March 28, 2013

proof whisky, the chocolate bunny, Vol. 126

Today we are on a hunt for the best chocolate Easter treats available in the city. Enjoy this chocolaty Thursty Thursday drink.

the chocolate bunny 4 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces • 1 cup heavy cream • 3 eggs • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-14 oz can condensed milk • 1 1/4 cups proof whisky • 1 ¼ oz brewed espresso or strong coffee, cooled

Melt the chocolate with the cream in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth; remove from heat and set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until combined. Stir the condensed milk into the mixture. Slowly pour the proof whisky into the egg mixture while stirring until completely incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture and the espresso; beat with the whisk until the mixture is uniform in color. Pour into a jar or bottle, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours before enjoying. Store in refrigerator. Serve over ice. (Makes 4 ½ cups)

We did a little searching to see what some of our favourite Toronto Chocolate shops were coming up with for Easter this year.
This is what we found.

Soma is one of the few artisan chocolatemakers in North American making chocolate in small batches directly form the cacao bean. They buy our cacao beans from plantation around the world including Conacado form the Dominican Republic, organic Sambirano from Madagascar, organic from Costa Rica and Panama. (Distillery District or 443 King Street W

Delight Chocolate Jennifer Rashleigh, former restauranteur and pastry chef of Citron, along with her husband Jeff Brown, also hailing from the food industry, have come together to explore the sweeter side of their profession - Chocolate. Their style combines whimsy and decadence along with a creative attention to detail, not to mention a flair for the finest tastes and textures. Their fabulous chocolate is coupled with the decision to support a sustainable form of agriculture as well as the farmers who manage it; yum yum! (3040 Dundas Street West

Moroco The owner savored her first taste of traditional French sipping chocolate (“liquid gold’ to her lips!) at the renown CafĂ© Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli.  She recalls that the chocolate came to the table in a small pot, complimented by an oh-so-elegant side of fresh whipped cream. “It was so ceremonial and unique, the memory still lingers on the tip of my tongue – and I dreamed of bringing this experience to Toronto.” (99 Yorkville Avenue

Odile Chocolat is a Toronto based company that specializes in exquisite hand made truffles featuring unusual combinations of spices, herbs and flowers from around the world. For owner Odile Chatelain, making truffles is a family tradition. As a child growing up near Paris, France, she and her mother made truffles every Christmas. Odile went on to work in the food industry for more than twenty six years, with the best known caterers. Her passion is chocolate and keeping on top of the latest trends in food fancies. (829 Dundas Street West

Vosges It is one of our highest priorities to source the finest ingredients found in the world. Owner and chocolatier Katrina Markoff, originally trained in Paris at the renowned culinary school Le Cordon Bleu, has enhanced her confectionary artistry through training and stages under some of the world’s most revered chefs and in many of the most exotic and honored cuisines on the planet.)

If you really want to splurge – Standing nearly 6 inches tall and weighing 1.3 pounds, the $75 substantial Enchanted Mushroom is filled with a soft, dark chocolate, hazelnut and Reishi mushroom ganache. The white chocolate shell is decorated with red toadstool beauty marks. Each mushroom is made and decorated by hand. It makes an ideal centerpiece and dessert for a mad hatter's feast. Sprinkled with yellow nonpareils candy, our new petit Enchanted Toadstools round out our mushroom family and together create a picturesque springtime scene for a delectable Easter brunch.

Or try The Goose's Golden Eggs: Bacon & Eggs Redefining bacon and eggs. Five dark chocolate half eggs arrive nestled in straw-filled, pink gift box. Each egg is filled with buttery, soft, bacon caramel. Bite, crack, ooze, salty-sweet delight.

Some Vosges products are sold at a few of the high-end markets in Toronto, like McEwan and Puseteri’s, or you can order online (

Although they do not sell chocolate, they sell a beautiful selection of other cakes and confections, like gourmet marshmallows. Check out Bobette and Belle in Leslieville. (1121 Queen St. East

Choco-locate Discover all of the chocolate shops in your hood with this great app! (


If you are looking for a unique Birthday or Holiday gift,  The One of a Kind Spring Show runs this weekend from March 27th-31st (

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Mainly sunny and a high of 11 degrees
Sunday: Light rain and a high of 9 degrees

Happy Spring!

