Friday, August 14, 2015

Explore Toronto with Estrella Damm's Tapas Journey

There’s always something new to do in Toronto. And for only 10 days, Estrella Damm has brought the Tapas Journey to Toronto! Estrella Damm has created a valuable addition, introducing 20 participating restaurants as part of the journey. It is only throughout August 14th to 23rd that diners will experience a trio of selected tapas paired with a glass of classic Estrella Damm, all for twenty bucks.

Stemming from the beautiful Spain, Barcelona, tapas are simply a celebration of food. A spread of tapas are to be paired with drinks and shared with friends and family. Among these paired drinks, is the Estrella Damm, "The Beer of Barcelona". Estrella Damm is a Pilsner Lager brewed with a 100% natural original recipe, since 1876. In contrast to the looks of it's heavy body, this beer is actually on the dryer end, holding sweeter flavours of malt, along with a crisp and satisfying finish. I can see exactly how this will pair with the tapas to come for the evening.
Participating Toronto restaurants include: Barsa Taberna, Beast, Byblos, Carmen, Cava, East Thirty-Six, El Catrin Destileria, Kanpai, Los Colibris, Mamakas Taverna, Marben, Mata Petisco Bar, Nota Bene, Patria, Raca, Salt, Taverna Mercatto, The Goodson, Valdez and Weslodge.
Get your passport stamped: Visit 1 or more of the Tapas Journey restaurants and receive a golden sticker on your passport, marking off each restaurant. Share a picture your passport on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TapasJourney, you will be entered to win a trip for two to Miami to attend the Estrella Damm Congress and see their renown gastronomic ambassador, Ferran Adria.
We celebrated tapas the right way tonight. I had the pleasure of experiencing "tapas" starting with the traditional Spanish tapas as we know it at Cava Restaurant, to a wonderful spread of Taiwanese tapas at Kanpai, and lastly to a refreshing Italian at Taverna Mercatto.

#TapasJourney Stop 1: Cava Restaurant

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Photo credit to Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Estrella Damm.
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Cava Restaurant was a wonderful spot to start our Tapas Journey. As the initial fore bearer of Toronto's current Spanish culinary trend, Chef Doug Penfold stays true to his "nose-to-tail" devotion and in creating modern flavours of Iberian and Latin American. In this Tapas Journey menu, he assembles a platter of Fried Chickpeas, Smoked Mackerel and Banderilla skewer. The chickpeas were immediately soft to bite, with a crispy of zatar on the outer layer. Cava Restaurant clearly does specialize in Pincho on toasts, the smoked mackerel was remarkably done with a lovely balance of grapefruit pieces and grilled asparagus. Each dish was a refreshing start to the journey, along with the first cheer and gulp of the pale ale lager.

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#TapasJourney Stop 2: Kanpai Snack Bar

Estrella_Damm_Tapas_Journey_Toronto_2015 Photo credit to Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Estrella Damm.

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Kanpai Snack Bar, known for their hip family-style spreads and a variety of pleasing locally-sourced beers, sakes, and cocktails on tap. They have captured the perfect ambiance, filled with fried aromas, chatter and the a beautiful imagery stretched across the back wall of the common sight at a Taiwanese night market. We were presented with three generous dishes, the first is their "can't touch this" MC Hammer Popcorn Chicken, addictive, juicy and tender all in one. Next was a brilliant trio of Taiwanese house-cured and pickled vegetables, smashed Cucumber, Lotus and Cabbage, each one served as a well-fit palate cleanser for the dish to follow, the Funny Fish! This one was a grand mixture of a Taiwanese bar snack, or, what I grew up with. It was absolutely excellent, find a spicy balance of Fried Mini Fish and Tofu with scatters of Peanuts and Chilis. Kanpai have certainly followed their motto with this Tapas Journey spread: "Eat often, eat well and wash it down with something good".

#TapasJourney Stop 3: Taverna Mercatto

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Estrella_Damm_Tapas_Journey_Toronto_2015 Photo credit to Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Estrella Damm.

