Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Matt & Steve's - The Extreme Bean

(And no, not the salad...the cocktail)

I guess a lot of people know about my obsession w/ Caesars (not that I was keeping it a secret or anything) 'cause the kind folks at Matt & Steve's (Twitter: @theextremebean, Facebook: The Extreme Bean) sent me these awesome goodies the other day :) Thanks guys!

Matt Larochelle and Steve McVicker, co-founders of The Extreme Beandeveloped their spicy pickled bean from a small rented apartment over 10 years ago. Met during their bartending days, Matt and Steve both wanted better garnishes for the Caesar cocktail (aside from the plain ol' celery stick) and they finally settled for the spicy pickled bean. Instead of using a typical green bean from a local grocer, Matt and Steve found a unique bean that grows longer, sweeter and crunchier - the Kentucky flat bean. Using “how to pickle” instructions from Matt’s mom, the duo began experimenting with spice combinations and soon after, The Extreme Bean was born. 

Available in Spicy and Garlic Dill flavours, The Extreme Bean is sold at various retail locations across Canada and at Matt and Steve's online store. Check out Matt and Steve's latest variation on the bean: the B'nOlive: a giant olive stuffed with the Extreme Bean. Whhhhaaaaaat!?!? Amazing.

Aside from the very important garnish, a great Caesar also needs a good tasty rim. In comes Matt and Steve's Caesar Rimmer that packs just the right amount of spice and bite.

Hey and what do you know? It's the long weekend coming up and if you're thinking of entertaining guests, having a BBQ, or perhaps going up to the cottage for some nice patio time, stock up on these Extreme Bean products 'cause seriously, any ordinary Caesar will become one kickass Caesar when topped with an Extreme Bean, a B'nOlive and a thick, spicy rim. Your friends and family will LOVE you. YOU will love YOU.

Not sure how to make an Extreme Bean Caesar w/ Clamato (@CanadasCocktail)? Here, I got you covered:

Even if you are not a fan of the Caesar cocktail (and kudos to you for reading this far) these Extreme Bean products also make great accompaniments to any salad, charcuterie board, or even just to nibble on as a snack (okay maybe not the Caesar rimmer..well you can if you want...but it's a little weird).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brunch Preview at Earls

Starting this Saturday, August 3rd, Earls on 150 King St. W. (Twitter: @earlskingst, Facebook: Earls King Street) will be offering a brand new weekend brunch service (other Earls locations to start brunch service on Saturday, September 14th). Opening a half hour earlier than weekdays, Earls will serve brunch Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays from 11 am until 3 pm alongside their regular menu. Thanks to Jacque from Earls, I was invited to preview their new brunch menu yesterday.

Beautiful day. Perfect weather for a patio brunch.

Earls’ new fresh sourdough bread is really the star of their brunch. Rising slowly and naturally from an in-house grown sourdough starter, the dense, chewy new bread make its début on the brunch menu. Each of Earls restaurants has a starter of their own that they need to nurture and feed twice a day. 

Complimentary house made brioche cinnamon buns brushed with cream cheese icing for each table. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

FRANK - Discovering the Taste of Italy

Back in May, I was invited to Art Gallery of Ontario's (Twitter: @agotoronto, Facebook: AGO - Art Gallery of TorontoRevealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art exhibition which took place from March 16 to June 16. Yeah I know this post is long overdue...so sorry guys!

(Giotto di Bondone,  Italian, about 1266 – 1337, The Peruzzi Altarpiece, The North Carolina Museum of Art)

Presented in partnership with the world renowned J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art was a large-scale exhibition that brought together an unrivaled collection of more than 90 paintings, including Giotto’s five-panel Peruzzi Altarpiece, two painted and hand-written copies of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Bernardo Daddi’s Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul, along with numerous manuscripts, sculptures and stained glass from the 14th century.

(Left: Bernardo Daddi, Italian (Florentine), about 1280 – 1348, The Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
(Right: Bernardo Daddi, Italian, Triptych with the Crucifixion, National Gallery of Scotland) 

 Subdivided into various themes, the exhibition explored how the Florence's burgeoning economy of the time fostered a unique demand for artworks both religious and civic, the collaborative nature of artistic production, the workshops of artists and a closer look at the stories behind the works and their subjects and insight into conservation research.

(Pacino di Bonaguida Italian, active 1302-1340, Tripytch with the Crucifixion, the Lamentation, and the Ascension of Christ, The ALANA Collection) 

Sasha Suda, the coordinating curator led the tour and provided a lot of insight and anecdotes that we wouldn’t otherwise have known about had we been left on our own. Thanks for the great tour! It was refreshing to hear from someone who is so connected and passionate about the works in the gallery!

