Winterlicious 2015 – Scaddabush (plus a chance to win a prize)

I’ve always thought that Italy has a bit of an edge on food, elegant and classy flavours that are timeless, like a William Shakespeare play or a Chanel 2.55. Earlier this week I got a sneak preview of Scaddabush’s Winterlicious menu and the two items that piqued my interest most were the salads. I’m all for indulgence but when done well, the lighter side of things can be just as decadent.

Have you ever opened a restaurant menu, glanced at the salad section and wondered who orders them? Me, I am that person. I love eating them and not just because they are supposed to be healthy, but because they can be so yummy. At home my salads are packed with protein, crunch, delicious dressings, colour and texture, and never bland.

The trouble with most restaurants, unless you go to a very specific place that relies on their salads, this dish is usually the most disappointing pick even though they deserve the same love as every other item on the menu. Encouraging people to eat greens, means making them as dynamic and appealing as all the other things on offer and yet most restaurants just throw that opportunity away, serving up leaves and an unimaginative drizzle. Give me a restaurant that knows how to whip up some mean greens and you will find me going back again and again for more.

Scaddabush Caprese Salad

In this instance, Scaddabush may have to take out a restraining order on me. Their Winterlicious menu has two beautiful salads which I could not resist ordering. A caprese salad (freshly made in-house mozzarella, Campari tomatoes, baby arugula, herb oil and basil) and for mains, a Tuscan Salad with grilled shrimp (baby green kale, arugula, marinated raisins, toasted pumpkin seeds, semi sun-dried tomatoes, cipollini onions, Pecorino cheese and balsamic lemon vinaigrette). You just know a lot of thought has gone into them.

Both salads were so lovely, fresh and vibrant. Each has unique notes that really stand out. The caprese, sweet and sharp balsamic dressing married with soft creamy cheese, plump red tomatoes, peppery leaves and every now and again my tongue was kissed with basil.

Scaddabush Tuscan Salad (Winterlicious 2015)

The Tuscan looked like a beautiful green nest covered in white Pecorino moss and had a fierce and zingy dressing. I loved all the different components, especially the sundried tomatoes, raisins and cipollini onions. Every bite was something different because I kept trying out different combinations.

Scaddabush Winterlicious Jail Island Tomato & Caper Salmon

They also treated the hubby to some Jail Island salmon. Crispy on the outside, succulent and soft flaking pink within, lying there in its tomato caper glory on a bed of seasonal vegetables alongside parsley butter potatoes, it is wonderful for those seeking healthy but hearty satisfaction.

Having said that though, whatever you do, don’t leave without trying their chocolate gelato, it is tastes amazing and life is too short.

Scaddabush Winterlicious 2015 Chocolate Gelato

Check out Winterlicious 2015 at Scaddabush from January 30th – February 12th. Lunch $18 (plus gratuity & taxes) and Dinner $25 (plus gratuity & taxes.)

GIVE AWAY TIME: I’ve teamed up with Scaddabush to brighten up your January. I’m giving away two gift cards worth $25 dollars and it couldn’t be easier, just follow me on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win, I’ll be posting more details them later today. Good luck! (Toronto based only.) 

Home, sweet snowy home

Having finally experienced beyond minus 10 temperatures in Toronto last night on route to watch Gravity, it is safe to assume I am finally back! Affirmation for braving such a winter is the gusto that it’s good to be home with my better half (albeit with a hot water bottle).

For most, the general theme of January has been about getting back to their routine. There are lots of other words floating around, dry January, detox, diet…focused around a type of deprivation, easy to understand, when the party season wears off, one want to gets back to being healthy. It seems though that alongside the daily grind of work, gym and diet has been added to that slog.

