St. Lawrence Market Summer Series launches August 4th, 2016

If you live in Toronto, you know how awesome St. Lawrence Market is. Even National Geographic listed it as the top food market in the world! We should be proud!

On Thurs. August 4th, 2016, mark your calendar for season one of The St. Lawrence Market Summer Series – presented in partnership with The Food Dudes.

The St. Lawrence Market patios will be transformed into a downtown oasis of food, drink, music, performance and celebration, joining the Market’s storied purveyors with Toronto’s finest chefs, musicians and artists in a true feast for the senses.

The St. Lawrence Market Summer Series – Season One. Never Miss the First Time!


Thursday, August 4, 2016
St. Lawrence Market, South Market Patio
95 Front Street East
6pm – 10pm

$30 general admission (plus taxes & fees)
General admission tickets include two food tickets.

Drink tickets and additional food tickets can be purchased onsite at the event.


Summer Series Summer Staycation DIGITAL TSA St Lawrence Market final

Don’t miss the party and get your tickets today!

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[Review] Petit Potato in North York has amazing desserts

Address: 10 Ravel Road, Unit 1-2, North York, ON
When I went: June 2016, Media dinner

My family frequents the Congee Queen restaurants and was excited to know the Congee Queen management has a new venture called Petit Potato.

With the restaurant name, it is not obvious on the type of cuisine it serves. Does it specialize in burgers and french fries, is it a brunch joint with crispy hashbrowns?  In fact, potatoes is not what they specialize in at all.

It is a Japanese Taiwanese restaurant with a cute name. The menu is extensive including snacks, soups, ramen, sizzling rice dishes and bibimbap. At the media dinner, I had a chance to try a variety of dishes on the menu. I enjoyed the dishes overall and felt they were comparable to other restaurants serving similar dishes.

Petite Potato

What did stand out at Petit Potato was the dessert menu, in particular the Special French Honey Golden Toast series! Type in #petitpotato on Instagram, and I am sure you will see hundreds of drool worthy photos of their desserts.

The Toast dessert is about 10 inches high and has 3 layers of crispy toast that is hollowed out with cubes of the crispy toast inside, topped with ice cream. Depending on the flavour, the toppings can include oreo, strawberry, mango, blueberry, kiwi or red bean. As the toasts are not soaked in condensed milk, it stays crispy and is a good balance to the sweet toppings. Ranging from $12.99 to $14.99, this shareable plate is an amazing price and tastes as good as it looks!

Mango Special French Honey Golden Toast from Petit Potato

Mango Special French Honey Golden Toast from Petit Potato

Oreo Special French Honey Golden Toast

Oreo Special French Honey Golden Toast

The dessert does take 30 minutes to make and several servers to create. Petit Potato has a large dessert menu which includes traditional condense milk toast, grass jelly, pudding, sago, sweet almond soup, Taiwanese snowflake (shaved ice), and tons of other options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The aftermath

The aftermath

Fruit sago

Fruit sago


With an extensive menu, there is something for everyone but their extensive dessert menu is a definite stand out. I highly recommend trying the golden toast dessert, otherwise you will be staring at someone else’s table, because it really is a showstopper!

* Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions in the post are my own.

Petit Potato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Event] Redoro Olive Oil from Italy is coming to Canada Fall 2016

Website: Flavor Your Life (Twitter), Redoro 
Address: Event held at BUCA Osteria & Enoteca, 604 King St W, Toronto, ON
When I attended: Tues. July 5th, 2016
I was pumped to be invited for an extra virgin olive oil tasting master class, where Liz and expert Angelo Tramonti from Flavor Your Life was present to give us all the details about Redoro olive oil from Italy. The campaign was part of the ‘Flavor-Your-Life’ program, a campaign supported by the European Union and Italy.
Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Picture Credit: Flavor Your Life

Picture Credit: Flavor Your Life

The master class was held  inside an intimate private room at Buca Osteria & Enoteca, with many top Toronto bloggers and media inflluencers present. We had a chance to try various types of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) from Redoro, learn about its top quality, and where we can purchase it.


Photo Credit: Flavor Your LIfe

Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

We were served incredible Italian dishes from Buca including the Burrata pizza, garlic bread bites, sea bream with cedro lemon, and olive oil gelato, while sipping on Italian Jeio prosecco.
Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Burrata Pizza from Buca

Burrata Pizza from Buca. Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Sea Bream from Buca. Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Sea Bream from Buca. Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Olive oil gelato

Olive oil gelato

Here are some cool facts I learned at the event to share with you…..
About Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is made by pressing without heat or chemicals (known as the 1st cold press) where the pressed juice is at its freshest.
  • It is best to store olive oil away from heat and light which causes decay. Keep the olive oil in a cool pantry and make sure the cap is screwed on tightly after each use.
  • It is best to consume the oil within 6 months to ensure freshness.
  • The greatest impact on the taste is the type of olive tree, region and time of harvest. Olives harvested early in the season (late August), are under-ripe so the oils are greener, more bitter and pungent. On the other hand, late harvested olives (November/December) are over-ripe and tend to taste mild and buttery.
  • EVOO is different based on the region. For example:
    • Spanish olive oil is typically golden yellow with a fruity, nutty flavour.
    • French olive oil is typically pale in colour and has a mild flavour.
    • Greek olive oil has a strong flavour and tends to be green.
    • Italian olive oil is often dark green and has an herbal  aroma and a grassy flavour.

