November 24, 2011

proof rum, let the shopping begin, Vol. 61

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in the US! We are dedicating the last Thursday in November's cranberry recipe to your special holiday. If you happen to be home sick from work today (wink wink), don’t forget to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! They just do every occasion right, don’t they? And tomorrow Christmas shopping kicks off with Black Friday. Why not hop on a Porter flight to NYC – the airline’s offering some great deals. Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

cranberry mojito 1/2 cup sugar • 1 cup fresh mint leaves • 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice • 1 3/4 cups proof rum • One 257 ml Ocean Spray frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed • 2 cans club soda
Muddle mint with sugar in bottom of a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add proof rum and lime juice, stirring to dissolve sugar. Mix in thawed cranberry juice concentrate and water. Add in 6 cups ice. (you will need to mix this in a large punch bowl or 2 pitchers, as it makes a lot with ice) Serve in ice-filled glasses and garnish with mint.

We had a very busy, but enjoyable weekend. Both the TUM and Club Monaco events were amazing.

If you are in need of a great men’s gift for that special guy in your life, don’t forget to check out the new Men’s Shop at the Club Monaco on Bloor Street – it’s stunning. The re-opening party on Saturday was AWESOME. Aaron Levine, men's design director of Club Monaco and Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean were hosting the event. The store offered a selection of locally-sourced specialty men’s services such as free haircuts from Garrison barber shop and shoe shines from The Klein Shine.

Here is what the National Post said:
The Men’s Den Club Monaco has given the historic Lillian Massey building at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road (157 Bloor St. W., clubmonaco. com) another facelift and the newly renovated 5,000square-foot store is unveiled this weekend. The architecturally important 1908 building and one-time Department of Household Science is now a temple to the sartorial sciences, particularly thanks to the debut of a menswear concept shop on the lower level. The new space stocks select other brands (Wolverine, and a staggering selection of retrofitted vintage watches).

Bloor Street redux is also the only Club Monaco store in Canada stocking A Continuous Lean X Club Monaco, a collection project with Michael Williams of the popular style blog A Continuous Lean (; the only other location is New York's Fifth Avenue flagship Flatiron building. The ACL collab includes shirts, suiting and ties and, as fits the blogger's interest in heritage menswear and its provenance, all the items are manufactured in the U.S. (the shirts made in Ashland, Pa.; the suits crafted in Westminster, Md.). To celebrate the opening in style, Club Monaco is offering guests complimentary local men's specialty services such as off-the-rack tailoring tips from Green Shag Bespoke, The Klein Shine shoeshine, proof Canadian whisky tastings and Garrison barber shop services (Saturday Nov. 19, 2 p.m.-6 p.m.). by Nathalie Atkinson

These are the post’s top picks from the new men's department.
1. Wolverine boots, $415
2. Made in the USA shirts, $139.50
3. Wool Snorkel coat, $389
4. Slim fit chino, $69.50
5. Nate Shawl Cardigan, $189.50

 Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 12 degrees.
Sunday: Light rain and a high of 10 degrees.

Happy Shopping!

November 17, 2011

proof rum, punch rum no punch-backs, Vol. 60

While at the grocery store the other day, we spotted a familiar pile of little wooden crates in the produce section. Yes! Spanish clementines are here for the holidays. This week we are making the first of a series of rum punches prepared just in time for the holiday season. 
Our focus today is on oranges.
Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

The smashed orange 6 clementines, cut in quarters • 1/4 cup sugar • 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger • 
12 oz fresh orange juice • 6 oz proof rum
Wash oranges really well. Drop quartered and unpeeled oranges into pitcher. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp grated peeled ginger. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the pitcher. Add orange juice and proof rum. Serve in ice-filled glasses. (serves 6)

TIP: This drink is on the stronger side, so you can lighten it up by topping it with 500 ml of ginger ale.

With party season well on its way, we have decided to begin stocking up on supplies. When serving cocktails, it’s always convenient to have a store of go-to garnishes that can take an average drink to another level. One of our favourite garnishes is the candied citrus peel. These take about an hour to make and can be stored for a week. It’s fun to experiment with different types of oranges and different cuts – anything from julienned to zest. You can use these zesty garnishes in a lot of the classic cocktails – we’re talking cosmos, sidecars, daiquiris and more.

