Vegetarian and Vegan Events in Toronto – 2012

Hey everyone! 🙂

I love food festivals, and I love finding fun things to do in Toronto.

So just a little heads-up on some awesome foodie events in Toronto that are coming up in the next few months that I’ll be attending for fun! Check them out!

Toronto Veggie Pride Parade – June 2 2012

Toronto Raw/Vegan Festival – June 9-10 2012

  • 918 Bathurst St. (North of Bloor)
  • Saturday June 9, 2012. 10:00am – 8:00pm
  • Sunday June 10, 2012. 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Workshops after 4:30pm
  • Admission is FREE!

28th Annual Vegetarian Food Festival  – September 9-11 2012

  • Harbourfront Centre – 235 Queens Quay West
  • Friday September 9, 2012. 4:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Saturday September 10, 2012. 12:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Sunday September 11, 2012. 12:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Admission is FREE!
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Review – Kensingtons Espresso Bar in Kensington Market

On a random urge to wander around the Kensington Market area, I saw this place called “Kensingtons Espresso Bar” and decided to try it because it had the word “espresso” in the name. I’m a coffee fanatic, and this place claims to have the best coffee in the city. Hmm, I’d have to say that’s not true… It’s good coffee, but far from the best…

So click below to check out my review!

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Happy New Year!

Dear People Reading This,

I can’t believe it’s 2012 already!

Without going into detail, I’ve gotta say that 2011 was a year filled with good and bad. There were definitely memories made, tears shed, and laughs had. It was a year where I learned a lot about life, and about myself. As I’m sure many people did!
Here’s to hoping that 2012 is filled with good things for everyone! *raises glass*

Now that I’m settling into my new place, I’ll be posting entries a little more often! I don’t make resolutions for the new year, but if I DID make one, it would be to post more in this blog. Now that I’m back in Toronto, I’ll be wandering around the GTA a little more, posting more reviews, and letting all of you out there know about some hot little foodie gems hiding around this wonderful city. This new year feels like a fresh, new start. So in honour of that, I will also be making a few changes to the layout and feel of this blog! Check back soon to see! 🙂

For now, that’s all. I have a lot of spring cleaning to do… Wait, no. That doesn’t sound right… Winter cleaning? Hmm… I don’t know. Just cleaning. 😉 Then I’m going to head out to a few of my favourite spots in the downtown core! So until my next post, enjoy your day! 🙂

Love, Nikki

Soma Chocolatemaker – Review

There’s so much to say about this place! 🙂 Where to start…

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Strawberries Anyone? Looking Forward: Strawberry Social

 EDIT: REVIEW OF THIS YEAR’S STRAWBERRY SOCIAL

I love strawberries, and I love the St.Lawrence Market. So…

On the agenda for next weekend? Strawberry Social at the St.Lawrence Market!!! 

It’s strawberry season at St. Lawrence Market! 

Sample complimentary strawberries dipped in mouth-watering chocolate at the peak of strawberry season. 

Join us in the North and South Markets for a berry good time! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010 9:00 a.m.1:00 p.m. 

 

Who DOESN'T love strawberries? Really! They are full of awesome. {These are some juicy Ontario strawberries...}

Who DOESN'T love strawberries? Really! They are full of awesome. {These are some juicy Ontario strawberries...}

A Date With Your Pooch: Woofstock Toronto 2010

One of my favourite things to do every weekend is a trip to the St.Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. I wake up at the early hour of 4:30am, and leave my warm bed at 5am to arrive at the market for around 5:30am. {The Queen West street car runs 24 hours, and you can take it right to Queen and Jarvis, then just walk a few blocks right to the market.} During the spring and summer months, you can get some amazingly fresh foods in the North Market. However, this entry is not about shopping for food at the market, eating food or preparing food. This entry is about…

WOOFSTOCK!

This weekend, Saturday June 12th and Sunday June 13th, the St.Lawrence Market will be opening its doors to the furry community! No, not a group of hairy people… It’s for dogs!!!!! 🙂 {And their owners, of course…} Woofstock will be happening from 10am-6pm each day, and is free for all to join in the fun! I’m going to take my pooch, Buddy, out on a date to Woofstock this coming Saturday. If any of you are in the downtown Toronto area on either day, I encourage you to do the same! Our K9 companions give us love and loyalty on a daily basis, and don’t ask much from us in return. So take your best friend, bring your camera {*ahem* and some doggie bags and other supplies you may need…}, and enjoy the day devoted to dogs! This will be my first time attending Woofstock, and I couldn’t be more excited! If only Buddy knew what awaits him this weekend… 🙂

Have a great day everyone!

For directions to the St.Lawrence Market, and regular hours, click here.

For more information on Woofstock, click here

An updated mini-review and photos from Woofstock 2010.

Buddy (love puppy)

Buddy (love puppy)

Honey & Vanilla Pancakes {with Strawberry & Rhubarb Sauce}

One of the things that I love to do on Saturdays now that the weather is nicer, is go downtown to the St.Lawrence Market. I love wandering through the North Farmer’s Market tables, because most of what you get there is local produce, with a lot of organic options. Inside the two levels of the South Market, you will find everything food related from cooking supplies, produce, cheese, meats and more! On Saturdays, they’re open at 5am, so I make my way down there as early as possible. Today, I managed to get there for shortly before 6am, and went on my mission to pick up some tasty foods. Since I was out grocery shopping at the market so early, getting back from the market at 7am gave me ample time to prepare a tasty and healthy{ish} breakfast for Joe and myself. {More about my day at the St.Lawrence Market.}

This morning, I decided on pancakes. I don’t really like plain pancakes, and didn’t feel up for adding fruit to them. I loved chocolate chip pancakes as a kid, but find that to be a bit too sweet for such an early hour. What I wanted was something that was light, with a hint of sweetness to them. So here’s what I threw together! Enjoy! 🙂

This recipe serves 2 people, and I’ve also included a quick strawberry rhubarb sauce that I made to go along with the pancakes.

Honey & Vanilla Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups milk {start with 1 1/2 cups, if the batter is too thick, add a little more in 1/4 cup increments until it’s as thin or thick as  you like it}
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp golden liquid honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar

Method:

  • In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the egg whites and oil to the dry ingredients, and stir.
  • Add all of the other ingredients, and mix well until there are no lumps/traces of dry ingredients.
  • Heat a pan over medium heat, and spray with a light coating of cooking spray. Allow to warm up for a minute or two.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of pancake batter {more if you want larger pancakes, less if you want smaller pancakes}, and tilt the pan slightly to make sure the batter is spread out evenly. You don’t want it too thinned out, and may not even need to tilt the pan at all…
  • Allow to cook until you see bubbles forming on the surface of the batter. At this point, use a spatula to slowly and carefully detach the pancake from the pan. Once you’ve gotten the pancake onto the spatula, carefully flip it uncooked side down back into the pan. If you’ve never made pancakes before, your first or second one may be a little crumbled and ugly, but that’s alright! 😉 Start off with small pancakes, it’s easier.
  • Once it’s flipped onto the other side, cook for another 2-3 minutes. After 2 minutes, check the pancake by gently lifting the side up with the spatula. If it’s golden brown, it’s good to go! If not, keep it on longer, checking at 1 minute intervals.
  • When it’s done, set the pancake aside in a paper towel lined plate {if you just stack them on a plate while they’re sitting waiting for the others to be done, the steam coming from the pancake will collect onto the plate and cause your pancakes to be soggy}. Then cover the plate of pancakes with a plate or a bowl so they stay warm. Repeat these steps with a 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake until all of the batter is done.
  • Serve with syrup, a fruit sauce, or any other toppings you like! 🙂

Strawberry & Rhubarb Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries {about 5 large, or 10 small}
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, finely diced {prepare the stalks of rhubarb similar to the way you would prepare celery. Cut off both ends, cut out any dented or marked bits, and if you like you can peel off some of the outer skin although it is not necessary}
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Method:

