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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Behind the Food: The Toasted Tangerine Mobile Sandwich Press

It’s the MOST delicious time of year…Food & Drink Fest time!  The Festival with Taste is returning on March 23, 24 & 25 at The Careport Centre on Longwood Rd. S. Hamilton, Ontario.  Before Food & Drink Fest, we hope to bring you a “behind the scenes” sneak-peak of many of the restaurants, gourmet food options, bakeries, local wineries and breweries.  Getting to know the Chefs, Bakers, Winemakers or the Brewmasters behind our local culinary scene isn’t always an experience we, the foodies, are privy to  have. The team at Food & Drink Fest believes that it is an important and organic step in a foodie’s culinary experience, so we encourage you to read on…then have the opportunity to meet these individuals at the show. If you have any questions of your own, please feel free to them through and we would be happy to ask on your behalf. Cheers!

Company Name: The Toasted Tangerine 

http://thetoastedtangerine.com/

Q: Three adjectives to describe your Culinary Style: Feel good, Delicious, Comfort Food

Q:  What made you fall in love with food?

A: Chef Adrian Tangerine has grown up in the restaurant industry his whole life. Living in a house with a baker, butcher and cook really taught him at a young age that food truly was his passion. Adrian has worked at his family restaurant for the last 15 years and in the last three years taken over the business with his wife and business partner Alyssa Tangerine. Recently they decided to sell their restaurant and continue their devotion for food in the form of a food truck. The Toasted Tangerine Mobile Sandwich Press is a true extension of their passion for food and rock n roll.

The Toasted Tangerine Mobile Sandwich PressThe Toasted Tangerine Mobile Sandwich Press

Q:  Most essential Kitchen Tool/Gadget

A: Sharp Chef’s knife

A: What is your favourite or most frequently used herb in the kitchen?

A: A dash of this and a pinch of that lol!

Q:  In your opinion, what is the most underrated ingredient in the kitchen?

A: Mustard

Q: What inspires you in the kitchen?

A: Music- Specifically Led Zeppelin any song and every song! Led Zeppelin is a band with such a variety of sounds- from heavy drum solos to ballad acoustic love songs. This variety inspires me to constantly add new flare and flavour to my cooking.

Q: Aside from your own restaurant, what’s the best thing you have ever ate locally? It can be from a restaurant or a dinner party. Please include the name of the dish and if it is a restaurant, please include their name.

 A: Crispy Beef- Faley’s in Rexdale, ON http://www.faleyrestaurant.com/

Q: What is your food philosophy?

A: Great food, great people, great music.

Q: What would your ultimate “Last meal” consist of (in a less morbid way, what dish always makes your mouth water? lol). Please include your beverage choices as well as dessert!

For her: Crispy beef, Fettuccine Alfredo, freshly baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and Dr.Pepper cherry.

For him: 20 oz cowboy steak medium rare, crispy beef, side of our Mango Jalapeno coleslaw, skip dessert and give me a whiskey;)

Toasted Tangerine Team: Alyssa & Chef Adrian TangerineToasted Tangerine Team: Alyssa & Chef Adrian Tangerine

Check out The Toasted Tangerine at 7th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste in booth #140

March 23, 24 & 25, 2012

The Careport Centre

270 Longwood Rd S., Hamilton

www.FoodandDrinkFest.com

 

 

The Most Delicious Way to Carbo-Load in the Winter

Ah Canadian Winter. Long, dark days, snow covered EVERYTHING and bone chilling temperatures.  And boy this year, did we get a duesy! My recipe for keeping warm: warm, hearty foods like chili, stews and homemade soups.  One of the “make or break” aspects to this type of meal is the bread you serve with it.  Bread is the perfect accessory on cold, wintry days; offering carbs for extra insulation (haha) and acting as the perfect tool to soak up all the yummy juices off your empty plate.  I have included my current top three bread recipes below.  All of them are fairly easy to make and I have included some of my own tips as well. Keep Warm!

1) Laura Calder’s Bacon and Olive Apperitif

Tips: I would serve this bread with a run-o- the mill noodle soup. This apperitif brings together many rich, strong flavours and you certainly do not want anything fighting with them.

-I found the olive flavour to be more prominent than I expected.  If you are not an olive lover, don’t add in the full 2/3 of a cup….or double up on the bacon;)

-I’ve also substituted these three ingredients for roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and rosemary…divine!

2) Chuck’s Day Off Cheddar Biscuits

Tips: For those who are sensitive to spicy foods, these do pack a bit of a punch. However, the great thing about the cayenne spice in these biscuits is that the heat builds slowly so you have an oortunity to tasty the buttery buscuit and sharp cheddar flavours as well.

