Have you heard about TOCA's Tastemaker's Series?

With the rise of social media and almost every element of travel experiences being shared, travelers are expecting more from their vacations. At times, Air BnB offers the ability to travel like a local, gleaming intelligence from hosts. So, it’s no surprise hotels are also stepping up their game, and now offer unique events for guests (or locals alike).

TOCA, located in the Toronto’s Ritz Carlton, has begun to curate a Tastemaker’s event series where culinary delights await guests. Their May Pio Cesare and Chef Oliver Glowig dinner ($195) has already sold out with just word-of-mouth promotion as diners are treated to a 5-course meal concocted by the Michelin starred chef with rare wine pairings from Pio Cesare’s family cellar.

Having had a glass of the Pio Cesare Barbera D’Alba DOC, I can see how the rich but smooth red can hold up against the acidity of tomatoes. It went wonderfully with TOCA’s signature ravioli capresi, which holds a golf ball sized sphere of soft chewy cacciota cheese in each pasta.

If you’re disappointed about the May dinner, Chef Glowig will be returning for five days at the start of November for TOCA’s alba white truffle week. Diners will have an option between a black and white truffle dinner ($150) or if you want to splurge and sit at the chef’s table in the kitchen, there’s a limited white truffle only menu ($300).

If the menu’s anything like the media preview, expect a bit of whimsy. An hour glass beaker-like apparatus is brought table side for the soup course. As the roasted chicken consommé is heated, it flows through to the top of the glassware to get infused by lemon, ginger, celery, and mushrooms becoming even more aromatic.

Afterwards, the consommé is finished off with plump agnolotti stuffed with ricotta and truffles (wow these were good) and black truffle shavings over top! Oh yes, it’s a fragrant soup that lingers on your tongue.

What really sounds interesting to me is the offsite picnics that TOCA partnered with Culinary Adventure Tours to run.

Every Thursday during the summer, guests will paddle to the Toronto Islands on a huge 18-person canoe ($150 regularly with a special Canada Day edition for $195). The trip from the downtown core to the islands should take 20-minutes and then there will be another 20-minute tour around the islands, including viewing the bird sanctuary.

After working up an appetite, diners head ashore for a locally sourced outside picnic. Think cheese and charcuterie boards, terrines, chicken roll-ups, bread, salad, and more.  Make sure to get a piece of the smoked cooked salmon – it’s such a great combination of a slight candied crust and smokiness.

On October 14th, you can join the restaurant as they bring guests around the Don Valley to forage their own wild mushrooms and edible plants ($85). Upon returning to TOCA, you’ll learn pick through them and ensure they’re suitable for consumption before the ingredients are transformed into a meal.

Who knows what you’ll find. But, if you happen to get a medley of mushrooms, hopefully the chef will sautée them with butter and combine them with a crisp crostini topped with shaved parmesan. It’s simple but delicious.  

Even though I live in Toronto, these events still sound like a unique experience. I imagine myself paddling around Lake Ontario (like the early settlers) and feasting on local eats (I’m sure more luxurious than the early settlers). Or I could harness my inner doomsday prepper and learn how to live off the Don Valley. And if anyone needs a guest to join them at the Chef’s table in November, you know how to contact me.

Disclaimer: I attended a media event to sample the above food. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 181 Wellington Street West

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