Hot Food Off the Press – June Food Calendar, Part I!

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I’m only about half finished the June Food Calendar (this week has left me so beat that this was all I could muster!) but I wanted to post as much as I could for you guys today so expect the full calendar over the weekend.

Food Festivals & Events

The GridTO Burger Week, May 29 – June 1.  All across the city at different restaurants, burger joints, bistros and more!  $5 for all Burger Week burger specials.  Calling all burger lovers!  Whether it’s good old fashioned beef, chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket, veggie tofu or bison, this week is what burger dreams are made of!  64 participating locations in the city including The Good Fork, Hey Meatball, The Gladstone Hotel, The Emerson and The Stockyards among many others will be dishing out one-time only special burgers on their menu for $5 during Burger Week!  Enjoy all sorts of different burgers with smoked sauces, cheese, salsas, mayos and so much more.

In addition, E11even and Frank are both offering special “Black Tie” burgers ($13 and $17 respectively) where $5 from each Black Tie burger will go towards The Stop Community Food Centre.  http://www.thegriddoes.com/food-booze/burger-week/week/

Cones for the Community, June 1.  12pm-5pm.  At 74 participating Baskin-Robbins locations!  Click website below for locations and details.  $0.31 scoops (limit 3 per customer).  Baskin-Robbins is back with their annual Cones for the Community event where line-ups around the block come as no surprise!  As part of a month-long program in support of SickKids Foundation and The Hospital for Sick Children, Baskin-Robbins locations will be collecting in-store donations all month long.  This event is meant to promote the cause and give thanks back to the folks and communities who have made it possible for Baskin-Robbins to continue their fundraising and support.  http://www.baskinrobbins.ca/en/2013/05/03/cones-for-the-community/

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Eats & Beats in Riverside, June 1.  1pm-6pm.  In the Riverside District neighbourhood on Queen Street East from the Don Valley Parkway bridge (Queen-Broadview Village) to just past Degrassi Street.  FREE; cost of food on-site in shops and vendors.  Come celebrate the beautiful, cultural dynamo that is Riverside District at Eats & Beats!  Riverside is a foodie district in its own right so for this special event, food shops and vendors will be opening their doors with special tasting places and food for the event and live music and entertainment will be filtering through the streets for one fun and delicious afternoon!  http://www.riverside-to.com/

Toronto Veggie Pride Parade, June 1.  12pm-4pm.  Parade starts by the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge Street and will end at Trinity Square at Queen West.  FREE.  Come show your veggie pride at the 4th annual parade!  Entertainment, fun shows and acts will descend upon the city with fabulous vegan food at the afterparty afterward!  http://veggieprideparade.ca/

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Savour Toronto Kensington Krawl, June 2.  11:30am-2:30pm.  Near Bellevue Square Park in Kensington Market (exact location will be sent upon registration via e-mail).  $40 per person (capacity for the tour is 12 people).  As a lover of Kensington Market, I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy this tour makes me!  Explore and learn about the culture and history of this eclectic neighbourhood and eat through 6 mouthwatering food spots! https://www.facebook.com/events/451497988278099/

The GridTO Burger Day, June 2.  11am-5:30pm.  76 Wychwood Ave. at Artscape Wychwood Barns.  $30 for all-you-can-eat sliders.  If you thought Burger Week was awesome, try the finale: all Burger Week restaurant participants will be joining forces at Wychwood Barns for an all-you-can-eat, gut-busting, droolworthy slider extravaganza!  All Burger Week burgers will be transformed into oh-so-cute and oh-so-tasty sliders at the event for everyone to nosh on to celebrate the end to a burger-iffic week.  http://www.thegriddoes.com/food-booze/burger-week/week/

Kasmiri Delicacies by Dimple Monga: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, May 11.  7:30pm. 1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  Sharing food, stories and recipes from generation to generation is one of the cornerstones of building familial and community relationships with food and at this supper club, Dimple Monga shares some her most beloved dishes and Kashmiri and Punjabi recipes.  Learn about the use of yogurt to make curries and marinades, the communal atmosphere and characteristic of food, and the vibrant platters of food presentation.  Enjoy chicken with yogurt and saffron and mint sauce, chicken kebabs, Kashmiri cottage cheese, rice pudding and so much more.  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/supper-club-kashmiri-delicacies-by-dimples-monga/

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Artisinal Food Market, June 8 & 9.  12pm-8pm on Saturday, 12pm-6pm on Sunday.  World Café at the Harbourfront Centre at 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE; cost of food on-site.  Harbourfront introduces a brand new food event to its summer line-up this year!  Enjoy this weekend market festival focusing on local food and local food producers.  See what’s new, taste fresh food, and get to know independent, local food businesses!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/today.cfm?id=4892festival_id=0

Toronto Raw & Vegan Festival, June 8 & 9.  10am-8pm on Saturday, 10am-4pm on Sunday.  918 Bathurst Street.  FREE; cost of food on-site.  The Toronto Raw & Vegan Festival is back for another year!  You don’t have to be vegan or lead a raw lifestyle to enjoy festivities – come shop for eco-friendly, cruelty-free products, attend some workshops and food demos, enjoy plenty of samples and food from vendors (food trucks, coconuts and chocolate?!), get to know local vegan and raw chefs and learn more about vegan and raw lifestyles and food diets!   http://www.torontorawveganfestival.com/

Toronto Taste at the Royal Ontario Museum, June 9.  6:30pm-10pm.  100 Queens Park at the Royal Ontario Museum at Queens Park and Bloor Street West.  MUST be 19+ to attend.  $250 ($125 tax deductible) general admission/person, $225 corporate rate/person with a minimum purchase of 10 tickets ($100 tax deductible).

Presented by Second Harvest Toronto, Toronto Taste is an annual culinary event showcasing the city’s top restaurants and beverage connoisseurs from across the province (oh, there will be wine and lots of it!), all dedicated to providing Second Harvest with funds to continue its mission on developing programs that target hunger relief, helping families in need and rescuing food to feed hungry stomachs.  This year, the event will be co-hosted by Second Harvest ambassador and our very own Canadian Bob Blumer, and celebrity chef, recording artist and restauranteur Roger Mooking!  http://www.torontotaste.ca/

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Market 707 & Foodies on Foot – Flavours of the City: Fish Fry-Day!, June 14.  5pm-9pm.  707 Dundas Street West by Bathurst Street.  FREE; cost of food and drink on-site.  Love fish?  Go fishing in more ways than one at this yummy food event devoted to fish!  The Scadding Court Community Centre will be turning their indoor swimming pool into a makeshift fishing pond (no joke!), plenty of fresh fish vendors and food trucks will be on-site serving up one big fish-fry (and there will non-fish for those who aren’t into aquatic cuisine), 5 new pop-up shops debut for the month of June, info on sustainable seafood from Oceanwise, and so much more!  Foodies on Foot will be partnering with Market 707 for this summer foodie event, bringing some great fish vendors and restaurants to the scene.  http://foodiesonfoot.ca/fish-fry-day-market-707/

Blues & Brews, June 15.  7pm-11pm.  601 Christie Street at Artscape Wychwood Barns.  $20 for advanced tickets, $33 for advanced package tickets (available until June 10; includes Caplansky’s sandwich, sides, beer sampling), $25 tickets at the door on the day of.  Music and food come together for one harmonious night at Wychwood Barns.  Enjoy live blues music by Toronto artists Terra Hazelton and Julian Fauth and nosh the night away on Caplansky’s famous deli sandwiches and beer from Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewery.  http://www.atthebarns.org/blues-brews/

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Edible Evergreen Tour, June 22.  10am-12pm.  550 Bayview Ave at Evergreen Brick Works.  FREE.  Join the Evergreen team for a food-themed tour exploring the many programs and initiatives that support farmers and local food producers, urban farming and ecosystems, food sustainability and healthy living and eating.  The tour will explore the gardens, the market and more!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/cal/event/edible-evergreen-tour

501 Streetcar Food Tour: Presented by Foodies on Foot, June 29.  11am-3:30pm.  1730 Queen Street West starting location (by the intersection of Roncesvalles and Queen Street West).  $65-$76 +HST based on whether or not participants need a TTC day pass.  See the city from east to west or west to east in one delicious swoop!  As one of Foodies on Foot’s most popular food tours, the 501 Streetcar Food Tour takes you on a culinary journey along one of the longest continuous transit surface routes in the world.  6 neighbourhoods (Parkdale!  Leslieville!  And more!) with 6 food spots – ding!  Get ready to hop on and off and eat your heart out.   https://kiosk.eztix.co/kiosk/13916