  • Fill a saucepan with 1 cup of water, and the rhubarb, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Allow to boil for 1 minute, then drain.
  • Add the orange juice to the saucepan with the rhubarb, and all of the other ingredients except for the strawberries and maple syrup.
  • Return the saucepan to the stove, and bring back to a boil at medium-high heat.
  • Once it comes to a boil, cook {stirring constantly} for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat, and add the strawberries and maple syrup. Stir.
  • Add all contents to the blender, and blend until smooth.
  • Drizzle the sauce over pancakes, waffles, or frozen yogurt/ice cream!
Honey & Vanilla Pancakes With Maple Syrup, Rhubarb & Strawberry Sauce, and a Sliced Strawberry :)

Honey & Vanilla Pancakes With Maple Syrup, Rhubarb & Strawberry Sauce, and a Sliced Strawberry 🙂

Ginger & Lemon Grass Chicken With Rice Vermicelli

Normally when I’m making a meal with grains, I like to stick to one of a few things: brown rice, bulgur, or whole grain pasta. These are staples for me in most meals that I make. I wanted to try something that I haven’t made before, so when I went to the St.Lawrence Market on the weekend, I decided to pick up some rice vermicelli. I’m not sure about the price of this stuff at any supermarket that you’d be able to pick it up from, but at St.Lawrence Market you can get 3 bags {2 1/2 cup servings per bag} for $1 from Ruby’s. {Ruby’s is located on the lower level, and has the largest selection of rice, grains and beans that I’ve ever seen in my life! If you’re looking for rare types of grains, this is your place to find them!} I think that’s a pretty good price, considering that comes out to 6 servings at $0.16 per serving. {Sweet!} While wandering the St.Lawrence Market, I also picked up some ginger root and lemon grass. {I love the smell of that stuff!} So last night, with these wonderful items on hand, I was inspired to create a meal that has a bit of an Asian flare! 🙂 I used chicken in this meal, but you could easily substitute it for beef, or for tofu if you don’t eat meat.

I only made 1 serving of this as I had gotten home super late from the gym, and Joe had already eaten… {He was so sad once he had a taste, because he really liked it!} So adjust the quantities accordingly! Enjoy! 🙂

Ginger & Lemon Grass Chicken With Rice Vermicelli

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, finely diced {when purchasing lemon grass, look for stalks that have no bruising/brown spots. Look for as much green colour as possible near the tops of the stalks, and pale yellow near the bottom. You also want them to be firm. To prepare lemon grass, you need to remove the outer “woody” layer prior to using. Cut off the bottom 2 inches of the stalk, and the top inch. Finely slice, and chop, the remaining stalk. For a picture tutorial, and more information, click here.}
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger {when using fresh ginger, simply break off the amount that you will need, then wrap the rest in a paper towel and place it in a sealed plastic bag in your fridge. You can peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler, but I find that it’s easier to just use a knife. Use the finest holes on a cheese grater to grate the ginger,and you’re good to go!}
  • 2 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • dash chili pepper
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rice vermicelli

Method:

  • In a deep frying pan/wok over medium heat, heat the 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil for about 2 minutes.
  • Cut the chicken into chunks, and add to the pan.
  • Add the ginger and lemon grass once the chicken starts to turn from raw to white.
  • While the chicken is cooking: In a pot, boil water.
  • Once the water has been brought to a boil, add the 1/2 cup rice vermicelli.
  • This is important! Only cook the vermicelli in the boiling water for 1 minute! Any longer, and it will become a soggy mess.
  • Remove the pot from the heat, and drain immediately. Rinse the vermicelli with water to prevent sticking, and set aside.
  • Check that the chicken no longer has any raw parts inside of it.
  • Once it is cooked through, add the green onions, orange bell pepper, and dash of chili pepper.
  • Cook until the chicken starts to brown.
  • Add the 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and soy sauce. Stir to coat chicken and bell pepper evenly.
  • Add the vermicelli to the chicken, and stir a couple of times to coat the vermicelli with the juices in the pan. After about 15 seconds, remove the pan from heat.
  • Serve immediately.
Rice Vermicelli

Rice Vermicelli

Easily one of the tastiest meals I've had! :)

Easily one of the tastiest meals I've had! 🙂

Whole Foods Market Review (Yorkville – Toronto)

So I finally went into the Whole Foods Market in Yorkville (Toronto)and I found it worthy of a review! 

