Category Archives: event

Taste of Burlington Winter 2015 Launch

After Christmas here in the GTA, social media starts buzzing with talk of Winterlicious in Toronto. But what most people don’t know is that we have our own prix fixe dining program here in sleepy old Burlington. Actually, we’re not so sleepy lately with all the howling coyotes keeping me up. But anyway, to kick off Winter 2015’s Taste of Burlington there was a launch event last Tuesday. For $30 we got to try  samples from all of the participating restaurants to pique our interest in trying their tasting menus come February 22. Well, I’m officially interested.

(I just want to quickly stop here and apologize for the horrid photo quality in this post – I just didn’t feel like lugging around my DSLR at this event while juggling plates of food, so I stuck to using my iPhone)

Taste of Burlington Winter 2015

We started our evening at West Plains Bistro‘s stand, a restaurant where I always have a good meal. Their offering was salmon en croûte with goat cheese, asparagus, and sundried tomato finished with a vodka cream reduction. The flavours were spot on, although the puff pastry was slightly soft due to being precooked and held in a warmer. This was still my favourite dish of the night though!

Taste of Burlington - West Plains Bistro

I was pleasantly surprised by the Beaver and Bulldog‘s healthy vegetarian option: a quinoa salad with chickpeas, dried cranberries, feta, scallions, and pumpkin seeds. This definitely put this restaurant on my radar as a healthy lunch option when I’m downtown!

At Eatalia‘s stand I had a panko crusted salmon cake topped with caper aioli and lemon dressed micro greens. That aioli totally made the dish – yum! Honestly I’ve been to Eatalia before for drinks, but I’ve always overlooked their food. Perhaps that should change?

Taste of Burlington - Eatalia

Paradiso is a restaurant I usually love, but I was a bit let down by the lack of flavour in their braised beef and mac & cheese fried balls. Despite this flop in my eyes, I know they serve a great meal at the restaurant – especially their crab cakes and fish – and I definitely plan on returning!

Pepperwood Bistro had a delicious spoon of smoked bacon wrapped meatloaf on Yukon gold potato puree. Oh man was this ever good! I would gladly devour a full sized plate of that.

Taste of Burlington - Pepperwood

Rayhoon is a Persian restaurant that’s a newer addition to downtown Burlington, and a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. They were serving up Aush Reshteh soup made with herbs, beans, and noodles topped with cream sauce, mint infused oil, and fried onions. The flavour was really unique, but it grew on me the more I ate it. It sounds weird, but the best part of this soup was actually its mouth feel – it was so soft and velvety!

Taste of Burlington - Rayhoon

SB Prime‘s butternut squash gnocchi with rabbit confit had me excited, but I found the flavours to be flat. I would have liked an exciting punch of flavour in the dish to make it stand out!

From the Waterstreet Cooker I had a roasted root vegetable and baby kale salad with goat cheese and quinoa granola. The granola was such a cool addition. I enjoyed all the flavours in this, however I didn’t taste any dressing on it. I’m not sure whether it was left off intentionally or by mistake! But I think the salad would have benefited from some moistness to tie it together.

Taste of Burlington - Waterstreet Cooker

We wrapped up our tasting spree with a chocolate brownie with ice cream from Wendel Clark’s. This unfortunately fell a bit flat for me. The brownie was fairly good, but it was served in soupy ice cream that was lacking in richness. It was good (how can any brownie and ice cream not be good?) but just not spectacular.

Taste of Burlington - Wendel Clark's

We ravaged our way through the samples and left merely an hour after arriving – guess we  were on a mission! But I’m looking forward to checking out the tasting menu at one (or hopefully more!) of these restaurants at the end of February.

Looking for more posts about local food events? Check out these:

Delicious Food Show 2014
Veg Food Fest 2014
London Wine and Food Show
Savour Stratford Culinary Festival

14 Comments

Filed under Burlington, event

My top 10 highlights from the Delicious Food Show 2014

I was planning on writing this post immediately when I got home from the Delicious Food Show in Toronto last Sunday. But I couldn’t. Instead I was bed ridden with a sugar hangover for the rest of the evening with only enough functional capacity to browse Pinterest (clothes, not food – I couldn’t even bear to look at food).

