Showing posts with label watermelon salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label watermelon salad. Show all posts

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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Celebrating National Rum Day at Miss Things

If rum conjures up images of overly sweet slushy drinks at an all-inclusive or a particularly messy night in university, Miss Things and Flor de Caña aims to change that perception. During National Rum Day, the two combined to host a dinner and rum pairing ($65 per person), showcasing the popular spirit in a more refined light. Prices are provided on dishes offered on Miss Thing’s normal menu.

After a day working, the rum punch was a warm welcome and the first hints that Miss Things’ cocktails are something else. Sure the punch incorporated the traditional rum and juice, but the splash of ginger beer added such a great kick of flavour and the mint, when infused into the drink, mellowed it out.  

As the crab toast motoyaki ($8) appeared, its rich creamy seafood aroma preceded the dish. Sitting on a well toasted sourdough crostini was plenty of warm crab meat mixed into a buttery lobster hollandaise. A delicious way to begin the meal and a starter to try if you enjoy lobster rolls.

Chef Jasper Wu’s Pan Asian creations incorporates fresh fruits with a host of other ingredients, to give dishes an interesting twist. Two fruit salads served that evening had varying love-or-hate elements, but were nonetheless different from the generic green salads.

The watermelon salad ($12) takes the fruit and compresses it with a bit of lime. Then comes plethora of flavours with a briny spicy XO sauce, mint, shallots, cotija cheese and deep fried burdock root chips for crunch. Having had something similar before, the fishiness from the XO sauce was a bit too much. Also, I  prefer the watermelon in its natural state, as I found pressing it with the lime juice gave the fruit the soggy texture and slightly off flavour of watermelon that’s been sitting around in a fruit salad for too long.

Meanwhile, the pineapple jicama salad ($12) was a hit, also having a sweet and savoury twist but in a balanced manner. The thin slices of sweet pineapple and crunchy jicama slivers were so refreshing, and you could customize how much of the spicy peanut satay sauce to mix into the fruit. Normally, I’m not a fan of savoury dishes incorporating roasted peanuts, but in this case, it worked with the salad and the crispy rice noodles crowning it.

The intricately put together mosaic of thinly sliced octopus in the carpaccio was beautiful. Having been lightly grilled, it wasn’t raw and retained a light sweetness. Under the seafood were piles of soft beluga lentils and crisp pineapple salsa, both worked nicely with the tender octopus. Around the plate, a shrimp paste vinaigrette and squid ink salt, to add even more of a seafood essence – I scooped up every bit of the condiments.

Our main, an espresso rubbed elk loin, was a swift change from the otherwise tropical dishes previously served. For such a lean cut of meat, I was pleasantly surprised by how tender and juicy it remained. The rich foie gras sauce and chanterelle jus were fantastic, both strong but complimenting flavours. With the crisp asparagus, roasted Jerusalem artichokes and meaty chanterelles, the dish had a French flair and was a satisfying ending.

Throughout the meal, progressively aged shots of Flor de Caña rum were presented. As we moved from the light and fruity 5-year old to the slightly richer 7-year old, the rum’s harshness mellowed out a bit and had a sweeter finish. Then we sampled a “sipping” rum, the 12-year old is meant to be enjoyed plain, although still strong it had a pronounced molasses taste without the sweetness.  

Karen Moodie, ambassador for Flor de Caña, explains what sets this Nicaragua rum apart: aside from the long periods of aging in barrels, they won’t add anything after the barreling period (where natural evaporation occurs) so you’re able to sample the true aged product. Moreover, they are a vertically integrated company owning everything from the sugar cane fields to the bottling facility – they essentially control the quality at every step of production. Due to these factors, their rums have been awarded numerous accolades amongst the World Spirits community.

Still a newbie to the sipping spirits category, the evening was a great palette developing experience. I’ll be honest, even with the sipping rum, the drink still had a kick to it… the finish not unlike what you’d find in scotch and whiskey. But as you taste them side-by-side, the small nuances start to peek through – slightly smoother and the flavours turning richer.  

Sadly, due to an early morning meeting, I wasn’t able to stay for the grand finale: a chocolate banana mousse paired with 18 and 25-year old rums! One can only imagine how nicely the spirits would pair with a sweet dish incorporating the same banana flavours infused into the rums since their leaves line the barrels. Oh well, until next National Rum Day. Thank you Miss Things and Flor de Caña for a delicious development experience!

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal 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: 1279 Queen Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Miss Thing's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato