Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Sandbar: Beachfront Dining on Anna Maria





Located on the north end of Anna Maria Island, the Sandbar Restaurant has been a popular favourite among locals and visitors for decades, known for its fresh Florida seafood and sensational views overlooking the white sand beaches by the Gulf of Mexico. The tradition of entertainment and relaxation at the Sandbar dates back to 1911, a time when Anna Maria was only accessible by boat. Many people came from Tampa, landing on the bay side and making the short hike to "The Pavilion," a favoured meeting place and the site on which the Sandbar Restaurant now sits. Now owned by the Chiles Restaurant Group, it is one of a family of three waterfront restaurants, each with a unique beachside feel: The BeachHouse, Sandbar and Mar Vista Dockside Pub, each having a casual laid-back atmosphere, serving fresh Florida seafood with breathtaking views of the water, and all at affordable prices. Great for lunch, Sunday brunch or arrive for dinner and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.



View from the Sandbar Restaurant overlooking the beach and Gulf of Mexico

A welcome cold Stella Artois beer on a hot sunny day

Caesar Salad with grilled salmon

Grouper Fish Taco topped with lime crema, cole slaw, baby cilantro and served with grilled zucchini

Sandbar Key Lime Pie












Sandbar Red Curry Scallops
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of The Sandbar

1 to 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
32 large sea scallops
Flour to dust scallops
4 tsp toasted coconut
1 oz micro Thai basil 

Red curry glaze:
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup cream of coconut 
3 oz curry paste
2 oz miso


In medium bowl combine each of the curry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Transfer to a saucepan and heat just prior to serving. Heat a large sauté pan and add oil. When oil is hot, lightly dust scallops in flour and carefully add to pan, cooking in batches if necessary. Sear both sides of the scallops until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Divide the scallops among warm serving plates and top with warmed red curry glaze to taste. Garnish each serving with toasted coconut and basil. 
















Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Shore Diner: Creative Florida Coastal Cuisine





Shore Diner is the creation of longtime Sarasota restaurateur Mark Caragiulo and partner Tom Leonard, whose previous triumphs include the wildly popular Owen’s Fish Camp and Nancy’s Bar-B-Q, both in the historic Burns Square district, plus the highly anticipated new Shore on Longboat Key on the spectacular waterfront location of Moore’s Stone Crab. Perched above the luxury surf-retail store located below the restaurant, also called Shore, the sleek, bright modern space makes a bold architectural statement, with lots of natural wood, stone and two 'living walls' — vertical gardens that frame the end walls of the open-air terrace. Opened in 2012, the menu focuses on Florida-inspired coastal cuisine using locally sourced farm produce plus baby lettuces, tomatoes, radishes and beets grown in the raised kitchen gardens on the roof of the restaurant. The interior of Shore is stunning, with outdoor seating overlooking St Armands Circle, and a large, high-ceilinged main dining room with handsome long bar and enclosed patio with a retractable roof for stargazing on fine Florida evenings. But it's not just the good looks that attract diners. Shore's inspired menu of creative coastal cuisine showcases sensational dishes such as Key West Shrimp and Scallop Risotto, Lump Blue Crab Cakes, Lobster Sliders, Fish Tacos and their sensational Lobster, Shrimp & Crab Cobb Salad with avocado, bacon, egg and chopped romaine lettuce with a yuzu-tarragon vinaigrette. Happy hour runs from 3:00-6:00pm and features six small plates and six cocktail specials for just $6 each, including Shore's popular 'Tequila Mockingbird', and bartender Mike Yoder with his 'Nice Guy Mike's Barrel Aged Cocktails' — it's a "shore" thing on St Armands!



Overlooking St Armands Circle, Shore is a bright modern space with lots of natural wood, stone and two 'living walls' — vertical gardens that frame the end walls of the open-air terrace

View from Shore overlooking St Armands Circle

Opened in 2012, the menu focuses on Florida-inspired coastal cuisine using locally sourced farm produce 

A lovely glass of Gavi di Gavi and Argentinian Malbec from Mendoza

Blue Lump Crab cake salad served with Butter Lettuce, Avocado Miso Ginger Aioli and Grilled Corn Vinaigrette

Lobster, Shrimp and Crab Cobb Salad with Avocado, Bacon, Egg, Tomato and Arugula with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette











Roast Corvina with Puree of Carrot, Ginger, Basil and Lemon Air 
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Mark Traugutt

