Sunday, March 10, 2019

Restaurant Canada Show 2019

Restaurant Canada Show 2019
Enercare Centre
Feb 24-26, 2019

I am always on the hunt for new, interesting, fun and time saving things so I always like to visit the Restaurant Canada Show to see into the future of the Restaurant world.  Besides seeing innovative restaurant equipment there is also things you don't even think about if you don't run a restaurant.  This show is really a one stop shop for the Restaurant Industry where you can get everything from a Pizza Oven, food packaging, technology that will make your business run more efficiently and of course food of every kind.  Meat, Gelato and Pizza seemed to dominate this years show.  Low fat,  not so much.  Full Flavour is in this year in whatever form you are looking for.

This blog post has a lot of photos and this show runs for 3 days but I walked the whole show and tried to cover as much as I could.  I don't get into the restaurant equipment as much since my blog is more food based but I am going to try and give you a bit of an overview of things that stood out to me.

One of the things I love after going to the show a couple of times is hanging out with my food blogger friends and running into other fellow food bloggers.  We are write about food but we all have a different view of what we are checking out at the show.  My friend Shuang was obsessed with the Latte art and my friend Jenny loves to chat with the Chefs while I am looking at overall trends, new things and of course I love to find out whats new with restaurant industry friends.

This year at the show I ran into Matt Dean Pettit who owns Matty's Seafood and who was at the show for a new partnership to produce plates for restaurants.  I really liked this blue plate.  They all have a slightly different look because of the glazing process they use

There are also lots of chef Demos and one of the demos was how to style a Charcuterie Board by another friend of mine Food Stylist Irene Matys from the Spicy Olive.  Irene's demo was very popular.

Sustainable Seafood expert Chef Ned Bell was doing a little catch up with Matt while I was trying his Seaweed infused brownies.  They were really good and think of it like salted caramel.  Just a hint of the salt from the seaweed but all chocolate.

The first thing I had at the show was Ice cream at 10am.  You need to have a strong stomach because there are every kind of samples to try.  Gelato is one of my favourite things and there was a lot of it there.

I like to pick up cool entertaining ideas because I never know when I need to pull something out of my hat for a work event.
Simple things like Egg Pops from the Egg Farmers of Ontario to Decorated Madeleine's from Petite Breton.
After my breakfast Ice Cream I then had a cocktail made with Sipsmith Gin because of course that's how you start a Sunday Morning isn't it?  There are cocktail competitions and loads of sampling and that's where we started because that area becomes the busiest at the show later in the day and also because the samples to carry are on the other end.  I tried to be more strategic to cover as much as I could this year.

The show has some fun stuff too like selfie activations and ways to make your business attract the Insta crowd.  Of course we had to do it.

I was also looking for interesting food and new products.  I liked the box of Tic Tac Toe cookies that are geared to kids in school to be interactive.  So much fun.  These are from a new vendor from Quebec and they are looking to get into the schools. It's not available in Ontario as yet.

I have become an oyster fan over the past few years and there were all kinds of Oysters to sample from the east coast to the west coast

One of the products I picked up that I am looking forward to using is the sample I got of Garlic scape pesto.  I am thinking a pasta dish maybe.
Some of the Innovative and new trends in how to set up your food business is the newly popular container restaurants and cool portable units like this ice cream cart. Stylish and practical. 

 Are you afraid of AI or do you want robots to take over monotonous tasks or from a restaurant perspective not have to worry if your employees are sick and don't show up to work.  Well check out this AI robot that will take your order.  More of this is on the way for sure as rents increase and so do payroll costs.
A couple of the yummy things I ate were the pairing of some cheese from Quebec with candied ginger.  You think it's weird but think of Brie and Cranberry.  It really works.  Try that on your next cheese board.  I also had some Welsh Rarebit that was demo'd at a Garland equipment station. Who doesn't love more cheese on toast?

These 3 products caught my eye as well.  Pancetta spread, Marshmallow whip cream and these cookie dough products.

 There was lot's of various teas and of course lot's of coffee but I didn't focus on it as much this year because I covered it more last time but look at these varieties and colors.  You can plan your menu and add a tea colored to match.  Fancy.

How about Sushi desserts?  Fun colored chocolate shavings and shapes? Heart shaped Macarons and all kinds of Nougat.  This would make your party food a lot more fun.

The Canola Girls were having a bit of fun at their booth.  How many of you use Canola Oil everyday? Ever wonder where it comes from?

