Tag Archives: trends

3d printed meat on plate from Aleph Farms

Is 3D-Printed Meat the Next Big Thing? (And How It Really Tastes)

There’s a new wave of alternative meat products coming to our not-so-distant future and is likely to make up a major part of our future diets. Currently, the global market for lab-grown meats is the fastest growing segment in the food industry and is expected to reach $140 billion by 2030, according to forecasts by Blue Horizon Corp.

In 2018, Aleph Farms in Israel successfully cultivated the world’s first beef steak using 3D printing. Today, they’ve upgraded to 3D bioprinting. Unlike 3D printing that uses ink or plastic, 3D bioprinting technology is able to print actual living cells without harming the animal. Essentially, this technology is able to recreate the natural process of tissue regeneration that occurs in the animal’s body in a controlled environment. The end product is able to mimic the structure, smell, cooking behaviour and appearance of a meaty steak, right down to the blood oozing out of a juicy steak.

3d printed meat on plate from Aleph Farms

Redefine Meat is another leading meat cultivating company that uses a method of multi-material 3D printing to create alt-meats. “[The] 3D printer lays down blood, fat and protein simultaneously at a voxel-level that resembles mimicking meat of an animal,” says Daniel Dikovsky, head of technology and innovation at Redefine Meat. “This advanced capability is what allows an alternative-steak to go beyond just taste, but also replicate texture and mouthfeel.” Redefine Meat does not use any animal ingredients, but rather a proprietary blend of soy, pea protein, coconut fat, sunflower oil and a few other plant-based ingredients, so their products are vegan.

3d printed meat on plate from Redefine Meat

Now Let’s Talk Taste

Earlier this year, Redefine Meat held a blind taste test for its 3D printed meat, with over 600 participants, mostly meat eaters. The overall approval rate was over 90%, based on taste, texture and mouthfeel. When Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, tried Aleph Farm’s steak he said: “I can’t taste the difference.”

Looking to the Future

While these are only two examples of start-ups that are experimenting in the 3D printed meat world, several other companies from around the world are diving into the cultivated meat industry, as the demand for innovative products, with less impact to the environment and harm to animals is rapidly growing.

Related: Meet the World’s First Autonomous Robotic Kitchen Assistant

Aleph Farms has partnered with Mitsubishi to sell their beef in Japan in the coming years, but they’re not in a rush to get it on the market. Japan is home to the world’s most luxurious steak, Wagyu. In other words, they’re well aware of what they’re up against. No word yet on when Aleph or Redefine Meat will hit the open market or when lab-grown meat will be available for purchase in Canada.

First photo/feature photo courtesy of Aleph Farms; second photo courtesy of Redefine Meat

Homemade Purple Japanese Ube Ice Cream in a Bowl

Flavour Trends to Watch For According to the Latest Flavour Forecast

Homemade Purple Japanese Ube Ice Cream

The 21st McCormick Flavour Forecast has released its most recent report naming what Canadians can expect next in terms of flavour.

The Flavour Forecast has been breaking down the flavours Canadians want in their food for over two decades and this round is no exception; The team behind the report includes chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and others in the food industry, with the goals of encouraging exploration and innovation around the world and in the kitchen.

Related: How to Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil

The research was based on a series of virtual, interactive at-home culinary experiences. The experiences spanned the previous year and were led by chefs, exploring flavours that range from nutritious to decadent, and varying in taste, colour, and texture – both in food and drink.

The 21st edition of the Flavour Forecast identified four key flavour trends based on what was most popular: Plants pushing boundaries; humble nosh; underwater, underdiscovered; and physiological eating.

Related: 5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Summer

Here is what you can expect with each:

Plants Pushing Boundaries

We know that plant-based is no longer a “trend” but a way of life for many – even those who are flexitarian, or simply looking to fold more fruits, veggies and botanicals into their diets. The people at McCormick agree. Plants are bringing indulgence, brilliant colour, hearty texture and flora-focused eating to the forefront.

Key flavours to look for:
Ube (purple yam)
Szechuan buttons (edible flower buds)
Trumpet mushrooms

Related: Allison Gibson Talks Launching Food Businesses and Reclaiming the Term “Ethnic Food”

Various spices spread across a light-surfaced table

Humble Nosh

With so many borders closed to international tourism, Canadians are wanting to venture out with their plates. Bold, niche global flavours are still front and centre on people’s minds, and on their palettes. The good news is that Canada offers no shortage of ways to satisfy these cravings.

Key flavours to look for:
Chaat masala (Indian spice blend)
Pandan kaya (Malaysian jam)
Crisped chilies

Related: Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

A bowl of Wakame seaweed salad

Underwater, Underdiscovered

Going underwater now also means going deeper, and looking further. Plant-based is by no means exclusive to the land, and Canadians are increasingly looking for flavours and ingredients that feature both fresh and saltwater botanicals like seaweeds and even algae.

Key flavours to look for:
Dulse (red sea lettuce flakes)
Spirulina (blue-green algae)
Sea grapes (soft, green algae)

Related: This Korean Sweet and Sour Seaweed Salad is the Perfect BBQ Side Dish

Ginger and halved lemon spread on table with mint leaves

Physiological Eating

Leaning into India’s 5,000-year old tradition of Ayurveda that embraces a traditional, healthy lifestyle rooted in mind-body, harmony, growth and self-love, physiological eating also taps into the related six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, stringent, and pungent). Each offer warming and cooling benefits to help provide comfort to the physical body.

Key flavours to look for:
Coriander
Lemon
Sea salt
Cumin
Turmeric
Ginger

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Related: 15 Popular Foods That Grow in Very Surprising Ways

A bowl containing cripsy pasta chips

Meet Your Next Favourite Crunchy Snack: TikTok Pasta Chips

If you’ve spent anytime at all online, you’ve likely seen any number of the recent (and tasty!) recipe hacks circulating on TikTok and beyond. Add an air fryer to the mix, and well, in comes the latest: TikTok pasta  chips.

Crispy pasta chips in a bowl alongside some dip

Serve with your favourite dip, and you’re ready to enjoy this simple and crunchy snack!

Related: Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

TikTok Pasta Chips

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-24 minutes
Total time: 29 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g rigatoni pasta (or pasta of choice)
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp granulated onion
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
Kosher salt to taste

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

Rigatoni in a bowl alongside mixins

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. Drain pasta and season with olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Toss until the pasta is well coated.

