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Big Rock Brewery brings Big Brews to Liberty Village

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Big Rock Brewery has made its debut in the Ontario market with two big splashes. In September, Big Rock opened the doors of its new brewery in Etobicoke. And now, the brewer has opened its brand spanking new brewpub in partnership with Oliver & Bonacini in Liberty Commons. The brewpub houses freshly brewed beer by Big Rock and food pairings by Oliver & Bonacini’s Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh, District Executive Chef John Horne (Canoe, Auberge du Pommier), and newly appointed Chef de Cuisine Ryan Lister (formerly of Canoe). Overseeing the brewing program at Liberty Commons are Big Rock Brewmaster Connor K. Patrick and brewer Dan Ellis. And as both a gastronomy lover and craft beer fan– I am stoked about this partnership! With over 30 years of brewing under its belt, the Calgary-founded craft brewer has a lot to offer Ontarians. Brewmaster Connor is using the brewpub as his home for experimental brews.  This means he will be producing special beers that will be exclusive to the brewpub. Big Rock is best known to create brews to satisfy a wide spectrum of palates according to the season. So, as the temperature changes, seasonal produce sets the tone for the type of beers that are created.  I’m most excited about the exclusive and seasonal brews that Connor will be crafting! So, add Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery to your list of places to enjoy tasty eats and fresh brews! Make your reservation here: libertycommons.ca.

This past summer, Big Rock Brewery surprised everyone at Session Toronto 2016 with a Lip Sumac-er, a collaboration with O&B’s Executive Chef Anthony Walsh’s food pairing of pork tacos. This was the first time that Toronto saw the two wonders together. The gose style beer had a taste like no other and was a true summer-pleaser. I could only rightfully compare it to a juicy lemon – it was salty, sour, tart and so refreshing. It’s unique winners like these that I’m excited to drink at the brewpub!

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My favourite of Big Rock’s signature taps is the Cashmere Crooner. Made up of cashmere hops, it’s a smooth and sessionable beer that I could see myself drinking rounds and rounds of…

Looking for something to do on the weekend? Head down to the Big Rock Brewery in Etobicoke. Everyone is encouraged to come explore the space and indulge in the seven signature beers at the growler bar. Tap room and retail store hours are Mondays, Tuesday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Book your reservation for a learn & taste session with a beerologist here.

bigrockbeer.com/
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hipster cafes are alive - at Cafe Parvis

17 Things to do in Montreal (in 4 Days!)

The desire for a visit to Montreal began in 2013 when I first heard of duck served from a can at Au Pied Du Cochon. The next big ping was discovering the selection of Dieu Du Ciel on tap at (now closed) BarVolo. Arthur surprised me with Montreal as our 1-year trip (the previous year was Kitchener, where we had a marvelous time mind you – yes you can laugh at this).

If I’m in a new city for a limited number of days, I’m all about living the “Carpe Diem” motto. I am not the sort to simply go out and walk through the city hoping to come across a gem. I will research the city’s highlights and make a path to it, then those other sighted gems can come along the way.

Our stay was from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon. We stayed by St. Laurier Station, very comfortably within 13-minute walking distance from our favourites! We purchased a Friday – Sunday pass for the Metropolitian which gave us unlimited access for $13.50 each at the time. The pass started from 6PM on the Friday night.

I would love to go into elaborate detail with a blogpost on each place I visited and loved, but I think it would be most efficient skimming-wise with a paragraph + photos of each instead. I’ve also provided external links to Zomato to see more details + other reviewer’s feedback at the end of this post.

Here’s what we did over a course of 3.5 days in Montreal:

(1) Devour a medium-fat smoked meat sammie.

When in Montreal… You eat a smoked meat sandwich for lunch! A smoked meat sammie can be enjoyed from two places in Montreal, Schwartz or Main Deli Steakhouse. There’s a battle between the city-folk deciding which is the best, but I say, just head to the one which is on the way to your next destination.

We tried a sandwich at Schwartz but we made the mistake of not asking for the fatty meat. Who would have known there was an option between fatty or lean? We got the lean without questions and by default. The recommended combo from passing servers is a Smoked meat sandwich ($9), housemade pickles ($2), coleslaw ($3) and a Black Cherry Cola. The pic Fairly pricey, but it only makes sense to be since it’s a top tourist destination and the best-acclaimed spot for a bite of smoked meat in Montreal.

