Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Christmas Sweaters, Cakes, Cookies, & Plates

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party - For as long as I have known my best friend Robin, I have known her sister Jamie to be the hostess with the mostest! Jamie is one of those people who was born to entertain, host, and care for others (which is very fitting considering that she is a nurse!), throwing parties and get togethers all year round, always complete with the most delicious drinks, snacks, and desserts, almost always created all by Jamie herself! How perfect that Jamie would fall in love with her husband John, also a fantastic host and cook (not to mention a hunter as well!), making them the perfect party-throwing team! Every year since I have known the pair they have been throwing an annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, bringing together all their friends and family, in their most hideously incredible festive sweaters to eat, drink, and be merry, all under one roof! Jamie always outdoes herself each year in both her menu and sweater, and this year was no exception.

Donning a brand new homemade ugly Christmas sweater, complete with a stocking cellphone holder (a must for any party host!) Jamie and John once again threw a great holiday party, this time with some new and very unique menu items. I was surprised and incredibly excited to hear that Jamie and John had special ordered an ostrich egg to make a frittata to serve at the party, to serve alongside elk sausages (very cool!). With their incredible culinary skills, I was sad to see that the frittata was already devoured by the time Robin and I arrived at the party, but we were still able to scope out the giant ostrich egg that they had saved! It was so cool to hold the ostrich egg shell in my hand, feeling the strange texture, weight, and thickness, of the shell. So cool! Thanks Jamie and John for another successful and hilarious ugly Christmas sweater party! Check out Jamie's fantastic food blog, Martha In Training, here to learn more about Jamie and what she's cooking up next!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Sweet & Splendid Cake - At every party and get together that Jamie hosts, one of the things I look forward to most is seeing what type of creation her friend Danielle has created. Danielle has her very own custom cake business called Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, creating the most imaginative, beautiful, and delicious cakes I have ever seen! There's always this whimsical quality to her cakes that makes them really stand out for me, which is easy to see with the cake that she served at this years Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. The red velvet and mascarpone cream cake looked so adorable, shaped like a chimney with Santa's legs coming out the end, as though that jolly belly of his got him stuck in the narrow passage. Although I missed snapping a photo before everyone cut into the cake, you can still see the fantastic artistry that goes into Danielle's work! What really blows me away about Danielle's cakes is that not only are they beautiful and complex, they are also always delicious! Check out Danielle's website to see more of her creations at Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop here

Annual Christmas Cookie Bake - One of my all-time favourite family traditions is spending time with my Oma in her kitchen, with one or two of my little (er...not so little anymore) cousins at my side, rolling, cutting, and decorating Oma's infamous Christmas cookies! It is something that, no matter how busy all of our schedules get, I will never fail to miss! I love my Oma so much, and being able to spend that time with her, doing one of our favourite things in the world, means the world to me! I appreciate the time that Oma spends preparing the dough for all of us, and setting up the cookie decorating station complete with all the cookie cutters we have been using since I was a toddler, sprinkles, egg wash, and, my favourite baking accessory, her antique German cookie press that turns that delicious cookie dough into something even more spectacular! Oma, thank you so much for always making time to make Christmas cookies with me every year, for whipping up delicious lunches prior to the cookie bake (your fried chicken, pickles, and beets hit the spot!), for sharing your wine coolers with me, and for making me smile with your dirty jokes! I love you! 

Christmas Plate 2012 - It may not be the most beautiful plate, but it is certainly the most delicious! Any good Christmas plate should be colourful, piled high, overflowing, and look like a delicious mess. It's clear to see that this years Christmas plate certainly fits that description! On my plate this year is:  ginger-ale glazed ham with caramelized onions, turkey with cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes with red peppers, cheesy scalloped potatoes, pomegranate and brie salad with balsamic glazed pecans, green beans with caramelized onions, shredded beet salad, and stuffing! The best!

Honorable Mention: Yours Truly - It was too dark for me to take a successful photo, and, quite frankly, there were just too many dishes for me to even narrow down which photo I would post, but I couldn't post a Weekly Roundup without mentioning what may be one of the best dining experiences I have had in Toronto to date! Last week I had the absolute pleasure of dining at the Ossington hotspot Yours Truly, which blew me away with their unique, striking, and absolutely delicious tasting menu! Not only was the inventive meal (complete with unbelievable cocktails) an adventure for the taste buds, it was also a great conversation starter and learning experience. It was such a joy to be able to engage with the bartender and servers about each dish that we were enjoying, learning about the techniques, ingredients, and time that went into each dish and cocktail. Every single aspect of the dinner was spot on! It was a memorable meal and evening that I won't soon forget! Tip: Sit at the bar for the ultimate  dining experience!


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Listening To:
Major Lazer - Get Free (Feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Days Of Wine Country Ontario Contest Winner!

Thank you everyone who participated in the 12 Days Of Wine Country Ontario giveaway! Congratulations to Genevieve Anderson our lucky winner who will receive a gift certificate to the Shaw Spa for a relaxing Grape & Wine Exfoliating Treatment! I hope you enjoy your Wine Country Ontario experience! Please email me at GingerRoseFood@gmail.com with your home address so we can send you your gift certificate as soon as possible! 

Listening To:
Nick Drake - Pink Moon

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Give The Gift Of Wine Country Ontario - CONTEST!


With only one week left until Christmas Eve, the pressure is building to grab hold of those creative last minute gifts for your friends and loved ones. I always say that as much as I adore unwrapping a gift, and making use of it as early as Christmas morning (nothing like cozying up in that new sweater while enjoying Christmas Day!) I appreciate the gift of 'experience' more than anything! I'm lucky to be one of those girls that is often thought of as "the girl who has everything", which makes gift giving for me pretty tricky. Giving me something to experience means giving me the gift of a memory, rather than junking up my dresser more than it already is. 
The key to giving the gift of experience, is personalizing it for that particular person. Take myself for instance, just by glancing at my blog it's easy to see that I am a fan of wine and, with my many blog posts on visits to Wine Country Ontario, there's no doubt that visiting Ontario's wine region is something I immensely enjoy. Why not give the gift of Wine Country Ontario to a wine loving friend or loved one by registering them for a winery tour, or perhaps give a gift certificate to a winery with a fabulous restaurant! With the stress of the holidays and inevitable dry skin this time of year, one of my favourite Wine Country Ontario gifts are gift certificates to the spa in wine country! Sure you can get a massage or an exfoliant treatment pretty much anywhere, but when in wine country, go for something interesting! I LOVE the sound of a Grape and Wine Scrub such as the one they have at the prestigious Shaw Spa in Niagara. The Shaw Spa's Grape and Wine Scrub Treatment scrubs away that dry Winter skin by using the extracts from the grape seed, leaf, stems and wine, leaving your skin smooth and perfectly hydrated! What better way to end a day of winery touring, than relaxing at the spa!
Wine Country Ontario has been kind enough invite me to be apart of their #12DaysWCO, a 12 day celebration of the season! Each day a different wine loving blogger will suggest one of their favourite Wine Country Ontario gifts to give under $100 and, even better, Wine Country Ontario will send one lucky reader that very gift! So, how can you win a Shaw Spa Grape and Wine Scrub Exfoliating Experience? All you have to do is comment on this post, describing your favourite Wine Country Ontario Experience, or, if you've never had the chance to experience Wine Country Ontario yourself (what's wrong with you?), comment and tell me why you would like to! So what are you waiting for? Share your Wine Country Ontario experience with me! Good luck! 