Cooked rigatoni pasta in a bowl with parmesan on top

3. Place the pasta in one single layer in the air fryer basket, fry in two batches. Air fry at 400F for 10-12 minutes, shaking halfway, until golden and crisp.

Pasta chips in an air fryer basket

4. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

Eggs pesto in carrot hash cups by Molly Yeh

Try Molly Yeh’s Healthy Twist on TikTok’s Latest Pesto and Eggs Breakfast Hack

Dubbed TikTok’s easiest breakfast hack, the pesto and eggs trend has swept the globe and has home cooks everywhere swapping in cooking oil with flavourful pesto instead. Registered dietitian Amy Wilichowski shows how to prep a breakfast toast with ricotta, smashed avocado, along with a pesto-infused sunny-side up egg, complete with salt, red pepper flakes and a little drizzle of honey.

@amywilichowski##eggs ##pestoeggs ##homecook♬ cooking video – cooking

But if you’re looking to keep that distinct fragrant pesto flavour while ditching the dough, look no further than Molly Yeh’s super easy, yet delicious carrot hash with eggs and pesto. While Molly’s breakfast recipe includes a homemade nut-free pesto, you can swap in a pre-made one as well to speed up the process. If you’re making your own, be sure to keep those leafy carrot tops to add to your pesto (not only does this minimize food waste, it adds flavour to the Genoa, Italy-originating sauce). You can also skip the skillet and bake the hash in the oven instead to make it even healthier (Molly recommends a cast-iron biscuit pan but you can use a muffin pan as well). Molly’s recipe serves 8, so it’s also a great long weekend brunch idea that’s easy to make and share with your loved ones.

Molly Yeh's carrot hash with eggs and pesto on a plate

Carrot Hash With Eggs and Pesto

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1 bunch carrots with tops (about 1 lb)
1 large russet potato (about 12.5 oz), peeled
3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup golden raisins
3 Tbsp harissa
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground sumac
5 large eggs
1 ¾ cups plus 1 tbsp olive oil
20 fresh basil leaves
⅓ cup salted sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Grate the carrots (set the tops aside — you will use them later) and potato in a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment. Transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and add the scallion whites and ½ tsp salt. Use your hands or a clean dish towel to squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Discard the liquid in the bowl, then add the carrot mixture to that bowl. Stir in the panko, raisins, harissa, brown sugar, cumin, sumac, 2 eggs, 1 ½ tsp salt and a bunch of grinds of black pepper (I did 20) until well combined.

Related: Our Most Popular Dinner Recipes in 2021 So Far (Feta Pasta Included!)

3. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat (see Cook’s Note). Drop a small amount of the carrot mixture into the skillet. When it starts to sizzle, your oil is ready. Add the rest of the carrot mixture to the skillet and press down using the back of a spatula. Let cook, untouched, until the edges of the carrots turn a very deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Create 3 small divots in the top of the carrot mixture using the bottom of a measuring cup. Brush 1 Tbsp oil on top and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the carrots are set and the top is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.

4. Carefully crack the remaining 3 eggs into the divots and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 8 minutes. (Cracking the eggs into a small bowl and pouring them into the divots makes this part a little easier and less messy). Use a spatula to help slide the hash out of the skillet onto a serving platter.

Related: Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

5. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Roughly chop the carrot tops and scallion greens and add to the bowl of a food processor along with the basil, sunflower seeds, vinegar, garlic, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pulse until everything is very finely chopped. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1 ½ cups oil and ¼ cup water until smooth and drizzly. Drizzle the pesto over the top of the hash and slice into wedges. Serve with the remaining pesto on the side.

Cook’s Note:
You can also cook the hash using a 7-cavity cast-iron biscuit pan. Preheat it in the oven for 15 minutes, then carefully press the carrot mixture equally into each of the molds, making a large well in the center of each. Brush with 1 Tbsp oil on top and bake until the carrots are set on top and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Then carefully crack an egg into each divot and bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still runny, about 8 minutes. Serve them from the pan!

Watch the how-to video here:

Four Andy Warhol-inspired Campbell's soup cans in bright colours

Campbell Canada Launches Limited Edition Andy Warhol-Inspired Soup Cans

Sixty years after the late Andy Warhol first drew his iconic Campbell’s soup can, Campbell Canada and The Andy Warhol Foundation have teamed up to bring Warhol’s vision full-circle. In a bid to spread joy to Canadians, Campbell Canada is releasing limited edition Andy Warhol-inspired soup cans with four distinct bright, colourful labels and two flavours — cream of mushroom and tomato.

Andy Warhol-inspired Campbell soup cans

The inspiration behind the cans is Warhol’s belief that “art is accessible to all,” and to his point, that means even a soup can is a worthy canvas. “These special edition soup cans serve to remind us that there is joy, warmth and light that can be found in simple things around us. We look forward to bringing this concept to life through our campaign by sharing examples of real life pop art inspired by the cans – there are always new and creative ways we can brighten up our days,” said Mieka Burns, vice-president marketing at Campbell Canada.

Related: 10 New Food Products You Can Buy in Canadian Grocery Stores This May

Keeping with the spirit of Warhol’s pop art movement that everyday items could be transformed into minimalist works of art, Campbell Canada is challenging several Canadian artists and influential content creators to come up with colourful, everyday inspiration from the limited edition cans to produce their own version of pop art-inspired content, by following the #CampbellsxWarhol hashtag.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

“In 1962, Andy Warhol changed the trajectory of contemporary art by depicting Campbell’s soup cans on canvas,” said Michael Dayton Hermann, director of licensing, marketing and sales at The Andy Warhol Foundation. “It is only fitting that we pay tribute to the enduring legacy of these two icons by coming full circle and bringing his art back to the Campbell soup cans that provided him with inspiration.”

Photo courtesy of Campbell Company of Canada

These Air Fryer Corn “Ribs” Popular on TikTok Are So Easy to Make

The viral TikTok corn “ribs” just got a new spin with the addition of a creamy Mexican-inspired sauce. And while the sauce has dairy, you can simply omit for a fully Can You Vegan It? recipe. These elote-style corn ribs will be your new fave summer side dish, giving your palate sweet and smoky hints from the chipotle in adobo, as well as tangy hints from lime. Plus: this must-try dish only take 15 minutes!

