Toronto Tea Lovers, Celebrate with Tea – Support & Shop Local with The Sugared Teacup’s *NEW* Tea Gift Box Business!

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IT’S ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!!!!!!!!  Ate by Ate’s sister, The Sugared Teacup, (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com) has been preoccupied for the last little while for a veeeery good reason and the news is out: THE SUGARED TEACUP IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!!  The Sugared Teacup has partnered with many of Toronto’s finest local tea shops and businesses to give you a “Taste of Toronto” tea-style for the holidays and hopefully into the new year and beyond with SPECIAL THEMED TEA BOXES!

I’m beyond ecstatic and excited and nervous and every other crazy emotion imaginable because this is my baby.  The Sugared Teacup is no longer just a blog; it’s a business idea and brand that I have put my heart and soul into for months and I am overjoyed that I can watch it grow with the love and support from the community – the blogging community, the tea community, our local community, and so many others.

Okay, so before I dive in and give everyone the details on how make a purchase, I want to explain how this all came about from the very beginning.  Back in September, I was laying in bed when I was suddenly struck with an idea: how great would it be to start a tea box subscription business with the local tea shops and businesses?!  Subscription box services have been growing in popularity over the last number of years.  Everything from organic food, cosmetics, stationery, and books can be delivered to your doorstep every month in a fun and unique package of goodies.  Tea boxes have definitely been a part of the fun so while I knew this was not a new idea and that I certainly wasn’t re-inventing the wheel by thinking about this, I knew I wanted to put my own mark on it and make it different from anything else out there.  So I got to work.

How are The Sugared Teacups’s Tea Boxes (“Sugared Tea Boxes”!) different?  It’s all about keeping everything local.  As I’m envisioning this idea unfold as time goes on, I absolutely want to involve other tea businesses (and tea-related businesses!) in Ontario and the rest of Canada but for the time being, this idea has its roots in Toronto – literally.  There are many tea box businesses out there that operate in many different ways.  Some use smart technology to determine what type of tea drinker you are by having you take a survey and they base their monthly selections on that profile.  Other businesses send a surprise box each month.  And others focus and introduce their subscribers to different brands and businesses from across the globe, all the while sourcing their own teas.  The Sugared Teacup tea boxes are all about 1) supporting Toronto tea businesses, 2) giving tea lovers lots of fun and variety, and 3) allowing everyone to try teas they wouldn’t normally go out of their way to try.

When I was chewing on this idea back in September, I thought about why I loved the idea so much and why others would too.  Not only is this a huge creative outlet for me (I decorate and personalize every box!  The crafting scrapbook princess in me is so ridiculously happy right now!), the tea boxes target some of the issues some people face when it comes to tea and shopping for it.  For example, some are deterred from ordering online because they need to spend x amount of dollars for free shipping, otherwise they could be spending more on shipping than they are on the tea.  Now this wouldn’t be an issue for those who are dedicated to a specific brand or business.  However, I know there are many who don’t want to spend so much on teas they may not like in such large quantities (for example, in 50g or 100g quantities).  These tea boxes give you the variety and the opportunity to try many teas in smaller amounts.  Some teas come in full size (there are some in special tins!), but the majority of the teas come in smaller pouches so instead of hemming and hawwwing over trying to choose 1 or 2 full size teas at full price, you get at least 5 teas in adorable packaging!

There are also many people who love tea but are unadventurous in their exploration of the city.  I know there are folks who’ve never even ridden the subway or streetcar!  So the likeliness of them discovering these different tea shops and business is very low.  There are SO MANY amazing tea shops and businesses here in Toronto so these boxes give everyone the chance to get to know them without having to schlep out there visiting 6 different places or feeling overwhelmed and not having a clue what they should try or feeling uncertain of what they might like.  I blog so I do this anyway for a living!  And because I love doing it.  Not to mention I’m used to choosing teas for people who don’t know what they want (like my brother!  And my mom!  And others!).  But not everyone is going to wake up at the crack of dawn to haul their tooshie out to buy tea.  I do the work for you by putting together a fantastic box of tea based on your preferences (more about that below), giving you a “taste of Toronto”.  Because at the heart of it, that’s what this is!  I kept thinking to myself, “well, for me, I would LOVE it if I could try a bunch of local teas from say, Vancouver.  Or Nova Scotia.  Or Seattle.  Or anywhere!”  I wish someone could send me a box of teas like that.  So I thought, “well, why don’t I do that for Toronto?”

And that is how The Sugared Teacup Tea Boxes were born!

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In a nutshell, I’m offering 6 different themed tea boxes (as well as a special Earl Grey Lovers box!): black tea, green tea, mixed teas (black, green, rooibos), herbal/rooibos/caffeine-free, fruity teas, and dessert teas.  You choose the type of box(es) you’d like and I put together a fabulous selection of teas from all the wonderful shops and businesses based on this selection!  It’s that easy!

