Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekly Roundup - August 31, 2012

Sweet & Splendid Wedding Cake - One of the things that I was most looking forward to this summer was the wedding of my friends Jamie and John. The most fairy tale perfect couple I could ever imagine, Jamie and John are the type of couple that legends are made of. Their fairy tale romance was the inspiration behind their wedding, with their beautiful cake taking centre stage.  The custom cake, designed by one of Jamie's good friends Danielle from Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, was inspired by a birch tree, with sugar acorns and pine cones scattered at the base as though the tree was standing in a mystical forest. Their initials "J+J" scrawled across the cake, encircled in a heart, as though they had just etched it into a tree to forever mark their love. Sitting atop the cake were not bride and groom figurines, but puzzle pieces, symbolizing how perfect they fit together. To view more of Danielle's incredible custom cake creations at Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, click here!

Four Course Wedding Supper - Throughout their relationship, Jamie and John have had many special memories in wine country Ontario, exploring the vines and tasting the grapes. So to commemorate their special wine country memories, they decided to hold their wedding at a the beautiful Legends Estate Winery. Legends not only provided a beautiful backdrop for their special day, but also provided a fabulous four-course supper. The first course was a delicious spinach salad with toasted walnuts and roasted pears.

The Happy Couple - Here they are, the fairy tale couple, in the midst of a loving kiss. As well as directing guests where to sit, each name card for each guest also revealed a character. Throughout the evening the guests were instructed to try and seek out their characters other half and, once found, encouraged to high five on the stage, which meant the happy couple must kiss. After all those kisses all night long, it was amazing to see that every single one was just as passionate as the last. This is love.

Four Course Wedding Supper - Beef or chicken? I went for the chicken and, from what I gathered from the other guests, that was the wise choice! The chicken was tender, juicy, and flavourful with a delicious sauce, and placed on a bed of red new potatoes and crisp green beans. 
The Beautiful Bride - Jamie is a beautiful girl, but never before have I seen her more stunning than she was on her wedding day. Her dress was show stopping, with an elegant sweetheart neck in the front and a striking open back. She was positively glowing.

Two of the Best - I have gotten to know Jamie and John so well over the years thanks to their younger siblings and two of my close friends Robin and Mike. Robin, my best friend, was Jamie's beautiful Maid of Honor and Mike, the rockstar of our group of friends, was John's Best Man. The two fit their roles perfectly, planning awesome showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and pulled out an awesome speech together. You may recognize Mike from drumming alongside Jesse Labelle in his recent music video for Heartbreak Coverup, featuring Alyssa Reid. Recently Mike has played with the likes of Shawn Desman, Conor Maynard, Alyssa Reid, and his main gig Jesse Labelle. To stay up to date with Mike and his drumming check out his site here.

Black Camel Brisket Sandwich - One of my all-time favourite sandwiches is a beef brisket sandwich...but not just ANY brisket sandwich, I'm talking about a Black Camel Slow Roasted Beef Brisket sandwich! The tiny little sandwich shop and café conveniently located right outside of Rosedale subway station, has won my heart over with their tender and incredibly flavourful slow roasted beef brisket, which is generously scooped onto a perfect, fresh kaiser bun that soaks up that delicious Black Camel BBQ sauce. I always order mine with caramelized onions, BBQ sauce, and chipotle mayo for a little heat. So incredibly delicious, this sandwich always puts a smile on my face!

Chocolate, Strawberry, & Vanilla - Here's me, all dolled up, sandwiched between my friends Rommi and Robin, snapping a quick shot of us in front of the beautiful sunset that descended during the wedding supper. This sunset acted as the backdrop for Jamie and John and they sat lovingly at their head table during supper. Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, we've got every flavour here!

