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.

VANILLA MILK CUSTARD, PICKLED MANGO, CHOCOLATE MOCHI, PUFFED RICE GRANOLA


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.

PROFITEROLE, BALSAMIC CHEESECAKE, PEANUT BUTTER PRALINE, PECAN


The beautiful Cora James at work.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

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

@emfriesen
@sassygirlcanada

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...

@taylor40906

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.


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 @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 DURATION
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!!! ^_^



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chef's Plate Gourmet Meal Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away TWO mouthwatering meals courtesy of Chef's Plate to one lucky winner! The winner will receive a box of fresh, seasonal and pre-portioned ingredients with detailed recipes cards.

(Photo from Chef's Plate)

This amazing prize includes 2 meals for 2 people (a $56 value).


Don't forget to check out my experience with Chef's Plate! I had so much fun whipping up these tasty recipes at home. All of Chef's Plate's gourmet recipes take 30 mins or less from box to table.


I know you're here to win this contest but I think y'all should know that you can now get $25 off on your first Chef's Plate order using my promo code CHEFSTELLA. You're welcome :)

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 TWO delicious gourmet meals for TWO from @ChefsPlateCA! http://bit.ly/1NHnYZR #fjcchefsplate

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 #fjcchefsplate 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. Chef's Plate currently deliver to most of the Greater Toronto Area. Click here to check if they deliver to your area!

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Wednesday, March 11 and ends on Wednesday, March 18 at 12PM. 
One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chef's Plate: Fresh Ingredients & Delicious Recipes Delivered Weekly to Your Door + a $25 Off Promo Code!

Netflix. I blame everything on Netflix these days. Once I tune into Dragons' Den or Breaking Bad nothing else in the world matters anymore (I know for some of you it's the House of Cards, that's next on my list). "Only one more episode, I promise!" Yeah, okay. Who am I kidding? One episode quickly turns into three, which turns into five, which then turns into a two-day marathon. It's all over folks. Work? I can do that later. Blog? I can certainly do that later. Sleep? Sleep is for the weak. Eat? No problem, I'll just eat whatever's in the fridge. What do you mean there's nothing in the fridge? Oh riiiiiight, I forgot to do groceries yesterday *face palm*. Damn you, Netflix. Damn you!

This all could have been easily avoided if I had used Chef's Plate because whether you are a couch potato who often forgets to do the groceries, a workaholic parent who struggles finding time between work and taking care of the kids, or someone who just wants to cook a nice, gourmet meal at home from time to time without going to the supermarket, Chef's Plate may be your answer. This is how it works:


Thanks to Chef's Plate (Twitter: @ChefsPlateCA, Facebook: Chef's Plate).  I was provided with two meals to try. There are three plans to choose from where each week you’ll receive a box of fresh, seasonal and pre-portioned ingredients with detailed recipe cards. What's great is that the flexible plans have no commitment so you can skip or cancel at any time. Chef's Plate deliveries occur every Monday to your home or office before 5 PM (just make sure you order before midnight on Thursday for delivery the following Monday). And no sweat if you're not home because the box of goodies will stay fresh in your refrigerated box for up to 12 hours after the expected delivery time.

Unlike take-out, which most of time leaves me feeling gross and unhealthy, Chef's Plate's award-winning Executive Chef Jason Rosso works with the best suppliers to provide local and seasonal products wherever possible. Currently the National Executive Chef at Milestones Canada, all of Rosso's recipes at Chef's Plate include specialty ingredients that are uniquely sourced and developed. These ingredients will stay fresh at least 4-5 days in the fridge after they are delivered so there's ample time for you to plan out your week. Best of all, there are six new recipes each week with a variety of healthy meat, seafood and vegetarian options, and they all take only 30 minutes or less to make. That statement alone beats take-out any day!

Without futher adieu, here's a look at the two meals I made: Orzo Risotto for dinner on Tuesday, and Chicken Portobello Stew for dinner on Wednesday.

ORZO RISOTTO
With wild mushrooms and vegetables
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 20 mins
Calories Per Serving: 516


The Scoop:
"Orzo is a rice shaped pasta. It's a very versatile and can be found in soups, bakes, and even cold salads. We love orzo so much, we decided to make a mushroom risotto. This recipe is creamy and delicious. While the orzo is the star, the mushrooms bring a fresh and earthy flavour to the otherwise creamy dish. The addition of the fresh vegetable helps balance out te cream and mushrooms in a truly enjoyable way".




Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recipe For Change 2015

FoodShare's sixth annual Recipe For Change took place last week on Thursday, February 26th at the St. Lawrence North Market. FoodShare Toronto (Twitter: @FoodShareTO, Facebook: FoodShare Toronto) is Canada's original direct field to table Community Food Hub. Since 1985, FoodShare has been delivering good healthy food and food education to under-served schools and communities through programs focused in fresh product distribution, food literacy education and nutrition, urban agriculture and community cooking. All funds raised from Recipe For Change will go to supporting innovative food programs and Food Literary in schools. 

A feast that is second to one, this year marks my third executive year at Recipe For Change; I wouldn't miss it for the world!


This year's fundraiser featured a silent auction which included a GE free-standing range, a Montreal getaway for two, a Kona AfricaBike Three, and much more.



Recipe For Change 2015 brought together 30 local chefs, 4 VQA wineries, 2 craft breweries, organic hot and cold teas, freshly brewed coffees and artisan food vendors, all for one very delicious party. With so much food and drinks to cover I better get right to it:




Monday, February 23, 2015

Splendido Tasting III

The Tasting at Splendido

Victor Barry, Chef

POPCORN, BEET AND BLOOD MACARON, FOIE TART



CAVIAR POTATO (served in caviar tin)
Northern Divine Caviar, White Chocolate, Potato Ice Cream


POTATO DASHI
Northern Divine Caviar, Potato Croquette, Creme Fraiche




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blowfish Restaurant & Sake Bar on King West

I was invited to Blowfish Restaurant & Sake Bar recently for the opening of BarFish, their brand new cocktail lounge. Ever since 2003, Blowfish (Twitter: @BlowfishResto, Facebook: Blowfish Restaurant + Sake Bar) has been offering unique Japanese fusion plates with an impressive sake list to the sophisticated King West crowd. With the cocktail scene now as hot as ever, the restaurant has seized the opportunity and launched BarFish, an extended space to Blowfish that can comfortably accommodate up to 60 guests.


Curated by award-winning mixologist Nishantha Nepulongoda (pictured above), BarFish's cocktail menu is complete with Japanese-inspired creations such as Pomegranate Saketini, Mango Passion Lychee Saketini, and Caribou Crossing (which has a dash of yuzu.) Open every night from 5pm, the bar is ideal for after-work cocktails or anytime you feel like having cocktails and snacks (the bar serves food from Blowfish).


After drinks at BarFish, we were led to the restaurant for dinner. The Blowfish dining room is massive yet very pretty. Notice the Japanese mural on the right; it spans the entire length of the room. One thing I want to mention is the purple lighting / glow in the space. Tell me, why does the addition of purple always make a room so much more "lounge-y"? Is it just me?




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dufflet High Tea

After 40 years in the bakery business, Dufflet Pastries' name is now synonymous with delicious and creative desserts and cakes in Toronto. The reputable bakery now boasts three retail cafés and a wholesale division that supplies over 500 restaurants, cafés, hotels, caterers, grocers and specialty gourmet shops throughout North America. Using only premium ingredients, with no hydrogenated fats or oils, no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, each Dufflet (Twitter: @dufflet, Facebook: Dufflet Pastriesproduct is handcrafted from scratch, never made from a mix. I must say, this is all very impressive! Speaking of being impressed, I had the opportunity to try some of their gluten-free chocolate fudge tarts back in September (the Dufflet Gluten-Free line was a finalist for the 2013 SIAL Innovation Award). I mentioned in the blog post that I'm always skeptical about gluten-free products (in that they won't taste as good as the original version) but I was completely blown away by those Dufflet tarts! They were rich and decadent, and never in a million years would I have guessed they were gluten-free.

I was invited by Dufflet recently to try their High Tea. Available every Sunday from 1PM to 5PM exclusively at the Dufflet beach location (Facebook: Dufflet Beach), guests can enjoy a selection of sumptuous desserts and canapés from Dufflet Pastries paired with a premium selection of Sloane Teas.


This 24-seat café is open seven days a week and offers a wide selection of signature cakes, pastries, pies, cookies, as well as light lunches and specialty beverages for eat-in or take-out. 


They also have a lot of cute greeting cards, gourmet candy and chocolates for sale at the café.