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Let’s Eat: Brown Rice Mushroom Pilaf

Brown Rice Mushroom Pilaf - USA RiceBrown Rice Mushroom Pilaf - USA Rice

All About Rice

There are very many types of rice: long, medium and short, each can be used in many different ways, from a savoury pilaf, to a creamy risotto, to a dessert rice pudding!

This week, I had the opportunity to go a different route with rice. I’m very familiar with the good ol’ medium grain white rice, I’ve eaten a bowl for a day for at least 3/4 of my life. My choice between white or brown rice? White, please! I’ve never cooked brown rice for myself and can’t count more than 5 times that I’ve voluntarily eaten it.  It may be because of the difference in look, texture and taste, but with a quick search, there’s nothing lose, but all to gain with brown rice! U.S. Rice describes brown rice as:

Brown rice has the outer hull removed but still retains the nutrient-dense bran layers that give it a tan color, chewy texture and nutty flavor. Brown rice is a 100% whole grain, rich in minerals and vitamins, especially the B-complex group.

In variants of either long-grain or short-grain rice, the colouring you see is simply nutrients! The flavour profile is nutty with more of a bite than white rice. Once cooked, brown rice can keep in the fridge from 3 to 5 days and up to 6 months in the freezer.

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Let’s Make: Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce with Zwilling & Ballarini

Zwilling, Ballarini @ Arcadian CourtChef Jonathan Collins - Ballarini

Deep pasta sauces are a dream. I never thought that this type of flavor could be achieved without meat! Stepping into Chef Jonathan Collin’s cooking class with Zwilling and Ballarini, I knew I was in for a treat. We began with getting to know our tools and ingredients. Using the Ballarini Positano 11” Wok (found at Home Outfitters, The Bay and zwilling.ca), I discovered it to be a very versatile size to simmer our sauce and mix in our pasta.

Tonight’s pasta dish would be entirely focused on creating Chef Jonathan Collin’s Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce. As a peek for everyone else who wants to recreate it for themselves, see below! Roast heads of garlic ahead of time and take 15 minutes to cook the sauce, and you have dinner!

Zwilling, Ballarini @ Arcadian Court

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Down at Piggy’s for Authentic Korean BBQ

I love it all about Korean BBQ: sharing platters of foods, the endless sides of pickled radish and the after-eating smokey stench in my clothes. I haven’t been such a fan of Korean BBQ until I tried Little Piggy’s in Koreatown, but I’ve witnessed an even more grand experience at the Piggy’s Thornhill location.

Piggy’s pride themselves in using the very best traditional ingredients in Korea within their chili powder, cold noodles, soybean paste and red pepper paste. I knew that I was going to be in for a treat coming in this evening.

Here’s what we ordered:

  • Steamed Egg “Gae Ran Jjim”, steamed egg with vegetables ($6.95)
  • Chilled Steamed Pigs’ Trotters Salad & Mussel Soup “Naengchae Jokbal & Honghap Tang”, served with mussel soup ($29.95)
  • Boneless Beef Rib “So Gal Bi Sal”, non-marinated boneless Korean-style beef rib (400g, $57.90)
  • Sweet Bulb, Grapefruit Soju ($8.95)
  • Korean Rice Wine “Mak Gul Li”,  semi-sweet Korean traditional milky rice wine made with nuruk (Jinro 750ml, $16.95)
  • Spicy Chicken with Vegetables and Rice Cake ($34.95)

After agreeing with a meat item, it began with charcoal wood very quickly lit up and tossed and turned. Our server Peter was with us from the start, explaining the process to us as he heated up our tabletop and cooked and cut the meats. Even other servers jumped in time to time to check in on our cooking progress! But if we did need something, we made use of the service-call button at our table. As for utensils, check the side of your table – there may be a hidden latch.

Piggy's, ThornhillPiggy's, Thornhill

At the same time as our raw meat order arrived, so did the plentiful array of side dishes. We had pickled onion and celery, kimchi, pork ear jelly,  pancake, mashed potato, two salads and seaweed + broccoli in red pepper paste. In addition to all of those sides, there were also two types of dipping sauces and raw garlic and pickled onion to add into our meaty bites. Continue reading

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The Final Brunch of 2016: Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie, Toronto Lisa Marie, Toronto

I haven’t loved brunch enough this year. I can only recall venturing downtown voluntarily to try a new brunch spot four times this year (really – Fat Pasha and now-closed Wind Up). Lisa Marie was on my 2016-brunch-history twice. I’m not a stickler about getting up so early and making the journey south for a meal then figuring out how to carpe diem. If I’m making a day of it, I better have 10 other things planned.

For our very final brunch of 2016, we went on an irregular day of Tuesday. Lucky for us, Lisa Marie had brunch during the final week all week long! The previous time we made our visit, our plates were light. We’re talking shakshukka and some bready item that I’ve forgotten. Our plans were for a visit to the shops for Boxing Day leftovers, snacks at Ebisu and a Curry Tsukemen at Ramen Isshin. Little did we know that we would be far too full.

Lisa Marie, Toronto Continue reading

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Cadillac Jenkins on Queen West: Carribean-Inspired Eats, Libatons + Music

Cadillac Jenkins, Queen WestCadillac Jenkins, Queen West Cadillac Jenkins, Queen West

Queen West is home to a mix of an assortments of eats, drinks and sights. The newest addition is Cadillac Jenkins. The name, homage to the DJ name of owner Tyrone Gayle, Cadillac Jenkins brings about dishes with a Carribean flare, paired with specialty cocktails and good music. The food, we’re talking housemade beef patty sandwiches and whole roasted chicken dinners. These kitchen concoctions are brought to life by Chef Ryan Michailoff, a previous resident of Maple Leaf Tavern on the east end.

For our visit, we had the shrimp & scallop scotch egg which is served with a creamy habanero hollandaise and a jerk taco which is placed within a crunchy shell drizzled with smoked taco sauce, guacamole and black pepper crema. Both which I thought were full of flavour, the scotch egg especially I did not want to end! Continue reading

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Let’s Eat: Persimon Tapas, 3 Ways for the #TryAPersimon Black Box Challenge

dsc_09221As the weather gets chillier, it’s prime time to grab a box of Persimons.

Through mid-October to December, these orange gems are the perfect way to sweeten a meal or enjoy on it’s own. Persimmons come in many assortments. The stump tomato-shaped and large leafed one we are all familiar of sighting is the “Fuyu“, should be indulged once firm, another is the “Hachiya” which is a, longer, oblong shape (similiar to the shape of the persimon that I will be showcasing today), but it is necessary that that the Hachiya becomes completely ripened and soft and is more for use in cooking.

Today, we have in our hands the “Rojo Brillante” that is trademarked “Persimon®” and recognized as a special produce from Spain, exclusive to the Ribera del Xúquer Valley as well as being certified and protected by the Denomination of Origin (D.O) Ribera del Xúquer. The flavour of the Rojo Brillante Persimon® is reminiscent to a slightly firm and crunchy cantalope-peach-mango hybrid.

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Visit Spicy Mafia for Personal-sized Hot Pot

Spicy Mafia, MarkhamSpicy Mafia, Markham

Going out for hot pot is always a very long and mindful process. Usually at 2-4 people per pot and at a premium price, we’ve got to get our moneys worth! It’s an all you can eat – give me all of the seafood you have – hand over that menu again, let’s make it 5 rounds of orders, and oh no we’ve got to leave the noodles for last, let’s not get the broth starchy now.

Mini hot pot is my kind of dining game.

Thankfully, Spicy Mafia has recently opened at 20 Gibson Road specializing in personal-sized hot pot and noodle bowls at $12.99 – $13.99. And at a BOGO this was a serious no brainer to try out (BOGO ends Dec 11). Midway, I was so down to go for another order just to try the broths. Continue reading

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All New Seasonal Cocktails at East Thirty-Six, Toronto

East Thirty Six Bar | King East, Toronto East Thirty Six Bar | King East, Toronto

East Thirty-Six brings upon all good memories for me. An intimate 1920’s styled space with well-made craft cocktails and savoury shareable plates that hit the spot. Everything is intricately thought out, from the tinctures of the cocktails to the daily-made pickled offerings.

With the current Fall and approaching Winter, East Thirty-Six has made a suitable cocktail menu to match. Located at 36 Wellington St. East, this space serves cocktails, wine and gourmet shareable plates.

During this evening, we had a taste of four very diverse cocktails. From aromatic to dark and nutty, there was offerings from all sides of the cocktail palate:

  1. The St-Germainbeefeater, st-germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, syrup & cava
  2. Apothecaryhayman’s london dry, hayman’s sloe gin, tonic syrup, lemon juice, rosemary tincture & perrier
  3. Nutcracker – lot 40 rye, drambuie, house spiced rum, walnut bitters & black cardamom
  4. Night Capp – coffee vanilla infused bourbon, macadamia nut syrup & espresso

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