I was given the opportunity to attend a media event hosted by #jojoinstameets to preview the celebrations for Soi Thai’s 2nd Anniversary and Songkran (Thai New Year) which will occur on Thursday, April 13. Songkran is the biggest and most memorable water festival in Thailand! Traditionally, Thais pour water over friends and family to symbolically wash off the misfortunes from the old year and to welcome the new year with a fresh start.
Headwaters Restaurant at Millcroft Inn & Spa
55 John St, Alton (Caledon), ON L7K 0C4
Located within Caledon, ON, in a little town called Alton, this restaurant is a hidden gem within the palace of Millcroft Inn and Spa. My boyfriend, Nico, and I had the privilege to dine at this restaurant and catch up with his previous Chef who is now the Executive Sous Chef at this prestigious spot. With a short one hour drive North of Toronto, and feeling like we were lost in the wilderness (but we had our trusty GPS!) we finally arrived and instantly wished that we were staying for the night and not just for dinner. You feel like you are in a different world on their grounds.
Situated just north of Toronto (in York Region), Good Catch Boil House is the first Louisiana-inspired restaurant in the City of Markham. They specialize in customizable seafood boil combinations served by the pound in six flavours: Cajun, garlic butter, Szechuan, curry, lemon pepper, or Good Catch blend. I had the privilege to attend their media event to show that Good Catch Boil is not only a boil house, but they also serve gourmet pub fare that cannot be overlooked!
Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant is family owned and is celebrating 20 years of operation in downtown Toronto! This restaurant is the most modern but traditional Chinese restaurant that I have ever came across, and that is why it’s my favourite! Just over a year ago, they modernized their sign from your typical old school Chinese Restaurant neon sign to this beautiful modern design. In addition to the modern exterior, they have updated their “Specials” board with lettering created by local artist, @angelita_gel.
KABOOM Chicken is one of the newest and hottest Korean street food spots in Toronto! Starting from various food festivals over Summer 2016 to now a brick and mortar shop at a new and upcoming block, KABOOM Chicken is definitely exploding out in the Toronto food scene. They definitely define and bring out the REAL KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) to Toronto.
Warung Indonesia d’Eglinton
2439 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4P 2E7
Warung Indonesia d’Eglinton roughly translates into Indonesian Small Family Restaurant at Eglinton. You can find this restaurant a couple of blocks north of a relatively busy business area of Yonge and Eglinton. They serve Indonesian style food in a comfortable and homey environment and prepare their food from scratch to order which allows you the time to just relax in the atmosphere. Recently, my boyfriend and I were invited to a media tasting of this restaurant from DKLO Events and had our first try of Indonesian food!
Toronto is a fairly multicultural city. However, it ‘s hard to come by new cuisines if you are not already familiar with it or if not recommended. This Indonesian restaurant specializes in providing their customers with customized meals. What do I mean by that? They offer a “Set Your Own Meal” option where you can choose two veggie appetizers, one veggie appetizer, and one entree served with rice. This tasting provided us with this opportunity to set our own meal!
If you’re looking for some legit udon, MeNami is the place to be! Not only do they specialize in various udon dishes but they also make their udon fresh from scratch. Now, if you know anything about udon (thanks, Google) you’ll know that it is a very temperamental process. The owner, Chae Kim, sent her chef to Japan to learn the art form and brought this knowledge back to Toronto to adjust and perfect it for our crazy environment.
Who doesn’t love brunch? Better yet, who doesn’t love eggs?! Hollandaise Diner is a brunch spot along “The Danforth” in east Toronto that specializes in brunch seven days a week from 7 am to 3 pm. They are even open on CHRISTMAS DAY for your Christmas brunch needs! This east end diner owned and operated by a very proud “east ender” couple who show their love for this diner in all their dishes by preparing them fresh from scratch every morning. This diner may be small (well, it is a diner!) but, in my opinion, is worth the wait!
This diner serves a multitude of various breakfast dishes, ranging from buttermilk coconut pancakes to frittatas to a build-your-own eggs benedict. Their menu is endless! Oh, and their homefries are NOT deep fried! They may taste as crispy and yummy as if they were fried, but they are cooked on a flat top!
