It’s TIFF time! What are you watching?


I love attending TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival for those not in the know). The city is full of energy, events and celebrities. Personally, I don’t attend the festival to see stars. I’ve always been in love with film…from the Oscar worthy to marvel comic blockbusters. I love a great story that makes me think, laugh, feel, or learn something new.

Last night, I attended the screening of Borg/McEnroe – the epic Wimbledon showdown from 1980. I’m not a tennis fan nor did I know the outcome of this match but I was aware of  the legendary McEnroe temper.  I was engrossed in the film and the stories of these talented competitors. Shia LaBeouf played John McEnroe quite well emulating his personality and intensity quite well. Sverrir Gudnason as Jurgen Borg was just damn great to watch on all fronts! Luckily both actors were in attendance on stage.

But my movie choices for the festival are not based on the celebrity factor. When planning, I try to avoid choosing alot of films that I know will be in the theatres in a few months and focus on the weird, wacky, unique, fascinating and downright scary. I still remember the movie Shrew’s Nest that was shown at the festival in 2014. I loved this Spanish film that was horrifying and captivating at the same time. Or last year’s Catfight starring Sandra Oh and Anne Heche in a knock down drag out physical fight. It was unbelievable to see these actresses go at each other! The best part was the two leading women were in the theatre talking about the film. This is what I love about the festival. You’ll see interesting stories and sometimes you have the opportunity to hear from the actors and directors about their vision, struggles and triumphs to make their movie.

The festival runs until September 17th and I have tickets for:  The Lodger’s, Molly’s Game, The Cured, The Ritual, and Gutland. I’m hoping to see a few more films if they release extra tickets but I’ll definitely be enjoying the aspects of the festival: the restaurants, people watching, (hopefully a party), and the street festival on King.

What are you watching?


Getting Wild at Canoe

Canoe Wild is a unique dining event held for the past three years at Canoe Restaurant. This collaborative dinner from the minds of Alex Cruz from Société-Original in Montreal, Chef Anthony Walsh, and Chef John Horne, was created to showcase the love of wild game paired with unusual ingredients.

This is the third year for this event and priced at a $100 per person (including wine), you are treated to an amazing array of hors d’oeuvres and various courses that may amaze you at their uniqueness. You should know that John Horne, the Chef de Cuisine at Canoe, is a hunter and a fisherman and responsible for catching the delights we had at dinner. I admit some of the dishes were quite new to me but I was really surprised that I enjoyed the haggis! It’s the first time I’ve tried it and I ate every bite. But I also did not think about what I was eating. I just focused on the taste and whether I enjoyed it…I did! For those of you who may be cringing right now, don’t worry. If you are unable to eat certain things, the chefs are pros and extremely accommodating with restrictions. I always have a lactose issue and they don’t bat an eye about it. I so miss eating cheese.

Overall, I enjoyed the event a bit too much because I didn’t remember to take photos of everything like the roasted squirrel, the beautiful (and delicious) charcuterie platter containing moose pastrami, duck prosciutto, venison salami and sausage as well as the triffle served for dessert. My bad…

But I do hope you enjoy the photos I managed to take. The meal was 5 star in my book.

**Just to note, this is the second year I have I have attended this event and at my own expense. I just love good food and great events.**

Tutored Tasting at The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

On my return visit to the expo, I signed up for the Iconic Indulgence Tutored Tasting. To read my thoughts on Day 1, click here. If you’ve never been to a tasting, this is a where each individual is seated with glasses of wine (usually one ounce each) and there is a speaker who talks about the wine and the regions.

Tutored Tasting

Tutored Tasting

The hosts, Karina Mair and Roberto Salvino (both representatives from a wine merchant), spoke about the following wines:

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne

Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Chamagne 2006

Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino 2009

Luce 2011

Ornellaia 2011

Masi Campolongo Di Torbe Amarone Della Valpolicella 2007

Masi Mazzano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2007

As I settled in at the table, I heard some other people oohing and aahing over the list. For me, I have heard of a few of the brands but had not tasted any of the individual bottles. I’ve learned to not be overwhelmed by the lengthy names. I just focus on the taste and try to figure out why I like it.


Out of the six that I tasted, four of them (pictured above) left an impression with me. On comparing the two champagnes, it was fascinating to listen to the history of the house of Louis Roederer. Did you know that the Brut Premier is a blend of six grapes and they produce it every year while the Cristal Brut is a blend of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir grapes. This particular vintage is aged six years and is produced only in the best years. This definitely accounts for the distinct difference in its refined taste.

The two Valpolicella’s  presented are from Masi winery. Both were good and similar but for me the Masi Campolongo Di Torbe Amarone Della Valpolicella 2007 won out. This wine is 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara compared to the Masi Mazzano Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2007 that is a blend of 75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara.

I know this may sound a bit technical to some, but notice the slight variation of the blend of grapes in each bottle. This is what made the difference in my enjoying one wine over the other.  I learned something new today!

After the tasting, I headed back to the show floor for one last tipple. I ventured into the New Zealand area known for their fantastic sauvignon blancs. I usually drink Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay, Stoneleigh and Cloudy Bay at home as they are all very good. But noticed that Oyster Bay has just come out with a Sparkling Cuvée Rosé.


Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé

Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé

For those who love bubbles and wine from this region, you’ll enjoy the slight taste of strawberries and cherries. Well done Oyster Bay!

Because I don’t drink beer, I did not spend anytime sampling those booths but I ran into another blogger, Steve Says, and he has posted a thorough review of his favourite ales.

Overall, my experience at the expo was very good as I enjoyed learning more about wine and sampling some really good food. I’m looking forward to next November.

