President’s Choice Insiders Boutique

Walking around after my morning meeting, I decided to visit the PC Insiders Boutique near King St. W & Peter St. I didn’t expect a line to the entrance but I was soon told that they only admitted 10-15 people at a time. Fortunately, some people didn’t want to wait so the line moved a lot quicker. Going in, the boutique is absolutely gorgeous! The designer put a lot of thought between each room and it shows. Each room is distinct, a little unorthodox but that’s what makes them really cool! Haha. The tour is subdivided between 4 different rooms: Bruch, Mingle, Dine and Gift. Each room had 3 samples dedicated to the room’s theme. Let’s start!

From the Brunch room, we had a slice of pita bread lightly toasted with some diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and crumbled feta to start. Followed by 2 slices of waffles with PC Speculoos Cook Butter spread on one with a side of PC Smoky Bacon Flavoured Maple Syrup. The final tasting plate for the Brunch room was a PC Decadent Chocolateer Cherry Loaf with some mascarpone cheese inside, whipped cream and more cherries on top. The cherry loaf was my favourite from this room. The dark chocolate complimented the cherries very well and like what our presenter said, it almost tastes like a Black Forrest cake

IMG_6011.JPGThe Mingle room, aka my favourite room, was beautifully decorated, the fog on the floor added a nice mysterious touch to the space. The tasting plates were showcased on tall acrylic Christmas tree shelves lit up. The presentation was quite dramatic and suited the room well. The first tasting plate was a PC Butter Chicken Poutine Kit. I know, butter chicken and poutine? Yup! And it was pretty tasty! Followed by PC Thai Chicken Curries Mini Hors D’Oeuvre Collection. A trifecta of Thai chicken curry goodness! My fave of the three was wrapped in a rice wrapper. Sweet and spicy Gochujang chicken wings finished our tasting at this room. It’s a little tough to pick a favourite from this room because all the dishes were so different and so flavourful!

On to the Dine room where we were served by a plate with a delicious slice of PC Spiral Ham Applewood Smoked, PC Black Label Beet and Goat Cheese Cappellacci, PC Strawberry Blonde Potatoes and sautéed Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. A slice of light and creamy PC Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake to wrapped up the tasting plate for this room. The cheesecake was my favourite from this room. Like the chef said, you can treat the cheesecake like a blank canvas by adding any kind of berry and fruits to accompany the cheesecake.


IMG_6027.jpgLast but not the least, our tour guide directed us to the final room, Gift, where we were asked to choose between 2 different options to take home. I chose the White Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Toffee Bark. Overall, it was a fun experience. I was definitely impressed by the décor; cannot talk about that more! It was also interesting to see that President’s Choice is trying different flavours with the Gochujang chicken wings, butter chicken poutine and the beet and goat cheese Cappellacci. Thank you at PC Insiders Boutique for sharing the Insiders Collection!

If you’re going to be around downtown Toronto area head on down to the boutique. It’s FREE for the public!

 

Always,

K

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Scaddabush: From the Heart to the Soul, with a temporary stop on a plate.

After a couple of weeks of neglecting my foodie cravings for a Summerlicious pick, my friend and I decided to go to lunch at Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar. To be completely honest, the first thing that caught my attention was the name. It is most definitely a unique and playful restaurant name. Coming from the Italian-American slang, scaddabush describes when something is, “a little of this and a little of that,” (from one of the servers I asked). Not definitive, I know, but it does reflect the charm this restaurant has. From the eclectic collection of light fixtures, mason jars, wooden chairs and framed photos, Scaddabush makes you feel like you are eating Sunday night dinner, Italian style. They also have a narrow patio at the front of the restaurant perfect for dining under the sunny skies.

For lunch, I had the Avocado & Goat cheese Bruschetta, Pizza Fresca Vegetarian, and for dessert, Strawberry Gelato. The bruschetta had the same classic taste from the garlic, cheese, tomatoes and herbs while adding a creamy component from the avocado. You might be thinking that this is borderline a guacamole, but it’s not. The goat cheese taste was subtle but it helped with defusing the avocado taste from overwhelming the dish.

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The pizza was delicious, although I should have probably told them to cook it well done because I do like a crispier crust. I really liked the balsamic reduction and the Parmesan aioli and how well they complimented the peppery flavour of the baby arugulas. The tomatoes and roasted red peppers added sweetness and a little tang. Overall, it was a well-balanced dish.

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When I was asking our server for recommendations, she mentioned that the chef specifically made the strawberry gelato for the Summerlicious menu. We went ahead and gave it a try. The strawberry flavour exploded at my first spoonful! It reminded me of a sorbet rather than a gelato, but unlike a sorbet, the consistency was creamier and the gelato melted in my mouth quickly. I also tasted some flavours of lemon as an accent to help with the sweetness of the dessert. It was a tad sweet for me since I generally prefer semi sweet-savoury desserts.

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The staff was friendly, and accommodating despite of the larger groups around us. Also, my friend and I were going to be late for our reservation and the hostess politely told us when I called her to let her know that she was going to hold our table until we got there. Our server, Tiffany was very nice and had a bubbly friendly personality. I definitely recommend Scaddabush to my friends and family!

