All posts by newcruser

Top 5 Places for St. Patrick’s Day Fun

As you may remember it, St Patrick’s Day is a day full of lineups, broken plans, missed calls and drunken shenanigans every March 17th. Start planning now, or avoid it altogether.

If you’re the planner, you know that  part of any worthwhile celebration is the possibility of a few too many “celebratory” drinks. Here’s where you can enjoy that possibility guilt free this Thursday:

#5 Irish Embassy, 49 Yonge Street.

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Serving overpriced pints and live music all day starting at 11am.

#4 The Brunswick House, 481 Bloor Street.

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The call of nostalgia alone makes The Brunny a top destination. This is their last month in business. Say goodbye to a Toronto landmark.
Ticket required

#3 Dubin Calling, 250 Adelaide Street.

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This just opened/re-located party pub is sure to be a hot spot. Don’t expect anything authentic, just a really good time.

#2 Polson Pier/Cabana, 20 Polson Street.

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If you like your shamrocks blinged out, this is your spot. Happening in a massive tent, bikini clad bottle service is within the realm of possibility: DJs, bands, dancers, overall debauchery.
Ticket required

#1 Ceili Cottage, 1301 Queen Street East.

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This is the real thing: Irish dancing, live music, authentic food and an outdoor tent that has its own name “The Marquee”. Leave work early to get into this one.

Want updates so you’re not left out in the cold? Join the Facebook event and tag who will be your Irish playmates for the day!

Toronto Has A Gaming Street

Another winter weekend.

Sure, you can avoid the cold and chill with Netflix, but getting out is what beats those winter blues.

Doing-things-while-drinking” is on the rise in Toronto, and College Street is where “anyone can play” indoor gaming is at. Get out of your home, get out of the cold, and game the blues away while swigging back a few.

4 College Street Gaming Bars:

#1 Track and Field: 860 College Street.

Toronto’s first “lawn games bar” gives you the chance to sip on local brews (tip: Sweetgrass Golden Ale), as you battle out Bocce Ball, Shuffle Board and Crokinole. Wing it or play by the House Rules.

#2 Nightowl: 647 College Street.

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Get off your bar seat to try your hands at Pinball, Foosball or Big Buck Hunter in the middle of Little Italy.

#3 BLND Tiger: 559 College Street.

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When entering what seems like a Little Italy dance cave, you may never guess games lurk about the dark. Take a break from bumpin’ and grindin’ to find the pool and foosball tables.

#4 Snakes and Lattes:  489 College Street.

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Board games are back in a big way. 7,500 square feet to house 1,300 board games big! TIP: Tap into staff knowledge to find your perfect game.

BONUS: Host your own games night, where friends settle the rich Isle of Catan over drinks.

6 ways Food Truck Fest Ontario has improved

Enduring long lines for mouthgasmic food truck creations at last year’s Food Truck Fest Ontario while intoxicating aromas filled the air, resulted in your pallet moistening and your stomach sending the signal to your brain “I am hangry!”

FTFO has added 10 more trucks (31 in total) and implemented $6 sample menus so you can try more dishes with shorter lines.

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 Try a “Captain Crunch Fish Taco” from The Food Dudes for $6 at Food Truck Fest Ontario

6 ways FTFO has improved:

1. New Venue: Moving from Ontario Places’ asphalt to the bigger grass fields of Downsview Park will make for a more comfortable day. You will have the ability to lay down your own blanket to have a picnic with your foodie crew. Downsview Park is easily accessible by TTC and car. Parking is a steal at $10 compared to $25 at Ontario Place.

Known as a prominent festival venue, Downsview Park hosted AC/DC earlier this summer, and is world famous for hosting The Rolling Stones headlined SARSstock. FTFO will be at the same spot, so imagine FTFO as Foodchella- a Coachcella for food!

