Mott’s Clamato Caesar School is in Session!

Mott’s Clamato and the Dean of Caesars, Len Fragomeni are setting up shop at this year’s
Food & Drink Fest… The Festival with Taste!

Be the first to introduce a new Caesar experience to your friends and family this summer by learning four variations on the classic Canadian cocktail.  First created in 1969 in Calgary Alberta, the Caesar quickly became an instant hit with locals. Since then, it has enjoyed rising popularity and taken it’s place among Canadian culture. Somehow a weekend at the cottage just isn’t the same without a  celery ladened pitcher of spicy Casears!

Motts Clamato Caesar School

Motts Clamato Caesar School


Food and Drink Fest… the Festival with Taste has become the region’s largest food and beverage show of it’s kind. With attendance numbers soaring year over year and involvement from some of the area’s most renowned and highly acclaimed restaurants, wineries and breweries, we are now proud to be hosting Motts Clamato as an added component to the Food & Drink Fest experience. Throughout the three day event we invite people to join Mott’s Clamato and the Dean of Caesars, Len Fragomeni, for a 45-minute class where you get to go behind the bar and learn hands-on, the latest techniques for preparing a Caesar. Enjoy four variations of the classic Canadian cocktail, some savory snacks and take home a special gift from Mott’s Clamato. Be sure to visit the Mott’s Clamato in Booth QA to learn and actively participate in the art of making the perfect Caesar!
Click HERE to pre-register for a Caesar Class

Food & Drink Fest.. The Festival with Taste
April 8th, 9th & 10th
Copps Coliseum

Must be 19 years of age or older to attend. Please drink responsibly

Written by Jennifer Odell


Taste Test Black Fly Coolers in Hamilton & Burlington LCBOs

Hey gang!

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Blackfly Coolers, Ontarios first Micro-Distillery will be hosting tasting sessions at different LCBO’s in and around Hamilton and Burlington.  I have included the LCBO’s they will be visiting.  Also, don’t forget to visit them at the 6th Annual Food & Drink Fest…the Festival with Taste in booth #123.

A little Bit about Black Fly: Made and bottled in London, Ontario, Black Fly Beverage Company is Ontario’s first Micro-Distillery founded by husband and wife Rob Kelly and Cathy Siskind-Kelly in May 2005. Having spent the summers of his youth in Muskoka, Rob drew the name Black Fly from the reputation of the small but determined Canadian insect that like this micro-business can come in under the radar but deliver a mighty bite. The pure wild blueberry juice used in two of the vodka cooler flavours Cranberry/Wild Blueberry and Black Currant/Wild Blueberry also goes to the Black Fly name, as the black fly pollinates wild blueberries. It is truly a proud “Canadian Made” cocktail!

Black Fly Beverage Company

Black Fly Beverage Company

I have personally tried the Cranberry Blueberry and Black Current and Blueberry Vodka Coolers and find both cocktails vibrant in taste and very refreshing (especially with spring and summer just around the corner). They have a new flavour out called Strawberry Rhubarb, which is a great combination in the world of food, so Im excited to try those flavours in a cooler form.  The new flavour will be available to taste at Food & Drink Fest and at select LCBOs.

Another brand new Black Fly drink is their new Premium Pour Cocktail called Black Fly Tequila Sunrise.  This bright and tasty concoction is created from a perfect blend of pure orange, pomegranate juices and genuine Mexican blue agave tequila, which they will also be sampling at select LCBOs.

Since Black Fly products are made using real fruit juices, I don’t find them overly sweet and I have not had to endure the chemical after-taste of artificial sweeteners.  They are a great, colourful drink for your next dinner party and a light alternative to the typical beer and wine choices.

Listed below are some of the LCBO’s and dates and times where you can receive a free sampling of one of Black Flys cocktails and coolersion

LCBO Tasting Locations

Ancaster/Meadowlands LCBO: April 3, 2011-12noon-4pm

Hamilton/Barton St E LCBO: April 7, 2011- 4pm-8pm

Stoney Creek/Rymal Rd E LCBO: April 7, 2011-4pm-8pm

Burlington/Fairview LCBO: April 7, 2011-4pm-8pm

Hamilton/Fennell Ave E LCBO: April 9-11:30am-3:30pm

Waterdown LCBO: April 9 4pm-8pm



6th Annual Food & Drink Fest 2011

April 8th, 9th & 10th, 2011

Copps Coliseum

There’s a new beer on the block….Molson M

While a glass of wine is usually my go-to drink of choice; a girl certainly can’t say no when a bottle or two of beer happens to cross her path at the end of a really long day. I had the pleasure of trying Molson’s newest brand of beer: Molson M. Not only did I enjoy the experience of drinking the cold full-bodied lager; but the story behind the creation of this beer is also quite interesting.  I’ve included some fast facts about  Molson M for your drinking pleasure.

