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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

[Vancouver] Bella Gelateria

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
1001 West Cordova Street
Vancouver, British Columbia

Just under a month ago, I took a trip to the west coast and hit up Vancouver and Seattle with my Family. Let me start by saying that it was an AMAZING time! I loved the weather (despite there being a Vancouver "heatwave" which translate to just a regular Toronto summer day), the mountain view, and most importantly the food! So on the first day there, my cousins and I decided to take a walk downtown. Seeing as the London Olympics just started, we felt it was appropriate to visit the 2010 Olympic Cauldron. Little would I know, that Bella Gelateria(@bellagelateria) was just a short walk away, and would have the best gelato I've ever tasted.

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James Coleridge takes pride in having the best handcrafted gelato!

Friday, August 24, 2012

[Event] Oikos presents "Christmas in August"

This is a little known fact, but I'm a big fan of yogurt. I absolutely LOVE it. I'd go as far to say that 99.99% of the calcium that I take in is probably from yogurt. That being said, I may surprise you a little when I tell you how I reacted to a yogurt tasting dinner invitation. Instead of being euphoric, I was a little hesitant and reserved. I mean, yes I love yogurt, but let's be honest. Yogurt is not the first thing that comes to mind when we are talking about versitile cooking ingredients. So was it impossible? Not if Chef Rob Rossi (@ChefRobRossi) has anything to do with it.

Chef, restauranteur, and winner of the inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, Rob Rossi knew exactly how to tackle the challenge, serving up a meal with a Christmas theme. I don't know about you, but Christmas is definitely my favourite holiday, so I didn't mind that it came early!
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This way to Christmas!

Friday, August 17, 2012

[North York] Fabbrica

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
49 Karl Fraser Rd.
Toronto, ON
(Inside Shoppes at Don Mills)

There's a saying that "There's no such thing as a free lunch". That person was correct, because today's post is about a free dinner. That's right. Thanks to Mrs Joie Tataki's (@ZoeticEpics) lucky hand at Mark McEwan's (@Chef_MarkMcEwan) "Dinner for 6 at Fabbrica" contest, I was able to join her as well as Brian (@theurbancraze), Diane (@Dyee), Mark, and Rob to an open menu dinner! The rules were simple, open the menu, order, and eat. This was a fun one!

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Fabbrica Restaurant

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The Menu

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Pizza Oven

We sat close to the pizza oven, which was flown in from Naples. The oven has the ability to cook a pizza in 90 seconds. Pretty impressive!

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Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico 2008 ($148)

So not only could we order anything we wanted, we also could choose a bottle of wine to pair with our meal up to $150. I'm no wine connoiseur, but this red was extremely refined and easy on the palette. Two thumbs up from me! :)

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Olives ($9) -mixed marinated olives with oregano, fennel and chilli

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Selezione di salume ($28) -four types

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Crispy Calamari ($14) -preserved chili aoli and roasted lemon

A solid order for anyone who is a fan of battered calamari. It's not at all greasy, and is delicious with the spicy aoli dip. One order is plenty to be shared!

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Beef Carpaccio ($16)-mustard sauce, capers, onions and grana padano

I almost can't believe how thinly they can slice the Beef Carpaccio, but it makes it so easy to eat. It's light even with the heavier mustard sauce, and the beef almost melts in your mouth!

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Marrow Bones ($14) -horseradish gremolata and grilled bread

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Pappardelle ($22) -braised shortrib, tomato and basil

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Fettucine ($26) -crab, guanicle, cream and soft poached egg

Pasta is something that's hard to make terrible, but equally as hard to make exceptional. I think Fabbrica deserves a round of a applause for making some close to exceptional pastas. The house made pastas were the perfect al dente. For me, the Fettucine was the clear winner of the two with the creamy mixture of the runny egg and Afredo sauce. It was delicious and is highly highly recommended!