2. Live Entertainment: Keep an eye and an ear for buskers!

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MaracaTall marching stilt band

3. More Food options: Vegans got snubbed last year. This year there will be a plentiful amount  of Rawesome options!

4. Be a Foodie Judge: A new Golden Fork champion is guaranteed, as last year’s winner Southern Smoke will not be at this year’s FTFO. Your vote will decide who goes home with this conspicuous trophy!

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 The Golden Fork Trophy awarded to the peoples favourite food truck

 

5.  Sunday Funday… WINE NOT? In addition to a cold beer, you will have the option to pair your food with an organic red blend that is also gluten free, or a white blend.

6. Shop the Artisan Market: You will leave FTFO with a full belly no doubt, but why not arrive home with some fresh produce for your fridge? In addition to some farmer stalls, there will also be artisans selling custom art pieces, postcards and more!

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Go home with fresh local produce form the Artisan Market

10 Tips for Food Truck Fest Ontario

With the Pan Am games over, Summer 2015 has already been a memorable one in the 6ix. Sadly, all good things must end. However, don’t fret quite yet- The second edition of Food Truck Festival Ontario is still upon us.

 

To prepare you and your foodstar friends for the food truck event of the year, here’s our tips to make the most of this summer ending festival at Downsview Park:

1. Pace yourself: With 30+ food trucks at your disposal, you don’t want to be in a food coma after visiting only two trucks. Share your dishes with friends or stick to the $6 sample sizes. View menus.

2. Come Prepared: FTFO is your chance to share memories with those you spent the summer with. Make the most of it by bringing a blanket to enjoy the lush grass fields of Downsview Park and have one last summer picnic with your foodie crew.

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Enjoy the lush grass fields of Downsview Park with your foodie crew

3. Enrol in an Eating Contest: Or at least enrol a friend.  All you can eat Funnel Cake for 5 minutes! Enrol at the Funnel Cake Express truck. Contest starts at 3pm.

4. Be a Foodie Judge: The conspicuous Golden Fork Trophy can’t be awarded without your vote. Vote for your favourite truck to help decide which one becomes the peoples champion!

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The Golden Fork Trophy awarded to the peoples favourite food truck

5.  Dolla-Dolla Bills: Food Trucks and the Drinks Garden accept cash only. Come with cash to save time lining up at the ATM, and their pesky service fees.

6. #HashTagIt: Share your shots on Instagram and see what everyone else is eating! Official hashtags: #FTFO  #FoodPornON

7.  Mouthgasmic Lines: Foodies like you will clamour around select trucks for much sought after dishes. The mouthgasm will be worth the wait, so grab a friend and share your best summer stories while you wait.

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Tdots Naansense’s chipotle chicken on garlic naan: $6 at Food Truck Fest Ontario

8.  Kidzone kids are free! They will have fun with the corn maze, chalk wall and hula hoop workshop.

9.  Getting there: Driving and TTC directions here. Onsite parking is free!

10. Funday: With a host of side activities, be on the lookout for a stilt marching band!

Becoming a Foodie

Seems that each week, a new friend becomes a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’. Talking about the latest greatest food creation or restaurant.

They romance the idea of culinary adventure, making deep fried squid ink infused beef cheek ravioli topped with currywurst sound irresistible. Tagging along with this friend to a new resto gets expensive when you add in a $14 craft cocktail, tax and tip. So how to explore new cuisine without committing a full evening and a $100 credit card transaction to something you’re not sure you will enjoy?

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Because of the lesser amount of time and money required to indulge in food truck offerings, they offer a practical and economical way to explore different dishes and new tastes. Authenticity and creativity at an affordable price is what they offer. Menus are not as extensive as a restaurant’s, but when you bring 31 trucks together, as there will be at Food Truck Fest Ontario, the options for new tastes becomes endless!

 

naanTdot’s  Naansense’s Chipotle Chicken (diced tomatoes, cilantro, chipotle sour cream drizzle, garlic naan)

 

wickedCowboyX-poutineWickedly Sinful’s: CowboyX Poutine (steak, bacon, deep fried maple cookie, fried egg, hot sauce)

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Asian fried rice ballsMe.n.u.’s Angry Birds (deep fried riceballs stuffed with singaporean chicken, caramelized onion, shitaki mushrooms and mozzarella, dressed with spicy pineapple relish and hoisin sauce)

 

SMOKED CHICKEN WINGSFit to Grill’s Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings

Maybe the culinary adventure of a food truck festival will turn you into a foodie, maybe it won’t, either way you’re going to have fun eating your way into a food coma at an affordable price, as all trucks will have $6 sample menus! Grab your ticket to Food Truck Festival Ontario 2015 here.

RAWESOME options at food truck fest ontario

The first rule of joining Vegan Club is to tell everyone.

I’m sure your Vegan friend has told you on more than one occasion, that they are, in fact, a Vegan.

When thinking about the limited options of where you can bring that friend to eat, you probably don’t think of food trucks, but that’s where the options are growing. Of the 31 unique food trucks going to Food Truck Festival Ontario,  8 will have “rawesome” vegan options, including the new ALL vegan truck Raw On Location.

 

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all vegan food truck “Raw On Location”

If you’re curious to try the vibrant flavours of their mouthgasmic wild mushroom with eggplant bacon burger, don’t worry, they’re not going to try to covert you to Veganism in the processs. “We are not trying to convert anyone; we are just providing another gastronomic option for people in Toronto,” says owner Claudia Gaviria.

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eggplant bacon

Claudia started her Vegan journey at St. Lawrence Market with CrudaCafé before launching Raw on Location. “It is nice to be outside and be in the open. Having the freedom of reaching more people,” says Claudia about being a food truck owner.

Raw On Location’s Vegan menu for Food Truck Fest Ontario

-Raw tacos with guacamole, chipotle, salsa and refried beans.

-Wild mushroom Canadian burger with eggplant bacon.

-Strawberry vegan cheesecake, using fermented cashews and lemon.

 

Other Vegan Options at Food Truck Fest Ontario

Blazin Cajun: Vegan gumbo over rice.

Koi: Thai sweet chili fried tofu wrap.

CORNehCOPIA:  Hand dipped vegan corn dogs and corn in a cup.

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TdotsNaansence: Spinach and chickpea on naan.

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Chimney Stax: Sweet Stax.

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Sweet Spot: Assorted sorbets.

Dolcella Gelato: sorbetto truffle with fresh strawberry compote filling.

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So gather your friends, Vegan or not, there will be something for everyone, including an all local farmers market. Not only do you get to fill up your belly with delicious food truck eats all day, but also your fridge!

WHICH FOOD TRUCK WILL GET YOUR VOTE AT FTFO?

Standing at over three feet tall, its presence commands attention. No, it is not Justin Bieber, or Dr. Evil’s mini-me. It is the Golden Fork Trophy. The award for the people’s favourite food truck at Food Truck Fest Ontario. That’s right- You, the food fan, get to vote the winner of this precious trophy!

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The inspiration for the design comes from the plastic fork synonymous with food truck eating. The trophy gives food truck vendors additional motivation to put forth their very best food creations, some of which are debuted at FTFO for the very first time.

Introduced last year-at the inaugural FTFO, Hamilton’s Southern Smoke took home the trophy as the people’s choice champion by offering mouth-watering Beef Brisket Melt, Fastest Chicken in the South and Redneck Poutine (which was birthed at FTFO).

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Owner Mike Pitton described winning the Golden Fork Trophy as an “Amazing feeling”. “A little truck from Hamilton winning a competition against bigger food trucks from Toronto”.

 

 

 

 

Armed with a 800 pound cooker, Mike takes pride not using gas to make any of their food items. “What sets us apart from other food truck is our cooking process. We use split wood on our competition cooker as opposed to using gas and propane. This gives our meals the natural smoky taste our consumers love”.

