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Toast of TIFF!

08/28/2014 | 14:47 PM
We love the excitement that TIFF brings and this year, it's better than ever.

From August 28th to September 12th, each of our participating restaurants will be pouring a unique TIFF-inspired cocktail.  Follow us @OliverBonacini and tweet or Instagram a photo of your cocktail with #ToastofTIFF14 for a chance to enjoy one of two exclusive evenings as our guest:
Opening Night
You and a guest will enjoy dinner for two at Canoe at the chef’s rail, personally prepared by Executive Chef John Horne.  Sip on our cocktail "The King's Peach" as you watch the kitchen team in action.  Savour Chef Horne’s newest multi-course creation, Taste 60th Parallel, featuring ingredients from the Canadian North.  Next, it’s time to head to Roy Thomson Hall to view the world premiere of the opening night film, The Judge.  Wrap up the evening at the biggest bash in town, the Festival Opening Night Party, at Malaparte at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – the centre of all the action.
Closing Night   
Close the Festival with an exclusive O&B experience.  You and a guest will indulge in inspired French bistro fare by Chef Amanda Ray at Biff’s Bistro.  Start with a toast with "The French Connection" cocktail before savouring Chef Amanda Ray’s cuisine.  Allons-y!  You’re off to Roy Thomson Hall to be transported to Versailles in the closing night film, A Little Chaos.  Après, you move to Arcadian for the Closing Night Party, with food by O&B Events.  Fin!

Here are all the delicious cocktails.  Time to have a few!

Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Bannock - The Barberryan Invasions
Olmeca Tequila, Grand Marnier, Bar Lime, Strawberry Basil Juice, Muddled Strawberry

Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Biff's Bistro - The French Connection
Aperol, Beefeater Gin, Amaro Montenegro, Topped with Perrier-Jouët

Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Canoe - The King's Peach
Wiser's Legacy Whisky, Peach, Nectarine, Apricot & Cherry Bark, Vanilla Bitters

Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Canteen - Mr. Pink
Campo Viejo Rioja Rosé, Limoncello, Muddled Mint, Lemon, Lime, Topped with Soda

Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Jump - Maps to the Bars
Lot No. 40 Whisky, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Topped with Biff's Juicy Red


Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
Luma - The Oxford Riot
Beefeater 24 Gin, Fresh Apple Juice, Lemon Verbena, Cucumber, Ginger Bitters


Toast of TIFF Cocktails 2014
O&B Yonge & Front - Chariots & Fire
Absolut Vodka, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, Vanilla, Lime, Chili
Posted by Cindy | Post A Comment |

At O&B we love our mac and cheese. While it might seem like the most traditional of dishes, many of our restaurants offer their own unique spin on this common comfort food. At Canteen, Chef Michael Hay uses garganelli noodles, Parmesan, local cheese curds and double-smoked bacon lardons. Over at Bannock, we add a little green goodness to the dish with peas, broccoli and mustard greens.

This week I joined Sous Chef Vida Gavia in the O&B Bayview Village kitchen so she could teach me their twist on the classic recipe.

She begins by pouring her mac sauce (recipe below) into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Sous Chef Omar typically makes 80 litres of this sauce at least twice a week! Since it's essentially a Béchamel sauce, the restaurant also uses it on the Cheesy Pizza and Smoky Pizza, as well as a truffled version for the Poached Eggs & Ontario Asparagus served during weekend brunch.

Once the mac sauce begins to bubble, Chef Vida pours in a bit of chicken stock to loosen it up. She then adds three different blends of cheese: mozzarella, Niagara Gold and Swiss, as well as cheese curds - all sourced from Cheese Boutique. When it comes to this recipe, there's no skimping on the cheese!

An older version of Bayview's mac and cheese opted for Parmesan, Balderson cheddar and goat cheese. But there's something about the current cheese combination that just seems to work perfectly.

"The Niagara Gold is a little bit nutty in taste," says Chef Vida. "And the cheese curds give that gooey texture to the dish."

Mac & Cheese

After folding in the cheese, she brings it all to a boil, careful not to overboil in order to avoid thickening the cream too much. She then adds green peas and the pre-blanched macaroni noodles.

Ooey Gooey

After a quick toss and seasoning of salt to taste, the mac and cheese is ready to be poured out into a personal-sized casserole dish. The last step is to dust the top with crushed Goldfish crackers (the cheddar flavour, since obviously there's no such thing as too much cheese) before popping it under the broiler for a quick 10-20 seconds - just until the top is golden brown.

"The Goldfish aren't just a gimmick - the kids love it and they taste good too!" insists Chef de Cuisine Steven Kwon, who loves sneaking a bite or two of his kid's mac and cheese whenever they order it.

The final product is a deliciously creamy, oozy mac and cheese perfect for the kids and the young at heart. One of the restaurant's top-sellers, guests can choose to goose theirs up with double-smoked bacon, or even smoked salmon during weekend brunch. On Saturday nights, look out for baked lobster mac and cheese as part of the Surf & Turf dinner special. The kitchen is also happy to offer a gluten-free version of the dish, with a flour-free mac sauce made-to-order.

While Chef Steven will sometimes play around with the details of the mac and cheese recipe with Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh, he's confident the dish is immune from ever being dropped from the menu. It's as indispensable as the O&B Mushroom Soup.

Whether you choose to recreate our mac and cheese at home, or join us in the restaurant for the occasional indulgence, we hope this recipe evokes all the comforting sentiments the kid in all of us has grown to appreciate.

Mac & Cheese Final

Mac & Cheese Recipe (Serves 4-6)

Mac Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1L 35% cream
  • 0.8L 1% milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
Mac and Cheese Ingredients
  • 8 cups macaroni noodles, cooked
  • 1/4 cup cheese curds
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • 1/3 cup peas, cooked
  • 1 tbsp. Goldfish cracker crumbs
  • In a pot, melt butter. Add onions, celery, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Sweat until completely cooked. Add flour and cook the roux. Slowly add the cream, while working the roux. Add all of the cream and milk. Add the chicken stock.
  • Add Dijon and continue stirring constantly until all the flour is well cooked out.
  • Whisk in the Parmesan and cook out until the sauce is completely smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Add cooked macaroni noodles, cooked peas, cheese curds, and grated cheese to the sauce.
  • Sprinkle Goldfish crumbs and broil.
Posted by Rebecca | Post A Comment |

One of the best things about summer is sipping cocktails on a patio. With the hottest days of summer upon us, here's the full selection of summer cocktails from O&B Yonge & Front to quench your thirst.

O&B Yonge & Front - O&B Original Summer Cocktails
Dark & Stormy: made with Gosling’s dark rum, housemade balsamic, citrus shrub, finished with ginger beer.

O&B Yonge & Front - O&B Original Summer Cocktails
Moroccan Aviation - Beefeater gin infused with tangerine jam, Maraschino Originale Luxardo, Crème Yvette and fresh lemon, shaken with housemade Moroccan bitters.

O&B Yonge & Front - O&B Original Summer Cocktails
Our Saffron Caesar is unlike any other - saffron and basil-infused gin, horseradish-infused vodka, perfectly married with habanero and cilantro-infused BBQ sauce, fresh cucumber and salt bitters.

O&B Yonge & Front - O&B Original Summer Cocktails
Strawberry Basil Margarita - perfect for summer. Olmeca tequila is shaken with strawberry basil syrup, scented with salt bitters and garnished with a fried basil leaf.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Ed's Old Fashioned - housemade brown butter bourbon, cut with spiced orange syrup and house-spiced orange bitters, finished with orange zest.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
She'll Make You Blush - the drink, that is. Lamb’s spiced rum and Maraschino Originale Luxardo shaken with housemade lemon chili shrub, fresh lime, pineapple juice and grenadine.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
The Spooner - Beefeater gin and St-Germain muddled with fresh kumquats, topped with lemon tonic and fresh thyme.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Greyhound Smash - Absolut vodka, smashed grapefruit, agave syrup and lime, garnished with fresh mint.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Malibu Melon Mojito - Malibu rum shaken with fresh lime and crushed watermelon, wrapped with mint and cane sugar, topped with soda water.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Rosemary Gimlet - Beefeater gin shaken with citrus and rosemary cordial, finished with a fresh sprig of rosemary.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Southern Hemisphere - Olmeca tequila shaken with fresh lime, crushed watermelon and spiked with chili honey syrup, garnished with tarragon.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
O&B Summer Sangria - Absolut Hibiskus vodka with O&B blossom syrup, freshened with lemon juice and white cranberry juice, topped with Jacob’s Creek Moscato, garnished with sliced lemons and grapes.

