Now That's Tasty!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Woodzee: Naturally Stylish Sunglasses

Woodzee is a California-based company that’s worth taking a look at – whether through the lenses of their fashionable, natural wood glasses, if you’re a fan of environmentally friendly products or if you like (booze?).
Trinity Recycled Oak Whiskey Barrel Sunglasses
Made with 100% natural wood, Woodzee has a mandate that surpasses style. For each pair of glasses sold, the good folks at Woodzee plant a tree. They’re packaging is made from 50% recycled paper, and printed with Soy Ink. They’ll even recycle your old frames for you if you’re looking to change up your style, and provide you with 40% off your next purchase.

More concerned with acquiring a Woodzee product than giving one away? They’ve got a select series of spectacular shades that are made from recycled wine and whiskey barrels. The two-toned oak frames are hand-wielded from whiskey barrels used by the Columbus Barrel Company in Ohio and Robert Mondavi Private Selection wine barrels. The dark stained exterior is nicely balanced with light inner accents. The distinctive grain pops from rich tone.

Trinity Recycled Oak Whiskey Barrel (L), Kodiak Bamboo Black Sunglasses – Smoke (R)
They have a range different coloured lenses and for around $70 to $150 for a truly unique pair of polarized sunglasses the value is as exceptional as the product. At checkout, you’ve also got the option to support one of several environmental organizations that plant trees, protect watersheds and save animals.

When you’re gearing up for late fall and early winter consider satiating your craving for cool in a new way with a fresh set from Woodzee.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Interview: Chef Rob Gentile on Ingredients, Italian Influences and Buca Yorkville

“The best ingredients” – Chef Rob Gentile uses the phrase repeatedly in our conversation, stressing their importance. The repetition is not redundant, there is no lack of meaning. The ingredients constitute his dharma; they are a representation of his childhood, his family, his education, his mentorship, his pride, his work, his restaurants and his life.

Ingredients take centre stage in the live Gaspé scallop w/ chamomile infused olive oil, sea asparagus, buffalo milk yoghurt and lump fish caviar.

Like his two previous award-winning restaurants – Buca King Street (described as "Nona" – the tank, the originator) and Bar Buca (the "spunky nephew") – Chef Gentile has an ingredient-focused approach to Buca Yorkville (formally titled Buca Osteria & Eoteca), whose maritime twist forms the basis for his somewhat simple, yet sophisticated new endeavor....

READ my interview with Chef Rob Gentile on View the Vibe. Take a look at some of the sensational menu items at the new Buca Yorkville below. Note: the menu constantly changes and there's no guarantee you'll be able to order what you see here. 

Also, worth noting for those that like to splurge – a special Chef's Tasting Menu is slowly being introduced at Buca Yorkville. It will feature 19-courses at $180 for food, plus $100 for wine pairings. 

Puntarelle Salad: roman chicory, crisp white smelt, pesto genovese, pine nut, quail yolk, gremolata
Bucatini alla Carbonara: bronze die-extruded duck egg pasta, herring bottarga, hen's egg
Spaghetti Pomodoro: bronze die-cut pasta di gargnano, seaside tomatoes, garlic, olive oil
Polipo e Vongole: braised octopus, B.C. clams, bone marrow, black kale, baby artichoke, fregola sarda
Peperonata: baked eggplant, sweet pepper, zucchini, parmiginao
Flourless chocolate cake, hazelnuts, compressed orange, squash ice cream

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Delicious Food Show 2014 - Why You Should Go

Delicious Food Show is on now from October 17-19 at Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. Here's a few snapshots of why you should be there, plus 10 Reasons You Need to Go from the Pass The Table blog.

Mario Batali, Tyler Florence and Chuck Hughes will be there (Mario was a bit tired from last night)...

"The Godfather of the Grill" Ted Reader will be there with his Hoptimus Prime food truck...

Buca's got goodies...

And Abbey's Kitchen will feature some of Toronto's best chefs...

Rock Lobster's in da house!

... mmm Rock Lobster...

And there's cured meats, too...

Shucker Paddy be reppin'...

And he's brought his new beer (available in the LCBO soon)...

Plus Walter will be serving up the caesars...

And the food trucks will be pushing out the flavour.

