Monday, July 25, 2016

Pop Up Festival City in TO

I am writing this post a little differently today.  My computer seems to have given up trying to keep up with all the pop ups and festivals that I have been trying to go to lately and it won't even start up, just like a stubborn child.  Yeah I know computers don't last long anymore but I think I just overloaded it with way too many festival images.  Anyway, for this post I am typing with one finger on my IPad while lying in bed.  Why?  Well because my body is tired but my blogger brain won't shut off.

I don't want to fall too far behind and leave out posts I wanted to write so will see how this goes for now until I figure out how to solve my computer issues.

This past weekend I attended 2 festivals.  One was a community street festival that seemed more like a flea market on a Main Street.  That festival was Big on Bloor.  Spanning from Dufferin to Landsdowne on Bloor Street it closed down the streets for 2 days.  I decided to check it out because I was close to the area looking for a new computer and on a crazy hot day I get the. Bright idea to walk on Bloor in the sun and sweat my face off.  There wasn't much food vendors but there were activities and a lot of jewellery vendors.  I basically just walked from Dufferin to Landsdowne and took some pics and hopped back on the subway.  Not much there for me.

On Friday after work I went to the Toronto Festival of Beer with my blogger friend Shuang.  It was insanely hot and you had to walk from the Princess Gates to past the Better living building.  I don't think it was the best day for us to go. We were tired and sweaty but once again I went to check it out for you.  Beer festivals are not my thing because I don't drink beer and not interested in getting drunk to the point of the next day being a write off.  This was that kind of festival with more beer vendors than food vendors in a close proximity with loads of 20-30 somethings looking for a good time.

Yeah I'm probably too old for these things but Shuang isn't and she just turned into an old lady too.

I walked around to check everything out but since I don't drink beer it kind of felt a bit useless for me to be there.  I will leave the beer description up to some of my fellow bloggers and beer lovers that I know attended the festival.  I will just tell you what else was there.  There was a Le Grille grilling tent where a few of Toronto's popular chefs were doing demos.  Some notable like Ted Reader and the Chefs from Antler, camagnolo, Raca Cafe, and Pizzeria Libretto and many more.

Other food vendors included the energetic Matt Basile with his Fidel Gastros food truck.
There was hand pie from the Pie commission and Poutine from Smokes Poutinerie and even some Swedish food to go with Swedish Beer.

There were even games to play and some big music artists there like Maestro Fresh Wes and many more.

I didn't eat or drink anything and we didn't stay long because it was just too hot to wander around.

I know lots of people with less clothing on had a really great time there but I went from work and was wearing black pants so that should explain why I didn't stay long.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the TO Food Fest at the Chinese Cultural centre in Scarborough.  What I like about this festival is that it has an indoor and outside setup.  With washrooms available inside. It's only $2 or a food bank donation to get in which I think is a good idea.  They had an area for kids to play and there is a small lot with free parking if you get there early.

It's pretty much all food but the diversity is amazing.  There was Filipino, Japanese, Brazilian, Cambodian, Jamaican and a whole lot of other ethnic and new trend foods.  From the Sushi Burritos to the Ice Cream Rolls to the Raindrop cakes.

I have seen a lot of these things before but it's a good place to try all kinds of food in one convenient location with less walking than the CNE and you will see stuff here before it hits the CNE usually.

I have said it before, there is a festival r popup for everyone and everything in Toronto.

Have we reached the limit yet or is Toronto's appetite for new foods and festivals not going to end anytime soon?

There are a few more food festivals I will be writing about soon so stay tuned,  there's more to come.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Why buying 100% Italian Olive Oil is important.

Event:            100% Italian Olive Oil Tasting Dinner
Date:              July 7, 2016
Host:              Redoro Olive Oil
Campaign:     Flavor Your Life
Location:       Buca on King St.
Hashtag:        #FlavorYourLife

Recently I received a mysterious email invitation to attend an Olive Oil tasting at Buca Restaurant on King St. West.  I didn't know who the invitation was from exactly but I accepted the invitation because it was at one of Toronto's Top 10 restaurants.  I have been to the 2 others but hadn't visited this location yet so this was a great opportunity.

It ended up being my blogger pal Shuang's (TheTeleporta) birthday that same evening so she was my plus 1 guest.  Great way to spend a birthday I think. I didn't know who else was going but so happy to see some of my other blogger friends there too.

