Holiday Entertaining

Happy New Year!

Well, my food-loving friends… the Holidays have come and gone. I was so blessed this year to spend lots of time with family & friends, which in my world also means…food events!

I’m going to share a couple of my favourite things I enjoyed over the Holidays. Consider these as some ideas for future entertaining! I know I will.

Cheese

What’s a holiday party without a cheese tray? Still a Holiday party…but a more…lame version….

Okay bad joke.

What i’m really trying to say is If you don’t have a cheese platter at your party, please don’t expect me to come….

Okay, maybe a bit harsh.

Just make a cheese tray for cripe sakes. Udder Way Artisan Cheese can help you out.

Udder Way Artisan Cheese Co Hamilton Ontario Hamilton Small Fries Food Reviews
A couple weeks ago I was invited out to check out the new factory of Udder Way Artisan Cheese.

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Tor Krueger, co-owner of Cheese Shoppe on Locke, opened this new venture in the old Gos and Gris factory on the Stoney Creek Mountain (380 Highway 20 East).

It’s a new space for him to make artisan cheeses (including their specialty, Snow Peak Goat Cheese Pyramids).

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At Udder Way, you can expect to find a gift shop/cheese store (think compact version of Cheese Shoppe on Locke), plus a small factory where you can get local, freshly-made delicious cheese.

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I picked up some Snow Peak Goat Cheese (Udder Way) and Jalapeno Cheddar (Blyth’s)- I’d recommend both! They’re at either ends of the cheese spectrum (honestly, I just made this up) which makes them ideal for creating a balanced cheese tray (true though).

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Turducken

Echelon Foods was kind enough to reach out and contact me to see if I would be willing to try out their Turducken. Seriously, if there’s meat involved, you don’t even need to ask. I was finally able to check this bad boy off of my foodie bucket list.

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If you’ve never heard of a Turducken – you are missing out. It’s a large-size turkey, deboned and stuffed with chicken, duck, and stuffing. Meaty, meaty goodness.

Echelon makes an Original Turducken with Chicken Apple Stuffing or Italian Sausage Stuffing, a Premium Turducken (no drumsticks or wings, just the roast) with stuffing and – get this – a Bacon Wrapped Turducken! As much as I would have loved to try the Bacon-Wrapped version, my family is not as meat-crazy as I am (boo-urns), so we went with the Original Turducken.

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I ordered it online, easy peasy. It came within 3 business days…just in time for Christmas Eve! There was literally no prep on this. It just needed to be defrosted over 24 hours, then it was plopped into a roaster and was good to go.

This was the best-looking roast I have ever made. And it tasted perfect. Thanks Echelon Foods for making me look like a Food Network superstar in front of all my fam. *flips hair*

Crantini Jelly

Now, the Turducken was already beautifully flavoured (especially the stuffing), but I’m a creative lass and can’t help putting my own spin on things. SO I picked up some Wandering Locavore Crantini Jelly from my workplace, Christy’s Gourmet Gifts.

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You can have the Crantini Jelly just on it’s own with crackers, but I ended up mixing it up with some olive oil and basting the Turducken with it. I mixed cranberries with root veggies and roasted them around the Turducken. It gave great additional flavour to this already mouth-watering meal.

Now that all the Holiday entertaining is over, we can move on to think about the new year – 2016!! 2015 was my best foodie year yet, and I expect 2016 to be even better!

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Do you have a food goal for 2016? Perhaps to experiment with a new recipe ingredient or try a new restaurant?

Please share it in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! 

Feast ON Culinary Crawl with Niagara Parks

The Feast ON the Parkway Culinary Crawl had Small Fry Heather joined by a special guest co-poster, Jessica from Hoppily Ever After.

The folks at Niagara Parks invited us on a Culinary Crawl to check out the five restaurants of the Niagara Parkway. We accepted with excitement – as Winston Churchill once apparently said about the Niagara Parkway, it’s the “prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”.