This is the soft launch for the holidays, meaning if it does well, I’ll be growing the business by offering subscriptions and shipping across the country (and maybe the US if I can make it work!).  FOR THE HOLIDAY SOFT LAUNCH THOUGH, I am keeping it entirely local, meaning Markham and Toronto pick-ups and drop-offs for tea box purchases.  

Head on over to the Tea Boxes page on The Sugared Teacup’s menu bar (http://www.thesugaredteacup.com/teaboxes) to fill out a form to make a purchase – I have a BLACK FRIDAY WEEK INTRODUCTION PROMOTION GOING ON THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!  All online transactions will be handled using PayPal.  If you’re uncomfortable purchasing online or if you would prefer to not use PayPal and pay in cash, please feel free to download an order form using the PDF file link at the bottom of the Tea Boxes page; you can e-mail me at thesugaredteacup@hotmail.com telling me what selections and quantities you’d like and you can simply bring me a hard copy of the form for receipt purposes upon pick-up and drop off.

I’ve been working really hard to turn this idea, dream, and passion into a reality and I am SO thankful and grateful for the tea shops and businesses that have so graciously jumped on board with it!  (Check out the Tea Boxes page to see which tea shops and businesses I’ve partnered with so far!).  This is just the beginning of a crazy new chapter in The Sugared Teacup’s journey and I am so happy and excited to have you all be a part of it.  SUPPORT LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL!  Let the games begin!

 

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Showing Our Pride – Cookie Style! Flags, Rainbows & Drag Kings & Queens From All the Best Fine Foods

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Happy weekend, everyone!  It’s a crazy one with Pride going on, the first weekend celebrating the end of the school year and the official start to summer vacation, World Cup, and Canada Day weekend!  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets or is taking Monday off to make it a long weekend, you must be feeling elated!  Sorry for missing the last few days here though.  I’ve been under the weather and in a lot of pain and discomfort and honestly, I just need some serious TLC for both my mind and body because the stress of everything – finding work, losing sleep over finding work, and then getting sick – took its toll for the greater part of this past week and I’m really looking forward to mindlessly watching tv to calm everything down.  BUT!  I did manage to enjoy a bit of Pride Week/World Pride, foodie-style, before a bout of sickness took over so I’m so excited that I was able to squeeze that in because after getting an e-mail about these babies, I did NOT want to miss out: Pride maple gingerbread cookies from All the Best Fine Foods in the Church-Wellesley village!

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I subscribe to e-mails from All the Best Fine Foods, a gourmet food shop here in the city with two locations (one by Summerhill station and the other by Church & Wellesley; check out my first post on them HERE, featuring their chocolate fudge cupcakes!) and I received one last week with a whole bunch of summer news and goodies, including the news about Pride and the Church & Wellesley location selling special Pride-themed gingerbread cookies.  I saw it and freaked out because the little picture of them looked so darn adorable!  So amidst all the chaos of this week, I managed to make a trip down to grab a bunch of these beautiful cookies to celebrate Pride.  It is SO awesome seeing the community decked out in all its rainbow glory and even just walking through the neighbourhood and buying these cookies for the occasion felt special.  It was like being a tourist in my own city.

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I picked up five cookies ($1 each!) including a set of rainbow maple leafs, a rainbow Pride flag, a rainbow Canadian Pride flag, and a cutie-patootie drag king and queen, ha!  And to round out my purchase, I picked up a few Russian doll Pride keychains because I’m a total sucker for cute accessories and knick-knacks like that.  And you know what?  They taste AMAZING!  The cookies, not the keychains.  Some might dismiss decorated cookies as just that: cookies that are decorated but bland in taste and purely admired for their aesthetic.  Not these.  The maple gingerbread cookies are so soft and delicious and I love them.  The icing wasn’t hard (seriously, there are decorated cookies out there that have the capacity to chip a tooth!), the sweetness was perfect, and they screamed fun and cuteness.  I’ve already eaten four – three maple leaf ones and one of the flags.  My brother and I are totally gorging on the rest of them for the rest of the weekend.

However you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope everyone has a fun one.  Happy Pride and fingers crossed for a rain-free parade tomorrow!

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All the Best Fine Foods is located at 493 on Church Street near Wellesley in the Church-Wellesley Village.  Their 2nd location is south of Summerhill station at 1101 Yonge Street in the Rosedale neighbourhood and area.

Eat, Cook, Love – Beef, Mussels, Foraged Foods & the Taste of PEI Cook-Off Challenge with Michael Smith, Part II!

