sipping through vermont
By this point, you know I like to enjoy a local brew or two whenever I’m visiting somewhere new. So many craft beer enthusiasts told me that I NEEDED to try Heady Topper from the Alchemist. I was excited about it! I was happy to have been able to have a delicious Heady Topper on a patio with dinner one night, but the actual brewery itself was closed on Sunday and Monday when we were in the area, what a bummer. It’ll have to be a stop for next time. (For those who don’t know, Heady Topper is a double India Pale Ale brewed in Stowe, it’s a whopping 8% but still goes down smooth with hints of citrus. It was voted the 4th best beer in the world this year by Beer Advocate, that’s a pretty big deal).
My husband is a huge foodie. He watches documentaries on food factories, popular authentic stops and events. When we booked our Vermont trip one of the first things he asked me is if we could stop by the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. I thought it would be a little hokey, I didn’t know what to expect, but of course I said we could check it out.
PEC : Perfect Spring Getaway
Prince Edward County is the latest getaway trend for us city folk. You have your choice of wineries, breweries, markets and hey, Countylicious is even starting soon! (April 6-29, countylicious.com).
About a two and a half hour drive from Toronto (and a stop at the giant Apple) later, we pulled up to the beautiful Hayes Inn. It’s a beautiful grand colonial home that was built in 1838 and perfectly located. A short drive away will get you to Waupoo’s, Sandbank Provincial Park and downtown Picton. Oh, and did I mention the delicious locally sourced food that gets served up for breakfast? I’ve had everything from home made poptarts (I still dream about them) to Croque Madame’s. Also, full disclosure, the Inn may or may not be owned by one of my very best and talented friends. Who may or may not also own this blog. Anyway.
I love weekend getaways, I love travelling anywhere at any time, but sometimes my bank account doesn’t. I always try to find the best deals, track flight prices or look for promotions to ease my travel itch!
This is why one of my very favourite sites is TravelZoo.ca. I’ve signed up for their newsletter that I receive every Wednesday and I always really look forward to it. I’ve gotten a little more into wine recently and a Niagara on the Lake stay deal caught my eye. It was at the Pillar and Post Inn which is owned by Vintage Hotels. If you’re a frequent reader, you saw a few posts back that I had high tea at the Prince of Wales hotel which is also owned by Vintage Hotels, so I knew the quality would be great.
I booked the deal for a Saturday night ($289, and you pay a resort fee of $15 per night at checkout. If you stay on a weeknight its $219). The nightly rate seems like a deal enough but this package included a 3 course meal for two at the CAA 4 diamond award winner Cannery restaurant attached to the Inn, winery passes and chocolate tasting at Reif Estate, two passes for an ice wine tasting at The Ice House winery, and some culinary samplings and product discounts at the NEOB lavender farm. Wow, right?
“We pour more beer in Canada than anybody else!” Carolyn Kerr said, leaning across the table so we could hear her over the DJ. “Is that true? Because I’m going to write about it!” I said, sipping my Rainhard Armed N Citra. “Oh, it’s totally true!” Carolyn Kerr is the day manager for the newest Craft Beer Market to pop up in Canada. This time it was on the east coast, near the financial district in downtown Toronto. “We have two locations in Calgary, one in Ottawa, Vancouver, and Edmonton…” she went on. Carolyn even picked up everything and moved from the Calgary location to run the Toronto restaurant/brew pub. “We’ve been training since July, feels good to finally be open”.
We thought the same. My friend Marc and I were thrilled to get an invite to check out Craft Beer Market before it officially opens to the public next week. Upon arrival we were told they have over 160 beers on tap (A manager at the door told me 75% of them are from local Ontario breweries, bonus points). The largest selection to choose from was on the main floor, pipes shot down from the ceiling into the large circular bar below, multiple bartenders buzzing away, filling pints and giving out recommendations.
Bread and beer are definitely on my top 5 favourite things list. I do love my carbs. If you can relate, Muskoka Brewery, Ace Breads and Loblaws teaming up for a baking with beer class might make your mouth water.