Candied orange zest 3 navel oranges • 2 cups sugar • ½ cup water • orange zester or super sharp knife
Method: Wash and dry the oranges. Using a zesting tool, remove the orange part of the rind in long, thin strips starting at the top of the orange and with even pressure continue all the way to the bottom. Rinse well in cool water and set aside. Bring to boil one cup of sugar and half cup of water and add in the orange zest. Reduce heat until it is very gently boiling and continue to cook until the orange zest starts to look translucent. Drain well in a fine mesh sieve and immediately transfer to the dish with the sugar. Toss and separate each strand of zested orange rind so that each strip is completely coated with sugar. Let set for a few minutes and continue tossing. Gently remove from the sugar and store in a tightly covered container.

You can use the same recipe with orange peel. Instead of zesting an orange, peel an orange (leaving behind as much of the pith as possible to avoid bitterness) Cut is into thin strips or julienne.

TIP: This recipe also works with lemons, limes, blood oranges and grapefruit.

Candied ginger 1 cup fresh ginger, peeled
 • 1 cup sugar, plus additional sugar for coating • 
2 cups water • pinch of salt
Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. Place ginger slices in pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes, then drain. Add the sugar and water and salt to another pot. Add the ginger slices and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour. (if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot) Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.

A few years back, we had the privilege of visiting the Cointreau distillery in Angers, France. It was a very interesting tour in general, but what we recall the most was the wonderful sweet and citrusy perfume throughout the plant. Cointreau houses an elegant bar, boutique and tour. If you are able to visit this region, we highly recommend the tour. ( This classic and stylish orange liqueur can be enjoyed on the rocks or in many classic cocktails.

Great product Alert!!! If you have not yet discovered the President’s Choice black label line, we are here to tell you about it. Our greatest find was The Bacon Marmalade. Yes, you heard me right – bacon! It's so deliciously decadent that you will want to serve it on everything and we mean E-V-E-R-Y-thing!!

This Saturday, November 19th, Michael Riley will be serving proof whisky at the Club Monaco Bloor Street re-opening. (from 2pm-6pm) It’s open to the public, so check out the details on their FB page (


And if you are already out on the town and haven’t seen enough of Michael, stop into the Brickworks because Michael will be serving two delicious cocktails at TUM from 6pm - 11pm (Toronto Underground Market) (

And there's more!!! Sample proof rum and proof whisky at the Gourmet Food & WIne Expo this weekend (November 17th - 20th) proof will be located at the Diamond Estates booth.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 10 degrees.
Sunday: Isolated showers and a high of 11 degrees.

November 10, 2011

proof rum, olive and olives and pears and spices, Vol. 59

How will you celebrate 11.11.11 tomorrow night? Let us inspire you a little.
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the juiced-up pear 1 1/2 oz spiced* proof rum • 1 oz Ceres pear juice  •  3/4 oz lime juice • 3/4 oz simple syrup • dash bitters • 1 nutmeg clove • vanilla bean garnish (optional)

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, add proof rum, Ceres pear juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously for about 6 seconds, then strain into 6-ounce cocktail glass. Top with dash bitters and a few gratings nutmeg.


*To infuse proof rum you will need the following ingredients: a 500 ml bottle proof rum • 1 vanilla bean • 1 star anise • a few cloves • 1 cinnamon stick • 1 piece allspice • 1 piece orange zest
Add all the spices to a 500 ml bottle of proof rum. Cover tightly with a lid, shake a few times and place in a cool, dark spot or in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 24-36 hours. Make sure to check it every day to ensure that you are happy with the intensity. You can remove certain flavours as you go, to intensify the ones that you like most. We tend to remove the citrus after day one, and keep the vanilla until the very end.


While doing the TUM event at the Distillery a couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of meeting Craft spice-maker Wes Allen. Wes lives in Toronto and has created a business out of spice-making. He currently has no website, but you can get all of his information, such as private shows, TUM events and products on his FB link: Check it out, because we are sure that we will soon be hearing a lot more about Wes.

Yesterday we were finally able to visit the new(ish) olive shop on Queen East – Olive and Olives. Olive and Olives, a small independent chain from Montreal (5 shops) joined Riverside specialty-food row (just east of Broadview on Queen) in early June. 
When we entered the shop we were warmly greeted by Toronto shop-owner, Mia Sturup. Her passion and knowledge for olives, oils and spices was evident as we discussed the possibility of creating cocktails, made of olive oil, spices or her chocolate pearls.

A sampling bar is set up in front of the checkout counter, where you can have a taste of any of her products. As you make your way to the back of the shop, the whisper of jazz music rises above the branches of a faux tree planted beside a small kitchen. Here, regular cooking classes take place, sometimes with retail partner, The Spice Trader (Mia's shop also carries their spices Check out her website for product information, cooking classes and events. (

Olive and Olives carries all things olive – from oils and pastes to...well...olives. Most of their exclusive private label products come from Spain, but they do carry oils from France and other regions as well. It is a great place to look for holiday gifts, as they will be getting lots more in by end of November. We tried some of their bestselling private label olives, stuffed with lemon or blue cheese and they are superb. They also offer these olives in variations of anchovy and more. Not only are the products great, they are all set at a very reasonable price. 
You really must visit Mia for a sample.

After sampling all of these wonderful Spanish exports, we decided to go home and revisit our copy of Mario Batali’s ‘Spain...a Culinary Road Trip.” You cannot help but lose yourself in the pages of this colourful food travel book. The website is also very appealing.

You can find this recipe, recipes for paella, empanadas and Catalans at ( 
The same recipes can be found in the book.


Tortilla Española (by Mario Batali)
Tortilla Española is essentially the national dish of Spain. You can eat it as a tapa, for breakfast, in a bocadillo (sandwich), or for dinner with salad and a bit of jamón. Basically anytime, anywhere. We had a great one at Valdubón and I think it’s because they weren’t afraid to use A LOT of olive oil. No fear!

Serves 4 to 6 as a tapa or appetizer

Ingredients 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil • 1 1/4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper • 8 extra-large eggs
Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high until very hot but not smoking. Add the potatoes and onion, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat if necessary so that the vegetables do not brown, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Combine the potatoes with the eggs in the bowl; add to the skillet, spreading the potatoes evenly in the pan, and cook for about 1 minute, just to set the bottom of the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, or until quite set. Carefully flip the tortilla over (invert it onto a plate if you must, then slide it back into the pan, bottom side up) and cook for 5 minutes longer, until set. Flip out onto a clean plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 10 degrees 
Sunday: Mainly cloudy and a high of 14 degrees

November 3, 2011

proof whisky, spice of your life, Vol. 58

We are finally fully recovered from Halloween and the timing couldn’t be better –  it’s almost the weekend. And there is so much happening over the next couple of days. Here’s a little start-up to an early weekend  – The Cinnamon Sour. This classic twist on the Whisky Sour was created for us, by the Martini Club(www.martiniclub.comIt will be making it’s tasting debut  at an exciting upcoming event. Like us on Facebook and Twitter to get last minute updates on tastings, parties & events.

Cinnamon Sour 1 oz proof whisky • 1 oz lemon juice • 1 oz cinnamon simple syrup
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add all ingredients. Shake until very cold and strain liquid into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


TIP: For an even more intense cinnamon flavour, use cinnamon-infused proof whisky. We talked about whisky infusions last week. To infuse proof whisky, choose a clean, air-tight jar. Place 2-3 cinnamon sticks inside the jar and fill it with proof whisky. Cover tightly with a lid, shake a few times and place in a cool, dark spot or in the refrigerator. Because cinnamon has quite an intense flavour, do not leave it any longer than four days. Make sure to check it every day to ensure that you are happy with the intensity.


Because we were looking for good quality cinnamon at a reasonable price, we headed over to the House of Spice in Kensington Market. Here, we found everything that we needed and much much more.

Located on Augusta Avenue, Kensington’s colourful main avenue, House of Spice shares its location with several great restaurants, eclectic boutiques and attractions. (190 Augusta Avenue

Welcome to House of Spice, where you can taste the spice of adventure! The spices waft through the air and lure you into the exotic world of spices. Brightly labeled bottles, boxes, and bags, line our shelves which and are filled with every spice and herb imaginable, from "a" for adobo to "z" for za'atar.

Located in Toronto's eclectic Kensington Market, House of Spice is a family-owned business. Since its humble beginnings in 1971, they have been selling premium herbs and spices from around the world, a huge assortment of hot sauces, sea salts, teas, coffees, exotic spice blends and other hard to locate specialty ingredients.


Don’t forget to visit us tomorrow night at Whisky Live ( are $65 each or $99 for a VIP Pass.

Whisky Live prides itself on bringing together the finest whiskies, great food and a range of education and entertainment to make learning about whisky both fun and stimulating.  Whether you are a whisky enthusiast an uninitiated newcomer or just looking for a day out that offers you something different Whisky Live has something for everyone


If you don’t get a chance to go to Whisky Live, pop in to see Michael Riley for a special tasting and bottle signing at the Orion’s Gate LCBO in Brampton, Saturday form 1-5pm.


Weekend Forecast:
Saturday: Sunny and a high of 10 degrees.
Sunday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 12 degrees.