4 6-ounce portions of corvina
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz diced carrot
1/2 cup diced leek
1 small piece grated ginger
1 stalk diced celery
1/4 cup diced shallot
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp agar agar or powdered gelatin
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 cup heavy cream
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small pots add the oil over medium heat and sauté the leek, ginger, shallot
and celery until opaque. Add 2 cups of chicken stock to leek mixture and bring to a simmer. Add the carrot to the mixture and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Take off the heat and transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until blended. Strain the mixture, then add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In another small pot bring 1 cup of chicken stock to a simmer with 1/4 cup of heavy cream, lemon zest and lemon juice. When mixture comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, add the basil, season with salt and pepper and let rest for 20 minutes.

Pat the skin side portion of your fish with paper towels until dry. In a sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until you see light wisps of smoke. Coat the skin of the corvina with
the flour and set the fish in the pan skin side down for 2-4 minutes, until it's crispy. Turn the fish over and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the fish is in the oven, take the basil cream mixture and add the agar agar or gelatin. Use a hand blender or whisk to blend the mixture until it creates bubbles or foam. Place some of the carrot puree on a plate and top with corvina. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out foam from the basil cream and place on top of the fish.





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Walt's Fish Market & Tiki Bar: A Taste of Old Florida





A Sarasota institution, Walt's has been run by the same family for almost a century and using the same local fishermen for almost as long. Walt’s boasts Sarasota’s best-known fish market, frequented by visitors and local chefs alike. There’s something for everyone at Walt’s, from the unique mobile raw bar fashioned from an old fishing boat to the Native American thatched-roof Chickee Bar. Brett Wallin, stays true to his family’s philosophy and legacy. Part owner of Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant, Wallin represents the fourth generation of a family steeped rich in Sarasota seafood history, begun by his great-grandfather Claus, who arrived in Sarasota in 1918 as a roustabout with the Ringling Circus. Claus Wallin quickly developed a love of fishing, a passion inherited by Brett’s grandfather Walt, who passed it down to Brett’s father Tom. The passion lives on in Brett. Local knowledge, a strong presence on the water, and good relations with fellow local fishermen allow Wallin to keep close tabs not only on what is in season, but on what is abundant and available. 

He spends a minimum of four days on the water during the season, and when time permits, is on the water at every opportunity. “You get to bring a variety of species to your own market,” he says proudly. Just this week, he caught flounder, pompano, sand perch, mullet, blue crab, and stone crab. Each guest is greeted at Walt's with a complimentary cup of delicious smoked mullet dip with saltines to get them started, as they look over the fabulous menu with appetizers such as conch fritters, wild gator bites, oysters, clams, mussels, and ceviche, and an extensive selection sandwiches, soups, salads, and house specialities. There's even an option for local fishermen to catch and bring in their own fish, and have Walt's cook it any way thy like — grilled, blackened, broiled or fried. Fun, friendly and easy-going, Walt's serves great fish and seafood everyday that's so fresh "The Fish We Sell Today Slept in the Gulf Last Night!"



Walt's wall of mounted locally caught fish

Walt's menu of local fish and seafood "right from the boats"

Cold Stella and an iced glass

Lovely Smoked Mullet Spread

Bahamian-style Conch Fritters with chipotle mayonnaise

Grilled Grouper Sandwich 

Walt's Fish & Chips with Florida caught flounder, french fries and cole slaw









Pompano with Costa Rican Coconut Lime Sauce
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant

4 8-oz fillets fresh Pompano 
Sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tsp minced lemongrass or lemongrass paste
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted for garnish


Season fish with sea salt and pepper to taste, then set aside. Add the olive oil to a sauté pan and heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant but not brown. Stir in the coconut milk, bring to boil, and then reduce to a simmer, allowing it to cook for 2 to 4 minutes.

In separate bowl combine heavy cream, lime juice, salt, and sugar. Whisk this into the coconut milk mixture along with the lemongrass. Reduce on low heat for about 5 minutes, while preparing the fish.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat, then add the fish, browning it for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Drain the oil from the pan and pour coconut lime sauce over top of fish and bring to a good serving temperature while plating the sides.

Just before serving, place the generously sauced fish on plate. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes, if desired. Enjoy. Best accompanied with sautéed market fresh vegetables and seasoned brown and jasmine rice.


















