TPG Holiday Workshop: Gifts Galore!

By: Carly Spears

It’s still sunny and I am enjoying the summer while it’s here, but I am also getting ready for the holidays! I recently attended TPG’s Holiday Workshop, which highlighted some of the latest up and coming trends for holiday gifts this season. 

Here are a few of my favourites:

Cilque

I’ve never been one to spend a lot of money on my bedding. My motto is that as long as they’re remotely comfortable, I’ll probably have an okay sleep. With that said, while chatting with delightful founder and CEO about her products, I literally could not stop touching the eye masks. This was incredibly intriguing because the bright light pouring into my bedroom every morning really gives meaning to the phrase ‘rise and shine,’ and not in a positive way. With that said, I find most eye masks to be extremely uncomfortable, defeating the purpose of being able to go back to sleep once the sun is out! Made from premium 100% mulberry silk charmeuse, these machine-washable, hypoallergenic eye masks are definitely one that I would want in my gift box this season. 

Micro Pedi

Everyone knows that, while your manicure chips in one day, toenail polish tends to last forever, even through the worst of times. Sometimes, you just need a pedicure to shave off that rough skin on the bottom of your feet. This is especially true in the summer when pounding away on those hot flip flops or concrete by the pool. I’ve often had this debate: do I go and pay for a full pedicure or, do I just wait it out until I need new polish. Admittedly, I usually tend to wait it out and I seriously hate every minute of it. 

I recently got to try the new Micro Pedi and, I have to say, it’s a wonderful alternative. This battery-run easy-to-use system simply sands off any dead skin building up at the bottom of your feet. While it won’t fully remove any large calluses as the razor at the salon might do, it definitely smoothes out any extra unwanted skin on the surface, tying you over your next necessary polish change. 

Nadege

Strolling on through the workshop, it was impossible to miss the grand spread that Nadege had set up. Ranging from savoury eggplant and goat cheese-filled croissants to a wide variety of French macarons, p’tit choux and dessert tarts, Nadege’s ultra-buttery mini creations should be on everyone’s list for entertaining their guests this season. 

Cavinona

To wash down the Nadege pastries, I was offered a glass of Contadi Castaldi – a brand I had not been familiar with prior to the event, and rightfully so! Cavinona is a unique Ontario-based wine agency which imports unique Italian wines not otherwise available for purchase in the LCBO. While commonly serving restaurants exclusively, their online ordering system actually allows consumers to get a taste of Italy, too! 

A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero, the sparkling brut was subtle yet flavourful, without being overly sweet. At only $38.99 per bottle, this is a wonderful and affordable alternative to Champagne for the holiday season. 

Medium Watches

Finally, I get to take a peak at the brand new watch brand: Medium. While fairly simple in their general design, I absolutely love the look of these watches. As someone who does not own multiple watches, the simpler white and black variations really caught my eye. With that said, for someone who does own a watch for each outfit, interchangeable straps would certainly allow for a wide variety of colour combinations. I particularly love the turquoise paired with the black face and silver accents. Available in a variety of face and strap colours, these sophisticated yet elegant watches are the type of accessory that men, women, watch-wearers and non-watch-wearers can all appreciate as an addition to their wardrobe.  

Genuine Health

Up for another quick snack, I approach Genuine Health – set up with shots of green supplements and a variety of fermented proteins+ bars. Skeptical of most vegan and meal-replacement protein bars, I was pleasantly surprised at the enjoyable flavour of these, especially since they’re gluten free, soy free and vegan! Obviously opting for the peanut butter chocolate version, my taste buds were almost (not quite, but almost) fooled into thinking it was a sinful chocolate bar-like snack. While these are probably not a holiday gift I would typically think to give to someone, I definitely wouldn’t mind snacking on the peanut butter chocolate bar stashed in my purse for when those banquet-style corporate holiday parties hit. 

Carly Spears is a marketing and communications professional who writes about and photographs food from Toronto and on various travels around the world. Follow her on Instagram @thechewreview

Drake One Fifty's Twilight Tuesdays Night Market

By: Shelby Morrison

The after work rush hour can be a pretty hectic scene in downtown Toronto. Instead of hopping on the busy, stuffy subway right after work, why not consider grabbing some delicious food and drinks? In the heart of the Financial District, you will find Twilight Tuesdays, presented by Drake One Fifty. The York Street Parkette, directly next door to Drake One Fifty is transformed into a small night market with plenty of food, drinks, art and live music. For the third year in a row, this event takes place every Tuesday in August and benefits the charity, Out of the Cold. I attend the first Twilight Tuesday of the year and sample delicious eats.