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maincollage“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions.  I’m so glad I have such a lot.  And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it.  Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still.  It does make life so interesting.” – Anne of Green Gables, ch. 34, “A Queen’s Girl”

Hot beef being sliced, sauce being drizzled, potatoes being mashed and hands and arms flailing in a flurry of activity.  It’s not every day you get to be smack-dab in the middle of a live cooking challenge, much less one hosted by Chef Michael Smith!  This is Part II of The Taste of PEI Cook-Off Challenge event where I dined on and soaked in everything Prince Edward Island at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village several weeks ago!  This was so much fun because not only did all of us get to take part in some fun oyster eating and shucking demos, eat Prince Edward Island food, and meet and mingle with fellow food bloggers, travel foodies, and industry folk, we also got the opportunity to get up close and personal with the crazy half hour cooking battle that took place during the event: 4 chefs, 4 appetizers on 4 plates, 4 “secret” ingredients and one hell of an exciting cook-off!

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Now I know it sounds a little strange that I’m saying that we got take part in the cooking challenge.  After all, the event was called the Taste of PEI Cook-Off Challenge for a reason; we certainly weren’t just there to nosh on platters of cheese and veggies and PEI meats and seafood!  There were many things to take away from the event but clearly, the cook-off was the jewel of the treasure chest.  However, there’s a big difference between being a spectator and being right in the middle of the action soaking everything in as its happening.  And that is why this event, in my opinion, was so much fun, so well-executed, and so meaningful for everyone involved.  It wasn’t just us standing around looking on while the 4 competing chefs cooked.  We were all allowed to walk right up to the cooking station where all 4 chefs were preparing their dishes (so long as we didn’t interfere and get in their way of course!), ask questions, take an obscene amount of photos, record videos, and basically salivate and gawk as we did it.

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It was such a warm, welcoming, open atmosphere and we were all made to feel like the event was for us just as much as it was for the chefs, for the media and for the organizers.  It was such a treat and much more interactive than I thought it would be!  We were standing there recording their every move in image and video and none of the 4 chefs missed a beat, like they were made to compete and to showcase their culinary talents in front of an adoring crowd.  And I do mean every move!  We were literally speed-walking and jogging back and forth between chefs snapping photos and it’s almost ridiculous everything we recorded: “Ooo, he put sauce on the plate!” *CLICK* “Ooo, she’s slicing the beef!” *CLICK* “Check out those waffle chips!” *CLICK* “Did someone drop something?!” *CLI-okay, maybe not*  You get the idea.  It was all part of the experience and I’m really grateful that we weren’t given the red tape or the boot to stay clear.

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The chefs taking the “Oyster Oath” before competition!

The 4 wonderful chefs and aspiring culinary giants that took part in the PEI cook-off challenge were Keith Hubbard from Fanshawe College (far left), Trevor Littlejohn from Niagara College (2nd from the right), Chrystalla Papachristou from Humber College (far right), and the cooking challenge winner that night, Lorelei Simbulan (2nd from the left) from Liasion College!  The task?  To create ONE appetizer dish FOUR times for four plates using PEI ingredients (mussels, beef, potatoes, etc.) AND to incorporate at least ONE of the FOUR “secret” PEI foraged ingredients!  The four foraged ingredients (cattails, mussels, fiddleheards and spruce shoots) are foods that really make Prince Edward Island shine and they were all personally foraged by Michael Smith for this very event.

The event was about cooking and eating and the love of food, yes, but also about doing things out of your comfort zone, opening yourself up to new experiences, and to really become one with your food in whatever way that you can.  And Michael Smith does this by foraging for wild ingredients and harvesting them, getting the hands and feet dirty (literally putting on those wellies and sticking your hands into a swampy area and grabbing those cattails out!) and learning about what your hometown has to offer.  Because little do we know, food could be staring us in the face in our own neighourhoods; we just have to find ways to explore, research and get to know the food possibilities that surround us.

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Chefs hard at work!

The chefs had 30 minutes to prepare their appetizers on 4 plates using whatever was available to them in the kitchen “pantry” (SO totally Chopped-like on Food Network with the secret ingredients, stocked pantry, and sweaty countdown to the finish line!) and in the end, they would be judged by Michael Smith and 3 selected judges and a winner would be crowned with a prize of $500 and bragging rights!  We watched the cook-off from start to finish from the moment the chefs raced to the pantry shelves and table to the last seconds of plating.  And in the end, not one chef make an appetizer that was similar to anybody else’s.

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Trevor’s dish!

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Lorelei’s dish!

Keith went, in my mind, the chic pub-style, comfort food route with a grilled strip loin with apple cider vinegar and smashed garlic served with fiddlehead, spruce shoots and potato soup, apple and blue cheese mussels and crispy waffle chips* (I am such a sucker for waffle chips, they are just so darn cute!);  Trevor‘s dish oozed steakhouse gourmet with a sesame grilled strip loin (seeing those slices of of strip loin made me drool, oh my gosh) with spruce shoots and Sriracha served with a fiddlehead and potato puree, carrot and green apple citrus slaw with bacon, sticky soy and beer braised mussels and topped with dulse potato hickory sticks*.

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Chrystalla’s dish!

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Keith’s dish!

