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November, 2012:

Loblaws Holiday Gingerbread House

Both to mark the holiday season and to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their Carlton street location (in the old Maple Leaf Gardens), Loblaws and their President’s Choice brand have built a giant holiday gingerbread house.

The life-size house is made with edible gingerbread but only packaged candy decoration will actually be eaten–given the sanitary concerns related to life-sized children and their pint-sized hands. It’s located in the Canteen at the Gardens location and is decorated with over 700 pounds of candy.

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Firkin Pubs Revamped: $100 gift card contest

I have a long, if not always glorious, history with the Firkin chain of pubs. More than a decade-and-a-half ago the Frog and Firkin at Yonge and Sheppard was the bar my high school friends (all legal drinking age, I’m sure) chose to hang out at. Then there was that memorable but fairly annoying campaign of radio ads. But, this month 25-year chain has received a bunch of attention because they’ve redesigned four of their locations to be more authentically British, at least in a campy sort of way.

The food and drinks menus have also been shifted to augment the standard, North American sports bar choices. They still offer burgers, caesar salad, wings and calamari but have also added a Pot Roast Sandwich, Butter Chicken Pie and in the category that approximates British poutine and is called “Spuds ‘n’ Sauce” there are options like: Curried Chicken and Braised Beef.  (more…)

Fermentation Workshop at Uniiverse

I’m happy to share the good news that this week I’ll be putting on another fermentation workshop. This time I’ve teamed up with my good friend, Joel Solish of Death Row Meals and with a new site called Uniiverse. We’ve added a charitable, Movember-themed component that is explained on the event page:

MOTOFO: This event is part of MOvember TOronto FOod week – a week of unique food experiences brought to you by DeathRowMeals and Uniiverse, to raise funds for Movemeber. Check out other MOTOFO events on my profile. All proceeds will be donated to Movember.

Also from the event page here’s the description of what I’ll cover during the ninety-minute session:

David (of foodwithlegs dot com) will give a hands-on demonstration of the process that converts raw ingredients into some of the world’s most delicious foods. Kimchi, traditional kosher dill pickles, and classic sourdough bread all depend on wild fermentation. As well as the separate processes David will take a look at the easy-to-find ingredients and simple equipment (what’s good, better, and best?) that you need for fermenting on a small scale, at home. (more…)

Second Draught: a beer with a hint of chocolate, literally

Chocolate and coffee are two of the easiest words to use when describing the flavour of a beer made from dark malts. All three have different beginnings as tree seed, plant seed, or grain but since the roasting process is similar it’s not surprising that drinks made from all three share similar flavours.

For a few years now Guelph’s Wellington Brewery has pulled chocolate off the bench that is the beer writer’s thesaurus and called it into play as an actual ingredient. There’s also milk sugar on the ingredient list to make the Chocolate Milk Stout name official. No need to worry though that this is an over-sweet, kid’s beer; the chocolate flavours are dark and slightly bitter and the lactose only adds a touch of balancing sweetness.  (more…)

The Redone Reds Wine Tavern

Fine dining in Toronto is going in one direction: toward the more casual. With both fundamental and cosmetic changes–like changing their name–Red Bistro has become Reds Wine Tavern and joined that parade.

The biggest change is that Ryan Gallagher (of Top Chef Canada season 2 fame) was brought on as executive chef to design and execute a menu that focuses on communal plates that blur the lines between appetisers and mains. Chef Gallagher comes to Reds from the much smaller Ruby Watchco and when I chatted with him he joked that he’s used to being in a kitchen the size of the communal table at Reds. (more…)