Going to Duck School at King Cole Ducks!

It’s that time of year again. The time where we reflect on the past 365 days of all our highs and lows as we ring in the new year. In what seems like a blink of an eye, 2018 has come and gone. For some it may be relief that a fresh start is on the horizon. For others it may be a year we don’t want to let go of with all the milestones and fond memories that were made. No matter what side you may fall on the spectrum, a new year can be a signal for new beginnings and new goals to achieve. Admittedly, my new year’s resolutions are not always achieved by the end of a year, but setting a few at the start is always something I aim to do. In fact, five years ago one of my new year’s resolution was to finally start up my food blog and Instagram account, which became the birth of the website and account The Everyday Foodie. Now with almost 30,000 followers I am beyond grateful that I followed through with that new year’s resolution, and kept it going five years later giving me this amazing platform and community that allows me to do what I love each day.

Now that it’s 2019 it’s time to pick another new year’s resolution! As a food blogger I often get asked if I’m also a good cook. The brutally honest truth is…. not at all! I’m a superstar when it comes to eating. I’m pretty good at taking pictures of it too. But when it comes to cooking that’s a whole different story. Cooking for me has always posed a challenge. I’ve always wanted to learn new recipes and sharpen some cooking techniques, yet year after year it’s something I’ve put on the side. But not this year. Not in 2019!

I decided this is the year for me to turn it around, and what better way to make sure this new year’s resolution gets off to a good start then by enrolling in a cooking class! Located in Stouffville, Ontario King Cole Ducks has almost 70 years of experience in producing duck products spanning four generations in a family run farm. With customers all around the world, King Cole Ducks is the brand of choice with chefs across the globe and of course with chefs here locally as well.

With so many well-established chefs that trust and use their products, King Cole Ducks offer a cooking class called “Duck School.”It’s a night full of food and fun where you get to learn how to cook duck like a pro from a roster of talented local chefs right on the duck farm itself!

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The class I enrolled in was led by Chef Forrest Liu, the Executive Chef at Terre Rouge located in downtown Markham. Born and raised in Shanghai, Forrest began his career at a young age, interning at Three on the Bund by Jean Georges, becoming the first ever intern hired at the Shanghai Flagship. He then decided to move to Canada to complete the Culinary Management program at George Brown College, where he then landed jobs at some of the most renowned kitchens in Toronto including One Restaurant, Canoe, George, Lee Restaurant, Carmen’s Steak House, and Toca at the Ritz Carlton. With his experience and expertise there was no better person then Chef Forrest Liu to teach me how to cook in my very first cooking class experience!

Below you will get to see the three duck dishes he taught and made for the class, which included a soup, appetizer, and entree. I also included a few duck recipes that I’ve learned from Chef Forrest Liu that will surely be useful to have in anyone’s recipe arsenal at home. Recipes that I myself will attempt to re-create at home as part of my 2019 new year’s resolution!

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King Cole Farms Duck Soup  - Braised Duck, Taro, Vermicelli, Baby Bok Choy

King Cole Farms Duck Soup - Braised Duck, Taro, Vermicelli, Baby Bok Choy

King Cole Farms House Smoked Duck Breast Salad  - Baby Beets, Persimmon, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Quinoa & Lemon Parmesan Dressing

King Cole Farms House Smoked Duck Breast Salad - Baby Beets, Persimmon, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Quinoa & Lemon Parmesan Dressing

King Cole Farms Seared Duck Breast  - Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Acorn Squash, Grapes, Swiss Chard, Verjus & Rosemary Powder

King Cole Farms Seared Duck Breast - Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Acorn Squash, Grapes, Swiss Chard, Verjus & Rosemary Powder

Braised Duck Soup

Ingredients:

1 Whole Duck
15L Water
50g Ginger, peeled
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
3pc Garlic
2pc Bay Leaves
100g Cooking Wine
10g Goji Berries
300g Baby Bok Choy
200g Vermicelli
1pc Taro, cut into 1” cubes
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  1. Put duck into stock pot and add 15L water. Bring to a boil and skim the stock until it is clear.

  2. Add ginger, green onions, garlic, goji berries, bay leaves into stock pot and simmer at medium heat for 4 hours.

  3. Check the duck (the meat should be falling off the bones). Add the taro and simmer for 15 minutes

  4. Add baby bok choy and vermicelli for another 5 minutes

  5. Season to taste

Duck Fat Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

400g Potato
150g Cream
50g Duck Fat
50g Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1” cubes as much as possible into stock pot.