(Source: Flavor-Your-Life)

Drinks at Buca

Drinks at Buca

About Redoro Olive Oil:
  • Constituted in 1895 by founders: RE_gina and isi_DORO from which the name REDORO is derived
  • Over 5 generations and is a family run business.
  • Redoro 100% Italian extra-virgin olive oil harvests 100% of their olives in Italy.
  • The olives are cultivated from Verona, Italy.
  • Redoro uses only the first cold pressed batch of olive oil which lends to the quality. Some companies use the second or third batch creating lower quality olive oil.
  • They have several EVOO products including an organic one and D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin.) olive oil. The DOP was my favourite during the tasting.
  • The olives are harvested later in the season lending to its buttery taste.

More information on

Best of all, the Redoro olive oil is coming to Canada this fall….and I am so excited they have partnered up with Costco’s Canada, with hopes to expand further to other grocery stores. I will definitely buy Redoro knowing the olive oil quality is top notch while the tastes is light yet aromatic.

It was truly a special event and I was honoured to be invited!
Cheers! Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

Cheers! Photo Credit: Flavor Your Life

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* Disclosure: The food and drinks were complimentary but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.
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[Recipe] Pressure Cooker creamy risotto with spot prawns

If you have ever made risotto, you know that it requires patience…yes, ladling stock, stirring and waiting for the rice to absorb, and then repeating the process again. Making risotto in the pressure cooker makes for an ultra creamy risotto and there’s no stirring until the very end when you add in the Parmesan cheese.

This recipe is based on my electric Instant Pot pressure cooker, but it can be adapted to other pressure cookers. The risotto only took 7 minutes under high pressure. Crazy isn’t it?

The recipe asks for fish stock which is homemade (fish stock recipe here) but feel free to substitute with other stock that you have including chicken or vegetable. The extra stock is used to cook the prawns to speed up the cooking time with the broth absorbed in the shrimp for extra sweetness.

If you are making this on the stove top, have at least 6 cups of stock handy.

I bought fresh spot prawns at the fish market, but black tiger shrimps makes a great substitute and easier to find at the supermarkets.

[Recipe] Pressure Cooker Creamy Parmesan risotto with spot prawns
Cuisine: Seafood
  • ¼ cup of shallots- minced
  • 3 garlic cloves-minced, plus 2 garlic cloves-sliced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 cups of arborio rice
  • 4 cups fish stock for the risotto
  • 2 cups of fish stock to cook the shrimp
  • ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese and more for serving
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil and butter for cooking
  • 6 Spot prawns- cut the pointy parts of the head
  • Handful of dill
  • Handful of green onions
  1. In a pan, cook the sliced garlic (not the minced garlic) and leave aside.
  2. Cut the vegetables. Clean and cut the pointy head off the spot prawn and keep in the fridge until time to cook it.
  3. In the pressure cooker (Use the saute option on the Instant Pot), melt about 2 tsp of butter and oil, and cook the onions until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the rice and lightly toast. Add in the wine and cook until almost evaporated, and then add the fish broth. Scrape the bottom.
  5. Close the lid on the Instant Pot, make sure the knob is on "sealing", click on manual, and select "high pressure" for 7 minutes.
  6. Once the 7 minutes is up on the timer, click cancel right away and switch the knob to "vent" (quick release).
  7. Open the lid, stir and add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. If you want to reduce the liquid further, than simmer it for a bit longer.
  8. In a separate pot with fish stock and a pinch of dill, cook the spot prawns until they are just done.
  9. Before serving, stir the dill in the risotto, add more Parmesan cheese if you want, and top with the sliced garlic, green onions and the spot prawns.


Beautiful, healthy and delicious!

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[Recipe] Pressure Cooker fish stock

With a pressure cooker, the flavour of the stock is amplified and is super easy to use. For those who say they don’t have time to make homemade stock, get yourself a pressure cooker. In less than an hour, not hours, you can get amazing stock.

I used the Instant Pot pressure cooker for this recipe, but it can be made on the stove top in a regular pot with a longer simmering time. I find with fish stock, it doesn’t need much time to extract the flavour compared to making chicken or pork bone broth. The lemongrass gives it a subtle citrusy flavour.

I have used salmon for the fish stock, but feel free to substitute based on what is available at the fish market. Add in fish bones if they are available. When I filet a whole fish, I like to keep extra bones in the freezer for stock.


