Tuesday, July 28, 2015

August Food Events in Toronto 2015

AUGUST is a really busy month full of Stuffing Your Face opportunities.  So many street festivals and events to choose from.  I compiled a list of some of the bigger public ones but I am sure I probably missed a few too.

Aug 1-2
Toronto Food Truck Festival
Woodbine Park

Aug 1-3
Pan American Food Festival
Daniels Spectrum

Aug 4, 11, 18, 25
Twilight Tuesdays
Parkette at Drake One Fifty

Aug 5-9
Kultura Filipino Arts Festival
Yonge-Dundas Square
Aug 7-9
Taste of the Danforth
Danforth Avenue

Aug 8
Lovin’ Local Food Fest
Yonge-Dundas Square
Aug 8
Toronto Vegan Food and Drink Festival
Fort York Garrison Common

Aug 8-9
The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival
Roundhouse Park, 255 Bremner Blvd

Aug 8-9
Jerk Fest (Jerk Food Festival)
256 Centennial Park Road

Aug 14-16
Waterfront Night Market
T&T Supermarket, Downtown Store
222 Cherry Street

Aug 15-16
Sweetery  Sweets Food Festival
Front & Portland
Free Admission

Aug 15-16
Festival of South Asia
Gerrard Street East between Coxwell and Greenwood
Aug 23
Yonge-Dundas Square

Aug 21-Sept 7
Canadian National Exhibition- Exhibition Place

Aug 22-23
15th Annual Toronto Chinatown Festival
Chinatown - West side of Spadina Avenue (between Sullivan Street & St Andrew Street).
Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West

Aug 21-23
Taste of Iran
World Cafe
Harbourfront Centre
Aug 22-23
Big on Bloor Festival
Bloor Street (between Dufferin and Lansdowne)

Aug 23
Pintxos Toronto
Royal Bank Plaza

Aug 23
Coconut Festival Canada
David Pecaut Square

Aug 27
Diner en blanc
Secret location

Aug 27-30
Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy
Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood (from College Street to Queen Street)
Yonge Street and Dundas Street

Aug 28-30
Taiwan Fest
Harbourfront Centre

Friday, July 24, 2015

WIN tickets to the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival

There is a new show coming to town where anyone who is obsessed with food from beginners to professionals will be excited to attend. It’s the first ever Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival taking place at Evergreen Brick Works Sept 18-20, 2015

While this is the first Toronto Food & Wine Festival, it’s an extension of the larger Food & Wine festivals that are all over some of the biggest cities in the United States.  Some of the top names in the culinary industry attend these festivals and it’s a pretty big deal that we now have one here.

5 Reasons You Need to Visit Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival 2015

1. Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, Gail Simmons, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking, Mark McEwan, Antonio Park and many more will be taking to the stages for demos, talks and workshops throughout the three-day event.

2. You’ll be able to sample, sip and savour all the flavours from 130 purveyors of premium products, fine foods and beverages from Ontario, Canada and around the world in the Grand Tasting Pavilion – presented by PC Black Label.

3. For the first time ever, Cochon 555 is bringing its flavour-packed marquee events series to Canada allowing guests to sink their teeth into over 1400 pounds of expertly prepared pork dishes by the hottest chefs including Chuck Hughes, Matty Matheson and more. 

4. Expert-level educational workshops welcome legendary masters like Kevin Kent (Knifewear), Tetsuya "Ted" Iizuka (Soba Canada), and Antonio Park (Park Restaurant) to share their knowledge regarding time-held traditions like knife skills and soba noodle making.

5. Canada’s Best New Student Chef will be crowned after an exciting and unique cooking competition called Taste Canada Cooks the Books. Some of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents from schools across Canada will gather in front of a live audience in the Miele Kitchen to make a dish from a well-known Canadian cookbook, with the author on stage!


CONGRATULATIONS TO VANESSA STOTT on winning the tickets!  Hope to see lot's of festival tweets in September!

I have a great chance for you to WIN TICKETS to the festival. I have pass for 2 general admission tickets to giveaway for the festival (each valued at approx. $70).
Here’s how to enter:
1.     You must follow me on Twitter @lindamatarasso.
2.     Tweet the following to me:  @lindamatarasso I want to win a pair of tickets to the #TFW15  http://www.torontofoodandwine.com/show-info/about/

One entry per person.
Contest starts Monday, July 27, 2015.  Cut off time for entry is Friday, July at 12PM EST.  Winner will be announced at 4PM EST on July 31.  Must be 19+ to enter.  


