Commercial Kitchen Equipment Auction at The Careport Expo Centre

Calling all Restaurants, Caterers and Serious Foodies!

The Careport Expo Centre is hosting a Commercial Kitchen Equipment Auction on Wednesday November 14, 2012. Quality equipment for amazing prices!

 

Commercial Kitchen Equipment Auction at The Careport Expo Centre

Commercial Kitchen Equipment Auction at The Careport Expo Centre

For a complete auction listing including photos, please visit Commercial Kitchen Equipment Auction at The Careport Expo Centre

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Dessert Hors d’oeuvres

People normally don’t think about dessert as a go-to appetizer choice, but I definitely live by the mantra “eat dessert first”!

With the holiday season upon us and our calendars filling up with office pot lucks and house parties; everyone is scrambling to find something easy and delicious to proudly present as your contribution to the party. While pig in a blanket or frogs in a blunder are very popular and delicious choices to bring, why not try bringing a sweet dessert hors d’oeuvre? It stands out in the crowded world of finger foods and supplies the much needed sugar rush before the main course is served.

Here are two of my recent dessert hors d’oeuvre favs:

Salty Sweets

Salty-Sweet Treats

Salty-Sweet Treats

  • Pre-heat your oven to 350 and grease a 13 X 9 pan (approx. size)
  • Layer your pan with either gram cracker squares or saltine crackers (I would recommend using a double layer of the saltines)
  • Sprinkle your base evenly with whatever toppings you want! I find nuts work best (pecans, almonds or pralines). I usually do a cup of whatever toping a choose, then set aside
  • Over medium heat, melt together 3/4-1cup of butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • Once the butter/sugar mixture has been combined, evenly drizzle the entire mixture over your pan
  • Pop your pan in the oven for 8-10 min and you are done!
  • I would recommend you don’t let the dessert sit for too long in the pan, and it does get fairly sticky. Chop them up on squares, trianglesor other interesting bite-sized shapes.  The combo of the crispy caramelization of the butter and sugar with the saltiness of the cracker and nuts is heaven!

The Hello Dolly Bar Rip Offs

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 and grease a 9 X 9 pan
  • Your Base: mix together 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4-1/2 cup of melted butter. Evenly pat down into the bottom of the pan
  • Now just add layers…..
  • Cover the graham cracker bottom with 1 cup of walnuts (toast them for extra flavour)
  • Then add a 1 cup layer of coconut
  • Add a layer of 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Lastly, smother the layers with a can of condensed milk
  • Thrown it in the oven and bake for approximately 45min, or till the edges are golden brown and the centre looks set. You are done!
  • Chop them in bite sizes pieces and serve them up to your friends and family. They are a delight!

This holiday season indulge in the lifestyle of “Eat Dessert First!” The great thing about these recipes is you are serving them in appetizer portion sizes, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your waistline!

Happy baking!

Shannon

www.FoodandDrinkFest.com

6th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Fesitval with Taste!

April 8, 9 & 10, 2011 ~ Copps Colisuem

The Bread Bar Experience

If you are a frequent visitor of the Locke St District, you know that newest and hottest spot on the trendy Hamilton street is The Bread Bar.  The “artisan bakery by day, pizzaeria by night” has quickly formed a loyal and eclectic following.  Every time I have frequented this place, I seem to run into someone I know and have been in for some great people watching (fabulously dressed people and hilarious conversations occurring at every table! I know, I’m a creep) The decor is a beautiful arts and crafts mixture of vibrant photographs, prints of Hamilton cityscapes, and found objects creatively arranged throughout the space. The vintage, mis-matched furniture juxtaposed with the artful decor gives the restaurant goer the unique experience of feeling like they are eating in a chic urban art gallery, while still experiencing the comforting familiarity and warmth of one’s own kitchen.  The restaurant setting and atmosphere does a wonderful job of mirroring the philosophy of local community and locally grown food and encourages the restaurant goer to escape the hustle of the day, chat with your dining companions, meet your dining neighbours (the tables are fairly close together) and linger over a home-cooked meal.

While I have heard complaints of the noise level in the restaurant (there seems to be a bit of an echo when it is really busy), I personally love the soundtrack they have playing.  Abandoning the usual dinner music repertoire, Bread Bar plays a fabulous mixture of upbeat English pop, rock, folk, alternative and a little jazz.  I’ve heard everything from The Jon Bon, Mother Mother, to Wintersleep coming through their speakers.