[Recipe] Pressure Cooker fish stock
Recipe type: Stock
  • 2 large salmon heads cut into quarters
  • 2 lemongrass stalks- rough chop (optional)
  • 1 cup of carrots - rough chop
  • 1 cup of celery-rough chop
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Handful of fresh thyme including stems
  • Oil for frying the fish
  1. Wash the fish heads in cold water and make sure there is no blood. Pat it dry.
  2. In a pan, add oil and lightly sear the fish heads. This will minimize the fish meat from falling apart.
  3. Cut the vegetables and add to the pressure cooker.
  4. Next add in the fish and the thyme.
  5. Add water until it reaches the 3 qt in the pressure cooker (or should just cover the fish)
  6. In the Instant Pot, make sure the knob is on "seal". Next, press "soup", leave the pressure on "high" and manually press the time to "45 minutes".
  7. When the cooking time is done, turn the pressure cooker off immediately and let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes before turning the knob to "vent", and removing the lid.
  8. Strain the vegetables and the fish.


Fish stock

Fish stock

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[Event] Inaugural Cooper Dinner at Pearl Diver

Address: 100 Adelaide St. East, Toronto, ON, M5C 1K6
When I attended: Wednesday, June 8 2016

It’s not often that one gets to answer the question “I wonder what would happen if restaurant X and restaurant Y had a baby??” Well, the inaugural Cooper Dinner at Pearl Diver recently gave us at Mary’s Happy Belly the opportunity to test this out…and, boy, was the baby delicious!

The Cooper Room featuring some of the late, Dean Brian Cooper’s culinary tools and books

As a current chef-student at George Brown College, I can safely say that the level of appreciation and homage for the institution that I have experienced first-hand from some of the school’s esteemed graduates has been humbling. The Cooper Dinner series, and the Spirit of Hospitality Scholarship it supports, are the products of the gratitude felt by GBC grads and renowned chefs and business partners, Rudy Guo and Tom Milosz Malycha – the masterminds behind Pearl Diver. Along with their third business partner, Martin Zechel, they set out to pay forward some of the invaluable lessons imparted to them by the late Dean of the GBC Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts, Brian Cooper, and his wife Midge, whose mentoring and kindness elevated the standard for what ‘hospitality’ could be.

“When I first came to George Brown College, Brian Cooper showed me the true meaning of being a great host. It’s informed everything I’ve done since I left school and I’d like to honour his memory,” Chef Rudy Guo on the Coopers’ influence on him.

The June 8 event was the first of a series of dinners meant to pair a young chef with a seasoned veteran for a one-night dinner where half the proceeds go towards funding the Spirit of Hospitality Scholarships for high school graduates entering one of GBC’s Culinary Arts or Hospitality programs.

Pearl Diver 1

Chefs Rudy Guo (left) and Michael Blackie (right) at the inauguration of the Cooper Room at Pearl Diver

The series certainly started out with a bang, pairing with Ottawa’s Chef Michael Blackie to execute an ambitious menu featuring favourites from his Bytown food and beverage concept, NeXT, combined with Pearl Diver’s own dinner menu. Assisting Chef Blackie in the kitchen were GBC Culinary School graduates employed by Pearl Diver with Chef Guo hosting the event in the new, permanent Cooper Room at the restaurant. For an event honouring a life of service and hospitality, Chefs Guo and Blackie were immaculate hosts who accomplished a truly exceptional culinary display on our dinner table. Sharing the long, harvest table in the Cooper Room were a selection of media and industry professionals covering the launch and listening raptly to our chef-hosts explain their motivations for honouring Dean Cooper, and how his teachings shaped their drive to travel the world and set up a culinary network which allowed them to give back to coming generations of chefs and cooks in the form of financial support and professional development. More information about the scholarships can be found at the GBC External Awards page.

Pearl Diver 3

Caesars, garnished with a freshly-shucked oyster

My guest and I started our evening with a pair of Pearl Diver Caesars sipped between nibbles of freshly-shucked oysters, calamari and fish & chips before we moved over to the Cooper Room. The night progressed with long platters arriving in succession featuring samplings of the star attractions from the special menu being served on the restaurant floor, outside the private walls of the Cooper Room: Duck Confit & Truffled-Brie Grilled Cheese, Rare Tuna Sashimi Pizza, Tempura Fried Cheese Curds & Sriracha Maple Lick, Roasted Mushrooms on Première Moisson Toast, Crisp Shallot & Cashew Crusted Pork Ribs & 36-hour Sous Vide Pork Belly. Needless to say, an explosion of flavor and textures took over and spoke to the level of gastronomy being celebrated here.

Tempura Cheese Curds

Duck Confit Grilled Cheese

Mushrooms on Toast

Seared Tuna Pizza

The evening was capped off with the arrival of a luxurious dessert platter that spanned the length of the entire long-table and immediately invoked a primordial response in everyone present. The crowning glory astutely displayed the craftsmanship of Pearl Diver’s Pastry Chef,  Sooji Jang, who is herself a GBC grad. One look at the assembled platter of Hibiscus, Poached Peach and Hazelnut Cake, Dark Chocolate Delice and Sticky Toffee Pudding was enough to elicit a round of applause from everyone fortunate to be sitting at that table.

Pearl Diver 12

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Chocolate Delice

Hibiscus, Poached Pear and Hazelnut Cake

The 1st Cooper Dinner has set the bar very high for the rest of the series! Watch this space for information on the next evening in the series to lend your support to the Spirit of Hospitality Scholarship and experience the next imaginative pairing by the team at Pearl Diver.


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