Just as their diner is named, hollandaise sauce is their specialty. Their hollandaise sauce is made fresh from scratch daily, and they even offer five different hollandaise sauces (original, HP infused, zesty, coconut and Cajun) which give their diners a different experience each visit.
I have had the opportunity to sample a multitude of their eggs Benedict creations, and it ‘s hard to pick a favourite. I would say that “The Meatloaf” eggs benny is one I would keep coming back for. This benny consists of two pieces of homemade meatloaf, ketchup glaze with sautéed mushrooms, two poached eggs and their HP infused hollandaise sauce. This creation is definitely over the top and is such a homey dish. Meatloaf, in general, can be a bit dry or even taste, well, like plain meat but at Hollandaise Diner their meatloaf is super moist and is seasoned perfectly.
Another benny I would go back for if I wanted a lighter option would be “The Coconut.” This benny consisted of grilled tomato on top of bitter greens, two poached eggs, their coconut hollandaise sauce and topped with toasted coconut. This dish a vegetarian variation of an eggs benedict and I would grab it in a heartbeat. You may think that having coconut in a dish may make it sweet, but somehow they magically were able to create this sauce without being sweet yet have that coconut flavour you’d be looking for.
The last thing I would probably go crazy for is their buttermilk pancakes. Man oh man, did I devour this stack you see. I was super stuffed when I tried these dishes, but somehow I got myself to stuff all of this in my face, and I do not regret any second of it! This stack is their coconut pancakes (YES, COCONUT!) with blueberry fruit sauce. These pancakes not only taste like coconut but they have coconut in them! So when those coconut cravings hit, I know where to go!
One last dish I cannot go without featuring is “The Croque Madame.” This benny consists of a grilled cheese, two poached eggs, and their original hollandaise sauce. If you love grilled cheese and you love eggs benedict, then you know which benny you should have! This benny plays to my childhood, and my favourite thing to request (and cook!) was grilled cheese. I wish I thought of this sooner; having the ooey gooey grilled cheese with the creamy hollandaise sauce and the perfect runny egg yolk, it really cannot get any better.
Clearly, I do recommend this place, and I would say that it is currently my go-to brunch spot. With all of their fresh and made from scratch dishes, I will be a return customer!
Facebook: Canadian Cancer Society
October is filled with Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, eh!), Halloween, Oktoberfest and, of course, it is Women’s Cancer Awareness Month. I was given the opportunity to attend a fundraising event called OktoberFEAST Toronto which was hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society. My boyfriend’s family has a history of breast cancer so anything to support the research, I am in! If you are interested in attending an OktoberFEAST event definitely check out their website to find a location near you! The night was filled with music, company, drinks and of course FOOD!
To start off, I’ll share our beer of choice of the night — Nico, my boyfriend, and I chose SteamWhistle, a local beer brewed next to the lakeshore in downtown Toronto. It is definitely our local beer of choice because it has a full body, yet is still light without being watery. When I get my hands on a favourite beer, better not accidentally take my glass otherwise I’ll take yours too!
Now for the food: first up, North Poke! Lately, poke has been a big trend in Toronto and there’s probably a new poke restaurant popping up every other week. This is my first time trying North Poke and I definitely enjoyed it!
There were three choices of poke, and I went for the salmon poke which had gochuchang dressing, kimchi crema, radish, fried shallot, scallion and microgreens on a bed of sushi rice. Nico is not much of a fan of raw foods but he ate majority of this poke! This poke was not only fresh but made us want more and more. I will definitely be dropping by their store-front for a large size!
KANTO by Tita Flips
Next, we went back to our roots and got a Filipino classic from Kanto by Tita Flips. We are big fans of Kanto and were super happy to see that they partook in OktoberFEAST! Featured is a lumpia, a Filipino spring roll! They had a pork and a vegetarian option, but of course we had to go for the meat. The lumpia was perfectly crunchy and the meat was moist and flavourful. We can’t wait to have more!
HAWTHORNE FOOD & DRINK
Hawthorne Food & Drink was new to me. They serve “Farm-to-Fork City Food” using only local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. For this event, they brought out their Siu Mai and a Crunchy Cauliflower Trio. Not only were these dishes beautiful and colourful, but knowing that everything on these dishes are local makes the flavours brighten. I can’t wait to explore more of their menu!