Oh Canada Eh!  Food Tour: Presented by Foodies on Foot, June 30.  11am-3pm.  75 Portland Street starting point by King Street West.  $65-$76 +HST based on whether or not participants need a TTC day pass.  Oh, we love our poutine, but as Canadians we know we’re soooo much more than that culinary-wise.  Let Foodies on Foot show you some of the city’s local and true North Canadian gems at this food tour devoted to Canadian cuisine and food.  Whether it’s locally grown and produced, or culturally unique, this tour will stop at 5 to 7 food shops where you’ll sample yummy food that leave you singing O Canada by the end of the tour!  https://kiosk.eztix.co/kiosk/14359

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Mid-May & May Long Weekend Munchies – Ate by Ate’s Food Event Spotlight

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East York Civic Centre farmers' market

East York Farmers’ Market, May 14 – November 5.  Tuesdays, 8am-2pm.  East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue at the corner of Coxwell and Mortimer Avenue.   The east end market returns for its spring, summer, and fall season this week! 

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Hands-On Sushi at the LCBO Bayview Village, May 15.  6pm-8pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $75 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Be a sushi chef for the night at this fun, hands-on class where participants will make their own maki, nigiri, sushi rice and more!  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Brewers Backyard

Brewers Backyard – Queen Victoria’s Secret at Evergreen Brick Works, May 20.  12pm-4pm.  550 Bayview Ave. at Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery.  Cost of food: $6 for food, $6 for beer.  Event is open to all ages, but folks must be 19+ to purchase and drink beer.  Kick start the summer season and celebrate the long weekend at Evergreen Brick Works with the return of Brewers Backyard!   Brewers Backyard is your chance to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Ontario beer with tastings, pairings, and plenty of fun events and promotions.  Everything is hush-hush for this kick-off but organizers can tell us that there will be beer from Great Lakes, Oast House, the Granite Brewery and more, as well as yummy eats from FeasTO!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/cal/event/brewers-backyard-beers-from-Torontos-Backyard

Montgomery Inn tea

Victoria Day Tea at Montgomery’s Inn, May 20.  1pm-4pm.  4709 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke.  $10/person which also includes a tour of the historic inn (no registration required; the tea is first come, first served).  Enjoy fresh baked bread, tea, and English-style treats at this sweet tea!  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#montgomery

the depanneur vintage vegan victoriana supper club

Source: The Depanneur Facebook event page

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Vintage Vegan Victoriana: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, May 20.  7:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  The fab Emily Zimmerman is back at The Dep for a vintage vegan Victorian dinner party feast!  Travel back in time during the holiday weekend and dine in vintage style with a 5-course vegan meal with plenty of vintage recipes and menu items reminiscent of a Victorian household that you’ll enjoy with fellow food-lovers and great company.  Emily brings the style of a Victorian dinner party to the Dep without the fuss and muss: julienne soup, baked mushrooms with smoked black pepper and lemon, seitan roast with garlic, cumin, fenugreek and parsley, spring tart, Sussex Pond pudding with gunpowder green tea cream.  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/supper-club-vintage-vegan-victoriana-by-emily-zimmerman/

A Month of Holiday & Christmas Cooking & Baking Around the City! Truffles, Cookies, Traditional Treats & More

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Tis the season for the holiday baking, cooking, and edible gift creating!  There are TONS of fun cooking and baking classes going on as well as some holiday themed workshops so whether you love truffles, pie, cupcakes, or a mix of holiday sweets, there’s definitely something for you here!  My personal picks?  The holiday cookie classes at Aphrodite Cooks and Evergreen Brick Works, the regional and seasonal Niagara-inspired cooking class at EBW, pie-making at Le Dolci, and the Christmas treats baking at Nella Cucina.

I won’t be able to attend any of these but if I could I’d be ALL OVER these like ribbon on wrapping paper.  I’m still plowing away at updating the December Food Calendar so you’ll see some new stuff from The Depanneur and others added to the calendar really soon!  In the meantime, click around the menu bar up top and check out the December Food Calendar, the tastings and classes at Evergreen Brick Works, and all of Le Dolci’s fabulous holiday and Christmas-themed classes!  Oh, and admire the new Christmas photos I took at La Merceria.  Just try not to drool over all the drop-dead gorgeous kitchen accessories and linens.  I know I am.

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Simple Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes at The Chef Upstairs, December 3.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  615 Mount Pleasant Rd.  $99 +HST/person OR $149.50 +HST for two.  Combine fresh and seasonal with fast and quick with these recipes: winter green salad with pine nuts, radicchio, and pear, penne pasta with sausage, fennel, and Pecorino cheese, and fresh fish with tomato sauce with cherry tomato couscous!  http://www.thechefupstairs.com/cooking_classes.html

Introduction to Pie Making at Le Dolci, December 5.  7pm-9pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $55 +HST/person.  Don’t be intimidated by the art of the homemade pie and pie crust – Michelle from the Parkdale Pie Princess teams up with Le Dolci to show you how at this introduction to pie making class!  Learn how to make the a great pie crust from scratch, use fresh fruit to make filling, and take home a pie and recipes!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

PA Day Fun!  Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 7.  1pm-3pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  What better way to enjoy a Friday off from school than to get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create flowers, animals, swirls, and whatever your heart desires!  It’s December, so go for a winter, Christmas or holiday theme with snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, holly, trees, gingerbread men and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  10am-12pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Designer Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 8.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Walk the runway in true fashionable cupcake style!  In this introduction to cupcake decorating class, learn how to make stylish Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and more with professional cupcake decorating tools, fondant, and frosting.  Be the sweetest, most stylish fashionista when you walk out of the student with 12 beautifully decorated vanilla cupcakes!  http://ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Learn to Make Cake Pops at Le Dolci, December 9.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Use moist, delicious balls of cake and frosting to make holiday inspired cake pops using melted candy melts, sprinkles, icing, and more!  Sprinkle snowflakes and trees and even make reindeer, ornaments, and Christmas tree cake pops!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

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Holiday Cookies at Aphrodite Cooks, December 9.  1pm-4pm. 201 Weston Rd., Suite 101.  $65 +HST/person.  This class requires participants to bring piping tips and couplers (Wilton’s #2, #4, or #6 tips and two couplers) which are available at Michaels, Bulk Barn, Wal-Mart, and baking supply stores.  Aphrodite Cooking classes mix both pleasure and education as classes provide participants with an atmosphere to socialize and mingle with others while at the same time enjoying food and obtaining and sharpening cooking skills.

At this class, join Canadian Living test kitchen manager, Adell Shneer, as she guides you through a wintery fairy wonderland of beautiful and delicious holiday cookies and decorating!  Learn how to make royal icing and master piping and icing techniques including flooding, flocking, marbleizing as you make brown sugar citrus cookie dough, double vanilla cookie dough, and gingerbread cookie dough for beautiful cookies!  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=c6add328-06cf-48aa-ab6b-8400f1eac6f2

GE Café Chefs Series: Celebrating Niagara at Evergreen Brick Works, December 11.  6pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $75 each workshop.  Learn tips and techniques from local Toronto and Ontario chefs, discuss and explore food issues over wine and a great meal with other participants!  Funds raised through the series will help support children’s educational food programs at Evergreen Brick Works.

This fall series focuses on the food culture of southern Ontario.  Join executive chef of Hillebrand Estates’ winery restaurant, Frank Dodd, for an exploration of the bounty of fruit, food, and wine in the beautiful Niagara region.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/chefs-series#dec11

Green Bites Cooking Workshops – Holiday Baking at Evergreen Brick Works, December 13.  7pm-9pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $65/person.  Green Bites workshops are back for another exciting round of seasonal classes!  Join chefs, producers, farmers, and food experts for some hands-on cooking workshops that are sure to expand your breadth of food knowledge and technique.  These cooking workshops will allow participants to explore tastes, flavours, and aromas while engaging in food issues that affect communities.

