October 29, 2013

The Delicious Food Show

As cheesy as the word "foodie" is, I am not ashamed to say that I am one. Spending my weekend seeing the best in cooking, food and entertaining is my idea of a good time. The Delicious Food Show was presented by Food Network Canada at the Better Living Centre in Toronto, Ontario and my inner foodie was definitely satisfied. In fact, I think I am more of an outward foodie--hopefully not an obnoxious one. I will subtly suggest recipes or restaurants, but I won't jam my opinions down your throat. I like learning about different types of food, preparations and cuisines and listening to people talk about their creations.

I arrived on Sunday--the last day of the show--and followed the pink carpet along to the food. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend on Friday when Martha Stewart was presenting. Queen Martha opened the show with a cooking demonstration and book signing. Other celebrities in attendance throughout the weekend included Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes and Mark McEwan.

See that word on the poster? I like that word. If I'm going to a food show I will spend money on products I like and will inquire about how to buy them. I want to try a lot of things too. I especially like if these things are perhaps low cost or even better, free. President's Choice Black Label by far had one of the best freebies of the day:

They were dishing out a piece of pizza, mixed greens and a bottle of their Lambrusco Grape vinegar. The lamb Garam Masala pizza was almost like a naan flatbread pizza. It wasn't too spicy with curry taste or overpowering with the lamb. As a free sample, this was a refreshing start to the show. 

When someone asks you, "freshly shaved meat?" you stop everything and say yes. A quick note on free samples: there is enough for everyone. You paid to get into the food show. There is plenty to go around, so no need to be pushy. Enjoy the food, ask questions and savour those samples; it's not a race. 

There were great deals on products and even better deals because it was the last day of the show. As much as I like going to markets, I was happy to hear a lot of the products are available in major grocery stores. That means I think, that local small businesses, artisans and farmers are making their way successfully into more people's shopping carts. 

I took a few trips down the cheese line during my time at the show. The cheeses showcased were the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Winners. My favourites were this smoked cheddar from Cow's Creamery in P.E.I, the 5 year aged cheddar from Black River Cheese Company and the firm cheese from Gunn's Hill Five Brothers, which I found out is made a few towns over from where I live. I only usually buy fancy cheeses at Christmas, so at least now I know which ones to buy. 

When you get a bad cheese sample--not saying any of the cheeses were bad--it is a little off-putting. Case in point, I'm not a fan of eating a spoonful of ricotta or marscapone cheese by itself. I would compare it to eating mayonnaise by itself out of the jar. A nice piece of brie, cheddar or gouda on a toothpick is perfection. Some of the others needed a baguette or cracker to accompany their sampling. Thankfully there were options for drinks to wash down the cheeses. There was beer, different samples of Sodastream creations and a mini tour of Ontario wine country with six different samples. 

When I asked someone before I arrived what I should try, they told me the kale chips. Be Nourished was a popular booth with their naturally flavoured kale chips, such as sour cream and onion. They are vegan, raw and preservative free. I need to buy a dehydrator and start making my own although I don't know how they make theirs taste so good. 

Green and Black's had samples of many of their flavours of organic, ethical chocolate and they weren't even selling actual chocolate bars at the show. They were purely giving out samples so people could try the chocolate and have as much as they wanted. The burnt toffee and crispy milk were my favourites and I enjoyed the delicate, not to strong flavours. 

We stopped for a quick coffee break from my fantasy food truck. I call it my fantasy food truck because I want a truck like that or maybe live under a cozy vintage metal roof someday. A nice espresso maker is a good trailer appliance too, I think. Nice cappuccino designs always warm my heart: 

The original Manual Labour Coffee truck that I saw in Niagara-on-the-Lake earlier this year was sold and is now being run by Detour Coffee. The vibe and the good coffee is still similar (the baristas maybe have a few more tattoos). 

Then I dreamed of all the fancy food products I would someday own, such as an outdoor pizza oven. Outdoor Pizza Ovens had all the setups and advice for building your own backyard masterpiece. If you're looking for something a little on the smaller side with a size best for an apartment or balcony, this is an Uuni. It uses wood pellets, which are more convenient and makes the pizza maker a somewhat portable size. Just think the next time you have a backyard party: "Hold on a second guys, I just have to get my pizza oven out." 

My eye is always drawn to macarons, especially macarons on mini decorative chairs. Petite and Sweet had a gorgeous dessert table with macarons, cupcakes, cake pops and their signature chic style. They are a Toronto-based event and lifestyle boutique specializing in sweet tables and they also have a gorgeous storefront. 

I was perusing the macarons and looked up and it was Elle from Food Network Canada's Sugar Stars! The staff at the boutique also have their own show about their day-to-day operations and the sometimes hilarious antics that occur planning high-end events. She gave me some great tips for designing and creating sweet tables, which will come in handy in a few weeks when I design a dessert table for my friend's wedding. Elle was so nice and knowledgable; I only wish I could have met Caspar and Antonella too! 

Some of my favourite food trucks were also set up inside. Buster's Sea Cove had their famous lobster rolls, fish tacks and shrimp po boys. I was so full from samples by the time it was late afternoon that I wasn't even hungry for an entire meal. I have heard from many sources that I need to try this lobster roll.

HotBunzz had "dinner in a bun" snacks that looked neat. They are a popular vendor at the regular Toronto Underground Market. You know how much I like mini things--and carbs. I would have been down for one of these if I hadn't eaten all that free cheese. I have nothing against eating a turkey dinner in bun form. 

I had to stop by Happy Planet to sample their feel-good soups. They graciously provided tickets to the show for me and a lucky reader, as well as coupons for some of their products. Happy Planet is based out of British Columbia and have packaged soups that are good-for-you in neat flavours, such as Mushroom and Marscapone, Moroccan Chickpea and Sweetcorn and Red Pepper.

Their flavours are inspired by local ingredients, as well as international flavours. At the show they were sampling Carrot and Ginger and Tuscan Tomato. Thank you Happy Planet and to Butter PR as well for the arrangements. 

The last event of the weekend was Abbey's Kitchen Stadium. Abbey is a Toronto food blogger and dietician who has organized Iron Chef type events for a good cause to showcase Toronto chefs, restaurants and drinks for her charity My Food My Way. Mattt Basile (Fidel Gastros), Dustin Gallagher (Acadia), Rodney Bowers (Hey Meatball) and Bruce woods (Woods Restaurant) were the finalists from previous events and were invited to compete at the food show for the final round.

The judges were from left, Food Network Host David Rocco, Global TV News Anchor Leslie Roberts, Cookbook Author Christine Cushing, Chef Susur Lee and a hungry Toronto Argonauts football player. The chefs were challenged to make dishes with the secret ingredient, Steamwhistle Beer, and then spectators could buy tickets to taste the dishes along with the judges. Then it was time to go home with my bag full of goodies and leave food lovers heaven and go back to real life. I had a great time at the show. In terms of food shows, this one had a lot of variety, samples and a lot happening. Just goes to show there is so much happening in the Ontario food scene right now and that is good to know.

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