Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Soup n' Caesars

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown - What better way to get through the mid-week hump than spending the evening at the Fairmont Royal York, chowing down on a dozen different chowders, and washing them all down with a dozen different craft beers! On Wednesday evening, with my best friend Robin in tow, I attended the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown. The competition event featured twelve different chefs and restaurants, each preparing their version of a seafood chowder, inspired by a particular craft beer. When you first think of chowder, you can't help but have the classic clam chowder come to mind, but with an event held by Ocean Wise, you can bet on seeing an array of different sustainable seafood options in each bowl. 

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Upon arrival at the Chowder Chowdown, each guest received a souvenir bamboo Ocean Wise spoon (that I misplaced after each and every bowl of chowder) as well as a ballot to cast their vote on their favourite chowder. Although I loved almost every single chowder that was served that evening, of course I had my favourites. Although there was a clear winner for me throughout most of the competition, my final bowl of chowder turned that top spot into a tie! 

I always like to look for the longest line at events like these to direct me towards the tastiest bites. It came as no surprise that Chef Richard Baksh of Earls Kitchen & Bar ended up winning the peoples choice award, as there was not a moment all night that they didn't have a long, winding line of happy guests, eagerly awaiting a bowl of their Manilla Clam and Seafood Chowder. Earls Manilla Clam and Seafood Chowder was tied for first for me thanks to its creamy texture, comforting flavour, and beautiful presentation, not to mention extra points for their fresh and salty bread dipper garnish. It was only when I finally made my way to Chef Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro's station, serving up Chef Ponzo's Seafood Chowder, that Earl's chowder had to share the limelight for first. It was the complexity and depth of flavour that grabbed my attention with Chef Ponzo's Seafood Chowder and had me scraping my souvenir bamboo spoon across the bottom of my cup to scoop out every last drop! The celebrity panel of judges seemed to share my view, as Chef Ponzo took home the top spot of the evening, winning the title of 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion! Congrats Chef Ponzo!

Campbell's Stocks - As if my belly wasn't full of enough soup, the next day I was happy to find a delivery at my (new) doorstep from Campbell's Canada, who had sent me their new line of stocks.  The new line of stocks, which includes chicken, beef, and, most interestingly, cream stock, is catered towards the confident home chef looking to create delicious weeknight meals for friends and family, without the added work of making stock or b├ęchamel from scratch. Being a social girl with more than one job, I can easily see how I can benefit from having these stocks in my kitchen, as I often feel as though the quality of my meals are being sacrificed simply because of lack of time. I'm looking forward to trying out Campbell's stocks and recipes and seeing how they can help to enhance my basic weeknight meals! 

Mott's Clamato Ready-To-Drink 458ml Cans - Still in foodie heaven from the previous evenings Chowder Chowdown, I felt downright spoiled getting to attend the Mott's Clamato launch of their new ready-to-drink 458ml cans at the Drake the very next day. Of course Mott's Clamato's official Caesar Mixing Officer Clint Pattemore was there to host the event, serving up the pre-mixed cocktail to guests, as well as hosting a number of different caesar making demos, showcasing a variety of ways to serve the new product. I was able to grab a spot at the caesar demo bar for a tutorial on how to make Clint's Chelada (also known as a Red Eye), a simple take on the classic caesar, combining the new pre-mixed 458ml cans of Mott's Clamato caesar with beer. The Chelada was interesting, but my favourite part of the demo was when Clint handed my guest and I a plate of garnishes, including pickles, artichokes, spicy beans, charcuterie, and more, encouraging us to create our own garnishes. He suggested setting up a caesar bar at my next party or gathering, complete with the new pre-mixed caesar cans, and an assortment of different ingredients and garnishes so that guests can each make their own unique caesar. Consider pushing the boundaries by serving up different fruit juices, spices, and brines for guests to add, as well as creative garnishes. To get inspired, check out some of the caesar recipes that Clint has created for Mott's Clamato here!

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Listening To:

New order - Ceremony

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