Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Fresh Experience With FRESH Wines

I am a total sucker for beautiful design. This should come as no surprise considering my emphasis on aesthetics in my food photos, as well as my extensive and, what some may consider obsessive, pinning on Pinterest. I believe that good design can be an effective tool in helping brands deliver their message and tell their story, which was why I was so intrigued to attend A Fresh Experience, an event celebrating the launch of the FRESH Wines rebrand put together by my friends at the iYellow Wine Club. The event, which was held at CB2 on Queen West, showcased five new FRESH VQA wines, with each wine reflected in a corresponding food pairing installation. The installations, which were designed and executed by event and design agency Love By Lynzie, were thoughtfully created to reflect each of the wines with which they were paired. 
I was happy to have my friend Alex Orlando by my side to stroll through each of the installations with me and take in all of the sights, sounds, and tastes of the night. As we entered the buzzing CB2 space, we were immediately greeted by the smiling iYellow team and were handed a glass of FRESH Wines Sparkling Rosé, with notes of raspberry, cherry, apple, and pink grapefruit. What may have been the most striking of all the installations, the food pairing for the Sparkling Rosé featured a backdrop of vibrantly-coloured balloons, to reflect the bubbles in the sparkling wine, as well as freshly-spun cotton candy "clouds," and big, fluffy peonies. 
My favourite wine of the evening, the Sparkling Riesling, came next as we made our way to the white peg board, studded with citrus slices and paper bags of citrus and Granny Smith-flavoured candy corn. The peg board was created to allow the fragrance of the citrus to waft through the area, reflecting the notes of tangerine, green apple, mineral citrus, and lemon-lime zest that the Sparkling Riesling featured.

Before making our way up the grand staircase to the second level of the space, we took in the stunning fruit salad station, which illustrated the tasting notes of fruit salad, citrus, peach, floral, and pear in the FRESH Moscato that was being poured. Though I'm not normally a fan of moscato, finding it a little too sweet for my palate, I actually really enjoyed this one as it was more on the off-dry side. 
The feminine and vibrant theme from the first level of the food installations took on a more seductive and romantic vibe with the final two wines of the event. The FRESH Satin Red (with notes of red berries, mild oak, and light pepper) installation emulated the tone of evening passion, with a dramatic bed dressed in sequinned black sheets, and dangling, lip-stained wine glasses.

The final installation for the FRESH Crisp White, showcased the lively "adventure" quality that the wine embodied, with mouth-watering cheese boards resting atop vintage suitcases. The Crisp White exhibited bright notes of honeysuckle, green apple, and pear.

Both Alex and I had a great time at the event, and felt so inspired by all of the installations. You'll be glad to know that FRESH Wines is available at the LCBO, with each bottle sold at a very approachable price, particularly for VQA wines! I hope to grab a bottle of that delicious Sparkling Riesling to ring in this long weekend! Cheers to Ontario VQA wine!

To learn more about FRESH Wines and to check out each of the gorgeous new labels, be sure to visit the FRESH Wines website

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Life Hands You Bagels, You Make Everything Bagel Butter