What you should try at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

If you are want the opportunity to sample over 1500 different wines, spirits and beers along with food from local restaurants and caterers then this is the place for you. The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is happening November 20 to 23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto. Along with booths for sampling, the expo features specialty areas like the Mott’s Best Caesar in Town National Competition pavilion, the VIP lounge that features rare premium consignment, vintages and private order wines and a Food Network stage with celebrity chefs (like Lynn Crawford) preparing some mouthwatering dishes.

While I’m not a wine connoisseur (yet), I have attended this show for quite a few years as a way to experience some wines I’ve heard of and always wanted to try. I should point out that this is a very BIG show. Over a weekend, about 45,000 people will pass through the show floor so be prepared to patiently wade through a crowd.

Thursday was the opening night of the expo, which is also called the VIP night. This is the night where the general public can attend alongside the media, corporate sponsors and industry professionals. You may also have the opportunity to sample some premium items that are only available on this particular evening. Just so you know, I attended as part of the public and bought my own entry and sampling tickets so this is an unbiased review.

This year, I opted to be more strategic by looking through the list of exhibitors and consulting the floor plan prior to my visit in order to target specific booths. As I plan to go back to the show on Saturday to sample more goodies, I didn’t rush through this visit. Here are my highlights for Day 1 of the show.

Brassaii Restaurant– Short Ribs

Bourbon-Apricot Glazed Beef Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes & Crispy Shallots

Bourbon-Apricot Glazed Beef Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes & Crispy Shallots

Arriving just after six, I felt I needed a bite to eat before I started sampling wine. My first stop was Brassaii, who was making a short rib dish. This was excellent and I can honestly say it was almost perfect. The short rib was wonderfully tender with extremely smooth potatoes and flavourful jus. But for me, the shallots (although nice and crispy) were a bit too salty. I checked with two other people chowing down next to me how they felt about this dish and they loved it except for the salty shallots as well. My easy fix was to scrape off the shallots and continue to devour this dish. Definitely worth trying.

Bouché Père & Fils Rosé Brut Champagne

Champagne Bouché Père & Fils - Rosé Brut

Champagne Bouché Père & Fils – Rosé Brut

I love champagne! If you are also a lover of champagne, this is the best place to sample liquid gold without having to fork out the money for an entire bottle. I opted to venture into the VIP lounge to try an award winning rosé champagne made from 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier. What a treat! This is a dry champagne with a hint of sweetness that is delicate and just right for my palate. If you fall in love with it, you can order this champagne from the exhibitor in time for the holidays!

David Rocco’s Dolce Vita wines

David Rocco's Dolce Vita - Pinot Gricio (L) and Chianti (R).

David Rocco’s Dolce Vita – Pinot Gricio (L) and Chianti (R).

Did you know that Chef David Rocco had his own wine? I didn’t either and found out it was only released in the LCBO as of yesterday. There were three bottles to try: Pinot Griogio, Chianti, and a Prosecco (not pictured). I was leaning towards the Chianti but the exhibitor told me that Pinot Grigio was equally as good just different. Well…I’m not a big fan of pinot grigio. Whenever, I’ve had it, I find the finish a bit metallic in my mouth so I avoid them if possible. But being a good salesman, he convinced me to take a tiny sip. The finish was soft and very pleasant. I was surprised that I really liked it and have decided it will be worth getting a bottle to explore this at a future date. Pinot Grigio may be redeemed in my eyes with this bottle. I moved on to try the Chianti. This wine blend of sangiovese and merlot grapes was pleasant and I though would be a great sipping wine. Might be a great addition to your next wine and cheese party?

Magic Oven – Chicken Nachos

Chicken Nachos

Chicken Nachos

I did a double take when I saw someone walking by with this. Then when I found the booth I was pleasantly surprised. I thought Magic Oven only made pizza. Apparently, their other offerings are very good as well. The chicken in the nachos was cooked perfectly with a hint of heat and is a filling dish. You could also request this item without the nachos and they just give you more meat. Bonus!

Beringer and Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Beringer and Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Beringer and Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Lately, I’ve been exploring Cabs and I purposely went to the California Wines area to try the Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. At the booth, I starting chatting with the exhibitor to find out what was so great about this wine and what’s up with the price (retails for $50). He agreed that the price is on the higher end but after a taste I will be a believer. Ha! Before he poured the wine, he brought over the Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon. He felt this was another really good Cab at a lower price point (retails for $37.95) and felt I would enjoy them both and add them to my list of favourites. I started with the Beringer and I loved the smell and taste of fruits with a hint of currants. It gets my yummy juices going. I would definitely consider adding this to my table on occasion. But on tasting the Stags Leap, I can only say wow. It is smooth. It’s smooth all the way through until the end. This is the one you you should taste at the show. Yum, yum, yummy wow.

Canyon Creek – Lobster Guaccamole

Lobster Guacamole

Lobster Guacamole

When I started chowing down on this lovely dish, I thought this expo has definitely upped its food game! This may look like a small dish but there are alot of chunks of lobster atop a heap of tasty guacamole. It took awhile to finish this thing and I was not complaining.

Ménage à Trois Wine

Ménage à Trois Wine

Ménage à Trois Wine

I couldn’t stop laughing when I read the label of this wine and decided to try it just because I think its bold and hilarious. After tasting the wine, I stopped laughing. This blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is an nice drinking wine to curl up with on the couch on Friday night or to have with dinner and will now be added to my list of go to drinking wines at home. Seriously. At $16.95 (LCBO price), it’s quite affordable.

I’m glad I was able to learn about some new wines to drink and possibly give as gifts at this show. But there are many more to be tried. Thankfully, there is still time to go back to the Expo this weekend and explore more of the food and drinks so I hope I’ve inspired you to go. Maybe I will see you Saturday at a tutored tasting!