Eat, Drink and Be Merry – Gourmet Food And Wine Expo Toronto

November 27, 2009

This past weekend, Toronto held one of my favorite shows of the year – The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. Held at the south end of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this bad-boy is a sure pleaser for any foodie.

At an objective level, this year was not as “gourmet” as the year prior – went from fine dining to packaged goods. The fine dining guys who did stick around were amazing, but *note to the coordinators* next year, be a little more selective… especially when you use the term “gourmet” in your event’s title.

On a subjective level, this year was better than ever as I was lucky enough to score tickets from One Eleven Yorkville and was able to attend with its head Chef, Christopher Scott, and soon-to-be head Chef, David Battcock. As flavour aficionados, they were able to teach me a world about what we were trying. As buyers for this exclusive champagne, oyster and caviar bar, we were treated with a little more love than the usual guest.

gourmet food and wine show

gourmet food and wine show

Can you say fun?

Some of the highlights

Glutton For Punishment
We pooled our cash for enough tickets to do this one of the seven deadly sins with honour. We started with our favourite supplier, Treamici Wines, who introduced me to my new favourite wine.

Vino Du Jour
The wine honourable mention was an ’04 Barolo DOCG priced at a cool $100 per bottle. But the ’04 Italian Vigna Dei Ciliegi Santome won my top marks as the best wine for the best price. At just under $40, it tastes like a $100. Needless to say I ordered a case of it for my fam and friends this holiday season.

Liquor Du Jour
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a tequila girl and I have been a HUGE fan of the Clase Azul Reposado Tequila since I first tried it two years ago during holidays in Mexico. It was the one-of-a-kind hand-painted bottles that got me to buy it, and it was the taste that kept me a loyal follower. Basically, it drinks like a sherry casked scotch, but sweeter and smoother. But at about $90 a bottle and with all its distribution exclusivities, its not exactly an easy bottle to come by.

Surprisingly, I found an amazing drinking liqueur that could please everyone – which I’ve never before encountered. Skinos from Mykonos: just shake it over ice. I’m not kidding, and its not a purely subjective view either. We were in awe of the potential profitability of this, as we could easily identify how everyone at a bar would love it. The women would like it because its just sweet and smooth enough; the men would like it because its not offensively sweet yet still strong; the bartender would love it because of its efficiency, serving by a simple shake over ice; and the owner would love the bottom line at under $40 per bottle. Needless to say, its smoother than any Greek man, sweet enough to please any woman, and at 30% its hard enough for any man.

Here’s one of the reps explaining the source – quite interesting.

Beer Du Jour
The honourable mention in this category goes to DogFish Head, as it was the overall group fave. The winner, however, was hands-down Black Oak Double Chocolate Cherry Stout, a cherry stout at 5.5% alcohol/vol. It tastes like an expensive 90% cacao chocolate bar: a bitter chocolate delight with a hint of cherry. Black Oak Brewing.

Food Du Jour

This one goes to a local favourite, Rodney’s Oyster House. As soon as their booth caught my peripheral, I began quizzing the wine reps about their best selections to pair with oysters. With the right white wine in hand, I headed to Rodney’s booth to sample. As always, the shucking drew a crowd. I looked at the line and pompously told Dave I could shuck them myself. Rodney overheard and invited me to prove it.

Shaking nervously from a staring crowd, they prepped me and put a cap on my head. With rag in one hand and oyster shucking knife in the other, I was passed what they called “an easy one.” I shucked it, smelled it (mmm… ocean fresh), cleaned the shell out (hardly), flipped it (not to reattach the tendon), and took it back sans garnish to enjoy the full flavours. The experience made my day, just as every Rodney’s visit had before (my fondest Rodneys’ memories being a tasting event of oysters paired with beer and their summer festival of shucking contests and lobster bakes).

Cheese Du Jour
I must admit, I dropped the ball on this as I found a few faves… but ate them, along with my roommates, before writing this post. opppsss.

Anyhow, thanks to my Food Cult boys, One Eleven and all the cool vendors for the great fun at the show.


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