Mike also praised Food Truck Festival Ontario saying that moving forward, FTFO set a benchmark for our expectations participating in food events”.

 

Other food truck owners echo Mike’s view:

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“What sets FTFO apart from other food festivals is the way they promote the festival. They do activations with food trucks around Toronto and are very active on social media. They treat it like it’s a music festival, which fuels our anticipation”, says Bryan Siu-Chong, Co-owner of Me.n.u Food Truck.

 

 

 

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Reuben Salonga, Co-owner of Luchador Food Truck says  There are higher expectations that comes with FTFO because it attracts some of the best food trucks in Ontario, which are usually the best situations because it pushes us to make great food stuff”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has Southern Smoke done with the trophy?

Mike tells the story of bringing the trophy on the truck for five weeks after FTFO. He even thought of turning it into an emblem. However, since they have a new restaurant (Southern Smoke Barbeque House), they decided to display the trophy there.

With Southern Smoke missing this year’s festival due to a prior commitment, the battle for the Golden Fork Trophy will be an interesting one.

 

Who will win this year’s Golden Fork?

Last year, FTFO hosted 21 food trucks. This year, there will be 31. With increased competition, trucks are already implementing their plans to win:

 

“Last year, we weren’t fully prepared for the amount of people that attended the festival. We ran out of food quickly and as a result, we had to turn away a number of food lovers. But this year, we know what to expect and we plan to introduce some new food items. Me.n.u wants to win the Golden Fork Trophy”, says Bryan.

 

Reuben says Luchador is already prepared with a new menu item: “We have made preparations to adapt to the requirements of FTFO by serving smaller portions prized at $6. In addition, we are going to introduce new food items for the food lovers, one of them is Dragon Shrimp Tacos, tantalized in orange ginger sauce”.

 

—–>Which food truck do you think will lift the Golden Fork Trophy on September 27, 2015?

Poutine is Changing Toronto’s Brunch Game

Tired of ordering the same old egg dish for brunch? Looking to try something new to make brunch exciting again? Move over eggs benny, breakfast poutine is on the menu!

 

Top 3 breakfast poutines:

1. Come and Get It:  676 Queen Street West.

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm.

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Maple bacon, poached egg, hollandaise sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese curds on top of crispy fries. This poutine will bring you back to life after last night and power you through the rest of your day.

 

2. Bacon Nation: 170 Spadina Ave and Food Truck around the GTA.

Restaurant opens 9am daily.

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This large portioned poutine comes with a sunny side up egg so you can break the yolk and mix it into breakfast poutine heaven for only $8.

 

3. The Egg Man Food Truck: Downtown Toronto.

Breakfast: Service starts at 7am. Find them here.

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This poutine is filled with all of your breakfast favs: tater tots, bacon, sausage AND peameal bacon topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and fresh herbs.

Combining your favourite weekend activity with your favourite guilty pleasure (Boozy Brunch ideas) makes for a winning weekend.

Leave your winning breakfast poutine stories below.

4 Pairings to try at CraveTO

CraveTO is Friday, and with 14 local food and drink stations to choose from, where to start? Behold: Drink and Food Pairings of CraveTO!

 

1. The Definitive Beer and Chip Combo

Mill Street 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager with Junked Food Co’s Doritos Smash Bag.

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Let the light floral citrus aroma of 100th Meridian bring out the familiar flavours of this walking taco bag filled with cheddar, taco sauce, sour cream, jalapeno, pickles, tomatoes and lettuce.

 

2. Cider with Spice and Everything’s Nice

Brickworks Batch 1904 Cider with Kheema Pav from Bombay Street Food.

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Pair 1904, a UK style dry, tart cider, made with handpicked heritage apples with the mouth-watering KheemaPav from Bombay Street Food. 1904 will cut through those spicy Bombay flavours.