* One comment = one entry. One entry per person.
* A winner will be selected at random on Friday December 21st!

Listening To:
John Lennon - So this is Christmas

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Your Fam Is My Fam, & My Fam Is Yours

Dinner at the Orlando's - One of my best friends is my friend Alex Orlando. Alex has been given the title of 'the best' ever since we first met in grade four, and has remained the best thanks to the strange sisterly bond we have with one another that only seems to get stronger as years pass. With her family living right around the corner from my old house, we couldn't help but have spontaneous get togethers whenever we could. Whether it was just going for a walk, having a dip in her hot tub or my pool, having a late night gossip session on our couches, raiding each others fridges for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years leftovers, or munching on nut brittle while making a gingerbread house at my breakfast table, we would always make ourselves at home in each others homes. Her home became my home away from home, a place I knew I could run to if I ever was in trouble, needed a hug, or even needed an egg for a recipe (my sister once ran over to Alex's for that very thing!), and the same went for my home for her. Her parent's, Marisa and Paul, quickly became aunt and uncle figures for me, taking me along on family vacations, inviting me to their backyard parties, and welcoming me in for their Sunday night family dinners. After moving into our apartment a month ago, one of the many things that made me sad was knowing that I would no longer be neighbors with the Orlando's, my second family. Farewell to the days of running around the corner, through the snow, in my pajamas just to hang at the Orlando house.

The most recent time Alex and I got together, I told her all about how my mom and I were adjusting to living in this new space, and some of the troubles we've been having. Alex perked up and said "I know just what you two need! You need to come over for an Orlando Sunday night dinner!" Right when she said that, I knew she was right! I know how welcoming, delicious, and hilarious Sunday nights at the Orlando house can be, having been invited numerous times now, and knew that my mom could definitely use a night of laid back fun. This past Sunday we put our plan into action and headed over to their home. With Alex, Marisa, Paul, Alex's sister Victoria, her husband Kyle, their grandmother Flora, and my mom and I all sitting around their big dining room table, we had the most wonderful time sipping vino and enjoying Marisa's incredible culinary skills. The night began with everyone gathered around their kitchen island, devouring the plate of shrimp and flatbread that Marisa had put out, catching up on all of the recent events, and looking through photos from Victoria and Kyle's wedding this summer.
Dinner at the Orlando's - After appetizers in the kitchen we headed into the dining room for even more deliciousness! We started the meal with the highlight for me, prosciutto and melon salad with arugula and buffalo mozzarella. So incredibly delicious! My mom and I often make prosciutto wrapped melon, but we loved how striking looking and delicious Marisa's salad was! I will definitely be replicating this tasty salad the next time I entertain! The salad was followed by comforting chicken parmesan, roasted fingerling potatoes and butternut squash, and broccoli. Stuffed to the brim, I couldn't believe I still had room to dip into the dessert tray that was served, quickly grabbing a cannoli for myself. Thank you so much to the Orlando family for taking us in and making your home ours for the night. You are possibly the warmest people I have ever known, and one night at your place can make that warmth and positive energy linger all week long! I can't wait to have you over to our place so we can share that same love with you! 

Follow Alex on Twitter to learn all about this incredibly talented, multi-taking gal that I am so lucky to call my best friend!

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Listening To:
Camera Obscura - Country Mile

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Welcome Home To Birthday Love

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
Surprise Cake Pops - My friend Mike is probably one of the most social people I know, with a super close core group of friends that he's had since childhood, as well as a slew of friends all over the province that he's met through his successful drumming career. When his girlfriend Vittoria sent out an invite for a surprise 25th birthday party for Mike, I couldn't help but worry that someone would spill the beans considering his large social network. To our surprise, and especially Mike's, Mike had no clue that Vittoria had planned this special party for him, gathering all of his friends together in a privately booked venue, complete with all the finger food you could ever want, and a beautiful slideshow of Mike's memories and friends. There was no denying how happy Mike was, with a giant smile plastered on his face all night, and a stunning, smiling Vittoria by his side.  My favourite bite of the night was the  festive and sparkly cake pops and cupcakes that Vittoria brought! I had a delicious carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a yummy, super sweet red velvet cake pop speckled with silver sprinkles. I have to find out where Vittoria got them. They would be great to serve at a holiday party! I'll keep you updated! Check out who Mike is drumming for next and follow along as he reaches rockstar status on his Tumblr here!

Happy Birthday Daddy! - One of my favourite places to have a guaranteed good time in Toronto is Guu Sakabar. The combination of the lively atmosphere, incredibly friendly staff, and killer menu makes Guu one of my go-to places ever since I was first introduced to it by my sister Justine and her boyfriend. Thanks to all the hype we've given Guu over the past year or so, my dad listed Guu as one of the top places he wanted to check out for his birthday this past week. Despite his initial grumblings about the loud volume and uncomfortable seats (I believe he said "I want a little cushion for my bum. Can they bring me one?") we all ended up having a great experience at Guu. My dad loved getting to try so many different tastes, with his favourites being the Kimchi Nabe Hot Pot and the Kakuni Pie, pork belly pastry with sweet soy sauce. Happy Birthday Daddy!

