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Oktoberfest at Bier Markt

Oktoberfest at Bier Markt

For whatever reason — probably having a lot to do with where German-Canadians settled — Ontario’s Oktoberfest celebrations tend to be held quite a trek from Toronto. There’s the long-standing one in the K-W that everyone knows about and a newer one in Van Kleek Hill put on by Beau’s that everyone should know about.

In town, Bier Markt is celebrating that most Bavarian of festivals with a special beer and food menu. (more…)

Chef Lynn Crawford, iögo, and Community Food Centres Canada Partnership

Packing vegetable pasta salad to go at the Stop's Community kitchen.

Cooking in a group can be a distracting experience — conversation and making sure that you’re keeping pace with everyone else are strong, if slightly unsafe, reasons to take your eyes off the cutting board. But, put a pro like celebrity chef Lynn Crawford at the station one to your left and suddenly things become a lot more intense. That’s where I found myself a couple weeks ago when I got the chance to visit The Stop‘s community kitchen on Davenport Road in Toronto.

Nick Saul, Gerry Doutre, Chef Lynn Crawford, Rachel Gray

Nick Saul, Gerry Doutre, Chef Lynn Crawford, Rachel Gray

The group of fellow bloggers and food writers had been gathered together to learn more about the partnership that has been struck between Ultima Foods (through their Iögo yogurt brand) and community kitchens. The have partnered with specific community kitchens near their production facilities, the larger Community Food Centres Canada, and with Chef Crawford. (more…)

Taste of Iceland Festival

The first course seafood buffet.

I’m entirely willing to admit that I don’t know very much about Iceland. Or at least I didn’t before I attended the media preview dinner for the Taste of Iceland Festival that Iceland Naturally is putting on this weekend in Toronto. Those of you who (like me) think with your stomachs first, will be happy to read that the centerpiece of the four-day event is a four-course  $45 tasting menu meal. Judging from the preview chef Hákon Már Örvarsson has thoughtfully designed the menu and that is a very good price.

I have more information in my full story on Rickshaw—including information on the non-food events—but if you’re still unconvinced here are the photos from the delicious meal.  (more…)

Almost Famous Chef Competition Cookbook

I was particularly pleased two years ago when I won the competition to be the blogger judge for the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Canadian regional competition. It meant sitting on a judging panel with James Chatto and Claire Tansey, but also getting to meet and talk to some of Canada’s best aspiring culinary talent.

As part of this year’s programme a collection of the recipes from the 2011 and 2012 entrants has been published as a free e-cookbook. I had a chance to spend some time reading and cooking from the book and want to share my thoughts about it.

Culinary school students–especially when they enter competitions–seem to choose recipes that lean towards the fancy and French. For better or worse, that means no tacos. And it also (generally) means a central protein, supporting starch, and vegetable only as garnish. A minority of the recipes break this mold, but for the most part this is a lineup of classics that we don’t often see recipes for.

The 13 main recipes cover uncommon meat options like bison, duck, foie, and cod. We’re also introduced to cool and unusual techniques like tea-smoking for scallops and flavoured rice. (more…)

Savour Stratford and My Fermentation Workshop

It’s hard for me to believe that this will be my third year attending and covering Savour Stratford. In 2010 pork belly on steamed buns was still a novel idea, at least outside of actual David Chang restaurants, and the most popular food truck was selling apple beignets. Last year, I sat in on more of the Saturday events and through workshops on wine, beer, whisky, and charcuterie got a better sense of how much the festival has grown to become a full-weekend event. As usual, the Grand Tasting (and especially the Perth Pork Products table) was a highlight. There are some significant changes in the cards for this year’s festival. (more…)