Yumba - Toronto's Food Delivery Service

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to check out Yumba's meal delivery subscription service. They are Toronto's new trending healthy eating experience offering carefully sourced natural meals curated by local chefs. This is especially helpful for those who have busy work schedules, and do not have the time to cook or go out. Yumba offers gourmet meals with great taste, and conveniently delivered to customers' doorsteps weekly in a chilled reusable thermal package. 


 The meals are diverse balanced dishes of well portioned proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients. 



"We started Yumba because we saw an opportunity to create a healthy eating experience that’s innovative, affordable, and transparent. You never want to compromise quality when it comes to food, and Yumba ensures you can access delicious, nutrient-rich meals in an easy and convenient way that doesn’t interrupt your lifestyle.” – Will Bowcott, Director of YUMBA.
As a young professional, I find meal prep to be quite a daunting task, especially when it's a long day's work. This is where Yumba comes in handy, as they offer a weekly meal service with high-quality meals made fresh to order. Each week, customers can choose flavor-packed dishes like summer confetti linguini, Chipotle pulled pork pasta, creamy dill salmon, and chicken tikka masala. The meals change weekly, so you'll get different dishes per week. 

The meals are super easy to make, as all you have to do is remove the sauce container before heating your meal in the microwave with the lid loosely fit for 2 minutes. Afterwards, pour the sauce on your food once it is finished heating.

Japanese Kabayaki Flank



Chicken & Shrimp Spinach Pesto Pasta



Burrito Bowl


 The three meals that I received from Yumba were healthy and I enjoyed its taste. My favorite out of the three was the chicken & shrimp spinach pesto pasta, which was light, and the chicken and shrimp were well-cooked. It's definitely a lot healthier than some of the food choices available out there and certainly lighter on the wallet. 4 meals per week is $49.99. which comes out to $12.99/meal. However, if you order 6 meals per week, it's $65.99 (so $10.99 per meal).


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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.


Summer Menu Tasting at Diwan

On the outskirts of Toronto lies a stunning agricultural building designed by Fumihiko Maki. The Aga Khan Museum opened its door in 2014, and features historical artifacts from Muslim ancient civilizations. To the right of the entrance of the museum is Diwan; a beautifully-designed restaurant headed by celebrity chef, Mark McEwan. We were invited to return to taste their new summer menu inspired by tempting flavors from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, and Turkey. Diwan is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.



Diwan's decor evokes the luxury of a 19th century private Syrian home, and its menu draws inspiration from Middle Eastern cuisine. Additionally, the 65-seat restaurant is filled with natural lighting, giving it a bright, contemporary and modern ambiance, allowing guests a great view of the adjacent Ismaili Centre. Chef McEwan and his team have created a menu with their take on Pan-Islamic cuisine that includes starters like advice spiced calamari and halloumi salad, and entrees like lamb kofta meatballs, and harissa glazed salmon.

We started off the summer menu tasting with some mocktails from their wide range of drink options. We enjoyed it on the patio, which is now open for lunch. The patio has an incredible view of the beautifully landscaped Aga Khan Park designed by landscape architect, Vladimir Djurovic.



** PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PORTIONS BELOW ARE SAMPLE-SIZE **

Advieh Spiced Calamari ($14) - with Aleppo Aioli 



Lamb Kofta ($14) - lamb meatballs, corn, and coconut curry with naan 


Photo Credit: Fred.BK

Grilled Octopus with Chickpea Salad
 ($17) - with Moroccan olives, stewed sweet peppers, and Aleppo aioli


Chicken Jalfrezi ($20) - tomato-based curry studded with peppers and onion, basmati rice, cashews, yogurt, and naan 


Borani-E-Bademjan ($11) - yogurt and eggplant dip in filo shell, onion, garlic, tumeric, cumin, dill, mint, lemon


My two favorite dishes from Diwan were the Advieh Spiced Calamari and Chicken Jalfrezi. The calamari was lightly coated in batter and well-spiced. The poutine on the other hand was full of flavors as the tomato-based curry was fragrant.