Kobi's First Visit to the New Place - Moving into this new apartment from our home with my mom has taught me a lot about what it means to call a place a 'home'. It's more than just bringing your furniture in and hanging your photos on the walls. No, this isn't a snap-your-fingers kind of change. Turning a 'house' into a 'home' is about creating memories and bringing in love. More than anything, the experiences that have made this place feel like my new home have been things like having my sister and her boyfriend over for sunday night dinner, making fresh pasta with my cousin, smelling my moms familiar spaghetti sauce cooking in the kitchen, and, most recently, welcoming my dog in for his first visit to the new place! My dog Kobi lives with my dad, so it wasn't until this week that we finally had a chance to have Kobi over for a visit. Seeing that big bundle of adorable fluff running around to each room with the biggest smile on his face, his tail spinning like a helicopter, sniffing all of the familiar furniture that he remembers from our old home, and cuddling up on the floor with him while he snored in contentment really felt like that final push to make this place feel like my home. Kobi this is just as much your home as it is mine! You are always welcome! 

This Is Love - This past summer my cousin Matty married the girl of his dreams, Becca. Although we don't get to see Matty and Becca as often as we like with the two of them living in BC together, we had a chance to see just how special their relationship is when they lived in Toronto for a short period of time a few years ago. They have that unique kind of love where, after spending no more than five minutes with them, you can't deny that they were meant to be together. So incredibly kind, talented, smart, and creative, they balance each other out perfectly, sharing hobbies and interests, while still allowing each other the independence to have their own niche. Despite how badly I wanted to attend their wedding in BC, the timing just didn't work out with so much chaos in our lives due to the sale of the house. I, of course, scoured Facebook for every photo I could find of Matty and Becca's wedding, but no photo was as beautiful as the one they sent for their thank you cards this week (which says a lot considering the abundance of stunning photos I had found). Probably one of the most beautiful photos I've seen, this photo brought the happiest of tears to my eyes, seeing this beautiful moment between them captured so perfectly. We feel so lucky to welcome you into our family Becca! I wish you two the most joyous life together! 

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Listening To:
Carla Bruni - Le Ciel Dans Une Chambre

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Campbell's Alfredo Sauce with Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock

With such a busy schedule, it can be really difficult to come up with interesting and unique recipes every night of the week. Sure, it's easy to come up with inspired meal ideas, but making them happen under time constraints is another story. On a weekly basis I find myself sacrificing the flavour and complexity of my meals due to my busy schedule, choosing to take shortcuts or tone down my recipe to fit the time that I have. That's why I was so excited to receive a package from Campbell's Canada containing their full new line of Stock First stocks, including beef, chicken, and, most interestingly, cream stock. Campbell's new line of stocks takes the stress out of cooking, allowing home cooks to amp up the flavour of their dishes in next to no time at all. Although I was eager to try each one of Campbell's new stocks, I had to give their Cream Stock a try thanks to a craving for fresh pasta. Campbell's provided an incredibly simple and quick recipe for Alfredo sauce using their Cream Stock, which would allow me the time to concentrate my efforts on making the perfect, fresh, homemade fettuccine noodles.

Fresh homemade pasta is actually quite easy to prepare, but there's no doubt that it is a time consuming process. I can't help but stress out every time I make homemade pasta, rushing to just get it done, realizing that I've spent so much time working on the noodles, that I haven't left myself much time for the sauce. Because Campbell's recipe for Alfredo sauce was so incredibly simple, I could finally find the joy in making fresh pasta again. With my cousin Kim by my side to help, as well as a notepad filled with recently-researched pasta making tips, and plenty of time until dinner, making our fresh fettuccine noodles actually felt very relaxing. We had so much fun using the swanky, new, red lacquered pasta maker that I had received as a birthday gift this year (thanks Alex!), taking turns with who got to feed the dough through the machine. We were absolutely giddy over it! Making the fresh pasta noodles was an absolute breeze thanks to my previous experience in making pasta and the slew of new tips that I applied. Check out my homemade pasta making tips here:

Fresh Pasta Tips
  • Give yourself plenty of time to make the pasta so you're not rushing to get it done. This may not be the best weeknight meal, especially for pasta-making virgins.
  • Remove eggs from fridge a half hour before making dough.
  • Don't add too much water. You want the dough to just come together. I add about a tablespoon at a time.
  • Don't just punch the dough around when kneading, make sure to fold the dough over itself over and over again until you have reached the right consistency.
  • Don't simply time yourself when kneading the dough, feel when the dough is ready. This takes some practice, but after a few tries you'll get the hang of it. 
  • Allow the kneaded dough to rest for 1-hour.
  • If you don't have a pasta dryer (I mean, who does?) hang your cut pasta noodles on clothes hangers to dry.
  • And most importantly, don't freak out! It's easy to freak out the first time you make pasta from scratch, worried about sticking noodles or cracking dough, but the trick is to laugh it off and keep going! Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice making pasta the more intuitive it becomes. 
Once the noodles were dried and ready to hop into the salty bath on the stove, all I had to do was whip together the Alfredo sauce. The unbelievably simple sauce came together in no time at all, but had the rich flavours  and velvety smooth texture of a sauce that required much more time and effort. My favourite thing about the cream stock was the texture. When making a creamy sauce I often have trouble getting the sauce to the right consistency, always having a too-thin or too-thick sauce, or finding that right consistency, only to have it separate on me. This sauce had that perfect consistency that I've always been aiming for, with no separation issues. Kim, my mom, and myself all loved the Fettuccine Alfredo, with each one of us enthusiastically going up for seconds. Creamy, comforting, and absolutely delicious, I will definitely be making this dish again, and it's all thanks to Campbell's Cream Stock! 

Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock isn't technically a "stock" although it performs like a stock in many ways, creating a base for your dish, adding rich and robust flavour in the time it takes to open the carton.  I'm often skeptical with products such as this, sure that I am sacrificing quality ingredients and my health for convenience, but I was happy to learn that Campbell's Cream Stock does more than just elevate your recipes, it contains no artificial colours or flavour, is gluten free and suitable for vegetarians, and it has 83% less fat and 78% less calories than the same serving of 35% whipping cream (125mL). I will definitely be purchasing Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock in the future and would suggest that you give it a try as well! 

Tip: Make this meal even more substantial by adding grilled chicken or shrimp!

