Thursday, February 25, 2010

Be the next Dinner Party Legends on TV!

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Here's your chance to be the next dinner party super-duo on this new Food Network Canada show.

They're looking to cast the show ASAP. Each episode includes 3 teams of 2 people attempting to stage the BEST dinner party. 2 judges will render the final verdict.

For more information, contact Dan Pasqua at

Posted by: Mark Rodas

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cooking Class: Simple Dim Sum

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, Chef Vanessa Yeung of Aphrodite Cooks held a Dim Sum cooking class at Nella Cucina featuring her Year of the Tiger dumplings.

These cooking classes are tons of fun. Not only do you get to socialize with other food lovers, you also learn new skills and recipes. Oh and did I forget to mention that you get to eat what everyone cooked!

Click on video to play

Chef Yeung and her mom Millie taught us all we had to know to make such yummy treats as bison potstickers, stuffed eggplant, vegetarian water dumplings and siu mai.

Click on video to play

I love siu mai! Though other kinds of dim sum may be more intricate and tasty, there's just something very comforting about steamed pork and shrimp.

The sweet and savoury pork stuffed pastry was also deeeelish!

The class was very informative. Dim sum turned out to be quite easy to make, with fresh, inexpensive ingredients. We were even talking among ourselves about how easy it would be to pull off making several kinds of dim sum with only slight variations of the same ingredients if you had to throw a dinner party in a pinch.

Fondue Feastivul at the Esplanade Bier Markt

Here's a great date idea: "Me, Yu, Und Fondue" at the Bier Markt for their Fondue Feastivul.

I love how the Bier Markt runs these themed festivals throughout the year. At other times there's an Asparagus Feastivul and a Gamey Meat Feastivul. I also love how the Bier Markt makes my spellcheck go awry, haha Feastivuuuul...

The Bier Markt has 2 restaurants, but I always find myself at the Esplanade location. It's in the funky yet peaceful St. Lawrence neighbourhood, and it represents my idea of Toronto's original gastropub. The Bier Markt, along with another favourite, Beer Bistro, have an astounding selection of brews from all over the world. They also have the high-calibre food to match.

We started off with some Paulaner Dunkel, a smooth, malty Bavarian beer. It was dark, crisp, and fragrant, a great way to wake up the palate.

For apps we had the Cheese and Lager Fondue: appenzeller, emmental and raclette cheese, Stella Artois lager, asparagus, grape tomatoes, cornichons, and fresh baguette.

That was a big appetizer. I'm glad we shared. Needless to say we mopped up all the cheese with the baguette.

For our main, we shared the Surf and Turf: Atlantic lobster, AAA center cut striploin, asparagus, rosti potato, peppercorn demi-glace, with a Leffe Brune Ale broth.

The lobster looked pre-cooked, and was a little tough. A side of salted, melted butter would also have been nice, but was sadly missing.

The striploin on the other hand was amazing! It was so soft. We were also warned earlier by the couple sitting next to us who just had the same fondue that the green peppercorn sauce was to die for, and we should try not to fight over it. She was right. The sauce complemented the meat perfectly.

For dessert, Stacey had the Caramel and Toffee Fondue: ladyfingers, French macaroons, biscotti, bananas, strawberries, and housemade marshmallows.

I had the Belgian Chocolate Fondue: Valrhona dark Manjari chocolate, French macaroons, biscotti, ladyfingers, bananas, and strawberries.

The housemade marshmallows were great with the caramel, and the French macaroons were heavenly with the chocolate. That's gotta be one of the best chocolate sauces I've ever had.

Get thee to the Bier Markt.

Click here for more mouthwatering pics.

The Fondue Feastivul runs from Jan 13 - Feb 28, 2010.

Posted by: Mark Rodas

Friday, February 19, 2010

Have you tasted Toronto's cooking classes?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sure, Tasting Toronto cooks at home, reports back on restaurant experiences, seeks out new ingredients/recipes and visits food festivals - but another part of discovering what Toronto's food scene has to offer is to learn directly from the very talented chefs who populate this city - the best way to do that is to attend a cooking class led by one of them.

Valentine's Day weekend we were at a couple's cooking class at Nella Cucina with Aphrodite Cooks. Looking around at the other couples, I realized this was a really cool bonding experience - cooking in your own kitchen is similar, but being in a professional kitchen is even more fun. I drooled the entire time staring at the KitchenAid Mixer and deep fryer, wishing I had my own at home! And even without the gadgets, you still come away with the recipes so you can dazzle your friends and family. Much cheaper than going to George Brown's culinary school (although if I won the lottery that's probably where I'd run off to)!

We were manning the dessert station: we made a delicious flourless dark chocolate tequila torte with banana/avocado sauce.

Click here for more pics from the evening!

Sunday morning we're doing a Dim Sum cooking class - we'll be sure to have mouth-watering pictures from that as well so stay tuned!