Monday, November 20, 2017

Mar Vista: Waterside Dining on Longboat Key





Originally built in 1912, and spared when a hurricane in 1921 wiped out large parts of the island, this old Florida style restaurant is considered one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key. Thankfully, it was spared again this past September when Hurricane Irma veered inland and saved these beautiful barrier islands. One of our favourite places to enjoy fresh Florida seafood on the key, no trip to would be complete without a pilgrimage to this absolutely charming dockside gem and sitting under the canopy of majestic Buttonwood trees enjoying a steaming basket of stone crab claws and a cold beer. A taste of old Florida for our first evening on Longboat Key, there's nothing else that even compares.



Waterside table overlooking Sarasota Bay at dusk 

The Mar Vista menu of local fish and seafood 

Glass of Pinot Grigio under the Buttonwood Trees

Warm fresh baked coconut rolls with whipped butter

Fried calamari with parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce

1/2-pound steamed Florida stone crab claws

Good to the last bite

Mar Vista Burger topped with a fried egg and basket of fries

Grilled Grouper with vegetables and rice




































Friday, November 17, 2017

A Culinary & Cultural Journey to South Florida






A Culinary & Cultural Journey to South Florida
November 17 - December 29, 2017




Scrumpdillyicious will be touring South Florida from mid November through Christmas, on a culinary and cultural journey from Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island Sarasota and Naples, up to St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs, then over to Miami, capturing all of the seasonal festivities in this little corner of paradise, renowned for it's sugar-sand beaches, fabulous cuisine, stunning Spanish style architecture and thriving arts scene. 

Join me online each day for this Culinary & Cultural Journey that will take us from beautiful Longboat Key and St Armand's Circle to John and Mable Ringling's Circus Museum and Sarasota waterfront palazzo, Ca' d'Zan. We then journey up to St Petersburg, home to the renowned Dali Museum and over to Tarpon Springs, the sponge capital of the world, is also known for its Greek fare and serene beaches. Then south to Venice and Naples, then over to Miami's thriving culinary and art scene, as we explore the diverse culinary influences and regional ingredients of South Florida cuisine. So grab your appetite as we head south for six weeks of culinary and cultural snooping!








Thursday, November 16, 2017

Apple Crumble Tart with Salted Caramel Drizzle





A divinely decadent Apple Pecan Crumble Tart drizzled with salted caramel, takes this Autumn classic to new heights of sophistication. Baked in a fluted tart pan with removable bottom, the grooved sides lend flair to this fabulous dessert without added effort.



Apple Crumble Tart with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Serves 8

Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/8-inch pieces
3 tbsp ice water

Apple Filling:
6 apples such as Delicious, Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

Crumble Topping:
2/3 Quaker Quick oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup pecans, slightly crushed
1 tbsp cinnamon
4 tbsp melted butter

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp sea salt


Heat sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, but stop stirring when the sugar comes to a boil. Swirl the pan a bit as it boils. When the liquid sugar becomes dark amber in colour, add all of the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream and continue to whisk well to incorporate. Add the sea salt and whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature; set aside.

Peel, core and slice the apples into eighths and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and mix well to combine, then set aside.

For the pastry, put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove the dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Roll the dough to about 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle and lay it loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold the overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate for an hour before pre-baking. Poke a few holes in the surface of the crust with a fork and bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes. Time may vary depending on the oven, so watch it closely — it should be half-baked with a slight colour difference.

Fill the crust with the apples. Take a few tablespoons of the liquid that has formed at the bottom of the bowl of apples and mix it with the corn starch, then pour the liquid over the apples and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Mix together the crumble topping in a large bowl then pour the melted butter over top and mix until it forms a crumbly consistency. Spread the crumble topping over the apples.

Cover with foil and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, testing the apples with a fork after 30 minutes for doneness and remove the foil. Allow the pie to cool slightly and then drizzle with bourbon salted caramel as desired. Serve with lots of pillowy soft whipped cream.






Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Leek Mash





Tender, succulent and meltingly tender, Braised Short Ribs must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. The magic of braising is that it relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down the tough connective tissue and collagens in meat, transforming the dense, well-marbled texture of short ribs until it's fall-off-the-bone tender and creating a rich, velvety and deeply flavoured sauce along the way. From the perfect pot roast to the fragrant complexity of a classic coq au vin, there's really no food more satisfying than a well-braised dish. In this recipe, slowly braising the short ribs in a combination of red wine, beef broth, flour, a bouquet of aromatic herbs and chopped vegetables gives the meat a deep, dark colour and sumptuous flavour, that makes this dish one of the most memorable braises I've ever prepared. Served over a mound of Leek Mashed Potatoes with a puddle of satiny sauce and a bottle of full bodied red wine, this recipe is an absolute winner.



Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4

5 lb bone-in flanken-style beef short ribs, cut into 2" pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups beef stock


Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. When done, transfer the browned short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the drippings from the pot.

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, then add the short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. 

Add all of the herbs and the garlic to the pot. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until the short ribs are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off the oven and let the short ribs rest at least 15-30 minutes in their juices — I left them for 90 minutes — and then transfer the ribs to a foil lined baking sheet to brown in a preheated 275°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a large bowl, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Return the liquid to the pot and using a handful of paper towel, skim the fat from the sauce as much as possible. Set the pot over medium-high heat and allow the liquid to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Serve the short ribs over the leak mashed potatoes and garnish with chopped fresh herbs.




Mashed Potatoes with Leeks
Serves 4

6 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large leek, washed and trimmed
10 tbsp butter
salt and white pepper
3/4 cup cream


Slice the leek in half lengthwise and rinse in cold water, then slice in half again. Using a chef's knife, finely chop the leeks then sauté with 2 tablespoons of butter on medium high heat until they become soft, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing them to rest in the residual heat until needed.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, then toss into a colander to drain.

In the same pot, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the sautéed leeks and stir to combine. Pour in the cream and blend to your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and cover until ready to serve.














Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dorie Greenspan's Fabulous French Apple Cake





This gorgeous recipe by award-winning cookbook writer Dorie Greenspan, is a deceptively simple and delicious Apple Cake from her cookbook, "Around My French Table". Full of entertaining stories, memories, and insider tips on French culinary customs, Greenspan shares dishes she gathered over years of living in France. Inspired by a recipe by her friend Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhotse, Greenspan watched her in her kitchen, in the hopes of nabbing a recipe by observation, but found it impossible. "Like so many really good cooks, Marie-Hélène starts off with a set of ingredients, but, once she starts mixing, stirring, boiling, baking, or sautéing, she makes so many mid-cooking adjustments that you just have to throw up your hands and content yourself with being the lucky recipient". 

"And so it was with this apple cake, which is more apple than cake, rather plain but very appealing in its simplicity: the chunks of apple make a bumpy, golden top, and so satisfying that we all went back for seconds. Despite knowing that it was futile, I asked for the recipe, and, of course, Marie-Hélène didn't really know" — "It's got two eggs, sugar, flour, and melted butter - oh, and rum," she said. "I mix the eggs and sugar together and then I add some flour, some butter, some flour, and some butter." When asked how much flour and butter, Greenspan got a genuinely apologetic shrug, and when asked what kind of apples she used, the answer was, divers, or different kinds. Thank goodness Greenspan was so tenacious, for she succeeded in transcribing Marie-Hélène's sensational recipe for us all to share for evermore.



Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan's celebrated cookbook 'Around my French Table'



French Apple Cake
Serves 8
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups mixed apples, such as Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Gala
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Crème Chantilly:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust the oven rack to the centre of the oven. Using some of the melted butter, brush the inside of a 6 or 8-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl and set aside. Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer until they are foamy. Add the sugar, rum, vanilla, cardamom, and lemon zest and whisk to blend. Add in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and smooth out the top with the spatula.

Place the cake on a baking sheet and bake for 60-70 minutes for an 8-inch cake or about 2 hours for a 6-inch cake, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake onto a serving dish. Using a whisk or mixer, whip each of the crème chantilly ingredients together until firm peaks are formed. Spoon the cream into a bowl and serve with the cake.







Monday, November 13, 2017

Cauliflower Cheese with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce





Luscious, creamy, cheesy and delicious, there's nothing like a whole cauliflower, smothered and baked in a béchamel sauce, enriched with aged cheddar cheese and a spoonful of english mustard. It's classic comfort food, and as midweek suppers go, Cauliflower Cheese is a thrifty and nutritious triumph. An excellent cheese sauce is unquestionably the most important element of any cauliflower cheese, but when combined with a reliable creamy béchamel, this dish goes from satisfying to sensational, and a dish that can be served as a side dish with a Sunday roast, or a sinfully decadent treat all on its own with a big spoon to scoop up every last bit of lovely cheesy sauce.