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Listening To:
The Postal Service - Such Great Heights

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekly Roundup - August 27, 2012

Agarian Cheese Market & Speakeasy - On Monday my mom and I decided to take a mini road trip for the day to Prince Edward County. We had such a nice time driving around and checking out the scenery, but, of course, our favourite part of any trip is the food. Rather than spending a fortune on lunch at a winery restaurant, we decided to make a quick stop at a cute looking cheese store to grab some gourmet grilled cheese. With so many delicious sandwiches on the menu at the Agarian Cheese Market and Speakeasy, we decided to get two different kinds and split them so we could try at least two. We chose the Mushroom Madness with Camembert and sautéed mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes, and the Sassy Sausage with onion, cheddar, Sopressata sausage and chipotle lime mustard. Served with a side salad with fresh green peas and a light vinaigrette, this quick lunch totally hit the spot! 
Peach & Nutella Panini - One of my all time favourite snacks in the summer is fresh Ontario fruit. Of course the fruit is delicious on its own, but imagine folding it between two pieces of bread, slathering on a generous amount of Nutella, and throwing that baby on a panini press. Perfection! Last week I made my favourite type of sweet panini, Peach & Nutella, which was just as fantastic as I remembered  from last year. You've gotta give this sweet panini a try for yourself, and I promise, you'll be waiting all year for peach season to get your hands on this sucker as well!

S'more Pie - Two of my favourite people in the entire world are my cousins Lucas and Evan. Every summer we make a point of making s'mores, whether that means using the outdoor chiminea, making them in the toaster oven, or even on the gas flame on the stove, it's a summer tradition we can't go without. I had been thinking about doing something special and s'more related for Lucas' birthday in July, but unfortunately, with crazy hours at work and a cottage weekend away, I wasn't able to find the time. Last week was Evan's 9th birthday and this time I made sure to fit some baking into my schedule. After a quick google search I found the perfect creation for Evan's birthday and Lucas' belated birthday, S'more Pie! I whipped up the pie the day before and somehow resisted having a taste until Evan's actual birthday the following day.

Bruschetta - After licking out the delicious chocolaty bowl from the S'more Pie...and maybe sneaking a few marshmallows here and there, I was craving something savory to tide me over for dinner. With a leftover hot dog bun and fresh garlic on the counter, and beautiful tomatoes and basil growing in the garden, bruschetta was the way to go! So fresh and delicious, I love this summer treat! Check out my recipe here!

Evan's Birthday - Here's my little Evie, looking not so little at 9 years old, blowing out the candles on his S'more Pie that I made for him and his brother Lucas. The pie turned out sooooo damn good! I mean, I knew I would like the pie, but who knew I would go absolutely bananas over it! I'll post the recipe soon with my revisions that made this special dessert out of this world! Happy Birthday Evan!!!
Bagel House BLT - After getting my mom hooked on Bagel House's absolutely perfect BLT last summer, we can't help but pick up the savoury sandwich every single time we're about to embark on a long drive. So of course we had to make a quick pit stop at Bagel House for BLT's before venturing off to Prince Edward County on Monday morning. I always get mine on an everything bagel and, if the right guy is working, usually end up getting extra bacon! So simple, yet so perfect. I could go for one right now.

Writing on the wall - I snapped this picture of a really cool old wall in Picton covered in striking text. I love the look of this!

Barley Days Brewery- During our tour of Prince Edward County, we also stopped at a a local brewery, Barley Days Brewery, for a tasting and a purchase! The charming British man working the taps was awesome, telling us all about the different beers they make and enthusiastically handing us sample after sample. I really enjoyed getting to taste the array of different beers they make. The standouts for me was their Harvest Gold Ale and their Brown Ale, which was served to us without any filtration, giving it a world of character. Of course we had to grab a couple six packs to bring home with us for the rest of the week.

Distillery Barn - While in Prince Edward County we also made a point of checking out a newly opened local distillery. Although I'm not one for sipping vodka, gin, and vermouth, I appreciated the esthetics of the place and snapped a pic of their barn, which I loved.