Joe chowing down on a the Bacon & Scallion Pizza

Joe chowing down on a the Bacon & Scallion Pizza

Food for Thought: The Bread Bar’s food philosophy is largely based around Celebrity Chef Jeff Crump and Pastry Chef Bettina Schormann’s cookbook Earth to Table, in that they believe that good, fresh and local ingredients matter (not to mention taste so much better!).  They have put many of the “green” recipes in their cook book to the test and serve them up at the restaurant.  For more information about their food philosophy and their cookbook, visit http://breadbar.ca/cookbook

The Main Attraction: Pastry Chef Bettina Schormann’s mouth-watering bread and pizza dough recipes are the decadent base for many of my favourites on the menu. The pizza dough is fresh, light, crispy, of a medium thickness and has a slightly buttery aftertaste.  It quite literally melts in your mouth.

My recommendations

Salads: Roasted Heirloom Beet Salad: an explosion of many different flavours and textures coming together

Pizzas: You really can’t lose on this one.  They are all fantastic.  For a more traditional pie, go for the Classic Pepperoni or Bacon and Scallion.  If you are more adventurous try the Potato Bianca (LOVE THIS ONE!)or the Popeye.

Rami enjoying a signature Bread Bar Pizza

Rami enjoying a signature Bread Bar Pizza

Bruschetta: I really like the Eggplant or the Tomato.  Tip for the Tomato: ask for half the ricotta.  The impact of flavour will be so much stronger because you will be able to taste more of the inch and a half thick homemade bread they serve it on.

Desserts: They have an entire counter top filled with freshly baked goods, made with local ingredients for you to choose from. Some of my favourites include their ginger cookies, chocolate chip scones and their in season fruit pies.  I’ve gone and had dessert first! I wasn’t disappointed.

Cappuccino and Chocolate Chip Scone from The Bread Bar

Cappuccino and Chocolate Chip Scone from The Bread Bar

Beet Salad from Bread Bar

Beet Salad from Bread Bar

For their full menu, please visit http://breadbar.ca/

Last tip before sending you off to The Bread Bar, make a reservation! They work fast, but they are always busy

PS if you are in the mood for some backyard BBQing, pick up Bread Bars Hamburger buns! Amazingly fresh with a smattering of sunflower seeds across the top.  You’ll have an instant gourmet burger on your hands!

Cheers,

Shannon

www.FoodandDrinkFest.com

Much ado about Menus Only…

My friend Jennifer Odell and I had a chance to sit down and chat with Marie Pavone, owner & creator of Menus Only.  Menus Only is a free online restaurant menu and dining guide featuring menus, coupons and daily

Marie Pavone, Creator of MenusOnly.com

Marie Pavone, Creator of MenusOnly.com

specials from Hamilton, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Dundas, Ontario and surrounding area restaurants.  After asking Marie from Menus Only some question and exploring the site a little more, I discovered the number one reason I like it: it reinforces the fact that our region has so many amazing restaurants!  Not only that, but the Hamilton-Halton region is the home to restaurants that serve almost every type of cultural cuisine and dining experience you can imagine.  So if you live in the area and you are looking for a new dining experience, I encourage you to visit www.MenusOnly.com and peruse the copious amount of restaurant choices that are in your own backyard!  If you are new to or visiting the area, let Menus Only give you a virtual tour of what our fine restaurants have to offer.  I bet you won’t be disappointed!

F&WG: What inspired you to create Menus Only?

MO: A couple of years ago I was working in an office in Oakville.  My husband (than boyfriend) was going to meet me to go out for dinner.  Since we weren’t very familiar with the restaurants in that area, I was browsing website after website trying to find out what our options were.  Nothing was in one place…you had restaurant listings on one site, prices on another and there were very few Menus posted.  The search took forever with everything being in different places.  I thought since I was frustrated, others would be too!  My now husband and I chatted about it over dinner that very night and Menus Only was born.

F&WG: That’s pretty cool! It really is a great and useful tool; especially since everyone is so busy these days. You’ve touched on it above, but what makes Menus Only a great resource and different than all of the other listings out there?

