Friday, March 27, 2015

The Week In Yum March 19-17 The Green Living Show, The One of a Kind Show, Let's Be Frank

Detour Coffee has brought out the camper to the the Green Living Show

The Green Living Show

Highlights of the food variety at this years Green Living Show:

There were a number of organic food delivery services on hand this year and these were two of my favourites:

What I like about this company is that, unlike many other fresh box delivery services, you can shop online for what you want, ending the box full of cabbage, carrots and potatoes week after week all winter long conundrum that often plagues these types of services. Complete your order online by Sunday night and your booty will be delivered to your doorstep at some point between the next Monday to Thursday, depending on where you live.

I also really loved about this outfit is the fact that they have a six acre urban, organic farm at Downsview Park, complete with a greenhouse. Besides growing all of this wonderful food, they also
run tours of the farm and host events and workshops. It doesn't stop at produce either because Fresh City also partners with companies like Kozlik's Canadian Mustard, Ying Ying Soy Food, Ace Bakery and many more to bring you more than just a basic produce box.

You can choose between a veggie bag, a fruit bag, a fruit and veggie bag, there are different sized bags and you can also order recipe bags with all of the ingredients for a dish plus the recipe card  that will cost your approx between $10 and $12.50/portion. Like Farm and Forks you can top up your produce bag with a plethora of other grocery items as well. In a sea of home delivery produce services, this one stands out for me mostly due to the fact that this is a true, urban farm, growing most of the produce they are sending out and serving the community in many ways.

These were a couple of the more inventive and impressive things that were totally new to me:

The absolute coolest new discovery was Flow - an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bottled water that comes from a local alkaline spring water source. 

The water comes from a deep artesian aquifer in Southwestern Ontario and it is bottled pure - straight out of the earth. Don't even get me started on the packaging. It has an incredibly low carbon footprint, made from paperboard that comes from trees in managed forests with none of the resources coming from old growth trees or rainforests - 70% of the packing material comes from renewable sources which is one of the highest in the industry. Yes, we should all be just filling up our glass, reusable bottles but that is not going to happen anytime soon so, if you are going to purchase packaged water to take on the go, this is an awesome, new alternative.  It's also impossibly thin, standing at only 3-5% package and 95-97% water - as Monty Python would say, it's waaaafer thin.

This is brand, spanking new, debuting this weekend at the Green Living Show and it will be available on April 10 at major stores. Starting in Toronto, Flow will also be offering a home delivery subscription based service and they will even deliver it in their eco friendly SUV.

Most importantly, the stuff tastes amazing - it tastes like fresh, unadulterated water and I think my days of driving to Buffalo to stock up on my beloved Polish Springs bottled water are numbered.

The most clever monkey award goes to Landscape designer/farmer Abbagail Jewel for her pre fab, pre planted boxed gardens. She will curate, build and deliver a ready to harvest ceder planter box. All you have to do is care for it, try not to kill everything and harvest your garden. For your $450 not only will get a 4x4 box pre planted with 16 different seedlings, but you will be provided with an inhome lesson on how to care for your new garden after they finish installing it. If you live in a condo with an oddly shaped deck or balcony, they can also build you a custom sized planter box. I think this is brilliant. 

Also check out Matcha NinjaGood Food For GoodMade Good Foods and the amazing butter from Rolling Meadow Dairy

If you get peckish, stop by the make shift food court area for some snacks and let the good people from places like Pizzeria Libretto, Stone City, Paint box and Hawthorne feed and water you.

Oh, and if your back gets sore from carrying all of your booty, stop by booth 826 and see Deborah, The Massage Lady. For $20 you will get 15 minutes of heaven in the form of a seated chair massage.

Make sure to check out My top ten food finds at this year's One of a Kind Show before you head to the show to make sure you don't miss any of these amazing offerings.

Let's Be Frank

Ok, let's be frank, shall we? I am certainly no hot dog connoisseur, although I do appreciate a Nathan's All Beef charred to within an inch of it's life on the grill once or twice during the summer. In fact, I don't really feel like the BBQ season has officially begun until this happens and my preferred dressing of a good quality dog is a simple swipe of relish, spicy deli mustard and a soupçon of ketchup nestled in a toasted bun - maybe a handful of pickled chili peppers if I'm feeling feisty. When a hot dog is as tasty as a Nathan's dog, I want it to shine.

So, knowing all of this you might understand that I find many of these hot dog on steroids combos a bit challenging but I am nothing if not open minded so it was with an open mind and empty stomach that I walked into the doors of Let's Be Frank this week for a media tasting.

First off, the good. The three people behind this place are lovely. They have turned their original hot dog stand gigs at food events into a food truck and now they have a brick and mortar establishment, complete with liquor license and lots of seating in what is a pretty large restaurant, considering that it is a niche market.
I think I could get on board with that Dorito Dog but, alas, I didn't get to try one of those

They serve Beau's beer and, much to my surprise, I actually loved my pint of Tom Green milk stout...who knew? I don't drink a ton of beer but I know what I like and this beer has whatever it is that I like in spades.

