• [Food Post] Tsujiri Toronto

    Tsujiri Toronto's first North American outpost opened earlier this week near Bay and Dundas amid much fanfare. This is their first foray into a market outside Asia, but they are planning on expanding to other cities in North America in the future. I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek of some of the products that Tsujiri Toronto has to offer a day before its soft opening, and got the chance to chat with one of the managers, Tylor Shek.

  • [Food Post] Nordstrom Eaton Centre Opening Gala featuring Daniel et Daniel

    The gala opening epitomizes what Nordstrom is all about - great customer service and consistency of the brand. Hence why they partnered with Daniel et Daniel to be the official caterer of the Nordstrom Opening Gala, as both companies share the same ideals and business ethics.

  • [Food Post] Waterloo Food Tour

    The Region of Waterloo is home to many regions that inspire start-ups (such as Thalmic Labs), housing, and of course many restaurants. The Region is developing and propelling a movement alike many urban areas, by bringing innovative ideas and talented people together, whilst keeping the scenic and spacious rural landscape. Andrew Coppolino of www.waterlooregioneats.com (@WatRegionEats on Twitter) gave us a tour on behalf of Waterloo Region Tourism, with 4 set destinations in mind for the day.

  • [Food Post] Ebisu on Queen / Ebisu Toronto

    Ebisu Japanese Restaurant originated from Vancouver, as its first location opened in December of 2006. There are two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond, along with two restaurants under the Kamei names. The brand itself is very well-known in Vancouver, and they hope to expand it in Toronto with this new outpost.

  • [Food Post] Dave and Buster's Oakville Grand Opening

    However, over the last two decades, much has changed, including the demise of arcade and game centers due the emergence of mobile phones and Netflix. The health movement over the last six years has also made Dave and Buster's traditional burger and fries menu far less appealing than what it was. With that being said, they have changed their food menu, and the options are now more diverse. The menu is rather extensive with items like shareable appetizers, side salads, beef steaks and ribs, pasta, sandwiches, and so much more.

  • [Food Post] Morals Village Mississauga

    Morals Village is a hot pot restaurant chain with over 600 locations in China. They opened their first Canadian location in 2015, and has since grown at a relatively rapid pace. About 1.5 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Morals Village Mississauga Grand Opening Event. The Mississauga location is their 5th Canadian location, and they have plans to open another in Ottawa. With that being said, Morals Village prides themselves in providing top-notch quality and Szechuan cuisine influenced flavour with their hot pot offering.

  • [Event] The Royal Dinner with Chef Michael Bonacini

    The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair is now open until November 13, 2016 at the Exhibition Place, Toronto. Start the holiday season early by attending one of the largest combined indoor agricultural fairs and international equestrian competitions in the world. The fair takes place every November in Toronto, and it is where guests can enjoy the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competitions from across the country. There are so many things to do, and see at this year's The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair.

  • [Food Post] CNE Media Preview 2016

    Every Sunday, Montecito offers a brunch buffet starting at 11 am to 3 pm. Brunch isn't new at Montecito, but they recently revamped their brunch buffet, and added several new items to the menu. The 12,000-square-foot Montecito opened up its doors late 2014, and is a partnership between Hollywood director Ivan Reitman and Chef Jonathan Waxman.

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

Zucchi Olive Oil Blending Event x Flavor Your Life

 We had the pleasure of attending an oil blending event held at the Aria Ristorante a couple of weeks ago. The event was hosted by Zucchi, a family-owned olive oil company that has been in business since 1810. They are committed to creating the highest quality oils, and only source from the top olive oil growers. Zucchi pride themselves on the techniques they use, high quality, and incredible flavors of their products.


BLENDING IS AN ART which requires a large number of technical and scientific skills, as well as the ability to conceive and create the personality of an olive oil. (source: http://www.zucchi.com/)


Both Zucchi and Flavor Your Life have partnered up to educate North American consumers about the quality and authenticity of extra virgin olive oil from Europe. Many of the companies in the Flavor Your Life program gets their funding from the European Union, the Italian government, and a consortium of European extra virgin olive oil producers. So, the blending event was an opportunity for them to reach out to a larger demographic of consumers.


