Sunday, October 16, 2022

Toronto Food Film Fest 2022


The Toronto Food Film Fest is back in person and also available virtually.  From October 14-17, 2022

Screenings are held at the Royal Theatre at 608 College Street in Toronto.  You can also view films virtually.  Each screening is paired with a snack and there are also panels and demos that can be attended with the VIP pass.

The festival experience has something extra than viewing online but getting there in Toronto isn't the easiest sometimes.  I was finally able to take Line 1 subway to College Street and stopped into Winners because I thought I had a lot of time.  I picked up some clothes and thought I would jump onto the College Streetcar to get to the festival but then I found out that College Street was closed to Transit for construction.  The sign said to go to Gerard.  I walked down and no bus,  then I walked down to Dundas and waited and no bus so I gave up and hopped in a cab.  The cab driver basically told me to stay home on the sunday because of the Toronto Marathon it would be even harder to get around.  So a subway ride and a $20 cab ride and I finally got to the Bake it til you make it event at Kiss my pans at 567 College Street.  It was so worth the trek to get there though.  The demo was by April Julian who is on the Netflix show "Is it Cake".  I haven't watched a full show so I wasn't familiar with her but I was super happy to learn some cake decorating tricks and check out Kiss my Pans at the same time.  I tried Kiss my Pans Koppi iced coffee at Smorgasburg in the summer and liked it so much I had 2 and the owner remembered me from that festival.  The shop is a cheese shop and they make a mean coffee.  It's vintage and modern at the same time and has so much character like it's owner with a sewing machine in the middle of the space even.  I wish it was in my neighbourhood.  I would go all the time if it was.

April Julian from Is it Cake? on Netflix

Now about the demo by April.  She was lovely and very engaging and was showing everyone how to make a Cappuccino cake.  There were a bunch of kids and she let them touch and taste some of the items she was using to see the difference.  They were so funny and very interested in getting to the tasting.  It was a chocolate cake with coffee buttercream.  We got to sample it when she was done and it was delicious.  I would be happy to have that as a birthday cake and wish I had the time and patience to make it.  It's a process for sure but so impressive.   I also picked up a Koppi and a cheese scone at Kiss My Pans and then walked over to the Royal theatre for the films afterward.

Back at the theatre Ruffino Coffee was set up beside the stage for free Coffees,  I grabbed a fantastic Cappuccino and after rustling around in my seat I managed to spill it all over myself after only having a couple of sips.  Lucky I stopped at Winners before and changed my clothes to the new ones I bought.  I didn't want to take a chance on another one but it was really good coffee.  It was definetely one of those days where things don't go as planned.   

The food pairing was a ham and cheese sandwich from Milou -1375 Dundas St. W.

The first film I saw was the Chocolate War about kids that are being trafficked into slavery to harvest Cocoa beans in Africa for companies Cargill and Nestle and the lawyer who is trying to fight them to stop the child labour exploitation.  It's very sad that these corporations make millions and the people who do the labour don't get paid and risk their families and their lives. 

In between screenings I went to Rudy to get a Rudy burger and fries.  There's a lot of restaurants on College street but it's sad at how many are gone since the pandemic and how many Cannabis shops are now dotted along college.

Back to the next screening of Umami and Family Recipe the short.   Umami starred french actor Gerard Depardieu who is a Michelin star overweight driven chef who neglects his health and family.  He suffers a life threatening incident and goes on an adventure that has haunted him for years.   He is quite the character and it explores food and family and the connections to passion and life.

In writing this there's still more screenings and events available.   Get tickets online at   Follow along on Instagram too.


Monday, August 1, 2022

Smorgasburg Toronto Food Festival

 My blog has had a bit of a hiatus due to Covid 19 restrictions and the fact that there really wasn't anything going on and I was just tired.  Tired of working from home and being limited to what I could do compared to what I used to do.  I was also growing tired of going to festivals before the pandemic because the TTC made it challenging to get around.  So I took a longer than planned break.   In May I finally went to a big Food Event with the Restaurant Canada Show at the Enercare centre.  That was a big deal to see friends, meet new people and eat food at an event again.  