Campbell's Fettuccine Alfredo
Ingredients:
Fettuccine noodles (see recipe below)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
1 carton Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Directions:
  1. Simmer wine and cracked black pepper in a medium-large saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by half.
  2. Add stock and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  3. While stock is simmering, cook fresh fettuccine (see recipe below) in boiling salted water until al dente.
  4. Add cooked and drained noodles, chopped parsley, and parmesan cheese and stir to coat noodles completely. Serve with more fresh cracked pepper and parmesan cheese. 
Fresh Pasta 
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
cold water

Directions:
  1. Take eggs out of fridge 1/2 hour before making dough.
  2. In a medium-large bowl add the flour and make a small well in the centre. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the beaten yolks and the salt into the middle of the well in the bowl of flour. Keeping one clean hand for mixing, and one for adding water, mix and form the dough, adding a little bit of water at a time until you have formed a nice, firm, but slightly sticky dough. You want to add enough water for it to just come together. Don't let your dough get too sticky.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, folding the dough over itself over and over again until you have a smooth and slightly springy ball. Lightly coat dough in olive oil, place dough back in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Tear off a piece of dough bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a baseball. Continue making the noodles following the instructions on your pasta maker. 
  6. Dry lightly floured noodles on clean clothes hangers. This should take about 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for about 4 minutes, or until al dente. 
Learn more about Campbell's Stock First products here!

Listening To:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Holiday Gifts & Pasta Making Tips

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
Holiday CHEERS with Steam Whistle - With the Holidays fast approaching, I can't help but worry over not having purchased any gifts for my friends and family, nor have I given any gift ideas for myself to the many friends and family members who have been asking. Now that my bedroom and closet are a mere fraction of the size they were only a few weeks ago in my old home, I can't imagine asking for more "stuff" to crowd this already cluttered space. My Holiday gift idea dilemma was solved thanks to Steam Whistle and their new Holiday 12-pack. Spread some Holiday CHEERS by giving the gift of craft beer this season! Wrapped up in a festive, easy-to-carry-and-store Holiday box, Steam Whistle's Holiday 12-pack is the perfect gift for any beer lover! 

The County General - Being so busy preparing for our big move over the past few months has not only meant me neglecting my blog, but also some of my closest friends. My best friend Alex , who may have the busiest and craziest schedule out of anyone I know, was one of those people. With so much happening in both of our lives lately, we couldn't believe that it had been so many months since we had caught up. With so many stories to recount, we wanted to find the perfect place to unwind, unload our gossip, and indulge in delicious food and drinks. Walking against the freezing cold wind along Queen Street West, I was desperate to just pick a place and be done with it, but Alex insisted that there was a great cozy spot coming up that would be perfect for our reunion. I was happy to learn that this little spot that Alex was referring to was The County General, a restaurant I have been dying to go to for months now. My excitement at finally getting to try their infamous Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich knocked the cold right out of me! After hearing so much hype about the sandwich, it would have been easy to be left disappointed, but The County General's Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich knocked my socks off with its perfectly crispy and juicy buttermilk fried chicken thigh pieces, soft fresh milk bun,  avocado chutney, and an abundance of cilantro leaves and stems. Served alongside their hand-cut fries and killer hot sauce, this sandwich was absolute perfection, and easily takes the top spot as my favourite sandwich in Toronto!

After savoring every bite of that perfect sandwich, you would think I wouldn't be able to even look at any another bite of food...well, you would think. Our conversation came to a halt when the table next to us caught our attention with the arrival of their Fried Chicken for two. The smell of the "KFC" n' Soy Garlic Chicken alone had me swooning, but what really caught my attention was the dramatic way in which the chicken was served. With a long sheet of paper running along the table, The County General sees no need for plates. The sticky, glazed chicken is poured right onto the paper on the table, followed by a generous topping of garnishes, which included sesame seeds, mint, thai basil, cilantro, green onions, and avocado sauce, all of which is served alongside a half-dozen mini steamed buns. Can you say foodgasm? That beautiful and delicious looking presentation had me thinking of nothing but fried chicken for days! I had to get my hands on that chicken as soon as possible. Only four days later, I came back to the Country General for their dreamy fried chicken and I have to say, it was just as incredible as it looked! I only wish I had more of an appetite to finish it all! 

The County General - No meal is complete without a killer cocktail! After just learning that week about how to make a perfect mint julep, there was no other cocktail I could imagine ordering than The County General's Spicy Serrano Mint Julep with Jim Beam Bourbon, fresh mint, and house-made serrano syrup. It was really interesting and I enjoyed the first few sips, but it was a little strong for my taste. At my next visit I tried The County Drive In, with Makers Mark, Aperol, fresh lime, and Jones Cream Soda. The perfect balance of both sweet and bitter, this cocktail was right up my alley!

Winter Drinks - Normally after a big meal and so many drinks all I can think about is cuddling up for a nap, but the County General put me in such a great mood I just kept going! Here is my friend Rommi and I drinking our winter chills away at the Banknote at King and Bathurst. 
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
First Family Dinner - With each passing day, our new apartment is starting to feel more and more like our home, but nothing made this foreign space feel more "homey" than hosting a family dinner in our new dining room. With my sister Justine and her boyfriend in attendance, we popped bottles of bubbly and indulged in my moms comforting pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots and toasted to new beginnings! I guess home really is where the heart is. 

Fresh Pasta - After seeing my mom back in action in the kitchen on Sunday, slow roasting pulled pork, I knew the time had come for me to reacquaint myself with the kitchen and make something special. For months now I have been aching to try the beautiful, red lacquered pasta maker that my friend Alex had bought me for my birthday, so with the afternoon off and my cousin Kim on her way to help as sous chef, I could think of no better dish to make than fresh pasta! Armed with a notebook full of pasta making tips and tricks, and Kim at my side to help, making fresh pasta has never felt easier!

One of the most useful tips that I used that day was a trick on how to dry fresh pasta. In my previous attempts at making fresh pasta, I was always left pulling my hair out, so completely frustrated over the pasta noodles sticking together and ruining all of my hard work. Without a pasta dryer, I would always lay my noodles out on flour-dusted cookie sheets, which not only took up a ton of room, covering every surface in my kitchen and dining room, but also didn't allow for the pasta to dry, resulting in goopy, stuck together noodles, disappointing in both taste and appearance. I had to figure out a way to hang the pasta strands to keep them separated and allow them to completely dry. It took Kim by surprise to arrive at our apartment to see clothes hangers dangling from all of the kitchen cupboards, my solution to not having a pasta dryer. Although it appeared strange, drying my pasta noodles on clothes hangers was the perfect way dry and separate the fresh noodles! This was my best attempt at fresh pasta yet! Stay tuned for an entry coming up soon on more pasta-making tips!  

Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock - Thanks to a recent delivery  at my doorstep from Campbell's I was inspired to make their recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo using their Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock. The incredibly simple and quick to prepare sauce was the perfect accompaniment to my not-so-simple fresh pasta. Keep your eyes peeled for an entry coming up soon on my review of Campbell's Cream Stock as well as their tasty recipe for Alfredo Sauce! 

Wine Bottle Pen Markers - Still in reunion-mode with so many good friends to catch up with, I spent my friday night by the fireplace, stuffing my face with sushi, and sipping on vino, with my friend Danielle. I loved the personalized glasses that Danielle served our wine in, with "Ginger" and "Cinnamon" scrawled on each one. As a housewarming gift, Danielle and her boyfriend received a bottle of wine from a friend along with two wine bottle pen markers. These cute silver and gold pens are a great way to personalize friends wine glasses at dinner parties. Writing guests names on the glasses is a good way of recognizing who's is who's, but why not deck your glasses out with clever phrases, interesting quotes, or even cute drawings to act as a conversation starter. These wine bottle pen markers are also a great stocking stuffer idea for the guy or gal who has everything! Hint hint...I want these! 

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Listening To:
Badly Drawn Boy - Once Around The Block

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Soup n' Caesars

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT
Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown - What better way to get through the mid-week hump than spending the evening at the Fairmont Royal York, chowing down on a dozen different chowders, and washing them all down with a dozen different craft beers! On Wednesday evening, with my best friend Robin in tow, I attended the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown. The competition event featured twelve different chefs and restaurants, each preparing their version of a seafood chowder, inspired by a particular craft beer. When you first think of chowder, you can't help but have the classic clam chowder come to mind, but with an event held by Ocean Wise, you can bet on seeing an array of different sustainable seafood options in each bowl. 

Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Upon arrival at the Chowder Chowdown, each guest received a souvenir bamboo Ocean Wise spoon (that I misplaced after each and every bowl of chowder) as well as a ballot to cast their vote on their favourite chowder. Although I loved almost every single chowder that was served that evening, of course I had my favourites. Although there was a clear winner for me throughout most of the competition, my final bowl of chowder turned that top spot into a tie! 

I always like to look for the longest line at events like these to direct me towards the tastiest bites. It came as no surprise that Chef Richard Baksh of Earls Kitchen & Bar ended up winning the peoples choice award, as there was not a moment all night that they didn't have a long, winding line of happy guests, eagerly awaiting a bowl of their Manilla Clam and Seafood Chowder. Earls Manilla Clam and Seafood Chowder was tied for first for me thanks to its creamy texture, comforting flavour, and beautiful presentation, not to mention extra points for their fresh and salty bread dipper garnish. It was only when I finally made my way to Chef Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro's station, serving up Chef Ponzo's Seafood Chowder, that Earl's chowder had to share the limelight for first. It was the complexity and depth of flavour that grabbed my attention with Chef Ponzo's Seafood Chowder and had me scraping my souvenir bamboo spoon across the bottom of my cup to scoop out every last drop! The celebrity panel of judges seemed to share my view, as Chef Ponzo took home the top spot of the evening, winning the title of 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion! Congrats Chef Ponzo!

Campbell's Stocks - As if my belly wasn't full of enough soup, the next day I was happy to find a delivery at my (new) doorstep from Campbell's Canada, who had sent me their new line of stocks.  The new line of stocks, which includes chicken, beef, and, most interestingly, cream stock, is catered towards the confident home chef looking to create delicious weeknight meals for friends and family, without the added work of making stock or béchamel from scratch. Being a social girl with more than one job, I can easily see how I can benefit from having these stocks in my kitchen, as I often feel as though the quality of my meals are being sacrificed simply because of lack of time. I'm looking forward to trying out Campbell's stocks and recipes and seeing how they can help to enhance my basic weeknight meals! 

Mott's Clamato Ready-To-Drink 458ml Cans - Still in foodie heaven from the previous evenings Chowder Chowdown, I felt downright spoiled getting to attend the Mott's Clamato launch of their new ready-to-drink 458ml cans at the Drake the very next day. Of course Mott's Clamato's official Caesar Mixing Officer Clint Pattemore was there to host the event, serving up the pre-mixed cocktail to guests, as well as hosting a number of different caesar making demos, showcasing a variety of ways to serve the new product. I was able to grab a spot at the caesar demo bar for a tutorial on how to make Clint's Chelada (also known as a Red Eye), a simple take on the classic caesar, combining the new pre-mixed 458ml cans of Mott's Clamato caesar with beer. The Chelada was interesting, but my favourite part of the demo was when Clint handed my guest and I a plate of garnishes, including pickles, artichokes, spicy beans, charcuterie, and more, encouraging us to create our own garnishes. He suggested setting up a caesar bar at my next party or gathering, complete with the new pre-mixed caesar cans, and an assortment of different ingredients and garnishes so that guests can each make their own unique caesar. Consider pushing the boundaries by serving up different fruit juices, spices, and brines for guests to add, as well as creative garnishes. To get inspired, check out some of the caesar recipes that Clint has created for Mott's Clamato here!

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Listening To:

New order - Ceremony

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ocean Wise Month Media Launch

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. Ocean Wise has declared November as Ocean Wise Month, a month dedicated to drawing awareness to the many sustainable seafood varieties we are so lucky to have access to in Canada. Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. I first learned about Ocean Wise at their Tides of Change event this past Spring, and was immediately struck by their cause. The past event was so well executed and so informative, I knew I couldn't miss out on the Ocean Wise Month Media Launch. 
The Media Launch drew attention to the biggest threat facing our waters today, overfishing. Through culinary demonstrations, three top Ontario seafood chefs shared their experiences on seeking out and obtaining sustainable seafood for their business, how the seafood landscape has changed over the years due to overfishing, and how we, as consumers, can make the right choices when purchasing and ordering seafood. 
The event began with a demonstration by Chef Lirad Kligman of Neptuno Oysters on how to properly and safely shuck an oyster. He told us all about how Neptuno obtains their oysters and the many health benefits of eating oysters, which include its high levels of zinc. He prepared an oyster amuse bouch with umi mousse and chives as well as one of my favourites of the day, Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam. The Kumamato Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam blew me away with it's sweet and savory combo, and the unexpected burst of flavour from the kiwi. Chef Kligman was kind enough to provide his recipe for the arctic kiwi jam so that we can recreate this striking dish at home! 
Chef Lirad Kligman using his Dexter knife to demonstrate how to properly shuck an oyster
Oyster Amuse Bouch 
uni mousse & chives
Kumamato Oyster with Arctic Kiwi Jam
Recipe for Arctic Kiwi Jam
Ingredients:
1 pint arctic kiwi
2 cups gewurztraminer 
3 cups sugar

