On July 31st I had the honour of meeting and speaking with Vancouver Chef Ned Bell at a reception hosted by the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto.
Bell, executive chef of Vancouver’s Yew Seafood + Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, is midway through a coast-to-coast journey to raise awareness for, and accessibility to, sustainable seafood.
The “Chefs for Oceans” tour, which kicked off June 30th in St. John’s, Newfoundland, will see Ned temporarily ditch the chef jacket for a cycling shirt to bike across Canada from coast-to-coast, riding between 140km – 200km each “cycling” day, making stops in 20 major cities along the route to speak with media and participate in events, while promoting local businesses that support, sell, and serve sustainable seafood. Concluding in Vancouver on September 11, 2014 , the three month long tour will also be raising funds through these events and the sale of the cleverly labeled “Ned Tuna”, which will see portions of the net proceeds donated to Ocean Wise, SeaChoice.org, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). Continue reading Ned Bell’s Epic Ocean to Ocean Journey!→
I still wasn’t feeling 100% when I woke up on Sunday morning, but there was no way was I passing up my last chance to experience the first edition of “Taste of Toronto”. Though finances and dietary restrictions limited my tasting experience, I still got a “taste” of what everyone else experienced and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
One of the great joys of living in Toronto is the abundance of amazing, epicurean offerings available. From 5 star restaurants headed by up famous chefs, to local neighbourhood eateries and watering holes, to annual ethnic street festivals in every neighbourhood, to an ever expanding and epic food truck culture.
If there is one thing that NOBODY complains about when visiting Toronto, it’s a lack of food choices
So when I heard that Toronto had been chosen as the first “Taste of…” destination in North America, I was thrilled and not surprised in the least.
From it’s humble beginnings as a single festival in London ten years ago, Taste has grown into a worldwide foodie phenomenon, with “Taste of ” festivals now running annually in cities throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Continue reading Taste of Toronto – 2014→
I love to cook, and as you’ve seen, I often post photos of my creations on Instagram But I mostly make it up as I go along. Which is fine, until the shouts of “recipe please!!” show up in the comments. So… in the spirit of sharing, I’m going to attempt to give y’all some recipes to go along with the “food porn” as my friends put it.
You know how sometimes you just want to escape real life for a couple of hours and lose yourself in a movie? Those days that you don’t want a deep, heavy plot that requires you to analyze every frame and piece of dialogue? That was me tonight. But thankfully I chose just the right movie to take in: Jon Favreau’s – Chef
I didn’t know anything about it going in, other than it was written/directed by Favreau, (that was really all I needed to know) some of the cast, and a teeny bit of the plot that I saw in the first teaser trailer.
When people ask me “what is the hardest part about having to live gluten free?” I usually say “the inconvenience”.
The “diet” itself isn’t that hard. Simply eating a clean diet of fruits, veggies, meats, fish, and dairy you prepare yourself is pretty easy actually. But, once you step outside the safety of your own kitchen and cooking skills, the task becomes much harder.
No longer can you simply “grab something quick”. No longer can you simply go to an event and be “spontaneous”.
That’s the word: Spontaneity.
It’s gone from your life for good.
But you adapt. You learn to pre-plan. You learn to go through life like a sherpa, carrying a bag filled with “safe” food so you can appear spontaneous.
I still do all the things I used to do before discovering my wheat allergy. I travel, I dine out, I go to events. But I am now “that girl”…
I ask a thousand questions. I know more about the restaurant and the menu than the staff before I even enter the establishment, since I’ve been researching in advance for weeks. I am now “Sally” … my opener is “can you…?” I eat a lot of things “on the side” “without” “substitute”
So, when an event such as the Gluten Free Expo rolls into town, it’s a rare treat.
To walk through aisle after aisle, gleefully nibbling from tray after tray of new and tasty products, and never once feel that nervous knot in the pit of my stomach of “omg, what if this girl was lying? What if it actually contains gluten? What if I get sick?”