TikTok corn ribs on plate

TikTok Corn Ribs

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet corn
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp garlic powder, divided
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 medium chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ lime, juiced
Crumbled feta cheese (or Cotija), for topping

Equipment:

Air Fryer

TikTok corn ribs ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Start by preparing the corn. Remove the corn from the husk and cut off the ends, then wash and cut the corn into quarters. Make sure you use a sharp, sturdy knife and work slowly while cutting the corn, since the cob is quite thick.

Related: Fresh Corn Recipes You’ll Absolutely Love

2. In a medium bowl, whisk olive oil, 2 tsp of garlic powder, paprika and BBQ sauce. Brush the corn with the mixture until coated, then place them in an air fryer basket. Fry at 400°F for 10 minutes.

TikTok corn ribs cooking in air fryer

3. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt, chili in adobo, remaining garlic powder, cilantro leaves and lime juice. Brush the cooked corn with the mixture until coated and store any leftovers in the fridge. Top with additional cilantro and feta cheese.

TikTok corn ribs on plate

Like Valerie’s corn ribs? Try her crustless quiche and vegan steak recipes.

Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

You might’ve seen the honeycomb pasta hack that has gone viral on TikTok, in which Anna Rothfuss AKA @bananalovesyoutoo stuffs string cheese in rigatoni pasta, layering on sauce, ground meat and grated cheese for good measure. We daresay this popular quick meal evokes a Food Network Canada eye-catching favourite: our very own 20-minute, 10-ingredient Rigatoni Pie. While slightly more elevated in flavour (no string cheese here), this vegetarian version is equally melty and gooey and just as straight-forward to make for a quick weeknight meal — all with simple pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand.

rigatoni pie on white plate

Looking to save additional time? Instead of making your own tomato sauce, swap in four cups of store-bought marinara. For meat-lovers, you can mix things up too by adding cooked ground meat to the sauce (just note: you’ll need less of the sauce). This delicious budget-friendly comfort food will be a fan favourite at home, and the good news is the yield is high, so there will be plenty to go around.

Watch the how-to video here:


Rigatoni Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
9 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb(s) rigatoni
1 lb(s) part-skim mozzarella, grated
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil with the garlic in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it begins to sizzle, cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups water. Increase the heat to high and bring the tomato sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes then puree in a blender until smooth.

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is slightly less than al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.

3. Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared pan until it is completely filled (you might not use all the pasta). Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch drips. Pour the sauce over the noodles, spreading it with the back of a spoon (You might not use all the sauce.) Sprinkle the pasta with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

4. Cover the pan with foil, doming it slightly to avoid touching the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan, cut into wedges and serve.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

Meet the World’s First Autonomous Robotic Kitchen Assistant

What if we told you that we know someone — rather something — who can work a grill and fryer perfectly for 100,000 hours straight? Its name is Flippy and it’s an AI assistant chef from Miso Robotics. The cost? $30,000 USD, plus a monthly fee of $1,500 USD/month.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot addresses the problem of fulfilling late-night shifts that no one wants in a 24-hour restaurant. Also, due to the pandemic, there’s greater concern for food safety and hygiene. This is able to solution all of that, as the robot works with minimal human contact.

Related: Ways to Continue Supporting Your Favourite Local Restaurants

The robot chef — invented in 2016 — is controlled by AI to do more than just the repetitive task of being a burger flipper. Today it can keep track of cooking times and temperatures. It can place baskets in the fryer to make chicken wings, onion rings, hash browns and much more. As upgrades are made, this robot chef will be able to take on more complex tasks. The company has raised over $20 million, which shows there’s an appetite for this kind of technology.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot is currently operating in Caliburger in Fort Myers, Florida. The restaurant chain has ordered more for each of their global locations. White Castle, the oldest fast-food chain in America, wanted in on this action as well. “We’re looking at Flippy as a tool that helps us increase speed of service and frees team members up to focus more on other areas we want to concentrate on, whether that’s order accuracy or how we’re handling delivery partner drivers and getting them what they need when they come through the door.” said White Castle’s vice president, Jamie Richardson. No word yet on whether the robot chef will be coming to Canada anytime soon.

Related: What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

While this technology is impressive, there may be some concern that this will impact jobs in the fast-food industry. With so many unfilled restaurant jobs across North America and turnover rates at an all-time high, the introduction of robot chefs may be seen to some as a much-needed service. Also, while the robot is working the back of house, patrons will still have front-facing human customer service.

Photos courtesy of Miso Robotics

Woman digging into takeout on kitchen table

National Takeout Day: Canadians Aim to Set Record for Most Takeout Ordered in Single Day

By now, it’s a familiar story: many local restaurants have been forced to shut their doors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, some of these restaurants have closed down for good, unable to continue absorbing the costs and challenges posed by the pandemic; with them going the creativity, unique offerings and livelihoods of entire culinary teams.

Last December, Restaurants Canada reported that 10,000 restaurants have already closed with upwards of 50 per cent expecting to close permanently if conditions don’t improve. 

Related: Canadians Now Ordering Food Online in Record Numbers, Survey Reveals

Woman Eating Delicious Takeaway Food At Home

Even as many meet this fate, others continue to provide delivery and takeout options, as well as alternate ways to continue nurturing a vibrant culinary life in cities and towns across the country. 

Related: Big Food Bucket List Restaurants Across Canada That Now Offer Takeout

In a show of support, Canadians are coming together on April 15th for a second year in a row. Created by Canada Takeout (CTO) — an organization dedicated to all things takeout across the country — #TakeoutDay has also evolved into a weekly celebration of local eats, taking place each Wednesday. 

Spicy Indian food spread on table ready to eat.

To date, the hashtag has reached 52.9 million people and CTO’s hope Canadians will embrace eating from their favourite local spots on April 15th by ordering from restaurant takeout menus. 

Related: What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

CTO is raising the bar from last year by challenging Canadians to set a national record for the most takeout ordered in a single day. Diners can participate by ordering takeout, uploading their takeout receipts to the Takeout Tracker and also spreading the love on social using the hashtags #takeoutday and #canadatakeoutrecordThe day follows on the heels of an FDA announcement that there is still no clear evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food or related packaging.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Can You Guess Which City is the Most Vegetarian-Friendly in Canada?