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Listening To:
Joy division - Insight

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weekly Roundup - August 17, 2012

Dr. Laffa - One of the saddest things about coming home from Israel this May was knowing that I would never have a falafel that tastes even near as delicious as the ones I had in Israel. Nervous about even ordering a falafel anywhere in Toronto, fearing the inevitable disappointment, I've found myself shying away from any Middle Eastern restaurants for the past few months (that is unless they have hookahs, which would make me forget all about it!). After reading endless tweets about the Middle Eastern restaurant and takeout joint Dr. Laffa, located pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I held some hope that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Laffa would give me that taste of Israel I have been craving! So this week, with hope in my belly, I finally headed out to Dr. Laffa. Although there was a big lineup, we grabbed a table for three immediately, and quickly learned that in order to get a sandwich after their lunch hours, you had to grab takeout. With the less than esthetically pleasing decor, and loud volume, we were happy to give up our table to join the takeout line. It would be a sin to go into Dr. Laffa and not order their infamous laffa bread, which is baked to order, so I ordered a Falafel Laffa. As soon as the charming Israeli man behind the counter started putting on my toppings, I knew I had found my Israeli falafel equivalent. With all the delicious toppings I had Israel, including the unique sauce amba, fresh falafel balls, and the warm and slightly chewy laffa bread, I was in Israeli falafel heaven! It was so incredibly delicious! The only thing I would recommend is to share your falafel! They are absolutely massive!  
The Rogers Cup - Thanks to my dads company's work with California Wines, a sponsor at the Rogers Cup, I have been fortunate enough to make it out to at least a game or two every year for quite a few years now. This year was no exception! Although we were worried all day that the game would be rained out, luckily mother nature held off for a few hours so we were able to enjoy as take in the Fish vs. Gasquet match!

barVolo - Although I was super excited to check out the first year of The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival, the on and off rain all day Saturday had me rearranging my plans. It was just too muddy, wet, and icky to be shuffling around a crowd in the outdoors. With my heart set on craft brews, we decided to check out barVolo, with their extensive selection of both Canadian and International craft beers in bottles and on tap. The cozy little space on Wellesley was the perfect spot to spend a rainy afternoon. My friend Danielle and I (we're often called "the Danielle's") perched ourselves on a couple of stools and had a great time catching up, while enjoying some unique craft beers, and devouring their delicious  587 charcuterie platter that I just couldn't resist. I really enjoyed one of their house ales on tap in their Farmhouse Series called the Sheep. You've gotta try it!

Kobi - The best doggy a gal could ever ask for! I couldn't resist putting up this pic of my sweet pup doggy, looking all beautiful and irresistible. Just look at that face! Awww my Kobi pup dog!

Denny's - My friends and I have found ourselves a new dentist...the only problem is, the office is all the way in Brampton. Why are we going all the way to Brampton to go to the dentist? Well, that story's for another time. Although it seemed like our dentist appointments were the only beneficial thing about going to Brampton (sorry Bramptonites), we quickly changed out minds as we shrieked with delight, spotting a Denny's on the way! Totally a guilty pleasure, we spent our whole dentist appointments planning what we were going to order. I Sausage Slammed it up, and loved every guilty bite!
Crêpes Florentine - I'm really proud of the recipe I created for Crêpes Florentine. Without any help from the Internet, and with this being my first try at making the French dish, I was pleasantly surprised at how perfect it turned out! Seriously, give this recipe a try!

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Listening To:
Beach House - Troublemaker
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crêpes Florentine

After finally checking out the Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market about a month or so ago, I haven't been able to stop day dreaming about the endless possibilities for fillings for savory crêpes! Fascinated by a crepe station set up at the market, serving made-to-order crêpes filled with all sorts of grilled and raw veggies, herbs, and spices, I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own delicious savory crêpe. I had finally conquered the Savory Chicken Crêpe that gave me so much trouble in the past, so now I wanted to try something different! Through my brainstorming I had come up with a crêpe recipe featuring spinach, mushrooms, and other grilled vegetables, but with a fridge full of leftovers and not a lot of fresh produce, that idea went out the window. I had to readjust my original idea. With little more than frozen spinach, some cheese, and a carton of eggs for me to cook with, I decided to make something I had never even eaten before, Crêpes Florentine. With a classic combo like spinach, cheese, and eggs, I knew that despite never trying the French dish, I would have no trouble making my final product a success! By seasoning the crêpe batter with fresh chives, creaming the spinach, and seasoning the dish with just a hint of cayenne pepper, I was able to take a simple dish to new heights! My family and I loved my Crêpes florentine and will definitely be making this simple and pretty breakfast, lunch, or dinner item again!
Crêpe Batter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp chives, chopped
butter or vegetable oil spray, for frying 