O&B Yonge & Front - Summer Cocktails
Apricot's Pimm's Cup - Beefeater gin, apricot brandy and Pimm’s with apricot juice, pineapple juice and agave syrup, topped with Jacob’s Creek Moscato and garnished with sliced limes and a sprig of dill.

Posted by Cindy | Post A Comment |

Vegetarian Dishes at Canteen

08/08/2014 | 13:18 PM
Dandelion Salad
Dandelion Salad

Who knew that Michael Hay, O&B Canteen’s Chef de Cuisine, was once a vegan?

At the time, he was living in Ottawa and running a vegan co-operative anarchist kitchen that cooked for students under a pay-what-you-can philosophy. He couldn’t have been more than 20-years-old.

“I just decided I would jump in the deep end and make myself a vegan for x amount of time,” recalls Chef Michael. “I loved it.”

Truth be told, Chef Michael’s vegan lifestyle lasted just about four months –in other words, one university semester. He gave it all up for oysters when he found himself working at a French restaurant. Hey, who can blame him?

These days, Chef Michael will occasionally treat himself to a juicy steak or a seafood feast, most recently in the form of Taste Maritimes at Canoe. But for the most part, he and his wife Laura still maintain a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle when they cook at home, drawing inspiration from Indian, Korean and Chinese cooking, as well as a myriad of food blogs.

But Chef Michael's favourite way to come up with new recipes to use both at home and at Canteen is pretty simple.

“I go to the market, I buy a load of stuff and come home and decide what I’m going to do with it,” he says. “If you just have good, fresh ingredients and you’re hungry, and you care enough about yourself and other people to want to nourish them, then it’s pretty simple.”

This past spring, during a casual nosh on dandelion greens fresh from St. Lawrence Market, Chef Michael began thinking about what other ingredients might work well together for a Dandelion Salad on Canteen’s spring and summer menu. Riffing on a traditional strawberry spinach salad, he decided to combine dandelion greens with fresh strawberries tossed in honey and black pepper to add both sweetness and heat. He pitched in red quinoa and sunflower seeds for a little bit of extra crunch. Finally, he opted for ricotta salata instead of a standard goat cheese to slightly elevate the dish.

“I love salads that have a ton of stuff in them. I don’t like getting a bowl of greens with a little sprinkling of two or three things,” says Chef Michael. “I want my salads to be like a slaw: chunky and full of texture.”

Watermelon SaladWatermelon Salad

In the case of the Watermelon Salad, Chef Michael was influenced by the classic watermelon and feta salad and came up with a way to make it his own. Instead of feta, he decided to use creamy avocado, radish, fresh mint and jalapeño to add a little heat. The result is a bright, refreshing and simple summertime dish.

Vegetable Focaccia
Grilled Vegetable Focaccia with Corn Chowder

Looking for something between two slices of bread that’s still meat-free? Chef Michael’s Grilled Vegetable Focaccia is a delicious and hearty dish that will boost your energy without giving you that midday food coma. Bursting with grilled marinated vegetables, this sandwich is made extra delicious with a roasted onion hummus and lots of feta. Paired with your choice of soup, salad or fries, Chef Michael suggests opting for a bowl of the Corn Chowder with potato, coconut milk and fire-roasted corn.

Forbidden Rice Bowl
The Forbidden Rice Bowl (Photo: @celineannmarie)

Another new veggie-friendly creation is The Forbidden Rice Bowl with summer vegetables, shimeji mushrooms, avocado, poached egg and sunroot chips. Each mouthful offers a beautiful variety of flavours. This healthful dish is particularly popular at lunchtime or early on in the week when everyone is feeling a little bit guilty about what they ate over the weekend.

Raw Vegan Pad Thai
Raw Vegan Pad Thai

Guests have also been loving Chef Michael’s Raw Vegan Pad Thai, which combines root vegetable noodles with Thai vinaigrette, peanuts, Thai basil and red chilies. This dish is vegan and gluten-free, to boot!

To his credit, Chef Michael is constantly coming up with creative ways to nourish our guests without the help of gluten. In fact, he gave up eating gluten for a month to put himself in the mindset of our gluten-free guests. Consequently, when guests come into the restaurant and ask about gluten-free options, servers are not scrambling to the kitchen to find out what accommodations can be made. There are a dozen or so dishes on the current menu that are inherently gluten-free, and another handful that can be easily modified to become gluten-free.

