Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hot Summer Night at St. Lawrence Market

Event:          Summer Series Season 2
Location:     St. Lawrence Market
Date:           July 20, 2017
Tickets:        $30

It's not often that you will hear me say that an event went off without a hitch.  It almost never happens.  But I can honestly say that the stars aligned for the Summer Series at St. Lawrence Market.

Because it's held on the Patio on the Upper Level of the St. Lawrence Market the success of the event is really contingent on the weather cooperating.  After a quick rain around lunch time the weather cleared up and the sun came out just in time for this spectacular event.  I think it would have been a very different outcome it had happened during the lunch hour.

The Summer Series is a way to celebrate the St. Lawrence Market vendors with help from the Food Dudes caterers.  The Food Dudes are quickly becoming caterers who do full entertainment events like this one.  It's all about Food, Music, Art, and interactive entertainment.

This event got so many things right that I need to really highlight them.

1.  Amazing FOOD,  a great variety of really fresh food for everyone.  From fresh Ceviche to Vegan Ice Cream and things that anyone could eat and it was all fantastically delicious.  Healthy and light dishes like Jhal Muri to decadent Banquet burgers and Paella.

2.  Music and Entertainment,  there were live artists who were great and didn't overpower the conversations people around them were having but still noticeable to people interested in listening to them.  There was also a DJ and the music really complimented the chill patio vibes. There were also a couple of stilt walkers wandering around and posing for pictures.

3.  The Art,  I really loved the live artists painting huge mural paintings as people strolled by.  There was also a guy doing body painting on some models.  There were some sand creations and lovely touches of artistic decor.

4.  Decor,  It was beautiful.  They rented a nice mix of couches, high tops and tables so that people could be comfortably seated in groups, or couples or singles.  I am sure someone carefully thought about the placement of the decor because there was a nice flow.  It made the normally picnic table studded patio look elegant.

5.  The STAFF,  fantastic staff all around.  I have been noticing this a lot lately and everyone delivered in spades.  The food vendors were on top of things and served quickly.  The clean up staff were on top of things.  The security were present but not overbearing.  The check in staff were very efficient.

6.  The TICKETING,  The invites went through Eventbrite which made it pretty quick to get in.  I entered and checked in with the media desk quickly and was presented with a lanyard with tickets for food and drink tucked into the plastic lanyard.  This was a really smart way to do it.  No fumbling with where you put your tickets.  I wish everyone would adopt this system.  It's so much simpler.

7.  DRINKS,  this was really important for me.  They had many large iced self serve water dispensers on the many bar stations with cups beside it for people to quickly help themselves.  There were great bar servers providing an assortment of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.   Not the standard just beer and wine and maybe some soda.  I really loved the Kahlua and Hennessy Iced Coffee.  That really did it for me.

8.  PRICE,  I thought the $30 price was really reasonable for the amount of entertainment that was provided and the quality of the space and the food.

9.  EXTRAS - A couple of excellent extras were the lovely Fun Flower Stand girls handing out flowered hair clips and hair bands.  Even some of the boys got in on this little cute touch.   There was also an amazing woman doing Henna tattoos on peoples hands.  Two of my friends did this.  It was a long line to get it done because she was really good at it.

10.  PEOPLE and VIBE - There was a really great mix of people.  Not the same people that go to every event but people who enjoy a night out with friends.  From young professionals to old friends.  My 3 blogger friends and I were the only bloggers there and the Instagram invasion were nowhere in site and it really made it more about hanging out and enjoying the food and the people you were with.  We really enjoyed it because it's rare that we can all attend the same event and just hang out and not be rushed to just get photos for our blog content.  It was one of my friends birthday the day before and another the week before so it was a great way to hang out and celebrate their birthdays.  We had a really great time and the fantastic weather really made the whole thing really pleasant and enjoyable.