March 21, 2013

proof whisky, the bitter end, Vol. 125

Happy Spring! Yesterday officially marked the end of Winter, and even though the weather has not cooperated, we can still see an obscured light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s bid adieu to a lengthy Winter with this dark and bitter cocktail.

My first experience with this old-fashioned variation with Canadian roots came when I asked a bartender for ‘something dark and bitter”. Without pause he went to work. A few minutes later he placed the cocktail glass in front of me, filled with an inky potion offset by a bright orange peel garnish. The bracing herbal bitterness of Fernet Branca is an acquired taste for most, but it doesn’t overpower the drink, and it helps to bring out the warmth of the whisky – making the Toronto perfect for the colder months. (B.T. Parsons)

Toronto 2 oz proof whisky • 1/4 oz Fernet Branca • 1/4 oz simple syrup • 2 dashes aromatic bitters • orange twist

Pour all ingredients except garnish into an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a singed orange twist. (recipe ‘Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All’) Above bitters bottle WIlliam Sonoma


A couple of weeks ago, we picked up ‘Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All’ by B.T. Parsons and we are now obsessed.

Author and bitters enthusiast Brad Thomas Parsons traces the history of the world’s most storied elixir, from its earliest “snake oil” days to its near evaporation after Prohibition to its ascension as a beloved (and at times obsessed-over) ingredient on the contemporary bar scene. Parsons writes from the front lines of the bitters boom, where he has access to the best and boldest new brands and flavors, the most innovative artisanal producers, and insider knowledge of the bitters-making process.

Whether you’re a professional looking to take your game to the next level or just a DIY-type interested in homemade potables, Bitters has a dozen recipes for customized blends – ranging from Apple to Coffee-Pecan to Root Beer bitters – as well as tips on sourcing ingredients and step-by-step instructions fit for amateur and seasoned food crafters alike.

Also featured are more than seventy cocktail recipes that showcase bitters’ diversity and versatility: classics like the Manhattan (if you ever get one without bitters, send it back), old-guard favorites like the Martinez, contemporary drinks from Parsons’ own repertoire like the Shady Lane, plus one-of-a-kind libations from the country’s most pioneering bartenders. Last but not least, there is a full chapter on cooking with bitters, with a dozen recipes for sweet and savory bitters-infused dishes. (  blog:


Here is one of the many make-your-own-bitters recipes from the book. We chose apple bitters because its base is bourbon or in our case whisky. Let us just say that there really is a great time commitment involved in the making of any of these bitters recipes.

Apple bitters peels from 6 medium to large apples (preferably organic) • zest of ½ lemon, cut into strip with paring knife • 2 cinnamon sticks • ½ tsp allspice berries • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds • ½ teaspoon cassia chips • ½ teaspoon cinchona bark • 4 cloves • 2 cups proof whisky • 1 cup water • 2 tablespoons rich syrup

Place all ingredients except for the whisky, water, and rich syrup in a quart-sized Mason jar or other large glass container with a lid. Pour in the 2 cups of whisky, adding more if necessary so that all ingredients are covered. Seal the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks, shaking the jar once a day.

After two weeks, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean quart-sized jar to remove the solids. Repeat until all of the sediment has been filtered out. Squeeze the cheesecloth over the jar to release any excess liquid and transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Cover the jar and set aside.

Cover the solids in the saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the saucepan, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, add the contents of the saucepan (both liquids and solids) to another quart-sized Mason jar. Cover the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 1 week, shaking the jar daily.

After 1 week, strain the jar with the liquid and solids through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean quart-sized Mason jar. Repeat until all of the sediment has been filtered out. Discard the solids. Add this liquid to the jar containing the original whisky solution. Add the rich syrup to the jar and stir to incorporate, then cover and shake to fully dissolve the syrup.

Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 3 days. At the end of the 3 days, skim off any debris that floats to the surface and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel one last time.

Using a funnel, decant the bitters into smaller jars and label. If there’s any sediment left in the bottles, or if the liquid is cloudy, give the bottle a shake before using. The bitters will last indefinitely, but for optimum flavor use within a year.


rich syrup 2 cups demerara or turbinado sugar • 1 cup water
In a medium saucepan bring sugar and water to simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar. At first crack of boil, remove from heat. Let cool and then store in clean glass container. It will keep in refrigerator for up to 1 month.


For rare or difficult to find herbs, you can try local Herbie Herbs at 556 Queen West. 

( Herbie’s carries every type of herb as well as a good variety of  crystals to fill all your new age-y needs.


If you decide that bitter-making is just making you bitter, but still want to mix up some of Parsons great cocktails, Fee brothers offers a good range of flavoured bitters. ( And after seeing the process involved in making bitters, we can appreciate Fees more than ever. Our favourite is still the grapefruit.

Celebrate Earth Hour on Saturday, March 23 at 8:00pm in Roncesvalles Village. Celebrate Earth Hour with Music and Candlelight! Join WWF’s Earth Hour celebrations from 8:00pm to 9:30pm in Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village for a free outdoor concert for all ages. Hosted by CBC's Garvia Bailey, the lineup for the evening includes musical performances by SPLASH, ANdrew Huang, Lucas Stagg Band and Liam Titcomb. ( for schedule of event, and playbooks) And TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF!

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Cloudy periods and a high of 3 degrees
Sunday: Mainly sunny and a high of 3 degrees

March 15, 2013

proof whisky, the Pantry, Vol. 124

St. Patty’s Day is usually the time to get out to your local pub and celebrate with your pals. However, if you do want to keep the festivities more intimate, we can get you started with a couple of great St. Patty's Day house party tips.  


Irish cooler 1 oz proof whisky • 1 can William Cider • 2 dashes Peychauds bitters • 1 lemon slice
Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with a lemon slice & enjoy.

If you plan on hosting a St. Patty’s Day gathering this year, we highly recommend stopping by The Pantry for some authentic Irish takeout. (1620 Gerrard St. East, 416.268.1342)

Maeve McCarthy, owner of McCarthy’s Irish pub and her twin sister Sinead have brought a taste of Ireland to Toronto’s Little India neighbourhood with The Pantry. Located in what was a fruit and vegetable shop on Gerrard and Coxwell, and just two minutes away from their irish pub, it’s the first of its kind for Toronto.

All the deli foods — soups, coleslaw, chicken curry pies, shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls, fresh baguette sandwiches, Guinness porter cakes, Madeira cakes, scones and brown soda bread — are homemade on site. For beverages, they offer tea, Fanta and Lucozade for a taste from back home

A couple of the customers favourites are the Guinness and beef pie and the soda bread.

After we stopped in for a visit, Maeve sent us on our way with a couple of delicious hand-made sausage rolls. Maeve was an absolute darling and her rolls were incredibly light and flaky. Visit their facebook page, where Maeve says a lot of people place their orders.

 McCarthy's Irish Pub is a popular watering hole located just around the corner. It serves as the most authentic Irish pub in the area. Live music and Guinness on tap. (1801 Gerrard Street E)

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of -2 degrees
Sunday: Cloudy periods and a high of -1 degree

Happy St. Patty's Day!!

March 7, 2013

proof whisky, North Beach, Vol. 123

Are you the only one in your office not doing the fly and flop next week? Just think of all of the things that you will not be missing out on – a crowded airport, terrible buffet meals and a nasty pink sunburn. Enjoy these March Break staycation recipes in the comfort of your own home.

the lido 1 oz proof rum • 1/4 oz Irish Cream liqueur • 1/4 oz banana liqueur • 1 oz milk or cream • banana

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add proof rum, Irish Cream liqueur, banana liqueur and 1 oz milk or cream. Shake until frothy and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a banana slice.

bikini bottom 1 oz proof whisky • ½ oz Amaretto • 4 oz Ceres pineapple juice • pineapple

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add proof whisky, Amaretto, pineapple juice. Shake and pour into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a pineapple spear.

s.o.s. (single) 1 oz proof rum • 1/2 oz banana liqueur • 2 oz orange juice • 2 oz Ceres pineapple juice • 2 tsp fresh or frozen blueberries

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add proof rum, banana liqueur, orange juice and pineapple juice. Garnish with fresh or frozen blueberries.

s.o.s. (pitcher) 13 oz proof rum  • 6 oz banana liqueur  • 24 oz orange juice  • 24 oz Ceres pineapple juice  • 2 tsp fresh or frozen blueberries (per drink) • mint leaves

To a pitcher, add proof rum, banana liqueur, orange juice and pineapple juice. Stir and pour into tall glasses with ice. Garnish with fresh or frozen blueberries and mint leaves.

 If you really want to feel the sand between your toes, head over to North Beach Indoor Volleyball on Lawrence East. (

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Sunny and a high of 4 degrees
Sunday: Sunny with some cloudy periods and a high of 6 degrees