Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy Chinese New Year! Let's Welcome the Year of the Fire Rooster!

Ready to bid Adieu to the Year of the Fire Monkey and Welcome in the Year of the Fire Rooster? 

Last weekend, on Saturday and Sunday January 21st and 22nd, 2017 I had the pleasure of hosting my annual Chinese New Year Preps FoodWalks, complete with curated dim sum and shopping for necessary decorations and cooking ingredients to be ready by the evening of Thursday January 26th. We had newcomers who relocated to Toronto, adventurous travellers yearning to get behind-the-scenes with locals, and best of all, long-time Toronto residents with vivid memories of a changing city.  Those lucky folks love the fact that Chinese New Year festival last 15 days! Yes, that translates into 15 glorious days of feasting! If you missed my Chinese New Year's Preps FoodTours, you are still in luck, as I have the Celebrations FoodTours and for the Grand Finale, the Lantern Festival FoodTours. 

                Saturday February 4th, 2017 
                Sunday February 5th, 2017

               Saturday February 11th, 2017  
               Sunday February 12th, 2017

Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve takes place in 2017 on Friday January 27th. Traditionally, Chinese New Year's Eve is the evening for the Grand Feast. Some Chinese families might have the multi-course dinner at home on Friday night if mom or grandma is home to cook all day long. Some families might celebrate with a big bash on Saturday, the Firdt Day of Chinese New Year. Some families, like mine for the first time, will celebrate on Sunday night due  to busy school and work schedules! Some folks would have pre-booked tables. Some will pre-order for take-out. 

The traditional Chinese Lunar New Year banquet in China is always a sumptuous, communal feast of at least ten courses and occasionally more. 

For many Chinese, the banquet at the beginning of the lunar year is more than a meal, as it gathers together a family of several generations. A New Year’s menu is a poetic collection of rich symbols, omens and superstitions as well as a family’s food history. 

This year, my family's food history really comes to the forefront in threefold.  First, I'll be sharing my early childhood connection with chocolate, as we savour during the chocolate tastings, the artisan chocolates I created as SChocolateMagic . Second, the unique fish which Simon, co-owner of historic Kowloon Seafood Dim Sum Restaurant will proudly pick for our Whole Steamed Fish dish, which will bring back memories of old school Cantonese cooking and be a memorable experience for banquet newbies. Third, replacing the deep fried chicken dish with a new dish, the Salt-Baked Chicken, a dish that is made from a recipe of tradition, but prepared in the classic manner. While discussing this revised menu with my mom, I discovered that this main course dish has a dish my mom eaten once during her childhood in Guangdong, China. We are talking about early 1930s, and it was made by my maternal great-grandmother, bound-foot and all ! Since arriving in Canada in 1952, my mom has not had it prepared in the classic manner.  

The following New Year‘s Day meal will welcome the Year of the Fire Rooster at Kowloon Seafood Dim Sum Restaurant, one of the oldest remaining Chinese restaurant from Toronto's lost first Chinatown area, while paying homage to local Food Historian Shirley Lum’s ancestral Cantonese roots in Guangzhou and celebrates the completion of her Professional Chocolatier Certificate (chocolate tastings of artisan chocolate concoctions using quality chocolates, Valrhona Chocolates, Michel Cluizel and Callebaut Chocolates).  

Culinary Historian Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World hosts 
2017 Chinese New Year 12-course Banquet 
Saturday January 28th, 2017 6:00-9:00 P.M. 
Kowloon Seafood Dim Sum Restaurant, 5 Baldwin Street, Toronto. 