-Serve warm! Obvious, I know, but there is a drastic difference in the taste of these biscuits when they are cold.  The warmth seems to emphasize every flaky layer.

-After the butter bath, I finish my cheddar biscuits off with a sprinkling of sea salt

3) Anna Olson’s Cheddar Crackers

Tips: Perfect with homemade tomato soup or for a more savoury treat, serve with a smear of garlic cream cheese.

-I have switched out the extra old cheddar cheese for Asiago. Still very tasty but the sharp sweet/but strong taste offers a unique new layer of flavour

 

Cheers,

Shannon

www.FoodandDrinkFest.com

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

April 8th, 9th & 10th, 2011

Copps Coliseum

 

Shop Local for the Foodie in Your Life

You hate the mall and your gift recipient in a major foodie?  Here are some great gift ideas (big & small) from Hamilton’s independent artists and entrepreneurs….mall free!

For Under the Festivus Pole: You have several foodie forward stores in the  Hamilton area to find your loved ones the perfect foodie gift. From Pure, The Keeping Room, The Causal Gourmet, to Greensville Gourmet; there’s a plethora of shoppes at different prices ranges that offer good quality but unique kitchen ingredients and gear.

For  instance, as one of my gifts this year I purchased a pizza stone and ornate pizza cutter from Greensville Gourmet along with a couple fabulous flavoured oils.  Included with the present will be one of my favourite pizza dough recipes, a bottle of local wine (I’m loving Strewn wine right now) and a movie I know that person will love. Not only does this give the gift recipient a valuable kitchen tool to use and enjoy over and over again, but the inclusion of the wine, recipe and DVD gives a certain “event” quality to the gift.  I just planned a date night for my friend and their spouse…and all under $30 dollars!

The Foodie Experience: Give them a restaurant tour! I’ve done this for a couple of friends/family members who aren’t big on “stuff” but love experiences.  Buy gift certificates from several local restaurants for your your gift recipient to try at their leisure. I usually like to include a gift certificate to one of their usual favourite haunts and then add in one or two certificates to a restaurant they have either wanting to try or one totally off the beaten path.  The gift recipient has the ability to try some delicious new dishes, has the excuse to have a couple nights out with different friends and family and to explore a part of the city they may not frequent very often.

Some great restaurant choices: WASS Ethiopian Restaurant, Mex-I-Can, August 8, La Piazza etc.

Authentic & Local: Many people don’t know this, but the third largest industry in Hamilton is Arts & Culture, which means th city is bursting with talented artists and their crafts are readily available for the holiday season.  Now, where to get such artworks? Art Gallery of Hamilton has a gift shoppe full of locally created art, and actually much of the art is centered around entertaining and food. From wine glass charms to hand-crafted wooden salad bowls; one can browse for hours in just the gift shoppe! This Friday AGH has a Moon Light Madness Shopping Experience just in time for the holidays.   Or talk a walk down James St N and slip into the many art galleries to pick up a local crafted treasure.

Stocking Stuffers: For a little extra treat, or even a hostess gift, head down to the Hamilton Farmers Market. Beanermunky Chocolate Experience is there to fulfill all your chocolate needs (my personal fav is the chocolate covered pretzels) and Blair Elements has dozens of types of organic and delicious teas. Red Hill Coffee will have a stand in the Farmer’s Market in 2011, but you can pick up some of his coffee currently at the Cossart Exchange in Jackson Square.  Red Hill Coffee is actually made right here in Hamilton and is a satisfying and interesting gift for the coffee lover in your life (who knew there was delicious and rich coffee made in your own backyard?!). All these companies offer locally crafted treats, under $15!

Hope this helps! Happy shopping…don’t forget to taste test!

Cheers,

Shannon

www.FoodandDrinkFest.com

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

Recovered from Food & Drink Fest…Finally

Hello my Foodie Friends!

The long gap between posts can be attributed to the crazy planning, executing and cleaning up after Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste. For those of you that don’t know, Food & Drink Fest is probably the biggest and best dinner party in the Southern Ontario Region, which consists of  you, 10,000 of your closest friends, 35 restaurants, 40 wineries, 20 craft breweries, artisan bakeries, live music, cooking demos all at Copps Coliseum on April 9th-11.  All I can say is thankfully, I wasn’t on dish washing duty;)

Crowd Shot from Food & Drink Fest...the Festival with Taste!