On Saturday I returned to my heart of events.  The Outdoor food festival.  I have been following Smorgasburg in New York on social media for a while and drooling over all the amazing looking food.  So when I found out that Toronto was going to get a Smorgasburg too I got really excited.  What makes Smorgasburg amazing is the unique food you can get in one place.  I then found out that Toronto Food writer Suresh Doss was going to be curating it and I thought it wasn't going to be like all the other Toronto food festivals that usually have the same vendors.  I actually got really excited to go on saturday morning to the 2nd day of 8 consecutive Saturdays until September 10th.  I was so determined to go that I was even going to go by myself and then my friend sent me info about it and I told her I was already planning on going and she said she was able to join me.  Normally I don't ask because she has a young child but the stars aligned for a glorious saturday.  The weather was perfect, a slightly breezy 27 degrees and the Festival is located at 7 Queens Quay East just by the lake in a parking lot just beside where you would get on a ferry boat and the Harbour Castle hotel.  The reason I didn't go to week one was because most weekends the Line 1 of the Subway is closed because of the Eglinton crosstown but I noticed it never closes on long weekends so this was the perfect weekend to go.  It was Caribana weekend so there were lots of people all around all ready to play Mas and the locals had headed to the cottages.  

full video on Instagram Reels @lindamatarasso

I haven't been excited about much in a long time but this made me feel like the old me.  Excited to see what new foods I could try and hang out by the lake with my friend too.

I was not disappointed.  The skies were blue with puffy clouds that said enjoy the day.  The festival is located in a parking lot and it's only about a 5 minute walk from the Queens Quay streetcar stop.  Really easy to find.  First you see a line of food trucks, not part of the festival and I don't know if they are usually there but ok you got options.  It was so great to see such diverse foods from all over Toronto and not the usually downtown restaurants that normally do a lot of festivals.  I love them but I wanted to try a lot of things I haven't tried all in one place.  

I am not sure how adventurous I was but I enjoyed everything I ate.   My friend Joanne and I tried to share as many things as we could so we could try more.  I can't eat as much as I used to.

First we landed on a booth that was showing a permanent planned space for this type of event.  You had to toss a ball in a bucket and you got a freezie.  Great way to start.

The first thing we tried was from Alma and Gil.  I never heard of them before but apparantly they are on Dupont Street.  Joanne had the Elote corn and I got the Chicken Tamale.  I chose it because it's not something I can find in my area or make.  I made Elote a few weeks ago.   It was delicious.  Great food start.

Then we had the Skewered beef and fish spring rolls with peanut sauce from Babi & Co an Indonesian vendor.  I have been wanting Indonesian for a while.  The Beef was amazing.  They need to bottle the marinade.  While the fish in the spring rolls was very plain the peanut dipping sauce was excellent.

Moving on.  I wanted an iced coffee and there were a few different ones around but I stopped at Kiss My pans booth.  I have been following them on Instagram.  They are from Singapore and the iced coffee is called Koppi or something like that.  The vendor explained it's a similar method as Vietnamese coffee and they use condensed milk and evaporated milk.   It was so good I went back for another one.  They sold out of their food a couple of hours into the festival.

When we first got there I said lets just walk around and see what there is and then decide.  I first walked by a Sushi taco and at first I wasn't sure I wanted one but after walking around I really wanted one so we split the Salmon and Tuna Nori Sushi Taco.  I had the Tuna and Joanne had the torched Salmon.  The tuna one was excellent and the crunch on the Tempura batter dipped Nori was amazing.   I had sushi tacos near me but this was how they were supposed to be.  It was from Albi Sushi.  they are at the 401 and Kennedy Rd in Scarborough.

So as you can see the vendors really did come from all over the city and not the usual downtown hot spots.  That's what made it different.  These little independent vendors showcased their own food that was so diverse and excellent.

The bonus of the day was running into 3 foodie friends.  Yashy (pictured), Annie and Amanda.  All Toronto bloggers too.  I got a chance to chat with Suresh before we left who was with his family.  He told me that they do a refresh with different vendors in week 5 so I am praying that the TTC lets me go another time to see a whole new group of vendors.

I told Suresh (Doss) (CBC food writer) that the festivals was the only thing I missed during the pandemic closures and I realized it really was the only thing.  I thought it would be film festivals but streaming has made that easier but there is nothing like meeting the people who make your food and thanking them and smelling all the delicious food and trying all kinds of things you have never tried or can't make yourself.

Yes I love a great food festival and this one was small but mighty and the lineups weren't as crazy as some festivals I have been to.  Maybe it's foodie hidden secret so far..  me and my foodie friends may have let the secret out of the bag but hard not to share a great new thing.

Give some new vendors some love and attention.  It's great for the city and for their businesses.  I am hoping they are able to build a permanent spot for this like they have in some US cities and like the Smorgasburg in New York that this came from.

Don't forget to go early because food sells out fast.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Restaurants Canada Show is back!


The last Food Trade Show Event that I went to just before everything got locked down in the world was the Restaurants Canada Show at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place.  So it was fitting that over 2 years later that was my first big show back to almost normal.  It was a hybrid version so there were some things that you could check out virtually but you can't sample food virtually.  I did do the preview with Chef Elia Herrera and made chicken tacos at home after they sent me a Chef Drop box.  That was fun but I really missed the in person experience.

Imagine 4 food bloggers trying to cover a huge show in a day.  It was great to be back with my friend Mary (Mary's Happy Belly) and our friend Ray (  and we met up with Jon IG(jon_dimsum).  We arrived around 11:30 and walked around until it closed at 5 trying to conquer everything we could.  There are so many samples there,  I had to be strategic this year,  I had a plan to only try things that were new or my favourite things I couldn't get.  I realized about 3 quarters of the way through that I didn't see any oysters while the last time I was there they were at about 3 or 4 booths.  We started at the end of the show where there was a Pop Up set up and food trucks.  I skipped the food trucks because they are full orders so I would have been done after that.  Weirdly the first thing I ate was freshly sliced prosciutto mixed into a salad and then it was on to Donna Dooher's famous Mildred's Temple Kitchen blueberry pancakes.  I have only been able to go to Mildred's once and it wasn't for brunch so I have been waiting a long time to try these pancakes that people line up for.  We timed it great.  Donna herself actually served them up for us.  They were as good as people say.  That was a great start to the day.  

Funny that I saw Trevor Lui in the exact same place on the phone as the last time I saw him at the show.  He is the food entrepreneur who has multiple businesses and was involved in making the Pop Up happen.  I used to see him at so many events and haven't seen him since that last show.

The show was the same yet different.  On one end is the food trucks/pop up as mentioned, then various food vendors and in the middle there are restaurant businesses focused booths with everything from huge steam ovens to tableware and uniforms and even food serving robots.  With the return to the food business the challenges that owners have been having has been staffing so there was a trend to more electronic ways of doing business to save time or reduce staffing needs.   Not great for people entering the industry but a way for restaurants to survive in a tough market.

At the other end of the show was the Bar area.  That's the party area.  Im not a drinker so we kind of whipped through it at the end.  I did stop to get a Seedlip drink.  One of my favourite non alcoholic drinks. 

There are also stages for Cooking Competitions and Industry Panels.  When we walked by the main stage my friend Matt Dean Pettit (@mattdeanpettit) was one of the panelists talking about the ghost kitchen that he is a partner in and how that operated during the pandemic.

Speaking of Ghost Kitchens, that is one of the new trends.  Ghost kitchens are kitchens that operate just for food delivery and can have multiple restaurants involved in one kitchen.  Lots of kitchen hubs are popping up and lot's of restaurants are reducing their risk by partnering up spaces with other restaurants.  Trevor Lui just opened an all Asian permanent Night Market in the Annex called Superfresh (

Some of the other trends that I noticed were everything Plant Based.  My friend thought it was funny that they kept calling things meat when it's not actually meat.  I didn't try it because it's not new to me.

As usual there was a lot of pizza but there was attempts to do pizza different ways.  I tried one that used a flour that was mixed with different flours like rice flour and others to reduce the gluten and calories.  I was impressed at how light the pizza was.  

On the other end of the Plant based trend was actual meat.  We tried a steak from England and it was so tender we all fell in love with it.  Lots of charcuterie and steaks this year. 

One of our favourite things was 2 chefs making Beef Birria tacos.  It was mesmerizing and delicious.  Beef Birria tacos seems to be another new trend and popping up a lot on social media as the way to eat tacos these days.

Lots of ways of using technology to solve problems.   One of the things that caught my eye while we were waiting for Mary was a vendor who was selling re-usable take out containers.  I actually thought of this about 5 years ago because I hate styrofoam and some of the bad takeout containers that just go into landfill.  They have a code you scan so I am not sure how it works financially but you scan it when you return to the restaurant and I think you can use it at whatever restaurant follows the program so it may take a while to spread but I think this will be our future.  They are well designed and an attractive clear and teal color so I wouldn't mind storing them in my kitchen if that was available at my favourite places.

This show is so big that I never know what I missed until I see people I know post on social media that they were there and I didn't see them.  

I literally walked 10,000 steps that day and boy did I feel it at the end of the day and the next day.  

Honestly it felt really weird not wearing a mask the whole day and I was concerned about it but it was so great to run into so many people that we haven't seen in a couple of years and just sample food like we used to.

I also stopped at Pluck tea for my favourite Verbeena Blues iced tea.  It was a mix of a few of my favourites and some new things.   

I didn't see any really out of the box things this year in the food side.  I think because of the pandemic it may not have been the time to take on something risky.