Chef Chuck Hughes
Facebook: /Toronto FOOD & WINE
Twitter: @TOfoodandwine
Instagram: @tofoodandwine
The hashtag is #TFW15.
Show Venue: Evergreen Brick Works
Show Dates & Hours:
September 18-20, 2015 11am to 7pm
September 20, 2015 11am to 6pm
Adult box office: $36.00
Adult online: $28.00 (until August 21)
Adult online: $32.00 (as of August 22)
Youth (6 to 15) online: $16.00
Youth (6 to 15) box office: $18.00
Children 5 and under are free with a paying adult
3 Day adult online: $78.00 (until August 21)
3 Day adult online: $90.00 (as of August 22)

 As Chuck Hughes might say... "What's not to love"? 

Friday, July 17, 2015

TO FOOD FEST heats up Scarborough

The TO FOOD FEST returns for the 3rd year to the Chinese Cultural Centre in Scarborough.  I hitched a ride with my coffee loving friend out to the food fest on a hot sunday afternoon Unfortunately I had a brunch to go to in the morning so I wasn't hungry enough to sample as much food as I did last year but I took lots of photos for you to see what it was like. Last year I was there before it opened so I didn't have to wait in any lineups.  This year we arrived later in the afternoon so there was already loads of people waiting for food.  The first thing I got when I got there was a Calamansi ice tea.  Calamansi is a lime that they use in the Philippines that is much sweeter than a lime.  It was a nice refreshing drink and I needed the hydration.
The first food thing we tried was Liko's Hawaiian skewers of Chicken topped with a piece of pineapple.  I have had this before but it was a good deal with 2 skewers for $5.  I felt bad for the 2 guys grilling in front of a huge hot grill and standing on a hot cement parking lot on a very sunny and hot day.  I was sweating standing in the line getting the blasts of bbq smoke.  But the skewers were tender and tasty so it was worth it.
My friend tried the chili chicken rice and said it was very good.  She also tried the little pearl truffles but they were $2.75 each and can you believe I wasn't in the mood for chocolate but I was in the mood for Ice Cream so we waited in line for the Ice Volcano Ice Cream.  They had an interesting system of taking orders on an ipad first.  I had the only flavour they had left at that point and it was the Malted milk flavour.  It's fun to watch them make the ice cream using liquid nitrogen in a stand mixer.  They sprinkled crushed cereal on top.  It was good but there wasn't a lot of flavour.  I prefer gelato which is creamy and fresh tasting.

We ran into a few of our blogger friends including @hypebelly @goodfoodtoronto and @feedmyphone who were on hand for the festival and supporting Masterchef Canada Pastry Chef Christopher Siu from DaanGo pastry.  He was dishing up his mille crepe matcha cake and also some Macarons.  His booth was the first one to sell out.  The first time we went by there was a few macarons and just a couple of slices left of the cake and the next circle they were already packing things up. He was a popular guy with all kinds of Masterchef fans taking selfies with him. He never stopped smiling and seemed to love every minute of it.

The trends at the festival seemed to be grilled meat and other things on a stick, fried things and lots of desserts.  There were more food trucks there this year which took up more space in the parking lot so there seemed to be less actual vendors.  Last year had a bit more variety on the savoury side.  I wanted to try a few food truck items like the dumplings and the Argentinian sandwiches and there was some sort of drink in watermelons and pineapples but the line was too long to wait.  

My advice,  go to this show early and hungry and have lots of cash to get in and out of lines quickly and load up on an interesting variety of food.

The best part of this festival is the FREE Parking.  Although when we got there the lot was full but we circled around on the streets and when we came back they opened up the parking lot.

It's also nice that there is an inside portion and the food trucks and bbq's in the parking lot on the outside.  
And as festival goers know it's also a good thing when there are actual real washrooms on site if you know what I mean.

I like this festival because it's pretty easy to do because it's contained in a compact area with parking right on site and there is always new or interesting things to try.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Get an Aroma Gift card for a good thing

Everyone needs a little help sometimes and you and I are no exception.  If you say you don't need help you are lying.

I understand that sometimes you don't want to do things for other people unless there is something in it for you.  Yes our society has gotten very self centred and greedy over the past few years.

