Category Archives: Food

20170713_133828

MY LATEST VISIT TO PORT HOPE ENDS WITH A TRANSFORMER AND T-REX! HUH?

I took my friend, artist Nancy Bennett, to Port Hope (my “spiritual home”) today where I introduced her to my fave cafe & bakery, bling store, boutiques and flower shop, ending with a quick visit to Primitive Designs on the outskirts of town where giant metal dinosaurs roam and a huge Transformer greets visitors. So come along for a virtual visit with us…… 20170713_112639Driving into Port Hope, we made straight for the Ganaraska River (above) that rushed through the genteel little town where fat lazy Canada Geese waddled and wobbled leaving a rather unsightly trail of poo…oops, watch where you’re walking Nancy.20170713_11241320170713_112406Our first port of call, as always, was Queenie’s Bake Shop where today we enjoyed coffee, tea and sticky buns, courtesy of chef/owner Adam and his charming server (below)20170713_115627 20170713_112915…then once we’d polished off all that, we popped next door to visit the super fabulous Kenneth Bell in his jewellery & accessories store. Kenneth supplies hundreds of boutiques across the country with their bling and baubles. He was already busy entertaining two other lovely ladies, Helene (below L) and Nancee (below R).20170713_113746What a warm welcome….and it just so happened that he was starting a 50-80% off sale so talk about perfect timing! Nancy and I dove right in and found some lovely sparklies…  www.kennethbell.com20170713_120538 20170713_120952Nancy found a great pair of sunglasses for her daughter on the rack of shades (below)…20170713_120958 20170713_121014And I loved these stylish silk embroidered clutch purses (below) from the Far East with tiny tassels and charms.20170713_120947Bidding adieu to Ken, we then headed up Walton St to a relatively new boutique called Turquoise where we found multiple pretty pieces that would look good in our closets!  www.Facebook.com/TurquoiseBoutiques20170713_123030 20170713_122943 20170713_122845Then into Flourish, another new shop…. www.flourishfashions.com20170713_124414….and Nancy’s eye was caught by a beautiful green lightweight top, perfect for wearing over a camisole or tank top. What do you think…should she buy it?20170713_123400Well, she did! A perfect top for an upcoming art expo where she knows she’ll get a tad chilly in her booth. Big thanks for her warm hospitality to owner Julie Pandoff (below) and congrats on such a lovely boutique. I then spied the sock rack…wow, these are too cool!20170713_124126 20170713_124215…and I loved these two tunics (below) that could hide a multitude of my caloric sins…LOL!20170713_124357Past the flower shop, we trekked further up Walton St where I discovered yet another fab new store…20170713_124436 20170713_124446….Dwellissimo, a beautifully presented vintage furniture store that was a treasure trove of mid-century modern. Oh my, I was in heaven!   www.dwellissimo.com20170713_124903_001 20170713_124827 20170713_124922 20170713_125139I really really really want this red horse lamp. Hey, Santa, make note of this one, okay? You never brought me that pony I asked for when I was 6 so now’s the time to make up for that glaring omission.

As we wound down our Port Hope walkabout, Nancy and I popped into the Art Gallery of Northumberland shop on Queen St, and found these beautifully crafted works of art….20170713_131201 20170713_131207 20170713_131215 20170713_131336We enjoyed a quick late lunch at Jim’s Pizza but we were both too hungry to even think about a photo so we just gobbled it all up. But we both recommend Jim’s for a great Italian nosh! www.jimsporthope.ca

In between rain showers, we made it down to the lakefront beach…er, where’s the beach? Due to high water levels, the beach, the kid’s playground and picnic area were all complete submerged. Yikes!

One last drive thru town….20170713_131704….then off to visit Primitive Designs, a very strange, wonderful and fantastic series of barns, tents and outbuildings devoted to exotic imports. Located a little N.E. of town, you cannot miss this place – you’re greeted by a Transformer and a herd of huge metallic dinosaurs – yep, talk about eye-catching.20170713_151850 20170713_151655 20170713_151725Thank goodness this happy little Buddha watched over us as we left the car park…I was gettin’ scared!20170713_151810You gotta go visit in person to truly appreciate the weird, wild, wackiness of this place.  www.primitivedesignscanada.com

So there we are, another trip to Port Hope done and dusted! If you would like to learn more about this friendly small town that offers big entertainment, sports, shopping and dining, you can visit their tourism office for more information and directions:  www.visitporthope.ca  and tell them Glenda sent you!

20170602_191850

URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS ANOTHER GREAT MENU FOR INSIDE OUT FILM FEST PARTY-GOERS

As the annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival winds down, the parties are still going strong and last night, URBAN SOURCE CATERING made sure everyone was well-fed at the “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall Pink Carpet” soiree held at the Artscape Sandbox venue in downtown Toronto.  There were lots of tasty Moroccan beef sirloin hors d’oeuvres (above), veggie samosas and smoked salmon on wild rice cakes(below) …..20170602_185208 20170602_19052720170602_191810 20170602_191215…and Jerk Prawns and Chicken Rendang skewers (above), all of which were gobbled up by appreciative guests.  The deelish gourmet mac-n-cheese (below)were a big hit with the guests.20170602_191206…and the guests had fun at the wacky photo booth – wonder what digital background was being added..hmmm?20170602_190135Meet our Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe (below L) with his trusty kitchen staff who kept the food coming!20170602_192724I also had fun over at the bar where I found these upside down glasses reflecting all the colours of the event space lights and people’s outfits.20170602_190315If you would like to have your party or corporate event catered by Urban Source Catering, please visit their website for menu ideas:  www.urbancatering.comUS-LOGO

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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS THE YUM @ INSIDE OUT FILM FEST GALA EVENT

Last night (Tues. May 30), my culinary friends at URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING tickled the tastebuds of some 150 guests at the Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival Centrepiece Gala Reception presented at the Artscape Sandbox in downtown Toronto. And oh boy, did they ever deliver some delicious treats ….20170530_183845 20170530_183837 20170530_183849The cheerful and efficient Inside Out volunteer waiters were barely out of the kitchen door before guests reached out for the trays of hors d’oeuvres…and yes, the wild blue and pink lighting created some pretty funky effects!20170530_184045 20170530_18510820170530_190950(0) 20170530_184932…so I ambushed the serving crew as they exited the kitchen to get more “normal” lighting…LOL!20170530_194842 20170530_192542 20170530_192556The shrimp were a big hit, especially with this excited guest (below)20170530_185133 20170530_185248The fabulous well-stocked bar was provided by Stud Vodka and Inside Out, offering wine, beer and smart cocktails served by bartenders who were always on the lookout for thirsty party-goers….20170530_184147Lots of fun, food and photo opps for all….20170530_191904 20170530_185138 20170530_19321720170530_184034Wayne from Urban Catering posed at the photo wall with colleague Cybele (below) in between schmoozing with guests and Festival organizers …..20170530_185434Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival runs to June 4th in downtown Toronto and you can learn more about the films, filmmakers and social activities at www.insideout.ca 20170530_194343Congratulations on a job well done, Urban Source Catering…your food and kitchen staff were terrific. For more details on Urban’s menus and special events catering, please visit: www.urbancatering.com 

All gone….no more….go home!

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TORONTO’S INSIDE OUT FILM FESTIVAL SPONSOR PARTY HOSTED @ URBAN SOURCE CATERING & URBAN GALLERY

My friends at URBAN SOURCE CATERING did themselves proud last night when they treated the sponsors and corporate partners of the Inside Out Film Festival to a medley of tasty treats and refreshing party cocktails and wines.20170517_184957Below, Urban Source Catering’s co-owner Wayne Abell welcomed the Festival’s newly appointed Exec. Director, Andria Wilson, to URBAN GALLERY… 
20170517_174316…and Andria, in turn, welcomed Inside Out’s special guests to the pre-Festival launch party such as Kelly from RBC (below R with Brad Campbell, Dir. of Corp. Sales for the fest).20170517_174449Andria got busy with social media postings along with colleagues Clayton and Andrew (LtoR, below)20170517_174713Delicious bite-sized treats were served along with wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic bevvies by the catering staff below)20170517_175001 20170517_174119Andria enjoyed a few nibblies with the guests…20170517_175103(0)…and enjoyed the festivities with colleagues Winnie Luk (below L), the Dir. of Operations & Events, and Andrew Murphy (below R) Dir. of Programming.20170517_180533Then it was time for the presentation and teaser trailer of upcoming festival films20170517_181059 20170517_181136 20170517_181347Congrats to Marketing & Outreach Mgr, Clayton Lee (below R) and tech assistant CJ (L) for helping present the video.20170517_182738Brad’s assistant, Nick (below R) posed for a quick snapshot with Festival Coordinator Jayne Schneider (L) in front of photographic art being featured in this year’s CONTACT show at Urban Gallery…20170517_184027…and below, gallery owner Calvin Hambrook lined up the guests for even more photo opps.20170517_185644As many guests observed, the table decorations were elegant and colourful…20170517_185057 20170517_185113If you’d like to learn more about the Inside Out Film Festival and see this year’s line-up of LGBTQ-focused films, please visit their website: www.insideout.ca