  2. Add water and salt into stock pot. Bring the water to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft.

  3. Strain the water and put the potato in the potato ricer. As you rice each round, add a small amount of butter and duck fat so everything can be mixed well together

  4. Add cream to finish and season with salt and pepper.

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Duck School is a two hour class. The evening includes the lesson, a full dinner, and a duck goodie bag to take home for only $75. These are going to be skills and recipes you can keep and use forever! If you are also looking to brush up on your cooking skills this 2019 as your new year’s resolution, or just something you want to check out later on in the year visit HERE to book your spot at their next class! They do fill up fast so be sure to reserve your spot before it’s too late.

Have an amazing 2019 year everyone! Looking forward to what’s ahead!

Endless Adventures in Daytona Beach with Sunwing Vacations

Winter is coming. With every single degree in a temperature drop is one more inch of motivation to escape to somewhere warm and sunny. For us snowbirds eager to escape the snow and frigid temperatures, Sunwing is ready to help us turn that into a reality and transport us to the state filled with sunshine and long walks on the beach! For the first time in history there will be a Canadian airline carrier to offer direct international flights from Toronto to Daytona Beach, Florida. And you guessed it, that Canadian airline carrier is Sunwing! The twice weekly seasonal flight service will operate every Monday and Thursday beginning January 28, 2019, cementing the title of North America’s largest vertically integrated travel company offering more flights to the United States than any other leisure carrier.

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To celebrate this monumental and historic announcement, I was invited by Sunwing to take part in their inaugural flight from Toronto to Daytona Beach almost two months before it’s open to the public. It was a whirlwind of a trip that was jam packed with activities that had absolutely nothing to do with Spring Break, but everything to do with F-U-N. Hard to imagine eh?

As soon as we landed at Daytona Beach International Airport we were treated like rock stars. As we stepped off the plane and walked out of the gate we were greeted with applause and cheers from the local media to celebrate the fact that the very first direct flight from Toronto to Daytona Beach finally happened after years and years of planning. A ribbon cutting ceremony with Sunwing Executives took place immediately following our arrival with the biggest pair of scissors I’ve ever seen! Big scissors are needed for a big occasion! And this was a GRAND occasion!

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We were then whisked away in our coach bus for lunch at the new 200-room Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, a 4-diamond oceanfront resort. Decked with photos and memorabilia of rock stars from the past and present inside the resort, what makes this hotel truly stand out is the view! Looking over the 37km stretch of sand that is of course the renowned Daytona Beach, there really is no better place to relax with of course a refreshing tropical cocktail on hand.

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Up next was an Eco Boat Tour with Ponce Inlet Watersports. When you’re situated right beside the Atlantic Ocean, you will be abundantly blessed with a thriving ecosystem of marine life. We hopped on a narrated eco boat tour aboard a fully canvas-shaded and flat-bottom boat with a mission of spotting some wildlife including dolphins, sting rays, manatees, shore birds, and sea turtles. Cruising down the Intercoastal Waterway we were so fortunate to see some wild dolphins swimming around us. Although it wasn’t like a scene from the movie Flipper where the dolphin was jumping in and out of the water around us, we did manage to see the fin above the water every now and then which was already such a treat to see.

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Right across Ponce Inlet Watersports is the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, Florida’s tallest lighthouse and also North America’s second tallest working one. The best part of this lighthouse is it also offers spectacular 360 degree views of the Atlantic coastline to the general public, but to get this view one must earn it! Climbing up the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse step by step in its narrow, spiral staircase is no easy task, but once you’re at the top and step out to that fresh cool air it makes that climb all so worth it!

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As the sun started to set and the day winding down, it was time for a reception at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery at ONE Daytona, a multi-million dollar world-class entertainment district with dining, retail, and entertainment options along with two hotels. It’s also the perfect place for NASCAR fans to congregate as it’s located directly across from the famous Daytona International Speedway, the world’s only motorsports stadium after a $400 million transformation in 2016.

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This was just a small handful of activities that Daytona Beach has to offer, and what may be the most exciting part of all of this is the PRICE. Direct flights from Toronto to Daytona Beach start at only $279 (taxes included) with Sunwing! It’s never been easier or cheaper than right now to start planning and booking your next vacation. Click HERE to start your journey to Daytona Beach or contact your local travel agent for more details.

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How to Spend a Perfect Day in Los Angeles!

You’ve just landed in LA for the first time, and you’re ready to hit the town and get a taste of the Big Orange. There is plenty to do in La-La Land, from sampling the glitz and glamor of Hollywood to exploring the hidden gems in downtown LA. But with so many options at your disposal, you can’t help but ask yourself, “Where do I begin?” Well, look no further. We here at The Everyday Foodie took it upon ourselves to build an action plan to ensure you get all the touristy goodness LA has to offer.