Along the Parkway, there are gardens, golf courses, attractions like the Butterfly Conservatory and Journey Behind the Falls, and – you guessed it – restaurants. The area is steeped in history and Canadiana, and the restaurants took that theme and ran with it. There’s strong focus on local food in all five (three of which are certified “Feast ONrestaurants).hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 1 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

Our first stop (joined by a troupe of Ontario writers, including fellow Hamiltonians Chanry, from the Hungry Gnome, and Kristin, from I Heart Hamilton) was Queenston Heights Restaurant, a two story primarily event-location perched on a hill with an amazing view of the river, meticulously tended gardens stretching all the way around, and War of 1812 battle history (we won this one).

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The potato gnocchi carbonara (with double-smoked Ontario bacon, Hamilton cremini mushrooms, and baby arugula in pecorino romano cream) was to-die-for delicious. The gnocchi was filling without being heavy, the cheesy cream sauce was the stuff dreams are made of.hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 5 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir was the wine match, rich enough to match the cheese but light-bodied enough for the pasta. This was definitely our favourite dish of the night.

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Whirlpool Restaurant at the Whirlpool Golf Course was next. We’re no golfers, but apparently this is a more traditional course, designed by a world-renowned golf-course creator (according to our awesome tour guide, Ryan Moran).

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 6 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe club house matched the simple, traditional feel, and they had a pretty little area set up for us.

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The soup and salad course at Whirlpool was a spicy butternut squash bisque and a spinach salad (with dried cranberries, toasted sunflower seeds, and mandarins topped with a sweet onion VQA riesling mandarin vinaigrette). It came with a “nosy goat” cheese crostini on the side, the perfect tangy offset for the sweetness of the fruit.

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The accompanying wine was Hernder Estate’s Riesling, bringing back the sweetness full circle.

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The third stop was to Legends on the Niagara, a large, newer, sweeping golf course with not one, but TWO 18-hole courses.

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Again, the club house matched the feel: big, sweeping, rustic wood and stone with a beautiful, giant back porch overlooking the green vistas.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 11 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThey served up braised beef short ribs wrapped in bacon, mixed Sledgers greens (a local farm), balsamic glaze, with a seared hot pepper on each tray. We were told it came from the chef’s garden. The meal was rich, the flavours complemented each other, and Peller Estates hearty Cab Franc was a perfect match.

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The second to last stop was Edgewaters at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant. Downtown Niagara Falls, it’s a second floor patio restaurant with a pub-like vibe and an amazing view of the Falls – right across the street. On this night, the Falls were lit up in rainbows. It’s a seasonal restaurant though, since it’s an open patio!

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Their offering was a pepper berry rubbed northern rainbow trout (another Canadian staple), curried seven grain salad with cilantro yogurt. We didn’t find the fish too strong in flavour, so the strong tastes of the curry and light yogurt matched it well. Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rose was a good complement for trout.

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The final stop was Elements on the Falls, even closer to the water than Edgewaters (and we didn’t think that was possible). It’s a closed-in restaurant, so it’s all-seasons, and it sits right on top of the top edge of Niagara Falls. Obviously, the view is phenomenal.

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First they served grilled muscovy duck on shoal lake wild rice (an authentically Canadian rice), pinge capicola crisp (salty and crispy, portioned out with each bite of the silky duck), covered with sweet cherry glaze. It was paired with an Inniskillin Niagara Series Pinot Noir, which matched the meal element for element. No pun intended.

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Finally, it was time for dessert, and Elements certainly doesn’t disappoint. Our dessert was a display of a poached Bartlett pear in Cab Franc, with Maple Mousse Cream in a chocolate cup, and honey tuile crisp. Gorgeous and delicious!

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Though you may not want to do every restaurant in one day, (like we did on this Culinary Crawl) we recommend checking out the Niagara Parkway on a day trip or weekend getaway. It’s right in our backyard, and you’ll find a lot of character in this place of natural wonders.

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Have you been to any of the Niagara Parks restaurants? Review them with us in the comments below!

Jessica Peter - Guest Writer

 

Guest co-poster: Jessica Peter is one half of Hoppily Ever After, a Hamilton-based craft beer blog. She’s a #HamOnt super-fan with a passion for local shows, local food & drink, trying to see the whole world, and writing kind-of-strange novels in her spare time.