 

3. Chocoholics Delight

Muddy York’s Porter with Chimney Stax’ Chimney Duster.

This Porter boasts notes of chocolate, roasted marshmallow and a background of wood smoke. Pair with a Chimney Duster as a lively treat to awaken your chocolate tooth.

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4. The Odd Couple 

Nickel Brook’s Headstock IPA with Butter Chicken Mac & Cheese from TDots Naansense.

Pair the citrus and pine flavours of Headstock IPA to enhance the diversified flavors of the Mac & Cheese to experience an old classic like you never have before.

Headstock (1)Naansense (1)

Try out these pairings, but don’t forget to experiment with pairings of your own. Not sure what to drink with your Oyster Boy shucked in-front of you oysters? Ask the staff for recommendations. Food and drink specialists will be at your fingertips all night! Gain their expert opinions to find your winning pair.

Cheers and Bon Appetite!

Skip the Line At Uncle Tetsu!

By now, you or someone you know has waited in line to try Uncle Tetsu’s fresh cheesecake.

Was it worth the effort? Maybe it WAS amazing, but you do NOT have the patience or time to line up for it. No more lines just for a cheesecake!!

Find Japanese cheesecake lineup free!

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Do not let the Uncle’s cuteness and charm fool you

They have a smooth schedule to give the illusion of an always busy storefront. According to interviews with the Uncle himself, he says he can only make twelve cheesecakes every 45 minutes, and they must be inspected for quality before it reaches you. So what this means is there will almost always be a line up, not solely because of the hype, but because Uncle intentionally creates one through a slow supply.

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What Toronto foodies are saying

Reviews have been  interesting because half claim it tastes incredible coming right off the oven (duh), but the other half claim it tastes even more incredible when it has been sitting in the fridge for a few hours (the texture is more dense and the cream cheese is much more prominent after the cool down).

History of Japanese cheesecake in Toronto

Here’s where the game changes: Uncle Tetsu is NOT the only place where you can purchase a fluffy, slightly cheesy Japanese cheesecake in Toronto.

In fact, they’ve been around for quite some time now. Of course, they’re not served freshly baked and hot like Uncle Tetsu, but not everyone can gobble down a cheesecake in one sitting, some of it HAS to go in the fridge.

Skip the Uncle’s lineup and go here:

1. Bakery Nakamura3160 Avenue Steeles E, Markham.

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This bakery claims to be the first Japanese bakery in Toronto.

Conveniently located across the border between Toronto and Markham. Like Uncle Tetsu, everything is made from scratch everyday in an open-kitchen concept that lets everyone see whether or not hairnets are worn during the creation. They have a range of different cakes available, and the Japanese cheesecake is one. This bakery has been around since 1993, they must be doing something right.

2. T&T Supermarket Bakery: All over the GTA.

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T&T’s bakery section has a vast variety of Asian baked goods and Japanese Cheesecake is one of them.

They might not be as fresh as Uncle Tetsu’s, but when half the reviews online say its better cold, does it make any difference? If you are a true Uncle Tetsu fan, you might be disappointed to know that the Toronto location has a limited selection of flavours. Well,  T&T has flavours ranging from taro to green tea! You can also purchase a frozen version of  Japanese Cheesecake called Castella. You can spend time browsing authentic Asian groceries rather than standing in line next time you crave Japanese cheesecake.

3. Ding Dong Bakery and Cafe: 321 Spadina Ave.

Don’t let the dingy exterior and interior of this bakery throw you off, take a chance and walk inside to immerse yourself in the aroma of delicious baked goods. Don’t get distracted because you are here to get that Cheesecake! You want the full satisfaction of not having to line up, so set the timer on your phone, screenshot it, and upload it on Instagram along with the cheesecake you purchase.

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Let your friends know you have better things to do than wait in a lineup for cheesecake! And if all else fails, you can always try to make your own.