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TOT1

We hope you got the chance to enjoy the inaugural 4-day Taste of Toronto festival, sponsored by American Express Canada! From Thursday July 24 to Sunday July 27th, Fort York was transformed into a foodie heaven, with specialty menus from some of Toronto’s best restaurants, top local chefs, Q&As, interactive cooking classes, tasting sessions, and more.

If you’re an Amex Cardmember there’s a good chance you got to experience a few of the perks that Taste of Toronto had to offer. For example, with a flash of our Amex Card we were escorted past the main line up to the VIP priority entrance. The time we saved by not waiting in line allowed us to start taste testing before anyone else!

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After checking out a few of our favourite spots like Momofuku, Shocka Coconut Hub, Barque Smokehouse, and Splendido, we decided to take a break at the exclusive Amex VIP Lounge. The lounge offered comfortable seating under a giant tent (which provided some much needed shade on Saturday) with a variety of snacks and complimentary water for each guest.

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After a quick recharge in the Amex Lounge we made our way to our reserved seats (courtesy of Amex) at the Taste Theatre, to watch Christina Tosi, chef and owner of Toronto’s Momofuku Milk Bar. Let’s just say we learned a thing or two about cooking, lol.

If you like attending events such as Taste of Toronto, Amex Cardmembers get access to presale tickets, plus exclusive VIP perks that help to make an unforgettable experience. As proud Amex Ambassadors, we can tell you firsthand how exciting it is to get the VIP experience at every event!
We can’t wait for next year!

Tweet us your favourite photos from the festival using @1LOVETO @Amexcanada @TasteOfToronto #DinewithAmex #TasteofToronto

InspiredBy-Amex

In a city as big as Toronto we sometimes get stuck in our comfort zone and forget to explore what the rest of the city has to offer. A recent study commissioned by American Express, reveals more than half (53%) of Canadians feel stuck in their comfort zone, and almost everyone (98% of respondents) believe exploring our home towns or cities helps us live a more enriched life.

Toronto is filled with so much potential, not only the people, but the places. At 1 LOVE T.O. we constantly get the chance to explore and be #InspiredBy the different places throughout our city.

We’ve selected 5 of our ‘potentials places’ that highlight areas in the city where we get inspired through healthy living, fashion and style, music, reading and food/cooking.

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1. Healthy Living: When it comes to clearing our minds and taking a break from the daily grind, while staying healthy and active, we head over to High Park to hike the trails. You can’t help but be inspired when you’re surrounded by mother nature.

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2. Fashion: If you’re anything like us, we love to people watch! On any given day you can pull up a chair, or find a spot on the giant rock in Yorkville Park and you’ll see all different types of style. Summertime is the best time to get inspired by this place.

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3. Music: There’s something special about watching a concert outdoors! We’ve always been inspired by live music at the Molson Amphitheatre, especially in recent years with the now iconic OVO Fest. Seeing artists from Toronto like Drake, Kardinal and The Weeknd share the same stage as Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem, TLC, Stevie Wonder, (the list goes) is nothing but inspirational.

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4. Reading: Believe it or not, we love to read on the Subway and/or Streetcar. Passing the time on your daily commute gets a whole lot better when you’re reading an incredible book.

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5. Food: Shopping for food is almost as much fun as eating! Wandering around St. Lawrence Market has always been something we enjoy. Seeing the different types of food, people and the history of that building is all inspiring to us.

We want you to help us ‘realize the potential’ of Toronto by telling us your favourite places and hidden gems that provide you with inspiration?! Tweet your suggestions to @1LOVETO & @AmexCanada using the hash-tag #InspiredBy or leave a comment below.

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Summer is in full swing and we’re back with one of our biggest SUMMER SALES events to date! Join us this weekend, Friday-Sunday at The Distillery District as part of Bacardi’s Festival Libre. Our pop up shop will be featured in this three-day cultural experience, celebrating rum culture in Toronto’s largest licensed outdoor patio! There will be everything from live music, food, cocktails, art, fashion, and of course more rum than you can drink.

Tees and Tanks are on sale for $20 this weekend, or 2 for $35! Make sure you check out the map below to see where all the action is taking place!

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For more info: festivallibre.ca

Follow @1LOVETO #FestivalLibre

Digest Digest

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Digest Digest is a day of making, tasting, and good conversation celebrating the past, present and future of food. Programmed as a series of talks, interviews, workshops, and tastings, culminating in a dinner infused with narrative and theatre – Digest Digest examines the ways we create, consume and interpret food.