Molson M to be at Food & Drink Fest 2011

Molson M to be at Food & Drink Fest 2011

Molson M, the Worlds only Microcarbonated lager: Microcarbonization is a revolutionary process implemened by Molson Coors at the company’s brewery on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal, a process during which the beer is injected with CO2 through smaller, finer bubbles with a high level of precision and consistency.

“The injection of smaller CO2 bubbles makes it possible to preserve not only the taste of the hops but also the delicate flavours generated by the yeast during fermentation,” explained Karine Brunelle, brewer with Molson Coors. (explanation from

The Awards: So far, I’m not the only one who seems to enjoy it.  The “real” critics gave it two thumbs up when they awarded Molson M with a Gold Medal in the North American Style Premium Lager category at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards

The Molson team has informed me that they will be bringing Molson M to Food & Drink Fest 2011…the Festival with Taste!  You can try it for yourself by visiting them in booths #124 & 125.

Molson M

Molson M



6th Annual Food & Drink Fest 2011

Copps Coliseum

April 8, 9 & 10, 2011


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!



“The SnowBall”

With the chilly weather and holiday season upon us, everyone seems to be looking for a fun, festive way to keep warm.  This morning my co-worker (and friend!) Jenn and I were doing our “Weekend UpDates” and I told her how I indulged with a little kahlua in my Sunday afternoon coffee. Boy did she one up me!   Jennifer and her group of girlfriends came up with a fabulously decadent drink to warm your spirits and satisfy your sweet tooth. Here it is!

The Snow Ball


-2-3 cups of 2% milk

-1 cup of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

-1/4 cup of Peppermint Liqueur

-Medium carton of whipping cream

-Dash of vanilla

-Pinch of sugar

-Crushed Candy Canes

“The To Do List”

-In a sauce pan, warm your 2% milk over medium heat

-Slowly stir in the Godiva White Chocolate and Peppermint Liqueur

-Keep on a a medium heat for a few more minutes while you stir consistantly and make your whip cream

-For whip cream, pour your cream in a medium sized bowl and add in a splash of vanilla and pinch of sugar) Beat with a blender for 2-3 minutes until frothy and WONDERFUL

-Pour your milk/chocolate mixture into your favourite mugs and top with a generous dollop of whip cream.

-The finishing touch: sprinkle of crushed candy canes over the whipped cream…..and a cozy blanket and a good book!

The Snowball

The Snowball -Picture Courtesy of Jennifer


Recipe courtesy of Jennifer & her friend Heather! Thanks Ladies







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!


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

April 8, 9 & 10, 2011 ~ Copps Colisuem

Cheese Shoppe On Locke Makes Awesome Sandwiches

Cheese Shoppe on Locke has created quite a stir since they moved into their Locke Street South location last fall. Their cheery yellow facade brightens up the street and their retro but chic interior reminds me of the many high-end boutiques in Napa Valley….I love the wine barrel chandeliers they have!

Wine Barrel Chandeliers at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Wine Barrel Chandeliers at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Since they’ve opened, I’ve frequented Cheese Shoppe for numerous little purchases, such as their locally made jam, buttertarts, salsa and of course, a various selection of cheese for racoulette parties or sandwiches. However, I never had the delight of tasting on of their homemade sandwiches until yesterday.   And man, can they make a sandwich! Here’s my foodie story for the day….