 This guy was really old school making classic Roast Beef Sandwiches.   Beef is Back I think with all the Keto Diets around now.

Don't forget about your promotional items.  Aren't thse squishy things fun?

So that's my Restaurant roundup for this year.  I hope to be back again next year to eat, take photos and see new things and meet new people.

This is a Food Industry Trade Show so if you are in the Restaurant Business I would say this is a must for you to do to network and find new ways of doing things.

The Restaurant Industry is not for the faint of heart so let's all work together to make it work.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Simple but crowd pleasing Oscar Party Foods


Every year for the past 10 years or so I have been spending Oscar Night with my fellow Tiff Entourage friends.  We mostly go to restaurants and watch it together and of course we have an Oscar Pool and try and get prizes for the Top 3 Oscar Pool Winners.

This year we were going to try and use one of our Entourage team members condo theatre but that didn't work out so I was able to find a fairly new restaurant that is going to be showing the Academy Awards broadcast so we are going to be checking it out this year.

I had a Pre-Oscar Party warm up today with a my friends who can't make our Oscar Party because they have a young actress in the making to take care of so we had a little fun trying to put together a few things today.

You don't have to break the bank to have a great Oscar Party with friends and family.

It's about the presentation and the taste more than anything.
Make it fun by finding a few props and decorations first before even getting to the food portion set the scene.   Get a Party store award and set up your own version of a red carpet or an Oscar stage and let everyone take a fancy photo with it.  See how Kenzie does it with a simple shawl, a feather boa, some cheap beaded necklaces and of course a pair of fabulous sunglasses.  Party stores have great photo booth props but you can use these types of things that you can easily get in many places and sometimes even dollar stores.

For the food you can go really simple with some flavoured popcorn or you can get a star shaped mini cookie cutter and go as simple as crackers and cheese with the fancy twist of cutter the cheese into stars.   I picked up a box of Ritz Crackers from the cookie outlet and the cheese was on sale so it was a really affordable fast no cook appetizer.

The Academy Awards are very long and even though it's an hour less this year it's still longer than watching a movie so you better have great food to keep you going.

The next dish I made was a Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
1/2 jar of mini artichokes
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
half a cup of grated mozzarella
2/3 of a cup of cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried Basil and thyme optional

Directions:  Sautee the spinach in olive oil or butter and add chopped artichoke hearts to the pan and add flour.  Add the seasonings and stir well.  Add the milk and stir for about 5 minutes until it starts to thicken up and then add the cheese until it melts.

Pour the mixture into an oven proof container and sprinkle some parmesan on top and bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until it is golden brown on top.   Serve with Tortilla chips or crackers.

You can also build a make your own mini pizza station.
I made my own pizza dough.  It takes about an hour and a half to put together and rest but it's worth it.   I mixed 1 package of yeast with half a cup of warm water and added a teaspoon of sugar and mixed until it started to foam and then added it to a stand mixer and added flour slowly until the dough came together and then you can add a tsp of salt.  Salt stops the yeast so I add it last.  Put it in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then you can leave it and go and get yourself ready.  Let it sit for at least an hour and then punch it down and then divide it into small balls and set it up for people to grab a ball of dough and make their own pizzas.  Set up the toppings and let them build their own pizza.  Way better than deliver and it's more fun.   Bake the pizzas at 500F for about 15 to 20 min depending on how thick and how many toppings there are.

I wanted to make cupcakes but they would have taken too long to cool and decorate and the same goes for cookies.  I really wanted to make Oscar cookies but I don't have an Oscar cutout and that would have taken a lot more time to decorate so I looked around and decided to make Haystacks and add some Gold Sugar sprinkles on top.  it's not the fanciest but it used chocolate and nuts and cereal that I already had.

In a bowl placed over simmering water i melted dark chocolate and some milk chocolate with about a tablespoon of butter.  It was probably the equivalent of one large Presidents Choice chocolate bar.

I added a splash of vanilla and melted the chocolate and constantly stirring until smooth and shiny.

Then I poured the chocolate over a mixture of Cornflakes, cashews and pistachios.  You can just use cereal or whatever you have.  Mix until well coated and then I used an ice cream scoop to drop it onto baking trays and then I sprinkled Gold sugar sprinkles on top to add sparkle.  I actually took it outside to cool since it's the winter and my fridge was full.  In about 15 minutes they get solid.
I stacked them on an inexpensive dollar store silver tray and surrounded by movie items it takes on a more glam look even though it's chocolate, nuts and cereal.  But it's easy and it's fast and affordable.

