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Charlie's Burgers is a series of private dinners in Toronto hosted by different high-profile chefs in different locations. In 2010 it was ranked by Food and Wine Magazine as the number three "word of mouth" supper club on its list of "100 Best New Food and Drink Experiences in the World". How does it work? Selected guests are sent a date, told how much cash to bring and then given directions to a secret spot such as a street corner, where you receive other instructions that lead you to the actual venue. Once you arrive, you are treated to an insane multi-course dinner prepared by an internationally renowned chef. The chef hosting our evening was James Henry of Bones, one of the most sought after restaurants in Paris. We had to arrive at Queen and Peter at 8:45pm, look for a man on a barrel, and ask him if he had any old Michelin guides. You are then given the address of the dinner... and then the games begin.

Aperitif: Falanghina, Camporeale, Lunarossa from Campania, Italy.

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Amuse bouche were paired with blanc de blancs, Schramsberg 2012, Calistoga California. A classic French Terrine:

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Radishes with nettle butter.

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Raw fish and turnips.

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Steamed oysters with burnt lemon, lime and orange oil (these were INCREDIBLE)

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After the amuse bouche came asparagus with ramps and bottarga (dried mullet roe, a Mediterranean delicacy) paired with Fernao Pires, Porta de Teira, Ninfa Branco, 2012 Tejo Portugal.

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This was a "TBD" course... it turned out to be clams with potato. Amazing.

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Blood cake with peas and broad beans. Paired with Granata, Barranco Oscuro, 2010, Granada, Spain.

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The final dish was spectacular- aged beef with romaine and anchovy. Paired with Barbara d'Alba, La Cresta, D.O.C, Roche Dei Manzoni, 2010 Piedmont Italy.

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James Henry used an impressive array of Ontario ingredients from nettles to local cheeses. The dessert was outstanding- an almond tart that was not too sweet, with a goat milk sorbet. A refreshing ending to a very rich meal. This was paired with sherry, a 30 year-old Oloroso, Bodegas Tradicion from Jerez Spain.

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The sommelier was knowledgeable and delightful... all the servers were just as excited to be there as the guests.

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There were about 70 people at this secret pop-up dinner, and the wonderful thing about Charlie's Burgers events is that you all sit together and you meet such lovely people. We dined with Mac and Norma who were wonderful. What a fun night... incredible food and wine, and it was spectacular to get to experience one of the hottest restaurants in France right in downtown Toronto. Rosie :)

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A favourite eatery of Toronto Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri, Paramount Fine Foods serves a selection of Middle Eastern favourites made in-house daily, with Ontario-raised hormone-free halal meat. The newly opened location in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood boasts a contemporary and very comfortable decor ideal for sit-down dinners or quick and casual lunches. The fresh baked pita is a must, arriving at your table directly from the wood-burning ovens piping hot and puffy:

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Our knowledgeable server recommended the moutabbal to start, which is grilled eggplant mixed with tahini sauce, then drizzled with olive oil and topped with pomegranate seeds. You could really taste that the eggplant was freshly grilled just before it was blended and brought to the table.

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The chicken and beef shawarma entree was huge and so flavourful, piled high on fresh pita and served with tahini and a whipped garlic sauce that was light and very tasty.

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The perfectly cooked lamb skewers are served with rice and salad.

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Paramount Fine Foods is also a bakery, with an amazing selection of sweets baked in-house daily. The baklawa (which is one of my very favourite desserts) is outstanding. Layers of phyllo are filled with pistachios and pine nuts, separated by melted butter and held together with drizzles of sweet rose syrup. It's heavenly and the baklawa at Paramount is some of the best I've ever tasted.

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Etched on the window at Paramount: "Love for other people what you love for yourself." A lovely sentiment that invokes the warmth and love that goes into the food at this restaurant. 1250 Bay Street. Rosie :)

Paramount Fine Foods on Urbanspoon

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Glory Hole Doughnuts

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This awesomely named Parkdale bakery makes gorgeous artisan doughnuts. They are made by hand using natural ingredients every morning. The flavours are so much fun, from S'Mores to Lemon Bomb to Toast & Butter, which is my fave.