Want 10 More Reasons to hit up Delicious Food Show this year? Click HERE.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Vegetarian Dinner Series Coming to Bent Restaurant: Veggielicious Menu Preview

Susur Lee has never been one to shy away from a carnivorous selection at his restaurants but his reverence for the humble veggie is not to be ignored. Of course, for a chef who made his mark serving a Singapore Slaw – a vegetarian staple dish – the veteran chef has a special appreciation for the diversity and distinctiveness that can be achieved without the use of meat. To that end, and to satisfy a growing number of veggiecurious eaters, he’ll be hosting Veggielicious by Bent from September 9th to 20th.

Fish not included on the Veggielicious menu
“I feel that vegetarianism is very important but not enough vegetarian food tastes very good,” Lee admitted to a group of fellow bloggers at a recent workshop (#veggielicious101) held at his Dundas West restaurant. “There are a lot of ways to make deep and interesting vegetarian dishes. Many veggie restaurants are afraid to put spices in their food.”

Lucky for those interested in the 5-course, $45 prix fixe tasting menu there will be no shortage of bold flavours. The menu is designed to play off of Toronto’s cultural diversity, while incorporating a few of Lee’s signature touches
From Marrakesh to Montego Bay
A trio of tantalizing dips will be first on the table. Velvety hummus of romano beans with salted chilies, a spicy mustard seed tomato stew with walnut and curry leaf as well as a Caribbean eggplant babaganoush are served with baked garlic lavash. Take your palate on a culinary world tour while cleansing each bite with warm roasted olives with sumach and lemon preserve. This will mix well with a twist on a Canadian bar classic – the Asian Caesar with sriracha, sesame chili oil and hoisin sauce.

A mound of freshness and flavour
Proving still that he’s able to assemble a wicked salad, the tingly chilled soba will truly tickle your taste buds. Taiwanese vinaigrette spiked with tongue numbing Szechuan peppercorns makes this noodle salad of local veggies, braised shitake mushrooms, shiso leaf and nori crisps really pop. Interestingly enough, Chef Lee actually grows many of his vegetables and herbs in a garden a couple doors down from Bent on Markham Street.

I could eat this all day
Mild shishito peppers are not understated alongside crispy bites of chickpea tempura tofu drizzled with a sweet Korean chili sauce. Like all of the dishes, including the main course finisher of creamy wild mushroom quinoa risotto, the execution is exceptional. Ask your server to hold the romano parmigiano emulsion for a vegan option.

Pretty and perfect
Guests will finish with a sweet a sweet plate of French meringue infused with golden licorice as you sip on a complimenting Karate Kid 2. The airy meringue is topped with a lemon curd, wild blueberries, peaches, passionfruit syrup and raspberry coulis pairs perfectly with this sour of negori sake, jasmine tea gin, yuzu juice and vanilla syrup. Yes, this is real life.

Reservations are now being accepted for Veggielicious, so if this meal sounds as good to you as it tasted to me, it’s worth booking soon.

Garnishing the Karate Kid 2
Susur Lee's garden on Markham St.
Wild mushroom quinoa risotto with roasted cauliflower, romano parmigiano emulsion and tempeh crouton
The Asian Caesar
Susur's signature Singapore slaw
A beautiful afternoon at Bent
Side up to the bar if you'd like

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Who's The Real Fat Pasha?

The air is damp and it’s drizzling as I sit down on the barely moist bench at Fat Pasha’s back patio. The Dupont Street restaurant – the third on the midtown strip launched by chef and co-owner Anthony Rose – has been open for just about two months. Reviews have been resoundingly positive despite catering to a nitpicky local clientele. Fat Pasha serves Rose’s twist on Middle Eastern food, with an added pinch of personality, and several dashes of schmaltz.

The best chopped liver I've ever had – drizzled tableside with schmaltz!!!
The 41-year old Toronto-born chef sits across from me in a jean shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His demeanor is more placid that usual. He’s getting over the stomach flu and a broken heart. His love for his restaurant, his son, his employees, his eats and his customers, is however evident.

It’s 8pm on a Saturday night and the restaurant is getting slammed. Unexpected rain has limited their patio seating to less than 50 per cent capacity (their full awning is being installed on July 28th) and some of the customers are cranky. Those with a more laissez faire attitude are enjoying everything from the food to the al-fresco atmosphere. He remains engaged in our conversation while somehow quality checking with staff and complimenting neighboring tables on their meal choices “You’re never going to please them all,” Rose concedes. “But we do our best and we do what we love and that’s what’s most important.”

