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We're excited that BizBash has named Malaparte the Best Rooftop Space for Meetings and Events in North America and Arcadian the Best Ballroom in Canada in their Event Style Awards.

Congratulations to our Oliver & Bonacini Events team!

Photos: Danny Linossi

Arcadian - Best Ballroom in Canada

Arcadian Court - Gatsy Gala
Photo: Garrison McArthur Photographers

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Ah, Italian food. Is there anything more pleasurable than sitting down with a glass of Chianti and tucking into a bowl of fresh, handmade pasta or a crispy thin-crust Neapolitan pizza? But we all know that regional Italian cusine goes much further than pizza and pasta. From soups and salads to grilled meats and fish, there are thousands of recipes rooted in this ancient art of cooking.

To honour this rustic style of Italian cooking, O&B Oakville is celebrating with a prix fixe event called Cucina. Cucina, which means "kitchen" in Italian, offers a special two course menu between October 25th and November 24th. At $18 for lunch and $28 for dinner, it not only offers great value, but introduces a variety of artfully crafted dishes that we might not otherwise get to try.

Char-Grilled Octopus Salad

Arugula Salad
Arugula, Escarole and Endive Salad

Arancini Arancini di Riso

Chef de Cuisine Matthew Foote's appetizers range from traditional Minestrone Soup with pulled chicken, root vegetables, Parmesan and pastina to the more adventurous Char-Grilled Octopus Salad with roasted potatoes, green olives and preserved lemon aioli. The Arugula, Escarole & Endive Salad is simple, but the element of Grana Padano cheese adds a bit of a bite. Arancini di Riso features crispy risotto balls stuffed with Fontina, which packs a bit more of a punch than your standard mozzarella or bocconcini, served on autumn vegetable bolognese with local Ontario parsnips and squash.

Despite these dishes differences, they're all inspired by rustic Italian home cooking.

"Rustic or home cooking doesn't need to be complicated and require professional training necessarily, but it does require personal attention," asserts Chef Matthew. "There's got to be more care because if there are few ingredients, there's less to hide behind."

"Think of a risotto," he suggests. "It's four ingredients, really, but the execution has got to be bang on."

Osso Buco 1
Osso Buco

One of the main highlights of the dinner menu is the Osso Buco, which is slow-cooked for about three hours with tomatoes, white wine and root vegetables, and then served on creamy polenta. "Lots of time and energy goes into this long before service starts," says Chef Matthew.

This particular recipe was taste-tested by Michael Bonacini and Anthony Walsh, who advised Chef Matthew to try and approach the dish with the aim of making it cleaner and simpler.

"At first I was trying to intensify and complicate the dish by reducing it and adding layers of flavour," says Chef Matthew, who has a fine dining background at restaurants like Langdon Hall. "I then had to show a little more restraint. Sometimes you really have to get out of the way of the ingredients."

Pollo Alla Cacciatora
Pollo alla Cacciatora

The Pollo alla Cacciatora is another fantastic main dish. Featuring an 18 to 22 ounce rosemary-roasted Cornish hen, which Chef Matthew considers to be the perfect-sized bird, with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, rigatoni and extra virgin olive oil, this rustic Italian classic is about as authentic as it gets.

Branzino Cioppino
Branzino Cioppino

But Chef Matthew isn't afraid to stray from traditional Italian recipes, also serving a Branzino Cioppino with calamari, shrimp, mussels, artichokes, tomato and white wine stew. Although branzino is a European seabass from northern Italy, cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco. It's a great Italian-American dish that blends old world and new world flavours.

Cheese Plate
Italian Artisan Cheese Plate

As for dessert, we're offering a choice between a Torta di Ricotta cheesecake with amaretto crumb, rum raisins and pine nuts, and an Italian Artisan Cheese plate, which introduces a firm, pressed Pecorino Toscano, a "really in your face" Blu di Frabosa and an aged provolone that is "miles away from what you would think of on your deli sandwich." Accompanied by fig apricot jam, candied chestnuts and crostini, this dessert ensures your meal ends on a strong, robust note.

One of Chef Matthew's favourite things about Italian food is how passionate people get about it. Everyone has their own way of cooking something, and it's usually deeply rooted in family history and tradition.

"You always hear people say things like 'this is almost as good as my Nonna's!'" he says.

But Chef Matthew is always up for a challenge. So come by and try our Cucina menu and see if he is any match for your Nonna!

For more up-to-the-minute news, 'Like' O&B Oakville on Facebook!

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Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell

Goodbyes are never easy.  Often, they are filled with mixed emotions and reflective moments.

It’s been hard to find the right words to say goodbye to Chef Jason Bangerter, who has headed to the prestigious Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario.

For over a decade, Chef Jason has dedicated his culinary career to us, starting his legacy at Auberge du Pommier, where he reinterpreted traditional French cuisine with modern flair.  It was there that he mentored the likes of budding cooks John Horne and Markus Bestig, who have risen up the ranks to Executive Chef (Canoe) and Corporate Concept Chef, respectively. When it came time to open Luma and O&B Canteen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Chef Jason was called upon to lead the way – returning to his roots to create seasonally inspired, new world cuisine.

It’s the end of an era – and the start of new beginnings.  We’re celebrating you, Chef Jason.  Thanks for all wonderful memories.