Crowd Shot from Food & Drink Fest...the Festival with Taste! (Saturday Night)

Even though I escaped dish duty, my teammates Jay, Jenn and I worked around the clock for about a month before the show to ensure that we were familiar with the logistics of Copps Coliseum (try throwing a food party that big without any kitchens!) and to ensure that the show was the best showcasing of Southern Ontario’s culinary popular delights, hidden gems, and up and coming foodie hot spots, that it could possibly be.

The result? Lets put it this way; Food & Drink Fest grew from being 20,000 square feet in size to Copps Coliseum, where it was 60,000 square feet in size….and we still had 30 minute line ups to get in the door on Friday and Saturday nights.  Yeek! Needless to say we are working on our plan for next year and how we are going to facilitate all of the people comfortably and still maintain the intimate, fun, party atmosphere for festival is known for.  I will keep you posted about 2011 dates and times.

Now for the tragic news: since I was running around so much at Food & Drink Fest, I only got to sample 2, yes only 2 out of the hundreds of food and drink samples available!!  The silver lining was that those two samples were to DIE for. My first sample was homemade butter tarts from Dyments Farm and Bakery.  The tart crusts are flaky and moist and the middle is incredible goosey and sweet.  They are the freshest homemade butter tarts I have ever eaten and since the festival have often gone for a 10km run in the country and rewarded myself with a yummy devilish Dyment butter tart (Very counter productive, but worth every bite). I believe the ones I had were plain, but I am pretty sure you can also get them with raisins or nuts.

The famous (and yummy) Dyment's Baked Goods

My second sample was Sweet Potato Gnocchi from Twisted Lemon Restaurant. Their Chef certainly lived up to their claim of being a “flavour junkie” as the fresh homemade gnoochi in a cream sauce had a flavour that simply exploded on your tongue.  Unlike regular gnocchi, I found the sweet potato base pleasingly lighter and the texture less dense; but nonetheless, still very filling.

Despite only getting to try 2 samples, I heard (and smelled) amazing things from several of the other food samples at Food & Drink  Fest, such as the crab cakes from Nina’s Bistro, Honey West’s beef tenderloins or Mex-i-Can‘s Barbacoa.  Since I didn’t get to try these or any of the other amazing menu items at Food & Drink Fest, I would love to hear other people’s favs.  Fill me in! Now that I have more time, I can visit the actual restaurant for a fabulous and relaxing meal!

Beef Tenderloin from Honey West

Beef Tenderloin from Honey West...they kept running out!

Ironically, “Splitsville” Makes a Great Date Night!

Due to a perceived lack of options and shortage of time and creativity, date nights in the city are often limited to the short list of the bar, “your” restaurant, the movies or your couch.  While all of those options are great it’s nice to shake it up every once and awhile. My boyfriend and I have made a pact to have a once a week date night where we have to try a new or different activity. One of our recent favourites is bowling at Splitsville Entertainment, which is where the old Hamilton Mountain Bowl used to be housed.  But be not afraid, Splitsville is not your usual dark and dingy bowling experience! The new owners gave the building a much needed facelift; resulting in the bowling alley looking and feeling much like a swanky bar and lounge.  They now have a cozy and modern restaurant and lounge complete with big screen TVs, leather couches, soft lighting and an entertainment stage for live bands and stand up comics that overlooks all the lanes. Let me tell you, the people watching experience from the lounge vantage point was reason enough to go.  We went fairly early on a Tuesday night, but the place was still packed full of people of all ages and all skill levels giving it their all on the laneways.   I can’t think of any other place where you can see the shy cuteness of a first date unfolding, a 70 year old high-fiving a 10 year old, hard core league players engaged in serious competition, university students enjoying a few pints and some laughs, and everyone having a fabulous time!  We were having a great time before we even laced up our bowling shoes.

And now The Food:  You are probably thinking that you would have to go and eat BEFORE you arrive at a bowling alley or you would be stuck eating greasy, overly-microwaved terrible pre packaged food .   Not true about Splitsville!  Their food was actually quite delicious and satisfying.  My boyfriend tested out their homemade Bacon Mozzarella Melt Burger, which came with fresh cut fries, while I noshed on their garden salad, which was very fresh and generous in size along with their veggie pizza.   Everyone working there was incredibly professional, friendly and attentive.  We even had one of the bartenders come and chat us up about some of their upcoming events they thought we would be interested in and let us know for next time they would be expanding their menu to include Angus steak, more homemade burgers and different seafood dishes.  I can’t wait!