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup cream, heated
1 (9oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
salt and pepper, to season
cayenne pepper, to season
chopped parsley, to garnish

  1. Whisk or process (using a food processor) all crêpe batter ingredients until blended. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling in the last 20 minutes or so that the crêpe batter is chilling. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and garlic at medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Turn heat up to medium-high and and add the 2 tbsp butter. When butter has just melted, add the 2 tbsp flour and whisk constantly for about 2-3 minutes as the flour cooks out and the mixture begins to colour slightly. Add the hot cream, a little bit at a time, while continuing to whisk. Cook for another 1-2 minutes and stir in the thawed spinach. 
  4. Stir in the 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, taste, and season additionally with salt and pepper.
  5. The crêpe batter should be ready for frying now! In a lightly greased crepe pan or frying pan, fry crepes approximately 60 seconds on one side or until edges are brown. Carefully flip crêpe and fry for proximately 30 seconds on the other side. While crêpe is frying on the other side, quickly sprinkle in some cheese, scoop over an even layer of the spinach mixture (about 1/4 cup),   top with a layer of the sliced hard boiled eggs, and season with salt, pepper, and a shake of cayenne pepper. Roll, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately. Continue until all batter has been used. 
Listening To:
Lykke Li - Jerome

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Roundup - August 10, 2012

Burger's Priest - Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you've gotta know that the Burger's Priest has become one of the most talked about burger joints in Toronto! With their commitment to fresh produce and delivering a great product, the Priest has quickly won over the east end with their little location in the Beaches, to now taking on the Uptown families with their recently opened Yonge St. location. Although their Yonge St. location is much more convenient for me, I still love going to the Beaches Priest when I have the chance. Why choose to spend the gas driving down to the beaches for my burger? It's all about the atmosphere! I love grabbing my cheeseburgers and taking them to the beach to park myself on a nice bench or rock, and enjoy my burger while I take in the view and people watch. Last Friday, before meeting up with some friends, I hit the Beaches Burger's Priest for takeout with my mom. Normally a fan of their single cheeseburger, I was STARVED and had to go for the double cheeseburger. Although it was one damn good burger, I couldn't help but think of the Priest's competition Holy Chuck Burgers, which I can now officially say is my favourite burger in Toronto. Although Holy Chuck Burgers' double cheeseburger isn't quite as large, I find the flavour bigger, and the texture more appealing. P.S. That stunning red/orange moon looked unbelievable by the Beaches on Friday night! Did you see it?
Foxley - Foxley has been one of those buzzed about Toronto restaurants for a while now, with it's casual atmosphere and refined asian inspired tapas. With foodies left, right, and centre proclaiming it to be one of their new favourite restaurants, it was time for me to check out the trendy Ossington spot. With most of the city heading up North for the long weekend, we were pleased to see that there were a few tables available during the dinner rush. Despite the free tables, we decided to grab a seat at the bar for a little more action. The friendly bartender recommended a few dishes for us and suggested to get about two dishes per person. Foxley's ceviche was one dish that was consistently recommended to me, so we ordered the Wahoo Ceviche with Mango Salsa, attracted by the refreshing-sounding accompanying salsa. We also ordered the Lamb and Duck Prosciutto Dumplings and the Grilled Marinated Beef Short Ribs. We were going to leave it at that, but after seeing multiple Spring Rolls go by, looking so fresh and delicious, we couldn't resist, and quickly put in an order for their Duck Tenderloin Fresh Spring Roll with Herbs and Rice Vermicelli. Everything that we tried at Foxley was very tasty, although I hate to say that it didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Everything was very good, don't get me wrong, it just didn't quite hit that extra special note that I was hoping for.

