Not having been to the previous McEwanAllAccess events, I was pretty excited to attend the 3.0 hosted by Abbey Sharp from abbeyskitchen.com at McEwan Foods. I mean, I was about to sample some delicious food and hang out with Chef Mark that I pretty much only saw on TV for Top Chef Canada, not to mention that he owns some of the best restaurants in the City!
I arrived at the grocery store that I was oh-so-familiar with watching on Top Chef Canada as contestants rush through the aisles for their ingredients, so despite being my first visit, it didn't really feel like so!
After a quick look over around the area we were in (prepared food, cheese, meat & seafood section), I couldn't help but notice the abundance of fresh, already-prepped food such as chicken pappardelle, roasted beet salad, steak & kidney meat pot pie, short rib empanadas and more. These are definitely not your average grocery store prepped food!
As I did arrive at dinner time, there was absolutely no hesitation before I made my way around to check out all the delicious samples of food.
The always delicious & creative guys from HotBunzz were there to provide three different buns! St. Lucia Jerk Wild Boar, Ontario 5-Cheese Mushroom & Spinach and the Brazilian Red-Eye BBQ Beef!
Sipped on some Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc from Vineland Estates Winery - who says 'no' to wine?... seriously?
I'm not usually a beer drinker (I'm a wino), but Beau's All Natural was smooth with a hint of citrus. Their small, family-run brewery use all natural and the highest quality ingredients like organic malts!
I can't forget about the Gnocchi (from Fabbrica) made by Executive Chef Shen! I really couldn't help but have two plates.
Some of the other foodies and myself were intense oyster-lovers, so it's only natural that we hung out there for most of the night and made friends with the shucker, Frank! The B.C. oysters were fresh and uber tasty, drizzled with McEwan's house made sauces - MMM!
I was happy to see some restaurant favourites like the Lobster Tacos from Bymark! Love the crunch from the shell!
The Curry Chicken Salad Tarts were a hit as well - so damn good. As a side note, you can get these from McEwans!
By the cheese & deli section, Itaca Prosciutto di Parma was readily available to be devoured by me. Aged for a minimum of 9 months, these were just fabulous.
The Canepe that was probably snapped by other foodies the fastest was probably the Mini Grilled Cheese. Something so simple but done perfectly can never be a fail.
There was also a table with Mark's favourite PEI Grass Fed Beef - I didn't mean to be a hog but I had to have two pieces of this! Those PEI farmers raise their cattle using a traditional approach to produce healthy & stress free animals.
Watching Chef Mark McEwan speak in person was just like him speaking on TV, so I was a bit starstruck but was surprised as how friendly and approachable he was. We did learn during the interview session that the on famous person he would like to cook for is Michelle Pfeiffer - I wouldn't pass that up if I were her!
After the interview questions, we moved on to the delicious desserts, not just any dessert but Von Doughnuts! I never had these before but when I took a bite of the Creme Brûlée, I was instantly in love. The bite sized doughnut with Creme Brûlée filling, topped with caramelized sugar was just the perfect finish to all the food I had. If you need a doughnut fix, head to Von Doughnuts, located on the Danforth near Pape Ave.
These delectable little French Macarons are carried in the McEwan Foods bakery section. Kata, the creator of Makaron only started her Macaron business at the end of 2013 and is already having her treats distributed at not only McEwan Foods but also at the Hazelton Hotel! Keep your eyes out for this one, especially at next year's Macaron Week!
I really did enjoy my time seeing familiar faces, meeting new foodies that love to eat as much as myself, indulging in some amazing food and chatting with (& taking a selfie with) Chef Mark! This was a well organized and executed event that helped me discover an awesome grocery store to visit in the future. Thanks for the invite, Abbey!
Also, I'm so excited that McEwans will be opening a second location downtown Toronto! Not only that, but there will be a third location, but it hasn't been decided on where yet. Keeping my fingers crossed for them to come to the West End.