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Klout Perk: Buick Encore

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Do you have klout?  Someone thinks I do because  thanks to Klout I got a ‘perk’.  I was given a 2013 Buick Encore for a weekend to test drive for 3 days.  Previously I have received perks such as  razors, coupons for face wash and fish sticks.  This one though, was big.  Klout measures your influence on social media.  You link accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the more you post and interact, the higher your score.


Now about the Buick, it was really nice!  Glen, the Buick Product Specialist, was very accommodating when I had to switch weekends and in answering my questions.  They brought it to my house Friday morning, went over the gadgets and picked it up from the house Sunday night.  The Encore is billed as a luxury crossover; part SUV, part car.  We found that it drives like more like a car; very smooth with good acceleration and cruising.  I currently drive a Ford Escape so during most of the driving, there were comparison discussions with @WineGuyTO on the two vehicles.  We found that the Encore drove really well, it had a lot of features (back up camera, lane drift warning, integrated Sirius XFM and navigation, part of the IntelliLink system).  Though we only drove it around the city, and over to Pickering, the gas mileage is still very good: an estimated 8.2L/100 km city, 6.0L/100 km highway.  For us, it would not be a good fit (2 Labrador Retrievers take up space!) but otherwise we were really happy with the test drive.


The backseat, lots of leg room and pull down armrest


The deceptive trunk. It looks smaller with the door closed.


The front panel. Gorgeous leather detailing.

Thanks to Klout and Buick for this opportunity!

I was allowed to test drive the Buick as a member of Klout.  I was under no obligation to blog about my experience.  All opinions and thoughts are my own, save what was given to me in promotional material from Buick.



Holy Chuck Burger

Burger places have been  all over my Twitter feed for the last year.  The biggest mention usually goes to Burger’s Priest because people think that it is as close to an In n’ Out burger as can be found in Canada.  I have not had the opportunity to try In n’ Out, so I really can’t be certain, but on a cold day last spring, I tried out BP and really enjoyed it.  The burger was cooked well and had the home-made texture I enjoy.  It would be the place to go, if in the mood for a good burger.  Drawback though: no real seating, just counter and its always full.

Next in the burger fray (and all over my Twitter timeline) is the newly opened Holy Chuck Burger.  David Ort did a blog post that got me interested, plus it has the advantage to being closer to me geographically.  And the lovely Rossy (@PanCanCooks) and Paula (@DragonsKitchen) also felt the need to try our HCB and a tweet-up was born!

The signature Holy Chuck burger

Our great hosts!











The very nice owners let us sample some of the soon-to-be-released new menu item of deep-fried pickles.  But these aren’t your normal pickles, these are half slices dredged in panko crumbs and bacon.  Served with a fennel, tarragon and horseradish dip.  I liked these, they weren’t greasy and the breading held together well.  It was also a portion of the pickle and not a full pickle which I found to be more palatable.

Mmm, pickles.

Next up were some hand-made potato and sweet potato chips.  They were paired with a spicy chipotle mayo.  I kept coming back to these, which I would definitely order instead of fries.  There was no greasiness to them at all.

Regular and sweet potato chips

My milkshake arrived before my burger and really it could have been dessert! I got the Reeses Pieces and banana, it was great.  It was small, but I really wouldn’t want it any bigger.

The burger I ordered was the Big, Bad, Wolf.  Two patties fried in mustard with caramelized onions.  This was a great burger.  The patty held together well, the bun was just soft enough and the mustard didn’t overpower any of it.  I couldn’t savour it, I devoured it!  I was full at the end, but in a nice contented way.

The Big, Bad Wolf

Then a surprise: the Desserted Cow burger.  A bun lightly toasted with real maple syrup, beef mixed with peanut butter, belgian chocolate and bacon, covered with a cheese slice.  Strangely it all worked, though I really only tasted hints of the flavours above the beef.  I honestly only could have one bite, I was so full.  This (at the time of eating) was not yet on the meu, so we were lucky to try it!

