It's been exactly two months since I left for the UK to meet up with the Auberge du Pommier
team in London. I was lucky enough to tag along to provide live coverage of the Canada Day gala dinner at Canada House and the days leading up to it. As prefaced in this previous blog entry
by Cindy, Chef Marc
was invited to cook for 170 high profile British and Canadian business executives and dignitaries, including High Commissioner Gordon Campbell. The team that he brought with him included General Manager Jocelyn Maurice and Taka Li of Auberge du Pommier and Chef John Horne
All of us were jetlagged when we arrived at the off-site kitchen in the suburbs of London (Chef John and Taka came straight from the airport, where they just got off a 7+ hour red-eye flight!), but it was the adrenaline that kept us all going. And you’d never know that we were sleep-deprived based on these photos/videos! We all had a blast and the gala dinner itself was a huge success.
For a recap of the coverage, you can go back and look at our tweets
and Instagram photos
using the hashtag #AdPDoesLondon, and the complete photoset
can be found on Flickr
The video above does a great job of summarizing the trip as a whole (thanks to Said the Whale
for the awesome song!), but here are some additional highlights:
Day one in the rental kitchen, out in the suburbs of London. This is where the majority of the prep work happened in the days leading up to the dinner.
After our dinner at Marcus Wareing
at The Berkeley, we took a long walk and stopped to take a picture in front of The Dorchester
, Chef Bonacini's
old stomping grounds!
We spent several hours at Borough Market
on Saturday morning, where we picked up some produce for the dinner and tasted our way from stall to stall. Steak and kidney pie, Thai coconut pancakes, raclette with cornichons and potatoes, fresh fruits and plenty of cheese - oh, so much cheese...
...we also stuffed our faces with meringue and other sweets :)
Later that evening, (after several more hours of prep work in the kitchen) we had an incredible dinner at St. John
where we shared a good sampling of the menu, including the Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad, Broad Beans & Berkswell, Rabbit Offal & Radishes, etc. The freshly-baked Madeleines were the perfect way to end our meal!
The day of the gala dinner was a whirlwind - we packed everything up at the off-site kitchen in Ealing, and cabbed our way through heavy traffic all the way to the Canada House kitchen at Trafalgar Square. When the guests started to arrive around 6:30pm, the Canadian canapés that were voted at our O Canapé VIP event
were devoured eagerly and the excitement in the building was palpable. Once all the guests were seated, Marc gave a speech introducing his menu that evening, which can be seen below:
It was a wonderful event put on by the organizers of Canada Day International
/ Canada Day London
and Chef Marc and his team were honoured to be a part of it.
You can find photos from the remainder of our trip (with us playing tourists at the London Eye
and watching The Hip
perform at the Canada Day concert at Trafalgar Square) along with all the outtakes over on our Flickr photostream
Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet for some reason we often find ourselves skipping it, much to the chagrin of our poor tummies that growl at us come 10am.
But let’s not forget that there are some amazing breakfast to-go options in our city’s downtown core. From sweet strawberry scones to hearty breakfast sandwiches, it’s impossible to resist lining up at our Grab + Go counters on your way to work. Here, some of the tastiest options for all you early risers out there.
O&B Canteen serves its casual breakfast fare seven days a week, from 8am to 11am. Gorgeous fresh pastries, including pains au chocolat, banana chocolate chip muffins, assorted fruit danishes, cinnamon rolls and blueberry lemon muffins, are delivered by O&B Artisan daily. Light, heart-healthy options include Stone Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote as well as Poached Eggs on Toast.
Stone Cut Oatmeal with Apple Compote
Poached Eggs on Toasted O&B Artisan Loaf
If you need to be able to bare hand your breakkie, then the O&B Canteen Butty is a great choice, featuring a fried egg, aged cheddar and smoked ham on freshly baked pain au lait.
O&B Canteen Butty
“It has a great balance of sweetness, fat and acidity, and most importantly it hits the spot in the morning,” says Michael Hay, Canteen’s Chef de Cuisine
But the classic O&B Breakfast is the real star of the show. Three eggs, your way, succulent sausage, smoky bacon, roasted mushrooms, crispy home-fries…this breakfast has it all.