Their Katsu dog, which I did not manage to get a decent photo of, was probably the only dog that I would order for myself and it was really well done. The coating was not too thick, was really crispy without being too greasy with just enough Katsu sauce and I am going to assume that because they were making us little sampler sized dogs to try out, that it would normally come with more of the wasabi mayo for much needed heat to balance out the sweet from the sesame bbq sauce.

I think that the corn dog was also a universal hit with the crowd, with it's tasty corn bread batter. My Kid would eat one of these in two bites while he peruses the menu.

Although the pulled pork Po Boy was pretty tasty, I would have preferred to just skip the dog and go with the pulled pork sandwich but if you are a hot dog lover, you will like this one. The hickory sticks really work and I think that, from now on, I am going to add them to every pulled pork anything I ever eat from this day forward. It's like the hot dog version of meat lover's pizza.

Okay, now the not quite so good to keep it real, right?

You can order your preferred dog as a slider, a regular sized or a big dog at 8". While I love that they offer a slider for people, like me, who either don't want a large hot dog or would like to try two different flavour combos, the buns need some finesse. They use those little New England style buns that are more like a folded piece of white bread than a bun. What makes them glorious, in a lobster roll, is that they are buttered and toasted and so there is still a nice, buttery crust to hold in any juices and give a nice crunch to the sandwich - kind of like a grilled cheese treatment. Let's Be Frank doesn't toast the outsides so they are just all soft and they get kind of mushy from the sauces and condiments. It reminds me too much of my childhood when my mom would wrap my hot dog in a slice of Wonderbread and try to convince me that it was a bun. If those little buns were buttered and toasted, it would be perfect.

The unanimous opinion at our table was that the cheese curds did not behave like cheese curds but more like chunks of cheese that melted when they should have stayed firm, fell apart where they should have squeaked - cheese curd lovers know what I am talking about. The only reason to eat poutine, for me, is to enjoy that glorious squeak of the curds with every bite because otherwise it's just fries and gravy with some cheese thrown in to mush things up.

I might be alone in this, but I like to be able to eat things without them falling apart on me and some of the hot dog combos were just too overloaded with toppings and they fell apart at the first bite, forcing me to take a bite and then use my fingers to scoop up toppings from the basket and shove those into my mouth before chewing, the Katsu dog being the exception.

I would absolutely go back but I would most likely go for a great quality naked dog with my preferred condiments or maybe a Katsu dog and stick to the plain yukon gold fries, passing on the poutine.

Lets Be Frank is open til 2am on Thursdays and it just says "late" on Friday and Saturdays, so they stay open later than 2am on the weekends. I imagine that once the El Mocambo reopens, they will do steady late night/wee hours business since, lets be honest, a pulled pork hotdog with hickory sticks is the epitome of past your bedtime drunk food.

Let's Be Frank Hot Dog Bar
460 Spadina Ave (just south of College)
416 519-7256

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What's Cooking at This Year's Spring One of a Kind Show- My Ten Favourite Food Treats

I have always loved The One of a Kind Show, both as a visitor and even as a vendor back in another life when I did a line of kid's glass art called Buster Boy. These days, I am just there as a shopper and I rarely miss a show if I can help it.

A ton of my Xmas shopping takes place at the winter show but for me, the spring show ushers in my favourite time of the year and I take the opportunity to buy things for myself. That usually means that I am on the hunt for edible treats as well as dinner ware and cooking gadgets and today I just focused on the edibles. Hopefully I will return tomorrow to check out the pretty things to serve my new treats on.

The Show runs from today until Sunday March 29 at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.The hours are 10am-9pm and until 6pm on Sunday with late night shopping on Thursday March 26 when they stay open until 11pm for all of you night owls.
You can get your tickets at the door or here, online for a 15% discount.

we feasted on this delicious breakfast to fortify us for an intensive morning browse

Chef Marcus Monteiro of the The Kitchen at Brassaii pulled out all of the stops with his Mediterranean inspired spread for the media breakfast. Media are a bit like toddlers and they get cranky on empty tummies so everyone was beside themselves when they saw what they were about to be fed.  The little Moroccan Huevos Rancheros, topped with a little quail's egg might have went by the alternative moniker of "Caroleros Rancheros" and frankly, it was all I could do to stop myself from arm wrestling my table mates in order to steal theirs as well. Because I would like to be invited back next year, I restrained myself.

I set off with the lovely and talented, Mary Luz Mejia to check out the food corner and see what's new and exciting this year. I taste so that you don't have to but really, you should taste something from all ten of these vendors. Food for thought - go on an empty stomach.

1.  Cassis Monna & Filles Booth B46
I was first drawn to this booth by the beautiful packaging of their products but I walked away with a jar of Cassis Mustard to add to my never ending collection of fancy mustards. They're the everything Cassis people with jams, sauces, mustard etc and everything I tasted was delicious but I have to stop myself at some point. I only have one fridge.

2. Himalaya Gourmet  Booth B39
Sulana and Neville D'Souza will thrill and delight you with samples from their  line of crazy pants Indian sauces, chutneys, pickles and dips. Their coriander chutney is one of the best jarred chutneys that I have tasted in years and they are both so lovely and charming that I dare you to walk away empty handed.