Well here is your chance to do something good for me, you and a whole bunch of people you don't even know.

I am trying to raise funds to participate in the Culinary Showdown for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and I need your help to reach my goal of $2500 to be able to participate in the Showdown and more importantly raise money for Cancer research to help a whole lot of people including some you may be related to or know.

Yes I know funds are tight these days or you just can't be bothered to donate.  Well I have a little incentive for you to do some good and contribute to my goal.

For anyone that DONATES $75 or more to my fundraising page by clicking on this link here:  DONATE HERE Now!  I will give you a $!0 Aroma Espresso Gift Card.

This year's Culinary Showdown brings back Noah Cappe as the Host and last year's winning Chef Lynn Crawford and highest fundraising chef Corbin Tomaceszki and they have announced that renowned pastry chef Elizabeth Faulkner will be participating this year and also new is Quebec superstar Chef Ricardo Larivee.  They still have one more Chef to announce.

I can't do the Run for the Cure so I am hoping that I can at least try and participate in the Cook for the Cure and try and raise as much money as I can with your help.

Why am I doing this?  Well because I think participating in the Culinary Showdown will be fun and it's also a way of doing something that can help someone else in the future to prevent them from going through debilitating Chemotherapy treatments.

If you can't afford to donate $75 that's ok.   You can donate $15-$20 or whatever you can and will get a Tax receipt for your donation.

I really appreciate your support and assistance and every little bit counts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Bastille Day Moules et Frites & Cookbook Contest


Moules et Frites Cookbook CONTEST

Today is Bastille Day - July 14, 2015

It's the day when the French celebrate their own Independence day with anniversary of the liberation of France by the storming of Bastille on July 14, 1789.

“Bastille Day” comes from the name of a medieval prison called Bastille, where political prisoners were held for arbitrary reasons and had no chance of appeal at the hands of Louis XVI’s royal government, according to France’s government website.   

In honour of Bastille Day and the fact that my mother is French and lived in Paris I decided to make one of her favourite dishes and something you can find in Rachel Khoo's cookbook  My Little French Kitchen.   
Yes I made Moules et Frites well I kind of cheated and picked up the frites because it wasn't worth making just for me but I did the mussels my way with a little influence from how my mom made them.

Here is my recipe for the Moules and you can get another recipe for the cooked Mussels in Rachel Khoo's cookbook along with her frites recipe.

Moules with Pernod

2 pounds of fresh uncooked mussels
1 lemon
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsps Pernod liqueur
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes
1 stalk of celery
Parsley fresh or dried or Basil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch Oven (Le Creuset)  heat on high and add the olive oil and then half of an onion roughly or finely chopped depending on whether you like to eat the vegetables.  Add the celery roughly chopped and the chili peppers salt and pepper and dried parsley.  Stir and sweat the onion a bit and then add the cloves of garlic finely chopped.  Add the tomatoes and squeeze half a lemon and toss in the other half.  Pour in the Pernod and then add the uncooked and cleaned mussels and cover the pot and let steam for 4 to 5 minutes.  
Serve immediately add some crusty white baguette or serve with the frites.  Set a bowl beside for the discarded shells.

*If you are using fresh herbs put them in last.

This really is fast food.  I walked over to Whole Foods and picked up the mussels and I was eating them about 20 minutes later and that included walking home and chopping up vegetables and cooking time.


To get you inspired to cook a French Dish I am giving away a copy of Rachel Khoo's Cookbook - My Little Paris Kitchen to get you started.

To WIN all you need to do is TWEET or INSTAGRAM  me at @LindaMatarasso with the Alternate French name for Bastille Day using the Hasthtag #starvingfoodie 

A Random Winner will be chosen based on correct answers on
FRIDAY JULY 17, 2015 at NOON.

* Cookbook sponsored by Raincoast Books

Why I will never give money to a panhandler.

I believe that everyone deserves to the right to eat good food.

I was just going to meet up with someone for coffee yesterday but I had an experience that made me think about people's choices about food and life.

I will never ever give money to a pan handler ever in the future because of the reaction I got from a rude and ungrateful man on the street.

