It’s that time of the year again – TIFF 2014 is happening again from Sept 4 – 14, 2014. And what better way to stalk your favourite celebrities then to pay a visit to LUMA (@OliverBonacini) (located inside TIFF) in hopes to “accidentally” bump into a celebrity. With no reservations made on  a Friday evening, I was utterly surprised we still managed to grab a table in the lounge area.

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Chimichurri Shrimp Tacos ($15.00)

  • cherry tomatoes, charred corn and avocado
  • a delicious starter for the evening – the heat of these shrimp tacos doesn’t kick in until the very last bite.

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Lobster Salad ($22.00)

  • butter lettuce, roasted corn, avocado, smoked bacon, sweet onion and tarragon buttermilk dressing

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Steak Frites ($34.00)

  • wellington county strip loin, five onion gravy, northern woods mushrooms and truffle parmesan fries

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Seared Scallops ($30.00)

  • curried cauliflower, kamut cashew pilaf and raisin jam

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Brasied Rabbit Cavatelli ($26.00)

  • swiss chard, zucchini, peas, asparagus, and kale pesto
  • This was my entree for the evening and It wasn’t intentional that I tried to order something healthy. In fact, whenever I dine out I pretty much go all out. So it was unexpected that I enjoyed this healthy pasta. Despite the fact that there’s so much green in this dish, the kale pesto, zucchini peas, asparagus really went well together. The cavatelli were cooked perfectly and paired perfectly with the braised rabbit.

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Truffle Parmesan Fries ($9.00)

  • How can you NOT order a side of truffle parmesan fries as a side to go with your healthy pasta right?

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LUMA Chocolate Bar ($10.00)

  • soft dark chocolate, banana and peanut butter ice cream

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Steamed Banana Pudding ($9.00)

  • burnt marshmallow ice cream
  • Honestly, any dessert menu that contains “burnt marshmallow ice cream” literally screams out at me and the foodie in me MUST order it
  • This dessert was no exception and LOVED it. The steamed banana pudding served hot was so soft and pillowy – contrasted so well with the ever so slightly burnt marshmallow ice cream and banana slices.

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I like my spontaneous visits to LUMA. I don’t visit LUMA too often not because I don’t enjoy my  visits but there’s just so many choices in the King West area. But when I do get a chance to visit LUMA, their seasonally changing menu always lures me to enjoy my comfort foods.

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Luma on Urbanspoon

I can’t say that I’ve tried EVERY taco place in Toronto but I had some pretty darn good tacos here at SEVEN LIVES (@SevenLivesTO) 2 weeks ago. To be honest, I’ve made several attempts to visit SEVEN LIVES before, but every time this place was either closed or extremely packed (line up outside the door) type of deal.

It was a week night around 6PM when a few of us headed over to Kensington Market to attempt to visit the place. Thankfully, it was only busy but not incredibly packed.

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Menu is hung behind the counter on the chalkboard. We all tried to order something different just a little variety. Depending on the type of taco you order, they range from $4-$5 per taco.

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Open kitchen area so you watch them make it fresh!

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Closer shot of the menu:

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My friend is vegetarian so she opted for the only thing that was available to her:

MUSHROOM AND CACTUS ($4.00)

  • with grilled cheese

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I was the pig of the group and ordered 3 tacos in one shot. Please note that SEVEN LIVES do not cheap out on ingredients and each taco was extremely packed with goodies.  I was probably full halfway through the second taco but  couldn’t resist ordering the 3 tacos that really caught my eye.

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BAJA FISH ($5.00)

  • Battered & Deep fried Mahi Mahi with their house sauce. (Contains Gluten)
  • Each of the tacos comes with 2 soft shells – the combinations of the flavours from the deep fried mahi mahi to their house sauce wow the palate from the very first bite.
  • The battered mahi mahi was deep fried perfectly. Perfect crispiness that didn’t take away any flavours of the fish.
  • Although the baja fish was a little messy to eat – this taco was uber good and I highly recommend for any fish lovers out there!

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CARNITAS ($5.00)

  • Slow Cooked Pork
  • The flavours of the carnitas taco was quite delectable. Slathered with lots of green peppers, salsa, and cilantro – I quite enjoyed my first bite to the last. However, I would have preferred if the slow cooked pork to be slightly less dry.

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GOBERNADOR ($5.00)

  • Smoked Tuna, Shrimp and Cheese
  • This was another favourite of the evening – tuna and shrimp were marinated and cooked to perfection.
  • The sauce was sweet plus the presence of the veggie component provided a backdrop of crunchy freshness.

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I’m really hitting myself for taking so long to give SEVEN LIVES a visit. My friends and I all walked out pretty darn satisfied with our choices. I’m already thinking about ordering 2 BAJA fish tacos for myself next time. I would suggest to come before peak dinner hours or else it’ll get extremely packed. We arrived right before 6PM and barely found a place to stand. But there’s probably a reason why this place is packed all the time right? =)

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Seven Lives on Urbanspoon

 @smilingmango_TO

Congratulations Wendy! You are the lucky winner of this $50 Giveaway to Elephant & Castle (@elephantcastle) @ King Street. I will contact you shortly via email to gather your contact information so Elephant & Castle can mail you your gift card =)

Fish n Chips

Thank you to all those that entered this contest. There were a total of 54 entries. Entries were tracked in chronological order as they arrived in my comment box and bonus tweets on Twitter. The winner was selected randomly using the “True Random Number Generator” via Random.org. Please see below.

elephant castle random org

Congratulations once again! Please visit my website for future giveaways.

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Post published by Penny Pong {Intern @ Foodinthecitytoronto.com}

The only way to describe how I got to meet and cook with Susur Lee is, serendipity.

When Grace asked me to attend the Veggielicious 101 event at Bent (@BentRestaurant) with Susur Lee (@SusurLee), I was excited and scared all at the same time. But how could I pass this up? I’m a vegetarian and the event was called Veggielicious 101. I live in the neighbourhood (about 2 minutes away) and it was with Susur Lee! My decision was further validated when I went to practice yoga a few days before and who was in my class? Susur. It was a sign.

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When I arrived at Bent I instantly fell in love with the look and feel of the space. I adore nostalgia and when you are there, you can feel the sense of how much family means to them. From the old aquarium up-cycled into a desk, to the wall of little treasures collected over the years by the Bent/Lee family, to the blown-up old school pictures, it is a place where you feel at home.

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Chef Lee met and greeted each of us as any good host would. He then served some appetizers: chicken dumplings for the non-vegetarians and avocado and goat’s cheese tacos for the vegetarians.

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He engaged us in a conversation about health and why many people think vegetarian dishes are tasteless and boring. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 15 years and to hear Susur speak so passionately about creating delicious and healthy dishes was inspiring. This is the reason why Susur is who he is. He has led the way in making Toronto a world-class destination for food. He does this by doing what no one else does. When everyone is doing meat, and more meat, he’s trying out a new vegetarian tasting menu…and what a menu it is!

Singapore Slaw

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Dip Three Ways – served with Baked Garlic Lawash

  1. Hummus of Romano Beans w/Salted Chilies & Sherry Vinegar
  2. Spicy Mustard Seed Tomato Stew w/Walnut & Curry Leaf
  3. Caribbean Eggplant Babaganoush w/Cilantro

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Each had such unique and amazing flavours. The combination he comes up with is his specialty and shows it in something as simple as dips.

Tingly Chilled Soba

Made with vegetables grown in the garden behind Bent, this dish is one to relish. We got to tour the garden and I can tell you that garden is full of love. Because I ride by almost everyday, I see the man who tends the garden and he plays beautiful Chinese music to his very healthy and happy vegetables. The fusion of the cold soba noodles with the vegetables and confit of Shitake really does create a ‘tingly’ sensation on your taste buds.

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Chickpea Tempura Tofu

  • This tofu dish will change your mind on tofu. While lightly crispy on the outside, the soft tofu inside melts in your mouth.