MO: Basically, Menus Only is a “One Stop Shoppe” for dining decisions.  We are not just restaurant listings, but we also include menus, daily specials, pricing, pictures of what you would be eating and where you would be eating it. Of course, all of these dining choices are local and easily accessible for you and many offer different price points to ensure the evening is delicious but affordable.  If someone is interested in receiving more information about different menus, the restaurants and specials, you can sign up for the Menus Only newsletter, which is emailed out once a month.  All of these features together save people both time and money because it help them know in advance how much things will cost, so there is no surprise when the bill comes at the restaurant. Menus Only also helps people become smarter consumers, instead of risking time or money trying out a new restaurant, only to be disappointed with that experience (we have all been there).   Make sure you get what you want for dinner.

F&WG: What is the newest, hottest menu item on your website?

MO: I would have to say that one of the hottest new Menus and restaurants is 3 S’s in Oakville.  They are featuring a very creative menu featuring Canadian Culinary sensation (Angus beef and eastern seafood).  The atmosphere is also really cool.  Every half an hour or so, one of the waiters/waitresses will get up and sing for the crowd.  Don’t worry they are professionally trained singers. lol It is such a cool and interactive dining experience.

F&WG: Who would you recommend should use Menus Only?

MO: Everybody can use it! Especially anyone and everyone that wants to go out to eat but doesn’t know where to go.  People who I have found benefitted a lot from Menus Only are people who are new to the area, people with little kids (is the menu “kid friendly”), and people with special food needs (food allergies, looking for gluten-free meals and vegetarians/vegans)

F&WG: You offer special coupons and deals on your website. What are the ones that are currently the most popular and why?

MO: The two coupons that seem to be getting the most attention are Philip Shaver House and The Old Magill House.  Not only are they fabulous restaurants, but the coupons they are offering are, like $20.00 each!  It’s an amazing value.

Q: What are some of the “Hidden Gem” Restaurants you have listed? You know, the restaurants that completely blew you away?

MO: There are so many, so it’s hard to choose.  The three off of the top of my head:

1)     Boo’s Bistro: there are so many unique options and creative ingredient combinations to choose from.

2)     La Spagett Pasta House: It truly is a hidden gem.  It’s just a little place and it is stuck in the middle of a plaza on the mountain but their food is to die for if you like authentic Italian cuicine.  Portions are very generous too!

3)     Ventura’s Signature Restaurant: Not only is the decor beautiful and elegant with all of the old fashioned polished wood, but the food is fresh, homemade and authentic Portuguese.

Q: What is your favourite meal?  (We were nice and didn’t ask her what her favourite menu was;))

MO: Since I grew up with it, I am a sucker for Italian Food!  But otherwise, I love Mediterranean or Middle Eastern Cuisine.  Falafel and hummus……yummmm

Menus Only will be launching their re developed website in about a month. Be sure to check back!  Same great product…only enhanced and with a face lift! There is a sneak peak of the new site below….

MenusOnly.com "New Look" Coming Soon

MenusOnly.com "New Look" Coming Soon

Cookies Make the World Go Round

Despite my best intentions of learning how to cook; I am sad to report that my attempts at making the main course are still mediocre at best. But I vow to keeping fighting the good fight to become a faster, better and more creative cook.

In the meantime, I have found something I seem to excel at: Baking.  My specialty: Cookies! While many people seem to think that baking is more of a science while cooking is more of an art, I think I have become a successful cookie creator because I feel like I can be creative and spoil people I love at the same time.  While cooking “real food” on a day to day basis can sometimes be monotonous or simply necessity; making cookies for another person is like finding out a little secret about their personality.  Even though I have never met a cookie I didn’t like, I have found that people are extremely particular about their cookies.  I’m telling ya folks, people have put a surprising amount of thought into what their preferred cookie choices are!

My Boyfriends favs!  Sorry, can't share this recipe....its a secret

My Boyfriends favs! Sorry, can't share this recipe....its a secret

Do they like their cookies well done, crispy on the outside/soft in the middle or incredibly melt in your mouth gooey?  Dry or moist?  Thin or thick?  Do they dip?  If so, are they dunking in milk or a hot drink?  Do they like a lot of action in their cookies (M&M’s, chocolate chips, SKOR pieces, different nuts, raisins etc) or to they prefer a more traditional, plain European cookie?   Do they like icing on their cookies and if so, do they like it on top or sandwich style?

