Fabbrica’s Dandelion Salad with Olives and Caciocavallo

The Italian salad repertoire features many that possess an assertively bitter flavour profile, and this is one of our favourite examples. Despite its scant list of ingredients, it packs a wallop of flavour. The sharp and salty nature of a well-aged artisanal caciocavallo from Sicily is a league apart from that of even the finest caciocavallo from Calabria or anywhere else on the mainland, so do make the effort to find one.

Serves 4

2 bunches dandelion leaves, torn
1 handful parsley leaves
1 cup (250 mL) small quality olives, pitted
¼ cup (60 mL) aged wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) fine olive oil salt and pepper
4 oz (125 g) Caciocavallo siciliano

In a salad bowl, combine the dandelion, radicchio, parsley, and olives. Toss.

Add vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper, and toss again. Taste and correct seasonings.

Shave half the caciocavallo over the salad, and serve with the extra cheese on the side.

[From: Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home by Mark McEwan. Copyright © General Purpose Entertainment, 2011. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada), a Division of Pearson Canada Inc.]

The Business of Catering

There are three main things that you should be armed with upon your first call to a perspective caterer, DATE, VENUE and BUDGET. Calling a caterer without this information could leave you feeling frustrated as they are all crucial to booking.

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  • DATE: The busiest times of the year for weddings or larger scale events tend to be from May-July and September-December. If your date falls within these time frames, get on the phone and get moving on your menu planning as the dates fill up quite quickly.
  • VENUE:  Some venues have preferred caterers list. This is great as those companies have been into the kitchen and the event space numerous times, know what can and can’t be done within the confines of the kitchen and which food items can be prepared on a large scale. This is also important to know because some venues will not let outside caterers come into the space, or they tack on a fee to do so. If you are set on having a specific company design and cook your menu for that date, you might be let down if they cannot gain access to the property.
  • BUDGET: Always have either a total price or a price per person handy BEFORE you contact a caterer. Remember that some companies specialize in high end events and some specialize in more casual events. What you might receive from one for $100, might go for $150 from another. This is due to the quality of products and services that go into your event. Much like trying on a wedding dress that is over budget, to see a menu that you cannot afford will leave you with the same feeling. Be honest with yourself and your caterer and you will get the most out of the experience.

Make sure you have all you ducks in a row before you pick up the phone as it will make the exchange smoother and will leave you feeling as though you have begun to check a big “to do” off you list.

 

Our Chefs Get Their 5-10 a Day with Ripe Seasonal Fruit

Between cottage weekends, road trips, warm weather and patios, there’s no shortage of reasons to love summer in the city. But at the top of the list for many food-loving folk is the arrival of summer fruit. At the peak of sweet-season, August at McEwan means juicy stone fruits like plums, apricots and peaches, antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries, and a refreshing selection of hydration-rich melons. Fruit is always a healthy choice when you need something sweet, and whether it’s in dessert for a family cookout, a salad for a lazy brunch, or snacks for the kids at camp, the selection at McEwan’s is worth the year long wait.

For the chefs across the McEwan Group, the arrival of summertime fruit opens up a world of tasty and nutritious possibilities that they’re eager to transform into tasty dishes and snacks for their families. Curious about what fruity delights these culinary masterminds most look forward to each year, I sat them down to get the sweet scoop on fruit.

 

Chef Shen Ousmand of McEwan 

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Seasonal fruit is the ultimate expression of perfection in the culinary world. It allows me to be cost effective because I can use seasonal fruits at its peak to make jams, chutneys, and all kind of preserves to store for the winter. This process gives me great joy.

Chef Sash Simpson of North 44

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The only thing that can improve the perfect summer fruit, the peach, is the peach cobbler. Baked with oatmeal, brown sugar and served warm with vanilla ice cream, makes this the easiest and tastiest summer fruit treat.

Chef Rob Leclair of Fabbrica

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I love fresh stone fruits. Fresh cherries and plums are a favourite snack, or toss them in a salad and their flavours are well complimented by vinaigrettes. Grilling fresh peaches or roasting apricots also intensifies their sweetness.