What do you do when life hands you an obscene amount of plain, grocery store bagels? You make Everything Bagel Butter! This past weekend I had the chance to escape the city and head to beautiful Minden Hills near Haliburton to celebrate my good friend Rommi's bachelorette. Though the prospect of spending the weekend on a dock with a bunch of like-minded and hilarious ladies is enough to get me pumped about going away, in typical Danielle fashion, the thought of getting permission to binge eat all weekend using the "calories don't count on vacations" excuse, was always in the back of my mind. 
Though I arrived at the cottage a day later than most of the group, I couldn't believe how much food and snacks were still decorating the cottage. Everywhere you looked you would find gummies of every shape and flavour, Kettle Chips in just about every seasoning, hard candies shaped like dicks (it was a bachelorette weekend after-all!), Oreos, brownies, bagels, fruit, vegetables, I could go on and on! I was in snack-attack heaven! Come Sunday, upon our time of departure, I was amazed at how much food ten small women had consumed in only a few days. It was downright impressive! But as is true with any girls getaway, our eyes were much larger than our stomaches and despite our impressive consumption, we ended up with quite the haul of leftovers by the end of the weekend. 
With so much leftover food about to hit the trash, along with my recent extreme budging and fear of food waste, I happily accepted any of the leftover food that no one else wanted to take. Though I was thrilled to go back to Toronto with a kitchen full of food, I somehow ended up with over a dozen bagels for just myself and my boyfriend. I'm not just talking about any kind of bagels here, I'm talking the plain, ol' grocery store kind, devoid of any flavour or appetizing texture. Sure, you can call me a food snob, but I've grown up eating some of the best bagels this city has to offer, and plain grocery store ones just do not do it for me. Despite my distaste for the brand of bagels, I was still grateful to have free food, and knew that I would be able to think up a creative way for making those sad excuse for bagels edible. 
Once again, I find myself thanking the heavens for giving me the gift of Pinterest, as all I had to do was quickly scroll through my board of Recipes To Make to find an easy-as-can-be recipe for Everything Bagel Butter! Pure genius and just what I needed to give my plain bagels a much-needed flavour boost! This trick for making a compound butter, enhanced with the flavourings from an everything bagel, was the kind of idea that had me thinking "why didn't I think of that?" The Everything Bagel Butter took all of 5 minutes to make (maybe even less!), and only two hours in the fridge, and most definitely did the trick in making my bagels delicious! It's safe to say I've eaten at least one bagel per day since returning thanks to my new favourite butter! 

WARNING: Do not eat this butter before a date! It contains both dried onion and garlic and will leave you needing a very good tooth-brushing, flossing, and mouth-washing session. You have been warned! 

Check out the blog Spend With Pennies for the full recipe for making Everything Bagel Butter! 
Listening To:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Metro Seasonal Lunch: Discussing Local Purchasing Initiatives with Foodland Ontario

Photo by Jeffrey Wright
Welcome back summer! As much as I love to rejoice as soon as the summer solstice hits, I have to admit that being a pale ginger kid, I actually prefer the weather in the spring and fall, as opposed to the scorching and humid temperatures that we can expect in the summer in Toronto. Though, yes, I do prefer spring and fall, my absolute favourite thing about summer in Toronto is being able to enjoy all of the incredible local produce that we are so lucky to grow here in Ontario. 
"Locally grown produce allows consumers to put a face to their food, granting them the opportunity to find that personal connection with each meal." 
There's no doubt about it, Torontonians are caring more and more about the food they're feeding their families. People want to know where the food is coming from, how it was grown, and who grew it. For most Canadians food is more than just sustenance, it's a way of showing love, giving to others, and telling a story. It's no coincidence that there are three meals in a day, beginning, middle, and end, just like a story. In order to build on the story of each meal, consumers want to be able to make a connection with the food that they're eating. Locally grown produce allows consumers to put a face to their food, granting them the opportunity to find that personal connection with each meal. 
Photo by Daniel St. Germaine
After waiting so many months for our rainbow of Ontario fruits and vegetables to come back into season, it's understandable to want to have a fridge and counter full of locally-grown goodies at all times. Though farmer's markets are definitely "on-trend" right now and seem to be popping up all over the city, it's not always easy to find access to locally grown goods every day for each meal. Yes, most of us have a local market that's easy for us to get to, but most of those farmer's markets only run once a week, which means looking elsewhere for Ontario-grown foods. 
With so many Torontonians demanding access to locally grown foods, grocery stores are beginning to take note. I recently had the opportunity to attend a seasonally-focused lunch hosted by Metro Ontario, celebrating their new local sourcing initiatives in partnership with Foodland Ontario. The event, which was held in the beautiful exposed-brick Burroughs Building, invited attendees to enjoy a three-course seasonally-inspired meal, and learn about the innovative shopping experience that Metro is beginning to create for their consumers. 

Understanding the importance of having that personal connection with the food their customers are purchasing, Metro has taken it upon themselves to improve the shopping experience. By sourcing more of their fresh foods locally, as well as providing visual aids both in store and in their weekly flyer, Metro has made it so simple for customers to not only easily access Ontario-grown foods, but also effortlessly find those local foods with ease in the midst of their busy schedules.
The Meal
The event was a stunning reflection of Metro's new initiative, celebrating the beauty of our bounty here in Ontario. The three-course meal showcased the big bold flavours of Ontario by focusing on simplicity. The lunch began with a Field of Greens Salad, speckled with Ontario sprouted beans (which also reflects this years International Year of Pulses), red beets, pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese, tossed in a maple walnut vinaigrette. Though the Ontario Beer-Brined Chicken and Ontario Rainbow Trout looked exquisite, I had selected the Egg Yolk Ravioli for my second course, having always been intrigued by the surprising dish. The extra-large raviolis were lightly tossed in browned butter and pecorino, and topped with pea shoots to allow the subtle flavour of the ricotta and Ontario green pea filling to shine. The rich and creamy texture and flavour of the egg yolk, kept intact inside each ravioli, tied the whole dish together, and added a welcome surprise as the ravioli was cut open and the yolk oozed out. To end the meal, we were presented with a dazzling finale of Goat's Milk Panna Cotta with vibrant strawberry and rhubarb, dehydrated pink peppercorn meringue, and mint.  
More than just a fantastic meal, I was so taken by the gorgeous tablescape that was created exclusively for the event. The large, glass-topped table had individual panels all along its length, which were each filled with a different Ontario vegetable, creating a rainbow of Ontario produce beneath each table setting. The attention to detail in the execution of the decor was truly spectacular and left me feeling inspired!
Being a huge supporter of the impressive wealth of flavour we are so lucky to enjoy in Ontario, this was such an enjoyable event for me to attend. I had so much fun getting to talk to the engaging Metro and Foodland Ontario representatives about the exciting work that they're doing, and revelling in the uniqueness and quality of Ontario cuisine. I'm looking forward to this coming Saturday, where I will be joining the Metro Ontario team once again to watch chef Anthony Rose create a mouth-watering dish, utilizing Ontario produce, on the Metro Master Class stage at Taste Of Toronto! Who else is going to be there? Tweet me: @thisgingerrose so we can connect! 

Want to stay up-to-date with all of my foodie adventures? Be sure to follow me on Instagram!
Listening To:
Drake - Controlla 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Strawberry Cheese Blintzes

It's officially been two whole weeks since I've quit my job to pursue "the dream," and I wish I could tell you that I've figured everything out. Of course I can't, and I can't expect to. The bottom line it that it's going to take time and I have to accept that if I ever want to achieve my dreams. 

Over these past two weeks there have been so many issues that I've already had to try and overcome, but the biggest issue of all is establishing a productive routine and workflow while working from home. As much as I love my alone time at home, it can feel really isolating at times being in the silence of my "safe space," all day long, with only my own voice in my head to drive me. No one is here making me feel guilty for not working, no one is telling me what to work on next, and no one is here to shake up my thoughts. Without any outside voices guiding my work, as well as being someone who is extremely indecisive, it can be really difficult to come up with content that I feel is engaging, unique, and interesting. With only myself in the room, I can do anything, which sounds wonderful and empowering, but when you can do anything where do you begin? 
"When you can do anything, where do you begin?"
Overwhelmed by all of the possibilities for content that I could create, I felt stuck and couldn't decide where the hell to begin. When I feel overwhelmed and can't get my feet out of the cement to just do something (anything!) I always turn to procrastination. In this particular instance, procrastination was exactly what I needed to get the ideas flowing. I started scrolling through Twitter and came across a link that lead me to a contest for Astro yogourt and Chatelaine magazine, looking for the best recipe featuring Astro Original yogourt. And just like that I felt motivated. Suddenly I had a direction and a challenge. As much as things still remained incredibly open-ended (I could still make just about anything I wanted), having the parameters of having to use Astro Original yogourt in the recipe, as well as only being able to use a maximum of twelve ingredients, allowed me to free my thoughts and get the inspiring ideas rolling. 
As much as creatives want their work to be their own, it's so important to allow outside voices in to offer a different perspective and direction that you may have not thought of yourself, as well as aiding in getting your feet out of the cement to just do the work! Now that I had honed in on what type of work I wanted to create for that week, I couldn't stop thinking of ideas and was so excited to get cooking! An idea that I kept coming back to was playing around with different crepe fillings using Astro yogourt. After developing a recipe for Raspberry Ricotta Crepes featuring Astro Original Vanilla Yogourt, I still had some leftover ricotta, crepe batter, and yogourt that I was itching to use. Naturally I thought of doing a take on a Rose family favourite, Cheese Blintzes. 