Zucchi is known for their Art of Blending, where their olive oil consists of a blend of multiple refined oils. Thus, their Blending Experience events aim to give participants a direct, sensory initiation into exactly how a new olive oil blend is created. The event was led by Zucchi's Olive Oil Blend Master, Giovanni Zucchi. He guided guests through the flavor profiles of various oils from the Zucchi portfolio, explaining in-depth the olive oil making process, and the history of Zucchi Olive Oil  (source: http://www.zucchi.com/).

http://flavor-your-life.com/

 Before the blending experience commenced, we got to smell and taste the 4 different olive oils. First, we had to pour it into a small plastic cup and warmed it in our hands before inhaling the aroma. After distinguishing the notes, we got to taste it. Next up, we were provided with the opportunity to create our own Zucchi Olive Oil blend. Each guest was provided with four different blends of Zucchi Olive Oil, and we were instructed to mix the oils in a graduated cylinder to create our preferred blend. The entire set-up reminded me of science class when I was in high school. It was really fun getting to blend the different oils together.


How To Smell An EVOO

1)  Take a small cup of olive oil, cover the top with your right hand, and then gently rotate it in the palm of your other hand.
2) Tilt the cup at an angle.
3) Uncover your cup and hold it to the top up to your nose to inhale 2-3 times.



Olive oils from Crete, Arbequina, Sicily and Spain



Our finished product =)


After the blending experience with Zucchi, we got to enjoy a number of different canapés such as this delightful shrimp skewers at Aria Ristorante. The dishes showcase the various flavors of Zucchi Olive Oil and how it naturally complements different food items.


The Zucchi Olive Oil event was a very informative one, and I learned quite a bit about the art of olive oil blending. High quality olive oil surely makes a drastic difference compared to the cheaper ones on the market. Thank you to Zucchi and Flavor Your Life for hosting the event! 

You can experience how to create a new oil with the help of their blendmasters at Zucchi's blending experience events. You can check the calendar here at http://www.zucchi.com/en/events-en/.


 Zucchi Olive Oil's Social Media:

Instagram ||  Facebook || Youtube || Website

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Disclaimer: The products provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Origination Noodle House

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend a private tasting at Origination Noodle House in Markham (North Scarborough, South Markham). This is their second location as the original one is located in downtown Chinatown. The restaurant specializes in cuisine from the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.

Walking into the restaurant, it looked really colorful and cozy. The walls are clad in ceramic plates, and diners are greeted with hanging bright lights. Its refined designs has strong Yunnan inspirations, as several decorative pieces and items were brought over from the city.


Our group of 7 started off with some drinks; passion fruit soda and lime soda. The drinks were served in plastic bags, which is reminiscent of the night markets in China. Not the best for the environment, but the drinks themselves were refreshing and sweet.


In addition to noodles, Origination Noodle House has a pretty good selection of appetizers. Out of all the ones we sampled, my favorite was the Deep Fried Squid Balls ($6.50). I enjoyed its chewy  texture and the flavoring was on point.



I am actually not a fan of Marinated Pork Hock ($6.90), so I didn't really like this dish.



We opted for the Cucumber Salad ($6.90) - with soy and sesame sauce as our vegetable appetizer. Cucumbers add a lot of crunch and refreshing flavor to many salads such as this one. The large chunks of cucumbers were covered with shredded carrots, drizzled with peanut butter sauce, and topped off with peanuts.



The Chilled Shredded Chicken ($5.50) - Chinese vinegar, green onion and tofu slices was simple, but it was the perfect appetizer for summer. However, there should be a little more pieces of chicken and less of the tofu slices.