The Aga Khan Museum houses the Aga Khan family collection of roughly 1,000 rare objects and paintings from the 8th to the 20th century. Occasionally, they do have some temporary exhibitions that showcase arts from Muslim lands. After the tasting, we had the opportunity to tour the Aga Khan Museum's temporary exhibit, Syrian Symphony: New Compositions in Sight and Sound. It's on display until August 13, 2017, and it offers an immersive and interactive response from the artists to the current situation in Syria. I was completely immersed in the music and it provided a lot of insights into the conflict of the Syrian people. I highly recommend making a visit before it's gone. 



Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Address: 77 Wynford Dr, Toronto, ON M3C 1K1

HOURS:

Monday: Closed
(except holiday Mondays)
Tuesday: 10 am–6 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–8 pm
Thursday–Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

COST:

General Admission*
Friends: Free
Adults: $20
Seniors (65+): $15
Students:* $12

Social Media:

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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.


Holts Café at Holt Renfrew Toronto

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Holts Café for lunch. It's a trendy cafe on the mezzanine level of one of Yorkville's institutions, Holt Renfrew. The cafe was an elongated bright space with a red and light grey color scheme. It's an ideal setting for a casual lunch, business lunch, dates, or mid-afternoon shopping break. Holts Café's menu features a locally-inspired menu with a variety of signature dishes including the chopped salad and Holts burger.

I started off with a drink from their mocktails selection; the Mango Mule ($7) - peaches and cream syrup, lime juice, mango juice, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, soda. It was a sweet and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. 


We got the Grilled Jerk Shrimp ($14) containing jalapeño pineapple salsa as an appetizer. I was told that it only had a slight kick due to some regular clienteles complaining about the heat level. The jerk shrimp along with the sweet and juicy pineapple was a fantastic combo.  


The Fragrant Steamed Mussels ($13) - peppers, thyme, oregano, garlic, shallots, white wine was another stand-out appetizer.  The seafood delicacy come together with the help of white wine and various spices to create a lovely aromatic smell. The broth itself was light and savory, and there was a generous helping of mussels (big enough to share between two people). 


One of Holts Café's most recommended salad was the Chopped Salad ($19) - avocado, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas, sweet corn, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, French vinaigrette. The salad was a decent option, but there wasn't enough French vinaigrette, so it tasted too light to me. 


I opted for the Pickerel ($27) as my main, and it was a perfectly cooked dish. The fish was lightly seasoned and complemented the creamy Jerusalem artichoke and French beans. It was also topped with some shaved fennel, which didn't really seem to add or detract from the taste. Lastly, the pickerel was pan-seared, which resulted in a beautiful crust that added to the texture of the fish. A simply light main course!
 


For the main course, J got the Steak Frites ($27) - 8 oz petite tender, hand cut fries, wild mushroom ragoût, red wine jus.


Desserts has always been one of my favorite things, so I was looking forward to trying the Strawberry Shortcake ($10). It was made with shortcake biscuit, pastry cream, strawberry compote, crème Anglaise, Chantilly cream. It was literally a platter of sugar, which probably doesn't suit everyone's palette. It was very sweet, which I liked. However, I think that they could add a few more strawberries to balance out the sweetness of the shortcake biscuits.


The Chocolate Mousse ($10) - fresh raspberry, feuilletine hazelnut crust, coulis gracefully sat in a pool of coulis made from puréed fruits. It was definitely an airy and rich dessert.  


Brewed Coffee ($4.25)


Overall, our lunch at the Holts Café at Holt Renfrew Toronto was a very pleasant dining experience. Despite it being near 75% capacity, I noticed that all diners were being attended to appropriately, which I am not surprised considering the brand namesake. Furthermore, our server (Joe) was attentive and personable.

If you do come for lunch, they are are extremely limited parking spaces in the Yorkville area. So I'd recommend either using public transportation, Uber, or taking a taxi. However, if you do plan on driving, Holt Renfrew does offer valet parking for $25.

Address: 50 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M4W 1A1

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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.


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.


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.