You don't have to cook everything either.  I picked up some great Presicent's Choice Shrimp sticks that you bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes and they are great.  I used a plum sauce as a dipper instead of the sauce included but you can use all kinds of dipping sauces with shrimp.

I did all of this in 1 day and you can do some things a day ahead like the Haystacks and getting the Spinach Artichoke dip ready to put in the oven and pre cut the cheese and I also cut up some carrot stars too.  It's quick assembly or heat up on the day of then.  You can add more things than cheese to the crackers but Cheese and Crackers are so classically good that it's a safe bet for a crowd.

Don't forget to print out lot's of Oscar Ballots and pick your favourite films and actors and most of all have fun because the Oscars only comes around once a year so make it special.  Roll out the Red Carpet and get ready for the Papparazzi.   

And the Winner is................................

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Valentine's Day easy and affordable

Feb 14th

I am no expert since I am single but Valentine's Day is supposed to be all about LOVE.

What is LOVE?  According to Wikipedia this is what it is!

"Love encompasses a variety of strong and positive emotional and mental states, ranging from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure."

It doesn't say anything about it being between a man and a woman so who says you can only show people you love them if you are a couple?

Why not look at it as a day to show the people in your life that you love them or even if you are alone do something special for yourself to give yourself a bit of loving care for a change.

You don't have to be rich to show someone you care about them.  I have put together a few ideas for things that you can do that can be helped with a few grocery and dollar store items.  You don't have to make reservations at the fanciest restaurant or be a culinary whiz.  With a little bit of thought and effort you can create a meal that's full of heart while still staying on a reasonable budget.  Don't limit this to only 1 day a year.  You can do these things anytime of year.

First:  You can pick up some interesting things at your local dollar store.  I picked up a can of Hearts of Palm at my local dollar store for about $2.00.  This is an overlooked vegetable so it's great for something light and quick to make.  Just slice it and add a vinaigrette even if it's a bottled Italian dressing or just oil and lemon juice and salt and pepper that's fine.  I added a pop of red with chili flakes but you can add some crushed pink peppercorns or even some pomegranate seeds for color and sweetness.  This will easily serve 2 people.

Second:  You can always serve Pizza but make it Heart shaped.  I made this heart shaped pizza from scratch and added jarred artichoke hearts and cut out red peppers with a heart shaped cookie cutter and topped it with red onions and goat cheese for a bit of tang.  This is the fancy "I made it myself" version but you can take a step down and buy some frozen pizza dough and a jar of tomato sauce and some cheese and whatever other toppings you like but make sure you shape it into a heart before you bake it.  Still think you have no time or can't do this much then you can order a heart shaped pizza but it doesn't really show someone that you went out of your way for them but it's still cute.

Third:  Don't forget dessert of course.  Dark chocolate is great for boosting the feel good part of your brain so unless they don't like chocolate this is usually a good choice.

I have 3 choices for you for dessert.  You can take a few pantry ingredients and a little time and effort and make some shortbread cookies and decorate them with sprinkles with little hearts as I did above.  You can take something like homemade or store bought brownies and cut them into heart shapes.  Pick up some heart shaped chocolates and don't forget a cute little card. 

Of course you can pick up a little gift and put it in a cute heart shaped tin or box.  Add some balloons if you like because they always add a sense of occasion.  Depending on the time of day you can enjoy some wine or just take some cranberry juice and you can add some blood orange slices or some carbonated drink to it to add some bubbles.

Make it look as nice as you can even if the items aren't fancy.  You can even pick up little heart shaped cakes from the dollar store and see below where I just put some of the cookie sprinkles on top.  Put a caramel, chocolate or strawberry sauce on the plate to make it even fancier.  I didn't have any or I would have for this photo.

 You can add things like these pink meringues that I made last year or pink popcorn or even something like pop rocks.   Find a nice plate,  you can even find this at the dollar store and the placemat above is a felt placemat from the dollar store.  You can even find chocolate covered heart shaped cakes at the dollar store if the rest of these things are too much for you.

Take your time and make it as nice as you can.  What counts is the theme, the thought, the effort and the love you put into it that matters.

If you are single you can have your BFF over for dinner or if you have a little girl or boy in your life you can make some of these things with them.  You can have a Galentine's Dinner and make it a potluck with your gal pals and have them bring something with the red, pink or white theme.

An of course if you are SOLO and everyone else has fancy plans elsewhere you can still do all of this for yourself and watch a great movie and enjoy your time to yourself.

XOXO..... Linda