Girls on Food

Event

Warung Indonesia d’Eglinton in Toronto

Warung Indonesia d’Eglinton
2439 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4P 2E7
http://www.warungone.com
https://www.instagram.com/Warung_Indonesia_d_Eglinton/

Exterior photo courtesy of Warung Indonesia d’Eglinton

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!

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The Morning After, A Dallas Observer Brunch Event

The Morning After
A Dallas Observer Brunch Event
http://www.dobrunchthemorningafter.com/

morning after brunch, Dallas ObserverIt was a picture perfect day here in Dallas for the inaugural Morning After, a Dallas Observer Brunch Event hosted by Whole Foods Market.  I am here to tell you these people know how to put on a food festival. This venue was the best. The brunch was held at the Dallas Farmers Market. The shade from the open-air shed was needed on this unseasonably warm and sunny February Saturday. More than 20 of Dallas’ shining brunch stars were out cooking up free samples to chow down on. Oh, did I mention free drinks and music too.

Here are just a few of my faves…in no particular order!

Lucky’s Cafe: Chicken and Waffles with a side of gravy AND syrup. This boneless chicken needed nothing. What was in that crust?

Jonathon’s Oak Cliff: Peppered biscuits, peppered gravy and kabob of smoked sausage, ham and bacon glazed in coffee. GLAZED IN COFFEE. Am I in heaven?

Asian Mint: Fried rice for breakfast? Well, of course! Especially if it is loaded with bacon, eggs and a little sriracha sauce.

Full Circle Tavern: Biscuit with sausage gravy and candied peppered bacon. A perfect bite.

Hypnotic Donuts: The Canadian Healthcare will put you in the hospital it is so good. This maple-glazed donut is topped with…wait for it…BACON. 

Ida Claire: First up, mini blueberry pancakes, blueberry-cardamom compote, butter and yogurt whipped cream. Followed up with superseed granola, honey greek yogurt, seasonal fruit and basil. Neither with bacon…they were sublime without it.

Amazing food, amazing venue. Can’t wait until next year. I might not eat until then!

LA’s Hottest Pop-Up (Literally!): Gastro Garage Pop-Up in Los Angeles

Since launching three years ago, the catering crew of Gastro Garage has been lighting up LA with their signature “Gastro Tanks.” You may recognize these pyromaniacs from their past media appearances, but seeing their live culinary experience blew me away! They now have a pop-up in Los Angeles running every Thursday – Saturday until February 11th, 2017.

Our Gastro Mechanic Jesse in action

What is a “Gastro Tank”? They’re dishes we all know and love deconstructed, then stuffed in a brioche and filled with a nitrous foam (in a variety of flavors depending on your order) then torched with toppings. These foodie reconstructions were all as tasty as the show is fun to watch! The “Gastro Mechanics” (one part Chef, one part Mechanic) put on a very entertaining show and in total welding garb. WARNING: The guys have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and aren’t shy about interacting with guests. They will dish it, and they can take it. So feel free to sass back at them!

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Mussel Fest!: Morels at The Grove in Los Angeles

I haven’t been going to the gym at all lately, but I’ve been getting my dose of mussels in regularly!

I’ve loved mussels my entire life but lately, I’ve been craving them more than usual. They’re easily my favorite shellfish, and I love a good broth sauce to dip bread and/or fries in. I discovered that Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro (located at The Grove in LA) has Mussel Fest, an exclusive mussel-filled menu being served now through Feb. 9th (also being served at Market City Caffe in Burbank). I popped in to flex those mussels of mine, and I am only hurting in the best way from this foodie workout!

Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro
Located in The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90036
http://morelslv.com

The Mussel Fest menu offers many different mussels from Prince Edward Island (aka PEI mussels). PEIs are grown along the coasts of Prince Edward Island, Canada which is just off the coast of Nova Scotia. These mussels are plump in size and juicy in flavor.

Morels have their own brewery in Burbank (Verdugo West Brewery), so I decided to pair their Wax Wing (4.5%), blonde lager with the Mussel Fest items. This is the perfect “pairs well with all flavors” kind of pint; I highly recommend it.

For those of you who love a classic mussels dish, steamed with white wine, I recommend their Neapolitan Style Mussels. These mussels are steamed with Trebbiano wine, garlic, onion, celery, fresh Roma tomato, red pepper flakes, oregano and lemon juice. It comes with garlic crostini to dip it in. The sauce is fragrant, brothy and delicious with the crostini dipped in.

Neapolitan Style Mussels

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Victoria Attends Spain’s Great Match in San Francisco

It was an ordinary Tuesday and I found that reason enough to wine taste my way through Spain’s Great Match. More than 200 wineries from Spain met in San Francisco’s Metreon to celebrate its 23rd annual event. Regional wines were showcased alongside their latest vintages.  Unique and enigmatic wines were paired with culinary treats, including delectable olives and cheese from Spain.

Spains Great Match
Pictured from left to right Victoria from Cookfor2ish and Melody Fuller of Oakland Wine Festival

Reading the Labels

Before I really started to learn about wine, I would stray away from regions I didn’t know anything about. In the new world, wine labels are explicit and clearly name the varietal, in the old world you rarely find the varietal on the label. I found it to be a little overwhelming so I came up with a cheat sheet to break down the details.

Spain Great Match

WINE LABEL:

Winery Brand

Producer – Name of Vineyard

Label Name

Year or Vintage (year of harvest)

DO : Designation of Origin – Geographical Area where Grapes were Grown (it could be a small village)

At least for Spanish wines, this method seems to remain somewhat consistent, as long as you know the varietal and where it is grown.

The Seven Wine Regions of Spain

Spain’s Great Match, literally covers wine from across the entire country. The areas are broken down into seven regions and further down into designation of origin.

Spains Great Match

The Seven Regions

Green Spain/ Duero River Valley/ The Mediterranean Coast/ The Meseta/ Ebro River Valley/ Andalucia/ The Islands

Spains Great Match

My Favorites

From a large array and extensive tasting booth by booth, I choose my 3 favorite varietals.

Technically, my technique of comparing Spanish varietals to American might not bode well with wine makers, but it’s only for the sake of understanding and learning. When I was new to these regions, I would ask if what I was tasting might be similar to say, a chardonnay. It helped me better grasp a general idea of these new, complex and infinite varietals.

Sorry in advance wine makers, I’m truly trying to bridge the gap between the two worlds for the young wine enthusiast out there!

If I could guess, there were probably around 20 different varietals at this event and only 3 really spoke to me.

Whites:

Albarino: Similar to Chardonnay, fresh, alive, light, with solid acidity that could even be somewhat tropical.

Verdejo: It reminded me of a crisp, non-acidic Sauvignon Blanc. Apricot and peaches on the nose, followed by a weightless taste.

Reds:

Tempranillo: From simple and modest to complex and rich, it immediately made me think of Pinot Noir.

Spains Great Match

Some of my favorite spanish wines at the match 

I won’t say I managed to try all 200 bottles, but I did make it to each table and these were my top picks for this lovely event.

Gran Resalte 2009, DO Ribera del Duero – Tempranillo $79.00 (red)

Dark, intense deep red, perfume, violets, flowers, balanced acidity, electric feeling in your mouth, solid grape flavors and extremely elegant. Superb finish dressed with mild tannins (dry).

Ideal for that special moment or proposal (even meeting the parents).

Spains Great Match

Resalte Crianza 2011, DO Ribera del Duero – Tempranillo $35.00 (red)

Cherry red color and aromas of stone. Wine is intense, vivid, expressive, light, clean, bright and leaves your empty glass filled with powerful black licorice aromas.

Best for hanging with friends and/or enjoying tapas alongside great conversation.

El Coto Imaz Reserva 2010, DO Rioja – Tempranillo $ 19.99 (red)

Oak and pepper blend in the nose. Light, but warm feeling on the tongue that vanishes immediately, leaving you with a “I want another glass sensation”

Spains Great Match

Best for movie day, chilling and/or cool Sunday fun-day afternoons.