Have you been to Scaddabush on Gerrard? Leave a comment below and let me know how it went!

Hapa Izakaya

If you are following me on Instagram (if not follow me! @darekultura!) you may know that I recently graduated university. One of my fellow graduates and lovely friend decided to throw a get together at Hapa Izakaya to celebrate our milestone. Getting to the restaurant was as long and tiresome as the last few years we spent in university. A portion of College Street was closed for the Taste of Little Italy. The streets were filled with people from all ages and the festival had multiple live stage performances. After bulldozing my hungry self through the crowds I finally made it at Hapa Izakaya.

Hapa Izakaya has a pretty impressive wrap sheet from being voted in the “Top Five Izakayas in North America” by Bon Appetite Magazine to winning other prestigious awards. I totally understand why. Hapa Izakaya Toronto is one of the chain restaurants part of the Hapap Izakaya chain starting at Vancouver, B.C. in 2012. They offered various selections of cold and hot tapas, pressed sushi, omakase (prix fixed menu for 2 or 4-16 people). I decided to try their Scallop Tar Tar, Japanese Arancini and Matcha Crème Brûlée.

IMG_4950I thought that the scallop tar tar paired nicely with the crispy wonton chips. I used the wonton chips as a vehicle to carry the scallops into my mouth. The chips added texture and salt to the dish that wasn’t too overpowering. While the karashi mustard mayo packed quite a punch, especially at your first bite and the bacon was a little too hard for me. Overall it was an okay dish, there were definitely better selections like their fish tacos (everyone in our table ordered them!).

The Japanese Arancinis were my favourite! I loved the flavour combinations in the dish. The halibut risotto was deliciously paried with the dill aioli BC trout carpaccio and capers. The dish was very well seasoned and the different components had great taste and texture. Overall I thought that it was a balanced well-composed dish with subtle yet distinct flavours from each component, well done!

Last but definitely not the least, I had the Matcha Crème Brûlée for dessert. It was a fun concept and a delicious one too! I’m sitting here repeatedly trying to describe how good it was but I’m just lost for words. I loved that the matcha crème was light and creamy, yet the brûléed sugar gave a really stark textural contrast. The matcha flavour reminded me of a matcha green tea latte, light not bitter. Overall it was a creative dessert.

On the downside, our group was seated right next to the restaurant speakers, which made talking to each other difficult. Also, the restaurant was packed and our food took quite a long time to get to our table. The wait staff was polite and accommodating but I guess with a full house and festival happening at your doorstep it’s understandable why service was slow. The food was innovative and tasted great so I would come back again to see if the service is the same on a regular day.

Check out Hapa Izakaya and let me know what you think by commenting below! 🙂

Always,

K

How to get the most of your Summerlicious 2015 experience

It’s that time of the year again! No, I’m not talking about Christmas but it might as well be!  Summerlicious 2015 is happening from July 3rd-26th! I’m sure my fellow food lovers are just itching to start. Here are a few tips from my Winterlicious/Summerlicious adventures:

1. Know when you can make reservations. Summerlicious has sent posted details, including when to make early reservations, restaurant list and events/activities. They fill up fast, so make sure that you know which dates and times you can make reservations for and which event/activity you want to do.

2. Consider if you have or don’t have a budget. When my friends and I were still students, we picked restaurants according to how much we are willing to spend for the meal as well as which restaurants were giving the best deals. For instance, it’s a good opportunity to dine in some high-end restaurants during this period if you’re down on paying $45 for dinner. It’s a good price considering how much it will cost originally. However, if you don’t want to spend as much, there are other excellent options. Both of the meals I went to with my friends were under $30!

3. Do your RESEARCH! There were 200+ restaurants from the list they provided online and they were organized and presented well. You could view the different restaurants alphabetically, by cuisine or by neighborhood. I recommend using the categorization through cuisine. It gives you a good idea of what they have and allows for you to pick what you’re more comfortable with or more daring to try. Once you’ve decided on which cuisine you may want to explore, don’t be scared to GOOGLE them. There are many websites dedicated for online restaurant reviews or even apps you can download on your phone. Make use of them! However, I do understand that different people have different palates and opinions about their experiences. So I would also recommend to ask any of your friends who may or may not have eaten at the restaurant. Don’t just ask about the food too. Service is a huge aspect when dining. You can have an awesome meal but if the service is bad it does ruin a pretty big chunk of your experience, and that’s big factor that helps determine whether you want to be a repeat patron or give good recommendations.

4. FORGET about your diet and INDULGE yourself even for a little while. When you’re dining in, there’s time in between courses for your stomach to digest the food and so you may even feel full sooner. I’ve read somewhere that it takes about 15 minutes before it registers in your brain that you’re full. So use the time between courses to chat with your friends or even eating slowly so you can A. savour the flavours B. enjoy your meal and C. enjoy your friends/family/significant other’s company! Besides, being on diets is overrated. It’s a lifestyle change that needs to take place not just your eating habits.

Enjoy your culinary expedition at Summerlicious 2015 and let me know which restaurants you went to!

For more photos and restaurant reviews check out my Reviews page! 🙂

Always,

K