciousness.


The beautiful Cora James at work.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Winners of the One Of A Kind Spring Show 2015 Giveaway are...


Congratulations, Elizabeth and Sandy! Both of you have just won a pair of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show taking place from Wednesday, March 25 to Sunday, March 29 at the Direct Energy CentrePlease email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com to claim your tickets.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to the 27 contestants who participated in the contest

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcooaks hashtag from day one of the contest. The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person had to tweet "Hey @foodieyu I want to #win a pair of tickets to @OOAK_Toronto! http://bit.ly/18DzLHy #fjcooaks #ooaks15". Each person could tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for I checked to see if they follow me (@foodieyu) on Twitter. Below are the 41 valid entries:

.I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick the two winners for me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Winner of the Chef's Plate Gourmet Meal Giveaway is...


Congratulations, @taylor40906! You've just won two mouthwatering meals for two people courtesy of Chef's Plate! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com to claim your prize.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to the 59 contestants who participated in the contest

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcchefsplate hashtag from day one of the contest. The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person had to tweet "Hey @foodieyu I want to win TWO delicious gourmet meals for TWO from @ChefsPlateCA! http://bit.ly/1NHnYZR #fjcchefsplate". Each person could tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for I checked to see if they follow me (@foodieyu) on Twitter. Below are the 125 valid entries:

.I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick the winner for me.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One Of A Kind Spring Show 2015 Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away TWO PAIRS of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show taking place from Wednesday, March 25 to Sunday, March 29 at the Direct Energy Centre! Each pair of tickets is valued at $24.

Since 1975, the One of a Kind Show & Sale (Twitter: @OOAK_Toronto, Facebook: One of a Kind Show and Sale Toronto) has been the flagship destination to shop handmade. As a guest at this year's show you'll have the opportunity to meet and shop from over 450 artisans, makers, artisans and designers across Canada.

Did you know there's also food at the One of a Kind Show? Take a look at the show's website and under the "Flavours" category in "Explore The Artisan Profiles", you'll find profiles from over 50 artisans specializing in food & beverage.

1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter

2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

Hey @foodieyu I want to #win a pair of tickets to @OOAK_Toronto! http://bit.ly/18DzLHy #fjcooaks #ooaks15

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 #fjcooaks 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

Contest starts on Thursday, March 12 and ends on Thursday, March 19 at 12PM. 
Tow lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^