One of their specialties is the Origination Yunnan Rice Noodle, which is their version of the "Crossing The Bridge" noodles. No MSG is added and it's made completely from scratch.  They have a few soup options, but my go-to soup will always be the Tom Yum Goong ($11.90) - rice noodle with coconut milk, lemongrass, bass, fermin serrano ham, pork, black fungus and tofu skin. The soup base had a nice spicy kick to it without being overwhelming, and no additives. Additionally, the portion was very generous, and one bowl could easily feed two people. You can also customizes your noodles with the complimentary cart carrying an array of spices and sauces.





The Tofu Rice Noodle ($8.90) - tofu, pickle, and minced pork was a rather bold dish with a lot of flavors. It came with a lot of vegetables and tofu. Make sure to mix it well before you enjoy the dish.



Another favorite of mine was the Yunnan Style Fried Rice Noodle (beef) ($11.90). Rice noodle is a staple in Yunnan cuisine, and this dish was relatively vibrant in flavor.





Chilled Rice Noodle ($9.50) - with chicken with cucumber, carrots, chicken and minced pork


For dessert, I got the Bubble Lu ($3.20). It had a pleasant coconut flavor (from the coconut milk), and was pretty sweet. I find that the Asian palette towards desserts is that they like subtle sweetness. So, some people might find this dessert too overly sweet.


Red Bean Yogurt ($4.20)



Overall, Origination Noodle House is a pretty solid restaurant as it's affordable, portions are generous, and their food was good that I'd come back again.

Address: 633-661 Silver Star Blvd, Scarborough, ON, M1V 5N1

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Toronto's Festival of Beer 2017 (July 28-30)

One of the hottest beer festival is back! Toronto's Festival of Beer presented by the Beer Store will be taking place July 28 to July 30. Tickets for the much anticipated event are sold out for both Friday and Saturday. However, you can still purchase ticket for Sunday's event at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1263171.

Toronto’s Festival of Beer:

Date: Friday, July 28 to Sunday, July 30
Hours: July 28 (4:30 pm - 11:00 pm , July 29 (1:30 pm- 8:00 pm), July 30 (1:30 pm - 8:00 pm)
Location: Bandshell Park - Exhibition Place at 100 Princes' Blvd, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3
Website: http://www.beerfestival.ca/


Get Social:

 Toronto's longest running summer beer event returns to Bandshell Park @ Exhibition Place, with a great roster of chefs, food purveyors, and of course ... BEER!!

This Year's Food Purveyors:

Campagnolo
Chimney Stax
Fidel Gastro’s
Heirloom Farm to Truck
Hot Bunzz Street Cuisine
Jack Links
Mangia & Bevi
Meltwich Food Co.
Ontario Corn Roasters
Oyster Boy
Queen Margherita Pizza
Smoke’s Poutinerie
South St. Burger Company
Ted's World Famous BBQ
The Pie Commission
Tiny Tom Donuts

See you there!

 


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Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria's Spring/Summer Menu

I had the pleasure of returning to Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria to check out their new Spring/Summer menu a couple of weeks ago. The menu features two new pizzas and the return of a seasonal favorite. We opted to return to the Bloor Street West location, which opened its doors in 2012 and has become a local spot in the Annex. Famosa is best known for its authentic Neapolitan style cuisine, which makes no apology for their creative menu of fusion pizzas. Dean (the owner) runs two locations with his brother, and he is very passionate about the trade. He explained in details about the journey that they embarked on to bring us this delicate taste of Naples menu that we were able to sample.



We started dinner off with the Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque - roasted Campania tomato soup topped with feta cheese, and served with flatbread. This was one of the highlights of the evening. The bisque was rich with flavor, as the tomatoes hail from Pompeii, Italy. The body of these tomatoes taste stronger, sweeter, and have less acidity in them due to the growing conditions of the volcanic ash that makes up the significant content of the soil. With some added crushed peppers, and Parmesan cheese, the aroma of the bisque was brought to its greatest. 



Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria offers a limited menu of seasonal pizzas, which changes every season. The first new pizza that we got to try was the Prawn Pesto ($16.95) - fior-di-latte, seasoned ricotta, sautéed prawns, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, pistachio pesto, lemon wedge. In a departure from the standard pizza toppings, the new pizza is topped off with sautéed prawns, which remarkably makes a very delicious pizza.  Out of the three new pizzas on the menu, I'd say that this one was my favorite.


