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 béchamel 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!

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram!

Listening To:

New order - Ceremony

Powered by

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ocean Wise Month Media Launch

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. Ocean Wise has declared November as Ocean Wise Month, a month dedicated to drawing awareness to the many sustainable seafood varieties we are so lucky to have access to in Canada. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. I first learned about Ocean Wise at their Tides of Change event this past Spring, and was immediately struck by their cause. The past event was so well executed and so informative, I knew I couldn't miss out on the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch. 
The Media Launch drew attention to the biggest threat facing our waters today, overfishing. Through culinary demonstrations, three top Ontario seafood chefs shared their experiences on seeking out and obtaining sustainable seafood for their business, how the seafood landscape has changed over the years due to overfishing, and how we, as consumers, can make the right choices when purchasing and ordering seafood. 
The event began with a demonstration by Chef Lirad Kligman of Neptuno Oysters on how to properly and safely shuck an oyster. He told us all about how Neptuno obtains their oysters and the many health benefits of eating oysters, which include its high levels of zinc. He prepared an oyster amuse bouch with umi mousse and chives as well as one of my favourites of the day, Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam. The Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam blew me away with it's sweet and savory combo, and the unexpected burst of flavour from the kiwi. Chef Kligman was kind enough to provide his recipe for the arctic kiwi jam so that we can recreate this striking dish at home! 
Chef Lirad Kligman using his Dexter knife to demonstrate how to properly shuck an oyster
Oyster Amuse Bouch 
uni mousse & chives
Kumamato Oyster with Arctic Kiwi Jam
Recipe for Arctic Kiwi Jam
1 pint arctic kiwi
2 cups gewurztraminer 
3 cups sugar

  • Reduce wine by half.
  • Add sugar, stir until dissolved
  • Add kiwi (skin on, whole) and lower heat.
  • Once kiwis begin to burst, remove from heat and cool.
Suggested Cocktail Pairing
Caesar made with house-made Ocean Wise Clamato juice
Next up was Chef Kristin Donovan of Hooked Inc., who told us about the advantages of Great Lake fishing and how lucky we are as Canadians to have access to Great Lake fish. One of the problems with Great Lake fish is that the American market walks away with a big chunk of it, making it difficult for Canadian retailers and business' to get their hands on this fantastic sustainable resource. Chef Donovan told us about how her and her business partner and husband Dan Donovan fought to acquire some of the best quality Great Lake fish to sell and serve at Hooked Inc. 

Chef Donovan demonstrated one of her favourite ways to cook fresh fish, making Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote. Papillote is a method of cooking which allows the subtlety of fresh fish to shine by steaming the fish with herbs and vegetables in individual parchment paper packets. The papillote method not only helps deliver in terms of flavour, but also helps to create a memorable dining experience. Chef Donovan told us about how special it is to serve fish on papillote at dinner parties, encouraging each diner to cut into their individual fish package right at the table, allowing the aromas to burst out of the paper and dance around the dining room. Although it may appear complicated, it's actually quite simple to prepare, and is a great option for entertaining, as you can prepare everything in advance and simply pop in the oven when ready to serve. 
Chef Kristin Donovan demonstating how to cook fish using the papillote method
Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote 
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
Smoked Ontario Lake Whitefish Rillettes
crostini with heirloom pickled beets & wild arugula
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
The show-stopper of the day had to be from Chef Taylor McMeekin, former chef at Mildred's Temple Kitchen and current chef du cuisine at Air Canada Club, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Chef McMeekin demonstrated his fine knife skills by showing attendees how to basket one of his favourite sustainable fish, rainbow trout. Chef McMeekin fondly recalled memories of his childhood, fishing for rainbow trout with his father, and told us about how the seafood landscape in Canada has changed drastically over the years. 
"We're at a critical point where, if we blindly continue our current seafood harvesting and consumption patterns, we will start seeing entire species disappear in our oceans, much like we did in earlier decades in the Great Lakes...Compared to even a few short decades ago, fisheries in the Great Lakes region have recovered to a great degree, and are much healthier than before, which means there are sustainable seafood options right here in Ontario. It's time to re-evaluate our go-to seafood choices." - Chef Taylor McMeekin
Both Chef McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout with wild rice and fennel sausage as well as his Cold Smoked Trout with ginger glaze, matsu apple, and soy emulsion were definitely the standouts of the day, which says a lot considering the high quality of food that was being served by all three chefs. Both dishes were right on par with contrasting flavours and textures, as well as a beautiful presentation that had all attendees snapping up photos left, right, and centre. Chef McMeekin was kind enough to provide us with his delicious recipe for his Stuffed Rainbow Trout to wow guests at home.
 Chef Taylor McMeekin demonstrating his knife skills on this fresh rainbow trout
Stuffed Rainbow Trout
wild rice & fennel sausage
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay
The beautifully plated stuffed rainbow trout
Chef Taylor McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
1 rainbow trout
700 grams diced leek
100 grams wild rice
200 grams Italian sausage
10 grams sliced east west garlic
2 grams fennel pollen
1 sprig fresh thyme
kosher salt to taste