Auberge du Pommier (2001-2010)

Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell

O&B Canteen (2010-2013)

Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell

Luma (2010-2013)

Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell

A Fond Farewell

Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell Chef Jason Bangerter - Farewell

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Biff's Autumn Cocktails

As the temperature in Toronto continues to dip, we've been ditching the tropical fruit cocktails, sparkling sangrias and refreshing mojitos that we enjoyed all too much throughout the summer. As our taste buds start yearning for notes of apple, apricot, pumpkin and spice, we've been mixing up a fantastic array of fall-inspired bevvies. From O&B Yonge & Front's Harvest Moon with Beefeater 24 gin shaken with chai tea lemonade and orange marmalade, to Bannock's Apple Crisp Sour with Maker's Mark bourbon, triple sec, lime and apple cider, garnished with a fresh apple slice, our talented mixologists are always shaking things up with creative seasonal concoctions.

This week, I visited Biff's Bistro's bar to get the scoop on the next incarnation of fall libations. Bartender Martine Fortin and General Manager Judith Sloan worked together, along with other members of the Biff's Bistro team, to come up with three brand new autumn cocktails. They started by buying a bunch of different juices from Chasers, which delivers everything from lychee cactus pear juice to pomegranate blueberry juice. After a few rounds of trial-and-error, which included a much-too-thick cocktail that had the consistency of apple sauce, they launched the three brand new autumn cocktails.

Not Your Grandma's Fruitcake

Introducing the whimsically named Not Your Grandma's Fruitcake, this martini features 2oz of Wiser's rye, 2oz of Chasers apricot and pumpkin cider, and 1/4oz of maple syrup, shaken together over ice. To finish, Martine garnishes this cocktail with a slice of dried apricot.

"At first we didn't think we could make a cocktail with pumpkin, as neither of us were crazy about a pumpkin juice," says Judith. "When we first tried this it tasted like fruitcake. But the best kind of fruitcake - the kind with alcohol!"

While the apricot and pumpkin juice gives the drink a tart flavour, the maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to the rye.

"Maple syrup and rye have such an affinity with each other," says Judith. "I can't think of sweetening a rye cocktail with anything other than maple syrup. They're just so perfect for each other."

Looking for a great dish to match with this cocktail? Judith suggests one of Chef Amanda Ray's classic dinner dishes: the Beef Bourguignon with semoule, Gruyère, mushrooms and bacon.

"[Not Your Grandma's Fruitcake] has got some nice body and strength, so it has some staying power," she says. "Plus that nice tangy cider cuts through the fat of the beef."

Autumn Margarita

If you're missing your frosty, tequila-based cocktails of summer, then turn your attention towards the Autumn Margarita. Martine shakes 1.5oz of Olmeca Gold tequila with 3oz of cranberry ginger lime and chili pepper juice, plus 0.5oz of triple sec. Garnished with candied cranberries and a kosher salt rim, this cocktail is served in a brandy snifter to give it a cozier personality.

"It's definitely got a little zip," says Judith. "And a teeny bit of heat from the chili."

We suggest pairing this cocktail with Chef Amanda's Orange-Glazed Duck Breast with spätzle, duck leg and heart confit, Napa cabbage and chili jam.

Under the Blankets

On the warmer side of things is the Under the Blankets cocktail, which is perfect for before or after dinner. A play on the classic Between the Sheets cocktail, this recipe calls for 0.5oz each of Lamb's rum, cherry brand and triple sec, plus hot apple cider. Served in a glass mug with a cinnamon sugar rim, this is the ideal drink for someone who has just come in from the cold and looking to warm up. Having just come down with a bit of a sore throat myself, I found this cocktail was super soothing - almost like a hot toddy!

While it's great to sip on its own, we also love the idea of pairing Under the Blankets with something sweet like Biff's new Peach Bavarois with spiced orange consommé and oatmeal crumb, or the Gâteau au Chocolat with candied Kernal peanuts and Chantilly.

By the way, if you're a lover of some of Biff's old cocktails like The Hummingbird or Bourbon Buzz, it might be good to know that those favourites aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Bourbon Buzz

The Bourbon Buzz whips together rhubarb-infused Maker's Mark, cherry liqueur, fresh ginger and Rosewood Estates honey mead. While this strong, boozy cocktail will really work well with anything on Biff's menu, it might be worth trying out the new Frogs Legs with peanuts, tamarind and ginger. The common ingredient of freshly cut ginger might help highlight those spicy and aromatic flavours.

So put away the blender, toss the pineapple juice and kick your beloved mojitos to the curb. It's time to embrace the season and all those deep earthy and woodsy flavours that come with it. Cheers!

For more up-to-the-minute new, "Like" Biff's Bistro on Facebook!

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Staff meals are a pre-shift ritual in every kitchen. The best of ingredient odds and ends, combined with a whole lot of improvisation results in a ridiculous meal. All substance, no style.

Every Sunday night at Canteen, you can experience all the guts without the glory for $16.  Chug down a few cans of $4 Labatt 50s while you're at it.

Watch what Chef Michael Hay has to say about what inspired Sunday Night Staff Meals.

Follow us on Instagram and post your Sunday Night Staff Meals photos with #eatwhatcookseat. Each week, the best shot will be featured on Canteen's Facebook page and on our website. That's a fine looking lamb shawarma, if I may say so myself.

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