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Taverna Mercatto, the latest addition of their five downtown locations in Toronto. Their place in the SouthCore Financial neighbourhood gives an undeniable welcoming energy. Popular for their beautifully assembled Italian classics, Taverna Mercatto highlights seasonal products in their part of the Tapas Journey. As it was the end of the night, there would be no better fit than Taverna Mercatto's patio space and to take a final cheers along with cuts into the fresh and vibrant menu. The Wild Salmon Tartare was light in citrus, enough to leave a buttery finish and extra crisp of the Fried Pig Ears. Truly making the most of seasonal produce, Taverna Mercatto has formed a thinly sliced Ontario Musk Melon into a Carpaccio, and topped with the finest cured Pepperoncini and Wild Boar Prosciutto to sliver. Each a great pair to the same light and smooth Estrella Damm, the Tempura-fried Zucchini Blossom stuffed with Ricotta was a wonderful cut in the crisp batter.

Cava Restaurant, Kanpai and Taverna Mercatto each did a fantastic job at bringing their best dishes forward to pair with a cold Estrella Damm to myself and my fellow travellers. Enjoy this feast and divulge yourselves into the Toronto tapas culinary scene, while it lasts.
For only 10 days, 20 restaurants are setting up three of their signature tapas and pairing it with one Estrella Damm beer for $20. Thanks to Estrella Damm for letting me experience the true Tapas Journey for myself, an amazing opportunity to rally up friends, delicious food and sip a glass of well-[aired Estrella Damm. But, that's just my experience, see what it’s all about: #TapasJourney.

For more information:

Estrella Damm
Twitter: EstrellaDamm 
Instagram: EstrellaDammCat 
Twitter Hashtag: #TapasJourney 
Instagram Hashtag: #TapasJourney

Cava Restaurant
Twitter: @CavaRestaurant 

Kanpai Snack Bar
Twitter: @KanpaiSnackBar 
Instagram: @KanpaiSnackBar

Taverna Mercatto
Twitter: @MercattoTO
Instagram: MercattoTO

Monday, August 10, 2015

Club Monaco's Debut, First-ever Market #CMMarket

CMMarket Club Monaco Farmers Market 2015CMMarket Club Monaco Farmers Market 2015 Just from Museum station, head North to Bloor, and you will be welcomed by the Club Monaco's delightful set up

Following their innovative conquest, Club Monaco has brought a wonderful welcoming of beautiful sights of flowers, gourmet ice pops, artisanal baked goods, salads and coffee to the front of their flagship Toronto store, open for all to enjoy! The International lifestyle brand has collaborated with local artisans to introduce exclusive items to the Club Monaco Market.
There are currently five to enjoy and savour from: Parts & Labour, Philips Ice Pops, flower shop Sweet Woodruff, Ossington's delight: Bake Shoppe and the premium brew of Boxcar Social.  The outside market and their exclusive creations will be only be available until October, make your visit soon!

CM_Market_TOR_150804_0174_HiRes CMMarket Club Monaco Farmers Market 2015 Boxcar Social
Boxcar Social located at Summerhill and Riverside, has a rotational caffeine menu exclusive to the CMMarket, each is made to order and a promise of premium brew and quality. Pictured is an espresso shot of the self-proclaimed "Epic", was the Ethiopia Aroma, with notes of Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Nectarine & Vanilla. It was definitely a winner.

Flower shop Sweet Woodruff's Club Monaco Inspired bouquets Sweet Woodruff's Club Monaco Inspired bouquets

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Philip's Ice Pops are a hunt-and-devour sort of find, they are regularly based out of a push bike, but, if you don't desire the adventure, they're also stocked at these places. I was with glee to find them set up at the CMMarket. They have three gourmet Ice Pops on offer: Watermelon/Lime/Sea Salt, Basil/Strawberry and Ginger/Rosemary/Lemon. I delighted myself with the Watermelon/Lime/Sea Salt, and it was the perfect balance. The sea salt would creep up on you upon licks when you least expect it!

CMMarket Club Monaco Farmers Market 2015 Bake Shoppe Bake Shoppe at CMMarketBake Shoppe at CMMarket
The Bake Shoppe is based at their ever-so-popular Ossington & College location, and, they also bake wedding cakes as well! At the CMMarket they had a wonderful assortment of artisanal baked treats, I treated myself with a Choc + Peanut Butter Pop Tart and a Ruffle Square. You simply have to try both. The Ruffle Square was of course made out of Ruffle Chips and was a wonderful combination of sweet and salty AND crunchy and chewy. Genius.