And if you’d like to learn more about the fabulous catering offered by Urban Source Catering and the exquisite adjoining venue available for corporate & private rentals, Urban Gallery, please visit their websites:  www.urbancatering.comwww.urbangallery.ca

Urban Gallery is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto (just 1 block E of Parliament) with street and lot parking close by.IMG_5575

 

20170504_141123

I VISIT THE EXCITING CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORT PARK!

As an auto racing fan from waaaaaay back (and author of 4 books on auto racing), this was a dream come true for me when I joined a group of Toronto event planners for a visit to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park out near Bowmanville, about an hour East of Toronto. They’ve created a beautifully appointed multi-level corp. event & banquet centre that’s suitable for business meetings, team building activities, weddings, any sort of group gathering, and I got to experience the wonderful catering companies they use.  I was thrilled to meet racing legend & Cdn Motorsport Hall of Fame driver Ron Fellows, his wife Lynda, son Sam and their charming team of marketing, hospitality and sales staff who run the venue.

Fearing the worst weather conditions, I joined my raincoat-clad events industry colleagues on the big white courtesy bus provided by www.luxury.to and started off early on Wednesday morning. Like a bunch of big kids, we were all “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” and after about an hour, the bus pulled into the CTMP grounds.20170504_10442620170504_112702And weren’t we lucky…they were doing some testing with Porches and Ferraris when we turned up. Vrooooom!

We were officially greeted by these lovely ladies who were our personal guides for the day.20170504_112329…then on to the presentations to learn more about the facilities and how they can be used for any of our special events.20170504_114831 20170504_113044Joining me was Zev Bertini, Business Development for Arrowonics.com (a new Toronto-based tech design company that creates awesome designs and light shows using multiple mini drones). Here he is (above) chatting to events reps, doin’ the business schmooze. Then it was on to lunch and oh boy, what a deelish spread they laid on for us….20170504_114846My first stop was Shrimp Cocktail‘s catering table…. Yummmm!  www.shrimpcocktailcafe.com20170504_121129 20170504_12115220170504_121155Then on to The Garage Guy BBQ whose sliders were so tasty….I went back for seconds! www.thegarageguy.ca20170504_121319 20170504_121341 20170504_121327(yes, you need big strong muscles to carry this many sliders…haa haa!)

My next nibblies stop was Pilar’s Catering whose Korean BBQ chicken pops and empanadas were scrumptious! www.Pilarscatering.ca20170504_122635 20170504_122641 20170504_122654Next on my tasting menu (below) was the desserts table…OMG, I was in chocoholic heaven, thanks to the ladies of KCC Gourmet & Catering Inc.  www.kccgourmetcatering.com20170504_122716 20170504_122721I needed more savoury bites so I then went over to the Peter & Pauls table for some of their special lobster mac & cheese. Definitely a winner…wish I’d gone back for more (am still licking my lips from that one!) www.bypeterandpauls.com20170504_123245It was then time for a drinkies so I visited Steve (below) from REIF Estate Winery (from the Niagara wine region) who was sampling some of their tasty wines. www.reifwinery.com 20170504_124504 20170504_124514A couple of the attendees won a draw for a quick trip around the track with Ron at the wheel…dammit, I didn’t win but at least I got to snap some pics of the lucky ones who did (below)20170504_122129 20170504_122157Zev and I had fun at the photo wall…20170504_125555 20170504_125543…where I also ran into an old friend, Mark Awad (below L) from bbBlanc Audio/Visual who was attending with a colleague. www.bbblanc.com20170504_125242We were then given a tour of the various track facilities and several guests posed out front with some of the cars from the Ron Fellows Driving Experience – yes, you too can learn to drive like a race car driver!  20170504_130317 20170504_130334 20170504_130604As our big bus wound through the Grand Prix grounds, we spied some of the racers…oooo, hot men & fast cars – what more could a girl want??!!20170504_131731…and there’s the podium (below) where all race winners pose with their trophies and pit crews20170504_131614We then stopped by the karting track (below) where I spied some of the racing suits hanging up…I nearly grabbed one and took a turn on the track myself!20170504_132526 20170504_132318Zev jumped up on the kart podium (below) and struck a pose with some of the event planners…LOL20170504_132928(0)..then after one last visit to the event centre to watch more of the on-track activity (below) …..

…we bade farewell to everyone and headed back to Toronto. All this time, the monsoon-like rain that had been forecast was kept at bay until we got back into the city then down she came! Farewell, CTMP, and thanks for your warm and generous hospitality…we will all be back soon.

I encourage you to visit the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, either for business or pleasure, and you can find all the information on corporate events, weddings, race days and speed weekends on their website: www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

 

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TORONTO’S URBANSOURCE CATERING CELEBRATES 32YR ANNIVERSARY TODAY!

I’d like to offer a very special shout-out to my friends Wayne Abell and Calvin Hambrook who, as UrbanSource Catering, have fed-n-watered Toronto’s corporate and private sectors for 32 years….yes, today is their anniversary and I’m thrilled to present them with this virtual celebration!

Starting off on Yonge Street (south of Eglinton), Wayne and Calvin (pictured below L to R) opened their first store in 1985 offering prepared foods, lattes and lots of catering advice.Crazy Owners Opening DayThey soon outgrew their quaint shop housed in a terrace of historical buildings, and based on customer demands, they changed the business model from a retail store-come caterers to a full service catering company. The catering biz grew fast so they moved to their current location on Queen Street East which houses a large commercial kitchen and a suite of offices. Several years ago, the space next door became vacant so Calvin and Wayne took that over and launched Urban Gallery, a non-commission independent art gallery that also serves as a great event space for rent. Needless to say, they cater ALL the events in the gallery.20161216_184023 20160930_181245 20140918_175000Apart from their corporate events, private parties and spectacular wedding soirees, UrbanSource Catering has supported many of Toronto’s philanthropic causes, catering fundraisers, media launches and special events, eg: United Church’s Heart & Vision Awards, Fife House, PRIDE Toronto, plus the annual InsideOut Film Festival.

Bravo and congratulations to Calvin, Wayne and the staff of UrbanSource Catering – you continually deliver the best, on time and on budget!Calvin, Wayne and the URBAN SOURCE CATERING Crew

www.urbancatering.comC

 

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MEET LYNDON WIEBE, EXECUTIVE CHEF OF URBANSOURCE CATERING IN TORONTO

For the past few years, I’ve been blogging about and promoting the talented foodie folks who work at URBANSOURCE CATERING here in Toronto, and have come to admire their executive chef LYNDON WIEBE for not only his super deelish food but also for his outstanding photography snapped during his many adventures abroad. In fact, Lyndon had a solo photographic art show at the adjoining Urban Gallery a couple of years ago (see below).Invitation Image Masai Tribesman Tanzania DSC_1155 20150115_165421(0) 20150115_165433Lyndon’s pictures captured real life in-situ in some of the remotest outposts of humanity, and his engagement and relationships with the local people can clearly be seen in his images. Below, Lyndon poses modestly in front of one of my favourite pictures.20150115_172636I recently asked him about the transition from globe-trotting chef/photographer to executive chef at UrbanSource Catering and he kindly shared his thoughts here:

How long have you been executive chef at UrbanSource Catering?  In March of 2017, I will have been the Executive Chef at Urban Source for five years. With Urban Gallery next door, there are always receptions and corporate soirees to cater on a weekly basis.CAs a celebrity chef from the successful travel/food tv series (Chefs Run Wild, how did you adjust to being a little more “chained to the stove” working in a commercial/catering kitchen with staff to manage?  I think celebrity chef is a bit of a strong word, maybe minor television celebrity chef is more accurate…LOL I am by no means a Chuck Hughes or Anthony Bourdain, but it is flattering nonetheless. We were referred to as “Baby Bourdains” in an article on us in the National Post newspaper, which I thought was funny.CRW.71130027

Lyndon behind the camera, shooting a segment for Chefs Run Wild in S.E. Asia

Lyndon behind the camera, shooting a segment for Chefs Run Wild in S.E. Asia

I lived, traveled and worked overseas for over 7 years and have been working in kitchens since I was sixteen, so coming back to work in Urban’s kitchen was nothing new to me, as I have always been a hands-on chef. Don’t get me wrong, the whole television experience was exciting and exhilarating, but was also exhausting and, at times, filled with anxiety. Would I trade that experience for anything? Absolutely not!  It was incredible and showed me a different side of television which was cool, however, it was fleeting – for me cooking is not fleeting and will always be a big part of my life. So, after my nice seven month break when I moved to Toronto, I was more than happy to take over the reigns in a new kitchen with a new crew at Urban.

You’re also an accomplished photographer and artist – do you continue to undertake camera safaris or have you adapted your photography to include food and presentations?  Yes, I’m still an avid photographer and still go on photo safaris when the time and weather allows. I just got an iPhone and have started using it a lot more as portable camera to take shots on my ride to and from work or when I’m out and about in the city. It comes in handy and the quality of the images has definitely improved with the technology.  As for food photography, it’s not really my thing. I think I just got sick of everybody taking photos and showing the world what they were eating on Instagram every single day. There are tons of beautiful food photographs out there and it makes me want to eat every dish I see, but as a subject matter I prefer streetscapes, nature and people. My girlfriend only recently convinced me to set up an Instagram account (@LyndonWiebe), so I have been using that as a means to show my work. Call me old fashioned, I just fight new technology sometimes even though it is helpful, just for the sake of fighting it. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks etc, although it’s more like this old dog just doesn’t want to learn new tricks. On top of that, I have an online gallery to sell my works and have just recently been asked to join Vida at their request. Vida is a company that lets artists transform their artwork into their own fashion line. I upload my artwork and from there I can choose to put that design onto shirts, pillows, blankets, scarves and many other accessories and create my own fashion line – it’s quite a neat concept. I’m just in the beginning stages of that venture so it will take a while to get it off the ground.  My online portfolio is located here: https://www.direct2artist.com/artists/lyndonwiebe

20150115_165637 20150115_171715As Urban’s chef, you’re responsible for creative exciting menus each season for clients – what has been your most challenging catering project to date?  One of our biggest clients has a standing order for catered meals for their staff four to five days a week. The biggest challenge lies in keeping the menus fresh, creative and in budget without repeating menus if we can help it, or unless they ask for a specific menu again. Doing that for fifty weeks a year can be a challenge as you always have to be thinking about availability of ingredients depending on what season you are in. It is even more of a challenge when they ask for stuff that is not in season, but with imports these days we can get fruits and veggies of all varieties year round. But a strawberry in January in Toronto is not going to taste as good as an Ontario strawberry in the summertime. It’s being able to source an ingredient and make sure you can still deliver the flavours they expect.Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Crostini with caramelized onionCF233520160531_18421720160531_184035As we move closer to Spring, what food items or dishes are on your radar as trend-setting and that will be added to the seasonal Urban Catering menus?  With Spring comes the shift away from tuber and root vegetable heavy dishes, which I am always excited about. We will start to see rhubarb, fiddle heads, peas, asparagus, radish, spring beets, and in June the strawberry and cherry season begins. We also see fresh cauliflower come June, so hopefully that will bring the price of it down as it is pretty expensive right now.  When it comes to fresh vegetables, I tend to let the foods speak for themselves. Peas and asparagus are given a quick blanch and tossed in a little butter and salt and pepper. Beets can be shaved with fresh radish and thrown in a kale and grain salad. Ramps and fiddle heads I love to put in a light and delicate quiche. Rhubarb can finely sliced and thrown in salads to give them an unexpected crunch and tartness or make a strawberry & rhubarb crumble which is always a favourite. Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables as it has so many applications. Tacos are still huge in the food scene so for vegetarians – we offer spicy cauliflower tacos in place of beef or chicken tacos. Also good for Korean fried cauliflower (which people can’t seem to get enough of) or Buffalo cauliflower “wings”. My favourite dish that I came up with is cauliflower laap, or larb depending where you come from. It’s an adaptation of the traditional pork or chicken dish found in Thailand and Laos. It’s a cooked crumbled meat dish that is served room temperature with fresh shallot, mint, cilantro, fish sauce, lime juice, bird’s eye chilies and toasted ground rice. The flavours are incredible.

During production of Chefs Run Wild, you cooked weird and wonderful ingredients from around the world – what’s your favourite international cuisine to cook and what’s the strangest ingredient you had to use on the show?   It’s hard to say what cuisine is my favourite to cook because in that region of South East Asia, their flavours and ideas are very similar and they all borrow off of each other and add their own twists. Anything from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are my favourite foods to cook and eat, even Laos has amazing food. It’s the balance of flavours that I learned from there when cooking that style of food that is the most important thing. Sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter are the five flavours you always have to consider when creating a perfectly balanced dish. If you have all of these flavours in your dish, you have created something special.IMG_3587In terms of weird ingredients, there are many. There is an area in Thailand known as the Issan Province on the border with Laos. It is very agriculturally poor. The land is not suitable for farming and they cannot grow a lot there so the people have lived off whatever the land provides them with. So they eat a lot of bugs and insects for protein wand they employ odd flavor combinations at times. Ant egg salad was a classic recipe we learned. The ant eggs themselves look like yogurt covered raisins, until you put one in your mouth and it pops like a giant pimple in your mouth – let me tell you, the pop is very unsettling…it was like eating a small eyeball! The experience makes me cringe, but for the people of Issan, it’s a normal everyday meal.  IMG_3466Another thing they used over there was pork blood. Now, congealed or cooked pork blood in cubes is quite common over there and you see it everywhere. It is actually quite delicious. But in Issan we made a dish called “pork waterfall”(that was the literal translation) and to top off this dish they had a squeeze bottle of raw pork blood diluted with vinegar which they just poured over top of the dish. Not going to lie, it was not very appetizing at all. We couldn’t even finish it, but we had had to try it, because you don’t know till you try.IMG_3524Any advice for people considering engaging a caterer for their special event, wedding or corporate soiree?  What do they need to consider – budget, type of food, venue, service, etc?  Wwhen you call a caterer, it’s important to have a vision of what you want and it’s also important to have a realistic and flexible budget in mind. I say realistic, because some clients call and want five courses of food with full waiter service, but only have $5 per person in their budget and are unprepared by the real costs of hosting a catering. I also recommend getting a few different quotes so you can compare what’s on offer. It’s no different than buying a car or a house.  Check the UrbanSource Catering website to see a selection of menus that appeal to every taste, every occasion and every budget. www.urbancatering.com

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS IN MAGAZINE’S END-OF-YEAR BASH!

Last Friday (Dec.16/16) friends and sponsors of IN Magazine joined the publishing team for their annual end-of-year bash at URBAN GALLERY located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto (www.urbangallery.ca).

With delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails served by sister company Urban Source Catering, the guests enjoyed a fabulous night celebrating another successful year of publishing for the glossy magazine targeting Toronto’s LGBT community.  www.inmagazine.ca/20161216_180758The current show by local artist Meghan Thomas provided the perfect edgy backdrop for the festivities (below)20161216_174229 20161216_182237Publisher Patricia Salib is pictured above right with guests, as is Dir. of  Marketing Woodrow Monteiro (below, right).20161216_180817 20161216_181614The guests really enjoyed the specialty cocktails, especially the refreshing & highly potent Tipsy Elf (above/below)20161216_183359Charming server Melissa (below) kept everyone well-fed…20161216_181641…while bartender Mischa (pictured below) kept everyone well-lubricated!!20161216_174719The holiday spread was quite spectacular – my favourite is this amazing brie (below) with its crispy, crunchy, sugary crust…mmmm, yum!20161216_17472920161216_18063920161216_18074620161216_174750

Urban Gallery provides the perfect space for smaller corporate events (up to 80 cap.) or private functions so please visit their website for rental details www.urbangallery.ca. Likewise, UrbanSource Catering offers a selection of menus for cocktail parties, gala dinners or buffets or smaller family occasions. For menu selections, visit www.urbancatering.com

Gallery and catering company owners Calvin Hambrook and Wayne Abell (pictured below, L to R) wish all their clients and artists the happiest of holidays.20161216_181141

 

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COME WALK THE AISLES OF TORONTO’S NATIONAL WOMEN’S SHOW WITH ME….