The classes are taking place in Loblaws all over the GTA, with more dates being added in 2018.
RECIPE AT THE END!
Real Love for Fake Taco
Foodora Toronto hosts Good Food Tour events every once in a while, and I was lucky enough to score an invite to their first bite chef series starring Aminah Haghighi of Fake Taco.
I was intrigued by the name, I mean, I love REAL tacos but what’s a fake taco? Aminah explained that she loved to have fun with her creations and they weren’t really what you would call an ‘authentic’ Mexican dish. She throws ingredients together she thinks will complement each other and makes it work, and while most authentic dishes contain meat and dairy products, hers were 100% vegan.
I didn’t understand. What about the cheese? What about the pulled pork, steak or chicken? What about the sour cream in the dip!? Would this be something I would be into? (Spoiler alert: YES).
Walking in a Winter Village Wonderland
I’m not a fan of winter. I hate being cold, I hate taking the delayed public transit and I hate walking around in soggy, slushy boots. To keep my spirits up, I usually try to participate in some local winter activities to get out of my hibernation funk.
This holiday week, Katie and I were able to make time for each other to check out the Winter Village at Evergreen Brickworks. Our original goal was to dust off our old skates and glide a few circles around the picturesque make-shift rink they had set up. There were beautiful pine trees in the middle of the ice and delicate strings of lights hanging over the crowd, I’m sure it would set the scene for romance if you were to attend with a date at night.
Our plan was perfect apart from the fact that we (and our skates) were a bit rusty. For the less than 20 minutes we were out there, we had a good time. Mainly laughing at ourselves trying to keep upright or how much everything seemed to hurt. Maybe a good goal to set for ourselves in the New Year would be to brush up on our skating skills – but we’ll get back to you on that one.
After a quick skate, we decided to treat ourselves to some delicious spiked apple cider to warm up ($7).Speaking of warming up; the outdoor market place had multiple fire pits you could take a break around. We ended up snagging one fire pit to ourselves, which was nice and surprising, maybe it was the holidays or the time of day we attended (we were there from 12-2:30). If boozy apple cider isn’t for you there was also a selection of craft beer, hot chocolate, coffee and tea.
After catching up around the fire with a beautiful winter scene of snow covered trees and vintage brick buildings behind us, our grumbling stomachs decided it was time to see what the food trucks had to offer. Katie’s eye was caught by Heirloom’s menu of a pulled duck sandwich and I stuck to the same truck but ordered their fried butter chicken sandwich ($10 a sandwich)….(Check them out on twitter at @HeirloomToronto) It was quick and yummy and the perfect way to end our visit. If Heirloom’s doesn’t sound like your favourite choice, there was a French fry station, Los Vietnamita (Vietnamese – Mexican fusion), Indian Street Food Co Inc, Chorizo’s La Abuela (traditional Mexican) and a few more to choose from. There is something for everybody!
We took a walk around the Etsy market, but it didn’t look like all the store fronts were open, to be fair it was still technically the holidays so they may have taken the day off. We saw some handmade, 100% organic beauty products, baked goods (I wanted to grab some so badly, but I was eating a little too much junk over the Christmas break), some knitted alpaca sweaters, mitts, hats and scarves and what looked to be like graffiti artists.
We had fun and I would say that it’s definitely worth the trek. It’s great for families, dates or even just some girl time to catch up. Want to attend? Well, you’re in luck; it’s on until February 28th. (Dec 26- Jan 8 hours: Weekdays & Weekends 11am-6pm, Jan 9-Feb 28 open on weekends only from 11am-6pm)
Things to note: Free entry, skates available for rent, paid parking available but there is also a free shuttle (departs from corner of Erindale Ave & Broadview 7 days a week) or TTC service on the 28 Bayview South bus from Davisville Station.
Bundle up and have some fun at the #WinterVillageTO !
Until next event!
Toronto Baker's Market a Real Treat
How have I never heard of the Toronto Baker’s Market before?! I saw an ad for it by chance while scrolling through Instagram earlier this weekend and knew I had to go! I have such a sweet tooth and the idea of over 25 vendors (and choices) at the event sounded like my kind of Sunday.
