38 Karl Fraser Road
On May 6th, 2014, thirty foodies had the opportunity to meet Chef Mark McEwan at his namesake high-end store in Toronto. This private event gave guests the chance to taste some of the best products that the McEwan store carries, which included fresh oysters, ice-pressed olive oil and handmade macarons.
Here are some highlights from the event:
As we walked through the front door, we were greeted by towers of decadent doughnuts. These gourmet pastries were from Von Doughnuts, a company that specializes in creating trans-fat free goodies with fresh ingredients.
I ate two small doughnuts, one creme brulee and one lemon, and was impressed at how light they were. These doughnuts are nothing like the heavy “bits” you can get at a certain popular coffee chain.
After starting with dessert, I moved on to something more substantial. I enjoyed a King Mushroom Ragout bun from Hot Bunzz, which you can see below. I had heard of Hot Bunzz before, but this was my first time tasting their yummy creations. The airy brioche-style buns were stuffed with a savoury mushroom and spinach filling, topped with even more filling, and served in a cute little paper boat. I would definitely eat this again!
These buns are now being carried at the McEwan store, for those of you who want to get their Hot Bunzz fix on a regular basis. I believe they are available in both fresh and frozen formats.
While we were enjoying the nibbles, Chef McEwan walked around and chatted with everyone. He is remarkably down to earth for a massively skilled chef who has his own culinary empire!
Somewhere in the middle of the event we listened to Chef McEwan talk about his early days of cooking, and how he “fell” into the world of television. He also took the time to introduce his staff members to us, and praised them for their hard work and dedication. He is extremely aware of the fact that his store is successful because of the team he works with.
What I love the most about Chef McEwan is his honesty. When he talked to the group we didn’t hear tidy pre-made statements – he literally held a relaxed conversation with us. That in itself is impressive, as it seems that so many celebrity chefs are merely repeating whatever their PR rep wants them to say at these “foodie” events.
One of the products that Chef McEwan is very proud of is this Ice-Pressed Organic Olive Oil. I sampled this oil, on a piece of plain bread, and found that it was more fresh, grassy and green than any other olive oil I’ve tried. You can also purchase soap made with this previous oil, which is supposed to have great skin-nourishing qualities.
I received one of these soap bars in my goodie bag, so I’ll let you know if it’s as good as they say! For now, all I can tell you is that it smells fantastic.
One of the most yummy products that I sampled that night was the macarons from Makaron Baking Co. These colourful little pastries were flavourful, and had the perfect combination of a light shell and rich fillings. I’m hoping to write a full feature on this product soon, so keep an eye out for that post.
Another stand-out item that I sampled was freshly shucked East Coast Oysters. The gentleman doing the shucking (Frank, I think), was really friendly and I enjoyed chatting with him.
These oysters tasted fresh, clean and briny. I added the McEwan Red Onion Mignonette (available in the store), Tabasco and fresh horseradish to my oysters, and enjoyed them immensely. Actually, I’ve been craving them since the event…
The last item that I sampled was simple, but very tasty. This is just Parmigiano cheese on toast with a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar, but it’s a good reminder that good quality ingredients don’t need a lot of embellishment to be enjoyed. That was really the focus of this event. The McEwan grocery store isn’t about fancy name brands and high prices (although you will find those there too), it’s about good quality products, made by talented people, that are enjoyable to eat.
If you’ve finished reading this post (thanks!) and are feeling sad because the McEwan store is nowhere near you, don’t fret too much. There will be a second location opening in the downtown core, and there are plans to expand the number of stores in the future too.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
I was selected to attend this event, but paid for the ticket myself.