And then… funnel cake! I just stared at this.  It looked great but I was so full.


I enjoyed going so much, that I bought 2 Tag Buys when they came out recently.  This way @WineGuyTo can come too!

Holy Chuck Burger
1450 Yonge St (just south of St. Clair)










Courvoisier Collective

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I am the first to admit, I’m no artist.  But I do appreciate art.  Just this past weekend, @WineGuyTO and I took in the Caravaggio exhibit at the National Art Gallery while in Ottawa.  So when I saw on Twitter about an art contest called the Courvoisier Collective, I was curious.  What does cognac have to do with art (I mean other than probably inspiring it)?  So I clicked, got sent a promo kit and voilà!  I can now explain it to you.

My promo kit.

The Courvoisier Collective is an “art of the revolution” concept where chosen pieces will be displayed on billboards in areas around Toronto.  The theme is “Renewal” in relation to the revolutionary role of art.  They are looking for artists to address the theme in two contexts: with respect to art’s capacity to revolutionize its own content and form, and secondly in its potential to challenge the status quo.

All submitted pieces will be reviewed by a judging panel and the public.  Here is a list of the dates to know:

  • Billboard and Gallery submitted works (and runners-up), will be displayed at Gallery 1313 from August 11-September 4.
  • Three winning Billboard pieces will be displayed from August 1-26 on billboards in high traffic areas around Toronto.
  • From August 5-8th the Gallery winners will be displayed at Gallery 1313.
  • August 11- September 4 will be the Exhibition at Gallery 1313

And…the public will get to help choose!  From July 15-August 5 online voting will be available through the website.

Courvoisier is looking for submissions until July 8th (this Friday!) for the Billboard Showcase and July 15th for the Gallery Award, submissions can be made through their website:

For more information and updates, visit or through their Facebook page, and follow #CVCollective on Twitter

Thanks to Eric at Matchstick for the promo kit.

Living.Loving.Local – An amazing supper

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My friends keep asking how do I know about stuff happening?  I now always answer: Twitter.  Since I joined Twitter, I have ‘met’ some great people and one in particular I have been able to meet in person.  He is Joel Solish (@foodie411).

About a year ago, Joel decided to eat more locally and I have loved following his tweets about food, sustainability and where to eat in Toronto (and am usually jealous!).  Joel and partner @gilltrish want to create “a food-secure Province, County, and world, where the practices of producers and businesses we choose to support are in line with [their] personal levels of comfort, and desire to affect change”.  In effect, this is about being local and making a real connection to the food and the people who make it.

The inaugural event was an “Olde Hunters Feast” at Beast Restaurant (@beastrestaurant).  7 courses, 7 wines, 6 chefs all to do with wild boar.  Before I tell of the amazing experience, know this: I was still full into the next morning.

Course I: Charcuterie and Reif Estate Chenin Blanc.  Each chef was asked to create an item for the plate.  We had pate in bacon, spreads and overall goodness.  My favourite was from Chef Jason Bangertner (Luma and Canteen, @chefbangertner).  His was dark brown in colour, crunched with pistachio and mustard, while being sweet from beer.

sides dishes: cheese and pate

Course II: Guinea Hen and Wild Boar face Tortière, with Elderberry house ketchup, shaved fennel salad and foie gras from our host chef Scott Vivian (Beast restaurant).  To drink, Fielding Estates 2008 Jack Rabbit Flats Pinot Noir (@fieldingwinery).  The rendered fat was the consistency and sweetness of sugar and WineGuyTO and I shared the pie.  Great consistency in the filling and the pastry was so flaky which it should be considering it was made with fat.

Course III: Chupe de Chorizo by Chef Rossy Earle (@pancancooks).  This dish is a Latin American stew, where she used wild boar chorizo with Yukon Gold potatoes and chick peas immersed in cococut, fire roasted tomatoes and charred red pepper broth.  There was also sofrito criollo, salsa de fuego, wild boar chicharrón and homemade sour cream.  I loved the crunchy bits on top and the subtle spice of the broth.  A 2008 Lailey Vineyard Syrah went nicely with the stew.  Its colour was a beautiful clear raspberry.

Course IV: A hand minced game sausage “en crepenette”, a mouseline guinea hen with smoked boar belly, braised cabbage and grain mustard from Jason Bangertner.  As much as I loved his charcuterie, this was the least favourite of the courses for me.  I wasn’t into the mousse, but the sausage was good.  The 2027 Winery 2008 Riesling was a treat.  Its colour was almost clear, with light notes and not too sweet.  Will have to look for this one at the LCBO.

Course V: Steve Wilson from the Summit Golf and Country Club created Harvest Gold Mead Braised Wild Boar Shoulder “Dirty Hush Puppies” with carmalized onions and thyme infused honey drizzle, with sides of southern greens, smoked boar bits and buttermilk mashed potatoes.  What was great about this was that the honey and mead used from Rosewood Winery (@rosewoodwine), which was also the paired wine, a 2008 Chardonnay Reserve.  I will admit that by this point I wondered why I hadn’t worn sweatpants, because we were getting full!

Course VI: This was creative!  Tom Davis of The Stockyards (@thestockyards) (which has been raved about on Twitter) made carbonara noodles out of the wild boar!  This was topped by crackling crusted deep fried quail egg (which I ate!  Mine was all yolk, yum!) and then on top of a buttermilk biscuit was Southern Fried Quail with wild boar and smoked apple sausage gravy.  I really wanted to eat more it was so good, but I wasn’t sure if I could move.  Our Rosehall Run (@rosehall_run) 2007 Cabernet Franc, with its spicyness, matched perfectly.

Course VII:  Now dessert.  Rachelle Vivian, the Pastry Chef at Beast, made the perfect ‘Timbet’: a doughnut rolled in wild boar bacon and sugar, filled with maple curd.  I could have eaten the entire plate they were soooo sweet and rich.  Unfortunately (for me) the last wine was a port, which I am not particular too.  The Karlo Estates Van Alstine 2008 (port style) made the port drinkers happy and I did try it, it was light and fruity but I just wasn’t into it.

My hats off to Joel and Gill.  The mix of people, the food, the venue were all superb.  I can’t wait for the future events.

You can also find Living.Loving.Local on Facebook.  Joel’s website is communityfoodist

Daring Kitchen Cooking Challenge: Japanese

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I had been reading on Twitter about people’s completed Daring Kitchen challenges and I wanted to make what they were making!  So I signed up for both the Cooking and Baking challenges.  So once a month now I will be showing what I made.

This month the challenge was to make a cold Japanese salad of soba noodles with two sauces and tempura.  I found all but one ingredient in the local Loblaws which made making this much less daunting.  A lot of it was prep work and I was able to make the sauces ahead of time.

Here is my batter, it has to be kept cold (hence the ice pack in the bowl; we ran out of ice cubes) and should be kept lumpy which I found hard to leave alone.

I then prepped the veg.  I went with what we had on hand, as we had just received our first Organic Food box which had zucchini and broccoli, and added in some red pepper.  Just to make sure it wasn’t a completely vegetarian meal, I threw in some pre-cooked shrimp.

Post with tempura














On to the soba noodles.  For those who don’t know, they are buckwheat noodles.  I enjoy buckwheat pancakes, so I was looking forward to them.   A very quick cook and it is traditional to eat them cold.

On the left is the Mentsuyu-traditional dipping sauce which is a mix of rice vinegar and soy sauce.  On the right is the spicy dipping sauce with green onions, mustard and vinegars.  We all preferred the second one, and went from dipping to putting it right into the noodles.  I topped the noodles with sliced green onions, keeping it simple.

Not sure I would make this again.  I am not a fan of deep-frying, I find it goes everywhere.  The noodles were good, might eat them hot the next time and with maybe a western-style sauce instead.

Now onto my baking challenge!

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