Saturday, September 27, 2014

Canada's Baking and Sweets Show Sugar Rush

Canada's Baking and Sweets Show is back at the Toronto Congress Centre near the Airport.  If you love all sweet things this is the place for you.   Cakes, cupcakes, Wonuts, Cannoli's, butter tarts, Macarons, Tarte's, Croqeumbouche's etc.   It's all there.

Make sure you have a healthy meal before you go there so you don't bounce off the walls trying all the sweet things but if you don't you can always try one of the Food Trucks that are parked outside of the building.  There were a couple of sandwich vendors like Panera Bread and St. Phillip's Cafe in the building as well but it was pretty much all sugar everywhere.   Not the place for a Diabetic to hang out at... kind of like an Alcoholic going to a giant Bar.

The theme this year is Wizard of OZ and it was the perfect theme to set the mood for fun sweet treats.  Starting with a very cool entrance of a witches legs sticking out of balloons at the entrance of the event.

One of the first booths I checked out when I entered the show was the Original Cupcake Booth whose owners were the Cupcake Girls (Heather & Lori) on W Network.  A show about their growing cupcake business.  I picked up a couple of things from their booth and tried one of their delicious cupcakes.
It was moist and the icing was a delicious buttercream that wasn't overly sweet.   I am not a fan of pure sugar icing.

Speaking of Sugar, the title sponsor of the show is Redpath Sugar who also had a cooking demo booth where my Food Revolution Ambassador pal Mardi Michels is there doing demos all weekend with her demos of Tarte au Citron and Pavlova.

Check her out if you get a chance.  There are also demos of cookie decorating and I missed the Croquembouche demo unfortunately.   There are also sugar stretching art demos that will amaze you.

With the theme of the show being all things in the Land of OZ there was an abundance of Competition cakes in all kinds of Land of OZ designs and there were touches of Alice designs throughout the show as well.

Some of the other notable Sugar Celebrities that are at the show are Top Chef Fabio Viviani who I got a chance to say hi to before he did his hilarious and fun Panettone demo.  One of the cake Boss Buddy Velastro's bakers was also there doing a fondant demo.   Coming up this weekend are baking experts Anna Olson and Ron Ben-Israel.

My other Food Revolution Day Ambassador pal Denise Livotti who owns Petits Chefs Academy is also there all weekend with her chef to show kids how to decorate cupcakes with Cake Boss's sponsored fondant and decorating products.   Sign up your child for a fun 15 minute quick play dough like demo.  They will love it.

There are also booths if you have an addiction to all kinds of baking tools and you can pick up a lot of your tools and decorating supplies and even a small appliance to work your magic.

Bring the family and enjoy the demos and treats and have some sugar fun.

Friday, September 26, 2014

[Product Review] les Anis de Flavigny candies

I received some new candies to sample recently.  They are called Les Anis de Flavigny.  

Since 1591, Les Anis de Flavigny have been made int he Flavigny village of France using the original recipe developed my monks.

Each candy contains a real aniseed, which hold a warm, spicy flavour and an aromatic scent. The aniseed is gradually enrobed in delicately flavoured liquid sugar over the course of two weeks to produce the smooth pearl like candy - a process called "dragée"

They are free from all artificial colorings, sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives and GM ingredients.  They come in 7 all-natural flavours such as anise, orange blossom, mint, liquorice, rose and violet. 

Beautiful illustrations on the packaging tell an evolving love story of a shepherd and shepherdess. Sharing a candy that holds an aniseed has traditionally been a symbol of love, happiness and fertility.

The factory has been owned and operated by the Troubat family since 1923 and continues to operate on the traditions of the abbey’s monks.

They were first produced several hundred years ago and are produced by hand. They are home-made in a family owned factory of 30 people and produced in the old abbey of Flavigny-sur Ozerain.  The village only has 300 people that live there and is listed as one of the hundred prettiest villages in France.

You can picture yourself sitting in a garden with some lovely ladies sipping tea and having some of these delicious candies.

They come in 2 sizes,  a 50g Tin and in pocket sized boxes.

If you like Anise or licorice flavour you will love these candies.  They are the perfect after dinner candy.  Most Indian restaurants have candy coated colored anise seeds that they give you at the end of the meal because they aid in digestion and they also cleanse you palate of the strong food flavours you may have just eaten.

The advantage of these candies is that they don't have any artificial additives or food coloring and they don't have a chemical aftertaste that you might find in artificial candies.

They come in beautiful boxes that slip nicely into your purse or pocket.

They are available in Ontario at Pusateri's, Goodness Me and Denninger's.
The retail price is $2.49 to $3.99.

For more information about the Company visit their Website:
Their information Hotline is 450-600-5528

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fancy Franks Fancy Gourmet Hot Dogs

This week I joined a bunch of fellow Food Bloggers for a tasting of some new menu items for Fancy Frank's Gourmet Hot Dogs.  I  visited their Bloorcourt location on Bloor St. W. just west of Ossington Station.  They also have a location on College Street.

Walking into Fancy Franks I got the impression of a neighbourhood restaurant that seems to have one foot in the past with the classic Hot Dogs and some of the decor and yet a foot in the present with a twist on some of the Hot Dog preparations and a tiny bit of the decor if that makes any sense.  It does give you the feel of a couple of merging generations.   There is a long communal table in the middle of the restaurant with bench style seating and single seat bar height seating around the walls of the restaurant.

Although I will never win any food eating contests and didn't have enough room in my stomach that seems to hold a lot more than it actually does.  I only tried a few of the menu items presented to us.  I skipped the HUEVOS Hot Dog since I had scrambled eggs for breakfast and I also skipped one of the poutine's.  

I tried the FANCY SCHMANCY POUTINE, I love the name of this one.  It consisted of Fries of course topped with Shredded Beef Brisket I believe and gravy and topped with a fried egg and some green onions.  I love having a fried egg with hash browns so this one was right up my alley.   It would probably be a great thing for some after the club food fix.

The Hot Dog that I tried and liked very much was the FRANKIE GOES TO BUFFALO Hot Dog,  it's a buffalo wing style coated deep fried hot dog with Franks Red Hot sauce and some celery and carrots on top.  It has a nice crunch.  
On the subject of Crunch... I have heard that the sign of a good hot dog is in the snap of the outer casing.  It should have a snap when you eat it.   These hot dogs had that snap.

One of their other unusual Hot Dogs was the FRANKIE WANNA MEATBALL, a regular hot dog topped with meatballs and spaghetti.  This one was a bit tricky to eat and my meatball rolled off the dog and onto the table.  I get the concept but I think I would have just preferred a spaghetti marinara sauce topped dog.

And the other thing on the menu was their MINI DONUTS with Sprinkles.   These are plain vanilla donuts with icing stuffed into the donut hole and on top and then sprinkles on top.   I would have preferred if the icing was on the donut and not in the hole because most of it stuck to the paper it was served on.  They were ok but not exactly Tiny Tom Donuts.   I prefer light Krispy Kreme style donuts myself.

There were a couple of Paramedic Bloggers at the event who are searching for quick places to pick up food while they are on their shifts and it seems as though this place might fit the bill for something like that.

Although it was way out of the way for me to drop into I do think that it would be a popular place for people in the neighbourhood who want a quick hot dog and fries that are a little different than the street meat on the corner carts.

I am by no means a hot dog junkie and try and resist eating them on a regular basis and only succumb when I have a craving or I am in a hurry.   I do believe that people who love Hot Dogs and like a bit of a neighbourhood joint feel will love to check out this place and pick up some dogs and poutine to go.

Happy Hot Dog eating..

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whole Foods opens Food Blogger Heaven in North York

Today was like Christmas for me.  Why?  Well, because the Whole Foods at Yonge and Sheppard in the Hullmark Centre finally opened.  It was slated to open at 8am this morning.  I got in line at about 7:15am because the 1st 100 people received a Goodie Bag.  I met up with a couple of friends who got in line just before I got there and was joined by another friend just before the store finally opened at 8:45am.  There was a breaking bread ceremony and a live band playing outside just before they opened the store.

They also handed out free coffee, cupcakes and bananas to the people waiting outside in the windy and chilly lineup.   Sadly, there was a double line and when it was time to enter the people at the back of the line rushed in and tried to merge with the front of the line.  Luckily there was really no reason to rush in as there were plenty of samples all day for everyone and if you weren't in the line with the first 100 people you wouldn't have received a paper that gave you a gift bag on the way out.   You snooze you lose in this case.   So for those of us that got up early and waited in line we were richly rewarded with a very generous bag of food and samples.   I was even luckier because I got a $15 gift card for posting something on Instagram prior to the opening and as it turned out when I went to get my customer service to get my gift card they called the marketing person who was a girl named Janice whom I had met about 3 years ago at a blogger conference when she told me about the opening then.  I never expected to see her at the store a few years later but was pleasantly surprised.

I instagrammed up a storm of all these photos while I was waiting in line and then when I got in the store.  Once I got into the store I ran into fellow blogger and North York neighbour Libby who was as excited as I was about the store opening.  We madly roamed around the store taking photos and drooling at the sight of all the fresh beautiful aisles of food.

This Whole Foods store is the best one I have been to yet.  The only thing that is a bit lacking from the Yorkville Whole Foods is the giant cheese station but it makes up for it with a large and well laid out space.  It's a gorgeous store and my friend remarked that it had a New York feel about it.

What I personally love about the store is that it will accommodate all the single condo dwellers who don't cook or don't have space to stock a full pantry of food.   You can shop European style and pick up fresh meat, fish and vegetables and cook on the same day or you can purchase a single serving of pre prepped hot foods or the massive salad bar.   There is also a stir fry station and pizza and sushi counters.   Any diet is accommodated in this store.  One of the friends I was with is lactose intolerant and he picked up some lactose free cheese.  I was talking about one of the lactose free cream cheeses and one of the store staff pulled one out and scribbled something on it and said to take it to the cash and that it was on the store... free... I thought she was pulling one out to sample.   WoW was I surprised at that.  I know it was the first day but unbelievable service and everything was as good as it could be.

If you read my blog often you know that I don't give praise easily and like to tell it like it is.   While Whole Foods isn't a bargain grocery store like say No Frills, it is a quality store and you really do get what you pay for in freshness and a clean store and community contribution as well.

This week part of the proceeds of sales will be donated to 5 North York charities.  I love that it supports the surrounding community.   Those people that can afford to shop at Whole Foods are supporting those who might not be able to by contributing to community services like North York Arts and the North York YMCA and the Library and others.

To me this is a win win grocery store.  As a Food Revolution Day Ambassador I am really happy to support a company that promotes Organic and healthy products and fresh local food as much as possible.   While there is not perfect grocery store this one comes pretty close for me.

If you are a foodie like me don't go to the store hungry or you will buy out the whole store.

I am not a bar person but this will probably become my favourite local hangout from now on.

And on the plus side I tried their coffee this morning and had the Mocha and it was the best coffee I have had in this whole area.

So hopefully I will see you at Whole Foods if you are in the North York area.

Happy Shopping Foodies!

And this is all the stuff I got in the Goodie Bag that I got on my way out of the store. Worth the lineup.