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Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto (vegan option available)

I eat A LOT of quinoa. So, I know my quinoa, and some how I still never thought to use it in risotto. It’s a delicious, complete protein. This version with roasted cauliflower, Romano Parmigianino emulsion and tempeh crouton was divine.

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French Meringue with Golden Licorice

A highlight to the afternoon was to actually see Susur in action. We got to see him make his famous French Meringue. He encouraged us to give it a try. I had so much fun trying to make my own perfect pastry. Can you tell which one I made and which one he made??

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I’m a dessert fiend. No matter how much I have eaten, there is always room for dessert in my books. The meringue is perfect. It’s light and sweet, and balanced exquisitely with tart lemon curd, blueberry, peach, passion fruit sauce and finished with raspberry coulis.

We were also treated to some of the signature cocktails available at Bent. We watched and learned to make the “Asian Caesar” and “Karate Kid II”

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It was an amazing afternoon spent learning, cooking and talking with the other bloggers and Susur. It’s encouraging that he is using his influence to start the conversation about how wonderful and tasty vegetarian dishes can be. He has brought the beauty of fruits, vegetables and grains into the limelight in a bold and masterful way with this tasting menu. I’ve been raving about it so much; I already have 2 reservations set with friends.

The 5-course tasting menu is available from September 9th through until September 20th and is well worth the $45.

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This workshop was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Bent on Urbanspoon

Richmond Station (@richmondstn) has always been on my radar of the many restaurants to visit in Toronto but just never found the opportunity to visit. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I found out my friend Carmen from Carmenhungry.com (@carmenhungry) is the pastry cook there! Pretty cool stuff to be working under the wing of Top Chef Canada’s winner Carl Heinrich right? So of course, we had to make our way over to the Richmond station to witness all the exciting action!

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My friend Andrew (@aneb) made reservations for us to be seated at the Chef’s Table. Honestly, if every restaurant had a chef’s table, there the only place I want to be seated. It’s incredibly inspiring to watch chefs perform their magic.

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Scallop Ceviche ($11.00)

  • corn chips, lime, sweet corn, sriracha aioli
  • The scallop bits sported a wonderful combination of fresh and light and the tang of the cured flavour was further highlighted by the lime and sweet corn – contrasted with crispy corn chips

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Station Burger ($20.00)

  • lettuce, beet chutney, aged cheddar, milk bun, rosemary fries, bread & butter pickles

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  • The juicy moist Angus was covered in ooey gooey aged cheddar, sandwiched by a very soft milk bun, accompanied with bright green lettuce, beet chutney. It was really good and incredibly more-ish. The crinkle cut fries were crunchy and golden but may have been slightly leaning on the salty side.

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Here comes a galore of desserts: My highlights of the evening were the saffron pudding and the strawberries and shortcake. Whether it was the delicately plated dish, taste and contrast of textures – everything hit spot on for me! I can still taste the light and custardy texture of the saffron pudding contrasted with the crunch bits and pieces of pastachios! It was an amazing ending to the meal.

Saffron Pudding ($9.00)

  • rosewater shebet, nokhodchi, plums, pastachios

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Blueberry Corn Cake ($9.00)

  • corn panna cotta, tarragon, coconut, mint, blueberry sorbet

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Chocolate Mousse ($9.00)

  • peatmonster ice cream, cherries, rye twigs, hazelnuts

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Penny Candy Eclair ($9.00)

  • with Peach Cream, Strawberry Sorbet, Almonds, Strawberry Wafer Lemon, Strawberry, and Blue Raspberry Jelly

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Strawberries and Shortcake

*This dish was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbaised*

  • with Lemon Curd, Hibiscous, Puffed Tapioca, Blueberry Cream

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We pretty much ordered everything from their dessert menu IN ADDITIONAL to their special dessert of the evening on the chalkboard. Pastry Chef Farzam Fallah mentioned to us they have an official dessert tasting every so often. Whenever that may be… I’m definitely in!

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Richmond Station on Urbanspoon

I’m thrilled to be giving away a $50 Gift Card to Elephant & Castle @ King St. Location!