READ MORE... full article and the truth behind "The Real Fat Pasha" on View the Vibe
Seared albacore tuna w/ preserved lemon and salsa verde
Sensational schmaltz fried rice
Ice cream sandwich for dessert w/ caramelized matzah and Manischewitz jelly
READ my full article on View the Vibe.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Mandarin Restaurant Turns 35

Walking in to a Mandarin Restaurant is nostalgic. The emerald and gold carpeting leads you to the host’s station as instrumental Muzak plays through the speakers. Their welcome is almost as inviting as the aroma of the buffet, which calls to you immediately as you pass en route to your table. My salivary glands immediately become active and my self-loathing is pushed as far from my mind as possible – I know I’m about to go overboard.

For 35-years, Mandarin has been enticing indulgent Canadians with their array of all you can eat offerings. What I immediately think of as a Chinese buffet has evolved to incorporate the ethnic cuisine of our country’s diverse cultural mosaic. Cantonese style lemon chicken and sweet and sour spareribs, chow mein noodles and beef with broccoli, they’ve got that. But sushi and now sashimi, they’ve got that, too. And pizza, and prime rib, and salads and sweets, yeah, they’ve got it all.

Though their steamed snow crab legs, deep fried tornado shrimp and wonton soup could independently satisfy me, there’s always one more thing I have to sample. The latest addition to the spread is a selection of Canadian favourites as an ode to the country that’s supported them for three and a half decades.

Endless Snow Crab Legs
Mmmm... Lemon Chicken
So up until July 31st you can gorge yourself on poutine, tourti√®re, maple-glazed salmon, bison cabbage rolls and a collection of Canadian desserts. Personally, I found it hard to stray too far from my endless plates of crab legs on a recent visit (there were many plates!), but when it comes to the Mandarin it’s all about the variety, after all.

As I waddled out of the restaurant following three solid hours of feasting, I was reminded of that other familiar feeling – fullness.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Taste of Toronto – Toronto Events PREVIEW

Taste of Toronto is just about a month away from its first Canadian iteration and if you consider yourself a bit of a culinary enthusiast it must be on your summer events list. The TasteFestivals have become synonymous around the world as one of the premiere gatherings for gastronomes. From July 24th to 27th, over 20,000 food enthusiasts will descend upon historic Fort York to experience an array of edible offerings from 17 of Toronto’s top restaurants.

The Taste Festivals started 10 years ago in London, England and now host their gatherings in 20 international cities, including Amsterdam, Melbourne, Mumbai and Johannesburg, to name a few. Part of their success can be attributed to the presence of head chefs from each of the participating restaurants.

READ my full event preview on View the Vibe

Here are some of the exceptional dishes to expect:

Salt Cod Inari by Yours Truly
Charred BC Octopus with Chorizo and Green Mango by Yours Truly  
Albacore Tuna and Preserved Summer Tomatoes with Basil and Crispy Shallots by Hopgoods Foodliner
Smoked Duck Tacos with Crispy Chicken Skin, Pickled Radish and Hoisin Sauce by Barque Smokehouse 
Wagyu Hot Dog with Beet Mustard and Beef Cheek Marmalade by Weslodge
READ my full event preview on View the Vibe

Friday, 27 June 2014

Toronto's Food Truck Bylaws – One Month Later

It’s been just over a month since Toronto’s new food truck bylaws came into effect in mid May. For many, the amended regulations, including the lifted moratorium on vending in downtown and the availability of more permits was overshadowed by the “50 meter rule” and the $5,067 price tag per permit. In the wake of these changes what kind of action have we seen around town?

Not much.

Photo courtesy of Me.n.u's Facebook page
Of the 125 new mobile vending permits that are up for grabs, only nine have been issued thus far (Me.n.u, Kal & Mooy, Polar Express 1, PrinceEdwards Fries, Tang’s Family Restaurant, Buster’s Sea Cove). A total of 26 licensed food trucks exist in total.

While local appetites are panging for greater access to food trucks, perhaps it’s not such a shock that existing operators are choosing to waive the additional cost of a mobile permit...

READ what food truck operators and eaters around Toronto are saying about these new bylaws in my full View the Vibe article.