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Listening To:
The XX - Hot Like Fire
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Toronto Festival of Beer 2012

Me (Danielle Rose) enjoying my first beer of the fest in the Media Lounge; Labatt 50, compliments of the Media Lounge; Photobombed by a new friend; HOP CITY Brewing Co.
My fascination with beer started when I was only a child, mischievously sneaking sips of my parents beer the moment they were unattended, with Sleeman's Honey Brown my favourite stolen sip of choice. I couldn't have cared less about feeling tipsy or getting drunk (and at that age, we can be very thankful that that wasn't on my mind!), I simply loved the taste! Once I hit 19 I had fun discovering my first hangovers, shooting back uber-sugary vodka coolers, loving that "I [couldn't] even taste the alcohol!", while I stumbled around like a newborn giraffe just learning to use her legs. Just after that I did a 360, deciding that classy was the way to go. Classy in my mind meant wine drinking. I attempted to throw myself into the wine scene, desperate to understand the jargon and how to describe and pair different wines. Although I was eager to taste different wines when at the many tasting events that I attended and worked at, I found myself continually ordering beer when at restaurants, and picking up 6-packs at the LCBO. Don't get me wrong, I love a good glass of wine, but I think it all comes down to the attitude. I was never able to fully immerse myself into the wine world, scared that I would say the wrong the thing and have a group of snooty wine drinkers turn their noses up at me as they slurped their Cabernet...because yes, this has happened. So what if I tasted vanilla and you tasted cherry? Isn't wine subjective? Despite how many times I've heard that yes, it is subjective, I never really felt accepted when expressing my opinions or even speaking up to ask a question. 

Beer is a whole other story. We like what we like, and if you don't like that, well, we couldn't care less! There is no shame when it comes to beer drinking, all is accepted. Whether you like the taste of a little salt in your beer, citrus fruits, or hey, there's even a man who comes into my pub who likes his Canadian draft microwaved for 35 seconds, all is accepted in the beer world!...but that microwave thing is a liiiittle strange, let's be honest. 
Me (Danielle Rose) ready to check out what Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery has to offer; Edinburg brew Innes & Gunn; Me & a new friend...I WOULD befriend the dude in a Snoop Dog (er...Lion?) T-Shirt; Fidel Gastro's awesome Spicy Short Rib Sandwich.
Working at a pub this summer has allowed me to learn a lot about beer, and most importantly, has helped me figure out what exactly I like...which turns out to be quite a lot! My taste buds have matured in next to no time, taking me from easy-drinking, multiple filtered light brews, to unfiltered hoppy brews with worlds of character. I was eager to try whatever I could get my hands on! So my invitation to the Toronto Festival of Beer could come at no better time! With my photographer for the day in tow (my very talented sister Justine Rose), I was ready to take on the festival! 

Walking up to the Exhibition grounds I couldn't help but feel special, being escorted past the line, thanks to my "Media" bracelet, and taken straight to the exclusive Media Lounge, complete with cozy couches, wifi, snacks, a mini bar serving up Labatt 50, and lots of free swag (ew...I hate using the word "swag"). Not a bad way to start off a beautiful Saturday! We quickly cheers'd our Labatt 50 in our complimentary cute glass beer mugs to a great fest, and went to grab our beer tokens. 
Me (Danielle Rose) enjoying a tasty brew from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery.
Overwhelmed by the size of the festival, we decided to each get 20 tokens, with 1 token representing a half glass of beer, and 2 tokens for a full. Our first stop was one of our favourite Ontario craft beers, Flying Monkeys from Barrie, Ontario. Being fans of both their Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale and Amber Ale, we wanted to give their Smashbomb Atomic IPA a try, attracted by the name. Just like all of the previous Flying Monkey's brews that we've tried, we absolutely loved their Smashbomb Atomic IPA! Smashbomb Atomic IPA stands out with its extreme Citra hop flavour, which means you get flavours of grapefruit, lime, apricot, melon, lychee, pineapple, mango, papaya, and other tropical fruit flavours and aromas. The hoppiness of the beer is balanced out with a strong malt backbone. Oh and hey, I learned that day that "IPA" stands for "India Pale Ale"...I couldn't have been the only one to just learn this right? 