As fall creeps up around the corner, Chef Michael is already conceptualizing a variety of vegetarian dishes suitable for the cold weather. Expect to see a little bit more a spice, stews and dishes that are baked. A veggie burger based in chickpeas and flaxseed is in the works, along with a beet salad that incorporates Mexican spices and chocolate.

With so many delicious-sounding options on the horizon, we couldn’t be more excited to go meatless.  

Posted by Rebecca | Post A Comment |

Summer Cocktails at Canoe

07/22/2014 | 09:35 AM
Well, we've officially entered the dog days of summer. And what better way to cool off after a long day at the office than with one of Canoe's refreshing summer cocktails? We spoke to bar manager Michael Bracegirdle about the stories behind five of his new seasonally inspired concoctions, which represent some of the finest ingredients from Ontario as well as the rest of Canada.

Haskap Sour

Representing the East Coast of Canada is The Haskap Sour, which highlights Nova Scotia's haskap berry. The haskap originated from Japan and was first introduced to Canada in 1967. Part of the honeysuckle family, the haskap is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium.

Since bourbon is classically used within the sour, Bracegirdle chose Bulleit, which contains a high content of rye for bourbon. The sour is rounded out by egg white, which "gives the cocktail a more luscious texture and pushes through the sweetness from the berries and spirit," says Bracegirdle.

"The sour is a perfect cocktail for the summer," says Bracegirdle. "It goes well with salty food as well as fresh-tasting dishes."

Spicy Peach

Mixing Dillon's Method 95 vodka and rose gin with Tromba Blanco tequila, screech rum, ginger and peach, the Spicy Peach is inspired by a traditional boozy Long Island Iced Tea.

"This cocktail takes its roots in the classic, but has traveled far away in terms of its flavour profile," says Bracegirdle. "We've used Thomas Lavers ginger beer to add spiciness and locality. The peach smooths out the booze and spicy ginger, and allows for this punch to be a party starter. Who doesn't love an Ontario peach in the summer?"

Arctic Summer

Beat the heat with an Arctic Summer, which features Arctic rose, Tito's vodka, Pisco brandy and citrus flavours. This cocktail perfectly marries north (Arctic rose, brought in from northern Quebec by Société-Orignal) with south (Tito's vodka from Austin, Texas; Pisco brandy from South America).

"We take the dried rose and brew it like tea, turning it into a simple syrup," explains Bracegidle. "The blossom, in its dry state, is also broken up and incorporated into the salt rim. The result is a libation that looks and drinks like a margarita."

The Muskokan
Can't get away to a cottage this weekend? Enjoy a taste of Georgian Bay with The Muskokan, which puts the spotlight on Georgian Bay gin. This gin's recipe includes wild Georgian Bay juniper, Italian juniper, Egyptian coriander, orange peel from Tuscany and lemon peel from California, among a few other botanicals. Using water from Ontario's Springwater Township, this product aims to embody everything Ontarians love about cottage country: purity, balance and relaxation.

"Georgian Bay gin is brand new to the market. It gives this drink a splash of alcohol in its end note," says Bracegirdle.

"The cocktail's name completely describes the place that we think this drink will take you. It's a summer-style blueberry lemonade with savoury notes of nutmeg sprinkled on top."

Cherry Bomb

The last Canadian-inspired summer cocktail is the potent Cherry Bomb, which takes sweet Collingwood rye and balances it out with Aperol, cherry Luxardo, grapefruit, cranberry and muddled cherries.

"Collingwood rye has a built-in sweetness from the maplewood barrels used to aged it," says Bracegirdle. "The Aperol balances its own sweetness of orange with more bitter notes. The cherry Luxardo works in a similar way, but with cherry being on the sweeter side. We mix grapefruit and cranberry with a couple of muddled cherries, which continues the balancing act while maintaining a colour similar to that of a sour cherry. This cocktail, too, has a surprising amount of alcohol in it - hence the 'bomb'."

Interested in trying these cocktails out for yourself? Join us at the Canoe bar during the week and treat yourself to a sip while soaking in the vibe. Between the fresh local flavours and priceless Lake Ontario and sunset views, you might almost feel as though you've brought the cottage to the city. Almost.

Click here (PDF) to browse our full cocktail menu.

Photos by Cindy La
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