We’ve compiled what we think is the perfect itinerary.

Here are 7 ways to spend your time in LA and have the perfect day from dusk till dawn!

Spend the morning in Venice Beach

For any tourist traveling to LA, visiting Venice Beach is an absolute must. Take a stroll on the Boardwalk and steep yourself in the beatnik-inspired culture, from eye-catching art murals to musical vibes of the street performers to cool knickknacks waiting to be discovered in the local shops. And when you’re ready for some R&R, kick back on the sandy beaches and watch as the waves roll in.

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Make your way down to Abbot Kinney for breakfast/brunch at The Butcher's Daughter

Adjacent to Venice Beach is Abbot Kinney Boulevard, home to a host of stylish boutiques, charming coffee bars, and inviting restaurants. Our favorite was The Butcher’s Daughter, a plant-based restaurant and juice bar that will make you renounce your carnivorous ways. The restaurant is beautifully adorned with luscious greenery and entirely illuminated by natural lighting, which makes for the perfect backdrop for our foodie photos. Oh, and did we mention that the food is positively delicious? Because it totally is.

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Head on over to downtown Los Angeles to visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Make your way to the concrete jungle and bear witness to the architectural wonder that is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Whether you’re visiting to catch a show to one of the most outstanding orchestras in the world or to enjoy the fine dining experience at Joachim Splichal's Patina, it’s a sight for all to behold. And while there, don’t forget to visit the secret garden hidden on the second floor, where you’ll find winding paths accompanied by verdant greenery and a beautiful flower-shaped stone fountain at its center.

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Grab lunch at Grand Central Market

After appreciating the grandeur of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and exploring the downtown core, why not grab lunch at Grand Central Market? Whet your palette with a wide selection of delectable specialty dishes, from classic wood-fired pizza to time-tested peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Our favorite hot spot was Egg Slut, a local eatery inspired by its true love and appreciation of eggs. The lineups can be long, but the mouthwatering flavors of each dish are well worth the wait. Don’t believe us? See for yourself and let your taste buds be the judge!

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Drive to Griffith Observatory to get the best view of the city high on top of the mountains

Ready to catch a killer glimpse of the cityscape? Head on over to the Griffith Observatory, which offers the best view of LA and the Hollywood sign nestled in the mountain trees. However, there's more to the observatory than that alone. Head inside and out your science hat on while learning about the cosmos and appreciating the many wonders of science. And of course, the Griffin Observatory is a architectural landmark in its own right! But remember, if you decide to walk to observatory from the base of the mountain, ensure you're appropriately dressed for balmy weather or risk being scorched. You've been warned!

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Have Korean BBQ for dinner at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

Learning about science can be exhausting, so why not refuel with some delicious Korean BBQ? We recommend heading over to Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong to meet your barbecue needs. What makes this spot so special is that the wait staff in are both your servers and cooks, handling the grill from start to finish. And all you need to do is savor the flavors and enjoy the company. Tender and juicy cuts, and a lively atmosphere, this place is hard to beat!

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Grab dessert at B Sweet Dessert Bar

What better way to end this jam-packed day then to enjoy the perfect dessert? Visit B Sweet Dessert Bar for sweet dishes made from traditional Filipino ingredients, like their organically-purple ube yams. Not only will the taste blow you away, but the eye-catching colors of each dish will hypnotize you. B Sweet Dessert serves everything from bread pudding to cheesecakes to classic Pop-Tarts, but our favorite was a deliciously glazed donut with heat-sealed signature-purple ice cream inside. Whatever you choose, you'll have trouble prying yourself away and thinking about anything else after taking a bite of these desserts!

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Those are our 7 recommendations for spending your time in LA and having the perfect day under the California sun! Let us know if you think another LA hot spot should have been added to this list. But we promise if you’re able to visit even just a few of these places while you’re in LA you’re going to have a whale of a time! A huge thanks to Aeroplan for making this trip all possible!

The Market & Co Experience at Upper Canada Mall - How To Make Kombucha At Home

I’ve done my fair share of food experiences over these last five years since I started The Everyday Foodie. From visiting food halls, farmer markets, restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores I’ve seen them all, but not many stood out to me and left an impression quite like my visit here to Market & Co inside Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario. I really didn’t know what to expect at first coming here because to be honest I wasn’t 100% sure what this was. Was it a food court? Was it a restaurant or a grocery store? Or was it a space where people gather here for workshops and unique events? I’ve soon found out that Market & Co encompasses all of that and more!

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The second you walk through those doors, you are immediately greeted my a bright and large indoor space where a combination of your local baker, butcher, seafood market, produce, flower shop, and trendy restaurants are all rolled into one curated market. It’s a one-stop shop for all your food and culinary needs with 20 best-in-class artisans and merchants ready to satisfy your every need (click HERE to view a list of all of the current artisans and merchants at Market & Co). There is literally something for everyone here. If you have a sweet tooth like me there is even a section that you can literally find any candy you ever wanted imaginable. It’s nuts!

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With that being said, Kitchen & Co is probably my most favourite part of this space. It’s a contemporary kitchen space and demonstration area in the heart of the market offering fun and educational opportunities for guests to cook, create, learn, and enjoy all the food and ingredients offered inside the market. It’s a community hub like no other, offering all kinds of weekly workshops, tastings, and activities that guests can sign-up on their website to register for interactive food experiences. Some examples of their classes include:

  • Oysters 101 & Tasting with World Record Holder “Shucker Paddy”

  • Thanksgiving Centrepiece Workshop

  • Master The Ultimate Bakery Style Cupcake

  • Create a Swoon Worthy Charcuterie and Cheese Board

  • Pasta Making with Acclaimed Chef Michael Angeloni

This is just a very small sample size of the types of classes Kitchen & Co offer year round. For me personally with so many unique and fun classes they were offering, it was hard to choose which first class I would be interested in attending when browsing through their schedule. Scanned the calendar a little bit more and bingo! The “Brew Your Own Kombucha Workshop” was calling my name!

Hosted by Village Juicery and certified Holistic Nutritionist Danielle Wiens, this 1.5 hour workshop was a step-by-step class on learning to brew kombucha at home!

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So what is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a probiotic beverage, created through an ancient process of adding a SCOBY (symbolic community of bacteria & yeast), often referred to as “the mother” to sweet black tea. This living bacteria consumes the sugars within the tea (aka it ferments), leaving behind all kinds of compounds that are renowned for their health benefits including probiotic bacteria and several types of organic acids.

The moral of the story that we were taught in the workshop is basically to not like the SCOBY die! Feed it, nourish it, check up on it. Think of it as a new pet you inherited. Pet SCOBY! Without a living SCOBY there is no kombucha to brew. No pressure right?

Brewing kombucha at home is a two step fermentation process that takes around two weeks to complete from start to finish. As this is a living beverage, once you have your first successful brew under your belt, you’ll be able to use that SCOBY to brew literally endless kombucha at home. Follow these steps I learned here at the “Brew Your Own Kombucha Workshop” and you’ll be an expert at making your own kombucha at home in no time.

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STEP 1: The 1st Ferment

Purpose:

  • To start new batch

  • Create fermentation

  • Grow your SCOBY so you can share it with others

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 black tea bag

  • 1/4 cup of organic sugar

  • 1 SCOBY

  • 1 brewing vessel (eg. glass jar)

Directions:

  1. Brew black tea in filtered water (1 tea bag + 1/4 cup of organic sugar per litre - don’t mess with this ratio!)

  2. Let it sit and adjust to room temperature (5 hours/overnight).

  3. Add piece of SCOBY, it can be any size, usually 3” is a good start. It will grow to cover the surface of your brewing vessel.

  4. Ferment for 7 - 10 days. Try after 7 days and decide when to start second ferment. The sweeter the final product, the less it needs to be fermented. The more sour/fermented it tastes, the longer you should ferment it for. It’s all your preference!

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STEP 2: The 2nd Ferment

Purpose:

  • To add carbonation, C02

  • Add flavour

  • Bottle it up

What You’ll Need:

  • Glass bottles

  • Sugar and water to make simple syrup

  • Herbs of your choice

  • Strainer and funnel for bottling

Directions:

  1. Make Simple Syrup

    • 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water with optional unlimited herbs and roots of your choice

    • Add sugar, water, and optional herbs of your choice into pot

    • Let simmer allowing sugar to melt

    • Bring heat down to low temperature & cover

    • Let herbs sit in sugar/water to allow for the absorption of flavour

  2. Remove SCOBY by hand or with wooden spoons, and add to your SCOBY hotel (another glass vessel to temporarily stow it in).

  3. Strain kombucha into other vessel

  4. Bottle kombucha liquid into glass bottles

  5. Add 2 TBSP of simple syrup (carefully measured)

  6. Cap off sealed tight

  7. Ferment outside of fridge, at a moderate temperature, away from the sun for 2 - 3 days

  8. Place in fridge after 2 - 3 days to stop fermentation

  9. Enjoy!

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Tips of Kombucha:

  • Bacteria is boss, everything we do in kombucha is to nourish and cultivate the yeast & bacteria cultures

  • Only use wood & glass utensils. Never allow metal to come in contact with your kombucha. It will affect the bacteria and kill the SCOBY.

