Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bier Markt / Goose Island Brewmaster's Dinner

On Thursday April 10, Bier Markt Esplanade (@BierMarktEsplan) hosted a special #bonkersforhonkers "Bier Dinner" to celebrate the exclusive Canadian availability of Chicago's Goose Island Honker's Ale on draught at Bier Markt (Twitter: @BierMarkt, Facebook: Bier Markt). Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter and Bier Markt's Executive Chef Michael Cipollo narrated each course and shared tasting notes for Honker's Ale, Goose Island's Sophie, Pepe Nero and Matilda.

You'll now find Goose Island Honker's Ale on tap at all Bier Markt locations. Here are the Brewmaster's notes on Honker's Ale:

"Inspired by visits to English country pubs, Honker’s Ale combines a fruity hop aroma with a rich malt middle to create a perfectly balanced beer. Immensely drinkable, Honker’s Ale is not only the beer you can trust but one you’ll look forward to time and again."


FYI: Brewed for the first time in 1988, Honker's Ale was the first beer that Goose Island ever made!

Aside from Honker's Ale guests also had the following Goose Island beer pairings to go with each course:


Below is a recap of the evening (as well as a sneak preview of Bier Markt 's new menu debuting on April 24):

SALT SPRING MUSSELS
Baked Salt Spring BC mussels, smoked bacon & aromatics, herbed bread crumbs, beurre blanc
Pairing: Honker's Pale Ale | 4.5% ABV




Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Cutting Board at Weslodge Saloon

I was invited to Weslodge (Twitter: Weslodge, Facebook: Weslodge) on Monday for the launch of their Cutting Board, an impressive meat platter featuring a selection of grilled meats and poultry. Available on Sunday and Mondays from 5pm onwards, discerning carnivores at the popular King West restaurant can share a platter of succulent beef, pork, lamb, and poultry which have been aged, marinated or slow-cooked to delicious perfection. Served as part of a special pre-fixe menu The Cutting Board is, in my opinion, very reasonably priced at $29 per person. 

We started the evening off with a welcome cocktail.

BARREL AGED NEGRONI
Bombay Sapphire Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth blend, orange oil. Aged in American Oak. Rich bitter grapefruit, deep toasted orange peel with a subtle spiced vanilla oak finish.


Next up, my favourite appetizer from Weslodgetheir Scotch Egg. Wrapped in a layer of tasty chorizo then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried, this Scotch Egg has a beautiful bright yellow yolk that's still runny in the centre. The addition of sweet and tart tomato jam alongside black truffle elevates this traditional English canape from good to amazing.

SCOTCH EGG
Chorizo + Tomato Jam + Black Truffle


And here it is, Weslodge's Cutting Board:

CUTTING BOARD
Crispy Hen + Lamb Ribs + Duck Sausage + Dry Aged Ribeye + Pulled Pork + Cuban Slaw + Baked Pasta + Jalapeno Biscuits


With The Cutting Board, Chef de Cuisine Kanida Chey wanted to showcase the best of what they do at Weslodge. "Our goal is to cook really familiar foods using the best ingredients made in-house and do it with a level of technique that isn’t typical. It’s an approach that allows us to reinvent the classics and highlight the extraordinary flavours of the premium meats we have always been serving our guests.” said Chey, “The meats we chose for The Cutting Board are premium quality, prepared with the same level of technique we approach all of our dishes, but now guests can sample our best cuts on one beautiful board.”





2014 Green Living Show Tickets Giveaway

I'm giving away TWO pairs of tickets to this year's Green Living Show!


The Green Living Show (Twitter: @GreenLivingPage, Facebook: Green Living) is Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to all things green and healthy. Taking over the Direct Energy Centre from April 25-27, 2014, show-goers can shop from over 400 exhibitors while gathering information and inspiration from a diverse selection of demonstrations, presentations and activities.

One of the many attractions at the Green Living Show is the Ontario Culinary Explorers Pavilion. Back by popular demand and better than ever, the Ontario Culinary Explorers Pavilion is a mouthwatering food and drink experience: attendees can embark on a tour of the ‘tastes’ of Ontario; chat with producers, chefs and other representatives about the versatility and variety of local foods, beers and wines; and discover the environmental and health benefits of choosing fresh, sustainable and Ontario foods all year round.