The list of possibilities and cookie combos is endless. Believe me, I know! I was planning on making a batch of cookies to welcome my friend home from Kenya, where she was researching for her PhD.  Once I made my cookie making plans public, I received orders from my brothers, parents, friends, my boyfriend and his friends and co-workers.  8 dozen and 4 different kinds of cookies later, I was exhausted but everyone else seemed blissfully happy on their sugar highs.

I have included links to the 4 different cookie recipes below for your baking pleasure.  I have also included some of my own tips on what I did and what “Cookie Profile” will enjoy each kind.  My ultimate Cookie Creating Tip: the next time you are talking to someone ask them “What’s your favourite kind of cookie?”  You will be amazed at the conversation that will ensue and what you will find out about that person (personal tastes, guilty pleasures, childhood memories etc).  Once you have this precious bit of information, use it for good and surprise that person with a batch of their favs.  It will do both of your minds and souls good.  Unfortunately your waistline may suffer….but thats a worry for another story!

The Special Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...well done as requested

The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…well done as requested

Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies

-Most Guys have not liked these cookies….but mothers, aunts, girlfriends etc LOVE them!

-Even though they are super sweet, I have actually cut each cookie into quarters and served them as appetizers.  People devoured them!

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

-Added white chocolate chips to them for a lighter flavour and for some colour

-I also drizzled some melted some white chocolate chips on top

-Watch closely while baking!  All batches seemed to go really fast from raw to very well done!

-Also, they cooked better when a flattened them a bit, even though the recipes doesn’t call for this

-For the chocolate lover in your circle!

For the Chocolate Lovers and Sweets Tooths!

For the Chocolate Lovers and Sweets Tooths!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

– For those that like thicker, a bit more dry and crispy cookies….these ones are for you! Perfect with a tall glass of milk, I am told

– Bake a bit longer than called for.  The batch I did that with, seemed to be more popular

Special Oatmeal Chip Cookies

-Instead of the candy coating, I used melted milk chocolate and white chocolate chips with a bit of shortening…..it makes the cookies a bit gooier

– For the ultimate “Sweet tooth” and for the person who likes a lot of action in their cookie

Enjoy!

There is a New Bride on the Block…..and she’s socially conscious!

Every year Martha Stewart, Today’s Bride, The Knot and other big names in the Wedding World come out with endless Top 10 Trends lists about The Dress, the reception, sizes of weddings, engagement rings etc.  These lists are ever-changing and often exhausting to try and keep up with.  However, there has been a trend that has seemed to stick around for quite a few seasons: The Socially conscious Bride and Groom.

The socially and environmentally friendly trend has appeared in nearly every aspect of the bride and grooms wedding: invitations made on recycled paper, e-invites to avoid using paper, gently used wedding gowns, wedding gowns made out of eco friendly materials, the wedding party taking public transportation instead of cars, donate leftover reception food to the homeless….the list could go on and on…

I have also seen many couples forgo actual wedding gifts and gift registries and instead ask their guests to make a donation to Canadian Cancer Society, to Alzheimer’s Society, to bring toys and books to donate to underprivileged children, raise money for the couple’s old high school or local children’s sports team.  And even if they are not completely omitting the gift registry they are certainly incorporating an altruistic perspective to their wedding.

While I certainly applaud the socially conscious bride; I at first wondered why any self-respecting girl would go to such lengths on her special day to allow any attention to be diverted from her??  I mean, look at the Bridezillas!  While their actions live up to their monstrous namesakes, they all seem to waltz away smelling like roses, lookin’ beautiful and loaded down with wedding gifts and loot.  Personally, after a few episodes of Bridezillas, I soon realized this was not the type of wedding I would want.  I think it is actually the socially conscious bride and groom that end up having the day that is most memorable and “about them” and here’s why:

  • Puts the focus on things that are really important to the bride and groom: Instead of the focus being on material items, it is on the beliefs, causes, philosophies, and community that the bride and groom really care about.  What could be more special than supporting and celebrating what truly represents that couple and what they hope to help and create?   The cause that the couple decide to support may also be in memory of a loved one that sadly cannot attend the wedding, but through that cause, their spirit is represented and honoured at the wedding
  • The Socially Conscious Couple creates the perfect “marriage” between the wedding and the Marriage (pun, of course, intended) In the past, we have seen a huge trend of brides-to-be being focused on their wedding day, with the entire marriage being an afterthought.  The socially conscious couple appears to view the wedding day as the first day of the rest of their lives life as a married couple. They publically declare to their friends and families how they are choosing to live their lives as husband and wife by showing people what they care about and that they want the community they are getting married in to be a healthy, happy and prosperous one for their own lives and for the families they will be starting together.

