Tag Archives: Ontario

Bees & Cheer

Cheese N Beer - Belgian Beer

I recently had the pleasure of attending the “Beer School for Cheese Fans – Best of Belgium”, with brewmaster Sam Corbeil. This tasting event took place at the Leslieville Cheese Market West Market (541 Queen St. West, Toronto).

I’ve been a bit of a cheese dork for a while now, very slowly trying new fun cheeses and resisting the urge to become a total cheese “snob”. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve even been open to drinking beer, however.

J has always enjoyed trying new beers, and back in 2007 we were in Boston when he had me try a locally brewed, unfiltered wheat beer with fennel and cardamom. My opinion took such a sharp change in direction that we spent the rest of our trip trying new beers… and enjoying them! Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what kinds of beers I like (and almost more importantly, which ones I don’t like).

Beer and cheese are now two of my favourite things. So it makes sense that someone would see “Beer School for Cheese Fans” and instantly think of me 🙂 Yes, this tour of deliciousness was a gift from a good friend (thanks!).

Cheese N Beer - Blue Haze

Blue Haze, a smoked blue cheese

Tonight’s tour paired 5 Belgian style beers with 5 different cheeses. The beers were all very different, and very tasty. I think that I had only had the Mill St. Wit before. Sam, who was doing the presentation, said something that I hadn’t thought of before – beer naturally pairs with cheese, because their flavours are more similar. I thought about this, and realized there’s at least some truth to it. It always seems like you choose foods that compete (favourably) with some flavours in wine, whereas there really isn’t that battle with beer. We ended up buying some crazy smoky blue cheese, and some cave-aged gruyere. We tried to buy some of the salty sheep’s milk cheese, but it was sold out by the time we made up our minds.

  • Mill St. Belgian Wit / Mouton Rouge (a salty sheep’s milk cheese)
  • Duvel / Morbier (creamy cheese with an ash vein)
  • Chimay “White Cap” Triple / cave aged Gruyere
  • Goulden Carlous “Classic” / Sauvagine, a creamy soft cheese,  on sausage
  • Trois Pistoles  / Blue Haze, a smokey blue cheese,  on rye crackers

In the end, I have to say that the Blue Haze was a great choice. A little bit of blue plus a little bit of smoke make a really good pair – and it tastes AMAZING on fresh Ciabatta bread (thanks, J-dog!).

A Cupcake Spring

Distillery Cupcakes - Café Mocha


I don’t eat them often, but I have always enjoyed them. I have never made them from scratch, and have even recently made some from a box. Yes, I know – shame!!

This Spring, I plan to explore the world of the springy treat with gusto!!

The Plan: Visit a few different gourmet cupcake establishments, and see what it takes to be a delicious gourmet cupcake. Then, try my hand at making some. I am enlisting the help of some of my girls (and, undoubtedly, my guinea pig J) and we will all figure out what all the fuss is about!

My first stop was at a wee location tucked inside one of the buildings in the Distillery District, The Sweet Escape.

Being a smaller shop, they don’t have hundreds of cupcakes on hand. That said, I didn’t have any trouble finding exactly what I wanted to try. I narrowed it down to two: Red Velvet and CafĂ© Mocha. Before you start to judge – I didn’t eat them both myself!!! I split them with J (he deserves it!).

Distillery Cupcakes - Red Velvet

Sweet Escape Cupcakes – Red Velvet, anyone?
  • Red Velvet – nice light cocoa cake, with a rich cream cheese frosting
  • CafĂ© Mocha – rich chocolatey cake, with a delicious espresso buttercream frosting and topped with an espresso bean

I enjoyed both of these quite a bit, but my vote has to go with the CafĂ© Mocha. I prefer its richer chocolate over the light cocoa taste of the Red Velvet, and I’m a sucker for coffee infused anything! The icings on both were rich, creamy and nicely flavoured.  Definitely a great start to my adventure!

But it doesn’t end there. I had to try a new (to me) tasty treat.

Distillery Cupcakes - Macarons



I’ve been told that cupcakes are on their way “out”. That’s pretty funny. What’s supposedly coming up in popularity is the french macaron, which I believe because I’ve been seeing them everywhere. Having never tried one before, I thought this would be a good opportunity. I read that they are French macaroons, which led me to believe that they were full of coconut (even though I couldn’t see any evidence of it on first glance). Let me reassure you, these are NOTHING like the coconut-filled macaroons that we have here in Canada. The coconut ones are commonly found in Scotland, North America and Germany and really don’t taste anything like the French macaron.

This was heavenly – light, crispy meringue outer shell, a soft and chewy middle, with a fine nuttiness. I instantly regret buying only one. I didn’t even share it with J.

Is this the beginning of the end for me? Will I decide that cupcakes are an appropriate food item for every meal? Not likely. But I think this is going to be a fun Spring!!


Gimme Soma Chocolate!

In this installment of ‘Market Mayhem’, I visit the home of chocolate lovers to enjoy the ‘elixir of the Gods’.

Yes, my friends, I went to Soma Chocolatemaker, my very favourite chocolate shop in Toronto. While there, I enjoyed some some Mayan hot chocolate, some truffles (Douglas Fir, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar) and went home with a parting gift, to be enjoyed later.


Perusing chocolate, watching the machines in the Chocolate Lab (tee-hee).

Beware of the spooky faces I make in the video. Not sure what’s going on here, but I get all squinty and weird when in front of a camera. I need to practise in front of a mirror or something.

Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

No, I didn’t buy the $75 chocolate bar… but I didn’t buy the smallest one, either. Yes, we did end up buying a Douglas Fir truffle, and yes it does kinda taste like trees… but in a good way. I know that trees, olive oil, hot chilis and balsamic vinegar all sound like bizarre ingredients for chocolate, but they are amazing and should be tried at least once. These are the ones I reach for the most – when I’m spending that much on a truffle, I don’t want to play it safe.

Go! Find your local chocolate maker! Indulge!

Market Mayhem: A Trip To St. Lawrence Market (Part 1)

St. LawrenceMkt Steph

This past weekend, we took a trip to one of our favourite markets – St. Lawrence Market, in Toronto. We had a chance to pick up some of our “usual fare”, and took some pics while we were at it. Future posts will detail some of the specific finds there, such as Kozlik’s mustard and the fantastic selection of seafood. For now, we’d like to bring you a quick zip through the market, on a cold, cold Saturday.

We came home with armloads of greatness…