Showing posts with label Toronto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toronto. Show all posts
About two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending one of Toben Food by Design‘s pop-up dinners at their new partnered venue, Grace. Guests were treated to an amazing family-style dinner in a multi-faceted space. Grace was the perfect backdrop for the evening: a beautifully designed space using a mixture of heritage tones and contemporary touches.

Blog by me, and edited by EventSource.ca. Read my blog and more pics here.


For those who desire some Asian influence and nostalgia in their meal, I highly recommend checking out Toben Food by Design‘s Lǚkè Pop Up Series: I. “Meaning Traveler in Mandarin, Lǚkè transports each guest to a different location by combining flavour, design, style and service for a full globetrotter experience in your very own city.”



Pop-up dinners are not new in Toronto, but to execute one with such exceptional food is what sets this one apart. The Lǚkè dinner embodies the small community closeness of the Asian culture, without sacrificing the privacy and space to which western dining culture is accustomed. Having traveled all over various parts of Asia, both Chef Toben and Chef Liam brought forth their inspiration from their trips straight to the dinner tables in the most wonderful way.

Upon entering Grace, guests are escorted to their communal tables, and drink orders were taken. The inspiration from their Asia travels is quite evident right from the presentation of the tables to the subtle nuances across the 8 courses we had the pleasure of enjoying. Each course was carefully prepared with consideration of its Asian influence such that the overall experience was an adventure in itself.

The three specialty cocktails (Taramind Sour, Sake Cocktail and Thai Coconut) perfectly complemented all of the Asian-inspired dishes.  I opted for the Thai Coconut, a sweet mixture of white rum, lemongrass syrup, lime bitters and coconut water. Yum!



As a seasoned traveler myself, I’ve had the chance to experience my share of Asian cuisine and can attest to the fact that the best cuisine out there really stimulates all five taste senses: saltiness, sweetness, bitterness, sourness, and umami. The dishes prepared by Toben certainly did just that: it is clear that a lot of attention was placed into ensuring that each one of these flavors was incorporated and balanced across the 8 delectable dishes.

We began dinner with three snacks. First up, deviled eggs which were carefully crafted with miso-crème fraiche yolk – a sensational taste of its Italian origin coupled with an Asian accent thanks to the red shisho, and Liam’s cured salmon roe. These were to die for, and the general consensus of our table was that we wished we had more of them!



The second snack was the Vegetarian Hot and Sour soup, which was the dish we found incorporated the greatest amount of Asian influence. With its exotic mushrooms, and 5 spice lotus root chips, this soup did not shy away from its Asian heritage leaving a very savory experience in one’s palette.

The third snack served as a tasty palette cleanser to the first two dishes, “resetting” our respective palette in preparation for the main meal. I cannot think of a better way to do it than using Hamachi Crudo paired with baby cucumber, and various herbs. This dish’s origin is actually Italian and serves as an answer to the Japanese Sashimi. The idea here was to bring the ocean to your dish without countering the natural flavors. This dish itself was light, gentle and served its purpose in preparing us for the main courses.

 

The first main course was Jumbo Fried Chicken Wings accompanied by its own set of Bachan – Kimchi, Cucumber Salad, and Picked Daikon. Over the last several years, Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) has popped up everywhere and has earned its staying power for a very good reason. The idea of having bachan Korean sides that are light and breezy, followed by fried chicken really elevated the flavours as opposed to fried food on top of fried food that you typically find at most fried chicken restaurants.








The next main course was the Charred Octopus, another very well-known Italian dish, seasoned with Black Bean Pineapple, and Lime. The two chefs cleverly fused an Asian staple food to this dish that every Asian household is very well aware of: Lap Cheong Sausages. The sausages were cut into tiny pieces to create a visually pleasing presentation, but also added flavor that complemented the octopus.



We ended off the main meal with a rather intricate salad consisting of many ingredients. The Shaved Winter Vegetable Salad composed of Kohlrabi, beets, heirloom carrots, Brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, radishes, pumpkin seeds, heirloom cherry tomato, and drizzled in a creamy golden miso dressing. I liked that it was filling and packed with flavor.



Wok Fried Water Spinach is an essential dish in Asian home-style cooking and restaurants. Toben’s version mixed oyster sauce, lemongrass, galangal and garlic to re-create a classic vegetable dish.