  • Blanch leek greens for 30 seconds and place in an ice bath.
  • Simmer wild rice until puffed.
  • Remove spine and ribcage of trout through back leaving belly intact.
  • Uncase and brown sausage.
  • Dice Leek and and garlic, add to sausage.
  • Add thyme and wild rice.
  • Continue on low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Remove and Cool.
  • Once cool, stuff trout with the cooled mixture and tie with blanched leeks greens.
  • Season with fennel pollen and salt.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºC.
Cold Smoked Trout
wild ginger glaze, matsu apple & soy emulsion
 Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay

This whole event was a precursor to the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise 2012 Chowder Chowdown competition, which is being held tomorrow, November 21st, at the Fairmont Royal York. Attendees will have the chance to savour a dozen original, ocean-friendly chowders, paired with craft beers, and vote for their favourite. Tickets are still available to the public here! I hope to see you there!
Remember to look for the Ocean Wise symbol when purchasing and ordering seafood! The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium's assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. 

Listening To:
Hot Chip - Motion Sickness

Powered by

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Bittersweet Goodbyes

Saying Goodbye - I knew this past week was going to be overwhelming with our big move happening on Tuesday, but what I didn't expect was having to say goodbye to more than just the place that I've called my home for 25 years. Bright and early at 8AM on Tuesday, the moving van loaded all of our furniture to take to our new apartment. With so much on my mind, not to mention just as much weighing heavily on my heart, it felt surreal to receive a text message from my dad saying that "Baba is fading fast". My Baba is my grandmother on my dads side and had been in and out of the hospital for the past month or so. We knew things weren't looking good for her, but had hoped that we would have at least a few weeks to spend some quality time with her and say our goodbyes. As soon as I got that text, I just knew that this was it. I messaged my sister Justine to get out of class as soon as possible to go see Baba at her condo. 

At around 2PM we joined Baba's sister Dina, Dina's husband Harold, and Baba's caregiver Patrima in Baba's bedroom at her condo. We told her some of our favourite memories with her growing up like having tea parties with our cousins in her and my Zhada's old house, mixing all of her perfumes with crushed crabapples and selling them at the end of her driveway to unsuspecting neighbors, playing Harriet the Spy in our front yard, and much more. After about a half an hour of storytelling, Baba's breathing began to change. With my mom and I holding one hand, Dina holding the other, my dad rubbing and kissing her head, and Justine, Harold, and Patrima looking on, Baba shed a single tear and took her last breath. It was devastating and heartbreaking, but at the same time I wouldn't have had it happen any other way. At 92 years old she had led a very full life. She had married the man of dreams, had travelled the world, raised a beautiful and loving family, had many friends that she stayed close with her whole life, and even got to live to see two great-grandchildren grow into beautiful little girls. She left us very peacefully, in her condo as opposed to the hospital, looking as stunning as ever, surrounded by some of the most important people in her life telling her how much she meant to them. It was heartbreaking, but it was beautiful. It was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. Baba, I couldn't have asked for a better grandmother. Although I took it for granted growing up, you were always one of the most supportive people in my life, always telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to. You taught me to be myself, be strong, follow my dreams, and, most importantly, smile and the whole world will smile with you. I will love you forever. xoxo
First Pics in the New Place - Nothing makes a new place a 'home' like those special personal touches. A week before we had even brought any furniture into our new apartment, my mom had already displayed a few family photos in our living room. This one in particular grabbed my attention as I couldn't recall ever seeing it before. Here is my sister Justine, myself, and my cousin Kim all cuddled up in a hug together, dressed in random bits and pieces from our dress up box. It's little trinkets like this that are starting to make this strange new environment feel like a home. 