Chrystalla went contemporary with lots of fruity, flavourfuls twists with a grilled strip loin steak marinated with spruce shoots and grape seed oil served with fiddleheads sweetened with honey, orange juice and orange zest and potatoes sautéed with mussels, coconut milk, a hint of cream and dulse, garnished with cattails marinated in white wine vinegar and grape seed oil* (truly like a mosaic of edible art!); and finally, Lorelei’s was a petite “big things come in small packages” warmth and comfort of a delight: pan seared medallion of beef seasoned with salt, pepper and spruce shoots served over Dijon and chive mashed potatoes with Panko and dusle mussels and a garlic butter sauce* (which just about made my stomach growl!).  So many different interpretations and styles and yet they all worked together as one cohesive food presentation.

winning cook offAfter careful deliberation, Lorelei Simbulan from Liasion College was crowned winner of the Taste of PEI Cook-Off Challenge with a big fat cheque of $500 to take home!  Watching the 4 chefs duke it out Chopped and Iron Chef-style was incredible (no easy feat to plate the same dish 4 times and to keep things consistent!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Chopped or The Next Iron Chef or something or other and one judge will love it and another will say, “um, mine was undercooked!”) and it was such a fun, eye-opening experience to see them push their creative minds for the love and passion of food and cooking.  A HUGE thanks to Tourism PEI and Mosaic for organizing the event (*and for providing us bloggers with all the nitty gritty details of all the ingredients that went into the chefs’ final dishes!), to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen for providing their beautiful space for the event, to all the great people I met that night (shoutouts go out to Alex Ward from Fresh Juice, Dave and Deb (my name twin!) at ThePlanetD, Brian @ProjectBLT and The Huffington Post, and Foodies Inked) and to Chef Micheal Smith for hosting, brining PEI to TO and for being an inspiration all these years.

National Grilled Cheese Month, Dubon Chicken, Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale & a Cookbook Store Anniversary! The April Food Calendar!

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April is National Grilled Cheese Month!

April 2013 Food Calendar

Still in the works, but there’s plenty here to keep us occupied for the time being!  I’ll be adding all the events from The Depanneur and lots more but I have a lot of BIG ones here that I’ve compiled.  April brings us the Dubon Chicken pop-up (make your reservation ASAP, the tickets are being snatched up FAST!), National Grilled Cheese Month, the Good Food & Drink Festival, the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, and the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Cookbook Store among many others!

Food Festivals and Events

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, March 2 – April 7.  All day, every day.  2 locations: Bruce’s Mills Conservation Area (3291 Stouffville Road in Stouffville) and Kortright Centre for Conservation (9550 Pine Valley Drive in Woodbridge).  $10 for adults, $6.50 for children and seniors, and students, children 4 and under with family are FREE.  Prices include HST.  Welcome the spring season with a month-long maple syrup festival!  Engage in syrup tastings, demos, pancakes, a maple syrup dinner, learn about the history of maple syrup, get maple syrup recipes and so much more!  Click the link the schedule of events and more info.  http://maplesyrupfest.com/

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Hands Across the Nations (HATN) 10th Annual Wine & Gourmet Evening, April 5.  6:30pm.  2-35 Carl Hall Road at the Warehouse Event Venue at Downsview Park.  $100 +HST/person.  This culinary extravaganza full of gourmet food and wine made by chefs from The Escoffier Society (the Toronto arm of the Canadian Culinary Federation) benefits projects in Bolivia and Mali led by Hands Across the Nations, a charitable organization dedicated to improving and enriching the lives of those in the developing world.  http://www.hatn.org/wine_gourmet_2013_info_new.htm

The Good Food & Drink Festival, April 5 – 7.  12pm-9pm on Friday, 10am-9pm on Saturday, and 10am-6pm on Sunday.  100 Princes’ Boulevard at the Direct Energy Centre.   Adults: $11 online ($14 at the door), seniors: $11 (online & at door), kids (12 and under): FREE accompanied by an adult.  There’s no better way to celebrate the spring season than with delicious food, wine, spirits, and more!  The show returns to Toronto at the Direct Energy Centre; see Anna Olson, James Cunningham of Eat St. and more; check out Eat St. food trucks, Dairy Farmers of Canada, gourmet grilled cheese contest, Food Network Canada cooking stage, shopping, and samples and tastings galore!  http://www.goodfoodanddrinkfestival.com/

30th Anniversary Open House: The Cookbook Store, April 6.  11am-4pm.  850 Yorkville Ave. at the corner of Yorkville Ave. and Yonge Street.  FREE.  Blow out the candles and break out the noisemakers: Toronto’s very own Cookbook Store celebrates their milestone 30th (yes, the iconic, beloved shop home to foodies, cooks, and more has been around since 1983; can you believe?!) with lots of cake and a special appearance by James Cunningham, host of the wildly popular Eat St. on Food Network!  He’ll be in town and the store promoting Eat St., the book, so grab some goodies, grab the new book, and meet the iconic Food Network star while reminiscing about your memories and favourite Cookbook Store moments over the years.  http://www.cook-book.com/events/