The night ended off on a sweet note with the Black Tea-Sea Salt Creme Caramel. Simply divine!



Overall, the evening certainly lived up to its goals of delivering guests that true globetrotter experience. Every detail of the dinner from start to finish was meticulously arranged, which culminated into a fantastic dinner and overall guest experience.

We look forward to the next pop up event hosted by these two seasoned traveler chefs! If you’re interested in giving this meal a try, the next event in the Lǚkè Pop Up Series: I will take place  at Grace on April 5th at 7 pm.
Cinnaholic is an American cinnamon roll bakery franchise founded in 2010. They appeared on Shark Tank in 2014, where they got an offer from one of the investors. The company then adopted a franchise business model in 2015, and there are now 3 locations in Ontario. 


Recently, I had the opportunity to visit their Danforth location to try a few cinnamon rolls myself. The store was small in size with a few long-standing tables at the front. I'd say this location is more for take-out orders. When I was there, there was a constant flow of customers taking the buns to go rather than eat-in. 

To be perfectly honest, I usually don't care for vegan food as I have had some pretty bad experiences. So my expectations for vegan cinnamon rolls weren't very high. However, I was pleasantly surprised as to how good these rolls were. It was hard to distinguish these from the non-vegan ones I have had in recent years. 



Cinnaholic's cinnamon rolls are 100% vegan and made with the highest quality ingredients. What makes the rolls vegan? It's dairy-free, eggs-free and cholesterol-free. The one thing is that it's not the healthiest dessert, as I believe the calories count for each roll is at least 600 calories. However, if you're not counting calories and love chocolate. Then definitely get the Cookie Monster. It's a roll with vanilla frosting topped off with cookie dough, chocolate chips and chocolate drizzle. 



Out of the two rolls, I liked the Raptors on a Roll more. So fluffy and soft! I'd get this same roll again if/when I am in the area.



If you don't like their pre-made combinations, you can also customize your own cinnamon roll from a variety of Cinnaholic’s signature frosting flavors and toppings. The original hand-crafted custom cinnamon roll starts at $4.95, and you can add a frosting flavor for $0.25 and each topping is $0.50. My fully customizable cinnamon bun consists of cream cheese frosting, marshmallow and sprinkles. 

The buns are made to order, and it tastes great when you eat it right away. However, the frosting does tend to harden overtime, so I'd recommend heating it up in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds if you don't eat it right after purchase. It was a very sweet treat that I thoroughly enjoyed! 



Address: 319 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON, M4K 1N7

Cinnaholic Canada

by on Thursday, January 03, 2019
Cinnaholic  is an American cinnamon roll bakery franchise founded in 2010. They appeared on Shark Tank in 2014, where they got an offer fro...
Taste Matters is a charity event hosted by Eva's Initiatives for Homeless Youth. The charitable organization is an award-winning organization that aims to help young people (16-24) who are homeless, living in shelters, “couch-surfing”, or housing insecure. Eva's also offers family and individual counseling to at-risk and homeless youth and their families. I think it's amazing that there is an outlet out there that works collaboratively with homeless and at-risk youth to help them reach their potential to lead productive.


Eva’s Taste Matters will be taking place on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at The Atrium in Queen Richmond Centre West from 6 pm to 9 pm. The event is a feast of delectable delights that brings together Toronto’s finest food and beverage. Proceeds go to safe shelter, nutritious food and 24-7 support for homeless youth at Eva’s.  Early bird tickets are currently on sale at https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/auctionhome.action?vhost=evas&utm_source=evas-tm-page&utm_medium=bttn&utm_campaign=TM2018&utm_term=buy-tickets-header

EVENT DETAILS:

Event: Eva's Taste Matters
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Time: 6 pm to 9 pm
Location: The Atrium at 134 Peter Street, Toronto, ON, M5V 2H2
Tickets: Buy here

Promo Code: Use the code FOODIE for 20% off

Enjoy tasty, local cuisine and beverage including beer, wine, and coffee. Participate in a live and silent auctions to get great deals on wine, trips, spa packages and jewelry. Hear from Chef Myles, a successful Toronto chef and Eva's alum, about his experiences with homelessness and journey to success. 