Parts & Labour at CMMarketParts & Labour successfully does a lot of things, they cater, have the most popping bar in West Queen West, as well as taking the title of a delicious burger, so good, that they have created it's own store, P&L Burger. At the CMMarket, Parts & Labour has introduced their catering side and have made use of this season's prime ingredients with delicious salads! This one was a Barley mix with seasonal Vegetables and a sauce that tied the whole container together. They will also be anticipating on introducing Ice Creams very soon to the CMMarket, so I cannot wait to hear of their array of flavours.

Follow along with #CMMarket: On Twitter & Instagram

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Must See: Toronto Food & Wine Show 2015 + Ticket Giveaway

Are you ready to hear something absolutely amazing? I have a giveaway for you all today. Food and Wine Festival Toronto 2015 September 18th-20th

Food and Wine Festival Toronto 2015 September 18th-20th[/caption] Toronto’s very first Food & Wine Festival will be making its way to Evergreen Brickworks! That’s right. Over the course of three days (September 18th to 20th 2015), attendees will be exploring and savouring the likes of over 55 vendors and participants and 130 premium products! This is the ultimate opportunity to get up and personal with your favorite celebrity chefs and culinary professionals, along with gaining a memorable learning experience of a lifetime.
  Food and Wine Festival Toronto 2015 September 18th-20thWell then, if that’s enough reasoning, let me provide you with five more reasons why you will need to visit Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015!
  1. Exclusive celebrity chef appearances: Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, Gail Simmons, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking, Mark McEwan, Antonio Park and many more will be taking to the stages for demos, talks and workshops throughout the three-day event.
  2. Explore over 130 premium products: Sample, sip and savour all the flavours from 130 purveyors of premium products, fine foods and beverages from Ontario, Canada and around the world in the Grand Tasting Pavilion – presented by PC Black Label.
  3. One-of-a-Kind dining experience with Cochon 555: For the first time ever, Cochon 555 is bringing its flavour-packed marquee events series to Canada! Watch ten exceptional chefs work their magic on 10 Heritage pigs, each with their own culinary spin. Guests will sink their teeth into over 1400 pounds of expertly prepared pork dishes by the hottest chefs including Chuck Hughes, Matty Matheson and more (read more).
  4. Expert-level educational workshops: Welcome legendary masters like Kevin Kent (Knifewear), Tetsuya "Ted" Iizuka (Soba Canada), and Antonio Park (Park Restaurant) to share their knowledge regarding time-held traditions like knife skills and soba noodle making (read more).
  5. The Crowning of Canada’s Best New Student Chef: Followed after an exciting and unique cooking competition called Taste Canada Cooks the Books. Some of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents from schools across Canada will gather in front of a live audience in the Miele Kitchen to make a dish from a well-known Canadian cookbook, with the author on stage!
Chef Chuck Hughes, Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015 There are a pair of tickets up for grabs (valued at $70) to this ever exclusive event that is GUARANTEED to sell out fast!
  • Open to Canadian residents only. Ends August 14th.
  • Winner will be drawn at random and announced the following day via Twitter and Instagram.
  • The winner will be contacted by Twitter and/or Instagram direct messaging and will receive the tickets two weeks before the event.
There are two entry methods, on a comment on this blogpost, Instagram and/or Twitter:

1. Instagram  •   Follow @meetandeats and tag the friend you would like to bring along •   One comment = one entry (+1) •   Repost this Instagram post (+2)
A photo posted by All that I meet, eat & more! (@meetandeats) on Aug 6, 2015 at 1:28pm PDT
2. Twitter 
•    Follow @arsyparsy and/or @meetandeats (+1 entry for each)
•    Tweet (+1 per day): "I want to win 2 tix to the three-day @TOfoodandwine Festival (Sept 18th-20th)! Count me in @arsyparsy http://bit.ly/1KTn8a7"

3. Comment (+2)
•    Which celebrity chef or vendor/participant are you most looking forward to?

An event not to miss! Let's bid a proper adieu to the warm weather with fine food and wine. Thanks for reading along and I hope to see you there. Website: http://www.torontofoodandwine.com/ Social: FacebookTwitter Instagram Follow the action: #TFW15

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Get Adventurous with Chef's Plate!

Ah, Chef's Plate. The biggest winner with this is that there's no more waste! But, they have a mission of their own: to redefine the way Canadians eat. This downtown Toronto-based delivery service provides pre-portioned ingredients along with recipe cards to create the dishes shown! How exciting is that? The meals switch up every week, and each week you are presented with six possible chef-designed options to choose from! 