Thanks to KJ Mullins, publisher of the web-based NEWZ4U.ca news portal, I was granted a media pass to explore the National Women’s Show today and wow, what a blast I had!  Arriving just before the doors were open to the public, I was able to get a running start (I soon slowed to a plod as I got weighed down by samples and freebies) on the thousands of “civilian” attendees so sit back, relax, grab a cuppa joe and enjoy this virtual tour.

My first stop was the charming HRH Custom Creations booth where I met Amy and say her beautifully made metal signs and butterflies. www.hrhcustomcreations.com20161104_105702(0)Then next up I was drawn into the Sweets Canada booth where Sam Dhutia and his pretty assistant let me sample some of their flower-infused artisan chocolate. Sam gave me a box of Q’bites with milk chocolate and black licorice and a deelish bar of Dark Chocolate/Cranberry with Lavender petals to bring home and I just had my first bite….OMG – yummm. Check out their range of edible flower & chocolate treats here: www.sweetscanada.com 20161104_110107 20161104_110111 20161104_110116I love the Happy Bees Honey man (below) who was so pleased to sample his yummy treats. I caved in a bought a jar – I’ll probably christen it tomorrow on my breakfast toast. Based in Welland, Ontario, his busy winged workers feast on wildflowers so their products are naturally sweet and oh so good for you.  www.happybeesapiary.ca20161104_111008 20161104_111202Across the aisle, I found products courtesy of African “killer bees”! Yikes….the lip balm was actually quite lovely and they also offered great little stocking stuffers such as beeswax candles and mini honey jars (see below) www.africanbronzehoney.com20161104_111549 20161104_111607I was intrigued by the Enright Cattle Co. booth (below) showcasing their fashionably rugged leather bags, totes and purses. The cattle farm based in Tweed uses the hides from their beef beasties and, as a meat-eater, I was all in favour of this company’s “use every part” philosophy.  www.enrightcattlecompany.com20161104_112235 20161104_112253I then met entrepreneur Eriver Muwanguzi who is introducing African jewellery and fashion designers to Toronto through his company, Tofara  www.tofara.com  He showed me unique handcrafted pieces from various countries and I was blown away by these statement pieces (below).20161104_112628 20161104_112637 20161104_112700I had some fun schmoozing with the “ladies in blue” – officers from the Peel Region Police Recruiting dept. Yes, I was tempted to sign on but I hardly think they’d want this grumpy old broad patrolling their precinct…LOL20161104_112826CwbcafRWgAAAJYRHave you ever visited the Ste. Anne’s Spa and Bakery? Just a short train ride or drive from Toronto, you can experience relaxation in the country with spa treatments, skin products and now a healthy gluten-free bakery. And if these jovial staff (below) are any indication, it’s a very happy place to visit.  www.steannes.com20161104_113713 20161104_11372120161104_113757Nice to see Veronica of www.iloveisola.com jewelry at the show – her handcrafted bracelets and necklaces use semi-precious stones and each has an energy or healing component.20161104_113836(0)Unikati & Co. offers handcrafted toys, bags, jewellery and all sorts of lovely things, all made by people in areas of conflict, war survivors, rural families, hunger project workers…every piece has a story to tell from around the world. www.unikati.ca20161104_114010 20161104_114023 20161104_114125The lovely ladies of Lazizza explained their ultimate shapewear collection (move over, Spanx, these Canuck girls have got you beat!) to me and I may be calling on them soon so I can look fab during all the Christmas celebrations. Check them out yourself: www.lazizzashapewear.com 20161104_115212 20161104_115201 20161104_115408Invocation (below) is a First Nations aromatherapy company offering home fragrance and perfumes made from natural organic or wildcrafted ingredients. The range of fragrances enhance your mood, increase energy or can relax and soothe.  www.invocation.ca 20161104_12224720161104_122241 20161104_122255Here are a few random shots taken around the showroom….20161104_123243 20161104_111832 20161104_113304Here’s something a little different but oh so comfortable, esp. if you’re built like moi! The Breast Rest garment replaces your typical underwire bra (ouch!) and makes hangin’ round the house really comfortable. The cotton lycra Comfort Support System is fully customizable to your body shape and is designed as a solution to the discomforts of the traditional bra. It has pillow-like support and revolutionary design which provides the comfort and support for which you have been yearning.  www.thebreastrest.com20161104_123731 20161104_123734 20161104_123744