 *** Menu for Chinese New Year 12-course Banquet *** 

* Chocolate Tastings (artisan chocolates by Shirley aka @SChocolateMagic )
* Sweet and Sour Chicken 
* BBQ Platter 
* Crab Meat & Fish Maw Soup 
* Braised Oysters & Fatt Choy on a Bed of Lettuce 
* Phoenix Nest with Medley of Vegetables 
* Classic Salt-Baked Chicken 
* Braised Medley of Vegetables 
* Steamed Whole Fish 
* Double Lobsters in Garlic, Scallion & Ginger 
* Yeungchow Fried Rice
* Yee-Fu Noodles 
* Sweet Soup: Red Bean  

EVENT CAPACITY: Two Tables with 10 seats each

Tickets (includes pre-ordered food, tea, Chinese New Year’s Food History Talk & memento, and chocolate tastings):

$80.00 CAD p.p. by E-Transfer at by WED. JAN. 25th 9:00 P.M., After which, ticket price of $85.00 will be accepted by Credit Cards only. 
RESERVE your spots using your Credit Card by calling (416)923-6813
(NO SHOWS will be charged $85.00 on the Credit Card) 

Note: At the time of publication of this blog, Table One just Sold Out. 
Purchase your seats now as seating is limited to ensure an intimate and memorable experience for all! 

Happy New Year! 

San Nin Fai Lok in Cantonese ! 

Xin Nian Kaui Le in Mandarin ! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marmalade Love: Captured in Jars & Pastries at Redpath Marmalade Competition #M4M2016

The Blue Barracks Room, all set and ready for #M4M2016 Judges and participants!
Thanks Bernardin for continued sponsorship! 
Sneak peak of Judges' ribbons in
Redpath Marmalade Competition Judging Room
Wondering what it’s like to be held captive for two solid hours
in a small room with
eight Marmalade Competition judges,
plus thirty jars of jelly, jam, and marmalade, and
nine pastries baked with marmalade? 

On Saturday February 20, 2016 that was case at the Mad For Marmalade Competition, which was renamed as the Redpath Marmalade Competition. The Marmalade Competition Judging Room was  buzzing with Marmalade Love. This event was a part of the 9th annual Mad For Marmalade, Crazy For Citrus! presented by Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC) in partnership with Fort York - National Historic Site and the Aga Khan Museum. The 2016 theme was Citrus in the Persian Kitchen! 

I have grown up with an appreciation for marmalade thanks to both parents working at different Canadian/Chinese diners  in Toronto in the early 1950s, as their respective diners served homemade marmalades with toast. That love for all things marmalade turned into leading hands-on Marmalades With Asian Twists workshops at the Mad For Marmalade, Crazy For Citrus! in 2008 and 2009. Over the years, I turned my marmalade love to appreciating the different flavours of Persian culture, and was excited upon joining the planning committee in June 2015 with CHC and Fort York to work on this event.

Volunteering as the 2016 Redpath Marmalade Competition Chair includes long hours of meetings, going behind the scene and more. But it can be totally fun and rewarding when the big event finally arrives! There's nothing like standing in the hallway with all eight judges, and hearing them chat. The energy! The excitement! You should see the loads of hugs and warm greetings when we spy the much beloved Elizabeth Baird, as she arrives early for her workshop. Then it's Naomi Duguid, our Keynote Speaker who arrives. 

Yvonne Tremblay & Christine Manning
Once we get the signal that it's time to go through the Main Lobby and head through the doorway into the Judging Room, all the judges stop chatting. It's serious business from here on. All the while, I feel like a “fly on the wall” while witnessing up-close eight amazing Canadian professionals in their own fields, go into the “Marmalade Zone” once it was time to march into the Marmalade Competition Judging Room from the little hallway adjoining the cloak room.  

The room went into a hush at first, then we started to hear murmurs as  each judge begins to concur with their judging partner about the colour of the jars, the texture, the headspace, and more. The energy shifted as they slip into using different sensory modes to judge their chosen category. I wish there was an App for the heady aromas of the various jams, jellies and marmalades as we all started hearing the distinctive pop of the perfectly processed jars open. Immediate olfactory responses of sighs and swooning were witnessed. What a rich experience to see the varying facial reactions as each jar popped open. Each of the below listed jury members were amazing. What a memorable experience of tutored tasting with all of the senses coming alive! Each judge took their time in writing down thoughtful and helpful tips for many entrants and even graciously shared some more tips during the Awards segment of the event. 
Kyla Eaglesham & MaryCatherine Anderson

Once each pair of judges were done with their category, we saw the top three jars (or cakes) in ranking ordering for the other jury members to judge. Once the jury panel concurred on the top three of each category, then first place winners of category were selected. 