Though I normally make my cheese blintzes with pressed cottage cheese (often referred to as "farmers cheese" or "dry cottage cheese"), I knew that a combination of ricotta and the vanilla yogourt would achieve that same creamy and rich consistency and flavour that everyone loves in blintzes. The blintzes turned out fantastic and I was so happy with the final photo I was able to capture before gobbling them all up, but more than anything I was so happy that I had a full week of productivity under my belt thanks to that one kernel of outside inspiration.
Want to help inspire me and guide which recipes I create and share? Let me know what kinds of recipes you want to see on the blog and tweet me your ideas on Twitter: @thisgingerrose

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 whole eggs
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of sugar (optional)
2 cups ricotta
1 egg yolk
3 Tbsp. full-fat yogourt + more for serving
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & sliced

  1. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together flour, milk, vegetable oil, 3 eggs, salt and sugar until smooth. Cover and rest in fridge for 1-hour.
  2. While batter chills, make filling. In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, egg yolk, 3 Tbsp. yogourt, sugar, and lemon zest. Chill until ready to fill crepes.
  3. Heat a small crepe pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and, working one at a time, add just under 1/3 cup crepe batter and swirl around pan to cover evenly. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until batter is no longer shiny. Flip and cook other side for 1-minute. Set on a clean towel to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
  4. Working one at a time, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the filling about 1-inch from the edge of a crepe. Fold the lower edge of the crepe over the filling, and fold in the sides so it looks like an envelope. Roll up the blintz "burrito style." Repeat with remaining crepes. Cook blintzes immediately or place in an airtight container until ready to cook and serve. 
  5. To cook blintzes, heat a large, non-stick pan to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and place in enough blintzes to fill the pan, making sure not to crowd them. Cook 3-4 minutes per side until golden. Repeat with remaining blintzes. Serve immediately with strawberries and additional vanilla yogourt. 
Listening To:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Beginnings - Make Me Unstoppable

I did a crazy thing. Crazy and terrifying. I did the unthinkable and quit my job to pursue my passions full-time without any sort of backup plan. 

There's a certain level of shock that comes along with making a major life decision like saying "goodbye" to your steady pay check and wallet full of freshly-earned tips, yet on the other hand, I don't think this move came as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me. I've had one foot (and at times only a baby toe) in my business with the rest of my body and mind in my part-time job for years now, and it hasn't been easy. I've felt a disturbing level of anxiety for far longer than I think I was aware of due to the fact that I wasn't feeling fulfilled. I felt like I was wasting away my talents, and feared that many of the things that I valued most in myself were being pushed aside, and would eventually no longer be apart of who I am. 

I can't express to you how insanely overwhelmed I feel right now, not knowing where my next pay check is coming from and knowing that this could very well blow up in my face. Despite my extreme unease, it feels really empowering to be able to say "I'm giving this everything I've got!" without having any sort of safety net to break my fall. It's easy to look at the mountain I have ahead of me and feel like I'm never going to get where I want to be, but I'm trying to take things one step at a time and trust that everything will happen in it's own time, so long as I put the work in. 

It's tricky to know where to begin, but with so many other fellow creative entrepreneurs sharing their own experiences online, (in blogs, podcasts, twitter chats, and more) I feel a little more at ease knowing how many individuals have been in the same position as me. It's so inspiring to hear about other success stories (which I have to remember usually don't come until you've experienced a few failures) and the journey that got them there. 
"If you put both feet into your business, the momentum will pick up."
I recently came across a fantastic podcast from #createlounge, which is all about sharing stories and advice from other creatives on how to tap into your creativity daily. In the midst of an "OMG! What have I done? I'm going to fail!" freakout moment today, it was so encouraging to listen to Episode 1 of the #createlounge podcast, featuring artist Paige Poppe on Pursuing Your Art Full-Time. One of the most reassuring quotes from the podcast was Paige stating that "If you put both feet into your business, the momentum will pick up." Well, here I am, with both feet firmly planted in my business and I'm ready for that momentum! If you're anything like myself and are looking for a surge of motivation, or perhaps something to settle that horrible, sinking "what have I done?!" feeling, I highly recommend giving this episode a listen. 

