Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts

The Feast of St. Lawrence (Toronto)

Just imagine dining outdoors on Front Street with two hundred fellow guests. That's two long tables tucking into a six-course meal prepared by some of the best restaurants the St. Lawrence neighbourhood has to offer. Better yet, indulge in all this food and drink and support Second Harvest, a leading charity that rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and diverts it to shelters and food banks. A noble foundation that not only helps the hungry but also helps the environment.

If this sound like a cause you can get behind, than you can't miss out on the Feast of St. Lawrence. Taking place on August 9, 2019, the evening begins with oyster and charcuterie stations to wash down drinks as you mingle and listen to a jazz band performing in Berczy Park. 

Restaurants will also be serving hors d'oeurvres, such as Hawthorne's sous vide trout with Ontario saffron velouté topped with caviar. The bit of smokiness in the fish with the salty finish from the caviar makes this a great pairing with white wine. And yes, you heard right, there is a farm in Ontario that cultivates saffron!

Batch's beef tartare arrives in its own container, a crunchy shrimp chip that's deep fried until fluffy. Inside, the Korean inspired tartare is mixed with kimchi and Asian pear so that you get a bit of heat and sweetness. They say it's the perfect bite to pair with their IPA, which cuts the fat from your tongue. Wine, beer, and that cute dog fountain? What a way to begin.

Afterwards, the feast consists with six courses, all paired with Ontario wines. Having sampled four of the six dishes, there is certainly variety as chefs pay homage to the local ingredients Ontario offers in the summer.

Farm'r starts their salad with thick slices of roasted peaches that will just be hitting shelves in August. The bits of mint, salty feta, and peppery arugula helps balance out the sweetness and makes a delicious combination with quinoa. 

Trust me, you're in for some good food. Having tucked into a sample of Cantina Mercatto's smoked corn sugo cavatelli, the light cream base with chewy pasta, which is almost reminiscent of a tiny gnocchi, is absolutely delicious. There’s meaty chanterelles, a bit of heat from birds eye chilies, sweet corn kernels, and refreshing pea shoots. The dish is so good I went back for a second sample.

Having done a quick preparation of Cirillo’s Academy’s grilled octopus, it seems like such an easy dish to create …until Chef Cirillo actually describes how they make the octopus: slow braising it with stock mixed with its own liquids, breaking it down to remove the inedible pieces, and then finally finishing sections on the grill. You’re left with meaty bites of octopus mixed with quickly seared tomatoes, chickpeas, and arugula. It’s a nice bridge between the pasta and the heavier main.

Normally, serving 200 guests lamb done two ways would be quite the feat. But, the Omni King Edward Hotel has served large numbers of guests for decades. While I would have liked the lamb belly fat rendered a bit more, the meat was so tender. Meanwhile, the lamb chop was done a perfect medium and has a lovely salty rub.

To keep the dish summery, they finish it off with a lovely pea puree and sweet charred leeks. And if you’re hesitant about having lamb due its potential gaminess, the salty spiciness from the accompanying andouille and crouton side will surely balance it out.

The night continues with whisky cocktails from CC Lounge's onsite whisky bar and if you're too full, you can just dance throughout the evening… it’s not often you can dance along Front Street.

And if you need a little post-dinner activity, try to find the birds that are part of the dog fountain. Hint: the cat is looking at it. Once you discover this hidden sculpture you'll be a St. Lawrence insider. 

Disclaimer: I attended a media event to try the dishes above, but I'm am not being paid to promote the event. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada

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Get Ready to Dine Under the Stars!

On for its third year, the Feast of St. Lawrence kicks off on Friday, August 10th with a huge outdoor dinner. 250 guests will dine together on Front Street (between Scott and Church Street) rain or shine! Don’t worry, if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, guests are protected under long beautiful tents to ensure the 5-course meal is comfortable regardless of the climate.
With the number of notable restaurants in the St. Lawrence area, diners will be well fed. A glimpse of the menu suggests:
  • Hors d’oeurves to start including an oyster station from Pearl Diver, Biff Bistro’s chicken liver parfait, and falafels from the Sultan’s Tent;
  • Cool appetizers of chilled melon soup from the House House and pickled watermelon salad from Farmr;
  • Tagliata di Spada from ARDO, which is Nova Scotia swordfish with their signature sourdough bread;
  • A main of seared petit tender beef with roasted summer vegetables (a vegetarian alternative of squash blossoms also available) made by The Omni King Edward Hotel; and
  • Two desserts courtesy of George Brown College: a tonka pavlova with peaches and a s’mores tart with smoked chocolate.
This is all paired with every alcohol you can imagine including whisky from CC Lounge, beer from Creemore Springs Brewery, and wines from various Prince Edward County producers (Stanners Vineyard, Broken Stone Winery, Rosehall Run, K. J. Watson, Karlo Estates, Keint-he). While dining, guests are serenaded by the 18-piece JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band.
Yours truly was lucky enough to get a preview of some of the items from this year’s menu. We started at Pearl Diver where Chef Malycha taught us how to shuck an oyster – he makes it seem so easy with a wiggle, pry, and wiggle motion. For me, I’ll leave it to the experts, especially if they’re going to make a refreshing onion mignonette to go with it. The oysters will go perfectly with CC Lounge’s Toronto cocktail, which mixes J.P Wiser’s Deluxe whisky, Triple Sec, Lillet liquor and tons of fresh lemon. Bright and citrusy, it’s an easy-going drink.
In fact, everything we sampled was season appropriate. Farmr’s salad combines watermelon and tomatoes, two things that normally aren’t served together but works. Chef Benny Chateau aims to showcase produce at their peak in August, allowing the ingredients to shine. The watermelon is pickled in its own juice with red wine vinegar, the tomatoes getting a similar treatment with lime, and it’s all tossed together with micro basil and cucumber ribbons. The watermelon’s sweetness is balanced by pickling and the vinegar’s acidity neutralized by the cucumber and tomato.

Even Omni King Edward’s beef is lightened by using a petit tender cut (from the shoulder of the tenderloin) so it’s lean. In lieu of the traditional heavier red wine sauce and potatoes, the steak is paired with a bright chimichurri crema and tons of roasted summer vegetables sourced from Urban Fresh at the St. Lawrence Market. Ancient grain and hazelnut clusters add a bit of carbs to the plate and some crunch as well.

Tickets are available online or by calling 416-410-9242. A portion of the $200 ticket will go towards Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada. The charity prevents surplus food from farmers and retailers from going to the landfill by picking it up and distributing the items to over 250 social service agencies across Ontario. It’s a great organization that not only provides 30,000 meals a day, but also makes a positive impact on our environment.
Organizers note that Dinner Under the Stars is a well-staffed event - even with 250 guests everyone is served in about 5 minutes. Moreover, speeches are kept to a minimum… they know people are there to eat, drink, and mingle! If dining alfresco with a group of people to support Second Harvest sounds amazing, get your tickets before they sell out and in no time, you’ll be eating under the stars.
Disclaimer: The above tasting of select dishes from this year's event was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Front Street (between Scott and Church Street)

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Sweetery: A Food Festival Supporting Sick Kids, Will Sweeten Your Weekend

As the weather warms in Toronto, the street festivals begin. Most food festivals are culture based, Sweetery will instead focus on all things sugary with recipes that’ll entice your sweet tooth. The best part is that you’ll have an excuse to indulge in the taste test, scavenger hunt and piñata breaking activities – 100% of the proceeds will go to support the Sick Kids Foundation!

Key Details

Date: Weekend of August 15 and 16
Time: noon to 10pm
Location: Front Street West and Portland Street
Admission: Free

With the plethora of vendors in attendance, bringing friends and family is a must to be able to try as many sweets as possible. The Hungarian chimney from Original Chimneys, butter tart from Beverley’s Bakers, sakura mocha milk from Kakigori and Vietnamese coffee cheesecake from Catering Diva has my name all over them!

George Brown Pastry chefs will be at the festival making pastries so you can see what it takes to concoct these decadent treats. Famous home cook, Christopher Siu of Master Chef Canada, will be offering Chinese inspired macarons and matcha crepe cakes.

There will also be the Canadian favourite sweet treat Beavertails, vegan cupcakes from Bloomer’s, bespoke marshmallows from I Love Puffy Love, Filipino desserts from Tito Rons and Mexican pastries from Pancho’s. But, if you want to have a meal before dessert, Fufu Rocks will be serving up savoury meals.

Check out Sweetery and take a whack at the piñata to help reach their $10,000 goal to support Sick Kids. Sweet treats will be available from $3-$5 and all attendees will receive a complimentary loot bag that gives you a chance to find a “golden ticket” to win a prize. So I encourage you to channel your inner Charlie and visit the chocolate factory this weekend.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 510 Front St. W. (at Portland St.)

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