The Mattina ($16.95) - parmesan crema, sautéed leeks, pancetta,  prosciutto crisps, Grana Padano, Italian parsley,  topped with a fried egg, was the second new pizza on the menu. I didn't like this one as much, but J really liked it.


We were quite stuffed from the two pizzas, but the owner (Dean) graciously brought out a third one for us to try. The third pizza was a returning favorite, the Don Andreas ($16.95) - crème fraîche, fior-di-latte mozzarella, roasted chicken, corn and chipotle salsa, avocado, cilantro, lime wedge, side of Valentina hot sauce. I could definitely see why it was a favorite among patrons. All of the toppings just came together well, and it was one tasty pizza.


Dean has some leeway when it comes to their drinks menu, and tries to be creative with the ingredients. We opted for the non-alcoholic options, which was the Strawberries Mocktail (comes with one free re-frill).



If you're craving pizzas with some creativity and fusion, then make sure you try out Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria They do also have standard pizzas like the margherita pizza and pepperoni topped ones if you want safer choices.



Address: 386 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1X4

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Moxie's Grill & Bar Lemonade Pop-Up Patio / $150 GC Giveaway

I had the pleasure of checking out Moxie’s Hard Lemonade Pop-Up at the 9th Wine & Spirit Festival this past weekend. The two-day event (presented by Sobeys) officially kicked off the summer season, and Moxie's Grill & Bar was part of the fun. If you missed out on their hard lemonade at the festival, don't fret! Moxie’s Hard Lemonade Pop-Up Patio will be popping up at select events in the GTA between June 16th to July 15th, 2017.


The idea was inspired by Moxie’s thirst quenching, crafted house-made hard lemonade (available in the restaurants). Since it's summer and everyone will be out and about, Moxie's Grill & Bar wanted consumers to quench their thirst with some refreshing lemonade this summer, and came up with the patio. The patio is custom designed with an adult lemonade bar, bright yellow lounge sitting and fitted with a large patio umbrella. Great place to socialize with friends, and hide out from the hot sun.

Moxie’s Hard Lemonade Pop-Up will be making an appearance at the following events.

1) June 24th - Port credit Yacht Club as part of the Toronto Area Hospice Regatta from 2 pm to 6pm. The event is put on by the Port Credit Yacht Club to raise funds for a great cause.

·         2) July 15th - In the beer garden of the GWN sports Regatta at Marylin Bell Park from 11 am to 6 pm serving our Moxie’s Hard Lemonade




Join me for some hard lemonade at one of the pop-up events this summer. The lemonade is handcrafted, and made-to-order to ensure that you cool down with every sip. The lemons are hand-squeezed, mixed with soda, and topped off with Tito’s Handmade Vodka over ice. Patio season has never been so freshly squeezed!

Check out their hashtag #squeezesummerhard for more pictures.


GIVEAWAY ALERT:

 I am giving away a $150 gift card to any Moxie's Grill & Bar location in Canada, which you can enter here at https://www.instagram.com/p/BV0Qezng5Eh/

 
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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Moxie's Grill & Bar. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.



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#GoodFoodPromise with Fionn MacCool's

We had the pleasure of visiting the Front Street location of Fionn MacCool's last month to check out their new #GoodFoodPromise menu. The philosophy that they instilled is that they believe in sourcing great tasting and quality ingredients from responsible Canadian family farms that they know and trust. Fionn MacCool's has several locations in Ontario, and their menu offers a variety of Irish-inspired and North American classics.



The Chicken Tacos - 3 tacos with fresh pulled chicken, cilantro-lime coleslaw and mango salsa packed into flour tortillas. Drizzled with fresh lime cream sauce and finished with a little Sriracha for some heat, was super filling and delicious.


I usually love calamari, but the Calamari - lightly dusted calamari tossed in salt, pepper and green onions. Served with our made-in-Pub fire-roasted red pepper sauce, from here was slightly too soft for my taste.