So I encourage brides and grooms to incorporate the causes and charities that they are passionate about or would like to become passionate about in their wedding planning.  It is a simple way to make their wedding a rewarding, positive experience that truly represents who they are as a couple.  It also allows their wedding to leave a memorable impact on their community and world…not just pretty pic in their photo album!

Hamilton Food Share

Hamilton Food Share

To get local couples wedding planning started on a truly altruistic track, the Hamilton-Halton Spring Wedding Show 2010 is running the first ever wedding show food drive (Brides for Banks) in support of Hamilton Food Share. We hope to raise over 6,000 canned goods for the families and children in the Hamilton area.

So I ask everyone attending this years show, to raid their pantries or head over to their local grocer and bring as many nonperishable food donations as they can to the wedding show at the Hamilton Convention Centre on January 9 and 10, 2010.  11am-5pm each day.  Even if they can’t stay for the show, I still welcome any donations at the door!

Visit www.BridalShowsToday.com or www.HamiltonFoodShare.org for more details

Interview with The Canadian Cheese Guru

Like any sane individual, I love cheese.  Unfortunately, my cheese vocabulary is quite limited (Yummm is all I got).  I also have no idea where to start when standing at Sam & Son International Cheese deli counter in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market; mouth watering, staring at the copious array of cheeses from around the world.  So I thought I would enlist some help to begin to understand and fully appreciate the wonderful world of cheese. And I enlisted the best!  Canada’s Cheese Guru, Gurth Pretty, was kind enough to answer some of my cheese queries.  Not only did Gurth’s answers prove to be helpful, but his passion for cheese, especially Canadian Cheese, shone through his answers. Detailed, knowledge packed & humorous answers, Gurth certainly knows his “cheese stuff”. My chat with Gurth got me excited and more confident for my next trip to Sam & Sons & I can’t wait to try his tips on the best gooey grilled cheese!  Check out his books Canadian Artisanal Cheese & The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook for more in depth info. Bon Santé!

Gurth Pretty, The Canadian Cheese Guru

Gurth Pretty, The Canadian Cheese Guru

1) FWG: What is your absolute favourite cheese…the one(s) you just can’t live without and why?

GP: The perfect cheese basket includes: Riopelle de l’Isle – an amazing triple-cream brie from Quebec (oozy and wow!), Dragon’s Breath – a so different blue from Nova Scotia (I love salty and tangy blues), Figaro – a soft cheese which has a slight goat flavour, but surprise, it is made of cow’s milk (my cousin makes it), Old Grizzly from Alberta – a two year-old Gouda (outstanding flavour with a touch of caramel taste), Roast Garlic Chèvre from B.C. – I love the texture of the cheese, its aroma with the bonus of roasted garlic – kaching!

2) FWG: What it your favourite item to pair with cheese & why?

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] I am a purist. I want to taste the cheese on its own and discover its hidden secrets.

3) FWG: What is your favourite type of drink to have with cheese & why?

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] Beer! It has so many different flavours, which can match very well with cheese.

4) FWG: You have been all over the world and have had the opportunity to taste a plethora of different & fantastic cheeses.  In your opinion, what makes Canadian Cheese so unique?

Gurth Pretty's book, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese

Gurth Pretty's book, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese

GP: Epicurean Expeditions Cheeses of Canada are world-class! Cheese made of cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo milk is produced in our country. What makes Canadian cheese unique is that our cheesemakers learned of different styles of cheese from so many different countries (France, Switzerland, England, Colombia, India, Italy, Holland, Syria, Greece, Portugal, Mexico, …). The cheese of the world are now being made right here. Our cheesemakers are experimenting and creating uniquely Canadian-themed cheese.

Bergerie aux 4 Vents cheeses

Bergerie aux 4 Vents cheeses

5) FWG: Where would you recommend people from the Hamilton-Halton area go to find great quality cheeses?

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] Visit the cheesemakers of the region and experience their cheese – Upper Canada Cheese (Jordan Station), Salerno (Hamilton), Paron Cheese (Hannon/Elfrida) and Jensen Cheese (Simcoe). Go to your favourite local cheesemonger and ask for Canadian artisanal cheese (ie. Denninger’s, Cheese Shoppe on Locke, Micky MacGuire’s, Picone’s, Sam & Sons, … )

6) FWG: If a person were just beginning to experience the world of cheese, what type of cheese(s) would you recommend they start with?

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] Start with a soft brie or Camembert, a milder cheese.

7) FWG: What are the top 3 things new cheese lovers look for when selecting a quality cheese?

Learn delicious parings & recipres from the Wine & Cheese Cookbook

Learn delicious pairngs & recipes from the Wine & Cheese Cookbook

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] 1) a knowledgeable cheesemonger to guide them on their journey of OMG experiences, 2) What are they in the mood for? something soft, firm, sweet, nutty, salty?, 3) To nibble or to cook with?

8)FWG: Is there a new cheese or cheese trend on the block that you just can’t stop raving about?

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] Canadian cheese! It is so fracking delicious!

9) FWG: What’s your secret for making the perfect gooey grilled cheese sandwich?  (What type of cheese, bread do you use, cooking recommendations and do you serve anything with it?)

GP: [Epicurean Expeditions] Listen to me little grasshopper, pay heed to the master of the grilled cheese. For a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, choose your cheese wisely, one that will melt with ease. An OKA, Niagara Gold, American mozzarella, Jalapeño Jack, and Horseradish Cheddar come to my mind. White bread will not hide the flavour of the cheese. Remember, it is about the cheese. Spread unsalted butter onto the outside of the slices to give a touch more WOW to the experience. The bread will appreciate it by showing its golden colour to you. If you follow my advice little grasshopper, this yummy creation for the gods needs no side or freak shows to distract your tastebuds. Enjoy it in its purest form. It will be a zen moment for your soul and tummy.

Hamilton Needs a Signature Sandwich

The Philly Cheese Steak. Montreal Smoked Meat. The Pittsburgh Sandwich. The Hamilton ___________(Fill in the blank)?  I don’t know what kind of sandwich it should be or what it should be called, but the city of Hamilton, Ontario needs a signature sandwich for residence and tourists to enjoy!

My memories of every place I have ever visited and my desire to recommend that place or to possibly plan a return visit is largely based on the food I experienced while there. When I have visited places like Montreal, the 4 inch pile of old fashioned smoked meat on a rye, otherwise known as the Montreal Smoked, from Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Deli is a “Must-Have” on the Montreal to do list.  Like any visitor to the city known as Canada’s Cultural Capital; I wanted to immerse myself in all that is Montreal. Believe it or not; standing in the never ending line at Schwartz’s to wait for that smoked meat, getting yelled at by the cantankerous owner taking orders and then eating the sandwich over a crowded cafeteria style table, elbow to elbow with numerous strangers, is one of my favourite memories of Montreal. Unlike the more cliché “been there and bought the t-shirt” tourist experiences, a visitor biting into a Montreal Smoked Meat or any other city’s sandwich, is like getting off the tourist’s beaten path to begin to experience the yummy, messy, sticky, glorious mess of a culture that can be found between the two pieces of artisan bread (or Wonderbread…depending on which city you are visiting;)).  While it doesn’t seem like much; a city’s sandwich is a small, teasing taste of what that entire city has to has to offer.

We all know that the memories associated with the “bought the t-shirt” experience only re-emerge when said t-shirt is dug out of the back of the closet to wear to the gym; but chowing down on a scrumptious sandwich in a foreign city is an experience that can never be buried in the back of your mind like the t-shirt was buried in the back of the closet. Indulging in a city’s sandwich never occurs without an unforgettable story or without good company. In addition, The Sandwich Experience also triggers the two senses that are most closely linked to memory: taste and smell.  Thinking about Montreal Smoked Meat creates a mouth watering, stomach growling reaction that makes me want to pack my bags and jump in the car just so I can experience The Sandwich all over again. Sure, I could get a smoked meat in my own backyard, but Montreal created an experience for me that can never be duplicated.  I personally want visitors to Hamilton to have the same experience and memories of our city as I have of Montreal. Why not attempt to place Hamilton in the hearts of tourists through their stomachs?  I hear it works on men, so why not try it on the tourist industry as a whole!