I had 4 food tickets and a few drink tickets so with my food tickets I got the Ravioli with meat sauce and pesto and alfredo sauce.  This is one of my favourite things at the market on a usual day.  We all went crazy for the Sea bass ceviche on a tostada.  They were perfection.  One thing I have been wanting to make and find around the city and was really happy to see was the Indian spiced Jhal Muri, a mix of freshly diced vegetables like onions, cucumbers and tomatoes mixed with spiced crunchy chickpeas and lentils, puffed rice and a few other things served in a cone.  Super portable for an event like this and it was light and refreshing with loads of textures.  There was a big smokey lineup for the Banquet Burgers.  It was the first thing I tried and probably the most filling.  Nice and juicy and great flavour.  I also tried my friends Polenta fries and Buffalo Cauliflower.  I was too full to try the Paella and arepas, the oysters, the Brie Quesadillas and the Vegan ice cream sandwiches and the frozen yoghurt and a few other things but my friends tried everything I think.   I also sampled the sweet bbq ribs that were being passed around.  
My favourite thing of all was really as I mentioned above was the Booze infused Iced Coffee.  it was dessert, coffee and refreshing at the same time.  It really was the finish to all of the great food I enjoyed at the Summer Series

Have to give a shoutout to all of the vendors and food providers:

Items prepared by The Food Dudes:
Banquet Burger
Brown Brothers Meats prime beef, Olympic Cheese sharp cheddar,
Enjoy with a selection of Kozlik's Canadian Mustard
Buffalo Cauliflower
Fried cauliflower, buffalo tahini, pickled carrot & celery, black sesame, mint scallions from Urban Fresh Produce.
Ceviche Toastada
St. Lawrence Fish Market sea bass, avocado puree, pickled watermelon, grilled corn, yuzu chili aioli. Fresh produce from Urban Fresh Produce.
Jhal Muri Salad
Rube's Rice crispy rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled ginger, shallots, cilantro, thai basil, smoked peanuts, puffed lentils, tamarind. Fresh product from Ponesse Foods.
Di Liso's Smoked Chicken Quesadilla
Di Liso's Fine Meats chicken smoked Al Pastor, aged cheddar, pineapple relish, sambal crema, crispy leeks. Fresh produce from Ponesse Foods. Johnny Di BenedettoOlympic Cheese Brie & Mango Quesadilla - Fresh produce from Urban Fresh Produce.
Polenta Fries
Semolina, Parmesan, aged cheddar, caramelized garlic, San Marzano sauce, pickled chilies, basil puree, pea shoots. Ingredients from Olympic Cheese @ Domino Foods.
Oli's Froyo
Grapefruit vanilla frozen yogurt, grapefruit caramel, shortbread crumble. Fresh dairy from Sheldon Creek Dairy, grapefruit from Ponesse Foods.
BBQ Ribs Carnicero's  
Spicy Salmon SlidersMike's Fish Market 

St. Lawrence Market merchant prepared items:
PIZZA Scheffler's Delicatessen & Cheese barbecued pizza featuring Black Cow cheddar and with samples of Black Cow vodka.
Vegan gnocchi carbonara & raw vegan tarts. - CrudaCafe 
Everyday Gourmet Coffee Roasters "The Founder" iced latte with Hennessey & Coffee Liquer. Also serving hot & iced espresso based beverages.
Traditional Spanish Paella (seafood & vegetarian) and Arepas  & agua de jamyca
Fresh Pasta - St. Lawrence Pizza & Pasta
St. Lawrence Fish Market - Freshly shucked oysters

It was a fantastic event.  The only thing I think I would add would be some lighting to the vendors stations for when the sun went down to make it sparkle a bit.  Because it was a beautiful night there was a huge turnout so it got pretty busy most of the night and people did stay and chat so the tables were all full so we did a lot of standing but that shows the success of the event that it completely filled the space.
Congratulations to the organizers.  I almost don't want to share this for fear of it getting too big for me to attend again in the future.   We need more summer events like this were people can connect and enjoy some great food and entertainment.
Thanks very much for all of the attention to detail. 
There is another one coming up in August and I am sure the tickets will go fast.

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