A huge thank you goes to Sasha Suda, assistant curator of European art at the AGO, for guiding us through the fascinating exhibit!

(Left: Puccio Capanna, Italian, Madonna and Child with Angels and Female Saints, Musei Vaticani)
(Right: Master of the Dominican Effigies, Italian, Pentecost / Leaf from the Laudario of Sant'Agnese, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

El Catrin

Out goes Boiler House, in comes El Catrin, a large scale modern Mexican restaurant in the Distillery District that promises authentic traditional and modern Mexican cuisine. Recruited from Mexico to head El Catrin's kitchen is chef de cuisine Olivier Le Calvez, previously an instructor of Asian cuisine, fusion cuisine, Mexican and French cuisine at the Cordon Bleu Mexico Culinary Institute. A tapas-style menu incorporating chef Olivier's interpretation of both traditional and modern Mexican cuisine and flavours, you can expect staples such as ceviches, tacos, burritos and tostadas at El Catrin. Aside from its large ambitious food menu, another highlight of El Catrin is their impressive list of tequila and mezcal - boasting over 120 brands (some which have never before been offered in Canada) it is currently the country's biggest tequila and mezcal collection.

My first thought when I arrived at El Catrin's grand opening party on Tuesday was "Whoa this place is huge!" then quickly followed by "Whoa this place is beautiful!" The grandeur, the pure gorgeousness of El Catrin (Twitter: @elcatrinca, Facebook: El Catrin) is really something else. Take for example, the stunning forty-foot by twenty-two foot high mural (pictured below) created by Mexican street artist Oscar Flores; the sheer size of it is just mind-blowing. 

Paying homage to Mexican cantinas, El Catrin's decor was inspired by the Mexican traditions of La Loteria Mexicana, Papas Picado paper art and urban street art. The space is designed by Munge Leunga local firm responsible for designig Gusto 101, La Societe and Weslodge. 

 El Catrin's massive fifty foot long bar constructed from The Distillery’s old whisky racks.  

One of two private dining rooms at El Catrin.

(Photo credit: El Catrin)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Winner of the SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT Official Launch Party Tickets Giveaway is...


Congratulations @AyznGurl! =D You have just won a pair of ticket to the official launch party for SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT taking place on Wednesday, July 31st at 9 pm at 456 Wellington St W! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com with the first and last names for you and your guest by the end of today and we'll go from there :)

And thanks to all the contestants who participated in the contest

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #FJCsorbet hashtag from day one of the contest (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.) The tracking was done in chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person has to tweet "Hey @foodieyu I want a pair of tix to @SmirnoffCanada SORBET LIGHT official launch party! http://bit.ly/18sF1Nq #FJCsorbet #smirnoffsorbet". Each person may 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 on Twitter.

After verifying, I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick the winner from the 92 entries.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mussels In Love

If you are a foodie and a movie / documentary buff, then you need to watch 
Mussels In Love

(Photo credit: autlookfilms)

Opening at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this Friday, July 26th, Mussels In Love is a feature-length documentary by Willemiek Kluijfhout about the life cycle of the Zeeland mussel and the human interaction that unfolds around it.

(Photo credit: Mussels In Love)

I had the pleasure if previewing Mussels In Love over the weekend and I gotta say, I learned so much more about the life and food of this strange shellfish. The documentary follows the mussel on its odyssey from seabed to restaurant plate, where it encounters passionate enthusiasts such as biologist Annelies, gynecologist Jan who uses the glue that mussels produce to save unborn children and top chef Sergio Herman (below) who, after a love-hate relationship with the shellfish, now specializes in preparing it.

(Photo credit: Mussels In Love)

Mussels In Love also looks at the nature of how we sustain our food supply and demonstrates the centuries old bond between the Dutch and water, specific traditions and pastimes (mussel festivals, mussel breeding grounds and their auctions), the gastronomic Belgians (who truly love mussels and can’t get enough of them), the Dutch businessmen who mainly sell them and the centuries old struggle between north and south -  between the Zeelanders and the Northerners and also between the Dutch and the Belgians.

(Photo credit: Mussels In Love)

Take a few minutes and check out the trailer:

Friday, July 19, 2013

SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT Official Launch Party Tickets Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away ONE PAIR of tickets to the official Launch Party of SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT!

You and one guest will be among the first to try the light and refreshing SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT cocktails along with delicious appetizers and a special DJ set by Nina Sky and much more! Please see below for details:

Date: Wednesday, July 31 
Location: 456 Wellington St W Toronto 
Time: 9:00pm – 12:00am
Dress to impress in Sorbet colours
        Valid ID required, must be 19+ to attend 
The event is subject to capacity so arrive early to avoid disappointment!

SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT is pioneering the new generation of flavoured vodka beverages with its low caloric content, heightened flavouring, and new cooling technology
SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT is sweetened with natural and artificial flavours, including a plant-derived natural sweetener that enhances the naturally sweet flavours of the liquid
- At 50 calories per 1 oz. serving, SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT has 24 per cent less calories than other leading dessert-inspired flavoured vodka beverages
- Focusing on a multi-sensorial taste experience, SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT contains a new cooling technology that mimics the icy and refreshing taste of sorbet
SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT is now available at select liquor stores across Canada, currently excluding Quebec
- Alcohol content: 30 per cent
- Size: 750 mL
- Price: $25.95 in Ontario
-SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT is available in two award-winning* flavours:

*SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT Mango Passion Fruit and SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT Raspberry Pomegranate won Gold and Silver respectively at the 2013 San Francisco Spirits Competition


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 a pair of tix to @SmirnoffCanada SORBET LIGHT official launch party! http://bit.ly/18sF1Nq #FJCsorbet #smirnoffsorbet 

*For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown*
*You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry*
*Contest is tracked by the #FJCsorbet 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 starts on Friday, July 19th and ends on Wednesday, July 24th at 12PM. 

One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after on Wednesday, July 24th. 

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^

For additional details on SMIRNOFF SORBET LIGHT please visit:
Facebook: Smirnoff

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Azure Restaurant & Bar (2013 Summerlicious)

Just a heads up - there are only three days left for Summerlicious (@LiciousTO)! With three Summerlicious dinners under my belt - Café Boulud, Bymark and Azure Restaurant & Bar - I can confidently say I took full advantage of the event this year. I know I could have booked even more lunches and dinners but I seriously need to start watching my weight and my bank account. Anyway, this weekend is the last weekend to take advantage of all the awesome lunch and dinner prix-fixes currently being offered at over 190 restaurants in Toronto. Whether you like it or not, Summerlicious / Winterlicious really encourages people to...well...go out and eat! Whether it be a new restaurant, an established restaurant in a new neighbourhood, a high-end restaurant or whatever the case may be, Licious' prix fixe offerings gives everybody an opportunity - an incentive - to venture out, eat and spend money. Great for the city. Great for the economy.

My last Summerlicious dinner this year was at Azure Restaurant & Bar. Located at the corner of Front St. W. and Lower Simcoe St. within the lobby of the InterContinental Toronto Centre (Twitter: @ICTorontoCentre, Facebook: InterContinental Toronto Centre), Azure features contemporary Canadian cuisine. An advocate for using local and seasonal ingredients, Azure's Chef de Cuisine Grace Di Fede strongly believes in offering customers a menu that draws on the freshest local meats and produce available at the time.

Cascading glass 'canopy'.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bymark (Summerlicious)

Five days left for Summerlicious folks! Have you taken advantage of the amazing prix-fixe deals yet? If your answer is "no" then well, good news is there's still time - Summerlicious ends this Sunday, July 21 so get on it! Make some resos! If your answer is "yes" then...um...make more resos? ;) Yesterday night, my friend Audrey and I made our way to Bymark (@BymarkDowntown) for their $45 Summerlicious dinner prix-fixe (they are also offering a $25 lunch.) Below is the rundown on our meal:

BYMARK - Chilled Absolut Citron, pink grapefruit juice, champagne ($15)
BYMARK PIMM'S CUP - Hendrick's gin, Pimm's No. 1, mint, fresh ginger ($15)

Albacore Tuna Sashimi
Pineapple, jalapeno, yuzu mayo, black garlic

Ricotta Gnudi Salad
Arugula, shaved parmesan & brown butter

Friday, July 12, 2013

Café Boulud (Summerlicious)

Summerlicious, presented by American Express and produced by the City of Toronto, is currently taking place between July 5 to July 21. This unique culinary celebration is all about highlighting Toronto's diverse collection of restaurants and bringing unique dining experiences to life. There are over 195 restaurants participating in Summerlicious this year with numerous prix fixe menu options to choose from.

As a "Roving Reporter" for American Express, I had the opportunity to dine at Café Boulud (@CafeBouludTOlast week. Here's a recap of what we had:


Bombay Sapphire Gin, Campari, Green Chartreuse, Dry Vermouth, Lemon Twist
 Forty Creek Reserve Rye, Marsala Fine, Amaro, Kirsch Cherries, House Star Anise Bitters 


Sweet Corn Succotash, Avocado Mousse Shrimp Cracker

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Meet Le Cordon Bleu in Toronto

Interested in Culinary Arts? If your answer is YES, read on!

Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Institute is among the premier facilities of its world-renowned international network of culinary schools - it is Canada's only campus for Le Cordon Bleu. A worldwide leader in gastronomy, hospitality and management, the focus of their curriculum is the mastering of classic, fundamental techniques required to succeed in any genre of cuisine, in any part of the world. Students from all over the world, representing more than 70 nationalities, find a common bond there in their passion for the craft of fine food.

Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Institute will be hosting a free bilingual demonstration and Q&A in Toronto.

WHEN: Saturday, July 27, 2013
WHERE: Cirillo’s Academy. 4894 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON, M9A 1B5
PRICE: Free of charge to registered participants

At the event, you will get to meet the team and learn about their: 

1. Cuisine, Pâtisserie, and Boulangerie programs as well as the coveted Grand Diplôme®;
2. Method of instruction: small classrooms and one-on-one practical guidance;
3. Application process, requirements, and tuition;
4. Master Chef instructors and well-rounded curriculum; and
5. Worldwide reputation for culinary excellence and rich tradition of education that stretches back over 100 years.

You will also get to witness a demonstration from one of their Master Chef and have a chance to talk to the admissions team.

Photo Credit: Le Cordon Bleu

REGISTER NOW to attend this free bilingual demonstration and Q&A event!

EMAIL: ottawa@cordonbleu.edu
PHONE: 613.755.2386
TWITTER: @cordonbleuott

The 25th Annual Ontario Oyster Festival - Tour de Shells

Join hundreds of oyster fans for the silver anniversary of the Ontario Oyster Festival (#oysterfest). Enjoy fresh oysters, mussels and lobster while watching live bands and Ontario's best oyster shuckers in action. Help celebrate oyster culture and in doing so, support Environmental Defence (@envirodefence), Canada's most effective environmental action organization. They have raised over $100,000 to date!

WHEN:  Sunday, July 21, 2013 from 2PM - 10PM.

WHERE: Alley beside Rodney’s Oyster House (@RodneysToronto) at 469 King Street West, Toronto

WHAT: Enjoy freshly shucked oysters, lobster, micro brews, live music, inexpensive drinks, competitive oyster eating and the best shuckers in the country duking it out all in support of Environmental Defence. For those that are not into seafood, Rodney’s Oyster House will be serving up Coq au Vin as well.  

MUSIC: Opening will be Festival perennials, The Waxbills. The closing act is the return of God Made Me Funky.

Battle of the Bivalves Shucking Competition - 40 contestants compete for this year’s title and a chance to represent Ontario at the Canadian championships in PEI. Winner from the Canadians goes to Ireland for the World Oyster Shucking Competition.
Bicycling for Bivalves hands-free oyster eating competition. Contestants qualify during the day and then face-off on stage on stationary bikes where they have to slurp down 6 oysters without using their hands. Fastest sucker wins.

TICKETS: $35 per person and includes 2 drinks and a plate of 6 oysters or Coq au Vin. Tickets are available for purchase now by calling 416-363-8105 ext. 0, or at the gates. 

ALSO: Everybody gets a door prize to take home with them, wear and enjoy. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Atera, NYC


Matthew Lightner, Executive Chef

Beer Foam Macaron, Creme Fraiche, Caviar

Flax Seed Cookie, Coriander, Pine Nut Butter

Lobster Roll, Yeast Meringue

'Cannoli' Sunchoke Chip, Strained Buttermilk, Sour Cream Powder

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A-OK Foods

When Yours Truly on Ossington stopped serving its snacks menu to make the switch to an all tasting menu, I admit I was a bit bummed. I liked their snacks. But you know how the saying goes - that "all good things must come to an end" - I guess it totally applies here and sadly, life must go on (I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one bummed about this okay?!) 

So when the owners of Yours Truly opened A-OK Foods (Twitter: @AOKfoods, Facebook: A-OK Foods) I couldn't wait to check it out. With a menu that emphasizes on Chinese, Korean and Mexican flavours, the small restaurant on Queen West has a variety of unique snacks such as KFC or "Korean Fried Chicken", Bulgogi Torta and Goya Champuru etc. However, what really sets A-OK apart is their house-made ramen, made from their very own special ramen machine imported from Korea. 

Really diggin' the decor at A-OK - the aluminum lamps, green picnic tables and benches and the wood tiled walls all give an illusion of eating at an outdoor street food vendor (you'll see later that drinks are served in disposable red tumblers.)