We changed it up this year, opting for a harmonious theme. Instead of sending ourselves the depriving kind of messages, we said, this year we really would take care of ourselves (whatever that entails). That could be a pampering bath, a walk in the park, a session on the treadmill, a healthy meal or healthy dessert. It’s all about sending this message to the mind, body and soul: ‘I’m taking care of you.’ Which means, ‘I’m not starving you, I’m not burning you out in the gym, I’m not working you to the ground and I’m not depriving you.’ So working out and eating is not about getting bigger or slimmer, it’s about nourishing the body and heart, keeping the limbs active and getting a good hit of happy endorphins.

Food wise, it seems, alkalising the body, honestly, is the healthy way. I used to be terrified of green juice (my current favourite is a handful of leafy greens, half an apple, one pear, half a banana, one quarter of an English cucumber blended with a heaped tablespoon of wheatgrass powder and water), so would start the morning with lemon and hot water (which we all should do anyway!) and a cup of Heath and Heather herbal tea.

Having finally found a resolution for 2014, I’m adopting the 70/30 rule. It was this article that inspired me: “the best way to do [it] is by looking at your week as the overall 100%. This means that you have about 4 meals per week to play with and fill with your old favourites. As a result, you are not living a life of deprivation on a diet – you are following a healthy lifestyle that will make you feel so much better from the inside out.”

While the intention is to be virtuous, it’s hard not to be tempted by the city’s Winterlicious culinary festival! One for the Toronto foodies (me, myself and I), it’s an extensive list of restaurants participating in a varied fixed price menu for lunch and dinner. Below is my pick of the bunch, indulgent and wholesome and a beautiful recipe from my kitchen for last night’s dinner.

Bangkok Garden – Their Winterlicious dinner menu features Chicken Laksa which sounds reminiscent of Curry laksa, something I first discovered while living in London’s Bloomsbury at the Hare and Tortoise. It’s a friendly option with gluten free rice noodles, dairy free coconut milk, beneficial spices like chilli, lemongrass and galangal.

Pan on Danforth – It says their fresh fish, extra Virgin Greek olive oil and vegetables are the real winners, so I’ll definitely bite at some Grouper Fillet served on the lunch menu, at $15 dollars it’s well worth a slot on my week’s naughty meals.

7 Numbers Danforth – Featuring a starter and main on their dinner menu, a becoming surf and turf with pan-fried New Zealand calamari and a New York steak that has been aged 6 weeks, melt in your mouth or what?

pizza e pazzi – If only for the most delicious sounding Italian dessert ever, gelato can move over and give way to Tiramisu` alle fragole, which in English is strawberry puree and zabaione cream between layers of savoiardi biscuits topped with fresh strawberries.

Quinta Restaurant – Gourmet green options that are more adventurous than your average restaurant. A vegetarian potato and parsnip soup for starters featuring smoked paprika oil and crispy kale and a vegan roasted main with squash, quinoa and romesco sauce are tempting my tastebuds.

Organic trout, roasted beetroot salad and brown rice
(Serves Two)

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For the rice (this has some serious kick to it!):
Soak one cup of rice for about 6-8 hours in two cups of water
When boiling add two more cups of water to the water rice has been soaking in, a dash of oil, one and a half teaspoons Oddball Organics The Other Thing (which is basically awesome people creating a mixture of Himalayan crystal salt, certified organic garlic powder, certified organic Habanero powder). Bring to the boil until a frothy foam appears and then lower heat completely and cover until rice absorbs the water. Once the rice is cooked, before serving sauté a little mashed up garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil and stir fry rice.

For the trout (it’s really worth getting fresh fish which is organic):
Take two trout fillets and garnish with:
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of mixed Italian herbs
Pinch of chilli
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
Liberal amounts of black pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of maple syrup

Bake in oven until fish turns a light pink (about 15-20 minutes in a hot oven on 400F), finish under the grill to give a sheen to the fish.

For the the salad:
150g roasted beetroot
One orange
50g of feta

Peel orange and cut into pieces, reserving any juices, chop up beets and mix into the orange pieces along with juices, crumble feta and serve with rice and fish.