The reason for the event was because there is a new FLAVOR YOUR LIFE campaign that is supported by the European Union and Italy to explain the importance of 100% Italian Olive Oil.  Our host was Roberto Accurso the very informative owner of REDORO Olive Oils. Redoro is supported by the European Union and Italy and is one of the only certified producers that they have agreed to partner with.

We sampled the first 3 Olive Oils on this list and Roberto explained the differences of each one.  All are first pressed oils. They only use Italian Olives from the local growers and there are no GMO's. There are a lot of oils that claim to be Extra Virgin olive oil but they are not first pressed and they use olives from other countries mixed and use blemished low quality and sometimes under ripe olives which won't have full flavour.
REDORO farm estate is located in Grezzana, in the heart of Valpantena, in the northern area of Verona: the secret of success at Redoro oil mills is the presence of the mills, very close to the heart of its production: one in Grezzana, the main seat of the firm; the other in Mezzane and also near the Lake of Garda, where only Garda DOP Extra virgin Olive Oil is produced. The oil mills work at full capacity during the three months of harvest – October, November and December. Olives are collected from the neighbouring valleys, which cover a wide area that comprises seven valleys.
 About 1000 producers send their best olives to the mills. Average yearly output amounts to an estimated 30.000 quintals of olives, processed by Redoro’s mills.
Oil production undergoes strict controls by our specialized staff who carefully follow each step of the process, pressing only good olives whose quality can produce the excellences of Redoro Mills, namely:

  • -      Italian Redoro 100%
  • -      Redoro Organic

  • -      Extra virgin Garda DOP

  • -      Extra virgin Veneto Valpolicella DOP

The oil produced at the mill is very aromatic, has an intense green color with shades of gold, and a sweet full-bodied and fragrant olive flavor, that allows it to be tasted on bread or used to dress any dish. REDORO has even given its special attention to the bottle that contains the oil: this bottle bears the REDORO registered trademark, is attractive and has a practical and very original handle.

For more information please email Marcella Dose at

REDORO SRL – Frantoi Veneti - Sede: Via G. Marconi, 30 - 37023 Grezzana (VR) - ITALY

After our Olive Oil tasting we had some truly amazing appetizers.  From the famous Buca Margherita pizza to a fried stuffed olive and a breaded eggplant with burrata cheese and basil and one of most flavourful bites was the ceviche served in spoons.  To end the meal we were presented with Olive Oil Gelato served in espresso cups.  What an interesting dessert and beautiful presentation.  One thing that wasn't event meant to stand out was the fantastic Italian sodas that they had. I had the refreshing lemon flavour.  A great citrus cleanse for the whole meal.  And I must say that there really was a noticable difference to each of the Olive Oils and I think we all had our preferences.  I think the DOP was the one I liked the best.  Each a different purpose, as dippers, finishers and for salads so it's best to sample and see which one you like the best.

They provided us with a gift bag of their Olive Oil and a bunch of recipes.

Here's a recipe that would be great for your SUMMER BBQ's that will be enhanced by using Redoro Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Coming soon the oils will be available at selected Costco stores where you will be able to sample the oils and find out more about each one.  Once the brand is established they hope to expand to large grocery stores.
Website coming soon at

Monday, July 4, 2016

Tasty touring through Kensington Market


I was invited by the very knowledgeable tour guide Audrey to take her Tasty Tour through Kensington Market this weekend.

I have never thought about taking a food tour before but it was recommended by a friend of mine.  Since I was about 12 or so I have always just wandered around with a camera aimlessly looking for interesting things.

It was a Hot Summer Day and this was a chance to see what my own city looks like through the eyes of people who have never seen it before.  I joined a group of about a dozen people who were from Cleveland, Asia, New York, Connecticut and Richmond Hill even.
Audry our fact filled tour guide curated each location for us to visit with pre arranged food for us to sample.  The food is included in the price of the tour but you could certainly purchase extra things.

We started off on Spadina at a place called Ding Dong Pastries, named after the sound of a bell, not what you were thinking.  The place though not fancy and more typical of Chinatown restaurants but it had a huge selection of fresh out of the oven, made daily in house traditional Chinese Buns.  We sampled vegetarian spring rolls but I picked up a few buns for $4 to take home.

Then we proceeded to the other side of Spadina to Kensington Market.  Audrey gave us a little bit of historical knowledge about the first Synagogue in the area.  

Kensington Market really is a good place to start if you have never been to Toronto because of it's ethnic diversity.  You can find almost any kind of food in Kensington.

We headed over to Moo Frites next,  I had heard good things about them but hadn't had a chance to get them before.  The shop was created by Ambrose after not being able to find Belgian style frites.  My mom was from Belgium so I can tell you that they take their fries seriously and serve them up with mayo and not ketchup. Belgian fries are twice cooked so that they stay crispy outside but soft and fluffy inside.  They certainly delivered on the Belgian standard.  I would know. I ate Belgian style frites most of my life.  

Other stops included the Toronto Popcorn Co. where you could find all kinds of different flavours of popcorn.  I picked up the Confetti multi coloured popcorn because we did this tour on the day of the Pride Parade.  We also had Pride inspired Rainbow cupcakes from Wanda's Pie in the Sky.  I have been there before but never had their cupcakes.  We were all pretty full by then so we had to share them.  What really filled us up besides the frites were the Chicken and Avocado Arepas from El Arepasado.  The Arepa's had a great corn and char flavour and the inside filling creamy and delicious.  They were a big hit.  We ended with a Churro from Pancho's Bakery, their food truck can be found at festivals around the city in the summer.  Our last bite was at the fun Blue Banana, I love this store and always go in to have a look around when I am in Kensington Market.  They have so many unique and interesting things.  Our last sweet bite was a piece of Dark Stubbe chocolate and Mexican style chocolate from local Chocosol.

What I learned from this tour.  Spring rolls are meant to be eaten for good luck.  The difference between frites and fries and the fact that it is a lot more efficient to tour a city with a knowledgeable guide that organizes your stops beforehand.  Less waiting and sometimes special treatment.

I never really considered the fact that if you go to a new city you are probably most likely to hit tourist traps that may or may not be good and may be over priced if you don't have a local around to tell you where they go to.  So if you go to a new city where you don't know anyone and especially if it's a different language, it might be a good idea to start with a food tour so you will waste less time and get the most out of your time without the endless hours of research.

You can join Audrey's Tasty Tours through Kensington Market and she also has a chocolate tour.

For more Info:

Follow on Social - Instagram/Twitter @tasty_tours

Win Dinner and Movie Tickets for The Missing Ingredient!

Blue Ice Docs and Virgil Films & Entertainment Presents
The Missing Ingredient: What is the Recipe for Success?
A Michael Sparaga film

Opening in Toronto
July 15 – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

A sold-out hit at DOC NYC, Michael Sparaga’s The Missing Ingredient: What is the Recipe for Success? is a charming and insightful exploration into what makes an everyday restaurant into an institution. The Toronto-based filmmaker will serve up his film for Canadian audiences beginning July 15, when the film will start its theatrical run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
The film will be released on home video in the fall in Canada by Blue Ice Docs and in the US by Virgil Films & Entertainment, which recently acquired the film for the US market.
The filmmaker’s quest to define this intangible formula focuses on two Manhattan restaurants: Gino’s, an Upper East Side fixture with over half a century of history behind it, and a list of remarkable regulars that included Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and John Lennon, to name a few.  Known for its iconic zebra wallpaper so striking it caught the eye of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson who featured it in their films Mighty Aphrodite and The Royal Tenebaums, respectively, Gino’s unique d├ęcor also inspired a restaurateur looking to turn his place into an institution.
Enter Charles Devigne, the owner of Pescatore, a Midtown staple trying to survive a changing neighbourhood now saturated with stiff competition. An artist-turned-enterpreneur, Devigne is bent on deciphering the recipe that will take his restaurant to full-blown institution status. How can he replicate Gino’s success? What will it take to make sure Pescatore stands the test of time?
“This movie is a love letter to all those old school, multi-generational restaurants that exist in every city, all over the world,” said Sparaga. 
The film is Director Sparaga’s first feature documentary. The Missing Ingredient: What is the Recipe for Success? is produced by Michael Sparaga, co-produced by Joel Roff, and executive produced by Robin Smith, Neil Tabatznik and Steven Silver.


Torontonians will also get their say on what makes up the winning recipe by entering a contest Blue Ice Docs and BlogTO have teamed up to create. By choosing their favourite dinning establishment from a list carefully selected by BlogTO’s food writers, voters will get a chance to win tickets and a dinner for them and their friends at the winning restaurant.

Win a dinner for 6 and tickets to see a Missing Ingredient screening.  

Contest Deadline: July 12th


Virgil Films & Entertainment 
was founded in 2003 by Joe Amodei to acquire, market and distribute DVD, TV and Digital product in the theatrical feature film, documentaries, special interest and sports categories. The company has built partnerships with OWN, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment, National Geographic Cinema Ventures, Pure Flix Entertainment, MLB Productions, Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets and other high-profile entertainment brands since their inception. Releases from Virgil Films & Entertainment include the Oscar-nominated documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me; the award-winning documentary Miss Representation; the critically acclaimed, timeless, best-selling Forks Over Knives; and the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepoand its sequel Korengal. They have also released the compelling I Am Chris FarleyA Brony TaleLegends of the Knight and others. Follow them on twitter: @virgilfilms |

Sunday, July 3, 2016

ICFF Film Festival - Italian glamour to the max

Giacamo Gianniotti - ICFF HOST
This post is long past due because I knew it would take a long time to put together.  I was finally able to attend the ICFF Film Festival.  Italian Contemporary Film Festival.  Last year I attended another festival and was only able to attend Industry day and the party after that but this year I was able to attend both the Opening Night and Closing Night and I was able to see a few screener films from the festival.  The host of the festival was the very handsome Grey's Anatomy Star Giacamo Gianniotti. I haven't watched the show in a while so I didn't know who he was but he was very popular.  I will post about the films on my Film Food Stuff Blog.

Checco Zalone and Director Gennaro Nunziate of Quo Vado?
I am posting about this on this blog because the Opening and Closing Night parties were spectacular and I can honestly say the best film festival food I have ever seen.  I have attended various film festivals in Toronto for the past 15 years including Tiff and a few others, but I can honestly say that Italians really know how to throw a party.  The opening night film was Quo Vado starring Checco Zalone.  Zalone has made a few films and is very popular and he was in attendance for the film and after party. The film is about a guy that has a permanent government job, who does everything he can not to lose it.  It was a hilarious film and a great start to the film festival. The after party was held down the street at Roy Thompson Hall.  The interior had the main food with pastas, my favourite gnocchi, salumi, cheese, and everything you could think of that is native to Italy.  The food made everyone very happy.  Outside on the patio was the longest dessert table you could imagine.  It was like an expensive Italian wedding.  Everything from Cannoli to Tiramisu and even Italian flag colored Macarons.  There was a blue and white colored candy table with candy floss and suckers and candies that you could even take home.  I took some candy floss and a sucker home.  The colors were the festivals colors and I thought that was a really nice detailed touch.  Yes the event planner in me was very impressed.  There were also dancers that did a water dance in the pond. I should have run over to take photos but trust me, it was spectacular.


Not to be outdone the Closing Night was just as fantastic with the film The Correspondence, a film starring Jeremy Irons.  A romantic mystery if you will about Irons who arranges plans before his death for his lover to never feel alone.  Although Irons wasn't in attendance the legendary Claudia Cardinale was there to receive an award.  Her film All Roads Lead to Rome was screened at the festival the day before. I think it would have been a great closing night film.  It's a romantic comedy starring Cardinale, Sarah Jessica Parker and Raoul Bova who is Italy's George Clooney.  The film was super cute and funny, very hollywood though.

Claudia Cardinale

The closing night party was held at the Uber fancy Ritz Carlton Hotel on Wellington Street.
With Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra at the entrance with film crew in tow, serving up some Italian cheese and other products.  The sound guy from a film I worked on was there for a cheese commercial set up that you could be a part of.  I did it for fun because i don't think people knew what it was. I also saw TV Host/Chef David Rocco there enjoying himself and said a quick hello before I left.
Chef Massimo Capra
And the food was just as impressive as the Opening night with the best Ravioli, meat, a huge table of antipasto and of course more beautiful desserts. I was so full from the great pasta that I only tried one of the desserts, the chocolate bombolone.  It was creamy and delicious.

My Italian and not so Italian friends got dolled up for the party and really enjoyed themselves.

What a spectacular festival. It wasn't just about the films it was about the food and the fashion and the culture of Italy and they really did showcase it all together in one place.  There were models in Italian fashion at the closing night party and there were Italian cars and everyone was really dolled up in their best Italian Inspired wear.  I am glad I finally had the time to go to see a couple of the films and attend the parties.  I hope to have the time to be there again next year.

If you want more info on the festival and how you can attend next year check their site: