May 23, 2013

proof whisky, spice it up, Vol. 134

Starting Wednesday, May 29th every bottle of proof whisky will have a Spice Trader DIY packet of spices attached, along with this great proof spiced whisky recipe. For more information on proof brands visit

the spiced pear 1 ½ oz proof spiced whisky • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice • 4 oz Ceres Pear Juice
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a pear slice.

For the next month, we are doing a special promo with the Spice Trader. Pick up your bottle of proof whisky at the LCBO and receive a DIY spice pack and instructions on how to make your own natural spiced proof whisky. The packet comes with the best quality star anise, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and vanilla bean. Just drop it in your bottle of proof, let sit for 3-5 days and enjoy on the rocks or in one of our many great cocktails.

Spice Trader offers one of the greatest selections of fresh and organic spices in the city. “Organic Spices can be surprisingly affordable, and will make a tremendous difference in your cooking.

We buy all our herbs and spices in small batches so they are always fresh and at their peak. We do not sell any other brand of herbs and spices. We mix and prepare most of our blends by hand. All of our spices are packed in our own air tight Spice Trader tins, which helps to keep them as fresh as possible”

The Spice Trader is located almost directly across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park. When entering the shop, you are greeted by a warm, but not overpowering essence of spice. The tall wooden shelves are lined with olive green tins filed with top quality spices. Various sets, organized by region (Italian, Moroccan, Provence), make ‘perfect’ hostess or Christmas gifts for just about anyone. The shop also carries a great assortment of salts, oils, vinegars, truffles, tapenades and cookbooks.
(   877 Queen Street West).

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Sunny and a high of 16 degrees
Sunday: Sunny and a high of 17 degrees

May 16, 2013

proof whisky, artfest, Vol. 133

What? May 24 already? How could this be? With the crazy unseasonal blizzards and early heatwaves, we are all a bit confused as to what time of year it really is. And if you are anything like us, and didn’t plan a thing for the first long-weekend of summer, (because it came out of nowhere) you may find these local Canadian art-show options even more appealing. Take advantage of this sunny and warm Victoria Day Long Weekend, because we don’t know what Mother Nature has in store for us next. For more information on proof brands visit

the maynuary 1 ½ oz proof whisky • 4 oz lime sour mix • ½ oz maple syrup
Add proof whisky, lime sour mix and maple syrup to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with frozen cranberries.

lime sour mix 2 cups lime juice • 2 cups simple syrup
Mix two ingredients, cover and chill. TIP can freeze for later use.

simple syrup 3 cups granulated sugar • 3 cups water
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Set over medium-high heat and cool, stirring until sugar is dissolved for 6 to 10 minutes or until mixture comes just to a boil. Cool to room temperature: transfer to a sterilized jar. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

artfest toronto launches the summer season Victoria Day weekend with a celebration of artists and artisans from across Canada. This juried outdoor show will feature 85 artists at the Historic Distillery District for three days only. Come stroll the cobble stone lanes and explore the beauty of the District. Offerings include pottery, glass, jewellery, artisan clothing, paintings, photographs, wood products, gourmet foods, live music and much more. FREE admission. (


contact is an annual event in May with well over 1500 Canadian and international artists and photographers exhibiting at more than 175 venues throughout the GTA.

Founded as a not-for-profit in 1997 and now a charitable organization, the Festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography. As a leading proponent of photography, the Festival increases exposure and recognition for local, Canadian and international artists and is committed to advancing knowledge, creativity and innovation in photography. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.9 million. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural event in Canada. (

Long Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 19 degrees
Sunday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 21 degrees
Monday: Sunny with cloudy periods and a high of 22 degrees

Happy Victoria Day!
Stay tuned for next week's yard sale and great recipe roundup!

May 9, 2013

proof vodka, A Little's always tea-time, Vol. 132

Treat mum to a special high tea this Sunday and enjoy this Mother’s Day cocktail. For more information on proof brands visit

pink lady 4 oz freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice • 1 oz proof vodka • 1/2 oz Campari liqueur or grenadine •  1/2 - 1 cup ice cubes • pink grapefruit • mint

Add pink grapefruit juice, proof vodka and Campari to a food processor; blend. With the motor running, add ice until fully incorporated and slushy. Pour into glasses and garnish with pink grapefruit and mint. (makes 2 drinks)

t-buds tea lounge and Crêperie is a two-story teashop at Yonge and Lawrence that offers a lot to choose from. Beginning with their tea, I have the option of choosing from over a hundred types of loose-leaf tea and 'tossane'. The friendly storeowner immediately explains that while tea generally indicates black, white, or oolang, 'tossane,' refers to Rooibos and herbal. Within seconds of walking in, I'm getting a full history lesson on the origins of tea. 

For more of Toronto's best high tea locations, read blogto’s Best Afternoon Tea in Toronto feature.

There are other special teas happening in and around the city this weekend. Check ‘em out:

In celebration of Mother’s Day the historical Gibson House presents Mother’s Day Tea. The quiet afternoon features tea, finger sandwiches and sweets. Guests are seated in Mrs. Gibson’s parlour, and take a step back in time to the 19th century, as costumed staff host the party. Admission to the museum is included. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Seating is limited. (

Once again, Bata Shoe Museum celebrates that special day for moms with a Mothers Day activity that will fit your mom to a ‘tea’! The hostess of last year’s sold out event, Kerri M Lee of Lee Middleton Gourmet Tea, returns for an afternoon steeped in all things tea! Learn about the fascinating history and worldwide importance of tea, the art of brewing the perfect pot, and taste a variety of teas, both exotic and familiar. The tasting will be followed by a guided tour showcasing some of the highlights of the Bata Shoe Museum, including the newest exhibit “The Roaring 20s: Heels, Hemlines and High Spirits”. A portion of the profits will be donated to breast cancer research. Reservations required. (

Mother’s Day is coming up, and if your mom is into history, Black Creek Pioneer Village has the perfect event. The Mother’s Day Tea is an all-day event for mothers of all ages, including a meal and a tour of the Village’s historical houses and shops. Reservations are required in advance. (

Celebrate Mother’s Day with tea and a tour of the historical Montgomery Inn. The tea party includes cream scones with creme fraiche and gooseberry jam, lemon tarts and more. Admission includes a complimentary guided tour of the museum. Montgomery’s Inn was built in 1830 for Thomas and Margaret Montgomery, and it served as a meeting place for the local community and provided food and shelter to travellers. Pre-registration is NOT required, seating is on a first come, first serve basis. (

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 15 degrees
Sunday: Variable cloudiness and a high of 9 degrees

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! <3

May 2, 2013

proof whisky, trip to Portugal, Vol. 131

proof not only produces our own family of spirits, but we are agent to other great products. Last week, we were invited to Portugal to visit several vinho verde vineyards looking for Canadian Agents. We had to spend the week tasting wine in Porto – yes, tough life. Our trip inspired this delicious north American version of a sangria recipe – sangria is a favourite with the Portuguese. For more information on proof brands please visit

golden sangria single 1 oz proof whisky • 3 oz white wine • 1 oz peach juice • 1 oz apricot juice • 2 oz ginger beer

To a wine goblet with ice, add proof whisky, white wine, peach juice, apricot juice and ginger beer. Add chopped lemon, limes and any other seasonal fruit.

pitcher 4 oz proof whisky • 1 1/4 cups white wine • ½ cup peach juice • 1/2 cup apricot juice • 3/4 cup ginger beer

To glasses, add ice, chopped lemon, limes and any other seasonal fruit. Pour into glasses and garnish each with a mint sprig

NOTE: this recipe is just as delicious made with red wine


We thought that it would be fun to share our Porto Itinerary with you:

Monday, April 22nd 1pm - 5pm Arrive in Porto • 7pm Meet in hotel lobby and leave for dinner in New Porto

These are the offices of the Vinho Verde Wine Commission.

Tuesday, April 23rd 9am Arrive at Vinho Verde Wine Commission • 9am - 10am Presentation • 10am - 1pm Grand tasting of wines from producers looking for North American importers & agents • 1:30pm - Lunch • Visit Quinta de Gomariz vineyard • 7:30pm Dinner at Covella Vineyard

Grand tasting of all of the Vinho Verde wines.

This is the Quinta de Gomariz vineyard. They grow their grapes on the fences surrounding the vineyard.

We had our dinner at the Covella Winery. They grilled our food in the outdoor oven and chilled our wine in the baptismal font

Covella Winery

Wednesday, April 24th 9am - 9:30am Arrive at Vinho Verde Wine Commission • 9:30am - 1:30pm One-On-One appointments with producers • 1:30pm Lunch at Vinho Verde Wine Commission • 3pm Visit Quinta de Lourosa • 6:30pm Return to hotel and get ready for dinner • 7pm Meet in hotel lobby and take bus to dinner • 7:30pm – 9:30pm Dinner in historic downtown Porto

Lunch at the Wine Commission

We visited the beautiful Quinta de Lourosa Vineyard. This was the producer.

We had dinner in Old Porto.

Thursday, April 25th 9am Visit Quintos do Homem • 1pm Meet at a restaurant in Vinho Verde region for lunch • 6pm Return to hotel for farewell drinks - free night

Quintos do Homem. You will hopefully soon see some of these wines at the LCBO.

Friday, April 26th Return to Canada

Vinho Verde Medium in alcohol, Vinho Verde has great digestive properties due to its freshness and special qualities. It is a highly regarded wine, specially for Summer drinking. The reds are full-bodied wines with an intense colour and a rosy or light red foam. The whites usually present a lemony or straw colour. The strong distinctive character and originality of these wines are the result of soil and climate characteristics and social-economic agents, on one hand, and of the grape varieties and the vinegrowing methods, on the other. For more information on Vinho Verde (

Weekend Forecast
Saturday: Sunny and a high of 19 degrees
Sunday: Sunny and a high of 20 degrees