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5th Annual Vegan Rock!  Presented by the Toronto Vegetarian Association, April 6.  8pm.  292 Brunswick Avenue (between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St. off of Bloor St. West) at the Tranzac Club.  $12 admission/person.  Enjoy great live music by some of the city’s local vegan bands and musicians and gobble down delicious vegan food and treats while you rock the night away.  And don’t forget the raffle chock full of prizes provided the event’s sponsors!  http://veg.ca/2013/03/21/vegan-rock/

Flemingdon Park Food and Fun Fair, April 6.  11am-4pm.  123 Wynford Drive at Noor Cultural Centre, Main Auditorium.  FREE.  Food, health and well-being come together at this food and health fair dedicated to providing plenty of helpful information and tools for those wishing to improve their overall health.  Find out of about classes, workshops, and more in the community, and sample free food, take home recipes, and leave the fair with a wealth of fun and useful tools and information!  http://healthylivingday.eventbrite.ca/#

Dubon Chicken Pop-Up Toronto, April 8 – 10.  5:30pm-10pm.  35 Baldwin Street at Elle M’a Dit Restaurant.  Cost of food at restaurant event ($13 for regular wings, $22 for large).  RSERVATIONS REQUIRED (reserve online).  Calling all chicken wing, hot and spicy, crispy crunchy, finger food-loving food lovers!  Korean fried chicken pop-up Dubon Chicken is making its way to Toronto and it has already garnered much attention with reservations flying off the hook.  Ditch the goopy sauce and bland veggie sticks and opt for enjoy double-fried Asian-flair chicken wings, Dubon-style, with mooli mooli (pickled raidsh) and Asian slaw in flavours such as Soy Garlic and Fiery Pepper!  http://www.dubonchicken.com/

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Source: Dubon Chicken

Craft Your Senses: A Beer Tasting Event, April 11.  7pm-11pm.  3030 Dundas Street West.  $15 general admission (drink tickets to be purchase on-site); $25 VIP admission (swag bag and 5 drink tickets).  Drink tickets come in packages: 5 tickets for $12, 10 tickets for $20.  MUST be 19+ to attend.

Let your 5 senses do the talking at this special evening dedicated to local Ontario craft beer!  Learn the ins and outs of savouring craft beer, distinguish between different types as you taste, and more!  This is a student-run, fundraising initiative planned by fifteen students in the post-graduate Event Management program at The Humber Business School in support of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (ITAL) scholarships.  http://www.craftyoursenses.com/taste.html

Food Bloggers of Canada 2013 Conference, April 12 – 14.  Hockey Valley Resort (793522 Mono 3rd Line, R.R. #1, Orangeville, ON).  Tickets for the 3-day conference are $699 for double-occupancy (tickets are 98% sold out, so there’s still a little wiggle room!).  It’s the first of its kind!  FBC hosts its first ever conference at the beautiful Hockley Valley Resort known for its local food-centric approach, the conference will boast numerous speakers, workshops, seminars, and fantastic food experiences.  This conference stems from one commonality: our unique Canadian perspective on food, blogging, storytelling, and more and we are here to celebrate this amazing country of food in all its glory by bringing together food bloggers of all kinds to learn and gain knowledge from one another, to discuss how food blogging has impacted our passion for food and our lives, and most importantly, to have fun!   http://www.foodbloggersofcanada.com/fbc-2013/?doing_wp_cron=1364266043.2898910045623779296875

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Green Living Show, April 12 – 14.  10am-9pm on Friday and Saturday, 10am-6pm on Sunday.  100 Princes’ Boulevard at the Direct Energy Centre.  Adults: $16; seniors and students: $12; children 12 and under: FREE.  Celebrate all things organic, fair-trade and sustainable at the Green Living Show!  In addition to green living, beauty, and more, there will be plenty of food at the show.  Enjoy the Ontario Culinary Adventure pavilion, a farmers’ market and farm fresh food and samples.  Food and workshop vendors include Ace Bakery, LPK’s Culinary Groove, the Culinarium, Ananda Chocolate, Earth Balance, Whole Foods, Taste of Nature, Toronto Vegetarian Association and so much more!  http://www.greenlivingonline.com/

Toronto Indie Arts Market, April 13.  10:30am-4:30pm.  1214 Queen Street West at the Gladstone Hotel.  $5/person (children 12 and under are FREE).  Enjoy of arts, food, shopping, and more at the Toronto Indie Arts Market benefiting FoodShare!  $2 out of every $5 will be donated to FoodShare, so come on out and savour homemade, one-of-a-kind food goodies from Cookie Martinez, Alchemy Pickle Company, Kensington Brewing Company, tons of giftware, fashion, beauty, art and so much more!  http://www.torontoindieartsmarket.com/

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Worldwide Vegan Bale Sale – Durham Region (DurhamVeg), April 21.  10am-4pm.  1505 Wentworth Street at Durham Humane Society in Whitby.  FREE; cost of food for donation on-site.  The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale takes the world by storm again this year and Durham region hosts its first vegan bake sale for the event this year!  Participants of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale promote delicious, cruelty-free food while raising money for the community cause.  Durham supports the Toronto Vegetarian Association and the Durham Humane Society.  http://veg.ca/ai1ec_event/8983-2/?instance_id=1552http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-where.html#canada

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – Toronto (TVA), April 27.  1pm-4pm.  17 Baldwin Street (2nd floor) at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, Vegetarian Resource Centre.  FREE; cost of food for donation on-site.  Participants of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale promote delicious, cruelty-free food while raising money for the community cause.  Come by for vegan baked goods and for the collection of vegetarian cookbooks for sale and on loan from the resource library!   http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/vbs-where.html#canada

The Keys to My Heart: Salmon Sashimi Salad Rolls, Spicy Tuna Salad Rolls & Scallop Nuggets at Sushi Garden!

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A realization just dawned on me: I’ve eaten sushi 3 times this week.  THREE TIMES!  Once for lunch and twice for dinner.  I haven’t done that in ages.  Eating sushi 3 times within a week that is.  And funny enough I didn’t even plan on having sushi this week – it just happened.  My mum bought some giant sumomaki rolls with crispy tempura, shrimp, lettuce, avocado and red fish roe for dinner on Tuesday, then I spontaneously decided to have some for dinner when I was out on Friday because the salmon lovers sushi box was beckoning me, and then yesterday my best friend and I ditched our soup-and-sandwich lunch plans in favour of bento boxes and yummy rolls with spicy mayo sauce.

It’s been a wonderfully delicious sushi week.

I haven’t posted about my sushi noshing adventures in what feels like forever but trust me when I say that I sushi and I are as tight as ever.  I’ve started an “I Love Sushi” photo gallery on Ate by Ate’s Facebook page, I have some new posts in the works with brand spankin’ new photos, and today, Ate by Ate is back to its sushi-loving ways with a post about one of my all-time FAVOURITE sushi menu items in the city – salmon sashimi salad rolls from Sushi Garden at Yonge & Wellesley!

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You know something’s captured your heart when you feel compelled to order it every single time you make a return visit to a place.  This is a HUGE deal for me because everyone knows how anal I am about trying something new and not ordering “repeats” if I can help it; after all, if I always ordered the same thing, how on earth would I ever have new content to post about and photograph?  Even if I do order something I’ve eaten before, I always feel like I should order a little something extra on the side, just to make the visit worthwhile in the context of the blog.

Yes, I’m anal and nuts.  But I know y’all love me anyway despite my quirks!

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The salmon sashimi salad rolls from Sushi Garden at Yonge & Wellesley get to me every single time though.  I love them THAT much and they are THAT amazing and yummy.  And they’re pretty darn exclusive!  They’re only available at 2 out of the 3 Sushi Garden locations in the city (the Yonge & Wellesley location and the one by Yonge & St. Clair, not at the Yonge & Eglinton one) and I have yet to see the same thing at any other sushi place.  And if you can believe it, the very first time I had this was back in 2009.  Yes, nearly 4 years ago!  I just never posted about them because I didn’t have a good photo of them.  That and there was another time where I didn’t get a photo of them, period.  I know, foreshame.  Good things come with time though so they’re here now ready to make a big sushi splash!

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These salad rolls, or salmon sashimi with vegetables as they’re referred to in the menu (4 for $6.99, 6 for $8.99) are comprised of thick, delicious, velvety soft slices of salmon sashimi wrapped around julienned cucumber, fish roe, and giant chunks of creamy avocado.  I could eat these endlessly, they are SO good!  They’re super thick and they truly don’t skimp on the salmon sashimi.  I love them not only because they’re delicious but also because they’re a nice change from the maki rolls with rice.  They have such a fresh, bright taste to them and they’re a little less heavy in comparison to other menu items (like rice and noodles and such), so they’re a great dish to pair with an appetizer or another set of rolls.  Because truthfully, salmon, tuna, and butter fish are my favourites so if there’s any menu item that will give me a generous helping of either of those 3 (or all 3), I’m all over it like peanut butter on jelly.  It’s the reason why I love sushi pizzas so much!

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During this particular visit to Sushi Garden, I paired my salmon sashimi salad rolls with spicy tuna salad rolls (4 for $5.99) and shared the scallop nuggets appetizer with spicy sauce with my sweetheart.  The spicy tuna salad rolls are rice and nori rolls filled with tuna, avocado, and spicy mayo but the difference is, all the rolls are wrapped with another layer of thinly sliced cucumber, making these rolls another great fresh and bright tasting alternative.

