I was back at the VIP event this year, checking out the various exhibitors – both alcoholic and food. Here are some of my favourites:
Moksha Indian Bistro: If you’re heading to wine country, you’re in for a treat! The spices of South Asian cuisine often pair well with lighter, semi-dry wines, so this place is a must-go if you are visiting the Niagara region. They had three items available to sample: chicken trio (chicken tikka cooked three different ways), eggplant medallion as well as a potato dish (aloo tikki chaat). Though the potatoes were probably the best item to try while sampling wine, I opted for eggplant (since I like that more), which still, to me, had the right kind of kick for many wines. It could have been cut a little bit thicker, however.
Muskoka Lake Wineries: My favourite is back again! I STILL have an unopened bottle of their signature cranberry wine and tonight, tried their blueberry-cranberry wine as I was looking to sample something not too sweet (blueberry) nor tart (cranberry). They also had their dessert maple cran available. Their website showed a white cranberry wine and a rosé made with cranberries and apples, but neither were available for sampling at the event (they are listed as out of stock online).
CasaManila: I have to admit I have NEVER had Filipino food. Being a country with influences from many parts of the world, the cuisine itself is best described as mix of a little Chinese, Spanish as well as local ethnic groups. Since it was my first time, I picked what is often considered their “national” dish – chicken adobo with rice. The chicken wasn’t too salty (since it is cooked with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and black pepper – and some East Asian restaurant chefs like to over-do soy sauce) and I really enjoyed the rice, which definitely tasted like it was cooked in chicken broth. In fact, it reminded me of Hainanese chicken rice!
SoCIAL LITE Vodka: These flavoured spirits take me back to my undergrad days, back when I didn’t know how to properly enjoy fine wine and only wanted something sweet (I turned 19 JUST before Frosh Week). These drinks are naturally sweetened (fruits), gluten-free and only 80 calories. SoCIAL LITE had one flavour available for sampling – Lime Ginger – and let me tell you, it ISN’T the Sprite/ginger ale/vodka concoction we made when we were in university (basically something I will never, ever, ever drink ever again).
Fontaine Santé Foods: I rarely buy pre-packaged grocery store hummus, but the diversity of flavours this brand has is a go-to for me when I’m looking for more unique flavours. While I’ve tried several, including roasted red pepper and roasted artichoke and spinach, I was excited to try their beet hummus. It’s definitely something…different and perfect if you’re looking for less “traditional” hummus flavours.
Magic Oven: As I’m sure I’ve noted in previous posts, this is one of my favourite pizza places in the city. Again, they did not serve pizza, but their catering items instead. One highlight was their cranberry brie grilled cheese served on multi-grain bread (called brie cranberry melt). Unlike many of the other exhibitors, the grilled cheese was a full sized portion. While it was amazing, I wasn’t able to finish the entire serving – not even by sharing it with my mom!
There were so many exhibitors and many I wish I was able to try but didn’t have the opportunity – including Sweet Jesus ice cream. Oh well, maybe next year.