The Ontario Culinary Explorers Stage also promises three days of exciting programming including demonstrations, presentations and lectures from some of the province’s best kitchen kings and queens and local food aficionados.

 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 pair of tickets to The Green Living Show @GreenLivingPage! http://bit.ly/1iGwK90 #foodieyuGLS

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 #foodieyuGLS hashtag stream. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream, it means there is no entry from you. Sorry. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up

CONTEST DURATION

Contest starts on Saturday, April 12 and ends on Saturday, April 19 at 12PM. 

Two lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner on Saturday, April 19

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^




Friday, April 11, 2014

Habits Gastropub: Upscale Pub Fare in Little Portugal

Gastropub. Have you ever wondered what the term means? Or where it comes from? It should be somewhat obvious that "gastropub" is derived from the words "gastronomy" and "pub". Digging deeper (which just means googling and clicking on Wikipedia on my part) the word "gastropub" actually originated in the UK in the late 20th century. Traditionally British pubs were merely drinking establishments with little emphasis placed on serving food. If pubs served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman's lunch (i.e. cheese, chutney and bread). The term "gastropub" was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London, where the duo specialized in serving high-quality food. From then on the concept of a restaurant in a pub reinvigorated both pub culture and British dining. 

When Michelle Genttner and Luis Martins opened Habits Gastropub (Twitter: @HabitsGastropub, Facebook: Habits Gastropub) in the summer of 2012, their vision was to provide the 'next step' in pub-going in the city. With a weekly changing menu that focuses on using the freshest ingredients and as much local as possible, Habits Gastropub elevates 'comfort food' by taking the things you know and love and giving it a little extra; a "sophisticated" update, so to speak.


Partners in both business and in life, Genttner manages the front of house while Martins has adopted the role of head chef at this cozy neighourhood gastropub.


Habits features Ontario craft beers on tap and strives to maintain a local focus by constantly adding VQA wines to their list. Their cocktails also feature house-infused liquors. Fun fact: Habits houses the third largest collection of whiskey at any bar in the city (which explains its elaborate bar).




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

é by José Andrés, Las Vegas

Housed within The Cosmopolitan hotel of Las Vegas, José Andrés brings the authentic flavour of Spanish tapas and paellas to JaleoWithin Jaleo is a second restaurant, the exclusive é by José Andrés


"Offering a clever and creative tasting menu of more than a dozen Spanish avant-garde dishes, this intimate space with 8 seats along a chef’s bar sets guests on a culinary journey. Led by José Andrés culinary vision and presented in an inspiring and whimsical style, é is a secluded setting where the best products of Spain shine. A unique experience enjoyed by few but envied by many."

Reservations at é by José Andrés are available by email only, and become available three months in advance. Seatings are available Wednesday through Sunday with two shows per night, at 5:30 PM and 8:30 PM. At a maximum of 8 guests per seating, the é menu is $195.00 per person (excluding beverage, tax and gratuity). Wine pairings available at extra cost. 

ALBARIZA - Gin, St. Germain, Amontillado Sherry, lemon, egg white ($15)


HIGOS Y SALVIA - Bourbon, D'Aristi, Cream Sherry, fig preserves, fresh sage, lemon ($15)


Sous chef Cody Jeffs




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Tasting Menu

It is always a pleasure attending a Milestones media dinner (this is my third one). Not only do I get the opportunity to taste a bit of everything from Milestones' newest menu, I also get to order as many bellinis as I want (I know it sounds stupid but I've been a sucker for their bellinis since the beginning of time...I'm obsessed with those fruity slushies!) In all seriousness I'm always eager to try Executive Chef Jason Rosso's new creations. Ever since chef Rosso joined Milestones as corporate chef I've noticed a significant change - a very positive one - in the restaurant specifically when it comes to embracing global cuisine. Being Asian, I particularly enjoy the Asian influences in Rosso's plates. His Spicy Thai Basil Stir-fry and Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki from last year's Summer Chefs' menu, and his Vietnamese Bun Cha and Galbi Style Rib Steak from the most recent Inspired Chefs' menu are all examples of fusion dishes done well (these dishes also demonstrate Rosso's creativity and genuine passion for exotic ingredients and flavours). In this particular Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Menu tasting, chef Rosso took us on a culinary journey, treating our taste buds to the bold flavours of South Asia all the way to the Mediterranean.