As soon as I saw the word “Australia” I knew I had to stop and find out more about the Rodan + Fields Anti-Aging products (below). I spoke with John and Bill (OMG, their faces were as smooth as a baby’s bum) and they kindly gave me a “personal pamper pack” filled with all sorts of potions, lotions, unctions and serums to try at home. The products are beautifully packaged and promise clinically proven skincare and anti-aging results. They are introducing the line to Australia next year so I’m emailing friends and family back home to watch out for it. Check out John and Bill’s website for details: www.holygrailforskin.com20161104_125905 20161104_125911 20161104_125919Now here’s something different – the Divorce Angels is a resource network for those going through the divorce process. Having had several friends go through the trauma of separating their families over the past 20yrs, I know how much they would have appreciated this support. www.thedivorceangels.com  Pictured below left, Marni Sky is co-founder and she also featured a lovely collection of handcrafted empowerment bracelets created by a member of this unique support group.

20161104_131759 20161104_131810As I was leaving, exhausted and hungry (I couldn’t even get near the food sampling booths due to huge crowds), I made one last stop at the Children of Hope Uganda booth. I so wanted the stunning purple and orange handwoven basket pictured below, but I settled for 2 cute pink bead elephant keychains and a pair of handmade bead earrings in the same colour as the basket. www.childrenofhopeuganda.org/shop20161104_132556(0) 20161104_132523 20161104_132534I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the National Women’s Show – and what a wonderful show it is this year. I spent over 3hrs there and still had more stuff to see, hear, watch. The show runs until Sunday night so hopefully you’ll consider a visit yourself over the weekend.  Located in the South bldg of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, here’s the link to information and tickets: http://www.nationalwomenshow.com/en/toronto/visitor/20161104_124047

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GRAZING MY WAY THRU LAST NIGHT’S 21ST ANNUAL “EAT TO THE BEAT” FUNDRAISER

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 21st annual Eat to the Beat fundraiser, presented by KitchenAid®, for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) which featured 60 female chefs supporting people living with breast cancer.  Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall became the mecca for urban foodies to experience the best Ontario’s culinary scene has to offer.20161101_192052 20161101_192441 20161101_192621 20161101_193335Eat to the Beat guests have the opportunity to enjoy specially prepared savoury and sweet dishes at 60 stations, along with wine, beer and a selection of non alcoholic beverages set up around Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby. “We are so grateful to our participating chefs, sponsors and supporters who have helped to make Eat to the Beat Toronto’s must-attend culinary event and fundraiser over the years,” says Cathy Park, co-chair, Eat to the Beat20161101_193704 20161101_193439 20161101_192116Started 21 years ago by sisters Lisa and Abby Slater, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.9 million since its inception. Funds raised at Eat to the Beat will support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – dedicated to funding relevant and innovative research, supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community, and providing credible, unbiased information to help empower those affected by breast cancer or at increased genetic risk of developing the disease.

“Just like Lisa and Abby, we’re inspired by the strength of breast cancer survivors and those who are affected by this disease,” says Karen Malone, VP, Research & Programs, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, “Thanks to fundraising events like Eat to the Beat, we can continue to offer emotional support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer.”20161101_194217I ran into a number of friends there, including the lovely ladies from Succulent Chocolates (yummmmm), pictured below…20161101_191956…and lots of other talented bakers, chefs and chocolatiers…..20161101_195939 20161101_19211120161101_195643There was also a number of wineries sampling their products and the fellas from Still Waters Distillery offering shots of their new Stalk & Barrel Canadian whisky (just launched in LCBO stores) – pictured below. Mmmmmm, very nice and smooth.20161101_195441 20161101_195453On behalf of all us hungry foodies attending last night, thank you to all the participating chefs and congrats to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) for another successful soiree. For more information, visit www.cbcf.org

Big thank you to my dear PR colleague, Peter Ashworth (with me below) of Ashworth Associates Inc. for granting my media accreditation – my tummy really thanks you….burp!20161101_202703_001