Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Artisan Tasting Fair - Event

My food adventure today was attending the Artisan Tasting Fair at Wychwood Barns (Christie & St. Clair) in Toronto.  

This event showcases local Artisan Cheese makers, craft beer makers, bakers and sausage makers.   This isn't the big automated huge warehouse manufacturers,  it's the smaller high quality producers.

This event is put on with the Leslieville Cheese Market which is located on Queen Street East.  A tiny little shop in Leslieville that sells quality, meats, cheeses and breads predominantly.

Some of the Cheese makers at the Tasting Fair included:  Upper Canada Cheese Company, Monteforte Dairy, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co., Back Forty Artisan cheese,  Mountain Oak Cheese, Glengarry Cheesemaking and  Gunn's Hill Artisan cheese.  I think I sampled most of the cheeses today.  I'm all cheesed out for the day now.  I had so much.  I think most of the vendors sampling were cheese.  

There was also a lot of Pork products at the Fair from Sanagan's Meat Locker, The Healthy Butcher,  VG meats, Speducci Mercatto.

And then there was also Craft Beer to wash it all down by Sawdust City Brewing Co., Barnstormer Brewing and the Granite Brewery.

Other vendors at the market included  Propeller Coffee Co. who I first saw at the Delicious Food Show recently.  Le Dolci who make cupcakes and other desserts, who also seem to be everywhere lately,  EPI Breads who cater to people with different allergies,  ready to cook food company Prepd Foodie Pages was there with a draw, Farmer's Pantry with dips, STASIS preserves, Evelyn's crackers, and new to the food world in the city is the Cookery store, a kitchen store that also has cooking demosand I am probably missing a couple.


I tried my first taste of Haggis from the Healthy Butcher today and I am happy to say that it tasted surprisingly good.  It sounds a whole lot worse than what it is.

I think I tried most of the samples.  I skipped the Beer since I am not a beer drinker though.  But I do like to cook/bake with beer because of the yeasty chemical reactions with foods.

If you are gluten free, lactose intolerant, don't eat pork for religious or other reasons, don't drink beer or you are diabetic then this isn't the show for you.. but if you do then knock yourself out on the high quality of foods available and the best part is that you most likely will get to chat with the actual producers of the foods.  They are generally the owners of the companies which are smaller businesses and this fair focuses on Local foods from Ontario and Quebec mostly.

I love to support local food producers because it's a tough go making a living and their care and attention to the quality of their products is the way food was produced more than 50 years ago and seems to be becoming more of a trend to go back to that style of food production.  It can only be a good thing when you support this.  You buy from someone that owns a business in Ontario or Quebec and also lives in the Province thereby supporting the same local economy.  The money isn't going to fat cats with hidden bank accounts in Switzerland or such and each dollar they makes generates a whole community effect.  Shopping at the fair reminded me of the food that I got when I was a kid.  Real food and the stores were a lot smaller.  There was actually an apple farm across the street from my house when I was a kid.  We used to play beside the farm.  Now it's a Church and Ambulance Headquarters... shame it's gone.  Anyway back to the Artisan fair.  It's a small event but if you like to meet the people that make your food then I think it's a good idea to try and get out to events like this.

Some of my favourite things were Sanagan's terrine samples, Le Dolci flourless cake, Leslieville Cheeses and I even liked the Haggis from the Healthy Butcher.

Unfortunately by the time you read this the show will be over for this year. But I hope that you can check it out next year or check out one of the vendors whenever you see them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen

Carol Harrison teaching kids to cook at Sobeys test kitchen
The Food Revolution Team in Toronto has grown a bit this year with some new Ambassadors.  As a group we decided to try and do some events in advance of Food Revolution Day and not just the week of Food Revolution Day as we have done in the past 3 years.   Last night our new team member Monika Strzalkowska who works for Sobeys and Carol Harrison a dietician, in her second year as an Ambassador both joined forces to host a Free Kids Cooking class at the Sobeys test kitchen in Mississauga.   Myself and fellow Ambassador Mardi Michels joined in to help out with the class.   Carol started losing her voice so Mardi, myself and Carol's student assistant Samantha all pitched in to do a demo each to save Carol's voice and keep things moving along so that we could show the kids as many things as possible in the 3 hour class.
Monika, Mardi, Linda, Carol
New Ambassador Susan Ng came to support and brought her 3 kids with her and a friend with his kids as well.