As for the drink menu: their choice of beers was very inclusive, but their wine menu was quite limited.  I guess I shouldn’t complain since I don’t know too many bowling alleys that serve good wine to begin with.  I hope they expand that list for the next time I’m there! I have been back since my last date night for a business function and the Splitsville bartender made a stellar Caesar with tequila.  It was refreshing and spicy and I highly recommended it!

Once dinner was over and we got down to business on the lanes, the party had started.  The lights had dimmed and the energetic music set a fun and festive mood.  For $10 each plus the cost of shoes we had 2 hours of unlimited bowling, which was great because you didn’t have to pre-pay for a certain amount of games or stop and re-set after your game limit ran out.  That freedom of not having to worry about a set small set amount of time made the whole experience very laid back and fun. And after almost two solid hours of bowling, I would like to say that my bowling skills improved but I think my boyfriend would argue differently!

Perfecting my bowling skills at Splittsville

Perfecting my bowling skills at Splittsville

If I can make a suggestion, try and go on a night that isn’t that busy…like I said, we went on a Tuesday and it was still packed.  My second suggestion: if you are playing next to league bowlers, do NOT take their ball!  I did that once….and learned my lesson really fast.

Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste

April 9, 10, 11, 2010

Copps Coliseum

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

OOOHHHH the weather, shopping malls, highways and grocery stores are all frightful….but don’t despair…the holidays can still be delightful!

Listed below are a couple quick tricks, tips and short cuts to ensure that you get to enjoy your holiday and are not stuck in line at the mall or slaving away at the stove.  Hope they help!

Last Minute Gift Shopping: Whether you are shopping for actual Christmas gifts or hostess presents, I would recommend avoiding the malls and head to some of the amazing stores the Hamilton Halton & Niagara region has to offer.  If you are looking for:

Wine or Beer: Head out to wine country!  It’s right outside your backdoor! Not only will the drive through the scenic and breath taking wine route totally relax you, you will also find some amazing and unusual gifts to surprise your friends and family!  There are simply too many wineries to count, but check out  www.winesofontario.ca for a complete wine country map.  If you are really strapped for time, head to the LCBO.  Some of my favourites right now are Fat Bastard Shiraz, Liberty Schoolhouse, Grey Fox, Creemore Springs, The Oatmeal Stout or Green Apple Beer from Nickelbrook Beers…the list is endless

Hostess Gifts/Stocking Stuffers: What better things to give someone who loves food than a delicious treat for them to indulge or a new ingredient or utensil for them to play with in the kitchen!  Head out to Denningers, Greensville Gourmet or Dyment’s Fruit Market (just to name a few) to pick up a really funky sauce, preserve or yummy morsel.  My favourites from Dyment’s are their Butter tarts!  Even though they are famous for their pies, it’s their butter tarts that just make my mouth water.  A pack of 6 with a great bottle of wine would be a fabulous hostess gift!

Last Minute Shopping for Your Holiday Dinner: Head to the Farmer’s Market! Your entire meal can be purchased at a Farmer’s Market, saving you from the hassle of the too crazy and cramped grocery stores.  There is tons of parking available at the Farmers Market, and the cheeriest people to help you plan out the meal for the entire family (a stressful feat as we all know!)  Here are the hours for Hamilton’s Farmers Market http://www.hamilton.ca/CultureandRecreation/HamiltonFarmersMarket/

Quick Fix Appetizers: Two of my go-to favs are:

Sweet & Smoky Pecans: they are quick, cost effective and easy to make at home.  They are also a unique item, not usually seen on the average appetizer list, especially if you serve them as single portions in red & green cupcake paper liners. The protein the nuts also keeps your guest satisfied in case dinner runs a bit late.  Please check out the recipe here http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/quick-recipes/dinner/guilt-free-holiday-recipes/

Saigon Soul Fine Foods: This store on James ST South, Hamilton has some of the most amazing spring rolls I have ever tasted!  You can pre order a batch from them (sauce and all) and have them all ready cooked or fresh and ready to be popped in the oven!  The Spring Rolls are full of natural flavours, they add an authentic and eclectic taste to your traditional holiday menu and aid in satisfying both the meat eaters and vegetarians in the crowd!

Quick Dessert for Dozens: Dads Cookies (If dad’s making them, you know there are not a ton of steps)  All you need in a couple of boxes of Mr. Christies chocolate wafers, a quart of whipping cream, a pinch of sugar and a splash of vanilla.  Whip the whipping cream with sugar and vanilla until it is light and fluffy.  Then dollop the whip cream on the wafers and continue to layer with another dollop of whip cream and wafer (I usually do about 3 or 4 layers in total).  You can top them with festive sprinkles or chocolate shavings.  Throw the tray of cookies in the fridge for an hour or two while everyone is enjoying dinner.  That’s it! You’re done! They take 10 minutes to make, but are always a HUGE hit with kids and adults alike.  Not only are they delicious, they are so much fun to eat because the whip cream oozes out!  It also cuts down on your pile of dirty dishes because no dessert plates are necessary…just big napkins!  I can’t wait to indulge tonight

Happy Holidays to you and yours!  Hope your festivities are filled with great company and event better Food & Drink!