For this week, I had a diverse variety of cuisines; I spotted Korean and Mexican amongst the list! They flexibly provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, I went with one of each solely to experiment. I have never been one to ever straight off the bat go vegetarian, but since these recipes were developed by their trust chef, I had to leave my fate (or kitchen skills...) into his hands.

Each "meal" is priced at $10.95 per plate, one meal creates two dishes! There are two incredibly flexible subscription options to choose from.

My two choices? The Creole Chicken Etouffe and Golden Cherry Tomato & Feta Rustic Tart.

Orders are to be made by Wednesday to guarantee the arrival of your (grocery) box of goodies at your door on the following Monday by 6pm. I found this to be a perfect chance to have a swell activity on Canada Day!

It's arrival: Packaging
As promised, on the Monday, a nicely sized and, slightly chilled by the touch, arrived at the door step. Inside, the produce, ingredients, along with the recipe cards were neatly arranged. The box was highly insulated with ice packs, word is that it will stay cool for up to 12 hours! Also, promising the stay fresh for 4-5 days in your fridge. Insane.

The set up: Touch & Feel
The products and ingredients of the Creole Chicken Etouffe laid out and ready for the guidance of the entirely informative recipe cards. We are spotting: garlic, okra, mushrooms, cream, rice, black eyed peas, chicken and shallot!

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The Golden Cherry Tomato & Feta Rustic Tart took me by surprise. What a teensy amount! There isn't any way that this could make two tarts. You will see in a tad. Here, we are spotting: jam, feta cheese, butter, cherry tomatoes, whole wheat flour, argula, cider vinegar and onion.

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Yes, we are capable. I am capable. Chopped the onions, washed the produce, sliced the cherry tomatoes, squished the whole wheat flour, and admired the feta cheese.

Time to get makin': I've Washed My Hands
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A wine bottle was suggested to roll out the "tart", what a great idea!

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Looking crinkly, and I'm beginning to feel indecisive about my feelings towards you.

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Arranging the sort: Caramelized onion goes first, argula in a moat, cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of feta. The final wrap is to squeeze it all together! Make sure to pinch it real tight. In the oven.

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Dicing, slicing, doing things all wrong. These peppers were cut in the wrong shape! And the mushrooms are way too thick. Who's fault was that? *mine*. The chicken is looking good though. Raised it myself.

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Mixing, seasoning and adding cream. It's magic, I tell you!

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The final touch: The cider vinegar and raspberry jam to make a delightful and perfectly tangy vinaigrette. I arranged the excess arugula to make a coney bed fit for the princess & the pea.

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The last touch, we added some salts for aesthetics. Because, Zyzz.

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You are looking fabulous. I think after this, Okra will become my best friend.

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Preparing. I am excited!

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Cut it like a cake. If I received a cake like this for my birthday, I would be beyond thrilled.

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A close-up, and I am in love!

The nitty-gritty: My Verdict
The Creole Chicken Etouffe was certainly a dish I could see myself carrying over with many other variations. It's very flexible, and although we left the rice to cook for 25 minutes, rather than the recommended 15... It was perfect! Although I've never enjoyed okra, I certainly enjoyed the vegetable in this dish, it was very well played out. 

Ah... The tart. The Golden Cherry Tomato & Feta Tart. Your simplicity amazes me! The caramelized onions acted like the protein in this dish, and it was delicious! I wanted more, and more, and more. But after two slices I was full. This was a fantastic dish and served more than enough.

I found Chef's Plate to be an excellent way to simply get adventurous with food and try something new! It was an exciting learning experience. Although I went far beyond the suggested amount of time in preparing and cooking the dishes and made a fair amount of boo-boos, I certainly had fun creating each one. I would call these plates to be a great date night activity as well (that's right, I got your back). For less of the cost of dining out, you can eat in, and have fun doing it! With Chef's Plate and their extraordinarily simple and adventurous service, I would no longer have to whittle down to the repetitive request of "pasta?" "pasta.". I am aware that Iam completely inefficient in the kitchen (instant noodles once took me an hour to serve up three people!), as long as I have a few hours to spare and am down to get adventurous, Chef's Plate will be a definite pick!

You had questions? I did too. Chef's Plate will swiftly answer them all, here.

For getting this far, let me bless you with a link to experience Chef's Plate for yourself! Click here to redeem your offer to receive one meal kit (serving two!) for free on your first order.