 Eva’s Place opened their doors in 1994, and has since expanded from one to three shelters - Eva's Place, Eva’s Satellite and Eva’s Phoenix. All three shelters offer several different programs and services for homeless and at-risk youths. Since they started, they have helped approximately over 19,000 youth from the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada. It's a safe haven where youths are provided a supportive and safe environment as they try to better their lives.

The Mission: "The mission of Eva’s Initiatives is to work collaboratively with homeless and at-risk youth to help them reach their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives by providing safe shelter and a range of services, and to create long term solutions for homeless youth by developing and implementing proactive and progressive services." (source)

The grand-scale event will be held in The Liberty Grand in downtown Toronto. There will be over 20 food and beverage hosts, including a few tables featuring baked goods from the youth of Eva’s. Please support this great cause as all of the money raised from the event will go towards helping homeless youth receive critical job and life skills training and education, shelter, and housing for better futures.


 Celebrate Toronto’s finest food and drink to help young people experiencing homelessness access better nutrition.
Please enjoy all the photos from last year's Eva’s Taste Matters - Eva's Initiatives for Homeless Youth event below!












Social Media:

Presented by EventSource, the Toronto Catering Showcase is back for its third year, and will be taking place at Globe and Mail Centre on October 14th, 2018 at 12 pm. The culinary event brings together a group of amazing caterers for an unforgettable afternoon of pure indulgence. 

Last year's event was amazing, and you can read my recap of it here.


Basic Information:

Date: Sunday, October 14, 2018
Hours: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Location: Globe and Mail Centre (351 King St E #1600, Toronto, ON, M5A 0N1)
Price: $65 per person (buy tickets here)
Website: http://www.torontocateringshowcase.com/

For $65, you will receive an all-inclusive pass giving you complete access to an afternoon of pure indulgence - no food tickets, and no drink tickets needed. The Toronto Catering Showcase has partnered up with several of Toronto's top caterers below:

 Daniel et Daniel Catering & Events
Eatertainment
elle cuisine
 Encore Catering
 en Ville Event Design and Catering
Food Dudes
Kiss The Cook Catering
Oliver & Bonacini Events
Presidential Gourmet Catering
ProvisionsTO
The Host Fine Indian Cuisine
Toben Food by Design

Many of above caterers offer a variety of services including corporate events, weddings, and social events. I have been fortunate to attend events catered by some of these catering companies, and they have always crafted unique tasting experiences. I am looking forward to attending the upcoming Toronto Catering Showcase next month, and I hope to see you there.

"Our team of experts are the best in the industry and bring a wealth of culinary experience. Our hands-on approach to event planning and catering ensures clear communication with our clients and seamless day-to-day operations. We maintain close working relationships with our clients and offer support and direction to our on-site event teams. " (source)

 "Quality and taste are top priorities for our chefs. Menus are constantly evolving, as we play on the tastes of the seasons, drawing inspiration from global trends and the collaborative input of our clients. " (source)

"The diversity of our spaces allows us to host a wide range of events, such as closing dinners, business meetings, personal celebrations, weddings, kosher-catered events, bar mitzvahs and large corporate events." (source)

Encore Catering helps make your dream a reality! Everyone dreams of the perfect wedding: an affair that culminates in an expression of love, and the perfect celebration to mark the joining of two families into one. From venue selection, to customized menu design, and décor conceptualization – Encore works with you, your family, and your budget to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience." (source)


I hope to see you at this year's event and you can buy ticket(s) here at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2018-toronto-catering-showcase-tickets-48067187251. I assure you, the event is a lot of fun and you will not leave hungry or thirsty :) 



Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Happy Lemon is a China-based tea chain that has quickly expanded globally since its opening. The company was founded in 2006. and has branches in over 100 different cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Taipei, Hong Kong, USA and Canada. They are also the freshly handmade bubble tea franchise chain shop floated on the stock exchange market in December 2014.


 I was introduced to the brand early last year at an Instagram meet, and I believe they have opened a few more locations since then. The mascot of Happy Lemon is an easily recognizable one ... literally a large anthropomorphic happy lemon.