3. Little Shop of Lobsters Booth B26
New Brunswick Acadian by way of St Catherine's Ontario, these people are slinging some pretty tasty crab and lobster mousse as well as a seafood chowder that you can take home and they will hold on to your goods until you are ready to leave the show so you don't have to worry about seafood spoilage while you wander the aisles.

4.  Nonna Pia's Gourmet Sauces Booth B53
Say hi to Norm, who is fresh off a successful turn on Dragon's Den is at the show with his line of Balsamic Reductions. Often, when you see those thick balsamic sauces that are meant to be drizzled over food, they will get their texture from the addition of a thickening agent. Nonna Pia's reductions are true reductions -from the use of imported vinegar from Modena with all natural flavourings down to a the long cooking period (up to 12 hours) needed to reduce the vinegar by about 60% , these are gorgeous and at $9 for a good size bottled, I think they are a steal. Norm, himself, is on hand to answer all of your questions and let you taste his wares.

5. Trois Quarts D'Ounce  Booth B22
Stop by and say hi to Industrial Designer, Alexandrine and Chemist/Photographer Hannah and pick up a couple bottles of their gorgeous hand made tonic concentrated syrup. Not only do they offer their version of a classic tonic but now they also have a cola tonic. It tastes like a splash of coke thrown into a glass of really great tonic water and I am already kicking myself for not buying one. The thought of this with a shot of good rye on ice is making me light headed already. If you, like me, didn't grab one at the show, lucikly you can buy it on Etsy.

6.Monkey Butter  Booth B24
Go meet the two charming sisters behind Monkey Butter, an all natural peanut butter, salt and sugar free (with the exception of a couple of flavours) with fabulous flavourings like Dark Chocolate Cherry PB, Maple Bacon PB, Salted Caramel PB, Mexican Hot Chocolate and more.

7. The Fishery Seafoods LTD Booth B35
These guys are here all the way from Salt Spring Island with their canned tuna and salmon, smoked and unsmoked. Even though I am not a huge fan of smoked fish, I was seduced by a can of smoked tuna and had no choice but to purchase one.

8. Saha Cuisine Booth B55
Saha is in the house with their line of all natural, addictive and preservative free sauces and marinades. In addition to their Middle Eastern and Thai products, they have a new Caribbean line I bought a jar of the Jerk Marinade and Mary grabbed a bottle of Green Seasoning.

9. Les Canardises  Booth B45

I don't know much about these people because their web site is under construction but I do know that their fois gras products and the duck rillettes is to die for and in the end, do you really need to know any more than that?

10. Lee's Ghee Booth B57
Grab a jar or two of this brilliant organic ghee. You can get it straight up or infused with things like sage, cardamom or my obsession, za'atar. It might seem a bit pricey at first glance but this stuff is shelf stable for a year, it's organic and ghee really does go a long way. When you think about how much a lb of grocery store butter costs these days, suddenly $30+ price tag for the medium sized jar doesn't seem so scary anymore.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spaghetti and Meatballs at Last

If you read this blog, or know us personally, you will know that there are only a handful of ways to eat pasta in this house. Shack, who loves pasta above all other things, really just means spaghetti/rotini with tomato sauce and meatballs OR with meat sauce, which is just really tomato sauce with meatballs smashed up in it. The only two exceptions are, of course, lasagna which is just a shape shifting pan of spaghetti and meat sauce and carbonara but that has lots of bacon in it and, well, BACON. I, on the other hand, love all forms of pasta with all kinds of sauces - olive oil sauces, cream sauces, fettuccine, farfalle, orecchiette - you put a bowl of some sort of carby goodness in front of me and I will be happy but if I say I'm cooking "pasta" for dinner, I mean meatballs/meat sauce/marinara with spaghetti or rotini, maybe penne if he is feeling adventurous.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Week In Yum March 13-19 The Green Living Show is Coming, Lentil Love and Some Interesting Food Events Coming Up

featured wine and beer and lots of great food will there for the tasting

The Green Living Show

The Green Living Show is almost up on us so this week I stopped in at Hawthorne Food and Drink on Adelaide and Church to check out some of the food and drink that you will be able to sample at the show.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sous Vide Recap - What I've Done Up Until Now

Okay, time for a sous vide recap:

Again, what is sous vide and what the hell is an immersion heater/circulator/cooker?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sous Vide Miso Pork Meatballs

This is my first attempt at using one of my own recipes for the sous vide cooker and I am kind of going rogue with the technique which is probably why it was a mix of mainly success with some bumps in the road. I have been wanting to make another asian flavoured meatball like my Vietnamese meatballs but with a nod to Japan for a long time now. We LOVE our little Vietnamese meatballs made with chicken or pork but it's really easy to bake them just a smidge too long and dry them out. Now, with sous vide, they never overcook so, like the sausages, all they require is a little kiss with a hot pan afterwards to brown them up.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spicy Gochujang Beef Stew

After two weeks of doing almost nothing that doesn't involve sous vide, I felt like it was time to step off, go back to basics and make something that I would have loved before I discovered sous vide. I think I will have to start using the term BSV and ASV from now on.


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