Next stop was Shock Top Beer from the US. I've just recently discovered that I really enjoy the taste and ease of drinking that comes from wheat beers, so Shock Top, a spiced Belgian-style white wheat beer, was definitely of interest to me. With real orange, lemon, and lime peels as well as a bit of coriander, the unfiltered Shock Top had a unique and striking flavour that both my sister and I loved! 
Chef Craig Harding from Campagnolo taking charge of the Grilling Tent; Chef Harding created a food pairing to go with the classic Budweiser that was served; Chef Harding heating up the kitchen on the Napoleon Grill; Me (Danielle Rose) posing with Chef Harding's delicious Octopus & Chorizo Sausage sample.
Being true food lovers above all else, my sister and I were most excited to check out the Rockstar Napoleon Grilling Tent! With the food demos being led by Chef Craig Harding from one of my families favourite restaurants in Toronto, Campagnolo, and Rob Rossi from recently opened Bestellen restaurant and most notably Top Chef Canada Season 1, expectations were high! Chef Harding was first up at the grill, leading his demo with casual confidence as he showed the audience how to make his Octopus with Chorizo Sausage paired with a classic Budweiser. By giving a cash donation of your choice, you were given access to as much Budweiser as you liked, with the donation going towards Ted Reader's favourite charity. As always, Harding did not disappoint. The octopus and chorizo was absolutely delicious...I only wish I could have purchased a whole plate of it! 
Me (Danielle Rose), being a goof, posing with my food sample and beer.
Rock Lobster Food Co. Serving up buttery Lobster Rolls; Shock Top Unfiltered Belgian Wheat Beer; Me (Danielle Rose) anticipating my decadent Lobster roll; Ox Heart Philly Cheesesteak from the Feasting Room.
With only a short time before the next grilling demo began, a few glasses of Budweiser on our system, and 18 tokens remaining, we quickly grabbed a bite of food to make sure we could last the last two hours that we had at the festival. I couldn't resist the Rock Lobster Food Co. tent, serving up yummy little Lobster Rolls to tide as over before Chef Rossi's demo. Buttery, tender, and oh so decadent, I devoured my lobster roll with a smile on my face!
"Mmmmm...lobster roll...soooo nom nom"
Me (Danielle Rose) & my new friend; The Mill Street Busker Experience tent; Me & the guy who I stole the beer goggles from; Lake of Bays Brewing Company.
With a few more minutes to spare, we quickly hopped into the Mill St. tent, drawn in by their Busker Experience show, led by a mustached man in a top hat. Mill St. Organic is often my go-to beer, once again, with it's ease of drinking. I'm also a big fan of Mill St. Tank House, with its perfect balance of hops, citrus, and spice. High in both alcohol and hops, we decided to give Mill Streets IPA a try, now knowing what IPA actually meant. I really enjoyed Mill St.'s India Pale Ale with it's slightly roasted notes. 
Chef Rob Rossi from Bestellen and Top Chef Canada doing his thing in the Grilling Tent; Me (Danielle Rose) & Chef Rossi; Chef Rossi answering questions from the audience; Chef Rossi's delicious Grilled Scallop with mushrooms & Cilantro.
With a delicious lobster roll and some Mill St. in our system, we rushed back to the grilling tent to grab front row seats for Chef Rossi's demo. After watching every episode of Top Chef Canada, it came as no surprise that Rob Rossi is quite the charmer, saying "hi", shaking hands, and talking up the audience members as they found their seats. There was no question, he owned that stage! With the help of Chef Frank Vanditti, Rossi grilled up insanely delicious Sea Scallops with Mushrooms and Cilantro. It was really cool to watch as Rossi tasted along the way, following his instincts to adjust the recipe based on the conditions to deliver the most successful results. Originally he had planned on pan frying the scallops on the grill, but at the last minute, changed his mind and decided to place the scallops directly on the hot grill. Another last minute decision was topping the scallops with fresh cilantro, an addition that I felt really made the dish sing! The scallops were paired with another classic beer, Alexander Keiths. Once again, I found myself wishing I could cash in my tokens for a whole plate of Rossi's creation! 
Me (Danielle Rose) with my beer goggles on...that I may have taken off of a stranger; Shock Top unfiltered Belgian wheat beer; Me & more new friends; Cheerleaders to get everyone in the Beer Fest spirit.
It's at this point that things start to get a little fuzzy. I guess we didn't realize quite how much beer we had consumed in grilling tent, with our glasses being topped every few minutes, and only a few samples of food in our bellies. We spent the next hour or so hopping around from booth to booth, attempting to fill our stomachs, all the while treading dangerous territory trying even more beer samples. Unfortunately, I can't seem to recall what beer I tried during this time, although, thankfully, my memory for good food never seems to fail me! 