But after a few days, I was ready to revisit my pictures and write this recap of the amazing time I had at the Delicious Food Show. I was provided with a free media pass to attend the event, but I gladly would have paid the ticket price ($20 online) to attend. The demonstrations and free samples make it more than worth it!

Delicious Food Show

There was so much to see there that it would be impossible for me to recap it all in this post. Not only were there restaurant booths there, but there were also food companies, cooking equipment companies, food trucks, and alcohol. Plus all the other special features such as chef demos, presentations by celebrity chefs like Tyler Florence and Chef Hughes, book signings, hands on workshops, and lots more. Clearly there was a lot there! But I’ll try to keep this post brief(ish) and just touch on my favourite finds.

1. Holy Cannoli

The first booth I stopped at was Holy Cannoli, where I tried my first taste of cannoli. I have no other cannoli experiences to compare it to, but it tasted fantastic. It must have been owner Vanessa Chiaravalloti’s secret cannoli cream recipe passed down to her from her father that made it so good! I also loved their idea to sell “fill your own” kits and cannoli chips & dip.

Delicious Food Show - Holy Cannoli

2. Short and Sweet Cupcakes

I was so excited to discover Short and Sweet Cupcakes, a 100% nut free bakery in Toronto that prides itself on using only quality ingredients. I am seriously loving that all these nut free bakeries are popping up in cities all over Ontario. 15 years ago I couldn’t eat anything except for what my mom baked me; now I’ve got so many options! We tried a banana chocolate chip cupcake which I really enjoyed, although the icing was overly sweet.

Delicious Food Show - Short and Sweet Cupcakes

3. Feast

Feast (Fabulous Eats for the Allergic and Sensitive Types) is a recently opened “allergy friendly gourmet food store” in Toronto. They adhere to extremely strict protocols so they can guarantee their food is free of wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish. Such great news for those of us with severe allergies that always worry about finding food that’s safe to eat! I tried one of their coconut milk caramels which was a wonderfully sweet treat, and now I can’t wait to visit their location on Queen Street West to try their hand pocket pies and donuts!

Delicious Food Show - Feast

4. Screamin Brothers

Another great allergy friendly find was the coconut milk ice cream at Screamin Brothers. This company has a really touching story behind it too. It was founded to raise money after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, and it continues to donate 5% of its profits to local and international children’s charities. Tasty nut free ice cream and supporting a great cause? That’s definitely something I can get behind!

Delicious Food Show - Screamin Brothers

5. Naseem Dates

I’ve always thought that a date is a date is a date. Who cares where I buy it or what kind it is – they’re all the same anyways. Man, was I wrong. The dates I tried from Naseem Dates were the softest, most melt-in-your-mouth delicious dates I’ve ever tried. I’m kicking myself for not picking up like ten boxes!

Delicious Food Show - Naseem Dates

6. Foodies on Foot

Foodies on Foot is a company that any Toronto foodie should be familiar with. They do cooking classes, food tours, and other food related events in the city. To give you an idea of what they do, in November and December they have an “Insanewich! Food Tour” which takes you around to some of the restaurants and cafes serving the best sandwiches in Toronto. How awesome does that sound?

Delicious Food Show - Foodies on Foot

7. Canadian birch syrup

Of all the products I tried at the Delicious Food Show, I think this  Canadian birch syrup was the one that I would be most likely to take home with me (if only the price tag wasn’t in the range of $25-28!). What’s really neat about birch syrup is that it is so versatile depending on which kind you buy. The amber gold is sweet enough to use in dessert, while the dark variety has a strong, deep flavour that would be perfectly suited for red meats. I would love experiment with cooking with this syrup someday (psst mom and dad, Christmas is coming up soon).