And the scallop nuggets!  If you love seafood, and especially scallops, you will LOVE this appetizer!  The scallop nuggets (5 for $3.99) are breaded and crispy on the outside and meaty and juicy on the inside.  They’re like scallop coins or medallions sitting daintily on a bed of lettuce with a generous portion of spicy mayo sauce.  And I do mean SPICY!  I find that many the spicy mayo at different sushi places have varying degrees of heat but let me tell you, this one is HOT!  It’s delicious but boy does this sauce ever clear up your sinuses and make your eyes water!  It is definitely not for the faint of heart but perfect for those who love heat.

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Even though I had this meal in the dead of winter, the colours and flavours scream spring and freshness so let’s hope our spring season starts sooner rather than later!  I’m working on some new sushi things for the spring and summer so enjoy this sushi comeback and indulge your cravings by checking out the gallery on Ate by Ate’s Facebook page!

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Sushi Garden serves 3 locations in Toronto:

  1. 1560 Yonge Street, at the corner of Yonge & Heath Street (in Delisle Court), closest major intersection being Yonge & St. Clair.
  2. 30 Eglinton Ave. West between Yonge Street and Duplex Ave.
  3. 3 Wellesley Street West. at the corner of Yonge & Wellesley

French Classics, Spanish Paella & Tapas, Raw & Vegan, Asian Sensations & More! March Madness Cooking Classes in Toronto!

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Intro to Raw Cuisine with Mary Hulbert at The Depanneur, March 4.  3:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $65+HST/person.  Chef Mary Hulbert is back with another great class devoted to all things raw!  Learn how to incorporate more raw foods into your diet, the health benefits of raw foods, and more.  This interactive and demo-style workshop will feature all gluten-free, vegan recipes: vanilla-infused almond milk, superfood energy smoothie, raw zucchini pasta with lemon hemp pesto, and blueberry chia pudding.  All participants will also receive copies of all the recipes to take home!   http://thedepanneur.ca/event/workshop-intro-to-raw-cuisine-with-mary-hulbert/

Celebrity Supper Club at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 6.  6pm-8pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $60 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Be dazzled and star-struck with food at this special celebrity-inspired supper club at the LCBO.  Right on the heels of the Oscars, chefs Lesley Stoyan and Sandra Latcham from Daily Apple, Toronto, will be recreating some delicious 5-star dishes and recipes from some of Hollywood’s finest.  On the menu: Clueless Crostini – wild mushrooms, artichokes and leeks (Alicia Silverstone); spaghetti with crispy zucchini and basil, lemon and Parmigiano Reggiano (Gwyneth Paltrow) and more!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Chocolate-Making Workshop at Chocolate Tales, March 6.  8pm-9:30pm.  519 Eglinton West at The Mad Bean.  $82 +HST/person (use code COCOA2013 at checkout to receive 45% off a full-price workshop ticket!).  Whether your tastebuds yearn for chocolate right around Valentine’s Day or you’re just a chocolate enthusiast, this chocolate-making workshop will satisfy those sweet teeth!  Learn about the history of chocolate, sample from bean to bar with 4 chocolate tastings, work with Belgian chocolate to make bonbons, truffles, fondant, and more!  http://chocolatetalesthemadbean.eventbrite.com/?ref=ecal

Amazing Asian by Marni Wasserman, March 7.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  26 Lauderdale Drive (Bayview Ave. & York Mills).  $115 +HST/person with additional rates for 2 adults, adult with child, and student.  This gluten and dairy-free cooking class will delight the tastebuds with a delicious Asian-inspired menu!  Menu includes vegetable nori rolls, napa cabbage salad, tempeh stir-fry, arame (sea vegetable) soba noodle salad, green tea chocolate bliss balls and more!  http://www.marniwasserman.com/classes/event-registration/?regevent_action=register&event_id=107

Sourdough Bread Making by Trade School Toronto, March 7.  1pm-3pm.  7 Hart House Circle in the Hart House Board Room at University of Toronto, St. George Campus.  Price: barter!  Click on the link for more info on what you can bring to “pay” for your class!  Trade School Toronto is a fun, innovative, and communal learning project that is based on spreading and gaining knowledge through barter.  At this class, learn how to make sourdough bread with Sarah E. Hoffman with basic recipes and techniques.  Enjoy multigrain sourdough loaf and a sourdough pizza crust!  http://tradeschool.coop/toronto/class

Vegan Cookie Decorating by Trade School Toronto, March 9.  3pm-5pm.  7 Hart House Circle in the Hart House Board Room at University of Toronto, St. George Campus.  Price: barter!  Click on the link for more info on what you can bring to “pay” for your class!  Trade School Toronto is a fun, innovative, and communal learning project that is based on spreading and gaining knowledge through barter.  At this class, learn how to make vegan sugar cookies and flood icing with Sarah E. Hoffman with basic recipes and techniques.  All supplies are provided so bring a container to take your delicious decorated cookies home and a healthy appetite!  http://tradeschool.coop/toronto/class

GE Café Chefs Series: Maple Madness at Evergreen Brick Works, March 12.  6pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $75 each workshop or $420 for 6 workshops.  Workshops include cooking demos, wine tastings, and discussions about current and important food issues affecting our culinary and social environments, all in an intimate setting.  At this workshop, join Chef Matthew DeMille as he celebrates the maple syrup in Prince Edward County!  Enjoy a maple-inspired menu and wine from Flat Rock Cellars, Ontario.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/chefs-series#mar12

Local Comforts at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 13.  5:30pm-8:30pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $85 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Savour the comforts of local and seasonal food and wine during these lingering weeks of winter at this full-meal class hosted and lef by Cjef Matthew Kennedy.  On the menu: crispy duck confit with mash, baby spinach, and Ontario sour-cherry preserves; roasted heirloom beet salad and more!  PLUS, one lucky attendee will receive a special hand blender and recipes from Matthew Kennedy himself!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Kimchi and Banchan with Jonna Pedersen at The Depanneur, March 18.  6:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  Chef Jonna Pedersen leads this extensive workshop devoted to the exquisite cultural traditions and intricacies of Korean cuisine, particularly banchan, a Korean tapas-style meal featuring small savoury dishes served with rice and kimchi.  This hands-on workshop will feature 3 different kinds of kimchi as well as a number of banchan side dishes including spring onion pancakes, candied lotus roots, pickled onion and garlic, and so much more!  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/workshop-kimchi-banchan-with-jonna-pedersen/

Veggin’ Comfortably by Marni Wasserman, March 18.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  26 Lauderdale Drive (Bayview Ave. & York Mills).  $115 +HST/person with additional rates for 2 adults, adult with child, and student.  Switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet and/or lifestyle isn’t always easy and can sometimes be a little overwhelming and confusing.  This class will introduce you to lots of helpful information, tools, and recipes to make the transition fun, simple, and delicious!  Sample recipes include butternut squash, lentil and coconut soup, black bean burgers, marinated kaleslaw salad and more!  http://www.marniwasserman.com/classes/event-registration/?regevent_action=register&event_id=116

Warming Soups & Salads at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 20.  6pm-8pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $60 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location. There’s nothing like a comforting, hearty, and delicious bowl of stew, soup, or chowder to welcome you after a cold winter day.  Join Nettie Cronish as she shows you how to make these hearty dishes along with some nutritious salads!  On the menu: apricot lentil soup; barley miso soup; soba noodle salad with dried mushrooms and ginger tahini dressing, and more!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Spanish Tapas and Paella at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 23.  10:30pm-12:30pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $60 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Take a culinary journey to Spain with Chef Jose Arato, owner of Toronto’s Pimentón, as he shows you the tastes, flavours, and techniques of tapas and paella!  On the menu: escalivada (Catalan eggplant and pepper salad); paella a la valenciana (chicken and seafood paella); sofrito (one of Spain’s basic sauces); and ice cream turrón with vanilla sauce and fresh berries.  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

French Classics Revisited at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 25.  6pm-8pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $60 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Tradition and simplicity take centre-stage at this worldly French cooking class led by Chef Verner Hauer.  On the menu: leek and potato soup with fresh thyme; Parisian chicken breast with raspberry vinaigrette sauce; classic parsley boiled and buttered new potatoes; escargots in white wine sauce and more!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Homemade Pasta 201 at The Culinarium, March 26.  6:30pm-9pm.  705 Mount Pleasant Road.  $99 +HST/person plus additional rates for multiple persons.  Chef Angelo Bean returns to The Culinarium for more pasta-making fun!  Learn how to make stuffed pastas, flavoured pastas, and more.  This class is perfect for those who want to learn the ins and outs of homemade pasta making (beginners welcome!) and for those who would love to engage in more instruction after the Pasta 101 class.  http://www.culinarium.ca/index.php?page=culinarium-events

Spring Entertaining Menu at the LCBO Bayview Village, March 27.  6pm-8:30pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $75 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Break out the pastels and fresh linens and tablecloths – it’s time for a bright and cheerful spring gathering!  Join Chef Paula Bambrick for this class featuring make-ahead dishes and organizing tips for your upcoming party!  On the menu: phyllo-wrapped asparagus with lemon aioli; smoked salmon tartlets, Cornish hens with herb sauce, roasted rhubarb tarts with strawberry tarts and more!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

 

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Short & Sweet Cupcakes is now located at 1945 Avenue Rd., south of Wilson Ave.  They are open from 11am-6pm Tuesday-Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sundays.  They are closed on Mondays.  Cupcakes are $2.90 each, $15 for half a dozen, and $28 for one dozen.  If you take public transit like me, the easiest way to get here is to get off at Wilson subway station and take the 96 bus to Avenue Rd. and walk south.  You can also get here by getting off at York Mills subway station and taking the 165 Weston Rd. North bus to Wilson Ave. and Avenue Rd. and walking south, or taking the 61 Avenue Rd. North from Eglinton subway station.  Cick HERE to view all of Ate by Ate’s Short & Sweet Cupcakes posts!