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Toronto’s 2009 Hot and Spicy Food Festival Review

After missing last year’s Spicy Food Festival, I decided to make sure that I went to this year’s festival. We didn’t stay for long, but we got a taste…

First, the bad.
Well, I’ve got to say that as a spicy food enthusiast, I was honestly disappointed this year. I did miss last year’s festival, but the year prior was pretty good if my memory serves me correctly. (It’s not that this year was “bad”, but I just had really high expectations.) 😉

I won’t go into my issues with a coconut costing $7. I promised myself I wouldn’t go there… (Really?? $7 for a coconut with a straw in it??…Go onto Spadina near Kensignton Market, they’re much cheaper there…Plus, I wanted spicy food, not coconut with a straw. Anyways…)

Upon our arrival to the festival, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I had anticipated. (Though, that’s not always a bad thing…)
We went to the tented area to scope out the different booths, only to see that there were maybe 6 or 7 booths in total.
As I remember it the last time I went, there were more than that. There were a couple of booths set up along the side of the harbour front building, and even there we only saw a few.
A handful of these places seemed to be heavily promoting sauces that have a lemon-ginger taste to them, or different fruit flavours mixed with a bit of “Canadian spice”. I wasn’t quite sure why this term “Canadian spice”
was so popular this year. I go to the spicy food festival to try international sauces and marinades. If I want “Canadian spice” I’ll just take a walk over to Sobey’s and grab some Frank’s Red Hot sauce, or better yet I’ll make my own sauce.
That being said, mid-search for some hot sauces, I changed my mind on what I was going to look for. (The Canadian spice was starting to appeal to me after a few samples of different things…)
I decided that instead of looking for the next super spicy yet somewhat tolerable sauce, I would look for something fruity with a bit of bite to it. Something I could either put on my chicken, or on my salads.
I had high hopes for the Hot Mama booth, but was a little
let down. I even tried some chilli heat chocolate sauce,
but couldn’t imagine putting it on anything even though I
liked the taste of it. (Doesn’t Lindtt have a chilli heat
dark chocolate? I would just buy that for $3 a bar
instead of paying $12 for a small jar of it from this
festival…)

There is some good!
I DID however, find a hidden gem. Chef Jono.
Not only did he have a booth here, but he also did a
demonstration (that I unfortunately did not get to see).
His booth seemed simple enough. There were a few pictures
of the product he was selling, and a display of some of
his artsy foods. (I saw a picture of a fancy salad
wrapped in a shaving of a cucumber. Very impressive!)
He was selling a pomegranate balsamic, and a hot mango pepper
sauce. Both were very tasty and appealing, so I purchased
one of each. He also gave a pointer on how you can cook
the balsamic on its own to thicken it, and then drizzle it
over cooked chicken and salad. I’m looking forward to
trying this, and even to just using the balsamic on my
salad as is!

***Edit: upon having this balsamic on my salad, I loved it. It was the perfect flavour to go as a side to some spicy chicken. ***

He really seemed to know a lot about food,
and was able to give information and pointers about his
product. This is so much more than I can say for some
of the other booths at this year’s festival. One booth
that had a hot sauce called “Obama Sauce” (haha), didn’t
really seem to interact with the customers. Even though
the sauce was pretty tasty, I probably would have been
more inclined to make a purchase if they had shown that
they even cared that customers were checking out what
they had to offer.

I strongly encourage anyone who happens to stumble upon
this, to check out Chef Jono’s website:
http://www.chefjono.ca

He has many recipes posted on his website, and you can
contact him. He also does catering as a personal chef
for groups ranging from 2-20 people. Even more interesting,
he will cook WITH you if you like, so that there’s a
sense of involvement and so that you get to learn.
All of the stores that sell his sauces are also listed.