With the COVID-19 pandemic came the unprecedented shift towards working remotely for many Canadians, and some are looking to relocate to places better suited to their lifestyles, for good. With plant-based diets on the rise for health, ethical and environmental reasons, which cities are best suited to attract vegetarians? 

The Vegetarian Cities Index for 2021 sought to answer this by ranking 75 of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the world, and that list includes some Canadian standouts. 

Related: Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners That Will Make You Drool

Rustic table with a blue plate, zucchini noodles, tomatoes, kale and halved soft-boiled eggs

The index assessed the affordability and quality of each city’s vegetarian offerings (including plant-based diet staples such as fruits, veggies and proteins), the number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants and lifestyle-related events. 

Related: From Keto to Vegan, These Are the Pantry Staples You Need Based on Your Diet

The survey identified that while home cooking still played an important role for vegetarians over the last 12 months, plant-based restaurants played an important role in people’s lives (some of these restaurants were not only top rated vegetarian restaurants, but top rated restaurants overall). 

Of the 75, Canada did not crack the top 30 list. However, four Canadian cities did offer established vegetarian-friendly “ecosystems,” with Ottawa leading as the most vegetarian-friendly city in Canada in 31st place. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal follow in 50th, 60th, and 66th place, respectively. 

Related: The One Dish John Catucci Always Orders From These North American Cities

People in the produce aisle at a grocery store

Out of these four, Ottawa had the most affordable grocery staples (fruits, veggies, plant-based proteins),  while Montreal scored highest out of the four for vegetarian restaurant affordability. Toronto, on the other hand, had the highest number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, while Vancouver had the highest ratio of these restaurants with nearly a quarter offering vegetarian-friendly options. 

As for which cities claimed the top spots? London (UK), Berlin and Munich were identified as the top three destinations for those opting for a meatless diet. 

We tried TikTok’s Feta Tomato Pasta and Popeye’s Famous Chicken Sandwich — are they worth the hype?

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Anna Olson with Her Mirror Glaze Cake

Anna Olson’s Perfect Mirror Glaze Technique (Plus Tips!)

I love a mirror glaze cake and to be honest, while I find that entremet style of cake, mousse and fruit filling delightful to eat, it’s the making, assembling and glazing of the dessert that I love the most. Here are some tips so that you can dive right into this fun, reflective world of mirror glazing.

What to Glaze

Anna Olson mirror glaze
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

Pick a dessert that has a smooth outside finish and a pleasing shape. Most mirror-glazed desserts are mousse based and are assembled in individual or full-size molds and then frozen to set them.  Silicone molds come in countless shapes and they are flexible and peel away from the mousse easily. You can also assemble a mousse cake in a regular metal springform pan.  You can use a heat gun on a low setting to gently warm the metal a little so that it lifts away from the cake easily.

Related: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Mixing Your Mirror Glaze Colours

Anna Olson mixing mirror glaze colours
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

A mirror glaze is composed of white chocolate, condensed milk, sugar, water and gelatine. When mixing, blend your glaze on low speed to avoid air bubbles and strain the glaze before tinting it.   Because white chocolate has a natural yellow hue to it, you will want to neutralize that by adding white food colouring to the glaze.  Then you can divide the glaze into separate pitchers to be tinted as you wish. Once made, the glaze can take 20 minutes or so to cool to the ideal pouring temperature, between 80-86°F (27-30°C), so be patient.

See More: Chocolate Animals DIY

How to Pour a Mirror Glaze

You have a few choices here. You can pour each colour onto your cake separately, making sure to cover the cake completely.  Drawing an offset palette knife over the top of the cake will blend the colours a little and can give you that “galaxy” look.  Or, if you’re feeling daring, you can go for the “tie-dye” effect and layer the colours before you pour.  Select your base colour and slowly pour in all of the other colours, one at a time, into the base, pouring carefully in a thin stream.  These colours will remain distinct in the pitcher (do not stir!) so that when you pour the glaze over the cake, the colours will create ripples and ribbons of colours that look like they are moving, even once set.

Remember that no two mirror glaze cakes look exactly the same, so just go for it. Before you pour, elevate the cake on a dish or stand that is smaller than the width of the cake, so that the excess glaze can run off easily and place a baking tray and rack underneath to catch that glaze.  The extra glaze can be reheated and reused again, but the colours will blend.

Anna Olson pouring a mirror glaze
Photo courtesy of Janis Nicolay

You can pour onto the centre of the cake and let gravity do its bit, or if the cake is on a wheel, you can spin the cake as you pour in the centre, creating a spiral effect.  You can also pour back-&-forth.  Regardless of the pouring technique, try to pour evenly and steadily and without disruption.  Take a moment to look at all sides of the cake to make sure it is completely covered.

See More: Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes

The glaze sets quickly, so after you see that the glaze pattern stops moving and dripping, use a palette knife to scrape away excess glaze from the base of the cake (or if you miss that window of time, use scissors or a paring knife to trim it away).  Resist the temptation to touch or move the glaze after the first minute or so – every mark will show.  But now you can add extra garnish – splatters of edible sparkle dust or top with piping detail, fruit or other chocolate decor. Remove the cake to a plate and chill until ready to serve.

Be prepared for “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” as you amaze your family or friends and impress yourself.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Ree Drummond’s Buffalo Chicken Totchos Are the Food Mash-Up You Didn’t Know You Needed

We love a heaping pile of nachos as much as the next person — but if you’re looking to up your meal planning game and get adventurous in the kitchen, make this mouth-watering crispy Buffalo chicken– and tater tot-friendly version from The Pioneer Woman herself.

One pound of potato tots and chunks of boneless chicken breasts are are seasoned and crisped. Although it might take a little longer than a traditional nacho platter, you’ll still savour every last bite of this comfort food mash-up you’ll want to make on repeat.

Related: Ree Drummond’s 30-Minute Vegetarian Pasta Makes Peppers the Star

The Pioneer Woman’s Buffalo Chicken Totchos

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 lb frozen potato tots
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ribs celery, sliced thin, leaves reserved
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups cayenne hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack
Blue Cheese Ranch, recipe follows

Blue Cheese Ranch:
2 cups ranch dressing
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Close-up of Buffalo Chicken Tatchos

Related: Your New Favourite Fish Dish: The Pioneer Woman’s Crispy Cerveza Battered Cod

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Toss the tots with the chili powder and cumin in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated. Arrange the seasoned tots on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the skillet and add the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and half of the green onions. Continue to cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through, another 2 minutes. Add the hot sauce and allow to simmer and thicken slightly, 1 additional minute.

4. When the tots are crisp, remove from the oven and set the oven to broil. Top the tots with half of the cheese. Spoon the chicken over the tots. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the chicken. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the cheese has melted and begun to brown, about 3 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the pan from the broiler. Drizzle over the Blue Cheese Ranch and any remaining sauce from the skillet. Garnish with the celery leaves and remaining green onions. Serve on the baking sheet.

6. Add the ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles to a bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and stir until combined.

For more inspiration, check out The Pioneer Woman’s 16-minute dinners.

Watch the how-to video here.


Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

Long before she married into royalty, Meghan Markle extolled the virtues on healthy eating on her now-defunct blog, The Tig. During her seven years living in Toronto filming the legal drama Suits, the now Duchess of Sussex carved out her own online space to write about health and wellness, often sharing quick cooking tips.

But it was an interview she did with Delish in 2018 that garnered the most attention: she said she loved making a three-ingredient zucchini pasta sauce. A veggie-forward Bolognese, if you will. Using only zucchini, bouillon cubes and water, she said it was a “filthy, sexy mush” that she loved. With the duchess in the news as of late, this dish has recently been trending on the Internet all over again. It doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

So, go ahead, cook like a duchess with this messy, mushy, sexy, filthy three-ingredient slow cooker concoction. For personal preference, I’ve added one more ingredient (an onion: I couldn’t resist) and options for additional seasonings, if desired. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot more delicious than it looks, I swear!).

Related: Meghan Markle and the Struggle Among Black Women Everywhere

Meghan Markle’s Slow Cooker Zucchini Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

5-6 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped (optional)
2 bouillon cubes
½ cup water
Salt and pepper (optional)
1 package penne or rigatoni
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. In one large slow cooker (or Dutch oven), add zucchini, onion, bouillon cubes and water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Set timer to cook for four hours on low heat, stirring once or twice in that timeframe. The zucchini will start to get nice and mushy – that’s what we want!

Related: A Peek Inside Meghan Markle’s Former Toronto Home

3. At the 3 hour and 40 minute mark, cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package instructions.

4. Season the zucchini sauce with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately over pasta.

Related: Here’s What the Royal Family Really Eats

Verdict

It’s simple, it’s hearty (I didn’t need more than one serving before I felt full) and it smells surprisingly delicious as it simmers away in the slow cooker.  Was it tasty (read: sexy)? Absolutely. Would I make it again? Probably. Was it worth the nearly five-hour wait? Not really.

We also tried the feta tomato pasta TikTok trend and Popeye’s famous Chicken Sandwich — are they worth the hype?

Photo of Meghan Markle courtesy of Getty Images.

Feta tomato pasta on plate

This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

As we’ve all been spending more time at home and in the kitchen this past year, it seems that everyone is getting more inventive with their cooking (and sharing it all over their socials). Some of our fave food trends to come out of quarantine cooking include everything from pancake cereal to focaccia bread art. The newest cooking craze? TikTok’s baked feta tomato pasta. Is it worth the hype? With just nine ingredients and 25 minutes from start to finish, we think so.

Feta tomato pasta on plate

Feta Tomato Pasta

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
⅓ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili flakes
200 g block of Greek feta cheese
1 Tbsp basil
300 g pasta of choice

Feta tomato pasta ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F and boil water in a large pot for the pasta. In a 9 x 9 baking dish, add the tomatoes, olive oil (reserve about 2 Tbsp), salt, pepper, garlic and chili flakes. Mix to coat. Place the block of feta in the centre and drizzle the top with the remaining olive oil. Bake in the oven until the tomatoes blister and the cheese melts, about 15-20 minutes.

Feta tomato pasta ingredients in dish

2. Season the boiling water with salt, cook the pasta to al dente or according to the package directions. Reserve half cup of pasta water for later.

Related: Best-Ever Pasta Recipes for Easy Dinners

3. Remove the baking dish from the oven and with the back of a fork, mash and mix the feta and tomatoes. Add the fresh basil and cooked pasta. If the pasta looks a little dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy!

Feta tomato pasta ingredients in dish

We tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits and Popeye’s Famous Chicken Sandwich — are they worth the hype?

What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

We’re all very familiar with takeout these days, but did you know that your new favourite dish may not actually come from a physical restaurant? It may have come to you by way of what’s sometimes called a “ghost kitchen,” “virtual kitchen” or “dark kitchen.”

While these terms are often used interchangeably, Adam Armeland, CEO and co-founder of  “virtual food hall” Kitchen Hub explains the difference: “Ghost kitchens are restaurants that sell exclusively (or predominantly) through digital channels and do not have a direct customer-facing component (with seating, pickup counter, etc.).”

Spread of plates featuring different dishes from Kitchen Hub restaurants

Virtual or dark kitchens on the other hand exist in addition to the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant structure — and offer customers the option to eat their favourite meals at home. For example, Kitchen Hub is a dark kitchen for some of Toronto’s favourite restaurants, a space where takeout is prepared for PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, The Carbon Bar, Kanga and Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Kitchen Hub also offers customers the advantage of having access to all these different restaurant menus with one order.

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

Differences aside, these all include a centralized commercial kitchen, allowing customers to order menu items online (whether via kitchenhub.ca, SkipTheDishes, Uber Eats, DoorDash or similar food delivery services). “They allow restaurants to take on a smaller footprint, fewer employees and take advantage of the increasing demand for food outside of the restaurant,” says Armeland.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Arrived in Canada – Is It Worth the Hype?

There are more benefits for customers too: “The customer benefits from food being prepared in a facility that is purpose-built for off-premise consumption. Not only will their order get to them faster and fresher, but it will also be prepared in a facility that was designed to have less interaction with the outside world, which minimizes risk [of exposure] to everyone in the process.”

But this model isn’t new — it’s been around since 2013, when the first ghost kitchen opened in New York. Brick-and-mortar restaurants are costly to start up and run — and can be a challenge in the best of times. Enter a global pandemic, hitting the restaurant industry with a $4B drop in revenue between January and April alone. The pandemic catalyzed many restaurants to switch to the ghost or dark kitchen model. “All restaurants effectively became ghost kitchens overnight when the government mandated that they could only be available for takeout and delivery,” says Armeland.