Condes de Albarei 2015, DO Rias Baixas – Albarino $ 15.00 (white)

Attractive citric notes on the nose were followed by the saltiness of a oyster fresh out of the sea. Wine was bright yellow in color and finishes with a sense of satisfaction one can only get through experiencing themselves.

Spains Great Match

Obviously wine would be paired well with a fresh salad, ceviche or any fresh fish for that matter.

Fun Fact: More than half of the wine makers in this region (Rias Baixas) are women.

De Alberto Premium 2015, Hijos de Alberto Gutierrez DO Rueda – Verdejo $ 14.50 (white)

Stimulating beginning and highly expressive on the nose. Hints of apricot with soft acidity and finishes smooth.

Spains Great Match

Perfect by the pool on a hot day or a great start to your Sunday brunch.

Spains Great Match

Olives from Spain

I made a few trips to this booth for olives, olives and more olives!

A large portion of olives are used solely for the purpose of oil extraction, while only a select few are deemed suitable enough to be processed and eaten as table olives.

Spains Great Match

While Olives from Spain are strong and robust all on their own, their unique taste and texture can create more than just an impressive solo act. Thanks to the various types of processing methods used, there’s a wide range of table olives available on the market.

Black Olives:

The Ripe Black Olive is both mild and subdued and has a light, flexible flavor. Black olives are lighter than other snacks, yet big on taste. In fact, seven olives top out at 37 calories.

Green Olives:

The Spanish Green Olive is a year-round favorite. It’s beautiful in color and it’s robust flavor is enough to stand alone. They’re adaptable enough to make any dish even more memorable, bold, sharp, spicy flavor.

Stuffed Olives: Just Add Anything

Almost any food can be combined with this Spanish favorite. Garlic, blue cheese, jalapeños, capers, anchovies, artichokes and more.

It took a lot of self control to not consume every last olive at this event! From garlic, artichokes, pepper and spices, I was sold on them all.

Cheese from Spain

The booth was simple and focused on Spain’s best: Manchego.

Manchego cheese is made from the milk of the  Manchega sheep, breed on the center region of Spain, ” La Mancha”.

Spains Great Match

There were 3 types of Manchego; pasteurized (commercial), raw (farm style) and mixed (with cow milk).

The flavors were fruity with a tangy note, with a caramel and nutty after taste. All the cheeses had a distinct acidity and the Manchego sheep’s milk gave a pleasant, unusual aftertaste. The texture is firm and compact.

Spains Great Match

My favorite one was the farm style, when it comes to cheese, pasteurized paranoia doesn’t worry me at all!

Olive Oil From Spain

This event couldn’t be complete without the olive oil! There were several bottles from many producers perfectly lined up; spicy ones, fragrant, and dipping only. Too many to taste them all in one visit (Especially when you have a fresh baguette as the main tasting tool).

Spains Great Match

I’m a fan of strong ones, my favorite from all: Castillo de Canena; 100% from the “Picual” olive variety. The oil had a medium body, soft texture, sweet/buttery taste, at the end a strong peppery kick that gave me an extra savory bonus .

Spains Great Match

Spains Great Match 

Overall, this event was really eye opening to how many beautiful and eclectic types of wine Spain has to offer. The wines were a refreshing taste of something new for me.

Spains Great Match

Spains Great Match

Thank you to the organizers, sponsors, venders and all the individual people who made this great event possible for so many years. I look forward to attending again next year.

Catherine Takes a Seat at Andrew Tarlow’s Table

These days, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book. Let’s be honest, I am lucky enough to keep up with meetings, conference calls and only because of The Skimm am I well aware of what’s going on in the news. When I found out that Andrew Tarlow was making a trip to Nashville and partnering with one of my favorite restaurants in town, Rolf and Daughters, I knew this was an event not to be missed. I put aside the magazines, hit pause on the DVR, sat down and read Dinner at the Long Table from cover to cover.