Cheers

Imagine, drinking a great Cabernet Sauvignon….Centre Ice

After 4 years at The Hamilton Convention Centre, Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste is moving to Copps Coliseum.  The Food & Drink Fest team is incredibly excited about The Big Move and pumped to tackle the challenges of working in an unknown building, which was built for concerts & hockey games, and not to facilitate the needs of 35 restaurants, 50 wineries and 15 craft breweries…all at once!  The participating restaurants, wineries & craft breweries are happy about the move because it gives each of them more elbow room to create and represent their unique menu choices.  The participating exhibitors are also happy because moving to Copps allows for larger aisle spaces so patrons can chat with the exhibitors and enjoy their food & drink without being jostled or carried away by the crowds of people. Repeat customers I have chatted with are ecstatic because the move to the larger venue eliminates the 45minute long line ups to get into the show on Friday & Saturday nights.

Copps Coliseum

The Big "C", Food & Drink Fest's new home!

Despite all of these positives, a few people I have spoken to are a bit worried that moving Food & Drink Fest to Copps Coliseum will cause it to lose the classy, intimate feeling the Festival with Taste has been known for.  But I have to disagree.  While I agree with all of the above listed positives about The Big Move, I am also excited to house the Food & Drink Fest at Copps for another reason: The building’s energy.

I’ve spent numorous days sitting in the middle of the ice rink imaging how the show will work and measuring out booth square footage, staging sizes and figuring out traffic flow strategies to make the show is larger, but still exciting and accessible for all.  Even empty, Copps Coliseum itself gives off an energy, excitement and anticipation unlike any other convention facility I have ever been in.  At Copps, you feel the jubilant vibes of past concerts and hockey games with screaming hometown fans, both young & old, pulsing through the corridors.  I think all Hamiltonians have several fond memories about Copps Coliseum, whether it be a Bulldogs game, open skates, the big U2 concert, your very first concert (mine was Neil Diamond…yes I know), The Brier, The Canada Cup 1987, or Disney on Ice.  It is very rare that an entire community has such open access to a large scale, multi-functional facility. Because of that access,

Copps Coliseum Rink

Copps Coliseum Rink

Copps Coliseum brings about feelings of positive community morale as well as personal nostalgic memories.   In addition, the staff at Copps Coliseum is the most friendly, passionate and knowledge group of folks I have ever met in the industry.  In a nutshell, the building itself has a memory & a life of its own that I believe will serve as a fabulous foundation for Food & Drink Fest.

Along with the buildings thriving energy, the layout of Copps Coliseum is going to allow people to go on a culinary journey at the Food & Drink Fest.  I view Food & Drink Fest as the opportunity to explore the best the Hamilton, Halton & Niagara Regions’ have to offer in the way of great food and drink…in one location and in one night. Even though Food & Drink Fest is just a snap shot of the regions’ “You Gotta Taste This” stuff; it certainly is not an experience that is meant to be rushed.  Rather, it is an experience that should be savoured, shared, gushed over, educated about and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone involved.  From past shows, we know that some people like to zip through the

The crowds at last Year's Food & Drink Fest

The crowds at last Year's Food & Drink Fest

exhibitors then double back to indulge in seconds at their favourite stations, while others like to linger over their plate or a cold sample of beer in a quiet corner before choosing their next tempting dish. Copps Coliseum affords us the room to ensure that everyone can travel this food journey at their own speed.  Having the Food & Drink Fest at Copps also allows the foodies to create their own path and food & drink pairings because the layout is favourable to meandering up & down and side to side along the aisles; allowing individuals to be drawn from one succulent aroma to another.  Just like the region, we plan to create some great sites for people to see and hear throughout their journey.  Look forward to seeing a plethora of cooking demos, exotic & eclectic entertainment (as well as some returning favourites), a boisterous piazza, local artists showcasing their works, relaxing cafes for some great people watching and of course, a few surprises.

So when you come to the Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste, I encourage you to come thirsty, bring your friends, your appetite and your adventurous streak to experience all the scrumptious delights on April 9th, 10th & 11th, 2010, Copps Coliseum….centre ice.