Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Front Street Foods - Pop Up Market


Event:                      Front Street Foods/Adelaide

Place Location:       Adelaide Place
(150 York Street / 181 University Avenue,
2nd Level Terrace)

Date:           June 13, 2016 – August 5, 2016
Time:          11 AM – 8 PM (Weekdays Only)

The second annual Front Street Foods opened recently at Adelaide Place (150 York Street / 181 University Avenue, 2nd level terrace), with dishes and delicacies designed by 20 local chefs, restaurants and food entrepreneurs. From sweet and savoury, to lush and succulent, this carefully curated culinary market will be open for the public to enjoy weekdays between June 13, 2016 and August 5, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. With the move from last year's Union Station to an upper level patio closer to the Financial and business district, the market now caters more to local Toronto business people and locals in the know.  It is a bit hidden from public view except for the Front street foods sign on the side of the wall leading up the stairs.  Although it's not really accessible there are elevators in the adjoining office buildings.

I visited the market on it's first day open because I am working a few blocks away and thought it would be a great way to get something interesting for lunch.  The first visit was easy, not too many people.  The second visit was on a friday during prime lunch hour time so that wasn't the best time to get lunch in less than an hour.  I think we waited 20 minutes for Brock Sandwiches signature Buttermilk chicken sandwiches. Yes they were good but I think I would go at a less busy time if I want one again.
My third visit last night was an attempt to grab something to eat for dinner before I jumped on the subway to get home.  I stumbled up the stairs and after a couple of minutes of trying to figure out what I wanted I saw my blogger friend Vicky and then noticed she was with her mother who lives in Ottawa.  At first I thought she just stopped by with her mom to check it out but after chatting with her she told me it was actually a media event.  I think she mentioned it before but I guess I didn't pay attention to when it was because I had been there already and probably thought it was too late.  I didn't get an invitation to this one because I didn't know the PR agency but since I crashed this media event by accident Vicky suggested I speak with the PR people, so I did and they gave me a wristband so that I could sample whatever I wanted.  So I was able to try smaller samples of a few things and took home a donut and Fred's breads Asparagus pizza to eat later.  After wandering around I soon realized that half my blogger friends were there so I was really surprised that I didn't know about it.

Anyway, it was a happy coincidence and I must have blogger radar or food radar by now.  It was nice to hang out with a few of my blogger friends especially when I thought I was just going to pick up something to eat and go home.

The things to check out are the RACLETTE.. oozing cheese on potatoes with Kale salad.  The Fred's Breads are always one of my favourite things and I always have Station Cold Brew when I see them at events.  Something new and popular are the Sushi burritos from Fishd by Edo.  They also make Salmon and Tuna Poke.  I really liked the Tuna Poke. I have also tried the Paella from La Fiesta which was pretty good.  That was one of my lunch trips though.  The Rolling Pin are on hand with Donuts and you can get a donut cake but I tried the smores brownie and it was fantastic.  They even have oysters and beer on hand.  You can get breakfast from Bacon Nation or grab your lunch or meet for a drink and a bite after work.  A great meeting spot for the time starved downtown commuter.  When those trains get delayed this is a good way to kill some time.

Some of the vendors you can expect to see are:

  • Brock Sandwich 
  • Chimney Stax Baking Co. 
  • Fish’d by Edo 
  • Freds Bread 
  • Fresh 
  • Holy Chuck Burger 
  • HotBunzz 
  • Jake’s Lobster 
  • La Fiesta 
  • Raclette Suisse 
  • Tacos 101 
  • The Rolling Pin 
  • Toben by Design 
  • Railroad Coffee Co. 
  • Station Cold Brew Coffee 

Visit frontstreetfoods.com   and torontomarketcom for a full list of vendors and more information.

Twitter/Instagram & Facebook - @torontomarketco

Union Summer - Pop Up Market


Pop Up Markets are springing up all over Toronto this summer.  The latest one that just opened this week is located in front of Union Station. Although this isn't a new space for a summer market it's now sponsored by TD with all new vendors.  The food vendors were curated by my food writer friend Mary Luz Mejia who is no stranger to the food scene in Toronto after curating and hosting events such as the Pan American Food Festival and Luminato's food festival at David Pecaut Square among many other events which you may have read in my previous blog posts.  I love attending the events she has put together because the people and the food are always Top Notch.

Last year it was Front Street Foods who created the Pop Up Market but have moved further north to Adelaide Place this year to cater to the downtown business crowd.

This market known as Union Summer brings a bright and colorful market to the otherwise grey landscape on Front Street.  To further liven up the space for commuters and tourists there will be live music every day.  This market unlike the Front Street Foods market will be open 7 days a week to cater to the mass of people that pass through and around Union Station.

I stopped by the first day to check it out to see how it looked and to pick up my lunch at the same time.   I went early before the crowds got wind of the food vendors.  I picked up some Gushi Chicken for $11.  I have had Gushi before so I knew I was getting.  The only difference was that it was served on rice this time.  I stopped in again today on my way home and had the Piggy Perogies from Loaded Perogi and the Bourbon Chocolate from Death in Venice.

The vendors will change up after 5 weeks so you can try all kinds of things all summer long.  This popup will last 71 days.

Union Station, 65 Front Street West – Sir John A. Macdonald Plaza

Open daily from June 27 to September 5, 2016
Monday-Friday:     7am to 9pm
Saturdays:     11am to 9pm
Sundays:     11am to sunset

Licensed bar area open from Thursdays to Sundays, 12 to 9pm.
Alcohol serving hours may be subject to change due to weather or attendance.

Participating Restaurants:
Barsa TabernaBurger’s Priest
Loaded Pierogi  
The Carbon Bar
Death in Venice
Fancy Franks
Fresh Off The Boat
Grand Trunk Road
Lahuna Poke
Mad Mexican
Mata Petisco Bar
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Oats & Ivy
Eva’s Original Chimneys
Pilot Coffee Roasters
True True Pizza
Urban Herbivore
And more to come**!

Connect with them at:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Taste of Toronto - the place to find all of Toronto's best chefs.

The Taste of Toronto returns to Fort York for the 3rd year and I have been to all of them since they started.  This year they moved it a bit closer to Fort York Blvd and changed the layout and provided a lot more seating areas which are always welcome.  The only thing they took away was the VIP area with private washrooms.  I miss that one.  I also missed the Best in Taste Awards presentation on Thursday night where judges Chef Chuck Hughes, founder of Charlie's Burgers, Franco Staltieri and Toronto Life editor Rebecca Fleming who chose the Best Dressed award which was awarded to  Mammakas for their Lamb spit next to their booth.

The winner of the Taste Award went to Ted Corrado of the Drake Properties for his massive 150 crown Chinatown platter.  During his cooking demo he said it was inspired by the after work trips with the staff to chinatown because that was the only thing open.

Second Place went to Miku for their blow torched Aburri Sushi.  I tried this and really loved it.  I have heard good things about this new restaurant and they seem to be true.  I will have to visit the brick and morter resto soon.

I was really happy to hear from Rob Bragganolo on Thursday night that he won the 3rd runner up Taste Award for his amazing Porchetta pizza which flew out of his booth the rest of the weekend.  I shared it with my 2 friends and we loved it.  Well done Rob.

Of course the Godfather of Toronto Chefs Mark McEwen was present with his McEwen Group restaurant Fabbrica for more great food.  I tried the interesting looking Calamari PoBoy on an Ace Bakery Charcoal Bun.  This thing was suprisingly great.  The calamari were crispy and perfectly seasoned and had a nice fresh slaw with a fantastic sauce.  Very filling and delicious.

Some of the dishes were very filling and even though I went 2 days in a row I didn't try as much as I wanted to.  I really wanted to try El Cabalitto's chicken empanada but it was a 20 minute wait for them to cook and I wanted to watch a cooking demo so I skipped that but I did have their fantastic Churro Nest dessert the night before.   The first thing I tried on thursday night was Barque's Burnt ends on a crispy rice base.  In the first year of the Taste Barque's ribs sold out.  I made sure I tried it first this time to make sure I wouldn't have to wait in a long line.  I had a chat with the Chef who remembered me too.  This thing had the perfect balance of sweet, spice, crunch, fat and topped with pickled onions made it a perfect bite of food.  My friends thought it was one of the best things we tried too. 

I also tried my friend's sticky ribs from the Drake,  oil poached tuna Little Sister and a bite of Alo's amazing butter biscuit.  My friends also had Fat Pasha's hummus plates.  I filled up on Little Sister's Babi Guling pork salad.  

This year most of the food was either $6, $8 or $10 but there were also special dishes that were kind of free for all prices ranging from $15 for Carver's amazing pizza to the $150 Chinatown platter and a bunch of other things at various prices in between.
This festival can get pretty costly with a $29 admission price and then having to load up a crown card with you have to start with at least $1 before you load up.  But what you get is all the best chefs in Toronto trying to one up each other and impress their peers and the public to attract people to come to their restaurants.
On the second day my friend brought her friend who was visiting from Singapore and really it was the best way for him to try all kinds of great food from Toronto in one place.  He really enjoyed the food.

 And as always it was great to see one of my favourite Chef's Chuck Hughes back for a cooking demo or as I always call them, his stand up routine and he also did a Metro Master Class demo.  Always great to see him because he is hilarious and always makes fantastic food too.

I was able to bring my friends to the show this year because I won 4 tickets from Nespresso, so thank you to them for fantastic free samples of coffee and the passes so we could all have fun together.  Even though a lot of my food blogger friends were all running around chasing food photos it was nice to hang out with my non food blogger buddies too.

A busy table was the Toronto Life Chef's Table, as you can see I couldn't even grab a seat at David Neinstein - Barque and Michael Hunter from Antler filling their tables.

The thursday and friday nights had beautiful skies and perfectly comfortable weather, although it got a little chilly after the sun went down on thursday night but Metro handed out some nice red fleece blankets which my friend Denise wore as her super woman cape around the festival.

 The lineups were minimal on most booths but long on a few the first couple of nights but I know they were all busy and some ran out of food on the saturday night when all the downtown condo dwellers are looking for food and something to do in the area.

 I saw a lot more families out this year on the friday night and I am not sure if there was an effort to expand that market but it seemed to be more than in past years.

While I don't love the venue and the difficulty in getting there.  The first night we got stuck in traffic trying to get there and the second night the streetcar dumped us off the stop before and we had to walk up the stairs and all around.  And the porta potties again are my least favourite thing at these food events but it's nice to be outside and have space but I am sure sunday afternoon with over 32 degree weather was a scorcher for the chefs and the people standing in the lineups.   I knew better and went early.

I saw a lot of familiar chefs, bloggers and industry people out and about and it's always fun to run into people you see at other food events so I had a great time and really enjoyed the food too.  Just wish my stomach and wallet could have tried more.

Hope to be back again next year.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rashers for the love of Bacon

RASHERS Makers of Quality Bacon Sandwiches

My blogger friend Vicky Weiss (MomWhoRuns) invited myself and a bunch of my other blogger pals to a blogger night of bacon of all sorts at Rashers on Ossington on a beautiful summer night.
Vickie's blogger dinners are always the best because she keeps it at about a dozen bloggers and most of us know each other because we are all out and about all the time so we all like to catch up and try new food.  In this case it was the fastest dinner ever.   We wolfed down sample sandwiches of  the sandwiches below in about 15 minutes.  The owners were super friendly and efficient and had everything ready for us to pig out on literally.  They have 2 locations one in Leslieville and this one that we visited on Ossington south of Dundas.

Normally these dinners take a couple of hours but because it was so quick we had time to take a group photo outside of the restaurant and since it was such a lovely day and we are all fed bacon we were a really happy bunch of bloggers.  Don't we look like a bunch of kids on the first day of school?

More importantly was the food.  The owner hails from the UK and thought what was missing from the Toronto market was a good bacon sandwich so he did that and more by focusing on the best pork products and trying to source the best local products he could find.  The sandwiches are simple but at the same time have developed flavour by using great ingredients.  They also had some really great garlic wedges that I couldn't stop eating.

They use Canadian Back Bacon, classic Canadian smoked bacon and English style bacon and mix their bacon into their burger even.  Served on white bread, brioche buns and ciabatta there is a bit of customization of the way you like your bacon in this bacon lovers shop.

Although I liked all of the sandwiches I think the Bacon and Brie was my favourite because I love gooey cheese and the caramelized onions really made it great.

There are a few more options but these are the ones we sampled:

Hogtown - Peameal bacon on a bun with ale mustard

Bacon Butty - British style bacon on white bread with brown sauce

Brie & Bacon - Smoked strip bacon with Brie and Caramelized onions, topped with garlic aioli

Apple & Maple Grilled Cheese - Maple glazed smoked strip bacon with cheddar and apple chutney on white bread

Bacon Caesar - Smoked strip bacon, romaine lettuce, caesar dressing and parmesan cheese on ciabatta bread

Bacon Burger - Ground beef & bacon patty with smoked strip bacon, lettuce tomato and chipotle mayo on a toasted bun

182 Ossington Ave - 647-346-8230
948 Queen St. E. - 416-710-8220

Rashers website: http://www.rashers.ca/
Twitter/Instagram @rashersTO

Thank you Vicky and the owners of Rashers for a fun night.

Paramount Fine Foods introduces new menu items.

Paramount Fine Foods introduced a New Menu recently and I stopped in to the Yorkville restaurant to sample some of the new dishes.

You want to try everything but it's a lot of food for a couple of people but my friend and I sampled the new smokey spiced BBQ Chicken Wings which had a really great grilled slightly spiced flavour.  Our favourite was the Yalla Special which is fries topped with Chicken shawarma and garlic tehini sauce.  Who knew that tehini could be the new fries condiment but it really worked.  Think garlic fries and mayo and you will get it.

We tried the Mezze plate,  it had 2 mezze's including hummus, tabbouleh and a fantastic eggplant dip that I couldn't stop eating with the massive hot fresh pitas.  We also sampled the Shredded Chicken Saj Wrap which is served Tabliyeh style , on a wooden board.  Another great dish was the BBQ shrimp plate, it's served on basmati rice with a tomato and garlic sauce and pickles on the side.  The shrimp had the just off the grill taste and they were perfectly cooked.

Paramount Fine Foods restaurants are popping up all over the place and they have 30 restaurants to date. They are the fastest growing Halal Middle Eastern restaurant chain.  You can even get their food delivered through the Just Eat delivery app.

It's nice to see a restaurant chain that serves real healthy food and that's probably why they have grown so much in the past year.

I am sure you will find one in your area soon if you don't have one already.

For additional information, location and their menu visit their website: www.paramountfinefoods.com

*disclaimer- I was provided a sample meal but have not been compensated for this post.  Opinion and photos are my own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Canada Day - Great Canadian Salad

CANADA  DAY is just a couple of weeks away.

Are you busy making plans for Canada Day and trying to figure out what you are going to eat?

Yes, I know you are.  Holidays always centre around food.

What's your must have dish for your Canada Day Celebration?  Do you include pulses in your famous salad? 

Tell us for a chance to win an Ipad mini or a $100 President's Choice gift card.  

Take the #PulsePledge this #CanadaDay

I took the #PulsePledge and created my own Great Warm Canadian B.L.T with Smoked Cheddar Salad (Bacon, Lentil, Tomato and Smoked Canadian Cheddar with a warm Maple vinaigrette on lettuce.  This really is a Canadian Salad that could be your Canada Day Lunch even.

It tastes great and is packed with things that make it a great addition to your BBQ fare.

Great Warm Canadian B.L.T. with Smoked Cheddar Salad

Here's my RECIPE:

1 small can of Lentils
2 whole lettuce leaves
1 garlic clove
1/2 pack of good smokey bacon.
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
6 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. grainy mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt or to taste depending on your bacon.
1 tbsp red onion diced
1 small bunch of parsley chopped
pepper or pepper flakes to taste *optional


Open a small can of lentils and drain and set aside.  I used Eden Organic green lentils.

I wanted to make bacon cups but they didn't turn out as planned because I was in a hurry but basically cut a pack of bacon in half and fry or bake the strips of bacon until they are crispy.  Whatever method you prefer.  Sometimes I bake off a whole pack in the oven and use for other things.  Less mess on the stove and you don't have to flip it.
If you are baking save some of the bacon fat and if you are frying leave about a tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan and drain off the rest.
In the frying pan with the bacon fat add a clove of garlic on medium heat and take it out when the garlic is golden brown and flavours the bacon fat and then add the drained lentils and add the chopped onions and the smoked paprika, salt,and pepper.  Stir to coat and mix the flavours.  Cook until the onions have softened about a minute or 2.  Add the vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and combine.  Add some the cherry tomatoes cut in half and toss until warmed and then add the parsley.

Place some lettuce on a plate.  I used Romaine but you could use iceberg or butter lettuce.  Add  the bacon strips or if you had more time than I did the bacon cups on top of the lettuce and then spoon the lentil mixture on top.  Sprinkle with more parsley and crumbled bacon and small diced smoked cheddar cheese.  I used St. Albert's Cheese from Ottawa, it's mild but has a great smokey flavour.

That's it... and eat.  You could also eat this salad cold if you reserve the lentil mixture separate from the lettuce and tomatoes.

NOW IT"S YOUR TURN!  Enter the Contest and show us your Great Canadian Salad - Take the #PulsePledge on Woodbox http://woobox.com/inhdq7  and and tag your photos on social media with the #CanadaDay hashtag so we can see them.  The contest closes July 4, 2016.

Don't forget to follow PulseCanada on Facebook

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Stop's Night Market fun for good.

The Stop's Night Market

June 14 & 15, 2016
158 Sterling Ave (Parking Lot)

This was the 5th year for the Stop's Night Market and it's a great place for over 70 chefs over 2 nights and in over 35 customized food carts to show off their food and raise money for the Stop's Food Programs at the same time.  Some of Toronto's best chef's love to do this event because it's very casual, you need to leave those stilettos at home and bring the running shoes because it's held in a gravel parking lot.  The chef's also like to hang out with other chefs and see what they are doing and while doing this they help raise some much needed funds for the Stop's Community Programs in sustainability, poverty and kids and seniors programs as well as training and diversity focused.
They also get to meet the eaters face to face and get feedback on their dishes which is something they never get to do in their restaurant kitchens.  It's really like cooking for friends because it's a very friendly atmosphere.
It started off in the parking lot at Honest Ed's but it quickly outgrew that space so they searched for another venue and found a parking lot on Sterling Ave.  They were at a different lot on Sterling last year.  If someone that has a large venue can donate their space for next year I am sure they would be very grateful and so would I.  Ideally they need a paved space outside but I would like to see space to sit like benches or even a bit of a green space would be nice.  Real washrooms instead of port a potties would attract a lot more people too. Accessible for disabilities and for drivers and people travelling by TTC or bike even.  These are my wishes for them and for attendees.

There are over 35 customized food carts that compete for the best cart prize.  I don't know what it is but I am sure they do it for bragging rights.  These were some of my favourite carts.  The trend seemed to be circles, recycled things and wood.  These carts really make their booths interesting and makes it stand out from a lot of other generic events.

 And the food.  Imagine 44 booths each night with at least 35 with food and the rest beverages.  You have to have a really big appetite to try all of the different vendors.  I think I managed about half each night.  I was able to attend both nights this year.  The first night as media and the second night as a guest of a friend.  I sampled a whole lot of different things over 2 nights.

Some of the dishes that stood out to me where the following.

Night 1
Rose and Son's - Smoked Chicken Wings with Alabama Sauce - great smokey flavour.
Rasa - Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower cheese - mind blowing good
Mad Maple Country Inn - Vanilla cream, strawberry rhubarb and maple sugar meringues - so fresh

Night 2
Art Gallery of Ontario - Sweet and Spicy fried chicken - so unexpectedly delicious
The 47 - Steak with chimichurri sauce - the beef was perfectly cooked.
The Dock Ellis - Fried Mac and Cheese bites

These were my favourites but I only tried half of the vendors each night before I was full.  The tickets are $100 and everything is included in that price so you can eat all the food and drink you can fit in your belly in a few hours.  Some of the food was really filling.

I am not much of a drinker and can't speak about the wine or beer but I did try this amazing Strawberry Daquiri and I had some grapefruit Dillon's Distills Gin.  For dessert my favourite was hands down the Strawberry Rhubarb vanilla cream from Mad Maple but I also tried the Smore's cookies from Sullivan and Bleeker and the smiley face cookes from Lindsay Bakes and the Duck Fat donuts from Sweet Sammies.

As you can see I took a lot of photos over the 2 days, probably about 100 so this isn't even all of them so hopefully you can imagine how much stuff there was.  There was even music each night.
I love these types of events because it really brings people together.  The photo above is with my foodie pal Mary Tang my food partner in crime at these charity events and my friend Sylvia who volunteered for the event.  I got to hang out with my fellow food bloggers and friends over these 2 nights and just stuff my face and take silly photos with them.  I hope to be back again next year and I hope that some generous sponsor donates a paved parking lot or grassy field for next year.  Remember all this food is helping people that are dealing with hunger so please donate even if you can't attend this event.  Check out the Stop's website for more info on how you can get involved.
OH and this event raised $215, 000 so great job and hopefully bigger next year.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pear Diver launches Cooper's Room & Scholarship

Rudy Guo and Michael Blackie

 I was back at Pearl Diver Restaurant once again for a special dinner to launch Cooper's Room a room dedicated to the late Brian Cooper who was the former Dean of Hospitality and Tourism at George Brown College.  George Brown graduate and Pearl Diver partner Rudy Guo talked about the importance of what he learned about hospitality from Brian and his wife Midge that he brings into his business practices. The Coopers always hosted culinary students in their home so Guo wants to continue this hospitality by hosting special dinners at Pearl Diver that will bring established guest chefs and pair them with hospitality students.  These dinners will fund a new "Spirit of Hospitality Scholarship" that will continue these efforts to build the culinary and hospitality community.

Cooper's Room

 Chef Michael Blackie from NeXT Restaurant in Ottawa was the special guest chef for the first of the dinner series events that will help match up future chefs with established visiting chefs.  He was born in Leicestershire, England and raised in Montreal and has cooked around the world in some of the best restaurants including the Windsor Arms (Toronto) Oberoi (Bali) and the Mandarin Oriental (Hong Kong) among others. He is known for his innovative cuisine and has one of the top restaurants in Ottawa.

For the first of these special dinners we sampled an array of things from Pearl Diver's menu and the special creations by Chef Blackie.   From Left to Right.  Shrimp, Oyster, Mussel platter, The Dirty Frenchman, Tempura Cheese Curds, Rare Tuna Sashimi Pizza, and 36 hour sous vide Pork Belly and Digby Scallops.  Not pictured was Pork Ribs and Duck Confit Grilled Cheese. 

My favourites were the Pork Belly and the Tuna and the marinated mussels were great too.

 Pearl Diver has a fantastic pastry chef named Sooji and she rolled out a few of her signature desserts including the much loved Hibiscus cake and the Chocolate ganache Tarte and I really loved the stewed peaches too.

Pearl Diver is always trying to do special things for their customers and there will be a series of upcoming dinners so if you are interested in attending give them a call to see when they will be
416-366-7827 or make a reservation for their 100 oyster Wednesday nights or their Tuesday Oyster specials and leave room for desert because it's fantastic.

Pearl Diver
100 Adelaide St. E.
Toronto, ON
Social @pearldiverTO