Now, who doesn’t love a good Jerk? We indulged in some jerk chicken with rice, lentil and oxtail gravy and also some African coconut donuts from Hedwige Dumplings. The chicken was moist and the jerk was simple enough that it worked really well with the lentil rice.
Now those donuts, they definitely remind us of the Jamaican Dumplings which are fried sweet dough. Man, anything sweet and fried is bomb and these donuts are no exception. On top of that, the two ladies who own the booth are filled with so much energy and smiles that you can’t help but smile along!
I don’t know how but we managed to have room for dessert! Here is the Turtle Waffel from WAFEL BAR food truck, a classic sweet Belgian liege waffle topped with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and pecans. Oh man oh man, so delicious and so perfect. The waffle has the classic hard outer shell but was still soft in the inside. If you’re in the area, you have to seek out this truck!
TORONTO POPCORN COMPANY
The best part of this experience is that we were given VIP passes — and paying an extra few bucks is definitely worth it. Not only do you get the mason jar included, a cool orange bracelet, one free drink and a VIP lounge, but you also get popcorn — not your ordinary popcorn, no no, but gourmet fancy popcorn! And the best part? You get to take as many as you want!! Not going to lie, if I had a big bag with me then I would have taken all of these, but unfortunately I only took home three. The Toronto Popcorn Company is a local popcorn company that creates and sells some crazy flavours, from classic caramel to maple bacon to vanilla spongecake popcorn… they have ’em all!
Overall, this event not only had amazing food but also brought cancer awareness to a whole new level. We wish them all the best and cannot wait for next year! Two more locations will be hosting an OktoberFEAST event so definitely check out their website.
14 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L8 (Kensington Market)
Welcome to Tito Ron’s!
This power couple, Tristen Petate and Michael McFarlane, have made the culinary dream come true; to open up shop and sell their food to the masses. From humble beginnings of working food festivals across Toronto in 2015, to finally opening their shop in Kensington Market in 2016; these two have managed to open up shop in less than a years’ time. A common way to test the food scene waters is to start up in various food festivals held throughout Toronto. Tito Ron’s started with those rounds and that is how I (along with other Toronto foodies) got to know the two amazing owners. Tito Ron is the father of their Chef, Tristen Petate, and they started this business not only to sell and promote Filipino Food but also to help Tito Ron retire and rest his bones.
Who doesn’t love a good fusion?!
They have worked hard and created this concept of a fusion of Caribbean and Filipino Flavours that they hope will turn the heads of Torontonians and get Filipino food on the map! Once they’ve rallied a ton of support through the food festivals, they were able to open up shop in Kensington Market, a multicultural neighbourhood which is designated a National Historic Site of Canada. They always refer to their supporters as “Lumpia Lovers” (lumpia being Filipino Spring Rolls; #LumpiaLovers) as this is the dish that has started their reign.
Jerk Chicken Lumpia
One of their fusion Filipino/Caribbean babies is the Jerk Chicken Lumpia (pronounced Lume-pee-ah). That’s right, JERK CHICKEN SPRING ROLL! To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical as I LOVE a good jerk chicken and nothing can ever beat jerk chicken from Jamaica (amazing country to visit. by the way!). However these sticks explode with flavour! You get the flavours of the spices you expect from a great jerk with the crunch of the perfectly deep fried spring roll wrapper. To take it over the edge, dip these bad boys into a mix of their housemade hot sauce and lechon (pork) sauce and game over.
One of their best sellers (and definitely my favourite) is the Tocino Slider. This is their take on a Filipino dish, Filipino Bacon aka Tocino (pronounced Toe-see-no). They do offer this in a more traditional form (aka rice) but this is definitely a new take. Tocino is a cured pork which can be sweet or savoury; this is a childhood favourite of mine so the standards are up high! Tito Ron’s take on tocino is of the sweet variety which they prepare and cure in house! The sweetness that you can take away from it is pineapple which also adds a bit of a sour factor. The tocino is grilled on their flat top along with a pair of Caribbean tennis rolls which are used due to their near resemblance to the Filipino sweet buns, pandesal. The tocino is then placed on the bun sauced with their “Bic Mac” sauce and topped with a slice of salted tomato and housemade pickled carrot slaw. Just perfect. These sliders just encompass the essence of Filipino cuisine; it’s sweet, savoury, salty, sour, everything that Filipino dishes are!
