By Lory Diaz
On February 25, 2016, Torontonicity was invited to attend the Recipe for Change 2016 event, presented by Tangerine at the St. Lawrence Market’s south tent. If you’re not familiar with Recipe for Change, the event raises funds and awareness for the important work being done by FoodShare. This organization works to bring education, nutrition, and food-positive programming to schools and communities across Toronto. The event is considered a Party for the Future of Food, and what a party it is!
I was so happy to see that students who were currently enrolled in FoodShare-initiated programs had created delicious treats for the event. I can attest to the time and effort put in by the Bendale and Eastdale Collegiate students, as I’ve witnessed the development of their vegetable and herb gardens at Bendale Business and Technical Institute. I was more than pleasantly surprised by their curried chicken chutney and cranberries tartlet that had a delicate balance of sweetness and saltiness with an overall creamy flavour. The chutney is made by the team, and really does add an unexpected vibrant burst. This is a true testament to the impact that FoodShare has on the students and local communities.
I stopped by Biff’s Bistro to try their creation: Chermoula (a Moroccan marinade typically used for seafood, made with various herbs and lemon) braised lamb with socca, labneh, pickles, and sauce verte. This had a good crunch from the variety of chickpeas, and a tart acidity. Unfortunately, the restaurant is currently closed, but well worth keeping an eye out for re-opening.
Latin Taste’s quinoa tamalitos, wrapped in plantain leaves with fresh cheese, was a symphony of textures and spices. Substituting quinoa for the more traditional corn kernels in this popular Latin American recipe was inspired.
Ontario Whitefish Quenelle with balsam fir fumet caviar: I was most intrigued by the whitefish skin sand, and expected strong fish flavour to wash over every bite. I reluctantly sprinkled it over the quenelle, and was amazed by the incredibly delicate flavour. The sand adds a wonderful note to the croquette. Balsam is subtle, but adds a clean winter warmth to the experience.
I sampled the smoked boneless beef short rib tostadas with Lee’s Ghee from The Good Earth Food & Wine Co., and chef Theresa DeGrace next. Absolutely delicious! The meat was tender, juicy, and full of flavour. I was given fair warning of the heat in the mango habanero sauce, but was not prepared for how all-consuming the spice would be! Though it is quite a messy dish, it was an absolute delight, and highly recommended.
I was eyeing Soma’s table and decided upon the Whipped Honey Butter truffle. I’m already a fan of Soma, but this solidified my love for their adventurous combinations. This truffle had a light and airy center that was complemented so nicely by the sea salt. The salt also created a wonderful textural experience, adding a slight granular feel to the whipped center. Please keep an eye out for these on your next visit to Soma. (For anyone craving something fruitier, they also had their Peach Magnolia truffle. Simply put, it tasted like Spring.)
The Silent Auction prizes were fantastic and included everything from perfume gift baskets, cookbooks, date night experiences for two, and coveted kitchen appliances.
Having enjoyed the chocolate so much, I went for a second dessert: The Tempered Room’s choux pastries! My options were matcha sesame, cassis, orange-caramel, and banana Nutella. I went with cassis, and enjoyed every bite. The white chocolate on top was not too sweet, and added a nice, but slight, creaminess. The delicious flavours, and colourful presentation make Tempered Room a great option for any summer party. Thankfully they do catering!
The Omni King Edward Hotel delivered a delicious spiced chickpea flatbread, roasted squash purée, and eggplant that had a freshness and warmth. Chef Daniel Schick said that his team noticed a lot of meat at the 2015 Recipe for Change, so they wanted to give everyone more vegetarian options. The flatbread is dense and might be too dry for some, but it is a very necessary base to hold all the flavours.
I have to admit I was more than a bit skeptical of DaiLo’s Big Mac Bao, but I had to try it. If you enjoy the sweetness of the Bao, you’ll love the fusion of traditional Chinese flavours and North American fast food, done with the most playful culinary approach. The processed cheese is made in-house, and retains that familiar salty quality that makes the burger so iconic. Slight sweetness comes from the chef’s special sauce, heightened by the pickle, and all brought together with the bed of thin “fries.” So, after thinking about it, the Big Mac Bao is quite the treat.
Carmen Cocina Española was serving a soft shell carnitas taco with pickled onions, and pineapple. Tacos have become quite popular in Toronto, but these had a delicious authenticity to them that is only present when the best and simplest ingredients are used. The pineapple’s acidity cut through the meat’s heavier notes, while adding a subtle sweetness. I added a bit of lime juice, and instantly noticed how enhanced all the flavours were. The lime juice added an addictive vibrancy. Carmen has opened a market on Queen West just two months ago, so make sure to check them out!
Overall, the Recipe for Change 2016 event is not only a wonderful opportunity to support an organization doing valuable work in communities throughout Toronto that need healthier choices, and hands-on food and nutrition education for students, but also a delightful way to meet some of Toronto’s hidden culinary gems. I would highly recommend you keep an eye out for their next event and purchase your ticket as soon as possible. Make sure to come hungry as this is an absolutely wonderful and delicious event!
Recipe for Change takes place at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto and is an annual fundraiser for FoodShare.