Tag Archives: bbq

Heart-Healthy Condiments BBQ & Giveaway!

20 Jun

I had the chance to spend a sunny afternoon on a downtown rooftop with some fellow foodies trying out David Marcus’ line of heart-healthy, low sodium, preservative-free rubs and sauces. (Check out his site!) Our host had an array of products perfect for BBQ season, from spicy marinades to savoury rubs.  David created his product line as a result of two health emergencies: both his father and father-in-law required heart surgery within months of each other. Consequently, heart health became an important consideration in David’s life and he began to experiment in the kitchen. What he came up with was a healthy alternative to often salt-heavy sauces and rubs. And, for a couple of lucky readers, I have two giveaway packages of three products and BBQ utensils! Read on, mes amis…


Our first dish of the day was guacamole using the spicy rub, proving that David’s line doesn’t have to be utilized only on meat. The guacamole had a nice little kick to it!

Next up: prosciutto-wrapped asparagus using the special steak rub, kind of reminiscent of Montreal steak seasoning. It has a nice, lemony hit and paired well with the earthy asparagus and  salty prosciutto.

The asparagus before it hit the grill, covered in steak rub.

The asparagus before it hit the grill, covered in steak rub.

Along the vegetarian line, David has created a Caesar salad dressing that is gluten- and dairy-free (no anchovies, no eggs, no milk). He also has an anchovy-free version for those looking for a vegan option. It does have lots of garlic, though, and features his own brand of first-pressed extra virgin olive oil (also available for sale).

Then it was all-meat-all-the-time…time. We were treated to French-cut lamb chops with David’s steak rub; baby back ribs with the steak rub and Fierce Marinade; New York steak with steak rub; chicken breast with the herbacious chicken rub; and spicy peri-peri-marinated shrimp. I really enjoyed the heat of the peri-peri sauce and thought the steak rub complimented the lamb and steak beautifully.

lamb bbq

Lamb chop!

steak bbq

New York steak

 David is definitely on to something with these healthier products. Most of us are looking to incorporate healthier food where we can and this could be a great way to cut back on some salt in your diet. You can find David’s Condiments at Longo’s, Pusateri’s, Sanagan’s, McEwan’s and other fabulous food establishments!

Here’s how you can enter to win 1 of 2 sets of David’s products and accompanying BBQ utensils:
1. Follow me on Twitter at @foodNURD. RT this post with the following message, “I want to win a #davidscondimentsbbq prize pack!”
2. Share this post on Facebook, tagging “@foodNURD”, and write “I want to win a David’s Condiment prize pack!”


Winners will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 26th!


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!

In Search of Smoky Perfection: BBQ in T.O.

6 Sep

Barbeque can be such a contentious matter.  Discussing your favourite spot for ribs or fried chicken among friends can lead to long debates about the merits of a dry rub over a wet, whether cornbread is ruined by the addition of jalapenos or which spot in the city smells the best upon entering. I am by no means a bbq snob: I like it all, so long as it’s cooked well. I do prefer sticky, messy wet ribs over the dry-rubbed product but I certainly don’t turn my nose up at them. I don’t believe that there is only one way to do barbeque and I’m on a mission to try it all at the best places Toronto has to offer.

The first bbq spot I tried out in our fair city was an old standby: Phil’s Original BBQ. This was my first taste of “real” barbeque and I was hooked. I recall the ribs, in particular, were excellent. It has been several years since I’ve been there – in fact, Restaurant Makeover hadn’t even come in yet. What say you, folks? Worth a repeat visit?

Next up was Memphis Smoke House. It’s a little further out of the core, at Yonge & Sheppard, but don’t let that stop you. In discussing this post with the husband the other day, we realized that this was the only joint that we found truly exciting. J had read an article in The Star about this place and how the owners had convinced the chef to relocate from Louisiana to Toronto to cook for them. We were blown away by the richness of the ribs, the delicious beans, the crumbly – but not dry – cornbread and the huge portions. It was clear that this was no ordinary bbq we were eating: this was being made by someone who’ done it for years and years and had just about perfected his craft.  Get a combo platter with Aunt Shirley’s BBQ sauce. We have been back several times and brought many others with us. The ribs, the pulled pork, the fries…everything gets a rave review.