For their first summer in Kensington Market, they have created the Turon Sundae. Want something that’s sweet, crunchy, cold, hot, yummy and everything under the sun? This is the treat for you!
The turon sundae was featured on BlogTO (an excellent source for the newest and upcoming in Toronto) in a video format with over 917K views! The Turon Sundae consists of 2 scoops of Magnolia ice cream (which, as co-owner Michael would refer to it as is the Häagen-Dazs ice cream of the Philippines). You have your choice of various flavours from mango to ube (purple yam) to cheese and corn, 3 of their Ube turon (sweet purple yam spring rolls), plantain chips, ube cookies, and mango condensed milk.
The ice cream combo I ordered is what Michael refers to as the “Pinoy Special”. I chose the ube and cheese and corn. Why is this referred to as the “Pinoy Special”? That’s because only Filipinos would be excited to have cheese and corn ice cream. So if you would like to be an honourary Filipino then be sure to get a taste of the cheese and corn ice cream! (Yes, you can ask for samples of the ice cream flavours to ensure you do enjoy it!)
Pro tip! Take the hot freshly deep fried turon and scoop it into the ice cream and all the toppings, for the perfect bite! Not only is this treat refreshing but it is also a pretty filling and satisfying snack!
If you’re ever in Toronto, definitely check out Tito Ron’s and the Kensington Market! You’ll be able to get a taste of our history and also a taste of the Philippines.
Forgive me, Lord for I have sinned, I lost my Sweet Jesus virginity and I must say it was quite satisfying, Sweet Jesus isn’t just your typical ice cream parlour in Toronto, it’s a place where people go to give their taste buds their own happy ending and indulge their sweet tooth. I recently had the pleasure of losing my Sweet Jesus virginity to the John Street location and unlike many first I have had in my life this was one first I did not regret!
Sweet Jesus Ice Cream
106 John St. North, Toronto, ON Canada
My friends and I traveled far and wide, we even stood in line for 45 minutes just to feel the cooling sensation that this soft-serve brings to your lips and mouth and it was well worth the wait. You know something is going to be well worth it when you have to go to extreme lengths to get it.
When we finally got to the front I was still unsure of what I wanted, it was a tie between Birthday Cake and S’mores Campfire. Tough choice I was faced with, but choosing a flavour combo of ice cream is actually a hard decision people! This was my first time here, I didn’t just want to get anything I wanted something remarkable so clearly I ended up picking the Birthday Cake because of course I wanted the awesome candle that came with it. Side note my friend actually blew it out for me because fires make her nervous, she owes me!
When going to new places like these with friends we always like to taste test what our friends get as well so I ended up trying the Bangin’ Brownie and the Lemon Coconut Cream Pie.
Bangin’ Brownie consists of chocolate soft serve, caramel, chocolate sauce, brownie bits and chocolate cookie crumble. I had the opportunity to try some of my friend’s Bangin Brownie and it was like i just won the golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If you’re looking for something that will satisfy that sweet tooth Bangin’ Brownie is for you.
Birthday Cake consists of vanilla soft serve, vanilla icing, birthday cake bits and my favourite sprinkles! Also, to top that all off you get a sweet birthday candle to blow out! How fun? I would recommend this sweet concoction for anyone who is looking to have something simple and not overly sweet. This satisfied my ice cream craving without making me feel sick and it was so yummy!
Lemon Coconut Cream Pie consists of vanilla soft serve, lemon curd, toasted coconut crumble and graham cracker bits. I also taste tested this lovely concoction from a friend and it was different than any other ice cream pairings I have tried before, but a good different. It was a little sour because of the lemon, but also sweet which made it a great dessert to try! If you’re feeling adventurous I say try out the Lemon Coconut Cream Pie, if you love the pie you’ll enjoy this ice cream concoction from Sweet Jesus!
Sweet Jesus is doing the Lord’s work right in my books. Head on down for some good ice cream eats and be prepared to fully convert to their way of enjoying ice cream for life.