Their menu includes a range of drinks such as milk tea, yakult, smoothies, but their most popular one is their rock salted cheese series. The salted cheese series is my favorite, and it's described as "creamy and enriched cheese mixed with rock salt." I have been to Happy Lemon on a few occasions, and most of the time I get the Green Tea with Salted Cheese, which I highly recommend to try.


Earlier last week, I also attended a Yelp Elite Event at the new Vaughan Happy Lemon location. The location was huge and super vibrant in colors (mainly yellow). The space is adorned with several decals showcasing the drinks and the brand. Overall, the experience was nice as two members were on hand that afternoon and the process to redeem the free drink went rather smoothly. Lots of drinks to choose from the menu!

Like many BBT shops, the routine to order is pretty simple:

1) Choose your drink
2) Choose size
3) Choose hot or cold
4) Choose topping
5) Choose sweetness and ice level 

Milk Tea with Pearl Sago and Puff Cream 


Mango Matcha Latte



FLASH GIVEAWAY

I would love for you guys to try the drinks. Therefore, I have teamed up with Happy Lemon to provide 3 FREE drink vouchers (medium drink) to TWO (2) WINNERS. Enter below to win :) The two winners will be contacted on Thursday (June 21) morning, and vouchers will be mailed out ASAP with Fedex Express (next morning delivery).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: The vouchers provided in this post were complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.



[FLASH Giveaway] Happy Lemon Canada

by on Monday, June 18, 2018
Happy Lemon  is a China-based tea chain that has quickly expanded globally since its opening. The company was founded in 2006. and has bran...
One of the current food trends in the city is Japanese soufflé pancakes, which has been quite popular overseas in Japan. Traditionally, these pancakes were served after weddings to symbolize good fortune. However, it has since become a staple item as an everyday treat, and I saw plenty of different chains in Japan serving them when I was there last month. 


 If you want some Japanese soufflé pancakes, then look no further as it's now available at Fuwa Fuwa Japanese Pancakes. The restaurant opened up in mid-May in the Annex neighborhood on Bloor Street West at Brunswick Ave. They had a promotion where they gave away 300 free pancakes per day during their opening weekend. I didn't brave the lines for their giveaway, but I did get a chance to attend a tasting a week and a half later. 

 I ended up going on a Sunday at around 6:30 pm, which I thought was a good idea at the time. Who eats sweet pancakes that late in the evening? I was wrong! There was still a line-up of people waiting for both take-out and dine-in. Luckily, I had a reservation so I avoided the line-up in the hot weather. Sorry to those who waited in line, and probably thought that I had cut them in line. 

Fuwa Fuwa Signature ($12.50)


 The kitchen staff appeared overwhelmed that day, and it resulted in a delay in getting the pancakes out in a timely manner. Not going to lie - I was slightly hangry, but I spent the wait time editing some blog photos. I think the process of cooking has gotten better since my visit, as my friend went a couple of days after I did, and she said she only waited 20 minutes for her pancake. So hopefully, people aren't waiting up to an hour for pancakes anymore. I do have plans to return to try the Tiramisu pancake next time, as it seems to be quite a popular choice.

I opted for the Crème Brûlée Pancake ($15.80), which consisted of two fluffy pancakes topped with a caramelized coat, crème brûlée sauce, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.  The pancake from Fuwa Fuwa Japanese Pancakes was airy and had a nice fluffy consistency. It wasn't too overly sweet and the tangy fruits added a nice balance. I liked it! They also serve other flavors if creme brûlée isn't your thing like matcha cream and red bean, signature, raspberry/caramelized banana and tiramisu.


Unlike the North American styled pancakes, the ones from Japan are more of a cross between an egg souffle and a hot cake. The pancakes are made fresh to order, so there is often a 20-30 minute wait time for your order. Even in Japan, the wait time was around the same as I waited about 25 minutes for the pancakes at both Flipper's (Osaka) and Light Cafe (Nagoya).


Add a little happiness into your life with fluffy pancakes. Be sure to go on the weekday though if you don't want to wait in line for long.


Address: 408 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON, M5S 2N5

Social Media:

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Fuwa Fuwa Japanese Pancakes

by on Wednesday, May 30, 2018
One of the current food trends in the city is Japanese soufflé pancakes, which has been quite popular overseas in Japan. Traditionally, the...