Directions:
  • Reduce wine by half.
  • Add sugar, stir until dissolved
  • Add kiwi (skin on, whole) and lower heat.
  • Once kiwis begin to burst, remove from heat and cool.
Suggested Cocktail Pairing
Caesar made with house-made Ocean Wise Clamato juice
Next up was Chef Kristin Donovan of Hooked Inc., who told us about the advantages of Great Lake fishing and how lucky we are as Canadians to have access to Great Lake fish. One of the problems with Great Lake fish is that the American market walks away with a big chunk of it, making it difficult for Canadian retailers and business' to get their hands on this fantastic sustainable resource. Chef Donovan told us about how her and her business partner and husband Dan Donovan fought to acquire some of the best quality Great Lake fish to sell and serve at Hooked Inc. 

Chef Donovan demonstrated one of her favourite ways to cook fresh fish, making Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote. Papillote is a method of cooking which allows the subtlety of fresh fish to shine by steaming the fish with herbs and vegetables in individual parchment paper packets. The papillote method not only helps deliver in terms of flavour, but also helps to create a memorable dining experience. Chef Donovan told us about how special it is to serve fish on papillote at dinner parties, encouraging each diner to cut into their individual fish package right at the table, allowing the aromas to burst out of the paper and dance around the dining room. Although it may appear complicated, it's actually quite simple to prepare, and is a great option for entertaining, as you can prepare everything in advance and simply pop in the oven when ready to serve. 
Chef Kristin Donovan demonstating how to cook fish using the papillote method
Lake Erie Walleye on Papillote 
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
Smoked Ontario Lake Whitefish Rillettes
crostini with heirloom pickled beets & wild arugula
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Sauvignon Blanc
The show-stopper of the day had to be from Chef Taylor McMeekin, former chef at Mildred's Temple Kitchen and current chef du cuisine at Air Canada Club, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. Chef McMeekin demonstrated his fine knife skills by showing attendees how to basket one of his favourite sustainable fish, rainbow trout. Chef McMeekin fondly recalled memories of his childhood, fishing for rainbow trout with his father, and told us about how the seafood landscape in Canada has changed drastically over the years. 
"We're at a critical point where, if we blindly continue our current seafood harvesting and consumption patterns, we will start seeing entire species disappear in our oceans, much like we did in earlier decades in the Great Lakes...Compared to even a few short decades ago, fisheries in the Great Lakes region have recovered to a great degree, and are much healthier than before, which means there are sustainable seafood options right here in Ontario. It's time to re-evaluate our go-to seafood choices." - Chef Taylor McMeekin
Both Chef McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout with wild rice and fennel sausage as well as his Cold Smoked Trout with ginger glaze, matsu apple, and soy emulsion were definitely the standouts of the day, which says a lot considering the high quality of food that was being served by all three chefs. Both dishes were right on par with contrasting flavours and textures, as well as a beautiful presentation that had all attendees snapping up photos left, right, and centre. Chef McMeekin was kind enough to provide us with his delicious recipe for his Stuffed Rainbow Trout to wow guests at home.
 Chef Taylor McMeekin demonstrating his knife skills on this fresh rainbow trout
Stuffed Rainbow Trout
wild rice & fennel sausage
Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay
The beautifully plated stuffed rainbow trout
Chef Taylor McMeekin's Stuffed Rainbow Trout
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 rainbow trout
700 grams diced leek
100 grams wild rice
200 grams Italian sausage
10 grams sliced east west garlic
2 grams fennel pollen
1 sprig fresh thyme
kosher salt to taste

Directions:
  • Blanch leek greens for 30 seconds and place in an ice bath.
  • Simmer wild rice until puffed.
  • Remove spine and ribcage of trout through back leaving belly intact.
  • Uncase and brown sausage.
  • Dice Leek and and garlic, add to sausage.
  • Add thyme and wild rice.
  • Continue on low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Remove and Cool.
  • Once cool, stuff trout with the cooled mixture and tie with blanched leeks greens.
  • Season with fennel pollen and salt.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºC.
Cold Smoked Trout
wild ginger glaze, matsu apple & soy emulsion
 Suggested wine pairing: Mission Hill Winery Chardonnay

This whole event was a precursor to the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise 2012 Chowder Chowdown competition, which is being held tomorrow, November 21st, at the Fairmont Royal York. Attendees will have the chance to savour a dozen original, ocean-friendly chowders, paired with craft beers, and vote for their favourite. Tickets are still available to the public here! I hope to see you there!
Remember to look for the Ocean Wise symbol when purchasing and ordering seafood! The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium's assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. 

Listening To:
Hot Chip - Motion Sickness

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Bittersweet Goodbyes

Saying Goodbye - I knew this past week was going to be overwhelming with our big move happening on Tuesday, but what I didn't expect was having to say goodbye to more than just the place that I've called my home for 25 years. Bright and early at 8AM on Tuesday, the moving van loaded all of our furniture to take to our new apartment. With so much on my mind, not to mention just as much weighing heavily on my heart, it felt surreal to receive a text message from my dad saying that "Baba is fading fast". My Baba is my grandmother on my dads side and had been in and out of the hospital for the past month or so. We knew things weren't looking good for her, but had hoped that we would have at least a few weeks to spend some quality time with her and say our goodbyes. As soon as I got that text, I just knew that this was it. I messaged my sister Justine to get out of class as soon as possible to go see Baba at her condo. 