Perhaps not ideal for tucking into on your way to the office, this dish is meant to be enjoyed on the job. Since the O&B Breakfast is also a mainstay on the dining room menu, it’s available all day long for take-out. So if you still haven’t had breakfast by noon, better late than never!
“Breakfast gives you that initial push that you need to get up and going,” says Chef Michael. “Everything tastes so much more intense in the morning, because your senses are starved.”
A few blocks away, Bannock has its own take on breakfast. An assortment of freshly baked fruit danishes, croissants, scones and muffins hit the shelves at 7:30am, and are usually all snatched up by hungry Bay Streeters two hours later.
Savoury Cheddar & Thyme Scone
Bannock Chef de Cuisine Stephen Pynn is a big fan of the classic old school croissant. “It’s fun, flaky and buttery,” says Chef Stephen. “With a coffee or tea, a croissant is a perfect companion.”
The Danish is a close runner up, says Chef Stephen, due to its flaky exterior and sweet creamy middle. It certainly makes your morning that much sweeter.
Strawberry Danish and Amandine Croissant
If you’re hungry for more than batter and dough, perhaps the Bologna & Egg on Maple Cinnamon Focaccia is more your style.
Chef Stephen makes this sandwich extra yummy by cutting bologna sausage into strips and frying a handful to create a crispy texture. Once this is done, he creates a small hole in the pile of bologna strips and cracks an egg into it. He breaks the egg’s yolk and gently mixes the egg around the bologna evenly. After adding cheddar cheese, Chef smears some spicy ketchup onto a freshly baked maple focaccia bun and finishes it with tomato, green onion and pickled jalapeño.
Bologna & Egg on Maple Cinnamon Focaccia
“Fried bologna and egg is a classic Canadian thing,” says Chef Stephen. “We have a funky house-baked bun and put a little spin on it with a zingy ketchup and pickled jalapeños.”
Egg White Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap
Vegetarians fear not, because Chef Stephen also serves the Egg White Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap. The whole wheat tortilla wrap is bursting with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, egg whites, Gruyère and mozzarella, and seasoned with a soffritto of chili, shallot and ginger.
“The soffritto adds a mellow heat and Asian flavour without changing the simplicity of the wrap,” says Chef Stephen.
So next time you’re heading out the door with an empty stomach, remember to do yourself a favour and stop at one of our downtown Grab & Go counters for a quick bite and a hot cuppa Joe. Your tummy will thank you!
They say that sharing is caring. That seems to be the winning formula this summer at O&B Café Grill, Yonge & Front
. Chef de Cuisine Zuzana Harsaghy
has created a trio of spectacular sharing platters that have taken the restaurant’s bar and patio by storm.
Serving four to six people, these tasty dishes are perfect for large groups, whether it’s a get-together after work between coworkers or a birthday celebration among friends. Taking inspiration from traditional cuisines such as Spanish tapas, Italian antipasti and Japanese sushi, sharing platters offer a much more relaxed approach to dining, where guests can graze at their own pace.
“The sharing factor brings people together,” says General Manager César Mesén. “Sharing is a great way to break the ice and is very conducive to creating conversation.”
Chips & Dips Platter
The Chips & Dips platter features assorted crudités with blue cheese dip, artichoke goat cheese dip, pico de gallo and hummus, corn chips, flatbreads, grissini and knots. It goes without saying that this platter is much more than your average tray of tortilla chips and salsa. It’s also visually stunning. When you carry one of these platters through the dining room, it’s sure to turn a few heads.
The Seafood Platter is another great conversation starter. The two-tiered tray includes the always-popular tempura shrimp, eight black tiger shrimp with traditional cocktail sauce and eight pieces of spicy salmon tartare maki, delivered by EDO fresh every day. It also features beautiful Szechuan peppercorn maple charred calamari. One highlight is the ahi tuna poke taco with lime coconut sauce.
“The ahi tuna tacos are a Hawaiian or Polynesian twist on a regular tuna taco,” says Chef Zuzana.
Wings, Sliders, Ribs & Things
Chef Zuzana’s personal favourite, however, is the platter of Wings, Sliders, Ribs & Things, which showcases one pound of jerk wings, four classic sliders, one pound of Zu’s zesty, nasty baby back BBQ ribs, four samosas, four chicken pakora lettuce wraps, and four vegetable spring rolls.