Surprisingly it was a group of boys who were eager to learn how to cook some really healthy but tasty Jamie Oliver recipes of simple things they can make at home.

We taught them how to make:

Herb yoghurt dip with veggies (Carol)
Baked Chicken fingers (Mardi)
Granola (me) with a Strawberry Raspberry compote and Vanilla yoghurt
Smoothies (Samantha)

The kids loved watching us do the demos and then they got their chance to get hands on literally with the food and make some themselves.  They loved the chicken and loved the smell of the granola and the color of the smoothies.

Mardi helps the kids at Sobeys
I could tell it was a successful night when one of the kids said "can we come back again tomorrow".  That confirmed that we were getting them interested in being in the kitchen and learning an important skill for life.
Samantha teaching the kids smoothies

We hope to do some more cooking classes in the New Year so hopefully more to come along with Food Revolution Day events in May.   Susan and I are teaming up to do an Event in North York since we live in the same area.  So I hope it will be bigger and better than all of my events in previous years.
Linda and Susan at Sobeys test kitchen with Jamie Oliver looking over us.

I am looking forward to inspiring more kids to love cooking in the kitchen.

Food Revolution Day Toronto Ambassadors:

Carol Harrison on Twitter @GreatMealIdeas
Monika Strzalkowska at Sobeys
Mardi Michels Twitter @eatlivewrite Blog
Susan Ng Twitter @susanssavourit  Blog
Linda Matarasso (me) Twitter @integrityfilms and you obviously know my blog since you are reading it right now. :)

Follow the Toronto Team on Twitter @FoodRevToronto
Join our Facebook Group  Food Revolution Day Toronto

Not at event:
Christine Barisheff  Twitter@typeaconsult
Cerys McLellan  Twitter @cerysattable  Blog

For More info about Sobeys and Jamie Oliver Food Programs:
Sobeys Better Food For All
Jamie Oliver Foundation

Find Food Revolution Ambassadors in your area

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Event Venue and Catering

It's that stressful time of year when you start to panic about all the Holiday Entertaining you need to do or maybe you have a company that you need to entertain your clients in a nice place.

I recently went to a great Art Gallery called Urban Gallery on Queen Street East in downtown Toronto to check out one of their monthly Art Show events.   The bonus of this Gallery is that they also have a catering business right beside the art gallery.   So if you need to simplify your life when it comes to entertaining then this is a one stop shop for you.   Catering at Urban Source Creative Catering is supplied by Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe.  The Art Gallery is called Urban Gallery.  The caterers have been in business for over 30 years and were voted as one of Canada's Top Caterers in Martha Stewart Living "Weddings".

When I went to their Urban Foodie event recently the Artist work on display at the Gallery space was from Karen Silver and the exhibition was called OTHERWORLD.   She has some very beautiful photographs on display.  I believe they have new artists every month.

I think this is a nice space to have a cocktail party with people that don't know each other because they can sip and nibble while discussing the artists work.  It's a nice ice breaker and the space is ever changing because of the work.

If you have your own space but need a caterer then you can also have Urban Source Catering help you at your own event.   They have done many large scale events but I am sure they can help you with whatever you may need.

Here are some photos of some of the food that was presented at the Otherworld exhibition.  The mustards were provided by Whisky and Spice a Canadian company.  There mustards really pack a punch and great for your party platters.

Candied bacon

Prociutto wrapped dates

Sweet Potato chips

Salmon Dip

Charcuterie platter

Whisky and Spice Mustards

Terrine with Whisky and Spice Mustard


Cheese and fruit tray

Caramelized Brie and fruit

Disclosure:  While I was invited to the Gallery event and provided with food and drinks the opinions of this post are my own.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

12 Days of Culinary Holiday Gifts

Christmas Gift Lists
12 Days of Culinary Holiday Gifts

Are you one of those people that waits until Christmas Eve to go to the Mall to get Christmas gifts because you procrastinate or just don't have a clue what to get for your friends and family or those Secret Santa gift exchanges?  Do you break out into sweats just thinking about having to figure out what to buy for people?  Do you have Foodies in your life that you don't know what to get for them?  I can help you with this one and relieve some of your shopping stress.