Our next stop was the Cluck, Grunt & Low on Bayview. The less said about that the better. Suffice it to say that we were not surprised to see that it had closed within months of opening. The replacement, Highway 61, has fared much better. The food is pretty good, if not super-outstanding. It is, however, very comfortable and pretty good value for your buck.

Then popped up Stockyards.  I have recommended this place til I turned blue in the face. Their fried chicken is remarkably crispy on the outside, while juicy and tender (and molten-lava-hot) on the inside.  I’m not a huge fan of the carraway-laced coleslaw, though I do like the matchstick-thin cabbage. It’s really a personal taste thing. But let us not forget about the ribs! They are smoked to perfection and come with a tangy sauce that’s just ridiculously delicious. You can only get them three days a week, so go early. I can pretty much guarantee you will go often. It should be noted that there are – MAYBE – 20 seats and they are difficult to get. Either be prepared to wait for a spot or just get the take-out.

Finally on my bbq list? Hardys Hogtown Brasserie. My interest was piqued by a Toronto Life article a few months back that said the owner had built his own smoker out of giant drums. It was to open up just down the street from Stockyards, creating some healthy competition. Finally made it in last Friday, a few weeks after their soft opening. Two advantages Hardys has over Stockyards? It’s an actual restaurant and it’s licensed. The list craft beers on tap is a nice alternative to the standard Keith’s-n-Labatt at most places.

The coca-cola ribs were on special so my fellow diner and I ordered two 1/2 racks. My other companions ordered the regular ribs and the slider trio comprised of one pulled chicken, one pulled pork and one pulled brisket sandwich. We were then informed by our incredibly charming and gracious server that they were out of the regular ribs entirely and only had 2 1/4 racks left of the special. Ooooooookay. Shouldn’t the front of house know when a product runs out?

We changed our orders to the 2 1/4 racks of the special and a trio of sliders to split; J’s ribs were swapped out for a trio. Our onion ring apps arrived and they were dang good, if perhaps a little oily. Our mains arrived…sans the trio to split. Once again, our server had to explain that there was a mix up but that they would be happy to give us any other main on the house. She recommended the brisket sandwich, so we got that and the collard greens. All in all, once all the food had arrived, we had to admit that it was all excellent. The coca-cola ribs were sweet without being cloying; the brisket sandwich was piled high with tender, slathered brisket; the trio was perhaps a bit on the small side but delicious nonetheless. The sides of collard greens, potato salad and coleslaw were all completely devoured: always a good sign. Some work needs to be done on the communication between the kitchen and the front of house, but otherwise this was a great spot for friends to gather, have a couple drinks and nosh on some great barbeque. Is it better than Stockyards? Ask me again in a month when I go back for a comparison dinner.

Still to check out on my list? Barque, which has been getting insane rave reviews from all corners, and Lou Dawg’s. Where else do I need to go, my smokehouse-loving, rib-devouring friends?

Marinated & Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

19 Jul

The pork tenderloin in the freezer had been calling to me: “You’ve made me the same way too many times. Try something new, foodNURD!” Who am I to argue? A friend sent this recipe along and it seemed it was high time to try it out. I marinated the pork in the creamy, smooth, sweet sauce for about eight hours which is about the maximum you’d want as you don’t want the lime juice breaking down the proteins and making the pork mushy. Anywhere from 20 minutes up to several hours will work well! I served this with basmati rice and a tangy salad of red pepper, carrot and snap peas with a white wine vinaigrette.

Serves 2.


1 pork tenderloin
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tb fresh lime juice
3 tb dark brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 ts ground coriander
Vegetable oil for the grill
2 tb water


1. Combine and whisk til smooth the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic & coriander in a large, plastic Tupperware dish or baking dish.
2. Cut the tenderloin lengthwise almost all the way through.  You want the two sides to remain attached. The pork should open like a butterfly (hence the name “butterfly cut”) or a book. If necessary, wrap it in plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or a heavy pan, pound the pork down to 1/2″ thickness.
3. Place the pork in the marinade and refrigerate.
4. Clean the BBQ grill with some veg oil and then crank the temp up as high as it will go.
5. Drain off any excess marinade and place the pork on the grill. Cover and walk away. This should only need about 7 minutes to cook, turning once.
6. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a sauce pan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for3 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.
7. When the pork is done, take it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve, pouring the sauce over it.

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