A city’s sandwich also offers a sense of civic pride and unity. Whether residents of a city like/eat the sandwich or not; that sandwich represents them and tells a tasty story of who that community was and where they came from.  For instance, The Pittsburgh Style Sandwich was created out of necessity so the thousands of steel workers and truck drivers could eat their entire lunch in one hand so their other hand was free to work.  Even though Pittsburh has evolved from being known as just a Steel Town, the sandwich remains a feature on many restaurant menus. With the Signature Sandwich idea, the legacy and history of a community is not shown through buildings, war or industry (old or new) but through something that nourishes, that was artfully and organically created by the people, delights the senses and can be enjoyed socially by members of that community and its visitors.

That being said, I don’t know what I would want to represent “Hamilton on a Bun”.  I do know that Hamilton and the surrounding region have an abundance of fresh, eclectic, delicious and locally grown ingredients to build a great sandwich.  From the farmers market downtown and throughout the city, delicious local delis like Greensville Gourmet, Reardon’s or Beach Road, fresh, worldly cheese like Salerno

Hamilton Needs a Sandwich

Hamilton Needs a Sandwich!

& Sam’s, and being the largest producer of mustard in the entire world; I think Hamilton could make a pretty kick-ass sandwich! Come to think of it, Hamilton is the 3rd most ethnically diverse city in Canada, so we may need to have a couple of different sammy’s to really represent. Hamilton was once known as the ambitious city, but we lost that for a while.  However, with that buzz, spirit and excitement is back in the air; whatever Hamilton’s signature sandwich ends up being, I’m sure it will be a delectable and hearty handful….and mouthful!

My Dirty Little Food Secret

I am one of the event organizers for the Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste, which takes places annually in the spring.   This year we moved to the larger space of Copps Coliseum, Hamilton because the festival is expanding so quickly.  Boasting over 50 of the Hamilton-Halton & Niagara Regions’ top independent restaurants, over 35 local & international wineries, 25 craft breweries and dozens of spirits, liqueurs, bakeries and gourmet foods; the Food & Drink Fest is Southern Ontario’s Meca of all things gourmet food and drink.  My Dirty Little Secret: Despite being in the driver’s seat of the region’s largest culinary event, I can’t cook to save my life.

Up until this point, I really could care less if I could cook.  Throughout university I lived on coffee, veggies, chocolate, peanut butter and more coffee, so cooking wasn’t a necessity.  However; once I started working fulltime at Beau Monde Productions (the company that produces Food & Drink Fest), my foodie boss introduced me to the wonderful world of actual food and suddenly peanut butter just wasn’t cutting it anymore (unless of course it is used in a Chicken Stir-fry with peanut sauce over wild rice. Yum!). Even when my taste buds began to crave all things hot, spicy, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, German (you get the picture, I basically didn’t meet a calorie I didn’t like); I still didn’t feel a great desire to learn how to cook.

The Tipping Point

After a really long, busy week, my boyfriend and I voted on a quiet Friday Movie Night.  On Friday afternoon, an unfamiliar and slightly disturbing urge came over me; I wanted to surprise him and cook dinner! I pushed aside the domestic unease and took up the cooking challenge.  My dinner choice was a hardy, home-cooked meal of pasta and spicy Italian sausage in a red sauce with bruschetta and salad to start.  I raced around after work; going to the market to get the food and cleaning the apartment. By the time my boyfriend got home; I had dinner cooked and a beer freshly uncapped and ready for him.  He was really surprised and appreciative….until he took his first bite.  His first and last bite, I might add.  It turns out I excel at burning, over cooking and under spicing….and thats about it.  So after all of my hard work, we ended up ordering a pizza and the only “A” I got was for effort.  I decided that night to learn to cook, because even though my first attempt ended up in the green bin, the process of planning, shopping for the fresh ingredients and the creation of the actual meal was fun and incredibly rewarding.  On top of that, I now had the motivation to prove I actually can cook.

So with the help of my boyfriend (who is an excellent cook), advice from the office foodies, Jay & Stacey, and endlessly searching the internet for recipes; I have embarked on my cooking journey.  I’ll be sure to update on all of the tips and tricks I pick up along the way.  More importantly, I’ll be sure to fill everyone in on all of the fabulous restaurants I have to frequent after I experience one culinary casualty after another at home!

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Published in: on November 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm  Comments (1)