Through the power of social networks and after 2 months of starting this food blog, I was invited through Twitter by Laura who would be organizing an event for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Home Lottery. It would be a kitchen tour at the grand prize $3.8 million dollar show home in Vaughan, Ontario where Chef Steve Gonzalez of Valdez restaurant in Toronto would personally walk us through 3 Peruvian street food inspired dishes he would prepare.
When I first started this food blog back in January I really didn’t think much of it and was just encouraged by a few people to start one as they saw that I obviously liked to take pictures of food when I went out. Fast forward to March, I get an invitation to be part of a food & wine event (for free!) and of course I just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. One of the main people who encouraged me to start on this food blogging adventure was my cousin lowcandrew so naturally I invited him to my first event as “The Everyday Foodie.”
We first arrived at the multimillion dollar mansion in Vaughan at around 6:30PM and was immediately struck by the immense size of the home. It’s certainly not something I’m used to seeing in my neighbourhood, let alone living in so walking up towards this home was exciting to say the least. When we eventually went inside and got to the kitchen, I met Laura for the first time, got my name tag, and started to take a casual tour of the show home ourselves. Me and Andrew walked around for about 30 minutes, taking pictures in just about every room until the designer Jack Celli who was also on site gave us a tour of the nearly 8,000 sq. ft. house he designed himself. Below are the various pictures I took of this beautiful house.
Including myself and Andrew there were about 12 other guests at the event from different food blogs across the city with probably the most notable blog there being blogTO. After the house tour was done, we all gathered in the kitchen where Chef Steve Gonzalez was getting ready to walk us through his Peruvian dishes. For any Food Network watchers out there, his name may also sound familiar to you because he was also a contestant on the very first season of Top Chef Canada. He now has opened his very own restaurant in Toronto called Valdez that serves Latin American street food located on 606 King Street West.
Not only was Chef Steve Gonzalez there preparing food for us, but Krystina from Rosewood Winery located in the prestigious Niagara Escarpment was also in the kitchen pairing their 3 wines for each of the 3 dishes we would eat. There was going to be good food and wine to be had by all!
The first Peruvian street food inspired dish was the Scallop Ceviche serving as the appetizer. This was my personal favourite dish of the night. I loved how the citrus flavours were incorporated into the dish and the aroma of the cilantro that the dish was emanating smelled wonderful. Cilantro being a personal favourite scent of mine made it easy for me to take a liking to it. The bite size Scallop Ceviche was very refreshing to eat and the added Chilies brought out a little spice to it as well. The wine that this dish was paired with was the Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling. This wine was also my favourite of the night.
It was now on to the second Peruvian street food dish which acted as the main. We were going to be treated to some Chuzos Al Plancha Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce, Sausage, and Arepa with Corn Meal. The great thing about street food is everything is very easy to eat, nothing is pretentious. I found the beef skewers to be very tender and the sausage that was baked in the oven earlier on was filled with tons of juices when you took a bite. The Arepa which looked like a scallop to me at first was my first experience with it. It has a doughy, bread like texture to it which I found very interesting. The wine that this dish was paired with was the Rosewood Sémillon.
After the second dish was consumed, we took a little intermission before our dessert and Krystina from Rosewood Estates Winery gave us an introduction to their honey wine or “mead.” Mead is made from the fermentation of honey and water and is also the earliest known form of consumable alcohol. As the mead is already sweet from the honey it is easily paired with a form of dessert. Fun fact from Krystina – The term “The Mile High Club” comes from bees as they are always “getting beesy” high up in the air if you catch my drift. After our little lesson on meads and bees was done, it was a great segway leading to our final course, dessert.
Our dessert came in a form of a frozen treat called the Helado De Salpicon. “Helado” means ice cream in Spanish and “Salpicon” refers to a sweet snack. Traditionally it’s sold by street vendors in the form of shaved ice down in Latin America and Chef Gonzalez created a coconut version of it inside this miniature cup encasing. As some of my friends and family will know already, coconut is another favourite ingredient of mine so this Latin American popsicle I’d like to call it was a very enjoyable and whimsical dessert to have. It would be even better enjoyed on a hot and sunny summer day here in Toronto. The wine that this dessert was paired with was the Rosewood Mead Royale (Honey Wine).
Also left with a free jar of Wildflower Honey courtesy of Rosewood Estates Winery! Yum!
When everything was said and done it was a great experience to be part of an event like this especially at such an early stage in my blogging adventure. I met some great people, had fantastic food, drank some amazing wine, and to top it all off I was inside this gorgeous $3.8 million mansion. What more could an Everyday Foodie ask?
On a serious note, this event was also created to support cancer drug research by the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The net proceeds from the sale of the lottery tickets will go towards finding new drug therapies to hopefully make cancer the thing of the past. If you want to order a Home Lottery ticket you can click here and if you are lucky enough you could be one of the lucky winners and own the very home pictured here. Tickets start at $100 each.
Laura Zahody – Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Krystina Roman – Rosewood Estates Winery
Chef Steve Gonzalez – Valdez Restaurant
Jack Celli – Greenpark Group