 

 

Butcher and the Vegan

Butcher and the Vegan

61 Barton Street E

Hamilton, ON 

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After visiting Butcher and the Vegan on our first Hamilton Food Tour, we couldn’t stop thinking about and planning our next visit. Shout out to their Beet Fries and their Mushroom Crostinis! We were impressed and ready for more. Lindsay was all about celebrating Friendship Day with her besties, so three of us (Small Fries + Brittany) ended up celebrating the day foodie-style at Butcher and the Vegan.

Logo

Butcher and the Vegan has two different forms of their logo. The ‘B&V’ seen outside and the written out version. They mesh well – black on white, bold fonts.

B&V is making an impact on their neighbourhood. It only makes sense that their logo would be impactful as well.

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Food & Reviews

For the table we chose:

Lindsay’s go-to, Beet Salad. She is crazy about Beet Salad and orders it at almost every restaurant. Seriously, tweet her for the best Beet Salads in Hamilton. She will eat all of them. And she’ll post about them. You won’t be disappointed. Anyways, we digress.

This beet salad was definitely up there in the ‘best of’ list. But really, we would have ordered it just for the food porn. Look at how colourful this freakin’ plate is!
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Steak Frites with Asparagus. Lindsay ordered this main. The steak was slightly overdone for her taste, but it was still amazing nonetheless. She didn’t complain, but we’re 100% positive they would have given her a new one if she had. But the flavours were mouth-watering. Just writing this makes her want to get it again. Like .. right now…

Anywho, her only complaint was that there was too much (yes, we said too much) food on the plate. It was hard to cut the steak because it was piled on the fries.

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Fig, Duck and Arugula Flatbread Pizza. Brittany had this butcher’s pizza. I mean – look at it. That’s what we really love about B&V – the food not only tastes amazing, it looks amazing. It had this delicious sweet taste to it. It was also really good cold the next day.

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Wild Mushroom Risotto – Our fabulous waiter suggested we order the risotto, which was his personal fave that week. We went with the non-vegan version – you can get it made either way – which was made with cream and some sort of cheese. We were so happy we went with this suggestion.

Risotto is often hit and miss, and often will be crazy strong with wine or cheese. This one had a perfect balance. It was rich and creamy. With the earthy flavour of the wild mushrooms and the sweet crunch of the carrot (?) topping, this was a perfect dish.

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Watermelon Sorbet – While we were there we also heard that one of the kitchen staff had been working hard on perfecting his Sorbet recipe. Of course, this meant we had to get dessert. (Right….that’s the reason..;)…)

Yum. This sorbet was like eating a frozen watermelon. Only way classier. Heather ordered it, but being friendship day, shared with Lindsay and Brittany as well.

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Atmosphere

When you think of where to find higher-end, local culinary gems – Barton and John isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind.  (Though a renaissance is beginning!)

In our minds, Butcher and the Vegan is not the norm for when you think of Barton street. It’s a cute little space decorated in bright colours. With mismatched chairs, mahogany wood and blackboard signs, it’s lowkey and comfortable. B&V is a diamond in the rough.

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Brand

Butcher and the Vegan has a strong focus on bringing all ingredients in from a 100 mile radius. This means you may pay a bit more for your meal, but we promise – it’s worth it. You’re eating fresh, you’re eating local, and you can feel good about it.

B&V’s aim is to make a space that is meatatarian, vegetarian and vegan friendly. If you bring a group to this resto, you’re going to be able to order a proper meal for everyone.

Oh, and they try to make you really feel at home. Which is why you can find action-figures and other toys on every table. Check out Brittany and cold Spidey!

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Social Media Campaign

Facebook – Butcher and the Vegan

Twitter – BandtheV

Instagram – butcherandthevegan

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No complaints on the social media front. Whoever manages the B&V social media accounts, they’re doing a great job. They have enough posts to be engaging, without overwhelming their online community. Plus there’s tons of menu info and some great food porn!

Suggestions

We don’t have many suggestions for Butcher and the Vegan, to be honest! If they keep doing what they’re doing – ROCKIN’ IT – we foresee that word of mouth will get them far!

Have you been to Butcher and the Vegan? Review it with us in the comments below!
Butcher and the Vegan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato