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The Scene..March 2018

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By Fresh Bites

March is when Canadians get spirited with “green drinks”, slowly start to come out of hiding, and embrace all that is fun about good food and drink.  Here is our summary of some great classes, dinners, parties, and festivals in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver this month.

In Toronto, the scene is all about sharing knowledge and learning new things this month.  That, and a little bit of self-indulgence for good causes.  On the learning front, the city will be hosting two great conferences this month for the hospitality industry.  The first is Terroir 2018 – the hospitality industry symposium hosted by Hart House on March 2nd. Terroir is the leading hospitality symposium directed at all elements of the industry to provide professionals with the opportunity to learn from and network with colleagues.  Meanwhile, over at the National Exhibition Centre, the CFRA 2018 trade show will showcase the latest in equipment and ideas for foodservice professionals between March 7th and 9th.  Visitors to the show in 2018 will experience a full line-up of industry specific seminars, educational workshops and presentations with strategies for new approaches in the foodservice sector.   Not in the industry?  Then the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show is a trade show targeted towards consumers.  It is being held this month as well at the International Centre from March 19th to 21st.

On the dining scene, Chef Chris Brown will be joined by guest chefs Anne Yarymowic and Jeff Dueck from FRANK at the AGO who will create an intimate, five-course dining experience in benefit of the Stop Community Food Centre on March 1stThe Food for Change Dinner Series is always a popular event and guests can choose to dine or be a participant in the kitchen – with all proceeds going to their work related to local food security issues.  Turning to The Rising Star Dinner Series with Chef Trish Donnelly is another interesting event being held on March 10th.  Each month, The Chefs’ House at George Brown spotlight’s the emerging talent of one young Canadian chef with this month focused on Chef Trish Donnelly from Oyster Boy.  The following day, the Rosewood Estates Winemaker's Dinner will pair great food with their wines in support of International Women’s Day.  This event, being held at Globe Bistro, will feature award-winning winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky from Rosewood Estates Winery. 

The Marriage of Food and Wine is another food-focused event worth checking out on March 24th.  Second-year George Brown Culinary Management students will tease your taste buds with over 50 stations of culinary creations accompanied by a selection of wines sponsored by some of Ontario’s best wineries.  A week later, George Brown will host Executive Chef David Lee from Note Bene who will talk about his experiences as a chef and to showcase some of his incredible cooking methods.   The event, part of the Tastes of Tomorrow series, will be held on March 31st.

Wine classes are popular again this month and there are some great ones to check out from two major teams.  First, iYellow Wine School will be hosting three separate and affordable (a mere $35.00 each) events this month alone.  Their Wine & Food 101 series includes two regional themed tastings - the Discovering Beautiful California on March 6th, another pairing called Taste the New Australia on March 20th.   On March 13th, they will present a tasting focused on Chardonnay and another one entitled Oh Sweet, Sweet, Delicious Wine – where guests will learn the difference between Late Harvest and Ice Wine in addition to Vin santo, the Italian equivalent.  This session will be held on March 27th.

The other wine lecture series will include the return of the Global Wine Tours and their Introduction To Wine Tasting program on March 10th and an evening with Wine Access Senior Editor and one of Canada's foremost wine experts, Steve Thurlow on March 12th entitled - Exploring The Wines Of South Africa.   If you are a bit more advanced in the world of wine, you may want to try the Bordeaux Meets Burgundy: An Extraordinary Rendezvous being held March 18th at Le Méridien King Edward Hotel.  This event will feature over 40 wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy in one room.  From the Médoc to Meursault, this event is a good opportunity to explore the twin pillars of French winemaking regions.

Over in our nation’s capital, the Winterlude activities may be winding down but Ottawa is still celebrating great food and drink.  The first event is a cooking class on March 1st.  One of the most popular items on the Antipasto menu at DiVino Wine Studio is the hand-rolled potato gnocchi. Their Gnocchi Class will feature Executive Chef Maria Amalia Garza and guests learn the secrets of making the lightest most delicious gnocchi.  A few days later, you can return to the same place for their Whiskey Galore event on March 4th.  This Whisky Tasting will feature Carol Anderson of GrapeScot and provide a decent entry into the world of whiskey.  If beer is more your thing, the folks over at Groovy Grapes will be holding a two part Beer 101 Series on March 6th and 27th at The Urban Element.  The first one will focus on the History of Beer and How to Taste Beer while the second will provide a more in-depth look into The Ingredients of Beer and the Brewing Process.

For those looking for an evening of fine wines, the Ottawa Chamber Music Society's Vintage Wine Auction will be held this year on March 10th at Christ Church Cathedral.  This event will raise funds for the Chamber Music Society and feature almost 500 bottles divided in over 130 lots up for bid in the live auction alone. Many other lots will be available through a silent auction.

And finally in Ottawa, The Great Canadian Cheese Discovery will be returning on March 10th with a focus on New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia cheeses.  This event will be held at Exposure Gallery at Thyme & Again Creative Catering Shop and we are certain it will feature some Salt Spring Island goat cheese at some point.

Out west, in Calgary, the focus is once again on wine and spirits to warm up the soul.  It all starts with Support the Port! At Bin 905 on March 2nd.  This event will feature some of the finest port wines from Douro and is an opportunity to try 6 different vintages spread on a 25 years period.  The same evening, CSN Wine and Spirits will be hosting a Winery Meet & Greet with Scott Nagle of Trisaetum where he will feature his Oregon vineyards best Rieslings and Pinot Noirs.  The month must be about visiting winemakers because a few days later on the 11th, Charles Smith Comes to Calgary and will be part of a special pairing of his wines from Walla Walla, Washington while Michael Dinn of Joie Farms will make an appearance at CSN on March 16th to showcase Joie Farms’ aromatic varieties like Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

For those looking to learn the basics of wine, Vine and Dine will be hosting a Wine Basics Course on March 15th.  This class is a three-part course designed for anyone who enjoys wine and would like to gain a broad-based appreciation of the world’s grape varietals and food and wine pairing.  Finally, a two-part tasting series will take place at Wine Cellar South on March 24th and 31st entitled Grape Expectations.  Both seminars will provides insights on comparing and contrasting Old World and New World wines while learning about the regions from which they were made.

Vancouver will be coming down from their Olympics high in March but that does not mean the city will come to a halt.  There are tons of great classes, tastings, and fundraisers focused on food and drink this month!

For the food and cookbook lovers, local favorite Barbara-Jo’s Books-to-Cooks will be holding a wide range of events this month of interest including a reading by Chef Glenys Morgan who will guide guests through the classic, The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger on March 13th.  The next day, they welcome Rod Rotondi, author of Raw Food for Real People and founder of California's Leaf Organics. Raw Food for Real People discusses the benefits of eating raw and gives practical, simple, and delicious raw recipes.  On March 18th, they will host a book signing with Anne Lindsay to celebrate her new book, Lighthearted at Home: The Very Best of Anne Lindsay. Anne will demonstrate some of her favourite recipes and will be available to sign her new book. Guests will enjoy her healthy eating tips and delicious, healthy refreshments.  Baker Chris Brown of Rise Artisan Breads joins them on March 20th for another Saturday bread class, this time a la francais with the cookbook, The Breads of France by Bernard Clayton Jr.  And another great event is sure to be with Chef Don Letendre of Elixir at the Opus who will guide guests through Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and demonstrates a menu that celebrates rich and stunning flavour and ingredient combinations influenced by the authors' eastern Mediterranean backgrounds on March 21st

For those looking for wine and spirit tastings, the Crombie and 39th Street BC Liquor Store has a slew of tastings scheduled this month including a Wine and Dine with Errazuriz on March 4th, a Sizzle Argentinean Style with Doña Paula event on March 5th, and a Savvy Sipper Sessions on March 12th focused on storing and caring for your wines.  Local Guinness experts and beer connoisseurs will discuss the history of the Irish brand and how to pour the perfect pint at the Guiness Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day event on March 13th

On the fundraiser social causes scene, find out how former professional basketball player, corporate sales executive and urban farmer Will Allen is feeding 10,000 people and starting a community food revolution out of his inner-city farms in Milwaukee and Chicago. Winner of the $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship in 2008, Will Allen is CEO of Growing Out of Hunger and will be speaking on his groups’ success on March 25th.  That same evening, Dining Out for Life will raise money through participating restaurants who will donate 25% of food bills to benefit Friends For Life and A Loving Spoonful, local charities that support people living with AIDS. This event is held at various restaurants within the Vancouver area.


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