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Octopus ($16)- ceci bean, salami, peperonata, baby arugula, and chili

I didn't particularly find this one too memorable outside of being a glorified garden salad. I thought the octopus was a bit out of place, and some pieces were over grilled.

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Funghi Pizza (20) -mushroom, mozzarella, and truffle crema

Calling all mushroom lovers: this is your order right here. Literally right after I took this picture, my slice of the pizza disappeared into my belly. I loved the chewiness of the crust and how it is smothered with cheese and perfectly cooked mushrooms. Just drooling recalling how it tastes!

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Sea Scallops ($34) -squid ink fregola, clams, cherry tomato and fava beans

When I saw the itty bitty 3 peices of scallops on a gigantic $34 plate, I was a bit taken back. Is this meant to be an entree for someone? But then I tasted it, and my brain was immediately distracted by what my taste buds were sensing. These scallops were phenomenal! As perfectly cooked as scallops can be. My only complaint is that I just wish it came with more!

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Porterhouse for two ($68) -roasted garlic and lemon

The porterhouse starts with 34 ounces of raw meet, and is cooked until the desired level of rawness. We ordered a medium and I think that was a tad overdone for me. I probably would've enjoyed it a bit more if it was more to the raw side, but in general I think it's best to stick with the more traditional italian dishes at Fabbrica.

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Potatoes ($8) -roasted fingerling potatoes, rosemary and garlic

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left: Cannoli ($3.5), Right: Zeppole ($10) -warm doughnuts, cinnamon sugar, orange cream and white chocolate sauce

I don't think I enjoyed the Zeppole doughnuts as much as everyone else did, since I'm not a big fan of citrusy desserts. But what I can say is that they were nice and crunchy on the outside and filled with an orange cream. Make sure to eat them while they're nice and hot! :)

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Tiramisu di Fabbrica ($10) -white chocolate sponge, espresso mousse, amaretto mouse and frappucino

People always find it surprising that I'm not a big fan of tiramisu, but it makes more sense when I tell them I don't like nor drink coffee. But this one wasn't a normal tiramisu. Instead of coffee soaked ladyfingers, the coffee is separated from the rest of the cake. Brian had the idea to pour the coffee over the cake, and I'll just say that was probably NOT the best way to eat it... haha :)

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Gelati ($8) - Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel

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Sorbetti ($8) -Mango, Limoncello, Pear & Prosecco

Every order of these frozen treats comes with three scoops, and our waiter was nice enough to let us choose 3 different scoops to try more flavours. My favourite by far was the Pear & Prosecco Sorbetti. A very prominent pear flavour that's refreshing and clean. The salted caramel was a close second, which I ate in conjunction with the Dark Chocolate Gelati. DELISH!

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Happy Campers! (Photo by Brian (@theurbancraze)

There are some hits and misses, but as a whole I enjoyed the dinner. Our server was wonderful in helping us throughout the night, and not to mention so patient and friendly! I can say without a doubt I would return even if it came out of my own pocket. Thank you to Mark McEwan and The McEwan Group (@TheMcEwanGroup) for their generosity and lovely dinner! :)

Fabbrica on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

[Event] The 2012 Toronto Festival of Beer

Just over a week ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 18th annual Toronto Festival of Beer at Bandshell Park. Being Canada's largest beer festival, it was definitely an overwhelming feat for this newbie! Each year the festival brings together hundreds of beer exhibitors and pavilions showcasing everything beer related. From cigars to food, hot girls to zoo animals. So much to see, do and soak in all at once! It was definitely a good time, but I wish someone would have told me how to tackle it strategically to make the most of my day. So here it is, Mary's guide to The Toronto Festival of Beer.

There really aren't too many words to describe this event aside from being one collosal beer party!

1) Equip yourself!

Photo by: Yvonne

So the first thing you do when you enter is buy tokens. These are the golden universal currency of the festival, as it is the only currency vendors will accept. Sold at $1 each in packs of 20, make sure you stock up on these. You don't want to get caught running of them!