At around 2PM we joined Baba's sister Dina, Dina's husband Harold, and Baba's caregiver Patrima in Baba's bedroom at her condo. We told her some of our favourite memories with her growing up like having tea parties with our cousins in her and my Zhada's old house, mixing all of her perfumes with crushed crabapples and selling them at the end of her driveway to unsuspecting neighbors, playing Harriet the Spy in our front yard, and much more. After about a half an hour of storytelling, Baba's breathing began to change. With my mom and I holding one hand, Dina holding the other, my dad rubbing and kissing her head, and Justine, Harold, and Patrima looking on, Baba shed a single tear and took her last breath. It was devastating and heartbreaking, but at the same time I wouldn't have had it happen any other way. At 92 years old she had led a very full life. She had married the man of dreams, had travelled the world, raised a beautiful and loving family, had many friends that she stayed close with her whole life, and even got to live to see two great-grandchildren grow into beautiful little girls. She left us very peacefully, in her condo as opposed to the hospital, looking as stunning as ever, surrounded by some of the most important people in her life telling her how much she meant to them. It was heartbreaking, but it was beautiful. It was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. Baba, I couldn't have asked for a better grandmother. Although I took it for granted growing up, you were always one of the most supportive people in my life, always telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to. You taught me to be myself, be strong, follow my dreams, and, most importantly, smile and the whole world will smile with you. I will love you forever. xoxo
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First Pics in the New Place - Nothing makes a new place a 'home' like those special personal touches. A week before we had even brought any furniture into our new apartment, my mom had already displayed a few family photos in our living room. This one in particular grabbed my attention as I couldn't recall ever seeing it before. Here is my sister Justine, myself, and my cousin Kim all cuddled up in a hug together, dressed in random bits and pieces from our dress up box. It's little trinkets like this that are starting to make this strange new environment feel like a home. 

First Blog Ever? - While doing some last-minute packing last week, I came across an old school journal that I wrote when I was six and seven years old. The journal starts off with lots of typical posts about playing with friends, going to musicals with my mom, and visiting family, but I clearly start to run out of things to write about halfway through the journal. It became painfully evident that I had officially run out of writing material when I came across this little gem of a post. It reads: "The badr is geting hordr", a very poorly spelt notice that our butter was getting harder, with a drawing of butter to accompany it. Absolutely hilarious, I cried laughing finding this. I guess you could call this my first blog post ever?

Boehmer - Although I probably should have spent my time doing more packing, unpacking, and organizing, I gave myself a much-needed breather by having a ladies night with two of my close friends Robin and Rommi the Friday night before the move. We began our night at Boehmer on Ossington for drinks, snacks, and, what we were most anticipating, oysters! The oysters, which were selected from Oyster Boy's finest, lived up to all the hype that Robin was giving them, having tried their oysters just a few weeks prior. Paired with simply fresh grated horseradish, lemon, and a shallot vinaigrette, they were to die for! We were a little disappointed when our second round of oysters arrived alongside a different vinaigrette than what they were first served with, which wasn't near as delicious as the first.

Boehmer -  I couldn't possibly just have oysters at Boehmer with the great selection of other offerings on their menu, so I decided to indulge in their Harvest platter. I selected three choices from their many options, choosing their house-made sausage, Balderson Cheddar, and their smoked salmon spread, which were all delicious. I only wished they weren't so stingy on the accompanying crostini and sausage. Boehmer was a great experience, but for the price, you can easily get much more bang for your buck at many of the other Ossington hot spots. 
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Ladies Night - After oysters at Boehmer, Robin, Rommi, and I hopped in a cab to catch a performance by the Hallowbodies. Robin's boyfriend is the guitarist for the Hallowbodies and probably one of their biggest fans, always present at every show, and promoting any new material that they release. Once again, they put on a great show and had the crowd going wild. Here's Rommi and I with big smiles, excited for the show that was about to begin! Check out the Hallowbodies newly released music video here

Goodbyes Are Tough - After one of the longest days of my entire life on Tuesday, myself as well as my family were all absolutely wiped by Wednesday. Still lots to do at the house, we had to keep our energy up in order to get all of those last-minute chores done. My sister Justine and I were able to sneak away for a bit to work on one of her photo assignments for class. Exhausted, both emotionally and physically, here we are face planted on our parents old bedroom floor feeling the weight of all these goodbyes.

Baba & Me - Here's one of both mine and Baba's all-time favourite photos. Here we are in the backyard that I will always call my home. Baba crouched down to be on the same level as me. I didn't quite understand and crouched down with her. I love this photo.

Gourmet Food & Wine Show - After such a heavy week, it was such a relief to get out, take my mind of my troubles, and spend some time with friends and good food and drinks at the Gourmet Food & Wine Show. Here is one of my favourite tastes of the fest, The Food Dudes BBQ Pork with Lime Spiked Slaw, Smoked Garlic Aioli on a Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuit. To die for! Another standout for me was the Tre Amici Imports booth, which was serving up delicious, refreshing prosecco and one of the best tequilas I have ever had (maybe even the best!).


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Listening To:
Friends - Friend Crush

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Southern Eats & Packing Feats


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Southern Accent - Although we had already toasted to finding our new apartment after going to the viewing, it wasn't until all the paperwork was complete the following week that we felt we could really let loose and celebrate to our fresh start! The Friday after getting the "OK" from the landlord, my mom took my sister Justine, her boyfriend Duncan, and myself out for a celebratory dinner, with Justine and Duncan treating us for drinks. We decided to go to one of Justine and Duncan's favourite local restaurants, Southern Accent for their festive atmosphere and menu. We started off with a round of shaken margaritas and Southern Accent's famous Cajun calamari. The incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff informed us that they're known for their cocktails, most specifically bourbons, as well as their Calamari, which they declare to be "the best in the city". I've gotta say, with their perfectly tender calamari coated ever so delicately in their crispy, fried, cajun-spiced coating, and served alongside a pool of ginger remoulade and blackened tomato coulis, Southern Accent wins as my favourite calamari in the city that I've tried! 

Southern Accent - With so many delicious-sounding options on the menu, and with almost all of them getting the stamp of approval from Justine and Duncan, it wasn't easy to decide on my entrée. Despite the fact that I probably should have ordered something light considering that I was going out dancing to celebrate a friends birthday after dinner, I went all out and ordered Southern Accent's Black Angus Beef Brisket. The tender and spicy brisket was the perfect comforting main on a chilly Friday night, served alongside creamy garlic mashed potatoes and seared collard greens. I absolutely loved the flavour of the beef brisket, seasoned with maple chipotle BBQ sauce and dark lager, and even better when it soaked into the mashed potatoes and collard greens!

Rommi's Birthday - What do you do after stuffing your face with Southern comfort food? Why, you go out dancing, of course! After that great, big, filling dinner at Southern Comfort, I raced to join some friends for dinner (I just had drinks) and dancing to celebrate my friend Rommi's 25th birthday. After all the care Rommi had taken in throwing both myself and my friend Robin's birthdays, it was time to do it up big for Rommi! Here's Rommi, Robin, and myself with big smiles on our faces and lots of bellini's in our bellies, ringing in Rommi's big 25th!

