Monday, February 23, 2015

Splendido Tasting III

The Tasting at Splendido

Victor Barry, Chef


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

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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday Brunch at Città

Hear me out. Sunday brunch is not my forte, it's just not in my "dining-out" vocabulary. Actually, I'm the last person you should ever ask about brunch, where to go, the best spot for pancakes, etc. My answer to you would be "Sorry, I have no idea. You should ask so-and-so". I could name you a few places if you insisted but it'll be followed by the "I've never been to them myself but I've heard good things" disclaimer. What can I say? I'm just a dinnah kinda gal! So does this make this post irrelevant? No, because although I hardly go for brunch it doesn't mean I can't tell you the reason(s) why I like those blueberry pancakes. The downside is I probably can't tell you where to get even better blueberry pancakes. So, the question is, how did I find myself at Città on a Sunday? It was a blogger brunch event hosted by Città and as a food blogger, I gotta show my face. Meh, who am I kidding? It's free brunch!

Città (Twitter: @CittaToronto, Facebook: Citta Toronto) is a new Italian restaurant located at CityPlace, the condos on Spadina across from the Rogers Centre. The rustic urban Italian eatery is the newest restaurant venture by Hanif Harij, the successful restaurateur behind Patria, Weslodge, Byblos and NAO Steakhouse. Harij has brought on board executive chef Ben Heaton of The Grove and David Mattachiono of Terroni to helm the kitchen at Città.

The Città space is basically an L-shape with a dining area on each side. As you can see from the above photo, the restaurant is encased in floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a lot of sunlight. When you walk in, you'll notice the dining room on your right has a bold and majestic decor with black and gold chandeliers, gold-trimmed mirrors, tiled floors and large royal green leather banquettes.

The dining room on your left has a more laid-back, less shimmery rustic decor.

A closer look at the bar.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Discovered Culinary Competition 2015: Calling All Industry Professionals!

I'm baaaaaaaaack! After a week-long hiatus in sunny Mexico I'm now back home in chilly Toronto (blah!) Before I get back to my usual restaurant write-ups and whatnot, I need to tell you guys about Discovered Culinary Competition 2015 first. In its third year running, the Discovered Culinary Competition (@DiscoveredChefs) held at Nella Cucina gives up-and-coming competitive culinary talents the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills as they work against the clock in a high energy, black box competition (think Food Network's Chopped). All to win the coveted Grand Prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to Spain for a week long stage in a Michelin star restaurant! 

How the Discovered Culinary Competition works:

Start date: February 23, 2015

Each competition will be held at Nella Cucina (876 Bathurst Street, Toronto).
Each competition will be 2 hours long beginning at 7pm and ending at 9pm.

The competition will begin with four contestants. Each contestant will be provided with a basket of mystery ingredients as well as a stocked pantry. Contestants must use only equipment provided by Nella Cucina¸ except for the use of personal knives.  Once the timer begins the contestants will have 20 minutes to prepare an appetizer using all of the mystery ingredients. Each contestant must have a completed plate as the buzzer goes at the 20 minute mark. Whatever is on the plate will be judged by the judges.

The judges will judge each plate using the following criteria: Use of the mystery ingredients, Creativity, Skill, Visual appearance & Taste

After judging, one contestant will be eliminated. The remaining three contestants will then be given another basket of ingredients and 30 minutes to complete an entrée using all of the mystery ingredients. After the entrée judging, one more contestant will be eliminated.
The final two contestants will then be given their final basket of mystery ingredients and a final 20 minutes to prepare a dessert using all their mystery ingredients. After judging the winner of the competition will be revealed.

Starting on February 23, there will be 14 weeks of preliminary challenges where both winners and runner ups will advance from the weekly challenges, resulting in 14 semi-finalists plus two Facebook fan favourites.

A total of 16 semi-finalists will include: 14 ‘Nella Cucina’ winners & 2 Facebook Fan Favourites. These 16 semi-finalist contestants will then move on to the second part of the competition, composed of four semi-final matches resulting in four finalists.

Finalists will compete at Nella Cucina in June 2015 where one winner will be awarded an
all-expenses-paid trip to Spain for a week long stage in a Michelin star restaurant.

Lucky me, I was on the Discovered Culinary Competition 2013 Round 7 judging panel with Rodney Bowers (Owner of Hey Meatball) and Luca Stracquadino (head chef of Ovest Cucina e Vineria). It was such a fun and memorable experience critiquing food alongside two great chefs. And whaddayaknow? I'm back at it this year!

If you are a Canadian chef over the age of 19, I highly suggest you go for the Discovered Culinary Competition. The competition is an amazing opportunity to challenge yourself amongst your peers by putting your skills and creativity to the test. C'mon, you've got nothing to lose, and if all goes well you may be the one going to Spain.

The competition is in two weeks so if you think you have what it takes then click HERE to apply now!

For more information or to apply online, visit the Discovered Chefs Facebook page at For those of you that want to be part of the audience please email  

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