Emily Richards & Daphna Rabinovitch
Moving the three top jars to the designated table by a window, allowed all the judges to marvel at the gem-like quality of the jars as sunshine shined though the window. We witnessed a brilliant way to test the top three finalists:  a spoonful of each jar on a small vintage plate. This permitted a much closer side-by-side scrutiny of the depth of colour, the texture, the finesse in cutting, etc. Of course, more tasting takes place plus a Marmalade Competition Judge group selfies after being pumped with so much sugar.  

Alison Fryer with plate of 1st Place winners
just before Judges' Choice is made

Bravo to each of these busy professionals willing to volunteer their precious time on a Saturday! A heartfelt thank goes to Daphna Rabinovitch for saving the day with the unforeseen last minute cancellation of another judge just the night before the big day. Fans of Canadian Living Cooks loved having her back during the Awards ceremony. Here’s the jury panel that helped judge the fabulous 39 entries. 

2016 Redpath Marmalade Competition Judges

Category 1: Pure Seville Orange Marmalade
* Christine Manning a returning judge and proud owner of Manning Canning. 
* Yvonne Tremblay, five-time Grand Champion Jam & Jelly Maker (The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair) and author of Prizewinning Preserves, 250 Home Preserving Favorites and Thyme in the Kitchen. 

Category 2: Citrus Marmalade
* Daphna Rabinovitch, Freelance Food Consultant, Food Writer/Editor/Recipe Developer.   
* Emily Richards is a highly experienced and well-regarded Professional Home Economist. Her newest cookbook, shares her family’s Italian culture.  

Category 3: Preserves with Citrus (formerly Citrus Preserves)
* Alison Fryer was a fixture at the helm of the seminal The Cookbook Store for over thirty years. Since the store’s closure in 2014, Alison has been teaching at culinary schools, on the lookout for the next wave of culinary talent. A longtime judge of major international cookbook awards. 
* Robert Henderson is the 2015 Grand Champion Jam & Jelly Maker and First Place winner in Heritage Jams (The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair). Owner of Henderson Farms, on Wolfe Island, he has been making and selling 50 different flavours for 30 years.He sells at the Kingston Farmers Market 3 days a week for over 25 years and do juried craft shows in Ontario, One of a Kind; Quebec, Salon des metiers d’art; and Vancouver, One of a Kind. 

Category 4: Baking with Marmalade
* Pastry Chef Kyla Eaglesham is owner of Madeleine (a Bespoke Pastry Production Kitchen in Toronto). 
* Mary Catherine Anderson is a culinary instructor and freelance chef in Toronto. She has been teaching preserving, as well as other courses at St. Lawrence Market, for Aphrodite Cooks, Nella Cucina, the LCBO and the TDSB. 

In 2015, the competition had 29 entrants and in 2016, we witness an increase to 39 entrants. Here’s a little Stats:

Pure Seville Orange Marmalade:    2015 (5 entries) 2016 (9 entries)
Citrus Marmalade:   2015 (10 entries) 2016 (14 entries) 
Preserves with Citrus:  2015 (8 entries) 2016 (7 entries) 
Baking with Marmalade:  2015  (6 entries)  2016 (9 entries)

Genevieve Shave: Judges' Choice and 1st Prize winner of Citrus Marmalade 
Image with Permission by Genevieve Shave 
Congratulations to  Genevieve Shave, who once again entered this year, and this time she wins the Judges’ Choice  and 1st Prize in the Citrus Marmalade category for her Scotch Marmalade! 