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The next instalment will be held on Thursday, June 26th at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St West) with the following schedule:

2-4pm: Raw Food & Bev Lab Workshop
4-6pm: Future of Food Speaker Series with Ken Waagner, Rob Bolton, and Scott Friedmann
6-9pm: The Centre for Genomic Gastronomy Performance
10pm: DANCING! Natural Animal DJ Set

For more info & tickets visit: digest-digest.com

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Recently we got the chance to enjoy a unique tasting experience with the good folks from Dine Alone Foods. That’s right, Dine Alone Records founder Joel Carriere and Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings launched Dine Alone Foods with three all-natural sauces, including a classic Southern Blues BBQ sauce, a sweet smoky Northern Soul Chipotle BBQ sauce, and a spicy Rock N’ Roll hot sauce.

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The event took place at the Dog and Bear on Queen St West with food by Hogtown Smoke and Parts & Labour Catering. The highlight of the night was a three-tiered BBQ sauce fondue fountain ready for dipping! Our favourite sauce was definitely the Northern Soul Chipotle (it’s a must try).

If you’re looking to try something new, here’s where you can buy it in Toronto: dinealonefoods.com/where-to-buy

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Photos by Becca Lemire

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Taste Of Toronto

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Taste, the World’s Greatest Restaurant Festival is touching down in Toronto this summer from Thursday July 24th to Sunday July 27th. Toronto is the first North American city to host a Taste Festival validating the notion that TO is in fact, a Foodie’s paradise. If you want it, you can find it here, and the rest of the world is beginning to take notice.

The Taste of Toronto festival will feature food from establishments such as Richmond Station, JaBistro, El Caballito and Rose and Sons, just to name a few.

We were fortunate enough to attend the preview to see what the festival will offer this summer. Our taste buds were engaged by the spicy shrimp salad from KHAO SAN ROAD and we were especially satisfied by Ninutik and their Canadian inspired cheese and maple syrup pairing, appropriately titled “SASSeh!”.

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For more info: tasteoftoronto.com

Posted by Jesse Ingalls

Follow @1LOVETO #TasteOfToronto

Winterlicious 2014

It’s that magical time of year where the city is bursting with tantalizing fragrances that’ll whisk you away and wet your palate. Winterlicious 2014 is upon us!

For two weeks, starting January 31st to February 13th, over 200 restaurants city-wide will be participating in the Prix Fixe promotion for lunch and dinner menus. That means you could eat a delectable, three-course, gourmet dinner for just under $50.00 or lunch, for under $20.00.

The city produces Winterlicious and Summerlicious every year to highlight our colourful array of global cuisine prepared by some our finest chefs and restaurants. It also gives us a chance to experience different dishes and expand our tastes, without breaking the bank.

And we can’t forget the always popular Culinary Event Series which offers amazing cooking and dining experiences. Spice Route, Ciao Wine Bar, Rosewater, along with many other restaurants, will be providing interactive demonstrations and lessons on everything from Italian braising to creating a divine gnocchi. You’ll leave with a head full of knowledge and gut full of grub.

Restaurants are now accepting reservations and are quickly coming to capacity!

For ticket info CLICK HERE

Posted by Samira Zia Rehman

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The Beverley Hotel Toronto (Menu Tasting)

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We had the opportunity to check out the private menu tasting at The Beverley, Queen West’s newest boutique hotel, which celebrates its grand opening today. Inspired by the heart, soul and creative spirit of the vibrant Queen West neighbourhood, The Beverley boasts 18 modern and contemporary guest rooms, a rooftop patio with a great view of the downtown core, and an eclectic restaurant helmed by Chef Eric Wood, formerly of Hawthorne Food & Drink and Fabarnak.

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“It’s a space catered for young, urban professionals in the Queen West area. So we created a menu that reflects the lifestyle and culture of the neighbourhood and people,” explains Chef Wood of his menu- contemporary Canadian with a bit of international flair and a focus on local and seasonal produce. Highlights of the evening included his take on a deconstructed caprese salad featuring the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winner (a local, delicious ricotta); a sweet and savory edamame; a beautiful and fresh crudo dish; and a clever “rags to riches” play on caviar.

