Recently G and I have been exploring the city of Toronto more than we used to. First it was the Mac N Cheese festival, which still has me craving the mouthwatering and to die for Cajun mac n cheese. Then it was the Little Taste of Italy, local dives, room escape at Casa Loma and neat soccer nooks to enjoy the Copa and Euro games.
Toronto is filled with multiculturalism and so much excitement that it had me wanting to put a list together of places and things to check off this summer. Let me know if there is anything exciting that you’ll be doing in Toronto this summer, or anywhere for that matter– we love hearing about new things to explore.
1. Try a delicious Booyah ice cream taco. (This place is literally down the street, I’m disappointed that we have yet to go!)
2. Have a picnic at Colonel Samuel Smith Park
3. See John Fogerty live in concert at Molson Amphitheatre (July 11)
I adore entertaining. If I could do it weekly, I seriously would. When we get a large group of us ladies (and yes maybe sometimes the boys) together for a gathering of some sort, I tend to have a list ready for pre party prep- if I am hosting.
It may sound silly and overly cautious- but that is who I am. I like to feel prepared and I want to ensure that the night goes as flawless as possible. This weekend, I am hosting an event at my home and I couldn’t help but share my pre party prep list with all of you. Enjoy 🙂
1. Set the tone of the event
Let your guests know what they should expect. If this is just a casual get-together, no need to elaborate but if it’s a theme party, a semi-formal event, a tea party, a cocktail and finger food setting, a potluck (and so and so on)- let them know. You want your guests to be aware and also prepared on their end.
2. Clean grounds and more
There is no need to deep clean the whole house, but keep in mind which rooms or areas of the home you’ll be entertaining in. Ensure those rooms are tidy, breakable and fragile items are tucked away, out of reach or out of site.
3. Food and Drinks
This is usually on the host- whether you cater out or prepare on your own. Find out a week out how many guests will be attending (at least a rough idea at this point) and prepare +3 of your definite YES list. If this is a pot luck, ensure you know or have an idea of who is bringing what. Nothing worst than having a potluck filled with repeated items.
Alcohol and drinks. We know alcohol is expensive so have a least one signature cocktail or a concoction of some sort, a bottle of red and/or white wine and some pop/juice and water. Some guests may offer to bring a bottle of wine- I always say YAYas some may not like what you’ve picked out and it’s always better to have a selection.
Bathroom rules: Always, always have the garbage can EMPTY upon guest arrival. Nothing more unattractive and unpleasant than a trash can filled with used toilet paper and wrappers. Ensure your hand soap is full and NEVER keep your best “decor only” hand towels out. Do not assume people know that they are just for decoration. Keep them in a location/spot where your guests won’t reach for them. Have the ones you won’t mind people getting dirty-available for use.
4. Have fun
Plain and simple. You can tidy around here and there but always be present at your own event and do not show any signs of stress. If the host/hostess is stressed or worried, your guests will also feel that way. Make sure everyone is comfortable, be social and unwind. You put a lot of effort in getting the party where it is- might as well enjoy it!
For those of you who know me, you know I can’t resist a good glass of red wine. Oddly, my go to house favourite is an Ontario blend called Maria Christina. An inexpensive light bodied wine which pairs perfectly with spicy chicken (aka my favourite dish). However, I pick up a bottle
of delicious Chilean or Australian wine here and there as a treat or for guests.
Today I touch bases on simple red wine 101, great food pairings and simple knowledge on 4 main grapes for red wine. What exactly are you drinking? Find out here.
Shiraz / Syrah
I personally call it Shiraz just like the Australians, our down South African friends and fellow North Americans but the French like to refer to it as Syrah. Same grape, two different names- how special. Traditionally, Shiraz is defined as a medium to full body wine, extremely rich and bold in flavours. Flavours usually range from blackcurrant, cherry, blackberry, peppers, dark chocolate and smoke,
With flavours so bold and rich, a highly concentrated Shiraz is a perfect match for grilled meats/veggies, well seasoned red meats, beef wellington, beef stew, veal and meat lovers pizza.
Of course, my favourite but also widely recognized world wide. Mostly produced in France, Chile, Australia, US and Argentina, Cab sauvignon typically is a full bodied red wine infused with delicious dark fruit flavours. Similiar to shiraz with blackberry, cherry but also include a flavour profile of plums, tobacco and warm spice.
Cab sauvignon pairs nicely with red meats, red sauce pastas, lamb, mild to moderate cheese, dark chocolate, bitter vegetables such as eggplant, arugula and radicchio. If your Cabernet Sauv is ‘younger in age’, it will do great with grilled BBQ dishes.
In the “wine spectrum” Merlot sits humbly in the middle which allows itself to be a great match for a wide range of food pairings. Often considered a less sophisticated version of a
Cab Sauvignon, Merlot is actually delicious and well recognized. Mostly grown in France, Italy and United States, Merlot flavours range from black cherry, raspberry , plum and often has hints of cedar, mocha and vanilla.
Merlots pair great with a well seasoned chicken dish, duck, burgers, tenderloin and pork. Wine experts advise Merlot drinkers to stray away from fish dishes, earthy greens and spicy food as it may defeat the taste of the wine.
Known to be a difficult grape to grow, Pinot Noir is a lighter-medium bodied fruity red wine. Originally from France, today Pinor Noir can be grown in areas such as California, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Germany and Spain. A dry red, Pinot Noir is a fruit forward red with flavours ranging from strawberry, raspberry and black berry. Also prepare to taste hints of mushroom, spice and cinnamon.
Pinot Noirs pairs well with pork roasts, chicken in cream sauce dishes, grilled salmon or teriyaki based meals. Focus on rich sauces and stuffing when preparing your meals or glazed chickens or salmons. Duck is also great to pair with Pinot Noir, especially the breast. Because Pinor Noir is very aromatic, it is able to mingle with a wide range of flavours. Unlike a lot of red wines we listed above, PN will match well with fatty fish.
It’s expected that when a holiday (such as Mother’s day) rolls around, everyone and their Mother (pun intended) are out and about. It can be overwhelming being in crowded restaurants or taking part in an event with gobs of people. So that’s why they say there’s no place like home.
Treat mom to something more relaxing in the comfort of her own home, but what exactly can we do for Mom on her special day? Allow us to share.
1. Record a video of you(only) or include your siblings, dad and relatives with sweet words, old video clips and favourite memories with mom. Watch it together as a family and take a stroll down memory lane.
2.Prepare a three course meal with a well decorated dining room table set up, include place cards- a menu card with your meal selections and a cute message.
3. Breakfast in bed with fresh flowers, include a hand written card and an itinerary for the day. This can include stepping out of the house, but the comfort of breakfast in her own space will seem relaxing and effortless.
5. Does your mom love baking? Add a little twist with this DIY Glittered wooden spoons, tie a recipe tag to it that she can use to make a new treat.
6. Create a timeline photo album including favourite memories, captions and quotes that will make mom laugh and cry (pretty easy to do!)
7. Have mom go on a scavenger hunt for her gift. Start off by giving her the initial clue and get her to roam the house (in and out if needed) to find her gift. Be corky and creative with locations and clues to make it more fun.
8. At home wine/drink sampling and appetizers. Grab a couple of wine bottles or make different variations of some tasty cocktails. Release the inner Ramsay in you and create some delicious apps to accompany your drink selection.
So ladies and gents, any at home traditions or fun activities planned for mother’s day? We hope you enjoyed.