At this workshop, join chef Joshna Maharaj for holiday baking around the world!  Explore holiday baking traditions, bake 5 different types of cookies, and take home a cookie gift box at the end!  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/food/green-bites#dec13

Christmas Treats at Nella Cucina, December 15.  12pm-3pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  Get your holiday sweet teeth ready for this sugar n’ spice and everything nice cooking class where you’ll bake the afternoon away!  Learn a wealth of baking and candy making techniques and knowledge as you tackle some classic holiday recipes such as salted caramels, fruit jellies, rum sour cream pound cake, spiced nuts and seeds, and chocolate cranberry and pistachio biscotti!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/11/29/249/-/-.html

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Gingerbread Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  1:30pm-3:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $40 +HST/person.  Break out the icing, candies, and chocolates for some holiday inspired gingerbread cookie decorating!  Learn piping techniques to create yummy cookies to take home for yourself or to give as gifts!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 15.  4:30pm-6:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas/Winter Themed – Introduction to Cupcake Decorating at Le Dolci, December 16.  10:30am-12:30pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Get the creative juices and sweet teeth going as you decorate a dozen delicious vanilla cupcakes to take home!  Use fondant, buttercream frosting, and special cutters and professional tools to create wreaths, stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, present gift boxes and more!  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Christmas Themed – Introduction to Truffle Making at Le Dolci, December 16.  2pm-4pm.  1006 Dundas Street West.  $80 +HST/person.  Create rich, decadent chocolate ganache truffles and dust and sprinkle your way through luxurious truffle heaven with Christmas sprinkles and holiday flavours!  Learn how to use proper hand rolling techniques as well as developing your own recipes and flavourings!  Create a set of truffles to take home for yourself or to give  as a gift.  http://www.ledolci.com/class-schedule/

Mexican Culinary Delights, Fresh Vegetables, & a Dumpling Bonanza – Día de los Muertos, “Day of the Dead” at Evergreen Brick Works!

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Yesterday was such a terrific day.  Despite the cold, I was out and about soaking in the crisp air, buying food to bring home, enjoying fall comfort food for lunch and at the farmers’ market, drinking tea, taking photos, and taking part in my very first Día de los Muertos, “Day of the Dead” Mexican festival at Evergreen Brick Works!  When I found out about the festival from their monthly calendar, I was so excited.  Mexican food and festivities in addition to the Saturday morning farmer’s market?!  What a goldmine.  And I’m so happy I went because I now have a much better understanding of the holiday’s cultural significance and the philosophy that grounds it.

In a nutshell, Día de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday (also observed by many other cultures around the world) that brings family and friends together to honour those who have died with food and celebration.  While death is often perceived as something negative (understandably so!), Día de los Muertos is about memorializing the lives of those who have passed by praying and remembering them, visiting their graves, and creating settings (ofrendas and altars as they’re often referred to) with their favourite food and drink, spiritually connecting to those who have died and celebrating their life and honouring their memory during this ceremonious occasion.  Instead of fearing death and mortality, the day is about embracing the life cycle and setting aside some time to reflect.  We know all experiences are contextual, but generally speaking, this is the way in which Day of the Dead aims to shed positive light on an otherwise upsetting part of life.

There was a beautiful altar set up with a bright pink fuchsia tablecloth covered in a sea of corn, vegetables, and chocolate and surrounded by candles and Day of the Dead skeletons with chalkboard explaining the festival’s cultural significance.  Even though I didn’t stay long enough to see and taste the goods from the tamales competition, I did get to see ChocoSol’s cacao and coffee bike grinder (a bike that harnesses the energy from pedaling to grind raw cacao which is then used for coffee and Mexican drinking chocolate!), LPK Culinary’s Groove’s booth of vegan tarts, cakes, cookies and cupcakes decked out in “Day of the Dead” decor (check out the sugar skull tablecloth!), seeing vendors adorned with “Day of the Dead” skull makeup, and seeing the Mexican food get fired up in all its fresh tortilla, tostada, and churro glory among many other culinary delights!

And of course, we can’t forget about the farmers’ market.  Oh my goodness was it ever busy!  I actually had to line up for my kale!  I was sampling cheese and sausage, admiring the beautiful rainbow colours of swiss chard, and snatching up vegetables and baked goods to enjoy over the weekend.  I brought home so much great food: 2 giant bunches of beautiful kale (kale has pretty much become a farmers’ market staple for me – can’t leave one without any!), pea shoots, fresh radicchio and bitter salad greens, spinach, and lots of scones including cheddar and black pepper, and wild blueberry ones from St. John’s Bakery, and a white cheddar cranberry from Alli’s Bread.  They are fantastic off the grill and so yummy with a bit of butter or jam, or even plain.

The pea shoots, salad greens, and spinach were all from Grassroot Organics and they are so, so good.  They have these giant bins where you grab as much as you like and then you simply pay by weight.  It’s so easy to go crazy and spend more than you anticipated but I’m telling you, these vegetables are absolutely gorgeous and their freshness factor is just off the chart.  My family and I mixed all three together to make a big salad for lunch today and I would go back for more in a heartbeat.  I don’t have the name of the farmer and vendor who I bought my kale from but I promise I’ll get it the next time I’m there.  That I had for dinner tonight and my leftovers are happily waiting for me in the fridge ready to be eaten for lunch tomorrow!

One thing in particular that I have head-over-heels fallen in love with is My Little Dumplings, a local business that churns out amazingly delicious dumplings along with soups and other yummies using seasonal, local ingredients to create a fusion of global, ethnic flavours!  Owner and chef, Bashir Munye (pictured), was cooking up cauliflower soup with fresh garlic, chicken dumplings, and edamame falafel dumplings, all served with this delicious spicy dipping sauce (3 for $5 or 6 for $9).  Yes, edamame falafel.  Edamame beans ground into the texture of falafel and then fried crispy in dumplings.  With spicy sauce.  And utterly scrumptious.  OH.MY.GOD.  I should have had 6.  Heck, I should have had 20 and taken some home.  I have NEVER had anything like it before.  And I’ve had many dumplings in my time!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dumplings and I’m so happy Bashir has created this business devoted to them.  And what he says on his My Little Dumplings website is very true: “no matter what culinary culture you come from, there’s probably a dumpling in your background.  A folded littel morsel of comforting goodness.”  There’s chicken and dumplings.  Italian gnocchi.  Wontons.  The list goes on.  Different ingredients, different execution and interpretation, but all with a common characteristic: folded pockets of deliciousness and comfort.  And I will be so happy to come back for more!  And next time, I’m not just having three.  I’m having eleventy billion.  Or maybe 12.  Baby steps and all.

Oh, and did I mention that it wasn’t raining yesterday, finally?  It wasn’t raining.  It was one of the happiest days ever.

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Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave.  The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm during the summer and fall months (May to November) and from 9am-1pm during the winter months (November to April).  If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station.  Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.

It’s Mitten Weather – A Photo Spotlight of Evergreen Brick Works Last Outdoor Farmers Market of the Year!

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There was a lot to celebrate today at Evergreen Brick Works: the first day of sun we’ve had in a week (for the first time in 7 days I didn’t need to open my umbrella, finally!), the last outdoor market of 2012 (they’ll be moving indoors starting next week on November 10th!) and Día de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead” Mexican festival!  It was such a fun market today despite the chilly cold weather (my hands were totally freezing while taking these photos.  Note to self: remember to wear gloves as opposed to mittens so you can actually hold your camera without getting fingers frostbite!) and I bought and sampled some wonderful, delicious food including some big bunches of kale, bags of gorgeous spinach and salad greens, and samples of cured meats and cheeses, and some fresh and scrumptious dumplings!  Truly, out of all the times I’ve been to Evergreen, I think I had the most fun at this market and it makes me look forward to more, especially with the holidays around the corner.  This Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market post is broken into two parts, with this one being the farmers’ market photo spotlight featuring some of my favourite shots from today, and tomorrow’s Part II post as the full-length account of all the food and Día de los Muertos festivities during my time there with lots more photos!

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Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave.  The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm during the summer and fall months (May to November) and from 9am-1pm during the winter months (November to April).  If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station.  Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.

Roasted Tomatillo, Jalapeno Black Bean, & Chunky Guac – A Photo Spotlight on Mad Mexican Dip & Spread Delights!

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You won’t believe what I did on Saturday.  Or maybe you will based on how well you know me and my craziness passion for food!  I ran out out of my beloved dips and spreads from Mad Mexican.  You know, the ones I purchased during my last visit to Evergreen Brick Works last month.  Me, my mum, and my brother gorged on Tw0-Way Jalapeno Black Bean dip and Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado salsa and polished them off in a heartbeat, spreading them on grilled tortillas, dipping samosas, falafel, and chicken nuggets in them, and mixing them into a little bit of rice for that yummy kick of flavour.  These dips and spreads are SO, SO delicious and realizing that I had nothing left in my fridge made me so sad.

So against my better judgment, I rushed over to Evergreen Brick Works after noon hour on Saturday for a quickie trip.  And I do mean quickie!   I caught the shuttle at Broadview station, hopped off at the Brick Works, speed-walked to Mad Mexican’s table at the market, quickly chose 2 dips from what they had left, and caught the next shuttle back, all in a matter of half an hour.  In the sweltering heat.  Interrupting my day of planned blogging activity.  All for dip.  I am a nut.  But I am happy nut now because now I have a fresh new container of their Roasted Tomatillo and Avocado and a deliciously delightful Chunky Guac!  I cursed and whined with every step to the streetcar and shuttle stop in the sticky heat, but I’m so glad I bit the bullet and shoved aside my wussy baby feelings for these guys because it was well worth it.  They currently have 6 dips, spreads, and salsas to choose from including a spicy salsa verde, a juicy pico de gallo, and a morita salsa made from dried, smoked morita peppers.  They’re $6 a pop with discounted rates available for multiple purchases with their delicious corn chips.

I’ve really relied on the farmers’ market at Evergreen Brick Works to get my fix but after reading over their list of retailers and shops where there products can be found, I’ll most likely check out some of the spots just to see what they have if I don’t happen to have Evergreen market plans on a Saturday.  Mad Mexican is always hooked up with Chocosol and Gabriel’s Tortilla Project and Maizal Quesadilla Cafe when they’re at the markets, so it’s triple food fantastic because you get to ogle their Mexican chocolate and drool over and eat their mouthwatering corn tortillas and quesadillas while you’re there!  Mad Mexican makes some of my very favourite spreads and dips so if you get the chance, definitely give them a whirl and just be careful when you do, because you’ll never want your kitchen and palate to go without them every again!

*****

Mad Mexican is a Toronto-based business specializing in gourmet Mexican food products.  They are located in the west end at 383 Jane Street, just south of Annette Street to the east and Baby Point Rd. to the west (Annette Street turns into Baby Point Rd. at Jane and vice versa).  Your best best though is to purchase their products from retailers and farmers’ market if you can’t conveniently access the west end.  You can find Mad Mexcian at the Saturday farmers’ market at Evergreen Brick Works from 8am-1pm and their products in a slew of different food shops around the city including Noah’s Natural Foods, Summerhill Market, The Big Carrot, Fresh & Wild, and many more.  You can check out the comprehensive list of retailers HERE!

Fueling Up on Love For Food – A Weekend Brunch of Smoked Trout & Goat Cheese Baby Quiches at Cafe Belong

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“Food is Fuel, Food is Medicine, Food is Love”.  This passage, carved beautifully onto the metal plaque outside Cafe Belong, sums up, guides, and informs every menu creation, every culinary decision, every philosophical perspective, and every loving feeling towards food that Cafe Belong has.  It’s a beautiful way to sum up how I feel about food.  For me, food is my creative fuel.  It makes me excited for things to come, open to new opportunities and experiences.  Learning about food and being completely immersed in all its complexities has enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined and it truly is the fuel that drives my dreams and ambitions. 

And food as medicine?  That too.  Just not in the way you might think.  Being a foodie is therapeutic for me.  Hunkering down and zoning out while I’m scrapbooking my food photos puts me in my happy place.  And when I’m convinced I’m too tired to blog or to go out and get stories, I use that love of food to push myself a little harder and to remind myself that I have so much fun doing it.  When my fingers hit the computer keys, everything’s good.  Food is love.

In the context of Cafe Belong, this passage has to do with the integrity of food in all its facets (preparation, cultivation, presentation) and treating food, and the land it grows on, the people who make it, serve it, grow it, and eat it, with the utmost love and respect.  This is much easier said than done, but that is what makes the joy and experience of eating and cooking that much more rewarding.  It’s the same joy and pride you feel when you pluck a ripe tomato off the wine in your own backyard and when you snip chives off from your herb pots.  This is not to say that the farm-to-table, locavore way of eating and living is without flaw; only that the guiding principles behind this way of eating provides an alternative or at the very least, a way of envisioning one.            

What makes me SO excited about Cafe Belong and its food are their ever-changing menus based on the seasons.  I LOVE seasonal fare and with 3 different main menus to eat from (lunch and dinner, 4 to 6, and weekend brunch), there is so much fabulous, delicious food to go around.  Menus are divided into hot and cold “kitchens” and sides, with each section highlighting seasonal ingredients.  Cold plates include things such as fresh vegetable, cheese, and grain salads (tomato salad and pot barley), cold plates with fish and seafood (cured fish and fennel, tuna ceviche, spring lobster salad with fingerlings), cured meats and cheeses, and yogurt and granola brunch among others.  Hot dishes incorporate fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits in ways that liven up warm comfort food such as smoked duck with squash, cranberries, and beans, lobster boil with leeks, potatoes, and greens, and cauliflower gratin and squash dumplings. 

The menus are so inspiring and there is so much to explore and try and if I had to choose a seasonal menu to be the most excited about, it would have to be fall.  My heart feels full to bursting at the thought of gorgeous fall colours and leaves outside the cafe windows and fall comfort food.  It’ll take a very long time to cycle through a year’s worth of seasonal menu items, but I am definitely up for the challenge of enjoying one special meal here each and every season to get a well-rounded perspective an overall experience of Cafe Belong. 

My first Cafe Belong experience was a weekend brunch one and I enjoyed it in the lively atmosphere of the dining room and kitchen, where the hustle and bustle of the kitchen was visible and the windows from where natural light streamed in seemed never-ending.  People were ordering summer cocktails (brunch cocktails for those of you who love a tipple in the morning!), heaping mountainous plates of brunch salad, and wooden planks carrying brunch lobster rolls and other mouthwatering entities.  While I’ll admit that it was a warm day in the cafe when I went, everything felt light and airy and relaxing  with the large windows overlooking the lovely outdoor patio.  I know it seems odd that I would give up a chance at dining al fresco (hello, summer patio dining series), but I didn’t feel like donning my hat while I ate so inside beside a window I stayed. 

The summer brunch menu ($9 on the low end, $25 at its highest end) features dishes such as potato and egg tart wih apple and greens, lobster roll on brioche with cucumber, radish, and spinach, blueberry pancakes with whipped cream and maple syrup, poached eggs with hollandaise, honey-glazed ham, and savoury biscuit, and market flatbread in vegan, vegetarian, and carni form.  My pick?  The smoked trout and chevre quiche with tomato and cucumber salad ($18), a beautiful, colourful dish bursting with juicy, smoky, cheesy flavour!  This was not your typical quiche though.  From the menu, you would think of quiche with trout and chevre (goat cheese) in it with cucumbers and tomatoes on the side.  Oh no, the dish was comprised of two baby goat cheese quiche tarts surrounded by thick wedges of smoked trout fish, sprigs of fresh dill, juicy tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers in a creamy, tangy, scumptious dressing that tasted like a lighter, airier version of a buttermilk thousand island dressing.

 

It was so sweet and adorable because the trout, tomatoes, and cucumber huddled around the baby quiches like a cozy igloo (I know, I know, it’s SUMMER, but that’s what comes to mind!) and the flavours just flowed between each other wonderfully.  I love that the baby quiches had a crispy yet fluffy cornbread taste and texture to them and the sprigs of dill just heightened the flavours of the dish phenomenally.  The tomatoes were ridiculously juicy and tender and basically melted in my mouth and the quiches mopped up the dressing very nicely. 

There was creamy, tangy flavour from the dressing and goat cheese, warmth and comfort from the quiche which balanced out the “cold kitchen”ness of the dish, and insanely savoury delicious smokiness from the trout.  It was like eating mouthfuls of cured fish with flavour that just did not quit.  I really appreciated the amount of fresh fish on my plate and only wish the quiches were larger so I would have more to enjoy!  What was lovely was how each ingredient played off each other.  You could feasibly eat each one on its own and it would still be taste delightful, but together it was wonderful. 

*****

Cafe Belong is located at Evergreen Brick Works at 550 Bayview Ave.  They are open for weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and lunch and dinner 7 days a week from 11:30am-10pm from Monday-Friday, and 11am-10pm on weekends.  Click HERE to view menus and to read more about this wonderful locavore cafe.