Although I spend a lot of my time working on this blog it doesn't earn income and I have been looking for a paying job for a while.  It's tough without a degree, at my age and the fact that I am not a super model who can get paid to just smile.  But I have been spending a lot of my time involved in the food blogging community over the past year and have been going to all kinds of food events around town and this has helped me get by.  Even though the restaurant community don't pay very well they are still very generous people in other ways.  I have been invited for dinner menu sampling and I have had lot's of free samples to try at various food shows and festivals.  I never take it for granted and even if I don't like the food I understand the fact that it's costing the food service industry money to be able to do that.  Not all of these food vendors have McDonald's budgets.  So the food service industry has been very good to me over the past couple of years.

Yesterday I met with a rep from Aroma Espresso Bar for coffee and to check out the new mural that just went up at the Aroma in the Annex on Bloor Street.  She told me that the franchisee commissioned the artist to cover the pillars around the restaurant in beautiful artwork that represented the Aroma and Annex communities.  It was an attempt to fix the tagging/graffiti problem they were having at the store.  It really is unique and beautiful art.  During our coffee meeting my lovely new friend from Aroma generously gave me a couple of gift cards so that I could continue to enjoy the great food and drinks at Aroma anytime I wanted to.  I enjoy going to Aroma because it's not just coffee, they have great healthy food too.

But then my mood shifted because of one rude man.

After our coffee as I was walking back to the subway a man on the street beside the store was asking people walking by for money for food.  I told him I didn't have money but I had something that would help.  I thought I would pay the generosity forward and if this man was truly hungry it might help his day.  The interesting thing was that the man just gave me attitude.  He flung his hand like naw naw, I don't want that.  I told him he could go into the store next door and get free food.  What was even more interesting was the reactions of 2 other women on the street.  One lady just rolled her eyes and just looked annoyed and another lady was saying take it to the guy.  I started to walk away and then he decided to take it I guess after the other lady insisted.  He didn't say thank you and I started to walk away to the subway and I could hear him not 2 seconds later asking more people for money for food.  What I probably should have done is walk back to the guy and take the gift card back but then I thought if this guy was truly hungry he would go and get a sandwich from Aroma.  I will probably never know if he did but I tried to help and was given attitude instead.  Now I must say that I didn't willy nilly just push a gift card on some random guy.  This guy stopped me and asked me for money for food.  I don't have money but I had a card that could get him food but I guess what he probably should have been saying is that I just want money.

I don't normally give pan handlers for money as I have heard stories about people who abuse the system to get disability cheques and then pan handle to get more money and then they just blow it all on booze and drugs and do the same thing repeatedly each month.    I haven't had a job for a year but I have never begged anyone for money.  I always believed that you earn money for doing something.  Even though I was given a gift card I am blogging about it and I like to tell people about Aroma so there is a trade off and mutual benefit for it.

I know it's not good to make assumptions about all of the people on the street but you don't know their story from a 5 second interaction and I don't believe in supporting people that are just out to scam people out of their money.  Although the welfare system and community housing systems are broken I don't believe that giving a guy a couple of bucks on the street is going to fix the system.

People need jobs that pay enough to get housing and food and clothing.  Anything else is up to individuals as to what any extra money is spent on.

I have to say though that a few months ago I had eaten at a new restaurant and had some fried chicken and had a couple of pieces that I couldn't finish so I got them to go.  I saw a lady on the street who was very thin and pan handling and I told her I didn't have money but I could give her the box of chicken that I had.  She said yes and thanked me.   She was obviously in need of food but I don't know if that's the case with all of the people that ask for money on the street.

In another case a friend and I sat at a Starbucks on the lakeshore for a while in the summer chatting and sipping on some cold drinks.  All the while we watched some guy standing on Lakeshore Blvd with a sign asking for money.  He was there for a long time and a few people gave him money.  When I drove home a while later I saw that he had moved a couple of blocks away but was still out there panhandling.  I went to visit my friend a couple of weeks later and saw the same guy doing the same thing.  This guy was just standing out in the hot sun for who knows how long asking for money.  He was obviously fit enough to work so what is the reason he is standing on a major street just asking people for money.

I have to also note that as I walked from the Bathurst station subway to meet my friend a block away for coffee I passed one man who seemed to have mental health issues, he was extremely overweight and his pants were all ripped and dishevelled.  He obviously hadn't had a shower in a very long time and he was just standing in front of the station mumbling something.  Then I passed a lady who was standing on her shoes barefoot and clapping and I don't know what she was saying.   And another person also asked for money as I walked by.   I don't know what is going on with that area but there clearly is a need to make some changes.