Zu’s Zesty Nasty Baby Back BBQ Ribs
Zu’s Zesty Nasty Baby Back BBQ Ribs have been a big hit. The sauce is made with tomato, Frank’s Red Hot, a little bit of mustard to give them that sharpness, and maple syrup to sweeten the deal. The final product are ribs that are sweet, spicy, and fall-off-the-bone delicious.
Sharing doesn’t stop with the food. The restaurant has been mixing up a variety of signature cocktails in pitcher format as another way to encourage guests to share the fresh flavours of the season.
“It’s almost like ‘family-style’ drinking,” says César. “When you order these pitchers it feels like you’re having your own little party.”
An array of O&B Signature Cocktails
From the traditional Sparkling Berry Sangria to the super refreshing Watermelon Lemonade, there are plenty of options for the table. Looking for something a little bit different? The Kicker Mojito, César’s personal favourite, combines Havana Club Añejo Blanco with mint, shaken with lime, pineapple and agave syrup. Instead of finishing with soda water, our mixologists use ginger beer, which adds a spicy kick as well as some effervescence.
Although patio season in Toronto is sadly coming to an end, O&B Yonge & Front plans to keep the sense of sharing alive with brand-new large format cocktails. Come October, look out for more spice notes and homemade bitters that reflect autumn and all its glory. As for Zu’s zesty, nasty baby back BBQ ribs – don’t worry. Those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!
All photos by Cindy La
Turbot Ceviche - Buffalo Yoghurt, Clay Pepper Dust, Sea Buckthorn, Mountain Cranberries
The lure of berry season has always been too intoxicating for me to resist.
There’s something innately beautiful about berries – their bright, vivid colours and the delicate balance of fresh sweetness with a hint of tartness. With the short berry season upon us, Executive Chef John Horne
’s new tasting menu at Canoe
is more than timely. Staying true to his philosophy of highlighting ingredients in a unique way, John has introduced a few varieties of berries you may not have tried.
Tamworth Pork & Foie Gras Terrine - Blackberries, Pickled Field Strawberries, Hazelnut Mascarpone
Drawing on the power of food memory, John’s inspiration for Taste Berry comes from his belief that almost every Canadian has a moment in time related to a berry. “Whether it’s you and Saskatoon berries, or my pastry cook Martin and his mom making wild strawberry jam, we all have a berry-related memory. In Ontario, picking strawberries as a kid with your mom in the summer is common – and most of those berries are eaten before they hit the basket,” John remarks.
Prairies Venison - Tongue Tortellini, White Garlic Purée, Tamarack & Saskatoon Berry Mostarda
His own most memorable berry-related moment is rooted in childhood. As a youngster playing in the field across from his grandparents, John found a large patch of blackberries. With his curious and inquisitive palate in full force even as a child, John spent 20 minutes picking and tasting the berries. “I was trying to figure out why some tasted better than others. I remember lying on my back, munching on blackberries as the Snowbirds started to practice above me. Maybe that’s what I’ve always had a love of flying. It’s something that will always stay with me,” John reminisces.
And like berries, things in life aren’t always completely sweet. “I also remember being scratched to hell from the blackberry thorns, being scolded by my grandmother, laughed at by my grandfather and the sting of peroxide,” John laughs.
Pan Roasted Skate - Beluga Lentils, Gai Lan, Verjus, Currant & Miso Marinated Octopus
Everything is coming up berries. But you shouldn’t wait too long – Taste Berry will only be available for approximately two more weeks, or until the berry season is over. Reserve your table
before the berries disappear.
And yes, I may be from Saskatoon, but I never really liked Saskatoon berry pie. In my heart are childhood memories of strawberry shortcake. Let it be our little secret.
Fromage Blanc - Wild Strawberries, Pistachio & Basil
Everything changes with the seasons.
It's a simple but powerful mantra that is reflected in Executive Chef Jason Bangerter'
s new menus at Luma
. When I dropped by for our photo shoot in the spring, I could see the fresh ingredients bursting from the dishes.
Since the new menus are seasonally inspired, they may change as quickly as you can blink. Here's a look at the new lunch
And the rumours are true - Chef Jason's Lemon Tart is back due to popular demand.
I can't speak for everyone, but I always have room for dessert
Niagara Gold Beef Burger
Seasonally Inspired Pasta