Chef Matt Beasley of One

I truly believe that the summer fruit that comes out of Ontario is some of the best you can find anywhere.  My favorite fruit from Ontario has to be peaches, and when I think of peaches, my next thought goes right to pork.  A BBQ pork chop with roasted peaches would be my first pick for a summer dish.  When it comes to all the great fruit from Ontario, I prefer to prepare them simply to allow the true taste of the product shine through.

Chef Brooke McDougall of Bymark

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I make a raw juice in the morning to start my day with apple, kale, celery, ginger and lemon. On weekends, it’s a pineapple and tequila Mojito.

Chef Drew Ellerby of One, McEwan and Fabbrica (Executive Chef)

I love spring and summer in Ontario- there’s so much product to work with. My favourites by far are fresh Niagara peaches. I like to roast them with a touch of butter and brown sugar and serve them with seared foie gras. Or grill them with a sweet balsamic glaze, some stewed cipolinni onions and a big fat bacon chop. Warm stewed peaches on ice cream is a pretty amazing thing as well.

Chef Mark McEwan of The McEwan Group, Top Chef Canada

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Making a great seasonal fruit juice every morning gets me ready for the day. I always look forward to using fresh, Ontario strawberries.

Feeling hungry for something succulent, seasonal and sweet? Check out McEwan this month to pick up some of your family’s favourite fruits, and give some of these chef-inspired tips a try in your house before summer is gone.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Making Your Mark ~ Claudio Aprile

There’s a lot of movement in the restaurant business. We’re really fortunate that our best people tend to stick around, but we lose our fair share of gems.

Making Your Mark catches up with the ones that got away.  This time around we caught up with Claudio Aprile, Chef & Founder of Orderfire Group and MasterChef Canada Judge. 

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Claudio Aprile

What’s the best part about being in the food business? And what’s the hardest part?

The best part about being in the food business is that change is the only constant. This is also the hardest part about being in the food business. Evolve or die.

How do you know when a recipe’s right?

When the chef doesn’t follow every step and the result is still delicious.

What was the worst food review you ever got and how did you handle it? 

All I’ve ever done is cook, no fallbacks, so when I get a negative review it dose sting. But it’s not how hard you hit that matters, its what you do when you get hit that speaks to who you are. I tend to keep it to myself and try to learn from the miss-fires and fix the problem.

Why do you think foodie culture has exploded the way it has?

Restaurants have always been cultural hubs and are integral in the gentrification process of a city. Toronto’s current housing boom is fertile ground for startup companies such as restaurants. Toronto has never had so many amazing restaurant options, we now have one of the most diverse and exciting restaurant scenes in the world.

How do you think your stint with Mark McEwan has helped you in your career?

Chef McEwan has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance for most of my culinary and business life. I have always admired how he has seamlessly been able to merge his culinary talents with the world of commerce.

Refresh Your Eating Routine with McEwan’s NEW Summer Foods

Summer is here, and that means we’re busting out the grill, throwing more veggies on our plates, and finding tasty ways to keep hydrated in the heat. Summertime at McEwan also means exciting new foods to taste and explore, as General Manager, George Bachoumis has spent all spring sourcing the top hot items to refresh your eating routine this season. Check out a few new exciting products you can find on your next visit.

Bahama Mama

Freshly squeezed by the McEwan chefs themselves, this nutrient-dense juice packs both veggies and fruit with a combo of orange, celery, spinach, parsley and pineapple. A perfect sweet and tangy drink to start the day off right, or fabulous when mixed with a little tequila for a tropical party drink.

Joia All Natural Sodas

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With creative flavours like Pineapple Coconut & Nutmeg, Lime Hibiscus and Clove, and Blackberry, Pomegranate and Ginger, these all-natural sodas are a crowd-pleasing summer sipper for your next BBQ or get together. Try them alone or mix them with vodka for a sweet and cheeky cocktail.

Q-Cumber Beverage

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A super refreshing and unique alternative to basic water, Q-Cumber combines the clean taste of cucumber with sparkling spring water. Satisfying and thirst-quenching on its own, but it’s also irresistible with a little Gin or Pimms stirred in as an adult treat.

McEwan’s Macaroni Salad with Apples, Basil, Celery, Parsley and Lemon

No time to prep those sides for the family BBQ? McEwan’s got you covered with this unique and flavourful take on the classic picnic staple.

Gazpacho

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Start off an al fresco meal with this chilled nutrient-packed soup topped off with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and you’ll have no guilt saying yes to dessert.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky Mango Cheesecake

Local pie-queen Wanda can make a mean cheesecake too! Her Mango Chiffon cheesecake is lusciously smooth and crowned with a generous layer of tangy fruit puree, making it the perfect sweet treat for a summer feast!

Ninette’s Ice Cream

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Ninette’s ice cream features all natural ingredients with unique flavour combinations that will satisfy the kids in us all. This Summer cool down with a scoop of the Basil Lemon flavour for only 110 calories per serving!

Looking to refresh your eating routine in time for the gorgeous summer weather? McEwan always keeps your family excited with new and innovative wholesome foods, and this seasonal spread is something you’ll not want to miss.

DELICIOUSLY YOURS,

ABBEY SHARP, RD

OWNER, ABBEY’S KITCHEN

Flavours Pop at Taste of Toronto

Photo Credit: urbanmomsca

For those of you that were able to make it down to historical Fort York this past weekend for Taste of Toronto you already know that you took part in a food festival, the likes of which the city has never seen before. After more than a decade of “Taste of…” events happening around the world (Sydney, Dubai, London etc.) their team chose Toronto to launch their first EVER North American event!

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Photo Credit: everythingmom

Thankfully the weather reports… as always, were wrong; as the sun shone all weekend long!

The McEwan Group signed up for the event in the winter when it was first brought to our attention and after months of planning the fruits of our labour were realized. The booth was always filled with hungry guests coming to sample some of Mark McEwan‘s favourite and most iconic dishes from the menus at Bymark (Lobster Poutine), One Restaurant (Fried Chicken) and Fabbrica (Lamb Bolognese Crostini) as well as to shake hands, and take hundreds of #selfies with Chef Mark McEwan himself.

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: jdomakeup

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: kat_pearce

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

Photo Credit: sunny_fong_

We had many rave reviews on our food and we couldn’t have been happier to see and hear that everyone was enjoying what we had to offer…once you made it to the front of the line!  For those of you that didn’t get a chance to come out make sure you don’t miss this event next year!
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Our TOP 10 Instagrams for Summerlicious 2014

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Summerlicious is an annual summer tradition in Toronto that we look forward to every year since its inception in 2003. This year we were pleased to see Fabbrica picked by BlogTO‘s as one of 20 restaurants to eat at.

Here are our top #LiciousTO Instagrams from customers who wined and dined at Chef Mark McEwan‘s restaurants: ONEFabbricaNorth 44, and Bymark.

Bymark’s Shellfish Platter [Photo Credit : carmyy_1219]

Bymark’s Lindt Chocolate Pudding [Photo Credit: modernpicasso_]

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Bymark’s Pasta & Braised Short Rib Cacciatore [Photo Credit: seasaltandthyme]

Bymark’s Pan Seared Halibut [Photo Credit: lynnc68]

Fabbrica’s Beef Carpaccio [Photo Credit: josiu26]

Fabbrica’s Pizza Campagnola [Photo Credit: is_a_belly]

Fabbrica’s Spinach Pesto Tagliatelle [Photo Credit: bibiyyamy]

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North 44′s Arctic Char [Photo Credit: pheeburoo]

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One’s Pork Belly [Photo Credit: citygirlchef]

One’s Iceberg Salad [Photo Credit: planking_in_pearls]