It took place on the 2nd floor of the Ralph Thornton Community Center on Queen Street East, just follow the smell of fresh baked goods up the stairs.
What I LOVE about this event is that it was started by two sisters, Kathleen & Gillian Cook, who had a common love of sweets and treats and wanted to find a way to bring enthusiastic bakers together for a giant bake sale. During the year they have had events take place in both the East and West ends of the city. I’m late to the game here and was told this would be the last market of 2016. (Here’s hoping for more in 2017, I mean, REALLY hoping!)
I was really impressed by everyone’s creations! You could really tell they were carefully made, and made with love. My boyfriend decided to grab a late breakfast with his coffee and bought a really delicious maple glazed donut topped with bacon. It was moist, not too heavy and had the perfect amount of glaze. I think it took a lot of will power from my boyfriend to even let me have a bite! (They also had S’mores & Eggnog glazed available!)
The donuts were made by Jiten Glover, the Founder of ‘Dipped Donuts’, he told me he operates out of his house and this is his second time attending the Baker’s Market. I think it’s really great for bakers that have a side business like this or bake as a hobby to have such a great outlet to sell their goodies! I may have never heard of him otherwise! For more information on Dipped Donuts, check out www.DippedDonuts.com.
Something that caught my eye was a beautiful heart shaped mousse cake from ‘Dessertique’s’. It was covered in a bright red mirror glaze, soft on the inside and had a little layer of black currant (aka my weakness). It really was beautifully done, it looked like art! It reminded me of a giant cinnamon heart! They have recently opened up shop in Vaughan, but baker Nika Rahimova who works with them, told me she was planning on having a Toronto location soon. It’s good news for us city folk, but maybe not for my waistline. I could really see her creations being popular at weddings or other formal events. Dessertique’s website is not currently up and running, but they do have a Facebook page if you wanted to learn more about their creations! Also be sure to check out Nika herself at @macaroonnika on social media, she is really very talented.
Another fun item we purchased were multicolored meringue‘s from Blossom Bakery which can be found all over the GTA and online at www.BlossomBakery.ca .I couldn’t believe how light and delicious they were while being vegan and gluten free at the same time! (OK, I’m a believer now!) I regret not buying more!
Monkey Butter was also for sale at the market! I was very excited to try it since I have seen them all over social media and have heard great things. They have many different flavours and peanut butter combinations to choose from. They are made in small batches with all natural ingredients so you can feel good about this purchase. Also, have amazing flavours like chocolate banana, gingerbread and maple bacon! After sampling and much deliberation, I went with the coconut flavour. Can’t wait to try this on French toast next weekend! Be sure to visit them on social media at @MonkeyButterPB or on their website www.MonkeyButterPB.com.
Other honourable mentions are Anna Liu and her Quinoa Pecan Brittle (again, who knew gluten free, vegan, and quinoa based brittle no less could be so delicious !?) and proceeds of the brittle were going to help a women ‘shelter, what a win –win! Helping those in need AND getting a tasty treat. Sadly, they didn’t have a website or social media handle, but I’ll include a picture of the smiling duo.
Last but not least, I’ll say enjoyed Craigs’ Cookies. I bought a chocolate chip cookie with a piece of Terry’s Chocolate Orange in it! Oh baby, oh baby! (Surprisingly, not vegan or gluten free! Ha!) He is another baker that does this in his spare time and he can be found online at @CraigsCookies .
All in all, the Toronto Baker’s Market was so much fun, I’m sad I didn’t know about it until now and some of the baker’s I spoke to were unsure if it was going to operate into 2017. I for one REALLY hope it does, it makes a great afternoon out and I really loved learning more about local bakeries or those who just genuinely love creating out of their house on the side. I think it’s a win for the customers and the bakers!
To learn more about the Toronto Baker’s Market, and keep an eye on their next event (fingers crossed) check them out online at www.TorontoBakersMarket.com. If you have a knack for making baked goods or own a bakery, you can even apply to join in on their next market... and please do, I really want to try your specialities! YUM!
Until next event!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.