I spotted a stand for the Feasting Room serving up what looked like succulent Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and quickly forked over my tokens to get my hands on one. With my yummy sandwich in hand, I picked up a recipe card on the table to pop into my purse. Perhaps I should have actually read what I was about to eat before I placed my order, because it turns out my sandwich was actually Ox Heart Philly Cheesesteak! Having never tried Ox nor heart before, I was a little timid to take my first bite. As I sunk my teeth into the tender meat smothered in red peppers, mushrooms, and montgomery cheddar cheese all previous apprehensions went right out the window! It was damn good! Who knew I would be a fan of Ox heart?! Thank you liquid courage! 
"Do I really want to be eating Ox Heart?...Oh yeah! So damn good!"
I also made sure to check out Fidel Gastro's stand, dying to taste what all the hype was about for myself! Fidel Gastro's has recently begun filming a show for Food Network Canada that everyone seems to be talking about. It took all of a second to realize why the name Fidel Gastro's has been on everyone lips lately, taking a bite of my favourite food vendor eat of the festival, Fidel Gastro's awesomely amazing Spicy Short Rib Sandwich. Oh man, it was to die for! I can't wait to check out his  reality show coming to Food Network Canada this Fall, Rebel Without a Kitchen.
Fidel Gastro's delicious Spicy Short Rib Sandwich; Me (Danielle Rose) & more new friends; You can't have a successful festival without live music; Me & yet another new friend.
Although the beer and food were clearly the standout of the festival, one of my favourite parts was the atmosphere. It felt like going back to first year Frosh, with swarms of young people eager to mingle, chat, and party with one another, but with a bit more maturity being in our mid to late twenties (the average age of the crowd on Saturday). I met so many awesome and hilarious people throughout the fest that made my sister and I's experience truly memorable! Kind, respectful, accepting, and interesting, I had so much fun getting to meet all of these unique beer lovers! 

The Toronto Festival of Beer has been one of my favourite memories of the summer so far, not to mention one of the best food and drink festivals I've been to! What an awesome way to spend a beautiful, sunny Saturday! I can't wait to make the Toronto Festival of Beer a yearly tradition for my sister and I! If you missed it this year, make sure to grab your tickets early next year, as they sell out pretty quick! Also be sure to check out the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival taking place this weekend! I'll be there! Come say hi! 

All photography by Justine Rose
Check out more of Justine's work here:
Intoxicated Ink
The Good, The Bad, & The Disposable

Listening To:
Miike Snow - The Wave

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Roundup - August 3, 2012

TFOB Media Lounge - Another one of those close-to-perfect summer days in Toronto, last Saturday I attended the Toronto Festival of Beer as part of their media group. Hitting up the festival donning a "MEDIA" bracelet on your wrist certainly has it's benefits. With a shaded, closed off Media Lounge, complete with big cozy couches, a bar, Wifi, and a ton of swag, I started off my TFOB experience feeling pretty darn spoiled. Here I am kickin' back in the lounge, enjoying my first beer of the fest!

TFOB Media Lounge - Here's my first drink of the festival, a cold glass of Labatt 50, compliments of the Media Lounge! A tasty way to start my beer tour! Check out the cute little beer sampling glasses that each guest received. Made out of real glass this year, the festival planners sure put a lot of trust in a huge group of drunk beer drinkers!