Every Tuesday night, Drake One Fifty will be on site showcasing some of their delicious food, while different restaurants will join each week. The restaurants featured throughout August are Pizzeria Libretto, Momofuku, Tundra, The Gabardine, Richmond Station, Smoke Signals BBQ and Thoroughbred Food and Drink

I start off with some grub from Drake One Fifty and have the chicken wings, as well as dumplings. The wings are crispy, yet remain juicy and tender on the inside. The pork and shrimp dumplings have generous amounts of stuffing, which is always a welcome treat. I thoroughly enjoy the dishes from Drake One Fifty and find them quite satisfying.

Also on offer is a pork bifana sandwich, as well as pulled pork sandwich, and sweet and sticky ribs. The latter dish is very popular! 

My favourite dish of the night is from Tundra, the restaurant at the Hilton Hotel. The smoked brisket sandwich is topped with maple BBQ sauce, coleslaw, micro greens, and is stuffed between pretzel bread. The meat is juicy, and the bread is perfectly soft with a nice bite. The sweet sauce also helps bring the whole thing together and balances out the richness. For a more refreshing dish, I choose the lobster and shrimp salad with buttermilk dressing. There is a significant amount of seafood, as well as fresh cucumber and tomato for freshness. 

If you’re looking to quench your thirst, Ace Hill Brewery, as well as Havana Club, Altos Tequila and Jacob’s Creek Moscato are on site.

As for dessert, Drake One Fifty serves up vanilla soft serve at a “make-your-own-sundae station”. I get quite excited at the sight of ice cream and candy, so this creamy treat is the perfect ending to a delicious evening out. 

Relax and unwind after work at Twilight Tuesdays to take in some good eats, music, art and an all around fabulous time!

Food + Drink tickets: $5 each.
Time: Every Tuesday in August from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Venue: Drake One Fifty Parkette

Shelby Morrison is a Toronto-based food blogger and freelance writer. She has a passion for food and living the most delicious life, while enjoying every step of the way. She eats her way through Toronto, yet loves to travel the world for unique and tasty finds.

Beer-Themed Recipes for International Beer Day!

By: Alison Silveira

TGIF! Today is International Beer Day! To mark the occasion, I would like to share with you a few special beer-themed recipes courtesy of HelloFresh. What is HelloFresh? It’s a company that delivers healthy meal plans right to your door, making everyday cooking a breeze! They provide delicious recipes, locally sourced fresh ingredients and take care of all the shopping, measuring and delivering.

Celebrate this special day by making scrumptious Juicy Lucy Burgers and Purslane Stew. Enjoy International Beer Day. Cheers!

Juicy Lucy Burger with Tomato-Onion Jam and Charred Baby Gem Lettuce  (pictured above)

The decadent Juicy Lucy burger is not for the faint of heart. Stuffed on the inside with oozing cheddar cheese, this burger does not mess around. Charring the baby gem lettuce is the secret technique to making this summery salad.   

Serves 4  

Ingredients

  • 600 g ground beer
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 2 plum tomatoes 
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced 
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 heads baby gem lettuces 
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise 
  • 2 tbsp ketchup 
  • 4 brioche buns 
  • 2 tsp sugar 
  • Olive or canola oil  

Instructions 

1. Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and dry all produce. Core, seed and dice the tomato. Remove 2 outer leaves from each gem lettuce and set aside. Quarter the remaining lettuce lengthwise. Mince the garlic.

2. Char the lettuce: Heat a large pan over high heat. Add the lettuce quarters to the dry pan, cutside down, and cook for 1-2 minute, until charred. Turn to char on other cut-side, then remove from the pan.   

3. Make the tomato-onion jam: Heat a drizzle of oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the red onion to the pan and cook, tossing for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add the diced tomato, sugar and half the balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes breaks down and the sauce is thick and jammy. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl. Wipe the pan clean.   