We all loved the food history she shared about her heirloom recipe from her great-grandmother, Florence Watson. With permission, here’s what Genevieve C. M. Shave shared with us at Redpath Marmalade Competition: 

Scotch Marmalade 
  • Florence Watson (referred to as “Great-Grandmother”)

Made from my Great-Grandmother’s recipe. As many from her generation, she found recipes and wrote them down in her own cook-book. She never mentioned where she found the inspiration for this recipe. She used to make and give this marmalade every year at Christmas for decades of her life. Since she passed away over a 10 years ago, my Grandmother found her recipe, attempted it a few times, and gave it to my Mother who carried the tradition for a few the years as well. Ever since I was old enough to safely make it in 2005, I have been keeping the annual tradition alive. 

My Great-Grandmother didn’t drink whiskey, so the only whiskey she had in her house was a single bottle that she would use for this recipe, so she didn’t experiment much with types of whiskey, and how it may strongly affect the marmalade outcome. I have experimented, and O have found a particular Blended Scotch Whiskey that seems to carry a subtle, but incredible flavour to the marmalade.   

Yvonne Tremblay & Christine Manning
Jars of Pure Seville Orange Marmalade

Redpath Marmalade Competition, February 20, 2016

I would like to congratulate everyone who entered as every single entry was a worthy one. 
The complete standings are listed below. Lest anyone felt downhearted about their results, we had one entrant who placed 1st in one category and then much lower in another category!  

Judges’ Choice
  • Genevieve Shave (Scotch Marmalade)

Pure Seville Orange Marmalade (9 entries) 
  • 1st Prize: Muriel Thompson (Pure Seville Orange Marmalade)  Recipe source: Mary Norwak Cookbook 
  • 2nd Prize: Roshi Ebrahim (My Dad’s Marmalade) Recipe source: Family 
  • 3rd Prize: Mary Mucio (Classic Seville Orange Marmalade) Recipe source: Canadian Living                            
  •  4. Susanne Tabur (Oxford Marmalade) recipe: Caroline Conran: British Cooking) 
  • 5. Sarah B Hood (Seville Orange Marmalade) recipe: original 
  • 6. Patrick Forbes (Pure Seville Orange) recipe: n/a  
  • 7. Stephen Ferguson (Ferguson’s Finest) recipe: Radio, experimentation 
  • 8. Julien Sleath (Pure Seville Marmalade) recipe: traditional  
  • 9. Mark Whitcombe  (Seville Orange Marmalade)  

Citrus Marmalade (14 entries) 
  • 1st Prize: Genevieve Shave (Scotch Marmalade) Great-grandma’s recipe 
  • 2nd Prize: Susanne Tabur (Clear Marmalade) Recipe source: New Dishes from the Daily Telegraph 1953   
  • 3rd Prize: Mary Mucio (Grapefruit & Lemon Marmalade)  Recipe source: Bridget Wranich, Fort York    
4. Veda Karlo (Lemon w/ Honey & Cardamom) recipe: personal & original  
Fathiya Rahim proudly wears
2nd Prize ribbon: Baking with Marmalade
Places 8th in Citrus Marmalade
(image with permission)
5. Sandra Boyes (Rustic 3-Citrus Brandy Marmalade) recipe: Bernardin  
6. Mary-Louise Graven (Meyer Lemon/Blood Orange Demerrara Sugar) 
7. Julien Sleath (4 Fruit Marmalade) recipe: popular methods-cookbook/internet 
8. Fathiya A Rahim (Lemon Saffron Marmalade) recipe: personal & books 
9. Pam Edmonds (Five Fruit Marmalade) 
10. Muriel Thompson (Costco Magazine Marmalade)
11. Moira Sanders (Sky Valley Heirloom Navel Orange & Ginger Marmalade  
12. Jean Sterritt (Meyer Lemon & Clementine Marmalade)  
13. Mark D’Aguilar (Seville Orange Marmalade w/ Quince Juice & Saffron) 
14. Mike Layton (Grapefruit Compari Marmalade) recipe:   