Brunching at Fabbrica

Last month Chef Rob LeClair hosted and treated a group of media to some of our popular brunch items to some newer items at Fabbrica. Our guests included Suresh Doss from Zagat Toronto, Eric Wainwright from Notable, Lisa Jackson from Eat, Drink, Tavel and Brian Sweigman from Product.  Top on everyone’s list Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Preserved Blueberry, Whipped Mascarpone and Candied Lemon with the Shortrib Hash with Poached Egg and Caramelized Onion close behind.  We didn’t think their would be room for dessert but the Matteo Panini with Nutella, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Banana was gobbled up in no time.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan

 

 

Matt Bryan: Stirrin’ & Shakin’ at Bymark

There’s a lot more going on than just making fabulous cocktails and savvy bartender moves.  We sat down with Matt Bryan, head mixologist from Bymark to find out more about the industry, celebs and what it’s like working with Mark.

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When did you know you wanted to work in the restaurant industry?

Since I was a child I was always interested in food and cooking. Originally, I wanted to be a chef. I learned how to cook and bake with my mom and step mom and loved the idea of making something with my hands that would make people happy. I am not sure where the transition into the front of house mentality came into play, but being the centre of attention was right up my alley, being a bartender you get to have that everyday.

What goes into setting the cocktail menus? How often does it change and where do you get your inspirations from?

Seasons are the biggest thing for me.  We usually do big menu changes in spring and fall and make minor adjustments in the summer and winter. So looking at a particular menu change I look at what flavors and ingredients are seasonal and fresh. I pay attention to whats trending in the cocktail scene via liquor, flavors, glassware, techniques etc. I come up with tons of different flavor combinations and cocktail ideas on paper first then test them at the bar. Also, you can’t forget about clientele from place to place. A cocktail that sells out the door at one may be the least favorite at Bymark. I am inspired by all sorts of things. When I travel I find out new flavors and ingredients. Chef Brooke McDougall always has some cool new things to try coming through the kitchen. Sometimes its a new toy like when we got our sous vide set up at Bymark. Lets try sous vide infused cocktails or vacuum sealing orange slices with a Negroni cocktail.

If you could pinch-hit at any other McEwan restaurant, which would you choose and why?

I love going into all the other restaurants and meeting all the people that work for the company. A lot of people that I used to work with at Bymark years back and lots of new faces. But to be honest Bymark is my home, they are all like my family there. I guess if I really had to choose it would be the grocery store just for something different.

Who’s the coolest celeb to belly up to the bar at Bymark?

That’s a tough one. A-Rod and Kate Hudson were in one time they were super chill and very nice. Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones was scary big, but cool dude. Loved his tequila.

What was your first meeting with Mark McEwan like?

Meeting?  Like sit down and talk? Matt Montis and myself had a pretty fun night with Mark at Bar Chef to chat about cocktails and the direction of the cocktail program for the company. It was pretty rad, I was a bit nervous but we ended up just chatting about cocktails and drinking a lot of bourbon which are two things I really enjoy doing so it was great.

If you were at home or at the cottage, what is your “go-to” drink?

If I am at home an old fashioned with American rye preferably Bulleit. If I am at the cottage then beers. I am lazy at the cottage.

If you weren’t a bartender, what would you see yourself doing?

Probably be a ski bum out west somewhere.

What kind of personality does it take to work at Bymark?

Fun, be able to roll with the punches, be able to laugh at yourself, energetic, adaptable.

What is something that not many people know about you

I am addicted to ice cream

~ R A P I D   F I R E   R O U N D ~

Dogs or Cats – cats way easier

Wakeboarding or Snowboarding – snowboarding

Beer or Cocktail – both depends on the time, or back to back or whatever

Summer or Winter – both have there perks

Tacos or Ybor Meat- tacos

Burgers or Sandwiches – isnt a burger just a glorified sandwich?

iPhone or Android – Android

Skateboarding or Rollerblading (lol) – really?

Life of Bymark’s Lobster Poutine

On June 18th we hosted an Instagram Chat on Twitter where we brought to life our famous Bymark Lobster Poutine in a photo editorial.  Watch the chef’s creation below.

This regular feature will showcase the many steps it takes to put together popular dishes at our restaurant properties.