Delicious Food Show - birch syrup

8. Olympic Dairy Balkan Style Chia Yogurt

With Greek yogurt and chia seeds going strong as two of the top food trends in the past few years, I guess it should be no surprise that a company has now combined them. Olympic Dairy‘s Balkan Style yogurt with chia seeds tasted great to me, although if you’re turned off by textures, you might not like it. Personally I think it’s a great way to get some extra omega 3 fats in my day, although I could probably just as easily add them myself to regular yogurt.

Delicious Food Show - Olympic Dairy Chia Yogurt

9. Foodland Ontario

It was great to see Foodland Ontario at the show promoting all the great food we grow locally here in Ontario! I feel so incredibly fortunate to live in a region that has such fertile land and such a strong network of individuals, organizations, and companies involved in the local food system. I sampled some great Ontario preserves, pears, goat cheese and more! There was also a chef cooking up some dishes made with Ontario grown food, but unfortunately we missed out on that.

Delicious Food Show - Foodland Ontario

10. S’mores ice cream bar

One area of the Delicious Food Show was Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium, where eight Toronto restaurants served two dishes each that people could vote on. As soon as we saw the chocolate s’mores ice cream bar from Home of the Brave, we knew we had to try it. It was delicious (how could something with ice cream, chocolate, and marshmallows not be?) but its flavours were slightly flat. I know they were restricted to using certain brands in the creation of their dish though, so that might explain it.

Delicious Food Show - Home of the Brave

I sampled so many other foods I wish I could write about on here, and others that I didn’t get to sample that I wish I had. If only I had an extra stomach for events like this! At least there’s always next year’s show. Who wants to join me?

20 Comments

Filed under event

Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Eggplant Parm Stacks

Disclaimer: In exchange for promoting The Delicious Food Show, I received a media pass to attend the event. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own!

One of the things I love the most about living so close to Toronto is all the great food events in the city. It seems like every month (heck, every week) there’s a new food festival or event being promoted on Twitter. It’s hard to keep up with!

One event that I’m particularly excited for is the Delicious Food Show, happening October 17-19 at the Direct Energy Centre. It’s going to be three days of exhibitors, cooking demos, tastings, workshops, appearances by Food Network and celebrity chefs, and of course lots of good food! If you’re interested in attending, check out their website and be sure to follow the event on Twitter and Facebook.

Delicious Food Show 2014

One person than I’m excited to see there is Lucinda Scala Quinn, who is the Executive Editorial Director of food for Martha Stewart Living Magazine, and also the author of 4 books. She will be doing a hands on workshop on Saturday at 2:30 pm as a part of the Exclusive Chef Series. And based on her Eggplant Parm Stacks recipe that I’ve been given permission to share, I bet she’ll be cooking something delicious!

Eggplant Parm Stacks

Eggplant Parm Stacks

Excerpted from Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books). Copyright 2013. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin.

Serves 8 | Vegetarian

2 eggplants (2-1/2 pounds total),
sliced 1/3 inch thick (24 slices total)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 cups Italian Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) or other tomato sauce
A 1-pound ball fresh mozzarella, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (24 slices total)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center position. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

2. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with 1/3 cup of the olive oil and season with the salt. Working in batches, add to the grill pan and cook, flipping once, until charred and soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a platter or baking sheet.

3. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, pepper, herbs, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl.

4. Place 8 slices of the grilled eggplant on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Top each with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the bread crumb mixture, and a slice of mozzarella. Repeat to make 2 more layers.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until soft, golden, and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Italian Tomato Sauce

Makes 3 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta

1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, pulsed in a blender to a semichunky consistency
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 basil sprig (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in the olive oil to coat the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and pepper flakes and stir constantly for 30 seconds, just long enough to release the garlic’s fragrance; don’t cook it to golden.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced and a deep tomato color. Add the basil sprig in the last 5 minutes of cooking, if using. Remove the basil before serving and swirl in the butter, if desired.

Toronto folks: will I see you there?

24 Comments

Filed under event, recipe, toronto