Congrats Donna Pitcher!
1st Prize: Bake with Marmalade (see below)
2nd Prize: Preserves with Citrus
Photo Credit: Donna Pitcher 
Preserves with Citrus {formerly Citrus Preserves} (7 entries)
  • 1st Prize: Pam Edmonds (Apricot Orange Cardamom Marmalade) Recipe source: adapted from blog by Margaret M. Tripp   
  • 2nd Prize:Donna Pitcher (Ruby-Red Grapefruit Cardamom & Orange Flower Jelly)  Recipe source: inspired by BH & G Blood Orange-Vanilla Bean Jelly 
  • 3rd Prize: Lisette Maillette (Orange and carrot jam) 
  • 4. Sarah B Hood (Lemon, Fig & Lavender Marmalade)  
  • 5. Veda Karlo (Blood Orange w/ Raspberry & Chambord)  recipe: personal  
  • 6. Grace Bellamy (Jaffa Mandarin, Lime Marmalade) recipe: internet 
  • 7. Mike Layton (Pomegranate Orange Marmalade)  

Congrats Donna Pitcher!
1st Prize - Baking with Marmalade
Spiced Orange Marmalade Cake with Orange 
Marmalade & Date Filling. 
Topped with Honey, 
Marmalade Cream Cheese Buttercream.
Image with permission granted.
Baking With Marmalade (10 entries) 
  • 1st Prize: Donna Pitcher (Spiced Orange Marmalade cake with Orange Marmalade & Date Filling. Topped with Honey, Marmalade Cream Cheese Buttercream)   Recipe source: personal; “A World of Cake” cookbook;  
  • 2nd Prize: Fathiya Rahim (Sourdough Marmalade Breakfast Rolls) Recipe source: personal, books & inspiration  
  • 3rd Prize: Mark D’Aguilar (Orange Marmalade, Quince & Saffron Cheesecake with Pistachio crust)  Recipe source: personal, original  
  • 4. Aaron Caplan (Orange Marmalade Cake) recipe: NYT Cooking Recipe Box  
  • 5. Moira Sanders (Orange Pistachio Baklava)  recipe: original   
  • 6. Sherry Murphy (Festive Fruit Wreath)  recipe: Canadian Living Christmas Book  
  • 7. Inese Grava-Gubins (Honey Meyer Lemon Cidonijas Platsmaize: sheet cake) 
  • 8. Melanie Garrison (Chocolate Marmalade Pie)  recipe: cookbook  
  • Judges Kyla Eaglesham & MCAnderson
    Fathiya Rahim's 2nd Prize winning
    Baking with Marmalade:
    Sourdough Marmalade Breakfast Rolls
  • 9. Diane C. Vachon (Orange Marmalade Cake) 
  • 10. Mark Whitcombe (Seville Marmalade Almond Date Squares) Recipe: Mark's blog 

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling inspired to make some more marmalade or even try baking with marmalade I have already made in the last few weeks. The Weather Network is predicting that another snow storm is headed for southern Ontario. Perhaps, another chance to test a jam, jelly or marmalade recipe and then share the Marmalade Love with loved ones? 

Mark the date! The 10th annual Mad For Marmalade, Crazy For Citrus! 

Saturday February 18th, 2017... See you there! 

#M4M2016 #MadForMarmalade #RedpathMarmaladeCompetition #MarmaladeLove
#CHCFoodHistory #Jelly #Jam #Marmalade #MarmaladeCompetition 
#ThrowbackThursday #PhotoFriday 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hey Toronto! Lets Celebrate Chinese Spring Festival!

Hey folks, I’m celebrating Spring a third time! Yup! I will be celebrating on Sunday April 5th, 2015 with Qing Ming Festival, a little-known Chinese Spring food festival in Toronto, yet it is widely celebrated in China. Did you know that Qing Ming takes place exactly 106 days after the WInter Solstice? This is just one of several ways I celebrate the beginning of the new season. 

Don’t you love the many exciting ways of celebrating Spring in Toronto in 2015?
My early childhood spring celebrations were quite different growing up in Toronto in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite becoming the token Chinese family in the Annex neighbourhood upon my parents’ decision to move there from the old Cabbagetown area in the mid-1960s, our young family observed this festival with very traditional practices that made our family stand out. 