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S'Mores.

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Cinnamon Sugar and Lemon Bomb.

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I am also a huge fan of the simple Vanilla Glaze. So good.

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Banana Cream Pie.

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$18 for a half dozen. Flavours vary on a daily basis; I had heard the ricotta doughnut was fantastic but wasn't a choice the day I visited. The name of the bakery is a real conversation starter and then everyone shuts up when you start eating these treats which really are as glorious as doughnuts can hope to be. Rosie :)

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Glory Hole Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

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We eat regularly at Fresh and Thrive Organic so I was excited to see a Rawlicious pop up nearby. Rawlicious differs from other vegan and organic eateries because it just offers raw food, which is food that has not been heated above 48 degrees centigrade (117 degrees Fahrenheit). So, all the menu items are foods in their natural state. Rawlicious is delicious. The taco wrap is great for lunch. It is a collard leaf stuffed with seasoned nut loaf, guacamole, romaine lettuce, salsa and almond nut cheese.

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The "Rawitch" is best eaten with a fork. Pieces of onion bread are covered with lots of delicious guacamole, tomatoes, cucumbers and alfalfa sprouts and then the whole thing is drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. There is coleslaw on the side. I thought the onion bread was amazing.

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The raw food movement has become quite popular because of the theory that since the food hasn't been heat-treated, it is full of all the good stuff that allowed it to sprout and grow in the first place such as water, oxygen, enzymes, vitamins and minerals... all of which are good for you. Rosie :)

Rawlicious on Urbanspoon

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Giveaway! The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

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From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the third in a trilogy adapting the popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This film brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. I know, you're stoked. So how can you win a copy here? Check out the interactive map of Middle-Earth and take the quiz to find out if you're brave like Bilbo. Leave a comment here by April 15th and one lucky reader will be randomly chosen! Good luck! Rosie :)

Legal stuff: each household is only eligible to win One (1) Blu-ray The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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Cafe Con Leche Espresso Bar

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I am a coffee fiend and eat Nutella straight out of the jar, so when I heard there is an espresso bar in the Junction that makes a Nutella latte I couldn't get there fast enough. I like how the main ingredient of Cafe Con Leche's signature drink also doubles as decor.

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The lattes are perfect. Not too sweet. You stir the Nutella up from the bottom.

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This cozy coffee shop also offers a lovely selection of sweets and snacks from salted caramel pops to chicken tinga melts. The service is wonderful.

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You can't miss Cafe Con Leche. Just stop when you see the enormous Nutella latte on Dupont. Rosie :)

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Cafe Con Leche Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

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Merlot

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This restaurant is an escape to southwestern France right in the Kingsway. The ambience feels like you've truly left the country. Merlot has been an Etobicoke dining destination for decades- the food is fantastic.

The fragrance of the white wine, garlic, shallots and butter in the escargots Bourguignonne was a perfect way to start the meal. The snails were so tasty:

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All the classics on the menu from the fresh steamed P.E.I. mussels to the grilled calf liver Lyonnaise were so tempting, but went with the NY striploin with maitre d'hôtel butter and mashed potatoes:

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And the duck confit, which was outstanding.

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The lovely creme caramel was consumed before photography could occur. An amazing birthday present from amazing family (that even included babysitting.) Rosie :)

Merlot on Urbanspoon

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Recent Comments

  • Rick C in Oakville: What a very cool experience Rosie! read more
  • Lynne: What an experience, well done! read more
  • Teena in Toronto: I've been wanting to check them out! read more
  • Teena in Toronto: I was going to check them out this weekend but read more
  • Lynne: Paramount looks like paradise to me. Well covered, Rosie I read more
  • Roshan: Yum donuts. It's been a while. I have a craving read more
  • Alfred Barrera: I want this bag :( read more
  • Rick C in Oakville: The store is aptly named! Think I felt an artery read more
  • Denise: These look soooooo delicious Rosie! read more
  • Maggie C: Thank you for the chance! My brother would love this! read more




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