Taste of Treme - It was fitting after a weekend filled with Southern food to come home only a few days later to a delivery from Ulysses Press, sending me a copy of their new book Taste of Tremé, a cookbook about the recipes from the famous culturally-rich New Orleans neighborhood. Although I have zero time to cook and can hardly even find the ingredients and tools that I need to cook at the moment with the big move, I am looking forward to trying out these mouth-watering cajun recipes in my new kitchen in two weeks!
 
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Scribbles Fashion Writer - The reason why I was unable to post a Weekly Roundup last week was because I was conquering one hell of a feat...I was going through, organizing, packing up, and throwing out much of my family's art supply stash. You know how there are some people that hoard clothing, others electronics, some food? Well, my family hoards art supplies. As much as it seemed like a great idea every time my sister and I would save another scrap of fabric, an almost-empty bottle of glitter, or random broken pieces from just about anything that could maybe, possibly one day be used in a an art project...now that I'm the one to have to go through it all...I am deeply regretting our art supply hoarding ways. Although it seemed to take forever, and I had to throw out a lot of junk, I did come across some gems that brought back old memories from my childhood that I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of. Here is one of my favourite art supplies as a young girl, my Scribbles Fashion Writer, a type of fabric paint that, in the 90's, came in an assortment of bright, neon colours, that you could draw onto fabric and would dry like plastic. Many of my sweatshirts and T-shirts as a child were embellished with my Scribbles Fashion Writer designs. 

Oil Colours - I hit the jackpot in my art supply clean-out when I came across my moms Junior High oil paint kit, with all her original doodles and her maiden name scrawled across the top. I immediately ran upstairs to show my mom this treasure from her childhood. The look on her face said it all. It was as though she had just been reunited with an old best friend. She told me this was one of her all-time favourite gifts she has ever received in her life, and told me how much she loved playing with the kit. I guess it's no surprise that my sister and I turned out as creative as we are with two parents so passionate about the arts.

BeDazzler - One of my all-time favourite gifts that I ever received as a child was my BeDazzler! Although I can't see myself BeDazzling much in the near future (although it's tempting to want to BeDazzle just about everything in my closet!), I couldn't bare to part with this special toy that I loved so dearly. There's no question that I will have to find a place for this in our very teeny new apartment.

Halloween Pumpkin 2012  - Ever since I was little, one of the things I look forward to most come Fall is carving a Jack-o'-lantern. Every single year, one or two days before Halloween, my dad, my sister, and I would get out our stash of X-acto knives and go to town on our pumpkins, creating whatever elaborate and wild design we could think of. Although with the move my dad and I had to carve out our pumpkins separately, I always draw inspiration from the pumpkins my dad had carved in the past and the techniques he had used and taught me at such a young age. Although I had originally planned on carving out a different design, I decided to create this character, sad because he knows it's his last Halloween at the Rose house.
Ocean Wise Month Kickoff - November is Ocean Wise month and to kick off this exciting month, which is meant to draw awareness to sustainable fish in Canada and the issue of over fishing, Ocean Wise hosted a Media event at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. The event included tastes from three top seafood chefs in Toronto, cooking demos, and wine and cocktail pairings as well as a breadth of information about Ocean Wise and how to make the right choices when purchasing and ordering seafood. The food at the event was exceptional (just as it was at their last event!) with Neptuno Oysters Kumamoto Oysters with Arctic Kiwi Jam being one of my favourites! I will have an entry out soon (I hope!) with more photos and information on this successful event!

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Listening To:
Alt-J - Breezeblocks

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Beer, Burgers, & Beautiful Beginnings

Cameron's Sirius Wheat Ale - In the midst of a hectic, stressful week, a delivery from Cameron's Brewery couldn't have come at a better time. Cameron's Brewery caught my attention with a single line: 'hand brewed by beer artisans', showing the great care they take in creating distinct and unique craft beers. Cameron's was kind enough to offer me a sample of their newest release, their Sirius Wheat Ale, an unfiltered ale brewed with Canadian malted wheat, two row malted barley, and newest breed specialty hops, an offer I'd have to be crazy to refuse. Although they had sent me the sample last week, it wasn't until this Tuesday that I finally had a chance to catch my breath and try this new ale.

After a long day of phone calls and apartment viewings, my mom and I had finally found luck with our home hunt. Right when we were about to throw our hands up in defeat and fill out an application for the very-less-than-stellar apartments in high rises we had seen, we found our new home in a very well maintained six-plex, with our unit all newly renovated, with a kitchen that I can't stop daydreaming about! Once again I am able to happily say that everything happens for a reason. Although it wasn't 100% confirmed until Thursday evening, we couldn't help but want to celebrate right after that successful viewing, knowing in our hearts that we had just found our new home for the next year or so. I cracked open the 6-pack of Cameron's Sirius Wheat Ale and toasted to new beginnings! Light, rounded, thirst quenching, and refreshing, with a citrusy aroma and taste, my sister and I quickly became fans of Cameron's Sirius Wheat Ale.
Cameron's Sirius Wheat Ale - As with anything in life, the way to grab my attention is all in the details. Cameron's really stepped up their game by adding cute little messages and designs inside of their bottle caps to keep the Cameron's Brewing experience going, even after you've finished your bottle. Save your bottle caps to be entered into various monthly contests! I was super excited to see that one of my bottle caps proclaimed that I am able to experience a free tour of Cameron's Brewery! Make sure to drink lots of Cameron's this month to try and win a bottle cap ticket to their monthly cask night! Click here to learn more! 
Holy Chuck Burger - Holy chuck! That's a good burger! I know I've posted about Holy Chuck Burger in the past, but I can't help but spread the Holy Chuck Burger love all over again, as each visit reminds me that they truly do make the best burgers in Toronto! I absolutely adore their classic Holy Chuck Burger, a double cheeseburger with sauteed onions and bacon, but at my most recent visit, with a big, late lunch behind me, a double cheeseburger seemed like climbing Everest! I ordered the Jr. Cheeseburger and topped it off with sauteed onions and bacon, which still delivered the same sinfully delicious results! 

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Listening To:
Feist - Closing Time (Leonard Cohen Cover) < This is just an excerpt from the movie Take This Waltz. If anyone can find the full version for me, please send it my way!