Like many fellow Canadians, my childhood springs were marked by March Break, or Spring Break, followed by Good Friday and Easter Sunday with one big hollow chocolate Easter bunny shared with my siblings. Qing Ming Festival falls between these two holidays and it made us “unique” because of the food my mom would make, and items my dad would pick-up from the Chinese BBQ shop with all those funny meats in the window display! 

Qing Ming is a little-known Chinese Spring festival. It’s not yet as appealing as Harvest Moon Festival, nor as commercial and mainstream like Chinese Lunar New Year. In the Cantonese dialect, Qing Ming literally mean ‘pure’ and ‘clean’. Many of the early Toronto settlers from 1878-1970s, who had ancestors connected with building the Canadian railroad, were buried either in Mount Pleasant Cemetery or somewhere back in the old country called Southern China. Traditionally, it is spring cleaning of your deceased relatives’ graves in the countryside of China. We have descendants on both side of the family, and they are all buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. If you’ve ever tried traipsing through this cemetery after the winter thaw, it is mucky challenge, especially when you have three kids in tow and bags of cooked food and drinks as offerings. So my parents made a pact:  mom makes the white-cut chicken and use it as an offering at home in April, and then we visit the cemetery in the summer once the ground is dry. It’s the very traditional food practices that made us cringe. Imagine a boiled white chicken with its head and feet intact, cooled off, and placed on a platter in the open doorway of your home door. Placement is important. The chicken should face inward. Yes, any bystanders strolling by, will see the chicken’s butt. My siblings (and of course I was not exempt) must slowly bow from the hip three times as a sign of respect, with our hands clasped together with burning intense sticks. One consolation: we get to eat this #nomnom chicken AND a white sticky rice cake from the bakery! This is Act I, followed by Act II which I will share on Sunday April 5th, 2015 Chinatown food tour as we celebrate Qing Ming, all its quirky rituals, superstition and traditions. 
Our family’s tradition are very similar to the Mexican holiday between October 28-November 2nd, Dia de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead in Spanish. It is just as celebratory in terms of families bringing food and offerings to the cemeteries for the departed relatives and friends. If you love Chinese roasted pork, char siu, chicken, steamed buns, and wicked food history... this is a fabulous way to greet Spring!  

As a long-time resident who has travelled but still lives in Toronto, I am now witnessing Toronto live up to its First Nation reference as Toronto, the meeting place...a meeting place of festivities! We now see different cultures embracing each others’ food history and food practices and we’re witnessing growing curiosity to try new fascinating foods plus the willingness to share. So on Sunday April 5th, 2015 exactly 106 days after the long winter solstice, I am going to share the wonders of the special treats my dad would get from the Chinese BBQ shop, and bakery. I can guarantee you that you’ll come away with new pair of eyes, palate and mind. Join us on by booking your spot(s) on this intimate food tour with Chinese brunch of hosted dim sum and tastings along the way at the various  via Facebook A Taste of the World ! Tour capacity is 11 spots to keep it an intimately fun event. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Butting Heads over which Chinese New Year Hashtag to use? #YearOfTheGoat #YearOfTheRam #YearOfTheSheep

Happy Asian New Year!

Gung Hei Fatt Choi.... in Cantonese!
Gong Xi Fa Cai.... in Mandarin!
Chuc Mung Nam Moi.... in Vietnamese! 

It's Wednesday February 18th, 2015 and it is the final  day of the Year of the Wood Horse in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. So tonight is the Lunar New Year's Eve, whether you're Chinese or Vietnamese, and hopefully, it's a big family dinner gathering, if all of your family members are in the same city and province of Canada. On Thursday February 19th, 2015 we welcome the Lunar NewYear. The Year of the Wood Goat. Or the Ram. Or the Sheep. 

Did you know that the Chinese character for the upcoming year is "yang", which can refer to any member of the caprine subfamily aka ruminant horned animal?  

Over the last few years, we have witness increasing debates and interchangeable use of the word goat, ram and sheep. So which of these hoofed creatures should be used in the lunar New Year mythology? 

Folklorists from the Nanjing Museum say that beginning tomorrow, the Chinese Lunar New Year is NOT the Year of the Ram nor Sheep, but the Year of the Goat! Are there differences between these adorable hoofed creatures? 

According to Wang Tao,  a folklorist from Nanjing Museum, based on records and cultural relics, the goat appeared more often than a sheer or ram. 

Xu Longmei, an associate researcher from Nanjing Museum says that the Chinese Zodiac originated from the Han culture. The Han group lived in the central region where goats were taken as common livestock. Meanwhile, sheep were mostly found in mountains, tundra and desert, where other ethnic group reside. 

Talk to Fang Binggui, a folklorist based in southeast China's Fuzhou City, the image of the Zodiac Yang is open to regional interpretation. Often sheep is depicted in the north while goats in the south. 

Here's a bit of food for thought. According to Wikipedia the adult female Sheep is called an Ewe, meanwhile intact male sheep is a Ram. 

So how will I settle this without butting heads as we have this food-for-thought discussion at our 8th annual 12-course Chinese New Year banquet on February 20th, 2015?  Well, I had Ontario goat milk on my homemade granola for breakfast, I might treat myself to a curried goat patty over lunch, and then savour lamb chop with a salad sprinkled with sheep milk cheese at dinner.  By the way, the goat/sheep milks and the goat/lamb meats are all #Ontario raised ;-) 

***   Breaking News for Fans of Metro Morning on CBC Radio   ***

Tune your radio to 99.1FM on Thursday February 19th, 2015 at 7:25 AM EST ! 
 I'm scheduled to be interviewed by Metro Morning host, Matt Galloway !!! 

Bon appetit and Happy Lunar Asian New Year! 

#AsianNewYear #ChineseNewYear #TĂȘt #YearOfTheGoat #YearOfTheRam #YearOfTheSheep #LunarNewYear 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 Chinese New Year's Sights & Sounds

Pssst! Can you hear it? What’s that racket? 

Click here to hear 6 seconds of exciting Chinese New Year
sights & sounds captured on Instagram
(Note: click same image and then click PLAY button)
Isn't it exciting to hear these wonderful sounds and view some of the dazzling sights that are signs of the fast approaching 15-day Chinese New Year’s festivities?

Happy New Year!

Gung Hei Fatt Choi  in Cantonese or ....
Gong Xi Fa Cai  in Mandarin or ....
Chuc Mung Nam Mui  in Vietnamese!

Each of these Asian New Year’s greetings are some more unique signs of the fast approaching 15-day festival to end all festivals. If you count the preparatory week prior, it gets even more  exciting and gives more reasons to rejoice!  Celebrate the Year of the Goat/Ram/Sheep with Culinary Historian, Guide & Founder, Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World while peeling back the layers of history in Toronto’s second Chinatown on intimate food tours and/or hosted multi-course banquet. You will experience equal portions of food-for-thought, palate and full-sensory experiences as Shirley shares old and new customs, traditions, and superstitions behind the festive food and drinks!  We can’t wait to share these amazing rich experiences with long-time locals, newcomers and visitors who have three exciting weeks to immerse themselves in this festival. 

Folks who love the thrill of going behind-the-scenes to better understand the food preparations and decorations for the festivities,  will absolutely want to join us on the Prep Tour scheduled for February 15th, 2015. People who want to see the curtains go up, will love the Lion Dance Celebrations the weekend on February 21st & 22nd; and then there’s the grand finale, the Lantern Festival, on February 28th, 2015.  If you’ve done our tours, you’ll want to come back for our 8th annual 12-course banquet. This year is even more special, as one lucky person’s spot will be sponsored by Karim Bhaloo of Dominion Lending Centres - Edge Financial! 

The Asian and/or Chinese New Year’s Eve will be on Wednesday February 18th, 2015. I can’t believe how fast the Year of the Horse has galloped by, and the Year of the Wooden Goat/Ram/Sheep is about to trot in on Thursday February 19th, 2015! 