The 2012 show out by the airport was great, but since it was the first time in the Toronto area, it was PACKED. I remember it being hot, crowded, and frustrating. 2013 saw the event moved to a bigger, more central location, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, making for ease of movement, the opportunity to stop and really talk to vendors, and a corner dedicated to fantastic speakers on both days.
And can we talk about the products? Wow. Companies have really upped their game. Six years ago, when I first was diagnosed, the pickings were slim, and for the most part awful.
Gluten free offerings tasted and smelled like feet, and had the texture of sand.
Now, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference in some cases.
For example, there has been a particular improvement in gluten free pasta world. Gone are the pasty, granular, chewy rice pastas. In their place, the new gorgeous, silky, 4 grain blends, that have the look and texture of honest to goodness “real” pasta.
I not only left the building with a full belly, but I managed to take in all of the speakers, and I came home with a bag full of samples, and an additional bag full of purchases. I would have gone again on the Sunday, had there been a “weekend pass” offered. (something I’ve suggested to the organizers for next year)
Here are a few snaps of my haul from this year: (apologies for the blurry shots… gah!)
Every couple of months, without fail, I sit down with a glass of wine, put my feet up, and giddily tear away the clear plastic wrap to reveal the treasure inside; a glossy, delicious, book of eye candy known as “Food&Drink” magazine.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, this is a free, yes, you heard me, FREE magazine provided by the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). It’s pages filled with glossy photos of delicious recipes, each issue features specific ingredients in themed layouts, usually pared up with specific alcoholic offerings; it’s main purpose after all is to advertise and encourage the purchase of said alcohol which is available at the LCBO.
Published six times a year; Winter (Jan), Spring (Mar), Early Summer (May), Summer (July), Autumn (Sept), and the most coveted issue, Holiday (Nov), what started out 20 years ago as a 32 page pamphlet, has grown into the most read magazine in the province, with a per-issue print run of 505,000 (English) & 22,000 (French), and a readership of over 2 million.
This month’s issue, the 20th anniversary issue, is a love letter. A love letter to itself, a love letter to Ontario, a love letter to local restaurants, and products, and chef’s, most of whom were featured at some point in the magazine over the last two decades. But most importantly, it is a love letter to us, the readers. A look back at how things have changed. A revisiting of some of the most popular recipes over the years. And a peek behind the scenes at how the magazine came to be and how it is put together for all of us to enjoy season after season.
After reading it through, cover to cover, smiling and drooling simultaneously, I went over to my bookshelf to see just how far back my own collection goes. 2000! I personally have over a decade’s worth of issues. Amazing. Some are dog-eared, many with sticky notes or bookmarks place holding a favorite recipe, mostly the aforementioned Holiday issues, which tend to be the thickest issues, providing the most decadent recipes.
I love introducing the magazine to out of province and out of country visitors. They are usually gobsmacked by the quality of not only the magazine itself, but also the content. For a while, many years ago, I actually shipped copies of the magazine to a friend in the U.S.
Now the LCBO itself provides that service (mind you, you’ll have to pay for it if you live outside of Ontario)
From the LCBO website: http://hellolcbo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/253
Canadian Subscriptions: 1 year (six issues) for $33.90 (CDN funds)
US Subscriptions: 1 year (six issues) for $45 (CDN funds)
International Subscriptions: 1 year (6 issues) : please contact us at email@example.com for pricing in your area.
Note: Gift Subscriptions are based on the mailing address of the recipient (e.g. Canadian customer giving a gift subscription to a person with a US address must pay the US subscription price.)
Looking to complete your own collection? You can do that too! Back issues are available all the way back to 1993. Of course you’ll notice after a quick glance that the Holiday issues are all sold out. http://www.lcbo.com/fooddrink/index.shtml
As a public service I will let you know now that the final issue of 2013, the Holiday Issue, is due in stores Nov 6th, coinciding with another event well known to Ontario, or more specifically Toronto residents, the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo (Nov 14-17). I highly recommend you put both of those dates into your calendar.