Here are my picks for the 12 Days of Culinary Gifts that I think any budding Chefs or Foodies will love.  Prices go from $15 dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on your budget you can choose one of these amazing and drool worthy foodie gifts for those hard to figure out gifts.  To make it even easier I have chosen a few that you can order online and skip those crazy parking lots and packed malls.

Here are my picks for 12 Days of Culinary Gifts:

1.  AMAZING CLUBS  - You can choose a Gourmet gift of the Month from a whole list of different montly clubs like Chocolate, Cheese, Wine, Beer, Pasta and many more.  My pick would be cheese of the month so that I could always have different cheese to cook with, eat or entertain.

2.  FOODIE PAGES  - Foodie pages is a great Canadian company that curates great new products that you can have delivered to your door.  I have sent one to a grieving widow and have tried a couple of the Foodie Boxes myself.   The Foodie boxes start at $14.95.  You can get various sample boxes or choose specific boxes for your needs.   This is a one time delivery but you can probably set it up to get it every month.

Foodie P

3.  VITAMIX BLENDER in Christmas Red - This is the Rolls Royce of Blenders.  There are different models at different prices but I liked this Holiday Red version that you can order on Amazon.

4.  KITCHENAID Stand Mixer - This is the machine to get for the Bakers and Pizza makers in your life.  It can whip and knead and save your arms for hugging your loved ones.  I chose the Red one again to look good on the counter with the Red Vitamix Blender.  Make sure you get all the attachments.  The whisk, scraper and dough hook.  And if you are really nice you can get the pasta roller, meat grinder or ice cream maker attachments.  That's why this machine rocks.  Looks great, works great and does a whole lot of things.  I make cookies and bread dough with mine.

5.   LE CREUSET - Dutch OVEN in Cherry Red
My mom had this Dutch Oven for years and when she passed I kept it.  It is the most amazing pot.  It's a bit heavy but that's a great thing for cooking stews and even making things like caramelized onions which I used it for just yesterday.  You can put it in the oven and then right to the table.  It cleans easily and lasts a lifetime.  So instead of buying crappy pots and replacing them all the time invest in this quality Dutch Oven and pass it down to future generations along with the great recipes it makes.

6.  NESPRESSO Coffee Maker - This is one of the prettiest coffee makers that will look good with the rest of the items above but not only that it makes amazing coffees and has a separate frother that you can use with fresh milk.  This is the one that comes closest to the coffee house fancy coffees.   Cappuccino anyone?

7.  SUPER HERO APRON -  I found these Aprons on Amazon while searching for some things and I thought it might be a fun gift for that Wonder Woman or Super Hero in your life in the kitchen.  It's fun and not too expensive so it's a great gift for those Secret Santa gifts too.

8.  PROFESSIONAL CHEF COOKBOOK from the CIA - Culinary Institute of America's Professional Cookbook for anyone to brush up on great cooking techniques.

9.   DAVID'S TEA - HOLIDAY TEAS - Santa's Secret -  For the Tea lover on your list you can pick up one of David's Tea's Holiday Teas.  You can even order teas on their website and get Free Shipping on orders over $50.  To go with the red theme I chose this one.  It has peppermint in it which is a favourite during the winter months.

10.  CUTTING BOARD by Fred & Friends - OCD - OBSESSIVE - You need to have a solid cutting board to be able to dice and chop like a Pro.  Here's one for those people that want the perfect cut.

11.   CULINARY ADVENTURE from Culinary Adventure Co. OCTA - Book a Food Tour, a class or give a Gift Certificate for a Culinary Adventure like a Wine Tour or some other adventure in Ontario.   Run by a private chef and the owner of Cheeseworks.   A step up from just a gift, it's an adventure in food.

12.  GROCERY GIFT CARD from one of these premium grocery stores in Toronto. McEwan Grocery, Pusateri's or Whole Foods.    Let your foodie special person knock themselves out in the kitchen with premium ingredients from some of the high end grocery stores in Toronto.  Hopefully this will be the gift that gives back to you in a dinner invitation with a special menu prepared with the food from one of these great stores.

Happy Holiday Shopping... enjoy the fruits of your shopping labour.