Tag Archives: barbeque

National BBQ Day Media Launch

11 Jun

For the last few months, I have been working with the wonderful not-for-profit company, Meal Exchange. They are passionate about getting youth involved in the local food movement, working to alleviate hunger across Canada, but always with a local focus. I happen to believe strongly in their cause and, back in December 2011, I looked to get involved with them. Lo and behold, I came across National BBQ Day: an annual, Canada-wide event that encourages people to visit their local farmer’s markets, purchase some great food (steak, burgers, chicken, veggies, fruit…), throw it on the grill and then send in their photos for the chance to win some great prizes! I’m a big proponent of visiting a market instead of a grocery store whenever possible and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love BBQ. Put these two together (with, again, a chance to win some great stuff) and you have a winning combination!

Meal Exchange has been very fortunate to partner with the incredible Chateau des Charmes, a stunning vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Proceeds from the sale of each bottle of Generation Seven wine go toward Meal Exchange.) This beautiful spot was the location of this year’s media launch on Sunday, June 3rd.

BBQ-themed food stations were set up for patrons to enjoy with a wide variety of goods to sample. Matt Kantor, chef behind the Secret  Pickle Supper Club, presented three options: grilled Moroccan shrimp with chermoula & cilantro; lamb kofta with yogurt; and grilled dates stuffed with chorizo and served with a roasted pequillo sauce. I opted for the first and last and was not disappointed. The bacon-wrapped dates were especially good and, after watching him demonstrate how to make them, I will most certainly be trying these at home.

Moroccan shrimp

Bacon-wrapped dates

The Tide and Wine Oyster Company offered up a bevy over seafood treats, much to the delight of the people at the vineyard! Over on the other side, the Napoleon Grill chef Therese de Grace whipped up heaping portions of sticky, rich short ribs and and  tempeh tacos with tomatillos, vegan chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and shredded lettuce.  All of those plates were quickly – and happily – devoured.

Tim Tufts, the “master home griller,” created a stuffed pork tenderloin glazed with local whiskey and maple syrup, served with marinated and grilled asparagus. It was quite entertaining to watch Tim and his daughter cook and interact with the people there, demonstrating how to butterfly, tenderize and stuff the pork tenderloin. The stuffing contained mushrooms, bell peppers, breadcrumbs and red wine that had been cooked down and placed in the middle of the tenderloin.

Great food, great wine, great people all there for a great cause. Meal Exchange has been instrumental in helping so many across Canada and it was wonderful to see people out to support them. National BBQ Day is going to be a fantastic event –  if you haven’t yet, sign up to host or attend a BBQ of your own here!

Barque Binge

26 Oct

Not too long ago, I put up a post discussing the best BBQ in Toronto. It’s definitely a contentious debate, with each restaurant smoking and cooking things their own way, the “best” way. So far, the fried chicken at the Stockyards has been my favourite BBQ menu item and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a dinner at Barque Smokehouse. I’d heard nothing but raves from those who had been, some of whom had tried other places and some who had not.

A group of us opted to check out the ever-changing Sunday night family meal. The menu is different every week, offering up nine – that’s NINE – courses from appetizers through dessert. There are three seatings on Sunday: 5pm, 6:45 and 8:30. Just enough time for everyone to enjoy a sample of each dish from the large, family-style platters that arrive at your table. Our menu consisted of the following:

  • Celeriac Soup with Celery…

Normally not a huge fan of celeriac anything, this soup was warming and hearty with chunks of caramelized celery and I loved it. On a cold, winter day I would want an entire vat of it all to myself.

  • Lamb Antillidos…

So what is an “antillido?” Think Mexican wrap with shredded lamb. Everyone got a small portion of this appetizer that had a spicy kick to it. If this were featured on their regular menu, I would not hesitate to order it again.

Celeriac Soup & Lamb Antillidos

  • Tempura Vegetables with Soy Dipping Sauce…

Oh, lordy. There was a bit of a fight over these at our table. We had a couple of latecomers at our table who were very lucky to get any. The platter was filled with lightly battered taro root, eggplant and sweet potato chips. We could easily have polished off another plate of them, especially when accompanied by a fantastic soy-based dipping sauce.

Tempura Veggies

  • Smoked Chicken…

Not your average chicken. Everyone got a thigh and a leg rubbed with a curry powder concoction that was downright addictive. The chicken itself was a beautiful pink colour, taken on from the smoke. It was juicy, tender, smoky and truly finger-lickin’ good.

  • Honey Mustard Ribs…

The ribs did raise a few points of contention (as they are wont to do…). 90% of the table thought they were great and we even had one anti-rib convert! A couple of people at the table would have preferred a more fall-off-the-bone type rib, but there was no denying the flavour. Barque provides a container of their BBQ sauce that you can add as you wish with a brush. Most of us took advantage this great mixture of flavours and at least one diner had to restrain herself from chugging the BBQ sauce directly from the cup.

Ribbbbbbbbbs.

  • Sausage and Red Pepper Flatbreads…

Delicious little bites packed with flavour. Yet another hit at the table. Sausage and red pepper is a classic combination and they were great together on the crispy, but not overdone, flatbread. Luckily for us, there was enough for two pieces each…

Flatbread

  • Mixed Greens with Cucumbers and Cranberries…

Okay, so this wasn’t great. The greens were fresh, but more cranberries and definitely more dressing was needed. A salad is an excellent idea on a meat-heavy menu, but it seemed like a bit of an afterthought.

  • Crushed Potatoes…

Smashed chunks of potatoes accented with herbs, garlic and copious amounts of butter? Who wouldn’t like this dish? There was some debate as to whether or not tongs were the ideal serving tool but I dug it.

Smashed Potatoes

  • Cookies and Crumble…

There is a very good chance that of all the delectable things put in front of me on Sunday night, the apple crumble might have been the best. I like being surprised by a dish, especially a dish I know well. (My husband makes killer crumbles so I’m spoiled in this department.) I was fortunate enough to get one of my own and I must tell you that there wasn’t a morsel or drop of anything left when I was done. Don’t get me wrong: the chocolate chip and cappuccino cookies were really good, but that crumble was almost too good for words.

Dessert!

Salad aside, each bite of each item was excellent. The ambience and service in the restaurant were both excellent. Barque’s a cozy, cool place to have a great meal aided by prompt, friendly, fun service. I’m told that seats at the bar by the kitchen are great, as you can watch and chat with the chefs while they do their thing. If you go on a Sunday, don’t expect to linger: the line up for the next seating will begin early. But that’s okay: you won’t be able to eat any more anyway and Roncesvalles is a great neighbourhood to wander through afterwards!

 There is no question about whether or not I’ll be returning. It’s simply a matter of when.

Barque Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

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