I'm really looking forward to sharing this new adventure with you and having the time to create engaging and unique content that I can truly take pride in. Thank you to my family, boyfriend, friends, and colleagues for all of your unrelenting support. You are helping to fan the fire I've lit under my ass and I cannot thank you enough for that. I love you all and am so grateful to have you along on this journey with me! Cheers to making it happen!

Listening To:
"Tonight make me unstoppable" Forever my pump-up song! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Melitta Media Breakfast

Me (Danielle Rose) getting a tutorial on how to brew the perfect single cup of Melitta coffee
Being a loud and proud feminist, my favourite business success stories are that of feminists before their time. Melitta was established in 1908 when founder Melitta Bentz was sick of getting grinds in her cup of coffee. With determination to create the perfect cup of coffee, Melitta started experimenting with different types of homemade filtration systems. She landed on what is now the most commonly used type of coffee filtration, the paper filter. So yes, Melitta Bentz (a woman!) was the inventor of the coffee filter! How cool! 
It was a delight to be able to hear about the history of the Melitta brand from Melitta representatives David Viola, Ian Buckingham, and Donna Gray last Thursday as they invited myself, along with a selection of other media representatives, to attend a Melitta-inspired breakfast at the beautifully chic Maman Bakery & Café. As we sipped on seemingly never-ending cups of Melitta's popular Deluxe roast (a medium-dark European blend), we learned about Melitta's commitment to maintaining their reputation for delivering the perfect cup of coffee by covering everything from bean to cup. Today, the family-owned company is proud to call themselves the number one coffee filtration company in the world! 
While I've always been a dark roast kind of gal, thinking that I liked my coffee nice and strong, I had no idea that a medium-dark roast is actually the most ideal type of coffee bean, as the more the beans are roasted the more they will pick up on the carbon flavour from roasting, which ultimately takes over the true taste of the bean. Additionally, I learned that it is actually a misconception that darker roasts have more caffeine, as a lighter or medium roast actually does. As it turns out, as the beans are roasted, the level of caffeine represented in the beans is reduced. 
So what else helps to contribute to the perfect cup of coffee? While yes roasting and filtration is key, you must also consider the freshness of the beans as a major factor in making the perfect cup. Ideally the beans should be roasted right before being ground, and ground right before brewing. It only makes sense that whole bean coffee is the freshest, as their is less surface area that is in contact with oxygen, therefore the bean goes stale at a slower rate. With this in mind, it was recommended to resist the urge to buy large quantities of beans or grinds to have stocked in your cupboards, and instead buy small amounts at a time to ensure the freshest beans. Lastly, one of the major factors in creating the perfect cup is heat. Heat is vital in ensuring the proper extraction process from the beans, which means that water must be boiling! 
With the small event held at the renowned Maman Bakery & Café, we of course had to try some coffee-inspired treats created by their pastry chef. The baked goods were created using Melitta's European blend, which is bold yet smooth, with a sweet finish. A coffee-flavoured eclair and Madeleine were both created exclusively for the event, but I have to say, I think they should both stay on the menu! Both treats were incredible, with a subtle hint of coffee that shined through, yet didn't overpower the rest of the pastry. 
Lucky for us, Maman was lovely enough to provide me with recipes of both of the treats that I could share with you! Below is Maman's recipe for their Coffee Madeleines. Keep your eyes peeled for the fantastic eclair recipe, which I will be sharing in a separate post.
Treats from Maman, including the Coffee Madeleine
Coffee Madeleines 
Recipe provided by Maman bakery & Café
1 cup flour
0.6 tsp baking powder
7 tsp butter
1 tsp Deluxe - European Blend Melitta Coffee
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar

  1. Sift flour with baking powder. 
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Let cool.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk eggs with sugar for about 5-minutes. Mixture should be bubbly. Add the flour mixture, melted butter, Melitta coffee, and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  5. Butter Madeleine pan and add the dough so that it fills 2/3 of the mould. 
  6. Bake at 425ºF for 5-minutes, then reduce heat to 390ºF and cook for an additional 10-minutes. 
  7. Let cool to room temperature. 
  8. Unmould the Madeleine and allow to fully cool. Serve! 

Listening To: