Monday, September 26, 2016

Food trends taking over Toronto


After going to a whole lot of food festivals over the past year or so I have been noticing a few food trends that start at some of the festivals and then take over the city and copy cat syndrome takes over and they just suck up everything else.  Here is a list of the food trends I have been noticing lately.

1.  Sushi Burritos

It's basically giant sushi rolls. From food trucks Sushitto and Shushiburri that are everywhere to new bricks and morter like Rolltation on Dundas St. W at University.  and even added to Sushi restaurants now like one on Dundas St. E.
I have seen them at Food Festivals and they are spreading around town.

2.  Poke

It's Poke everywhere these days.  It's raw tuna or salmon served on rice with different toppings. I first saw it pop up at Front Street Foods Market and then it was at Union Summer.
There are already a bunch of places that have sprung up and I know more coming, here are some of them.
1.  Big Tuna Poke Bar on Bloor west of Bathurst (my fav so far)
2.  Cali Love on King St. W. east of Spadina,  really good too.
3.  Poke Guys on Elizabeth Street,  not my fav.
4.  Pokito on Queen at Spadina.  I haven't been there yet but it's a collaboration with the Me.n.u. guys.
5.  North Poke in Kensington Market.  I was supposed to go to a media dinner but it got cancelled.
6.  Poke Wrap is opening soon on Yonge Street north of Dundas.
7.  Fish'd by Edo who were the ones at the Front Street Market are opening downtown soon. Good.
Some of these places make the Sushi Burrito's too.

3.  Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake

I went to Unionville last night and there was a huge line up on Main Street and when I went to see what it was for it was for a new Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake shop.  I first tried this at the Union Station Market because the lineups for the one on Bay street were crazy.  A new spot with slightly different cheesecakes opened on Dundas St. W. near University and now to Chinatown North in Unionville?  We saw a lot of Asian teens wondering around trying to catch pokemons or whatever they do.  I don't get it.  I know there is Japanese Cheesecake in other places around town but this is where everyone goes.

4.  Filipino Food
My first Filipino food experience goes way back when my mom would take me to Caravan cultural festival in Toronto many years ago.  We would always go to the Phillipines pavillion.  I would get the  spring rolls usually because when you are a kid that's the go to easy food.  I was also invited to go have Kamayan at Casa Manila on York Mills and Don Mills.  Kamayan is a whole lot of pork and rice and other things layed out on a table covered with Banana leaves and you just go to town on it.
I have also seen Casa Manila at a couple of festivals around town.
I was also invited to Lamesa on Queen Street West.  It's a more upscale Filipino restaurant that tries to elevate Filipino food.  They have since opened a new restaurant called Lasa on St. Clair Ave. W.
There is also Tito Ron's in Kensington Market.  The owner saw me at the Filipino festival at Nathan Philips Square and said he hadn't seen me around for a long time.  He does a lot of festivals.

5.  Crazy Ice Cream

From Soft Serve coated with crazy toppings at Sweet Jesus on John Street and also at Yonge and Eglinton.  Huge lineups but to me very over rated because the soft serve is very bland and flavourless, it's all about the selfies with this one because it looks instagram worthy.  I went with 2 other bloggers and they both agreed it wasn't worth the hype.  sorry guys but you should work on the ice cream part.
Also popping up are Thai Ice cream rolls.  Arctic Bites on Baldwin has the long lineups where you spot trend seekers.  There is also QQ Thai Ice Cream on Midland in Scarborough.  And there is Frosty Roll in Kensington Market. The rolls are cream and flavourings mixed on an anti griddle or in other words a frozen plate.  They are chopped with plaster scrapers and spread and then pushed into rolls and tucked in a bowl.  Once again I saw this at a food festival in Markham and then again at the Front Street Foods Market.  Fugo on Dundas West serves both soft serve and regular ice cream in Asian flavours and crazy ones too.  I got Bangkok Brownie pictured above and there is also a cookie monster one that is blue. And I need to mention Halo Halo, a Filipino dessert that has all kinds of crazy things in it including purple potatoes and beans.  Yes it's a dessert.
A new thing I tried at the Sweetery festival was a shaved ice dessert with condensed milk and different flavourings.  What makes it interesting is that it is light and melts in your mouth quickly but the flavourings are very interesting.  I don't know where an actual store is but it's coming I am sure.
And another one to mention is Matcha everything desserts.  There is a new place called Matcha Tea opening up in Kensington Market soon but they were also at the Sweetery Festival this summer,

TRENDS I would love to see coming:

  • OLD SCHOOL FOOD - Casseroles, Not fried potatoes, Roast Chicken, 
  • FRESH FOOD - Grab and go food that's fresh available everywhere like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks, Fruit in single serve to go, like grapes, peaches, pineapple etc.
  • HEALTHY MEALS FOR ONE - I would love to see take out dinners for one person that are healthy and fresh, not frozen or overly processed.
One of the trends at the CNE this year was the weirder the better,  crickets on hot dogs, sprinkles grilled cheese, meat eclair.  Can we stop sacrificing good food for weird food please.

Let's go back to normal food like our parents or grandparents used to make.  I am craving chicken cutlets, potato salad and casseroles and am kind of over all the Asian take out...  so makers please make it happen..  I'm Starving don't you know.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Le Baratin - brings France to Dundas West


Address1600 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1T8  
Phone(416) 534-8800

Normally when I have a plus 1 that I can bring to an event I usually bring one of my blogger buddies like my friend Shuang (the teleporta) but this time the tables were reversed.  Shuang had been invited to go to Le Baratin on Dundas Street West to do a review on her blog and she was able to bring a guest so she invited me so that I could also write a review.  I don't know if what I would call my blog posts a review but more of an overview of a particular restaurant.  Either way, normally I am on top of these things and like to post within a couple of days after attending a restaurant or event but this time TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival) took over my life for a couple of weeks so I am finally getting the time now to sit down and write this post properly.
Le Baratin has French/African native Chef Jean Regis in the kitchen creating classic French Bistro dishes with his spin on them.  He has worked all over the world in very prestigious restaurants including Toronto's own Le Paradis.  He runs a small almost open kitchen as you can see from this photo.  The menu is small but efficient to be able to produce dishes in the space it is in.  They wanted to create a destination restaurant for people that were seeking French Bistro food in a nice cozy neighbourhood space.  It is a destination place for me because it isn't near anything I normally do.  it's not near work, home, entertainment centres or shopping centres.  It's near where there are other businesses and people who have lived in the area for probably a long time.  It is right on Dundas so it's streetcar accessible but you do have to decide to go there or maybe walk by to know it's there.  it's a bit of a hidden secret that only neighbourhood people and bloggers seem to know about.  So I am kind of letting the secret out of the bag.
Chef Jean Regis
After we were greeted by the Chef and the Owner we decided on our menu.

We started with the Charcuterie platter with amazing house made pate and duck rillettes and good quality salami. ($14)
We also shared the house made Gravlax with radish and toast. ($10)
For the main I ordered the Steak Frites, it was topped with a shallot peppercorn sauce which was probably my favourite part. ($20)
Shuang ordered the Confit du Canard, a duck leg with roasted potatoes.  Her potatoes were great.
For dessert I chose the Mousse au Chocolat because that was my favourite thing that my mom made and she would make it for me instead of a birthday cake sometimes.  This one was really good.  Not exactly like my mom's but pretty darn close.  My mom lived in Paris and Belgium so she knows a thing about chocolate.  ($7)
Shuang's dessert was the Tarte Tatin ($8).  It's not pictured because the photo in the restaurant lighting on a similar colored table didn't do it justice.  I had a spoonful of it and it was like a warm apple cinnamon compote.  The kind of dessert you crave in the cooler weather.  

Assiette de Chercuterie
Steak Frites
Confit du Canard
Mousse au Chocolat
 The Space has a really homey feeling and very cozy.  There are a few red chairs outside of the restaurant but if they had the usual French Cafe Chairs out front you would think you stepped into a Bistro in Paris.  You don't have to spend a fortune to get French Food in Toronto or travel miles away to get a great French Meal.  I know that one of my blogger friends went there for her wedding Anniversary and I would say it's a great place for an Anniversary, a first date or to catch up with a good friend.  You can have a great conversation, be well treated and enjoy a fantastic meal without breaking the bank.  Hope you go and check it out soon.  Don't forget to mention that I sent you.
I am sure that will make them very happy.


Meet the Makers of your Food

Food Bloggers of Canada organized an event on Sept. 22nd to showcase local food Entrepreneurs at Food Starter, a commercial kitchen where people can go to create their products and get much needed help getting started in their food production journey.  A few Food Bloggers of Canada members and I got all decked out in lab coats and hair nets to check out the space and the vendors.  I always like to give new entrepreneurs a bit of help because it's a tough job getting things out to the market with the thousands of new things coming out all the time and the competitors chomping at the bit to take their share of the market.
Try and support local vendors and give them a chance to grow.

 I have been to a couple of events similar to this where new food producers gather together to showcase their products.  It's an efficient way to get the word out to a lot of people in a short amount of time.  I have never been to Food Starter before and wasn't really aware of what they did until touring the facility and meeting all of the local food vendors.  I guess I am always on the hunt to showcase new producers because I had already seen a few of the vendors at other shows and events and had sampled some of their food before.  There were a few new people to the game and new products.

One of the best things I sampled was actually Bone Broth from Broya which is stored in glass jars, I would say enough for 1 to 2 servings.  This was something I was really interested in because Bone Broth takes a lot of ingredients and a whole lot of cooking time to get it right.  I tried the chicken flavour and it was delicious.  I would totally buy a product like this because it would save a whole lot of time and it's one of the healthiest things you can have quickly.

I was also interested in a food production model from ModGarden that will let you grow food in your home with almost no skills and not much effort.  You just add organic soil and seeds and fill with water and plug it in and it will water when the soil needs it.  Kind of non green thumb idiot proof.  Perfect for me because I always kill my herbs before I get to use them.

Another interesting products was the sauces and spices from Brawta Caribbean Sauces.  They are the healthier version of the sauces and spices that their competition Grace makes.  Gluten free, low sodium, no added sugar and no animal products.  They have a lot of trainers that are on board for their clients to flavour that bland chicken they tell them to eat.

And a delicious sweet bite came from Mary's Brigadeiro,  high quality hand dipped chocolates.  I have seen these at a few festivals.  They make great gifts,  delicious and beautiful.

We sampled a whole bunch of hot sauces, smoothies, cricket sauces, kebeh, blue sparkling apple cider, veal, meatballs and olives even curries and other sauces.  You will see them soon at your local markets but for now to find out more about them and follow them to find out more about their products and see where you can go to sample them too.


(1) The Spread 
Instagram @thatsthespread 
Twitter @thatsthespread
FB thatsthespread 

(2) Cucina Mauro 

Twitter @CucinaMauro 
FB: CucinaMauroCatering 
Instagram @cucina_mauro 

(3) Brawta Caribbean 

Instagram @brawta_caribbean
Twitter @brawtacaribbean 

(4) One Hop Kitchen

Instagram @onehopkitchen 
Twitter @onehopkitchen 
FB: One Hop Kitchen

(5) Broya

Instagram @broyaliving 
Twitter @broyaliving 

(6) Kabkeb

Website coming soon.

(7) Gryllies

Instagram @gryllies 
Twitter @gryllies 
FB: Gryllies 

(8) Gluten Be Gone Inc.


(9) Island Foods 


(10) Mary’s Brigadeiro

FB: /MarysBrigadeiro 
Instagram @MarysBrigadeiro 
Twitter @MarysBrigadeiro 

(11) Premium Near Beer

Twitter @premiumnearbeer 
FB: Premium Near Beer 

(12) Living Farmacy

Twitter @livingfarmacy 
Instagram @livingfarmacy 

(13) The Duke Brothers Co.

Instagram @thedukebrothers

(14) Saha Cuisine 

Twitter: @sahacuisine 
Instagram: @sahacuisine 
FB: Saha International Cuisine

(15) Jaswant’s Kitchen

Instagram: @jaswantskitchen 
Twitter: @jaswantskitchen 

(16) Mod Garden Twitter @modgarden 

FB: @themodgarden 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Hot & Fun Blogger BBQ


Event -     Blogger BBQ
Date -      August 20, 2016
Reason -  Getting to know fellow foodie people

Shuang (The Teleporta) and I hosted our 1st Blogger BBQ this month. And true to my luck it was one of the hottest days of the summer but that didn't stop us.  

We wanted to have all the Toronto Food Bloggers and food industry people that I know get together to just chill and meet each other and find out who we are outside of our social media handles. 

I wanted to get a chance to see what everyone thinks and share info and connect.
Unfortunately I couldn't find a date that worked for so many of the busy bloggers so we just went with this date.  The good thing is that we were going to do it the week before and it turned out to be a crazy storm that day.  So our group was small but mighty.  As usual I made enough food for double the amount of people.  But you never know what people will like.  Some of the people that attended I have known for a few years and some not as long but they are all becoming really great friends.  Shuang is a fairly new food blogger and hasn't met most some of them so she now has a bunch of new friends that understand the love of food and the need to take a photo of your food before you eat.

Attendees were:
Denise - Petits Chefs Academy -
Loren - Aroma Outreach Manager -
Natalie - Cooking Quidnunc food blogger -
Jenny - Ice Cream and Knishes food blogger -
Niki - Niki S lifestyle blogger -
Shuang -
and me of course but you know that because you are reading this. :)



  • Gazpacho- I made this
  • Artichoke and White Bean Dip with Beet Chips - I made this
  • Carrot salad with harissa dressing - I made this
  • Souvlaki Chicken and vegetable skewers - Shuang prepared this
  • Fresh shucked corn - Shuang prepped this
  • Pesto pasta salad - I made this
  • Grilled Peaches with Vanilla gelato and Dulce De Leche - Shuang prepped this
  • Cheesecake brownie cupcakes that Jenny made were fantastic.
  • Niki brought potato and macaroni salads
  • Denise brought some wine
  • Natalie made a Greek Salad
  • Loren brought the Tzaziki and pita for the skewers, Loren learned what Tzaziki was.

Everyone literally pitched in to make this BBQ happen.  We needed all hands on deck to bring things up to the rooftop bbq and back down.  We only stayed up there to plate all the food and eat the main things but we had the dip and gazpacho and the dessert at Shuang's place.  It was just too hot when the sun moved and a couple of people had to leave for other events.

The Bean dip which I just made without a recipe was a big hit.   A bit of this and that.  I will have to make this again and measure everything so I can have the recipe handy.

The peaches were so sweet and juicy, those of us that were still there for dessert loved the peaches.

I would love to organize another Potluck in October and have more bloggers who couldn't make the date we had it come out and see what they can do to impress everyone.  A little time to get to know each other without the mad rush to get a perfect shot for a blog post.

Thanks to all for coming and for contributing to a HOT and FUN afternoon.  Hope to see everyone again soon at another Blogger get together.