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For more info: thebeverleyhotel.ca

Posted by Jenelle Antolin

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The Stop’s 2nd Annual Night Market

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It was a “feast for the eyes, heart, belly” when The Stop’s 2nd annual Night Market descended into Honest Ed’s alleyway for two nights on June 18 and 19. The event, which sold out within the first two hours of ticket sales, raised over $100,000 for the Stop Community Food Centre’s critical hunger and anti-poverty programs, and featured over 60 of Toronto’s best chefs and 35 stunning, one-of-a-kind food carts created by local designers. The Stop’s Night Market offered hoards of foodies a unique chance to experience the iconic space with the best of Toronto’s street food and local design.

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Form and function: Some of our favourite booth designs created by local designers and architects.

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The boys at 416 Snackbar served up some tasty Korean Fried Chicken.

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Chef Nick Liu with the Gwai Lo girls.

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Tori’s Bakeshop’s gluten free donuts in strawberry cream and vanilla bean – served in packages cleverly used as part of their booth design.

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Marben’s tequila-infused rainbow trout ceviche, served in an oyster shell.

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Mini red velvet cupcakes from Sullivan & Bleeker.

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Côte de Boeuf’s house-cured corn beef, homemade grainy mustard, aioli, marrow and pickled jalapeños on a baguette.

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Libations from Tequila Tromba.

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Takoyaki from The Stop.

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Paulette’s Garam Masala donuts.

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Lamb mechovi, smolina flatbread, radish pickles from Yours Truly.

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Generous offerings from Momofuku Shoto included a crab soup, cuttlefish salad, and a beef brisket.

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The Stockyard’s Pig in a Blanket- house-smoked andouille sausage, buttermilk biscuit batter and creole mustard.

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The Gabardine’s take on a classic Indian tikka dish, with a Canadian twist – Ontario pickerel tikka with puffed rice, tamarind chutney and coconut yogurt sauce.

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Hakka-style wontons with crispy onions and toasted Ontario nuts from Gwailo.

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We’re always amazed with the preparedness of pop-up-food-event veterans, but this hanging tray takes the cake!

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Among many of the pork dishes, the pulled pork taco from Universal Grill.

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Babi & Co’s padang-style pulled chicken curry on a fried Chinese bun, with cucumber and fried shallots.

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Top Chef Canada finalist and Richmond Station sous-chef Dennis Tay.

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Posted by Jenelle Antolin.

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SPiN Toronto’s Spring Menu

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Spring is in the air, and with the change in seasons, comes a transition from the hearty winter menus, to lighter, fresher fare. We hit up SPiN Toronto – King West’s ping pong social club – to check out their new spring menu launch, featuring local and seasonal ingredients, and a fresh take on classic cocktails. Toronto doesn’t have many places like SPiN – part bar and restaurant, part lounge, all ping pong – it’s definitely the perfect venue to catch up with friends over great food and drinks, while engaging an active but low-key activity like ping pong.

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SPiN’s menu features mostly sharing plates- amped up takes on the kind of low-key pub grub you’d expect to find at a place like this, while also incorporating some more unexpected gourmet fare. House favourite Chicken and Waffles platter ($16) is taken up a notch served with local honey and jalepenos, while the Can O’ Tuna ($12) is really a fresh Ahi tartare – a surprising find on a menu as relaxed as this. Garlic-and-buttery Cast Iron Prawns ($12) and colourful Fresh Veggie Chips ($8) provide healthier alternatives. Other favourites include the Sloppy Joe ($11) sliders, Hogtown Grilled Cheese ($11) sandwiches served with house-made ketchup, and 5 Step Fries Supreme ($9) – an elevated version of the Taco Bell staple, which features their house-made spray cheese. And who doesn’t love a good Cheese and Meats board ($18)? SPiN’s features market cheeses and house-cured meats.

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You can’t go wrong with their cocktails either. Served in mason jars, the Hurricane ($10.60) and Peach Pit ($12.40) are sweeter concoctions, and the 2oz Spring Negroni ($12.40) is bright and fresh with a splash of aperol and a sprig of lavender to lighten it up.

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And you can’t forget about the ping pong!

www.toronto.spingalactic.com | 461 King St. W., Toronto

Posted by Jenelle Antolin

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Sneak Peek: Lisa Marie (Restaurant)

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It started with Fidel Gastro’s – the pop-up shop that first introduced food entrepreneur Matt Basile and his sandwiches to the Toronto food scene. Then came Priscilla – the food truck that brought his sandwiches to the people. Collaborating with local businesses, and food organizations like Toronto Underground Market and Toronto Food Trucks, Basile quickly moved to the forefront of Toronto’s thriving mobile food movement. And now, a little under two years later, we welcome Lisa Marie, a bricks and mortar incarnation of the little pop-up that could, to the Queen West strip. Toronto’s own “Rebel Without a Kitchen” has found his home.

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We scored an invitation to the exclusive media launch party to check out the new space and taste the new menu. The spacious Queen West digs offers ample seating in a rock-and-roll themed space with lots of natural light, and also doubles as both the restaurant and production kitchen for the food truck. A floor-to-ceiling Elvis mural overlooks the dining space and bar, which serves up cocktail pairings- a never-before-seen addition to the Fidel Gastro’s lineup. In the back of the restaurant, a meat counter and wall of preserves allows customers to purchase and take home raw, marinated meats and canned goods.

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The entire menu with the exception of the sharing platters is available for us to taste that night. It’s cicchetti, which the wall graphic above the bar describes as “Kind of like tapas… but not.” Traditionally, cicchetti are small snacks are finger foods like sandwiches, meat boards. Basile’s interpretation stays true to the definition, as reflected in the menu.

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Chef and owner Matt Basile hams it up with girlfriend Kyla Zanardi, food photographer and also co-creator of Insight Project as they celebrate the launch of their “food baby”. Lisa Marie opens to the public tonight!

Lisa Marie | 638 Queen St. W., Toronto

Posted by Jenelle Antolin

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The Daily Commute: Uptown Part I

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The Daily Commute is a weekly mini-series that introduces some great, affordable dining destinations, right of the TTC lines. From the morning coffee for the subway ride to the office, to post-work drinks right off your streetcar stop, we’ll be exploring some great spots to make your daily commute a tasty one.

We’re back on the commute this week, taking the Yonge-University-Spadina line through the stretch of Yonge between Eglinton and Rosedale. We move through the bustling uptown neighbourhoods of Yonge & Eglinton, Summerhill, and Rosedale, a few of Toronto’s wealthier communities, and home to a plethora of both high-end dining destinations and casual, local favourites. Populated by many prominent businesses, this stretch of the commute certainly is not lacking in working lunch or business dinner locales.

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Sweet Spot
Whether it’s for morning coffee en route to the office, or a mid-afternoon sugar fix, La Bamboche, located a short walk south of the Eglinton subway station is your spot. A wide assortment of hot beverages, and beautiful selection of delectable pastries make this patisserie a local favourite. Try their famous carrot cake, and choose from a great selection of French macarons, all made fresh, in-house, daily.
www.labamboche.ca | 4 Manor Rd. E., Toronto

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Quick Bites
A sandwich isn’t just a sandwich in these here parts. Great bites in-between two hands can be found at a few great cafés and sandwich shops right along this strip. The Black Camel just north of the Rosedale subway station offers a fantastic pulled pork sandwich, but make sure to check before heading down- they are known to sell out fast, and often update their sandwich status to their customers via Twitter. And what don’t we love about Delica Kitchen, just south of the St. Clair subway station, with their great selection of fresh, house-made sandwiches, as well as soups, salads and other baked goods. The Artisan Baker, Delica’s neighbor across the street serves up a similar selection but adds a great variety of delicious pastas and entrées to their lunchtime menu.
www.blackcamel.ca | 4 Crescent Rd., Toronto
www.delicakitchen.ca | 1440 Yonge St., Toronto
www.theartisanbakers.com | 1423 Yonge St., Toronto

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Heavy Hitter
For that truly gluttonous experience that – let’s face it – we all crave, at some point, head down to Holy Chuck Burger, which is also just steps from the St. Clair subway station, in extremely close proximity to some of the great spots already mentioned. Made from aged high quality cuts of beef that are ground in-house hourly, Holy Chuck Burger serves up some of Toronto’s finest patties in their signature burgers like The Mad Cow, and The Holy Chuck. Gourmands will love The Holy Duck, a street-food-meets-fine-dining number that features a single beef patty with foie gras, truffle oil and fresh black truffles- fancy! Other favourites include a breakfast-type burger with a beef patty, pancetta and a fried egg in between two freshly baked croissants that come from their friends at The Artisan Baker across the street (how’s that for co-operative food business!), and a panko-crusted Portobello mushroom burger. Wash it all down with their vanilla milkshake, made with real Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean, and finish it off with one of their sweet-savoury desserts, because who doesn’t love cookie dough, ice cream and bacon? And for Holy Chuck fans a little further out, Chef Johnny Prassoulis let us in on some privy information regarding a second location opening in Woodbridge in July.
www.holychuckburgers.com | 1450 Yonge St., Toronto

Posted by Jenelle Antolin

Previously: The Daily Commute: The East End Part I

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