A Night Out with Fresita Wine + Petite & Sweet Bakery

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_DSC6534We got some spring back in our step at A Little Lux Night Out, hosted by Fresita and Petite & Sweet Bakery. And boy, could we use it after such a brutal winter. Eat Drink Travel staff were thrilled to partake in a night out on the town, getting pampered with wine and desserts.

Arriving at the Riverdale loft, we were handed flutes of Fresita – a delicious blend of Chilean sparkling wine. What’s unique about this drink? It’s fused with handpicked strawberries from the South of Chile. This bubbly wine is sweet with a hint of spice, and when served ice cold, makes it a refreshing patio drink for this summer. Fresita is available in the LCBO for $13.95/bottle

_DSC6318While sipping on sparkling Fresita (and having our glasses topped up more than once), we turned our attention to the food portion of the “lux night out.” Apparently, “indulgence” is defined by a buffet of cupcakes, pretzels, macaroons, and candies from Petite & Sweet Bakery.

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Chowing Down at Yum Cha Dim Sum Fest in Toronto

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Photo 11There ain’t no party like a dim sum party. Or even better – how about a full blown dim sum festival?

Last weekend kicked off Yum Cha Dim Sum Festival in Toronto. Literally translated as “drink tea,” Yum Cha is another name for the mid-morning Cantonese tradition, commonly known as “dim sum.” After hosting a slew of food events, food writers and co-organizers Suresh Doss and Frank Kocis were itching to plan a dim sum festival.

“We want people to enjoy creative takes on dim sum and to see what these restaurants are capable of,” says Doss. “We finally found the right space, so we decided to go ahead.”

Photo 9Turns out the rest of Toronto had the same craving – 600 foodies crowded into the Chinese Freemason Association for Yum Cha, eager to taste bite-sized dishes from a variety of Toronto restaurants. Despite the hungry mobs, line ups were fairly short and there was plenty of space to chill out with friends.

DSC_2702 (800x533)But Yum Cha isn’t your average dim sum experience. The event featured 10 vendors who fused traditional elements of dim sum – such as dumplings and buns – with unique cultural flavours. Foodies visited the booths, interacted with the Chefs, and devoured delicacies and Samuel Adams Beer. (more…)

Where to Eat: The Fifth Pub House in Toronto

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DSC_1423 (800x533)What happens to a nightclub when it gets a makeover?

It becomes a gathering place for enjoying craft beer and classic Canadian comfort food. Over 15 months, the basement of the red brick building on Richmond Street was transformed into The Fifth Pub House – a rustic bar inspired by the British gastropub tradition. The space had once been the site of Fluid nightclub, but had laid empty for almost two years – until the Fifth Pub House opened.

DSC_1418 (800x533)Walking through the doors, the Pub House is riddled with character. It feels like an upscale barn but with modern trimmings, such as televisions broadcasting the hockey game. Red tartan stools, antlers, and an oversized plate and utensils mounted on the wall gives this place a bit of character. There are 14 beers on tap, including a house brew called The Fifth Stock Ale.

DSC_1333 (800x533)But The Fifth is more than a watering hole. Chef Brad Livergant prides himself on serving gourmet grub at a fair price. The menu incorporates local and organic ingredients into traditional pub favourites, and includes a selection of sustainable fish.

 “I wanted to do really good pub food, the right way,” Chef Livergant says.

DSC_1346 (800x533)Every Wednesday, the Pubhouse serves “get shucked” oysters, fresh from Prince Edward Island, for $1.00 each. To put frippery into the dish, the Chef demonstrates how to add a shot of red wine vinaigrette to the oysters. (more…)

Winter Hiking in Jasper National Park

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Maligne Canyon, Jasper“We’re Canadians, so we all know how to walk on ice, right?”

Joy, our guide, is prepping our group to begin our trek into the frozen Maligne Canyon, not far from Jasper, Alberta. I have to windmill my arms to stay upright when skating, so I give her a doubtful glance.

“Use your toes to grab when going up a hill and dig in your heels when going down,” she explains. She adds that because the mercury’s crept above zero, the ice might be slick in some places and sticky in others.

DSC_0187 (800x536)Over our boots we’re wearing crampons — strap-on soles with metal divets. I take a few tentative steps at first, unsure if these tiny chunks of metal will keep me vertical. But they do, and before long walking on ice feels no different than hiking a muddy trail: you just need to pay attention. And for the steeper spots along our route, Joy is carrying an ice pick to hack out miniature steps where needed. Although the members of our group wearing snow pants decide that sliding down the hills is easier — and more fun.

Frozen waterfall, JasperIt’s midday, but most of the canyon is shaded. Huge sheets of ice cling to the sheer, limestone walls — towering frozen waterfalls more than 30 metres high and up to a metre thick (above). (more…)

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