Spread of plates featuring Thai dishes, including golden curry and shrimp

As for what makes a great ghost kitchen? “By and far the most important thing is the restaurant brand and food; the customer wants what they want and from our experience, that is a great brand serving good food,” says Armeland. Kitchen Hub offers the digital and physical infrastructure, allowing the restaurants themselves to focus on what they do best: cooking for their customers. “[At Kitchen Hub] the restaurants operate out of their own dedicated kitchen, with their own chefs, so consumers can expect the same food quality that they have come to love and expect from their favourite brand (or in our case, multiple brands at the same time),” adds Armeland. In terms of what food trends Armeland has noticed throughout the pandemic, he says it’s about the sweet tooth.

Related: Can’t Dine Out? These 20 Toronto Restaurants Are Offering Date Night Meal Delivery

Pandemic or not, Armeland adds: “I think that ghost kitchens are here to stay and are becoming a necessary part of a restaurant’s future planning to serve their customers through the fastest growing channel in the food industry.” 

Restaurant photo courtesy of Getty Images; food photos courtesy of Kitchen Hub

Black Garlic: What It is and Why You Need to Cook With It This Year

As Canadians get more adventurous in the kitchen, it’s only natural that they’d be on the lookout for the latest on-trend foods and dishes to try at home. And, with 2020 kicking into high gear, black garlic has continued its steady ascent as one of the most sought-after ingredients in North American cuisine. But if you’re left reeling at the thought of cooking with the inky, blackened cloves – or don’t entirely understand how to incorporate it into your favourite recipes – you’re definitely not alone.

Although not an entirely new concept (Japan, Thailand and South Korea have been extolling the virtues of black garlic for years) this versatile ingredient can be easily swapped in for traditional white garlic in most dishes.

Still not convinced? We break it all down for you – from the what to the how – and offer up some of our favourite garlicky Food Network Canada recipes as mouth-watering examples of where you can introduce this on-trend ingredient into your repertoire.

Related: 12 Hottest Food Trends We’ll Be Devouring in 2020

What is It?

In short, it’s your everyday run-of-the-mill white garlic – albeit gradually aged over a period of weeks. By gently heating entire bulbs in a humidity-controlled environment (think: rice cookers), you wind up with darkened, sticky cloves that quite frankly resemble garlic gone bad. Despite their slightly charred and off-putting appearance, the Maillard reaction (the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that lend browned/aged foods their unmistakable taste) actually deepens their flavours for an entirely different – and elevated – culinary experience.



Get the recipe for Roger Mooking’s 30 Cloves of Garlic Sauce

What Does it Taste Like?

For starters, it doesn’t taste much like traditional garlic. Once blackened, the cloves become earthy and syrupy-sweet in flavour, with additional hints of prunes, balsamic vinegar and black licorice. It’s also softer and has a molasses-like texture, making it easier to spread on crackers or crostini. Something for at-home chefs to consider: due to the loss of its original sharp taste, a larger volume of black garlic is required with any recipe in order to achieve higher taste levels.

How to Use It

You can add black garlic to salad dressing or dip recipes, purée them with olive oil, create scrumptious pastes from scratch or rub onto fish or meat before popping your dish in the oven. If you purchase it in powdered form, you can also sprinkle it on pretty much anything your heart (and stomach) desires.

Related: Pinterest Predicts the Top 15 Food Trends for 2020



Get the recipe for Everything Garlic Bread Knots

How to Make It at Home

We’ll be honest: it’s a long, drawn-out process, but if you have the time to spare, the results are well worth the wait. A relatively easy hack is to break out the rice cooker and use the “warm” setting to transform white garlic into black garlic over the span of roughly three to four weeks (or 40 days). You can also use your slow cooker.



Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Garlic Parmesan Twists

Where to Buy It

Although it might be a little difficult to track down in major grocery chains, specialty stores, like Whole Foods, often carry both whole heads of pre-humidified black garlic and the powdered variety.

Health Benefits

Although it’s lower in allicin, the compound that gives traditional garlic many of its health-boosting properties, black garlic is still rich in amino acids and contains double the antioxidants as the white variety. It’s also a great source of vitamins C and D.

Black garlic photo courtesy of Getty Images

The #1 Item Missing From the New Canadian Food Guide (and Why You Need It)

Canada’s first food guide came onto the scene in 1942, with a goal to prevent nutritional deficiencies in Canadians during wartime. The focus was on drinking ½ pint of milk, eating a daily serving of potatoes, tomatoes and meat or fish, and eating four to six slices of bread a day! Since then, the food guide has gone through many incarnations over the years, as new research and lobby groups changed the nutrition landscape.

While Canada’s new 2019 food guide has made great strides, this one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition is still forgetting one key element.

The missing piece? Healthy fats. There is no mention of fat anywhere besides a small area that says “limit saturated fat”. We’re no longer in the era of the low-fat craze – quite the opposite, as research is continuously showing how important it is to consume good-for-you fats, so it’s unfortunate this entire macronutrient group is ignored. There are many different types of fats, some good and some bad, so it would have been beneficial to highlight the big difference between them. Read on for 10 important reasons why good fats are integral to a healthy, well-rounded diet:

1. Fat + Vegetables = Perfect Combo

You need fat to absorb vitamin A, D, E and K along with antioxidants, like lycopene and beta-carotene. That’s why it’s important to pair healthy versions (like extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, olives or coconut oil) with your veggies. All of these nutrients have protective properties to promote longevity. So, bring on the healthy salad dressing!

2. Fats Are Essential

Fats like omega-3’s, found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax, salmon, mackerel and sardines, are essential, meaning the body can’t make them on its own, and they need to come from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in disease prevention by lowering inflammation and slowing signs of aging.

3. Fats Protect Your DNA

Fats help build cell membranes. This is the outer layer of the cell that prevents bad substances from entering and protects internal DNA. DNA damage is what causes aging and age-related diseases.

4. Fats Help With Weight Loss

This one is pretty counter-intuitive, but fats that are composed of medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil and ghee, are immediately used for energy in the body; this increases metabolism and aids in weight loss.

5. Fats Provide Plenty of Energy

Fats have a lot of potential energy: one gram has double the calories as one gram of carbs (this is not a bad thing!). Some fat you eat gets converted into energy immediately, while others are stored and then burned for energy when the body needs it (for example, during exercise).

6. Fats Improve Brain Function

Fats are important for mental clarity, focus, cognitive function and enhancing memory. They also surround nerve fibres in the brain, which helps speed up brain communication and impulses.

7. Fats Help Delay Aging

A study found that a high fat diet can postpone signs of aging in the brain and may prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Fats Help Fight Disease

Recent research found that when diets high in good-quality fats, like butter and cold-pressed oils, are combined with low sugar and low processed foods, disease risks are reversed: good cholesterol (HDL) increases, blood pressure improves, circulating triglycerides are reduced and insulin and blood sugar levels decrease.

9. Fats Insulate and Protect

Fat controls the internal temperature of the body, ensuring you’re warmer in the winter. It also cushions vital organs like your kidneys, heart and the brain, protecting them from injury.

10. Fat is Needed for Healthy Skin

Skin cells are surrounded by layers of fat that help skin look plump and hydrated. Omega 3’s play a big role in providing the building blocks for healthy skin and lowering inflammation.

Despite healthy fats not being prominently featured in the new food guide, plenty of other promising updates were made. Here are the top 7 positive changes that should be celebrated:

● The food guide is now a plate (goodbye, rainbow cartoon food images!), which provides a great visual to understand what your plate and portion sizes should resemble.

● Veggies and fruits take up half the plate (a big win!) and they highlight a variety of rainbow coloured produce, from broccoli and berries to cabbage, spinach and peas.

● Meat and alternatives is now simply “protein”, showing that protein comes in many shapes and sizes and not just through animal products.

● Milk and alternatives was removed, which is now encompassed within protein, as there are many Canadians who can’t tolerate dairy.

● Grain products have become “whole grains”, focusing on those that are fibre-rich rather than refined.

● Water is highlighted as the beverage of choice.

● The guide focuses on eating habits: being mindful when you dine, deeply enjoying your food, sharing meals with others and cooking more often.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Unsplash

natural wines

What is Natural Wine and Where to Find It in Canada

Natural wine is the drink du jour. The trendy, funky new kid is popping up in small and exclusive quantities in wine stores and on restaurant menus throughout the country. This exciting frontier in viniculture, with its old-school, hands-off approach, produces some of the most beautiful bottles out there – if you can score some. But, like the term “natural” itself, natural wine is not a regulated phrase, so you best do some research before purchasing to ensure they’re getting what they asked for. If you’re looking to try this trend, bring this cheat sheet along so you know what you’re tasting.

What is Natural Wine?

Natural wine is a different kind of grape-growing approach, one where the winemaker keeps pesticides and chemicals out of the equation, letting the grapes breathe and come into their own before harvest. Seasonal whether patterns play a big factor in the wine’s flavour.

If the weather is hotter, the grapes will have more sugar, producing more alcohol upon fermentation. If the season is cooler, the grapes will be dry (less sweet), producing less alcohol upon fermentation, and possibly fermenting slower. Unlike some mainstream wines that are built on repetition and familiar taste, natural wines go with the flow, making a dynamic and exciting range of flavours each year. Most natural wine should be sulfur-free, a big risk for oxidation, so it’s to be enjoyed fresh, not aged. Some wineries which incorporate natural processes and wild fermentation, opt to add sulphites to preserve it for shipping and storage.

Related: Crowd-Pleasing Canadian Wines for Under $15

How is It Made?

Natural wineries make a point to differentiate themselves from large-scale productions, which often ferment the grapes in temperature-controlled rooms. Natural wines are made by taking what comes to them. This can include spontaneous fermentation, where wild yeasts existing in the air ferment the wine. Using wild yeast is an unpredictable method, making this process a true challenge. With each type of yeast, comes a different flavour. Yeasts can affect the mouth feel and aroma of wine, making natural wine making a gamble. But when it turns out right, it’s outstanding.

What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?

Because of their spontaneous nature, tastes can range from tropical to floral, skunky to sour or ultra-funky. Some bottles are clear, some are cloudy; it depends on whether the wine is filtered or not.
Red, white, orange, rosé and sparkling wine – all of which begin with their own specific flavour – are transformed into something different based on terroir (the growing region and land), climate, grape varietal and when they are picked. The best thing you can do is sample your way to a favourite.

Where Can You Find Natural Wine in Canada?

Specialty retailers, wine bars and mail-order services are your best bet for getting a taste of natural wine. Restaurants with sommelier-run wine programs are another great place to try. For instance, The Black Hoof in Toronto has a knowledgeable staff of enthusiastic, on-trend wine aficionados who can help you find a natural wine to enjoy by the glass or bottle. In Montreal, Hôtel Herman’s lengthy, yet focused, wine list carries natural wines from around the world. Burdock and Co. in Vancouver offers a selection of natural wines served by a knowledgeable staff who can answer your toughest natural wine questions.

Related: Must-Try Local BC Wines

It’s not just found at restaurants. Pearl Morissette, a winery in Niagara’s famous winemaking region headed by a former Burgundian winemaker, is creating alluring natural wines with mystique, charm and sophistication, taking this from bohemian hipster trend to world-class treat. Their wines are available at their vineyard, online and in restaurants.

And, no matter where you are in Canada, you can order through Nicholas Pearce Wines, which carries one of my favourite natural wines, the Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc (South Africa). Grab a friend, order a case and split it – you won’t be disappointed.
Ask questions, request and seek out natural wine in your area. It’s worth the effort, not only for the thrill of the hunt, but the true difference in taste.

Photos courtesy of Allison Day

The Joy of Cooking for Strangers

If a friend called to offer you juicy leftovers from Cory Vitiello’s restaurant, Flock, you’d eat them, right? What if that “friend” was actually a mutual member of a Facebook group — and a stranger?

This is not a hypothetical question, but a real-life scenario that played out on Toronto’s swapping site, Bunz Trading Zone earlier this month:

bunz-meal-strangers

 

“Hungry buns!,” read the post. “We ordered FLOCK takeout for production night at work and can’t eat all this sumptuous hipster chicken. Come take these three juicy drumsticks (and fancy sauces) from us! ISO: a high-five, good joke, feeding a fellow bun in need…”

The Flock leftovers are just the latest in a slew of Bunz trades, edible and otherwise. Founder Emily Bitze started the sharing community when she was short a can of tomato sauce for her planned pasta dinner and created a group dedicated to swapping resources. The Bunz Trading Zone has one rule: no cash exchanges. Members, known as ‘buns,’ credit the community for saving money, preventing environmental waste (by finding use for items that would otherwise be discarded) and for building a community, one post at a time.