First Blog Ever? - While doing some last-minute packing last week, I came across an old school journal that I wrote when I was six and seven years old. The journal starts off with lots of typical posts about playing with friends, going to musicals with my mom, and visiting family, but I clearly start to run out of things to write about halfway through the journal. It became painfully evident that I had officially run out of writing material when I came across this little gem of a post. It reads: "The badr is geting hordr", a very poorly spelt notice that our butter was getting harder, with a drawing of butter to accompany it. Absolutely hilarious, I cried laughing finding this. I guess you could call this my first blog post ever?

Boehmer - Although I probably should have spent my time doing more packing, unpacking, and organizing, I gave myself a much-needed breather by having a ladies night with two of my close friends Robin and Rommi the Friday night before the move. We began our night at Boehmer on Ossington for drinks, snacks, and, what we were most anticipating, oysters! The oysters, which were selected from Oyster Boy's finest, lived up to all the hype that Robin was giving them, having tried their oysters just a few weeks prior. Paired with simply fresh grated horseradish, lemon, and a shallot vinaigrette, they were to die for! We were a little disappointed when our second round of oysters arrived alongside a different vinaigrette than what they were first served with, which wasn't near as delicious as the first.

Boehmer -  I couldn't possibly just have oysters at Boehmer with the great selection of other offerings on their menu, so I decided to indulge in their Harvest platter. I selected three choices from their many options, choosing their house-made sausage, Balderson Cheddar, and their smoked salmon spread, which were all delicious. I only wished they weren't so stingy on the accompanying crostini and sausage. Boehmer was a great experience, but for the price, you can easily get much more bang for your buck at many of the other Ossington hot spots. 
Ladies Night - After oysters at Boehmer, Robin, Rommi, and I hopped in a cab to catch a performance by the Hallowbodies. Robin's boyfriend is the guitarist for the Hallowbodies and probably one of their biggest fans, always present at every show, and promoting any new material that they release. Once again, they put on a great show and had the crowd going wild. Here's Rommi and I with big smiles, excited for the show that was about to begin! Check out the Hallowbodies newly released music video here

Goodbyes Are Tough - After one of the longest days of my entire life on Tuesday, myself as well as my family were all absolutely wiped by Wednesday. Still lots to do at the house, we had to keep our energy up in order to get all of those last-minute chores done. My sister Justine and I were able to sneak away for a bit to work on one of her photo assignments for class. Exhausted, both emotionally and physically, here we are face planted on our parents old bedroom floor feeling the weight of all these goodbyes.

Baba & Me - Here's one of both mine and Baba's all-time favourite photos. Here we are in the backyard that I will always call my home. Baba crouched down to be on the same level as me. I didn't quite understand and crouched down with her. I love this photo.

Gourmet Food & Wine Show - After such a heavy week, it was such a relief to get out, take my mind of my troubles, and spend some time with friends and good food and drinks at the Gourmet Food & Wine Show. Here is one of my favourite tastes of the fest, The Food Dudes BBQ Pork with Lime Spiked Slaw, Smoked Garlic Aioli on a Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuit. To die for! Another standout for me was the Tre Amici Imports booth, which was serving up delicious, refreshing prosecco and one of the best tequilas I have ever had (maybe even the best!).

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram!

Listening To:
Friends - Friend Crush

Powered by

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Southern Eats & Packing Feats

Southern Accent - Although we had already toasted to finding our new apartment after going to the viewing, it wasn't until all the paperwork was complete the following week that we felt we could really let loose and celebrate to our fresh start! The Friday after getting the "OK" from the landlord, my mom took my sister Justine, her boyfriend Duncan, and myself out for a celebratory dinner, with Justine and Duncan treating us for drinks. We decided to go to one of Justine and Duncan's favourite local restaurants, Southern Accent for their festive atmosphere and menu. We started off with a round of shaken margaritas and Southern Accent's famous Cajun calamari. The incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff informed us that they're known for their cocktails, most specifically bourbons, as well as their Calamari, which they declare to be "the best in the city". I've gotta say, with their perfectly tender calamari coated ever so delicately in their crispy, fried, cajun-spiced coating, and served alongside a pool of ginger remoulade and blackened tomato coulis, Southern Accent wins as my favourite calamari in the city that I've tried! 

Southern Accent - With so many delicious-sounding options on the menu, and with almost all of them getting the stamp of approval from Justine and Duncan, it wasn't easy to decide on my entrée. Despite the fact that I probably should have ordered something light considering that I was going out dancing to celebrate a friends birthday after dinner, I went all out and ordered Southern Accent's Black Angus Beef Brisket. The tender and spicy brisket was the perfect comforting main on a chilly Friday night, served alongside creamy garlic mashed potatoes and seared collard greens. I absolutely loved the flavour of the beef brisket, seasoned with maple chipotle BBQ sauce and dark lager, and even better when it soaked into the mashed potatoes and collard greens!

Rommi's Birthday - What do you do after stuffing your face with Southern comfort food? Why, you go out dancing, of course! After that great, big, filling dinner at Southern Comfort, I raced to join some friends for dinner (I just had drinks) and dancing to celebrate my friend Rommi's 25th birthday. After all the care Rommi had taken in throwing both myself and my friend Robin's birthdays, it was time to do it up big for Rommi! Here's Rommi, Robin, and myself with big smiles on our faces and lots of bellini's in our bellies, ringing in Rommi's big 25th!

Taste of Treme - It was fitting after a weekend filled with Southern food to come home only a few days later to a delivery from Ulysses Press, sending me a copy of their new book Taste of Tremé, a cookbook about the recipes from the famous culturally-rich New Orleans neighborhood. Although I have zero time to cook and can hardly even find the ingredients and tools that I need to cook at the moment with the big move, I am looking forward to trying out these mouth-watering cajun recipes in my new kitchen in two weeks!
Scribbles Fashion Writer - The reason why I was unable to post a Weekly Roundup last week was because I was conquering one hell of a feat...I was going through, organizing, packing up, and throwing out much of my family's art supply stash. You know how there are some people that hoard clothing, others electronics, some food? Well, my family hoards art supplies. As much as it seemed like a great idea every time my sister and I would save another scrap of fabric, an almost-empty bottle of glitter, or random broken pieces from just about anything that could maybe, possibly one day be used in a an art that I'm the one to have to go through it all...I am deeply regretting our art supply hoarding ways. Although it seemed to take forever, and I had to throw out a lot of junk, I did come across some gems that brought back old memories from my childhood that I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of. Here is one of my favourite art supplies as a young girl, my Scribbles Fashion Writer, a type of fabric paint that, in the 90's, came in an assortment of bright, neon colours, that you could draw onto fabric and would dry like plastic. Many of my sweatshirts and T-shirts as a child were embellished with my Scribbles Fashion Writer designs. 

Oil Colours - I hit the jackpot in my art supply clean-out when I came across my moms Junior High oil paint kit, with all her original doodles and her maiden name scrawled across the top. I immediately ran upstairs to show my mom this treasure from her childhood. The look on her face said it all. It was as though she had just been reunited with an old best friend. She told me this was one of her all-time favourite gifts she has ever received in her life, and told me how much she loved playing with the kit. I guess it's no surprise that my sister and I turned out as creative as we are with two parents so passionate about the arts.

BeDazzler - One of my all-time favourite gifts that I ever received as a child was my BeDazzler! Although I can't see myself BeDazzling much in the near future (although it's tempting to want to BeDazzle just about everything in my closet!), I couldn't bare to part with this special toy that I loved so dearly. There's no question that I will have to find a place for this in our very teeny new apartment.

Halloween Pumpkin 2012  - Ever since I was little, one of the things I look forward to most come Fall is carving a Jack-o'-lantern. Every single year, one or two days before Halloween, my dad, my sister, and I would get out our stash of X-acto knives and go to town on our pumpkins, creating whatever elaborate and wild design we could think of. Although with the move my dad and I had to carve out our pumpkins separately, I always draw inspiration from the pumpkins my dad had carved in the past and the techniques he had used and taught me at such a young age. Although I had originally planned on carving out a different design, I decided to create this character, sad because he knows it's his last Halloween at the Rose house.
Ocean Wise Month Kickoff - November is Ocean Wise month and to kick off this exciting month, which is meant to draw awareness to sustainable fish in Canada and the issue of over fishing, Ocean Wise hosted a Media event at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. The event included tastes from three top seafood chefs in Toronto, cooking demos, and wine and cocktail pairings as well as a breadth of information about Ocean Wise and how to make the right choices when purchasing and ordering seafood. The food at the event was exceptional (just as it was at their last event!) with Neptuno Oysters Kumamoto Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam being one of my favourites! I will have an entry out soon (I hope!) with more photos and information on this successful event!

Follow me on Twitter!
Like me on Facebook!
Follow me on Instagram

Listening To:
Alt-J - Breezeblocks

Powered by