Andrew Tarlow is the “unofficial mayor” of Brooklyn. This restaurateur is single-handedly responsible for transforming the New York borough into the world class dining scene that it is today.  His empire is vast and truly knows no bounds. Consisting of five restaurants ( Marlow and Sons, Diner, Roman’s, Achilles Heel, Reynard, ) a butcher shop (Marlow and Daughters) a bar (The Ides) a bakery ( She Wolf Bakery)  and a hotel (Wythe Hotel), Tarlow has most recently added handcrafted leather bags (Marlow Goods) to his list. I seriously want to know when this man sleeps!  What’s the latest with Tarlow? His Cookbook, Dinner at the Long Table, a collaborative effort penned with Anna Dunn. Dunn is yet another superstar who serves as the editor in chief of the famous Diner Journal, a magazine dedicated to art, literature, and recipes. Oh, and by the way, add that one to his list as well. This man is pure genius. Clearly, I am a huge fan 🙂

It’s no surprise that this “cookbook” reads more like a personal journal or book of short essays exploring family traditions and celebrating those that have shared dinner at the long table with Tarlow from the beginning.

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Tarlow and Rolf and Daughters carefully selected dishes highlighting multiple menus throughout this gorgeous book.

We started with Turnip and Apple, which was a slight variation of the Turnips and Oranges recipe under One Good Goose. This menu focuses on the importance of people and procuring ingredients from local purveyors. The apples were the perfect juxtaposition to the turnips. The heartiness of the dish was balanced out with local watercress and Gruyere cheese. A perfect opener for the evening.

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Anxiously awaiting our next dish, the Eggplant with Bone Marrow Agro Dolce was served from the section I love, you love, we all love bluefish. This menu pays tribute to those who enjoy and find pleasure in highlighting the unsung heroes of the sea. Speechless. I was left speechless after my first bite. This dish was the epitome of agrodolce. The richness of the broth provided balance to the sharp vinaigrette. And the marrow? Melted in my mouth faster than any M&M I’ve ever had.

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Basking in the deliciousness of my first two courses, the Agnolotti in Brodo was served. This dish comes from the Night Before a New Year menu. Dishes concocted for this meal are both elaborate and laborious, as what would be expected on New Year’s Eve. I enjoyed this dish and could taste the amount of effort that went into crafting each piece of pasta. The agnolotti was stuffed with a crumbled pork mixture, lighted covered in brodo and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Confession: If I weren’t in public, I totally would have had every drop of that brodo. AMAZING!

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Wild Striped Bass with Polenta, Tomato and Mint highlighted in the Agro Dolce menu strives to find the balance between sweet and savory. The bass was placed atop a soft, creamy bed of polenta drizzled with olive oil and garnished with mint. The creaminess of the polenta played very well with the acidity of the fish.

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Ending the meal on a sweet note, we ordered Toasted Rice Ice Cream with Bitter Chocolate.  I could not think of a better conclusion to this flavor filled journey. The ice cream was both delicate and sweet, topped with crisps that provided that extra crunch with each bite. Maybe one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. And yes, I realize what a strong statement that is.

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Tarlow and Dunn open with the poem, “Eat Sunshine.” This will speak to each person in different ways, but I wanted to share a few of the nuggets that sang to my heart:

  • participate in the timeless
  • never measure
  • make drinks
  • spend your life thinking about dinner
  • game changers
  • remember what you forgot
  • eat with your fingers
  • set off the smoke alarm
  • write a menu for every meal, even the small ones
  • find your heroes

Pour yourself a glass of wine and have a seat at Andrew Tarlow’s table. He truly is a hero and an innovator when it comes to American cuisine. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Turning Japanese at The Food Film Festival in NYC

img_0868I think I’m turning Japanese; I really think so, or at least I did when I attended the Sunday, October 24th evening of the Food & Film Festival titled “Eat Japan.” I had the pleasure of discovering The Food Film Festival last year while rampantly googling-food festivals, NYC. I know you’re sitting in awe of my very elaborate process. I searched in hopes of finding some interesting places to explore and share with Girls on Food. However, finding Food & Film was like finding myself halfway through a Judy Blume novel….it just fit.