4. Assemble the burgers: Meanwhile, divide the ground beef into 4 portions and flatten each portion into a 6-inch wide circle. Divide the cheddar cheese between centres of each circle and fold up the edges around the cheese. Seal the meat around the cheese and lightly press into a 4-inch wide patty shape. Season with salt and pepper.   

5. Cook the burgers: In the same pan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium- high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 3-6 minutes per side, until cooked to desired doneness. (TIP: Inserting a thermometer into cooked meat should display an internal temperature of 160°F.) Don’t worry if some of the cheese leaks out, it’ll still taste delicious!   
   
6. Make the balsamic dressing: Meanwhile, halve the buns and toast them in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. In a small bowl, whisk together half the mayo, remaining balsamic, a large drizzle of oil and as much minced garlic as you like.   

7. Assemble and serve: Layer the buns with burgers, tomato-onion jam and lettuce leaf. Spread with ketchup or mayo to taste. Serve with the charred romaine drizzled with balsamic dressing. Enjoy!  

Purslane Stew with Meatballs Stewed in Brand Saison Beer

Serves 4  

Ingredients

  • 12 meatballs
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 onions
  • 4 tsp. rosemary
  • 300ml Brand Saison beer
  • 1.2kg Soprano potatoes
  • 2 Kohlrabi
  • 300g Purslane
  • 1½ tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • A dash of milk
  • 2 tsp. mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste   

Instructions

1. Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the meatballs until golden-brown (about 5 min) on medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the garlic and onion finely.  

2. Take the meatballs out of the frying pan and set aside. Switch to low heat, add the onion, garlic and rosemary and stir for a minute. Add the flour and stir for one more minute. Add the right amount of beer and 25 ml water per person, stir until smooth. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook, covered, on low heat for 20 minutes. Bring to taste with salt and pepper.   

3. Heat 500 ml water per person in a pan with lid for the potatoes (soprano) and kohlrabi. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and kohlrabi and cut them into wedges. Add to the boiling water and let it cook, covered, for 15 minutes until ready. Drain the potatoes, save a little bit of the water and keep apart.  

4. Mash the potatoes and kohlrabi to a stew. Add a dash of milk and/or the retained water to make it a bit more creamy. Add the mustard and bring to taste with salt and pepper. Tear the purslane into smaller pieces and mix most of it with the stew.   

5. Divide the stew and meatballs onto the plates. Garnish with the rest of the purslane and sauce.  

For more information on HelloFresh, visit: hellofresh.ca

A Look at LG's Latest Innovative Products

By: Natasha Williams

On a scorching hot summer day, I was more than happy to look ahead to Christmas at the LG Social Club preview of hot new items for the holidays. The second I walked through the door at The Spoke Club, I was blown away (and not just by the refreshing whoosh of air conditioning). From household appliances to razor thin televisions, LG specialists spoke passionately about the latest and greatest from LG

The Styler, which retails for $3,199 (and looks like it belongs in James Bonds’ bedroom) is a steam closet that will refresh, de-wrinkle and sanitize your delicate clothes and household textiles, eliminating the need for dry cleaning with one sleek looking unit that requires nothing more than a standard electrical outlet (steam provided by a refillable water tank). This unit will handle everything from your fur/leather trimmed garments to Daisy’s doggie bed.

I’m also deeply in love with the LG Sidekick Pedestal Washer (starting at around $949.99), an add-on mini washer that can be paired with any LG front loading side-by-side, and allows you to do two separate laundry loads at once. The practical applications are endless, such as new moms wanting to do a small load of tiny little onesies using delicate detergent in the Sidekick while doing a bulkier more heavy duty load in the main washer. Don’t want your delicates to snag on the zippers of your jeans? Bring in the Sidekick! Back from the gym and don’t want to let your sweaty gear stew while waiting to accumulate a larger load? Sidekick to the rescue. Better yet, all of the appliances being showcased can be operated by an app on your phone! This excited me to no end when I realized I no longer need to call my mom in a panic to ask how to get red wine out of my favourite blouse; just type the stain into the app, tap your phone to the washer and it sets everything for you!