Toronto Festival of Beer - Here I am a few hours into the festival, double fisting two empty sampling glasses, wearing a sexy pair of beer goggles that I borrowed from a stranger I met in line. Clearly I have had my share of beer at this point. Big ups to my sister and photographer for the day, Justine Rose, who was by my side all day capturing all of the hilarity! Can't wait to show you more of her pics!

Napoleon Grilling Tent TFOB - One of my favourite parts of the festival was getting to hang out in the Napoleon Rockstar Grilling Tent, where we got to watch Chef Craig Harding from Campagnolo and Rob Rossi from recently opened Bestellen and Top Chef Canada do their thing, cooking up some delicious gourmet food samples for a surprisingly captive (considering all the beer involved) audience. Here's Chef Harding grilling up some delicious octopus and chorizo sausage that was paired with a classic Budweiser.

Napoleon Grilling Tent TFOB - Here's Chef Rob Rossi and Frank Vanditti from Bestellen Restaurant introducing themselves as they begin their culinary demo. These two charmers had every girl in the audience blushing red, and let me tell you, it wasn't just from the beer!

Rob Rossi's Grilled Scallops with Mushrooms - Chef Rossi impressed us all with his delicious sample of grilled scallops with mushrooms, paired with another classic, Alexander Keiths. It was great to see him in action, tasting and following his instincts along the way, changing up the recipe to suit the conditions. The scallops were originally supposed to be seared in a pan on the grill, but at the last minute Rossi changed his mind and placed the scallops right on the grill. Another last minute change to the recipe was a quick garnish of fresh cilantro, an addition that I think made the dish sing! After trying his sample, I can't wait to see what else Rossi has to offer at Bestellen!

Frank Ocean at Kool Haus - One of my new favourite artists, Frank Ocean is quickly taking over the music scene with his newly released first record Channel Orange. Channel Orange has been on heavy rotation on my ipod since it's release 2 weeks ago, so you can imagine how insanely excited I was to check out the talented Ocean belt it out live! Man does this kid have some talent! Can't wait to see where his career takes him!

Jamie's Bachelorette - After spending all day in the sun, downing beer after beer, I rushed into a cab and back uptown to attend my best friend Robin's sister's bachelorette! A hilarious, wild good time, I think Robin successfully planned a night that her sister Jamie will never forget! I had to censor the image, but it's pretty easy to use your imagination here...

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Listening To:
The Echo Friendly - Same Mistakes
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Secret Weapon: Oil Mister

What's the one ingredient you use more than anything else? I'm willing to bet that at least 95% of you said salt, pepper, or olive oil. With olive oil at the top of my list, you can imagine how much I go through within a month. The sad truth is that probably about half of the olive oil I was going through was totally wasted. I have that frantic, heavy-handed pour that sends a quick stream of olive oil speeding into my pan, salad bowl, meat, etc. I can't help but always accidentally pour double the amount of olive oil that I should, meaning expensive olive oil wasted and extra fat added to the dish. Over the past few months I had been hearing a lot about pump oil misters, sparking my curiosity to try out this convenient new kitchen tool. 

After spotting one for a mere $9 in the housewares section at Winners, the time had come for me to give it a try! To set up your oil mister, simply add 1/3 cup oil of your choice (I chose my go-to extra virgin olive oil that I use for cooking), screw the top back on, pump the top about 20 or so times and, TA DA! You now have a steady mist of olive oil at your fingertips whenever you need it! I love using it to give a pan a thin coat of olive oil for cooking eggs, veggies, sandwiches, onions, etc. It's also great for coating doughs (like pizza or focaccia dough) and salads. I love that I'm finally able to control exactly how much oil I use each time I cook. I can't believe how much I have grown to rely on this tool, using it for every single meal, and even more, I am in total disbelief at how little oil I have used up since it's purchase months ago! This is one tool that I think every cook should keep in their kitchen! You'd be crazy not to arm yourself with this secret weapon! 

Check out my last featured Secret Weapon, Asian Stir Fry Oil, and learn why I like to arm myself with Secret Weapons for a successful battle in my kitchen.

Listening To:
The Neighbourhood - Sweater Weather

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