After eating my way through BBQ and the food porn party at last year’s festival-“Eat Japan” was the next logical step in this foodie’s adventure toward cinematic grandeur. Ok don’t get excited because I mentioned the word porn, I don’t mean the type of porn you can see on TubeV Big Black Cock which includes sexy brussels escorts or someone similar, I am talking about food porn it’s a new thing, it literally means taking pics of food. Anyway I digress, I was lucky enough to have fellow GOF’er Marcie Andersen come with, and thus the shenanigans ensued.

We’ve expertly crafted the side head tilt while sampling products by Lumpia Shack; Filipino-inspired cuisine. Above we are proudly holding Truffled Mushroom Lumpia. It has a crispy exterior similar to that of a spring roll nicely complimented by the flourish of truffle mayo on the top.

Lumpia Shack
50 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10011
http://lumpia-shack.com

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Pictured here is their Bistek and Onions Sushi, a playful elevation of a favorite Filipino dish. What I found astonishing about this dish was the mesh quality of the onion creating a different taste profile. I had the chance to chat with the chef, Neil Syham, who explained he pureed the caramelized onions at a high temperature to achieve the incredible consistency.

img_0879Also present was The New York Distilling Company who already had my heart with their aptly named Dorothy Parker American Gin. Men will surely make passes at girls who wear glasses after a few sips of Suntory. Allen Katz, one of their team and one of the nation’s leading experts on distilled spirits and cocktails was on hand to make his signature drink showcasing this Japanese Whiskey.

The New York Distilling Company
79 Richardson Street (between Leonard & Larimer), Brooklyn, NY, 11222
http://www.nydistilling.com/

While sipping this smooth concoction, Allen explained that Japanese Whiskey with its lighter taste would sure to be a mainstay in the states over the next twenty years.

img_0884Did I mention that all of this happened in the pre-party? On to films on food! George Motz, the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, author of Hamburger America, and founder of The Food & Film Festival kicked off the evening as its official master of ceremonies. The festival, now in its tenth year uniquely showcases food, chefs, and all the in between.

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The mysterious chef who chooses to go by “Chef Nigo” rose to popularity this past summer when doing a pop-up Ramen Lab in NYC. He chooses not to disclose his identity, wearing this signature mask while he works, so that the diner can focus on the food and not on the chef behind it.

img_0913For the after party, Chef Nigo made a specialty tsukemen not served in any of his eateries. With the gravy broth mentioned in the film This is Tsukemen directed by George Motz, the dish was rich, delicate, and delicious and topped with a succulent cut of pork belly.

The winner of the evening, audience and festival selection alike was “SAKURADA” Zen Chef. It tells the story of the Japanese chef, Mr. Isuzu Sakurada who awoke to cook the best soup and became a 2-starred Michelin Chef in Kyoto. The filmmakers were on hand to accept their awards and no-you’re not hallucinating, one of them dressed in a Pikachu onesie.

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Mr. Sakurada has since closed his restaurant and keeps his recipes a secret as is customary in Japan. However, he was kind enough to call an NYC colleague and have them make us a dish. This Nama-Fu Tempura & Sake by Kajitsu was light and flavorful.

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And after the films, we feast! Check out some of the food and frivolity from our adventure.

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Marcie and I take a moment to pose with food porn star extraordinaire: Larry Caldwell. He’s always on board to offer up an inspired food pairing for a Bud Light Strawberita.

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I don’t think I even began to skim the surface of the amount of mochi floating around both before and after. This rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. Upon the first bite, my initial reaction was “oh, this is a Japanese gummi.” One of the films Pounding Mochi with the Fastest Mochi Maker in Japan
Dir. Great Big Story, demonstrates the manpower and ceremony with which Mochi is made.

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One of the events sponsors, The Billion Oyster Project geared toward restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor and educating about the restoration of our ecosystem brought along these gorgeous oysters to sample. A bit briny but perfect and shucked on site.

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The Food & Film Festival made me laugh, almost cry, and probably gain two pounds and for all of those reasons around the end of October, New Yorkers should keep their eyes peeled for this amazingly edible event. With so many different themes and foods, it will leave you wanting for nothing. Be sure to save your gym membership.

Dawn Does Tacolandia in Dallas

Tacolandia
City Hall Plaza
1500 Marilla Street, Dallas, TX 75201
http://microapp.dallasobserver.com/tacolandia/2016/

tacolandiaMan, I love some tacos! I was so excited to attend the 2nd Annual Tacolandia hosted by The Dallas Observer and Tabasco, held at City Hall Plaza. It was a great spot with plenty of room to move around and flow through 40 taquerias serving up some amazing tacos. Here are my top picks from the festival.

Numero Cinco: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – A corn tortilla topped with spicy  pork then topped with lettuce, tomato, cilantro and feta cheese. A good, solid taco and the feta was a nice twist.
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Numero Cuatro: Taqueria La Ventana – This calabacitas taco was the only veggie option I came across. It was seasoned well and substantial. A nice change of pace from all the meat offerings!ventana

Numero Tres: Gas Monkey – I don’t think of  Gas Monkey when I think of tacos, but they delivered. The wagyu beef taco was tender and juicy. It was topped with queso fresco, pickled onions and cilantro. One note of caution: the salsa was HOT. Have a libation on hand to chase it down.wagyu-beef

Numero Dos: El Padrino –  Man, this taco was good. This was your classic barbacoa—juicy and tender with all the flavor that comes from cooking in its juices. All that served up on a corn tortilla with cilantro, onion, green salsa, and a little lime. barbacoa

Numero Uno: Digg’s – Winner, winner taco dinner. This taco was spot on! It was aptly named the Smokey Porkinson. The taco was filled with savory pork and laid on a pillow of a flour tortilla. Then it was topped with slaw, cilantro and salsa. The squeeze of lime added just the right amount of acidity.  This taco got my vote for the day. diggs-smokey-porkinson

Already marking my calendar for next year!gates

OktoberFEAST: Feasting for Cancer Research in Toronto

Instagram: @CCSGTA @CancerSociety

Facebook: Canadian Cancer Society

Website: OktoberFEAST

OktoberFEAST Shan 6

CCS logo
Canadian Cancer Society
OktoberFEAST logo
OktoberFEAST

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

STEAM WHISTLE

Steamwhistle beer

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!

Two glass filled now!
Two glass filled now!

NORTH POKE

Three different pokes available (front to back): Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Octopus
Three different pokes available (front to back): Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Octopus

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!

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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

OktoberFEAST Shan 10

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

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Crunchy Cauliflower Trio and Siu Mai

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!

HEDWIGE DUMPLINGS

Jerk Chicken on lentil rice with Oxtail Gravy
Jerk Chicken on lentil rice with Oxtail Gravy

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.

African Coconut Donuts
African Coconut Donuts

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!

WAFEL BAR

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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

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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!

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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.

 

EASTSIIIIIIDE! – EastSide Food Festival Represents!

Image courtesy of EastSide Food Festival
Image courtesy of EastSide Food Festival

On a perfect LA Sunday, I was lucky enough to make it down to the 3rd Annual EastSide Food Festival in Silver Lake at Mack Sennett Studios. I arrived a little after 4 pm when the happy hour began, so I would be able to do as much damage to my waistline as possible before too many of my fellow Eastsiders arrived.

The crowd was stylish and relaxed as I plowed my way from one amazing vendor to the next, sampling everything from juices to noodles to oysters – Oh my!

The set up was well conceived – a small scattering of vendors outside with plenty of boxed water and tables to stand around and hobnob with other foodies. Inside the small, stylish studio was where the booze, lounges, and VIP area (with air conditioning!) were set up. All around were hip locals and so much amazing food that my head was spinning.