  • Drop the soap! Never use soap in your vessel or on wooden spoons. Just use hot water to clean as an alternative.

  • Use filtered water & organic ingredients as fluoride, chlorine, or other commonly used chemicals can change the bacteria/yeast symbolic relationships

  • Temperatures matter. Fermentation ideally occurs between 23 - 29 degrees celsius. Temperature will also affect carbonation and flavour.

It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in just a short time at Market & Co. It’s not just about the food and drinks here, but obtaining more knowledge and a new skill set is what makes this place worth coming back over and over again. To see what upcoming classes are being offered at Market & Co that you may be interested in, click HERE to visit their calendar page and register your spot before they fill up! Share in the excitement with all your friends and family inside Market & Co at Upper Canada Mall to buy, learn, eat, and celebrate all of the delicious and amazing food it offers.

Plant-Based Dinner and Converstations with Aeroplan

The past few months have been a whirlwind. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and from this constant travel naturally for me comes a lot of food. I travel to eat and eat to travel. No doubt about it! Do I eat healthy when I’m traveling abroad though? Not always. When I’m on the move it’s just so easy to pick up a quick snack and go. Junk food? Admittedly so. Lately it’s also been a lot of seafood and meat in my diet, so I’ve actually been craving some hearty and healthy vegetables after coming home from my trips in Prince Edward Island, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Florida. Those cravings luckily were satisfied ten fold.

Aeroplan hosted a plant-based dinner and conversation for some of their Aeroplan Diamond members at Evergreen Brick Works with two world-renowned plant-based chefs David Lee and Chad Sarno. Chef David Lee is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Toronto’s incredibly successful vegan restaurant Planta. He also holds fine-dining experience from all around the globe with an immense respect for sourcing quality ingredients, and is seen as a leader in plant-based cuisine space. On the other hand, Chef Chad Sarno from Texas is not only a creative genius in the kitchen with plant-based cuisine, but he’s also an educator, cookbook authour, and entrepreneur as co-founder of “Good Catch Foods,” a 100% plant-based seafood line launching December 2018. You know if you had these two culinary giants at the helm of one’s dinner you were in for a real treat. You could sense both of their passions for plant-based dining every time they told their stories and described their meatless dishes.

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Aeroplan has been partnering with some of Canada’s top culinary events, and if you would like to explore some other culinary events Aeroplan has been a part of this year, make sure you check out my previous blog posts.

It was truly a magical evening where the night’s dinner explored the idea of sustainable agriculture and the hottest trend in the food world right now: plant-based dining. Aeroplan created an evening aimed to inspire a new appreciation for the importance of local agriculture, healthy eating, and an understanding of just how well anyone can eat without any meat. The night started off with an open bar and plant-based horderves being served to guests mingling outside the dining area. After everyone got their bubbly and a sampling of what was to come, the main event would begin and guests started entering the main dining hall to get settled for the four-course plant-based meal. And oh yes, there was even wine pairings with each course!

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The four dishes were split between the two chefs to prepare where Chef David Lee prepared the first and fourth course, and Chef Chad Sarno prepared the second and third course. The second course for me personally from Chef Chad Sarno was my favourite of the night. I honestly have never ever tasted a dumpling as good as the one he made. It wasn’t the filling that caught my taste buds by surprise, but the dough. When asked how me made it, he simply said it was just flour and water. The good thing is his dumpling recipe is included in his cookbook, so it’s safe to say which recipe I will be hunting down next!

Take a look below and see some of the moments we savoured from that night’s meal. A meatless dinner that for sure was inspiring as it was delicious.

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FIRST

Cookstown Greens Hubbard Squash, White Kimchi, Pears, Pumpkin Pesto & Chicharron

Cookstown Greens Hubbard Squash, White Kimchi, Pears, Pumpkin Pesto & Chicharron

SECOND

Corn Dumplings, Coconut Corn Broth, Chiles & Herbs

Corn Dumplings, Coconut Corn Broth, Chiles & Herbs

THIRD

Charred Hoisin Maitake, Sesame Rice Cake, Pickled Cauliflower, Brussel Leaves & Mint

Charred Hoisin Maitake, Sesame Rice Cake, Pickled Cauliflower, Brussel Leaves & Mint

FOURTH

Niagara Peninsula Apple Pie, Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Corn Nuts & Quebec Maple Syrup

Niagara Peninsula Apple Pie, Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Corn Nuts & Quebec Maple Syrup

I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming winter months in Toronto when Aeroplan becomes the premier sponsor for Winterlicious. Bring on the snow!