Leftovers are often offered in exchange for subway tokens and tall cans of beer, and while most completed trades are remembered only by their Facebook threads, at least one has turned into a regular cooking gig.

Meet Nadya Khoja and Sarah Lee. Khoja is a marketer by day, and Lee works for Via Rail. But on Saturday nights, the roommates open their home to strangers, who bring booze in exchange for gourmet, home-cooked meals and shared conversation. The friends’ home-based dinner service is called Chez Lisgar: prospective guests sign up for a spot on Lee and Khoja’s waiting list, and the pair vets guests online before accepting them. It’s a smooth operation now, but like many a Bunz trade, it started with leftovers.

“We had come home one night from working out and decided that we wanted a quick meal, with whatever leftovers we had, and we ended up having leftovers from that,” explains Lee. “And we were living in a really small apartment at the time, so we thought it would be fun to just see what would happen if we posted the food on Bunz.” So that’s what they did, asking prospective takers to bring alcohol in exchange.

“It ended up getting really popular overnight, and we decided to just run with it.”

Although guests now arrive through the Chez Lisgar website, and not solely through Bunz, the entrepreneurial, DIY and community spirit that defines the Facebook group still shines through.  Khoja and Lee will work around dietary restrictions, but they mainly base menus on what they feel like eating. In return, they ask guests to bring one bottle of red and one bottle of white wine. “People usually pick something they like themselves,” says Khoja. “You get a taste for their personality and choices,” adds Lee. It’s not always wine, either — one upcoming guest has offered to bring dessert instead, and the pair agreed.

 

French onion soup stuffed mushroom cups topped with Gruyere, a Chez Lisgar specialty.Image credit: Nadya Khoja and Sarah Lee

French onion soup stuffed mushroom cups topped with Gruyere, a Chez Lisgar specialty. Image credit: Nadya Khoja and Sarah Lee

Alyssa Bouranova is a graduate student living in Toronto. She visited Chez Lisgar with her boyfriend earlier this year, dining on a “delicious” meal of bourbon and maple-glazed pulled turkey, guacamole-stuffed onion rings and a green salad.

“It’s kind of a shot in the dark when you’re going with strangers, but it was wonderful,” says Bouranova. “They were very friendly.” The foursome got along so well that Bouranova and her boyfriend stayed past dinner to watch 90s music videos, and she stays in touch with the roommates on Facebook.

“The takeaway is that you don’t have to pay big bucks for gourmet food in Toronto,” says Bouranova. “It was a delicious and easy way to get a really nice meal in a way less pretentious and expensive environment [than a restaurant], and we got to meet cool people as well.”

Bouranova’s isn’t the ongoing friendship to be nurtured by a meal at Chez Lisgar. At a recent dinner, Khoja and Lee liked their guests so much they ended up attending a party together after the meal, and Khoja says she’ll likely be dog sitting for her new friends in the near future.

Like sushi burritos or ice-cream tacos, Chez Lisgar is a typically millennial mashup: at once an Internet-phenomenon, a cash-saver and a community-builder, as well as a constructive protest against a fraught economy that bears little love for young adults. “The fact is most of my friends are struggling finding work,” says Lee, “and a lot of them have had to turn to more unconventional ways of being able to pay bills and afford being a person in a big city. A lot of millennials have an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Chez Lisgar's cheesy garlic pull-apart bread. Image credit: Nadya Khoja and Sarah Lee

Chez Lisgar’s cheesy garlic pull-apart bread. Image credit: Nadya Khoja and Sarah Lee

Sharing a meal is arguable the oldest and most culturally widespread way of bringing people together, but platforms like Chez Lisgar, or similar service EatWith, are new.

With thousands of apps and internet platforms helping them share, connect and express, Lee and Khoja believe that trendy trades, like those happening via Bunz and in the so-called sharing economy, are here to stay. “Whether it’s a dinner or someone’s music or writing, I think millennials have come to realize that we can’t follow the conventional routes that our parents or teachers have taught us,” says Lee. “We take responsibility on ourselves, and we do it in the most unconventional ways, to consolidate the resources that we do have. We realize that we’ve reached the maximum of what we can consume and it’s time to share with the people around us.”

doughnuts

John Catucci Predicts What You Gotta Eat Next

Food trends come and go, but no matter what the masses are noshing and Instagramming, you can guarantee You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci will be right there with them. We talked to the food star and sampling savant to find out which treats you’ll be lining up for this summer.

Von-Doughnuts

Artisanal Doughnuts
Fancy doughnuts aren’t new, but they’re not going anywhere either, says John.  One doughy fried treat in particular has convinced him that we’re still at the peak of doughnut popularity. “We went to this place called Cartems in Vancouver, that just did incredible doughnuts like an Earl Grey doughnut,” he says. “That floored me. It was a cake doughnut, and they used bergamot in the cake batter and in the glaze as well. It’s like you’re eating a doughnut and having a tea on the side.”

Get the recipe for The Porky Monkey Doughnut from Von Doughnuts.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken
Just like doughnuts, John thinks fried chicken will continue sticking to your ribs and the popularity charts. He says 2016 is the year of fried chicken, in every form. “Bone in or out, in a sandwich, on a plate, with waffles, or just by itself. That’s always going to be there.” John particularly enjoys the fried chicken sandwiches at Toronto’s The Combine Eatery.

Get the recipe for Fried Chicken from Wallflower Modern Diner.

steak and kidney pie

Posh Nosh
If you’re already a pie and a pint kind of person, prepare to start jostling for elbow room at your British local. Elevated English pub fare will be the next cuisine to capture Canadian palates, says John, citing Toronto’s The Borough as a leader in fancy pub food. He cites their Yorkie Burger, a beef patty served between two Yorkshire puddings, as an example of what’s to come. “It has the flavours of a roast beef dinner that you like, but smashed in a burger,” he enthuses.

Get the recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie from The Dam Pub.

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