 Can you smell the heady aromas of festive pastries at the bakeries and grocery stores? Are your eyes getting blinded by the array of red and gold trinkets? 

Here are more details to get you excited! 

18th Annual Chinese Lunar New Year Food Tours (3 unique periods/ways to immerse oneself):

(A) Preparations for Chinese New Year’s Eve Tour:
 Sunday February 15, 2015 10:00 am - 1:00pm 

Enjoy equal portions of food for thought and palate over hosted dim sum aka Cantonese brunch! Culinary historian Shirley will review chopsticks & tea pouring etiquettes over Chinese horoscope book for Year of the Goat and sampling dishes of varying flavour, aromas and textures. Bring along eco-bags for anticipated shopping as you enjoy the Asian grocery store, bakery and  to pick-up ingredients to prep in cooking/decorating restaurant supply store for essential decorations & replenish pantry; bakery for symbolic pastries) 
Fees (include food + non-alcoholic drinks; $CAD): Adult $50.00 SR/ST (ID)$45.00 Child (3-12yrs old) $35.00 

(B) Lion Dance Celebration of the Year of the Goat Food Tours

Saturday & Sunday February 21, 22, 2015  10:00 am -1:00 pm

 Over hosted dim sum aka Chinese brunch, culinary historian Shirley Lum will share the interesting history and uses of the Lion Dances and give pointers for fabulous photographs on the streets.  Bring along eco-shopping bags for anticipated shopping as we taste along Asian grocery store tour to pick-up ingredients to cook/decorate/to be gifted; and enjoy bakery tastings of symbolic pastries.  
NOTE: Do NOT eat prior to the tour.  
Tour Capacity:  11 spots per tour
Fees (incl food + non-alcoholic drinks; $CAD): Adult $50.00 SR/ST (ID)$45.00 Child (3-12yrs old) $35.00 

(C) Lantern Festival Food Tour aka Grand finale of 15-day CNY festivities

Saturday February 28, 2015 10:00 am - 1:00pm 

Over hosted dim sum aka Chinese brunch, culinary historian Shirley Lum will share the interesting history and uses
of all those pretty lanterns as the 15-day festivities wraps up. Find out what the Year of Goat/Ram/Sheep will bring for your Chinese animal sign over a delicious yet healthy brunch. Bring along an eco-bag for anticipated shopping as we pop into an Asian grocery store, bakery and BBQ shops along the tour to pick up ingredients to cook/decorate for the Lantern Festival.  NOTE: Do NOT eat prior to the tour.  

Tour Capacity:  11 spots per tour
Fees (incl food + non-alcoholic drinks; $CAD): Adult $50.00 SR/ST (ID)$45.00 Child (3-12 yrs old) $35.00 

8th Annual Chinese New Year Banquet (12-course)
Friday February 20th, 2015  6:00- 8:00pm  
Location: Taste of China Seafood Restaurant, Toronto
Fees: $60.00 per person (4 spots left as of February 14th)

Pre-Registration  or call (416) 923-6813

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* Crab Meat & Fish Soup
* Sauteed Jumbo Shrimps on a lush bed of lettuce
* Phoenix Nest with Seafood Medley & Vegetables 
* Whole Crispy Chicken with flavoured Salt/pepper + Crunchy Shrimp Chips 
* Pork Chops with House BBQ sauce on Sizzling Platter
* Four Treasure Braised Vegetables
* Double Lobsters with Ginger, Garlic & Green Onion & Garlic
* Whole Steamed Fish 
* E-Mein Longevity Noodles
* Yeungchow Fried Rice 
* Sweet Dessert Soup
* Chocolate creation by Shirley aka @SChocolateMagic

Thank you Karim Bhaloo of Dominion Lending Centres - Edge Financial 
for generously sponsoring one lucky guest's dinner spot ! 

Join us in welcoming in the Year of the Goat/Ram/Sheep 

Savouring the unique flavours of Chinese New Year! 

Pre-Register Your Spot(s) Now 
(416) 923-6813