Hello everyone! This is going to be the first in a new category of posts which is obviously non-beauty. People who know me know that if there’s only 2 things I know – it’s makeup and food. I am a total foodie – I love trying out new places and I appreciate dishes that not only taste delicious, but look fantastic. Even when cooking at home, I generally try to plate my meals so they look as nice as possible. I believe that if I’ve taken the time and effort to cook something good, I may as well take the extra few seconds to make it look just as appealing.
Anyway, I recently won tickets to the Taste of Toronto at Fort York through an Instagram contest from R&D Spadina. Stay tuned for a future post about that restaurant! It took place from July 2-5 and featured lots of great Toronto restaurants. I decided to take my friend Laura with me on the Friday afternoon (took my first Uber ride, woo!) Our first must-have stop was to Morimoto Toronto. This restaurant isn’t even open yet, but the hype is definitely growing. Chef Masaharu Morimoto is an Iron Chef who has several restaurants around the world and his Toronto location is set to open in Winter 2015 (so…November/December?) Laura and I both tried the Uni Carbonara – deliciously fresh sea urchin and the quail egg definitely elevated and put a twist on this classic Italian dish.
Apparently Chef Morimoto used Taste of Toronto as a way to gauge what Canadian customers would want. I can tell you this right now – Uni Carbonara would definitely draw me in.
So I was that geek that made a list of what I wanted to try beforehand. The currency at the event were “crowns” that you had to load onto a card ($1 = 1 crown) and all dishes were either 6, 8, or 10 crowns. So I wanted to be as exact as possible when spending, hence the list. My next must try was the Albacore Tuna Ceviche from Montecito. I was so hungry that I didn’t take a closer shot of this dish, but it was interesting in terms of presentation. I’m used to having ceviche served in a glass (a la El Catrin in the Distillery District) and looking a certain way, so I was excited to try a new take on ceviche. It tasted citrusy and fresh which was a good balance to the richer carbonara.Each day of the festival included a featured restaurant which would only be there that day. Of course, I chose to go when R&D was there so I could finally try their famous Char Siu Bao (BBQ buns). R&D Spadina is co-owned by Masterchef season 1 winner Eric Chong and Masterchef judge Alvin Leung. I also just learned that Michael Bonacini is also connected to it, however I’m not exactly sure in what capacity. I actually visited R&D back in May when I took a friend there for their birthday lunch. As aforementioned, it will be in a future post. Their CSB are probably the BEST BBQ pork buns I’ve ever had. Rather than using the traditional Chinese steamed buns or even the typical baked buns, R&D uses a milk bread batter (if I recall correctly) which yields a softer bun. It is then topped with a sweet crispy/crumbly layer which just takes this humble dim sum staple to the next level. Laura and I enjoyed them so much, we went back for seconds before we left the festival. Just looking at these photos are making me miss those buns. I also got to meet the Demon (chef) and the Rebel (again – I met him back in May at the restaurant when I was starstruck lol). Here I am, smiling like a goof because I was so excited.
Next stop was another Masterchef judge’s restaurant(s) – Oliver & (Michael) Bonacini’s America, Bannock, and Biff’s Bistro. O&B restaurants are all around the city – I’ve actually only been to Auberge du Pommier…and if you count the Arcadian Loft (where the Reveal by Calvin Klein launch was.) The duck poutine sounded too good to pass up.
You can’t go wrong with poutine – the duck was tender, gravy was spot-on, and the caramelized onions really brought it all together.
During the festival, lots of chefs held cooking demonstrations, chef’s table discussions, and even masterclasses where you learned while cooking alongside these amazing people. We got to see Michael Bonacini in action!
He made these 2 seafood dishes in 30 minutes, even despite one of his ingredients being pre-cooked which apparently he didn’t request – but since he is a pro – he kept his cool and just added it in later in the cooking process. Not the most flattering photo of me – but again, I was fangirling so hard (I love Masterchef Canada) and he was just so friendly which made me super thrilled to meet Chef Michael. (But really, where’s Claudio Aprile??)
Laura and I walked around after this demo and checked out the different vendors that were at the event. I tried some juice from Juice Matters (have seen them at Whole Foods, have always been intrigued…but $8 for juice is steep) and coconut water from Jax Coco (their chocolate coconut water is legit). We then went back to the Cadillac Theatre to watch Eric and Alvin make Eric’s signature/winning dish – Lobster Chow Mein. They are such an entertaining and complementary team – here’s Alvin torching some corn.After all that food, I wanted something to help settle my stomach so I grabbed a ginger beer from Thomas Lavers and oh. M. G. It was the best ginger beer I had ever tasted. Very gingery (but not overpowering) with the right amount of sweetness with a little bit of acidity. My last dish I tried was the Competition Chicken Thigh and Cuban Corn from Barque. The sauce on the chicken was flavourful with a little bit of heat, however the feta rub on the corn was a little too oily for my liking but still tasted really good.
There was nothing I ate at the Taste of Toronto that I didn’t like. Thank you so much to R&D for the tickets! It was a foodie’s dream!
Did you attend the Taste of Toronto? Have you visited any of the restaurants I’ve mentioned? Let me know! Thanks so much for stopping by!