People need help and I will continue to donate to specific charities when I can but this blogger will never give money to a panhandler ever again because of this one rude man.

Please comment below if you have any similar experiences.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Food and Family gatherings

When your baby attacks their bottle like this you know your kid is going to become a foodie!

Food becomes an important part of your life from the time you are born when you get your first taste of milk in whatever form you get it and then you graduate to baby food and finally to whole solid foods.  During all of these food events you are connected to your parent or a family member for nutrition and at the same time its a bonding experience.  This process continues throughout your whole life in one form or another.  Family meals, family gatherings or even a drive through meal on the way to something.

You never really understand the importance of these little daily occurrences until later in life when they become vivid connected memories.

My family is gone now but I still have sense memories when I see or eat certain foods. Any wonder why we become addicted to foods we shouldn't eat like cake.  We have it at every celebration so the connection is always cake=happy.  How many people do you hear say "I hate cake" yeah, not many.

One of my best friends has a large extended family and he loves to entertain and have family gatherings for important milestone events.  He has a new baby now and has started celebrating his babies monthly anniversaries with a photo and some sort of dessert like a cake or decorated cookie.
His baby is now about 6 months old and he brought his closest family members a Rabbi, myself and one other friend together for a baby naming brunch.  His baby now has a new additional Jewish name and there was a small ceremony performed by the female Rabbi at a small room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.  With about 30 family members present to witness and celebrate the event.

Why am I mentioning this on my food blog?  Well because food was an important piece of the event.
There is wine that is drunk by the father as part of the ceremony and also bread and a prayer with one of the grandparents.  Then there is the huge spread of food for the fabulous brunch and if you think food isn't an important part of an event like this then think of what you remember about the last wedding you went to or the last other family gathering and i bet you remember if the food was good or bad and if there was something that stood out about the food you will remember it.

My friend always has probably about double the amount of food as there is people and he loves to provide a delicious variety of food.

The spread of food at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto was amazing.  There was fresh fruit, lox and bagels and all the fixings, waffles, french toast, bread pudding and even an omelet bar.  I had a reasonable plate full because I was going to another event after this one but I was still so full that I didn't eat much at the next event.

Unfortunately there was a lot of food left and I am always sad when there is too much left that doesn't get eaten when so many people can't afford to eat well in this world but it seems the hotel has liabilities that don't allow them to donate to food banks.  There must be a way to change this process.

My friend also loves to give people little party favours to take home.
On this occasion it was little baby bottles filled with jelly beans.
How cute.  Yes we love these little sweet touches don't we?

Remember the food you have at your family gatherings is more than just food it's a connection to the memories you share with the people in your life.

* Not a sponsored post

Friday, July 10, 2015

FunDeLentil winning dishes announced

The FunDeLentil Tour announces Canada’s favourite lentil dishes

In a previous post I talked about going on the FunDeLentil tour to 4 different restaurants around town in one day.  I am happy to announce according to the following press release that one of the dishes that I tried at Boralia is one of the top dishes chosen by the public.

This is the dish that I sampled there.

24 restaurants across Canada served mouth-watering signature lentil dishes as part of a cross-Canada competition in June 

Saskatoon, SK, July 10, 2015—The votes are in! Canadians have voted online at fundelentil.ca and chosen the Chorizo & Lentil Ragout, by Fable in Vancouver as their favourite signature lentil dish from The FunDelentil Tour.
Top three dishes as voted by Canadians:
1st place: Chorizo & Lentil Ragout, by Fable in Vancouver (Chef/Owner Trevor Bird)
2nd place: Sustainable Blue Rainbow Trout with Beluga Lentil-stuffed Summer Squash, Smoked Trout Rillette, Fromagerie Au Fond des Bois, Beluga Lentil Puree, Crispy Pancetta and Camelina Powder, by Brooklyn Warehouse in Halifax (Chef Mark Gray)
3rd place: Lentil Hodgepodge with Spring Vegetables, by Boralia in Toronto (Chef/Co-owner Wayne Morris)
The FunDeLentil Tour – a cross-Canada restaurant competition held throughout the month of June featured 24 restaurants from seven Canadian cities serving signature dishes using Canadian-grown lentils. Canadians dined on the creative dishes and voted online at fundelentil.ca for their favourite lentil dish for a chance to win a trip to one of seven Canadian cities. The winner of the trip is online-voter, Brian Bitz from Saskatoon.
Well-known Canadian food advocate, Food Day Canada founder, and Canadian Lentils campaign ambassador, Anita Stewart, was instrumental in bringing on board the 24 restaurants, which are also Food Day Canada participants committed to using Canadian ingredients.
“I traveled across Canada as part of The FunDeLentil Tour to cheer on the restaurants serving signature lentil dishes prepared by some of Canada’s best chefs,” said Stewart. “From the familiar and comforting Lentil Beer Battered Fish and Lentil Chips at Prairie Harvest in Saskatoon created by Chef/Owner Michael McKeown, to the modernist Red Lentil Fritter with Duck, Carrots, and Beluga Lentils created by Marc Lepine at Atelier in Ottawa, these chefs outdid themselves, showing incredible passion and creativity for the versatile Canadian lentil.  It was an incredible experience to see Canadians trying lentils, many for the first time, and to see lentils being prepared in new and exciting ways.”
Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of lentils, planting 3.1 million acres of lentils last year. Types of lentils produced in Canada include commonly known green lentils and split red lentils, and lesser known black or beluga lentils and French Green lentils. The chefs involved at each participating restaurant were invited to use one or any combination of lentils grown in Canada to create their signature dish.  Note on prizes for restaurants: The winning restaurant received a cash prize and a private party for their staff, and the second and third placing restaurants received a private party for their staff.
About Canadian Lentils
Canadian Lentils is an Official Mark of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmer funded organization that works to advance the pulse industry in Saskatchewan, the heart of the lentil-growing region in Canada. For more information about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit www.lentils.ca.

Iron Chef Morimoto at Taste of Toronto

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto makes a rare appearance in Toronto to show everyone why he is a Master Chef. He is interviewed by host Michelle Jobin.

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto makes a rare appearance in Toronto to show everyone why he is the Master of Food.  He breaks down a whole 130 lb Tuna in about 20 minutes all while explaining how to do it and why we eat Sushi all wrong and cracking jokes at the same time.

He has come to Toronto to start promoting his upcoming restaurant opening in Toronto and used his demo to publicize it many times in a hilarious fashion.   Everyone there all know now that it will open in April 2016.  I am not sure what the name of the restaurant will be exactly but there was a Taste of it at The Taste of Toronto where he was doing this demo and had a booth showcasing a couple of his dishes.  The booth was called Morimoto Toronto so I don't know if that's what the restaurant will be called when it opens.

Morimoto's demo was one of the highlights of the Taste of Toronto's weekend events.  It's not everyday that you see an Iron Chef in Toronto showing you how to prep a whole Tuna.  If you are a queasy type of person that wasn't the demo for you but I guess all of the people in attendance were pretty serious food people and everyone was enthralled in the process.

After he broke it all down into different parts he cut a few slices for sushi and showed the proper way to add wasabi and how to dip the sushi on the fish side into the soy sauce and never mixing the wasabi or ginger into the soy sauce.  As Morimoto stated the Sushi chef adds different amounts of wasabi depending on the fattiness of the fish and if done properly there is no need to add extra wasabi.  The only time you would add wasabi is if you are getting sashimi.

At the Taste of Toronto I tried both of Morimoto's dishes.  One was a Uni Udon Carbonara, this was the first time I have ever had Uni and it was pretty interesting.  This dish was kind of like a slightly fishy tasting Carbonara because of the Uni.

The other dish I tried was the Toro Tuna roll which was tiny but it tasted amazing.  It was a pretty expensive bite but when you consider that the whole Tuna that Morimoto broke down is worth $3200 you can understand the expense of fresh Tuna dishes.

I got a chance to get up close and personal with him when he was at the Morimoto booth signing some postcards and was very gracious and took photos with a few people.  For me he pushed his face right up to my cell phone camera for a fun photo.  It was hard to get a good focus on him as he was moving so fast but it was a fun moment.

I hope I get a chance to go to his new restaurant when it opens but in the meantime at least I had a chance to sample a couple of his dishes at the Taste of Toronto and see how funny he is in real life.

He comes across as quiet and serious on the Iron Chef show but while in Toronto he seemed to let loose and have lot's of fun with the people at the Taste.  He was only in town for the one day so I hope he comes back to play again soon.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Front Street Foods opens at Union Station

Toronto is putting the finishing touches on the City to showcase it to the world.  With a lot of new projects being spit polished in time for the start of the Pan Am Games.  Projects including the new UP Express to the airport, the completed Harbourfront construction (finally) and even the platform at Union Station has also opened up just in time.

But one of the things that I was most interested in was the opening of the FRONT STREET FOODS Market in the space in front of Union Station.  Normally this area is a deadzone of nothing but maybe a few taxis standing by and people trying to get their trains and maybe the odd promotional giveaway.  But starting today until the end of August both visiting Pan Am guests and locals will have a great spot to get some grub and a little sunshine.

I ventured down today to check out the set up and to see what food vendors have for sale.

There are 28 vendors set up in small adjoining stalls and there is bench seating and also bistro seating on the other side with some umbrellas.

The assortment of vendors is really a pretty good reflection of Canada while not being obviously Canadian.  Although I found that some vendors seemed like a better fit for the space than others.

When I think of a space like this I think that it is a place you can get quick and easy bites or small meals depending on how much time you have to spare if you are commuting or just passing through during your day.

The booth that caught my interest the most was CAVA,  they are venturing out from their restaurant at Yonge and St. Clair.  They are known for their Pinxto sandwich bites but they also will be making Paella daily.  Unlike any of the other street vendors around the city they had cured hams hanging up in their booth that they will be shaving off slices for their menu.  They are also making some really killer rosemary frites which I sampled today.  I also picked up a really great looking chocolate chip cookie but I am saving that one for later.  Something you don't see around town is Foie mousse in a small mason jar to take home for $14.  I didn't pick one up but considered it.  It comes with a baguette aparentely but it would also pair up nicely with one of fellow vendor Fred's Bread's Baguettes.  It seemed odd to find Fred's bread's there but they did have all kinds of pastries.   I picked up a baguette and an asparagus foccaccia bread.

You can also get fresh roasted corn on the cob from Might Cob and you can even get it in a cup with different seasonings.  I just got the original one for $3 and added some spices to it.  The mixed ones are about $5.  I like this concept because it's real fresh food and the fact that you can just grab corn on the cob and walk down the street or corn in a cup that you can walk and eat or sit down and enjoy seems to be a good fit for this space and it was very popular.

Other notable vendors include HOLY CHUCK who have 2 locations, one at Yonge & St. Clair and one in Woodbridge.  Although I didn't get a burger because you need to be really hungry for one of their burgers I do think it's another good fit for the grab and go crowd that love burgers but maybe not the regular fast food chains.

There seemed to be a bit of duplication with Little Fin and Fresh Off the Boat both serving lobster and crab dishes.  The portions looked pretty hefty on the Crab poutine from Fresh Off the Boat but Little fin had a shrimp skewer and salad dish to balance things out.

To drink there was Station Cold Brew who have been at all the food festivals lately and also Hula Girl who had butter coffee at the Exhibition last year.  One of the healthier things at the Market was Greenhouse Juice Co. and i bet their juices will do well with the weary commuters.

Food by Toben seemed to be a very popular vendor with their Mac & Cheese sold out by the time I got there after lunch.  They were serving up some hefty classic meals and I hope to try them out in the future.

Also sold out by the time I got there at 2pm was the famous Uncle Tetsu's cheesecake.  I believe there was a huge lineup in the morning.  I have yet to sample their cheesecake.  I will wait for the hype to die down.

There was also the first custard Ice Cream in the city there.  I didn't try it so I don't know what it's like yet.

A couple of things that seemed out of place to me were Jimmie's cracked corn Popcorn which is good because I have tried it before at farmer's markets but seems odd in that space for some reason.

Also an odd choice is Mad Mexican serving up their nacho chips and dips.  I think it would make more sense if they packaged up little take away chips and dip for one that you could grab and have for a quick snack.  It seemed like they were really pushing it on the people there.  Not something I would go there for even though I like their products.
Overall I have to say that I like seeing these kind of markets that give local vendors a chance to serve food to tourists and the people of Toronto and would love to see these things have more of a permanent space like the great market they have in Boston.

I hope Torontonian's don't get scared away by the throngs of people in town for the Pan Am games but maybe they won't go there because they will be so busy trying to figure out how to get around the city for their events.  
Will see how this goes.  I hope it's successful and it returns again next year just for us food loving Torontonians.