The beef used in Fionn MacCool's dishes are sourced from the proudly Canadian Beretta Farms. The cows are raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or steroids. For my main course, I opted for their Steak & Fries - 8 oz. Alberta top sirloin grilled to order with sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomato and fresh-cut fries. My steak was cooked perfectly as I requested - medium and the sautéed mushrooms really added to its flavor. As a steak lover, it was a highly recommended item for me.


Over-fishing is a huge issue, and Ocean Wise is helping consumers identify species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensure the long-term health and stability of that species. Fionn MacCool's is proud to serve Ocean Wise wild cod in their fish and chips and also fish tacos. My guest opted for the No.1 Fish & Chips - the only two food groups that matter. Keep it classic with a cod fillet fried to order in our made-in-Pub Barking Squirrel amber lager beer batter. It’s served with rainbow slaw, our Dungloe Sauce and fresh-cut fries. Unlike some of the other fish and chips on the market, the ones here was non-greasy. It was tender on the inside, and lightly battered on the outside. The fish are offered with hand-cut fries, tartar sauce and coleslaw (but you can substitute the fries for side salad).

If you are interested in reading about the sustainability and traceability in the seafood industry, please read my blog post on MSC.


In addition to sourcing the best ingredients, Fionn MacCool's is also deeply rooted in the community. 50 cents from every Mill St. Original Organic Pint sold goes to a local charity. So, don't forget to pair your food with a pint ... drink for a good cause. 

Fionn MacCool's #GoodFoodPromise menu features many new items that I think people will enjoy whether it's with friends or casual dinners. It was definitely good knowing where the ingredients came from and the chain pubs' overall message. 


Address: 310 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3A4

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.


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Chopsticks + Forks - Korean Food 101

Earlier last month, I had the opportunity to attend a Korean Food 101 courtesy of Chopsticks + Forks Food Tour. The tour takes place every Sunday afternoon at 5 pm hosted at Song Cook’s in Thornhill, ON. 

So what is Korean Food 101? It is a dining experience introducing diners to the diversity of Korean cuisine. The program was designed to teach people about the richness of Korea’s culinary delights, one that goes beyond Korean BBQ. The dinner was a 7-course tasting menu, and the portion was pretty substantial for our table of 6 people. Since it was a communal dinner, we were encouraged to socialize with those at the table.

Rice (Bap) - not just a staple, rice is the foundation of Korean cuisine


Bachan - side dishes served in every traditional Korean meal


Man-doo - Korean style dumplings (steamed and fried)



Jap Chae - "Glass Noodle" dish of Imperial decent


Cha-Jang Myun - a dark black bean noodle dish


Tang Su Yuk - deep fried sweet and sour pork


Bulgogi - thinly sliced marinated beef


Donkatsu - Korean version of the pork schnitzel


Tdeukguk - A traditional rice cake soup eaton on New Years [NOT PICTURED]

The 2.5 hour guided "Korean Food 101" sit-down dining experience ($53 CAD person) introduced us to many dishes that are loved by Koreans. I am quite familiar with Korean cuisine, but I did learn a lot about some of the dishes served that night. We had a total of 7 dishes (+ bachan) that night, and each course was accompanied by a detailed explanation of the origin and background of the dish. For example, I didn't know that the Jap Chae was considered a dish of Imperial decent. 

The concept behind Chopsticks + Forks is to explore the rich culture of Korean food with other like-minded people who also love food. The company is run by Jusep, who have traveled to over 50 countries, which is very impressive. He was full of energy and enthusiastic about Korean culture and its food. Jusep also shared several personal stories about his childhood and his life growing up eating Korean cuisine, and explained his reason behind Chopsticks + Forks. Overall, I found the event to be extremely well-organized and the food came out in a reasonable time frame. Lastly, the evening ended with a guided tour around a Korean supermarket that is located next door to the restaurant.

Great tour! For more information, check out Chopsticks + Forks.


PROMO CODE: Use the coupon code FRIENDS2017 to get 30% off

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.



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