The Sandwich: I believe there were 5 choices of sandwiches you could choose from (then of course you could build your own from the deli selection). One of my dining companions and I chose the grilled vegetables and goat cheese and our other lunch date went for the fig and chicken salad sandwich. Both sandwiches were served on a crispy locally made French baguette that literally melted in your mouth because it was so fresh. I could have eaten the bread alone and been a very happy lady! However the toppings certainly did not disappoint.  The grilled peppers, eggplant, red onions and zucchini tasted incredibly fresh and unlike some grilled veggie experiences, you could still taste the individual flavours of each vegetable. This freshness not only added many layers of simple flavour to the sammie, but it also made each bite a bit of a surprise based on what what veggies you got in that mouthful.  The sandwich was topped of with a substantial amount of fresh goat’s cheese. Since it was served warm the goat cheese was gooey, creamy and oh so good.  The sweetness of the veggies combined with the tart of the cheese made me feel like I was eating a gourmet grilled cheese, which was perfect on such a chilly day.

Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Veggie & Goat Cheese Sandwich

While I didn’t have an opportunity to try the fig and chicken salad, my friend gushed about it….and he is a pretty picky eater, so it must be good! The chicken salad was mixed with bits of finely chopped fig and celery and was finished off with thinly sliced Brie and Granny Smith apples. Nobody had a problem finishing off their lunches.

Atmosphere & Food Accessories: We were seated at one of their little black cast iron bistro tables, but there was also the option of saddling up to their antique wood bar to enjoy your lunch.  On top of the table was a refinished wine barrel top that had been turned into a Lazy Susan.  The wine barrel top took up practically the entire table, and our lunch was actually served on it. My two dining companions shared, so they kept spinning the table top to switch plates, which was kinda cool.

Grab lunch at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Grab lunch at Cheese Shoppe on Locke

Since The Cheese Shoppe doesn’t sell wine, we finished our meal off with a sparkling apple and blueberry spritzer. The blueberry added a lovely smooth aftertaste which actually worked very nicely with the bite of the apple.  The Drink was called McIntosh Sparkling Juice.

The Price Tag: Sandwiches were approximately $8.00 each.  While some many baulk at the price, I assure you, it is worth it! Considering that fact that many fast food restaurants are charging equivalent prices for sandwiches made from ingredients lacking in taste for the same price, I certainly believe both of these sandwiches were well worth the money.  With A Cheese Shoppe on Locke Sandwich, you are getting a unique dinning experience, and yo’re eating quality, local ingredients and a lot of them! As an example, I didn’t eat dinner since I was still so full from lunch.

The Timeline: Make sure you are not in a rush.  The sandwiches were made with care while we waited and it did take a bit longer than expected with the lunch-time rush.  The great thing is The Shoppe is epitome of sensory overload! You certainly aren’t bored while you wait and have a ton of different boutique food products to paruse (and some to taste test too!)

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

For more information on the Cheese Shoppe, check out an interview I did with the owner, Torsten last year.



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

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

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!



Just a pinch of Coconut!

On a busy corner in New York stands one of the yummiest bakeries EVER: Magnolia Bakery.  Their secret to their baking creations being so darn tasty is that they take baking back to basics and stick to unassuming but quality ingredients…one of them being coconut.  Coconut, while it certainly isn’t a new ingredient in the world of baking, it is one of my new favourite “go to” ingredients. I got hooked on the coconut craze after visit and dutifully (haha) taste-testing several items at Magnolia Bakery.  My coconut obsession continued back at home while trying out numerous recipes from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook (while I highly recommend the book, I swear this is not a plug simply for Magnolia!) Several of the cookbook’s basic cookie and bread recipes called for coconut, which I was a bit weary of in the beginning. However, after attempting the Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies and the Banana Bread with Coconut & Pecans, I was in dessert heaven. Not only is the coconut’s fresh nutty flavour an added dimension of taste to your desserts, but I find it  adds juiciness and a lovely complex texture to cookies, custards, breads and beyond.  Coconut is also quite versatile in that the texture it creates can be either crunchy or chewy and light. In addition, the hearty texture and health benefits of coconut oils, flours and flakes are a fabulous substitute to gluten-free cooking.

I have included some of most favourite coconut based recipes thus far for you to try out.  I know for many people, coconut is an acquired taste, but trust me; with the recipe links listed below, even the coconut nay-sayers in your life will be asking for seconds! Happy Baking

Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies Tip: I had about a half cup of Skor pieces to the mix.  When the Skor melts, it caramelizes the oatmeal and coconut. Plus, I add about a ¼ cup more coconut than is called for

Banana Bread with Coconut & Pecans Tip: add some milk chocolate chips (of course!)

Gluten-Free Coconut Layer Cakes

Caramel Heavenlies