Now while my comfort zone is situated within the domain of the domestic arts, even the televisions on display got me excited. LG’s OLED (Organic Light Emitting Display) is completely new with advanced and award-winning technology that essentially provides the truest blackest black allowing for greater contrast and clarity. They demonstrated this technology by playing a relatively dark movie (Batman vs. Superman) and you could distinguish the stitching and fibers and even black-on-black patterns that would otherwise be missed with standard LED or LCD displays. The models on display ranged from the moderately priced $3,000 to the extravagant $10,999.99, but even the more affordable models have added features such as anti-glare film (so necessary for binge watching Netflix on a sunny Sunday in your condo with floor to ceiling windows) and a central hub that will allow you download any app (Shomi, Crave, YouTube, Netflix, etc.) and control all your internet enabled appliances from one place.

The event was capped off by an exclusive cocktail party complete with athletic and culinary royalty in attendance including Raptors' General Manager Masai Ujiri, Raptors' #6 Cory Joseph and celebrity chef Chuck Hughes). Though if I’m being completely honest, nothing left me quite as star struck as the LG Styler. Sigh...sorry CoJo.

Product photos courtesy of LG Canada. 

 

A Royal Affair: Afternoon Tea at the Omni King Edward Hotel

By: Alison Silveira

My friend and now sister-in-law, Charlene, recently married my brother and it was a very special occasion, as the couple planned their whole wedding themselves. Charlene did not want a bridal shower, nor did she want a bachelorette party. As a bridesmaid, my duties were very minimal, but her sister, Charlotte and I decided that we needed to do something special for Charlene before her big day.

Indulging in afternoon tea with the ladies at the regal Omni King Edward Hotel sounded like the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Just last September, the hotel had its grand re-opening after undergoing a $40 million renovation. Contemporary decor meets old-world charm at the luxurious hotel. The crystal ballroom is also set to be restored to the tune of six and a half million dollars. The re-opening of the ballroom is slated for early 2017 and will undoubtedly be one of the most ornate and elegant venues in Toronto. 

Afternoon tea takes place at Victoria's Restaurant, which has been completely revitalized. Our hostess gives us a warm welcome and as we settle in our over-sized, comfortable purple chairs, we cannot help but feel like royalty. There is no trace of stuffiness in the restaurant. It is bright, spacious and inviting and I especially like that the table is large with fine linens and silverware laid out on it. We admire the delicate teal blue and white floral porcelain cups and saucers that adorn the table. 

Our friendly server brings amuse-bouches of Chinese soup spoons laden with tangy pickled cucumbers. He also explains the tea menus and brings out a collection of Sloane teas for us to choose from. Charlene and Charlotte choose the heavenly oolong creme tea, which comes from the Wuyi Mountains of China. It is a creamy, silky and sweet treat. As a chocolate lover, I just have to opt for the chocolate truffle tea, which is a blended black smooth bodied Assam tea. It is infused with truffle notes and Brazilian cocoa, which creates a rich, dark chocolate finish.

Next up, our server presents a three-tiered serving platter with delightful finger sandwiches for us to sample. These unique, delightful bites are bursting with flavour and we savour each and every bite. Stand-out sandwiches include the zesty chickpea hummus with lightly curried carrots, raisins and sliced almonds and prosciuttini with refreshing compressed melon. Charlene and Charlotte enjoy the picnic egg salad with chives, radish and sweet pickles and the heirloom tomato caprese with torn basil. 

Scones are a staple of any afternoon tea experience and we happily enjoy the classic cream and blueberry scones with delicious accompaniments of Devonshire cream, house-made strawberry jam and lemon lime curd.

Our indulgent experience comes to a sweet ending when we are offered an array of the most decadent and colourful pastries. Tart and sweet lemon mousse, superior carrot cake and coffee cream tarts satisfy our palates.

We pour ourselves some more tea and clink glasses, with our pinkies out, of course! We enjoy girl talk, loads of laughs and the pleasurable experience of escaping the everyday and partaking in luxurious afternoon tea at the Omni King Edward Hotel. Afternoon tea is certainly the perfect way for any bride-to-be to relax, unwind and dine a beautiful setting! 

Afternoon tea takes place at Victoria's Restaurant in the Omni King Edward Hotel from Friday – Saturday at 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. The hotel is located at 37 King Street East. For more information, visit: https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/toronto-king-edward/dining/afternoon-tea.