Guess what foodies?! Elephant & Castle (@elephantcastle) on King Street is finally back and introducing its newly renovated look to the world! Along with this makeover comes NEW menu items to tantalize those taste buds =) I visited Elephant & Castle @ King Street a few days ago to give myself a little sneak preview.

The new menu includes items like Truffle Parm Potato Crisps and Fried Pickles, along with classics like Stuffed Yorkshire Pudding and Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf.  Elephant & Castle is also offering the Summer Fresh Menu, with warm weather-inspired creations like Thai Coconut Mussels and the Satay Chicken Sub, available for a limited time.

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Lettuce Wrap ($11.50)

  • chicken, vegetables and chow mein noodles in a hoisin peanut sauce.

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Traditional Poutinerie ($6.50)

  • fresh cheese curd and beef gravy.

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Stuffed Yorkshire Pudding ($13.50)

  • tender roast beef and rich beef gravy, served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a side of horseradish aioli.

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Shepherd’s Pie ($13.50)

  • seasoned ground beef, lamb and vegetables, topped with garlic mashed potatoes, crisp onions and rich beef gravy. served with a mixed green salad.

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Long Beach Fish Tacos ($13.50)

  • spiced mahi mahi, lettuce, tomato, green onion, cilantro, guacamole and chipotle aioli. served with chips and salsa.

Long Beach Fish Tacos
Photo Credit: Shane Yuhas

Castle Club ($12.75)

  • roasted turkey, tomato, lettuce, aged cheddar, mayo and bacon on multigrain toast.

Castle Club
Photo Credit: Shane Yuhas

Fish & Chips ($14.50)

  • crisp haddock, lightly beer battered and served with our signature tartar sauce.

Fish n Chips
Photo Credit: Shane Yuhas

To enter, simply fill in your name and e-mail in the comments section (E-mail will not be public) & let me know which item(s) from the above pictures you’re most excited to try from their new menu!

For a Bonus Entry, tweet the following message:

I entered to win a $50 Gift Card to @elephantcastle from @FoodintheCityTO You can too! http://wp.me/p2k43K-1IW

  • Contest closes Monday, September 8, 2014 at 5:00 PM EST 
  • Winner will be randomly selected via random.org and announced on my blog on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 
  • You may comment and tweet once a day throughout the duration of the contest
  • Re-tweeting does not count as a valid entry 
  • Winner will be selected via http://www.random.org/
  • There is no expiry date to this Gift Card 
  • Some of the photos as indicated in this blog post are taken by Shane Yuhas

Good Luck =)

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This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content

Elephant & Castle on Urbanspoon

Every year Marben Restaurant (@MarbenResto) hosts Sausage League, a competition where different restaurants battle in different rounds and eventually advances to be the ultimate Sausage Champion. The evening we visited Marben was Round 3 between Valdez (@theValdezTO) and Caplansky’s (@caplansky)

I am aware of how back logged this post is, but I thought I would still share my first ever sausage league experience with you guys! For those that don’t know how Sausage League works, you pay $25 for a beer and receive 1 sausage dish from each of the competitors! While the dishes are presented, they of course do not disclose who’s dishes belongs to which restaurants. You vote whether you enjoyed the “red” or “blue” sausage dish more and winner is announced on twitter that evening. Pretty neat stuff :)

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Beau’s Lager

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RED SAUSAGE

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BLUE SAUSAGE

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Smoked Risotto with Seared Scallops ($23)

  • chorizo, sea-buckthorn, hazelnuts, sea asparagus
  • I ordered as an extra because I really can’t resist the risotto’s at Marben. I always love their style and interpretation of the dish. Scallops are always seared perfectly while accompanied with the rich and flavourful smoked risotto.

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I was quite eager to try both sausage dishes. I personally enjoyed the “RED sausage” more. For starters, the “BLUE sausage” was quite overwhelming in terms of the level of spiciness the sausage contained. The texture of the blue was slightly more rough and didn’t sit well in my mouth as well as the RED sausage.  The winner of the evening advancing to the next round was Caplanskys! (Red Sausage)

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Marben on Urbanspoon

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