It is somewhat embarrassing to admit this but I had two bellinis before dinner last week at the Milestones located at Dundas Square. Yeah TWO bellinis. This is what I get for arriving way too early, I mean what else is there to do besides downing cocktails? Speaking of cocktails there's word on the street that Milestones (Twitter: @MilestonesCa, Facebook: Milestonesis in the process of revamping their cocktail menu to include classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned and the Moscow Mule. I'm so excited about this! *GASP* I foresee myself cheating on the bellini...

MILESTONES' ORIGINAL BELLINI
A frozen blend of premium white rum, peach liqueur, sparkling white wine, topped with Boone's Sangria


Along with our cocktails we were served these beautiful canapes:

APPETIZERS
CHEFS CHOICE CANAPES
Prime rib adobo poutine with smoked gouda*
Gouger of cheddar and poached egg mousseline in puff pastry
Atlantic smoked salmon rosette with tarragon goats cheese and fried capers
Wild mushroom and truffle bruschetta on parmesan cracker
Chorizo and mozzarella fritters with smoked paprika aioli*
*Available on Milestones' Homestyle Chefs’ Menu


After cocktails and apps we were ready for dinner! Below is chef Jason Rosso (@jasonrosso) giving us a brief intro about the new Milestones' Homestyle Chefs' Menu (he also came out in between courses to explain each dish).




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

East Thirty-Six: New Restaurant and Bar on Wellington St. E.

East Thirty-Six (Twitter: @EastThirtySix, Facebook: East Thirty-Six) on 36 Wellington Street East is the newest restaurant and bar to open in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. The restaurant, which occupies the former Olde Towne Bistro and Oyster Bar space and before that, Lucien, is the newest venture from husband and wife team Julien and Devon Salomone of Church Street's Boutique Bar. With a strong focus on house made ingredients for cocktails and a menu of share-able dishes, East Thirty-Six's restaurant and bar concept is ideal for patrons who enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and eccentric plates

Although considerably "brighter" than Lucien, East Thirty-Six's interior is still on the dark side (I've never been to Olde Towne Bistro and Oyster Bar so I cannot comment about its decor). However many details have been updated with more modern touches resulting in a much more approachable space. Gone are the dated crystal chandeliers (thank goodness!) which have now been replaced with contemporary steel light fixtures. The ceiling in the main dining room also has this cool purple'ish-blue back light.


Banquette seating at the back of the restaurant is perfect for large groups (East Thirty-Six comfortably seats 70).


A semi-private, raised "purple room" occupies the northeast corner of the restaurant. 




Friday, March 21, 2014

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen's New Menu

I still have very fond memories of the tasting menu I had at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen a year and a half ago. I remember describing it as a "rock-solid meal" which is why, to this very day, I still recommend this Queen West restaurant to my friends whenever they are looking for something different. Something unique.

Responsible for putting modern Filipino cuisine on the culinary map here in Toronto are second generation Filipinos Rudy Boquila and Les Sabilano. With Lamesa, the duo has successfully combined traditional tastes of the Philippines with modern takes and local ingredients. As Sabilano puts it Filipino food, the Lamesa way, is “all about taking a regional approach to Filipino food. Each of the 7000+ islands in the Philippines has developed their own style based on their customs, surroundings and what is locally available. For us, Toronto is just another island. Our style is shaped by our environment and where and how we grew up.

Last week, I was invited to Lamesa's (Twitter: @LamesaTO, Facebook: Lamesa) new menu launch where I sampled numerous dishes spanning their brunch, dinner and late night menus. Aside from the updated menu, Lamesa's bar also received a dramatic makeover (check out how the bar was before). I personally love the new bar especially the psychedelic glow in the background. Pretty trippy :) 


Speaking of bar, I enjoyed several cocktails that evening. My favourite would be this classic hip hop inspired Lolo Cool J cocktail which consisted of ginger, bourbon, pineapple and cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and ginger ale.



Live music throughout the night courtesy of DATU. These guys are fantastic.


Here's a look at what I had at the media tasting (note that these are all sample sizes specially made for the evening):

CRISPY PATA (brunch / dinner)
Deep fried pork trotter with pickles and housemade dipping sauces