Cauliflower Gratin with Cheddar Béchamel Sauce
Serves 2-4

1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup partly skimmed or whole milk, as required
1 tsp English mustard
2 cups grated mature cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Break the cauliflower into large florets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water for 10-15 minutes until fork tender, then remove from the heated set aside. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan then stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk as required, a little at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon between each addition. Return the pan to a medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer the roux for two minutes until thick, then remove the from the heat. Stir in the mustard and grated cheese until melted and set aside. Arrange the cauliflower florets heads-up in and ovenproof baking dish. Carefully pour over the béchamel cheese sauce ensuring the cauliflower is completely covered. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.









Friday, November 10, 2017

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair: 95th Anniversary





The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. The annual event, which takes place over two weeks each November on the grounds of the CNE, was inaugurated in 1922, when a group of farmers led by W. A. Dryden, sought to create a national agricultural exhibition to set national standards for the judging of domestic animals. These days, over 6,000 animals arrive in Toronto every November, including over 4,900 head of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, and fancy birds, and over 900 horses and ponies, plus a display of wheat crops and vegetables, educational exhibits and feature attractions, such as the Burnbrae Food & Lifestyle Stage, which hosts local and international chef challenges, food sampling, and a wide variety of entertaining and decorating demonstrations during the day; the President's Choice Superdogs and Royal Horse Show, a gala event that has been a cornerstone of the fair since its inception 95 years ago. "Since its humble beginnings 95 years ago, The Royal has grown into a beloved Toronto tradition and an arena of excellence for culinary arts, agriculture and equine sport," said Charlie Johnstone, Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. "From top chefs and food producers offering the best in the farm-to-table movement to decorated Olympian equestrians competing for a place on The Royal podium, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is a celebration and recognition of the best that Canada has to offer the world."




Horse and young rider waiting to enter the practice ring

Two Suffolk lambs posing for the camera — makes me want to become a vegetarian

This lamb gave birth a few days before and the young ones were nestled beside her in the stall

This years award-winning fleece

Shaving a cow before it's presented for competition in the ring

Breeds are represented from all over Canada - coast to coast

A beautiful Holstein having a bite of lunch before appearing in 'Cowsmopolitan'

Waiting to bring their cows into the ring for judging, this young boy reassures his Limousin friend

Exhibiting at the Fair means gruelling 14-hour days as farmers and their animals 
compete for titles, prizes and glory

Giant pumpkins at the Royal Agricultural Fair

38-pound rutabaga

Award-winning multi-fanged carrot

The Cheddar Grand Champion for 2017 — Balderson Extra Old

With a lot of fast food options, The Heritage Court Café is one of the nicer venues 
to enjoy a quiet lunch


A small but good looking menu of soups, salads and sandwiches

Muskoka Brewery Craft Lager made in Bracebridge

The Royal Reuben with smoked meat, melted swiss and champagne sauerkraut 
on marbled rye bread

One of the food events we visited was 'Rediscovering Acadian Food' with Simon Thibault, who researched old family recipes, cookbooks and folk wisdom for his cookbook on best-loved Acadian recipes

Thibault's cookbook celebrating Acadian cuisine










Classic French Canadian Tourtière 
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Simon Thibault

1 tbsp butter
1 lb diced pork shoulder
1/4 lb ground or diced veal
3 tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch summer savoury
Pinch thyme
1/2 cup warm water

Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
4 tbsp ice-cold water
1 egg, beaten


In a frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pork, veal and onion and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, savoury and thyme, then stir in 1/2 cup of warm water. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Allow the mixture to cool completely – preferably overnight – in the fridge before preparing the dough. Tourtière bakes best when a cold filling is added to the pastry shell. It is your best protection against the dreaded soggy crust. 

Measure the flour into a large bowl, then sift in the salt. Cut room temperature shortening into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture is uniform and resembles large peas. Blend in cold water and mix with a fork until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in 2 pieces and shape each into a ball. Flatten each into a circle about 4-inches, then wrap and chill for 15 minutes for easier rolling. Roll half the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch pie plate and spoon in the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and place over filling. Seal the pastry edges, trim and the flute edges and cut steam vents in upper crust then brush the top with a beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F for 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Allow the tourtière to cool slightly, about 30 minutes, before serving with tomato chutney and nice green salad.