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I tried some new spots and was pleasantly surprised. Whether it was Challah Hub and their variety of flavored vegan challah, the fabulous chorizo nachos from El Condor, or even the surprisingly simple yet delicious queso from Homestate, just the first few bites I tried were so great, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried any of these spots before.

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To cool off after running around trying all these spots from the outdoor section, I walked over to farmer’s market regulars Todo Verde for some sweet Aguas Frescas.

One sweet surprise was the newly developed Frankie Lucy Bakeshop coming soon to Silverlake has a kick butt lady running the show, and some fantastic custards serving up traditional Asian flavors. The purple potato custard was a must have!

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Before exploring inside, I had to try to offerings of lobster from Knuckle and Claw and find my crustacean bliss.

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The potato tacos from the Mexican/French brunch spot, Trois Familia were cute, crisp and quite delish.

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The vegan tempeh chili with cornbread from Kitchen Mouse was as tasty as it was dainty.

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Winsome featured two fabulous cocktails for those who wanted a buzz with their food. Their “Prickly in Pink” cocktail featuring Opuntia was sweet and light and “The Forgotten Edge” featuring Wilder Gin was damn near the best martini-like cocktail I’ve ever had.

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The hawker of the delicious and legendary Starry Kitchen Balls made everyone laugh with his reverent demands to put his “balls” in our mouths while wearing a banana suit.

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The raw fish lover in me was well satisfied by the crudo from Kettle Black. With all that amazing-ness, it was hard to narrow down my top picks for the event, but after plenty of sampling and satisfied moaning, I finally decided on my top five offerings:

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No surprise to me, based on my multiple jaunts to Grand Central Market, Sticky Rice’s Green Curry Noodles were one of my favorites of the day. Prepared fresh to order, the flavors were perfectly balanced and the multiple textures were a treat. fullsizerender_11

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Out of nowhere, the Crispy Rice with Spicy Pork from Same Same completely captivated my taste buds. Hands down the most interesting, and spicy, sample of the day for me.

fullsizerender_19The Green Lentil Salad from Little Beast was light and refreshing with complex flavors.

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El Cochinito brought the rich flavor of Lechon Asado and represented the amazing flavor of Cuban food well.

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Finally, my favorite was a three-way tie between the three dessert spots that all got repeat visits from me – what can I say, I have a sweet tooth! The ice cream artistry of Jeni’s Ice Cream featured their Brambleberry Crisp.

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Icy Rush Co. was well represented by Laura Flores, the CEO who brought with her an amazing variety of mini pops – the Sangria and Mexican Chocolate being my favorites.

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And finally, the most surprising favorite of the day was some Lord Jones which is a company that creates and delivers cannabis-infused products to those who enjoy or require THC in their daily lives and many of those that do often ask the question how long do edibles stay in your system because it can vary depending on the form you’re taking it in, and for those that enjoy consuming THC in other ways might enjoy looking over some dab rigs & wax rigs available. Though I don’t partake myself, I was able to sample some of their medicine free wares – namely the gum drops and the dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels. They were fantastic without any additions, but I’m sure those who partake in edibles will enjoy the tastiness even more.

All in all, this was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon on the eastside of Los Angeles, getting to know the local businesses better and adding some spots on my “must try” list. The fact that the event benefited People Assisting the Homeless made it even better, proving that LA people not only care about great food but also about helping others.

Music City Food +Wine Festival Highlights

Torrential downpours did not stop festivalgoers from coming out to Bicentennial Capitol Mall and checking out the Music City Food + Wine Festival. Attendees doubled up with umbrellas and ponchos and made their way through the demonstration and grand tasting tents. The muddy grounds and rain didn’t seem to dampen any spirits as the wine and cocktails were flowing freely and there was an endless sampling of bites from some of the best chefs around.

By far this is one of my favorite events of the year.  Not only do we get to see what new tricks chefs like Tim Love and Michael Symon have up their sleeves, but the collaboration between the chefs is always a treat. I talked to people from Chicago, Ft. Worth, and Minneapolis and asked why they chose Nashville and the response was overwhelming. “Nashville just has that chill vibe and we love the southern hospitality. It’s hard to put our finger on it, but there is just something about this city.”  I agree gang – there is something about this city and this festival. Pretty sure that Nashville is one of the few that concludes the two-day event with a dance party where Kings of Leon, Tim Love, and Aaron Sanchez pass out tequila and rose to festivalgoers.

While I had MANY favorites and took loads of photos, here are my top five standouts of the festival:

1. Seersucker Southern Craft Confections:  Scott Witherow, owner of Olive and Sinclair Chocolate ( totally one of my guilty pleasures) decided to expand his creativity beyond the bean to bar chocolate and Seersucker Candy Company was born. There hasn’t been a piece of candy that Scott has made that I haven’t fallen head over heels for, but these Cherry Bombs BLEW ME AWAY! Rest assured, you haven’t had anything like this before. Each Cherry Bomb is filled with pickled maraschino cherries dipped in buttermilk fondant and dark chocolate. Your mouth will enjoy every decadent bite.

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2. Virago: This is one of my favorite places in Nashville and I recently highlighted their Brunch with a View on blondevoyagenashville.com. Chef Andrew Whitney knocked this one out of the park, yet again.  He created a lovely sashimi of Kentucky Silver Carp paired with a small bite of red pepper and cilantro. Don’t judge a book by its cover, this delicate bite packed one heck of a flavorful punch! Confession: I may have used the excuse of getting out of the rain multiple times so I could swing by and grab another one of these beauties!

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3. Hattie B’s: How could I talk about Nashville food and not mention hot chicken. While I loved their Hot Chicken Jambonette, served bone-in on a bite of white bread and topped with a pickle, it was the Hot Quail Leg with Pimento Cheese grits that stole my heart. You read the description… need I say more? The creaminess of the grits lighted up the heat on the quail leg. I do hope this is one they will consider adding to the menu.

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4. Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company– Pumpkin Hunter: I adore craft beer, so when I was introduced to the lovely folks of Devil’s Backbone, I was pleasantly surprised. These brewers came to play!  Located in Roseland, Virgina, their brews are becoming more and more popular throughout the country, especially in the Southeast. Being totally basic, I opted for their fall choice and had the Pumpkin Hunter. Forget the pumpkin spice latte, this is where it’s at! The flavors are such that you feel like you are having a piece of pumpkin pie! They have a great tool on their website that will help you find a local retailer. Stock up on the pumpkin, it’s only here for a limited time and you don’t want to miss out!

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5. Pat Martin + Friends- Open Hearth Cooking: I can’t imagine the Music City Food+Wine festival without Pat Martin and his open hearth cooking. Each year seems to surpass the last. The “pitmaster’s playground” had a variety of proteins from whole hogs, goat, chickens and even octopus to feed the masses.  It definitely worth the wait in line for these goodies. Scrumptious.

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I tried to keep the list short and sweet, but if you are looking for more scoop on the festival, check out my Instagram  @blonde_voyage_nashville where I will be posting more of my favorites throughout the week!

Even though the dates haven’t been announced for the 2017 festival, keep an eye out on their website, http://www.musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com/ for details.  I hope to see you next fall!

Thrills Abound at Hotel Thrillist: New Orleans

Hotel Thrillist New OrleansNew Orleans is a city like no other. Part raucous party, part historical gem, it is no surprise the lifestyle media powerhouse Thrillist  chose this locale for their sixth “Hotel Thrillist”: a weekend of the best food, drink and entertainment the selected American city has to offer. Thrillist decamped from New York this past weekend, took over the illustrious Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street, and enlisted the renowned Cajun/Creole chef, John Folse, (of Restaurant R’evolution and the Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine fame) to kick off the weekend with a party to beat the band.  (more…)