Taste Canada: The Food Writing Awards [Event Recap]

Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

On Monday I attended Taste Canada’s Food Writing Awards Gala. Since I’ve never been to these awards before, my nerves ran high the entire subway ride. I got downtown faster than I anticipated so I took my time walking to the venue. Even though it was spitting and the other pedestrians were running passed me, I couldn’t help stopping for a moment to take in the sights. Toronto is beautiful even with mist, fog, and rain clouding my view. When I walked into the venue my nerves finally made way for excitement. Arcadian Court is a gorgeous space with high ceilings, crisp white walls, and breathtaking chandeliers. I grabbed myself a beer (Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA) and sat down to take everything in.

Taste Canada — The Food Writing Awards is a not-for-profit organization. Founded in 1998, it recognizes and celebrates superior writing and publishing throughout Canada’s culinary world, both English and French.

The Gala was hosted by celebrated Chef, Ricardo Larrivée. He was witty, sentimental, and an absolute treat to listen to. It’s clear that he believes in the power of making memories in the kitchen, something I’m sure all food writers can agree with. Although I enjoyed learning about new cookbooks, listening to the winners’ speeches, and watching the tribute to The Cookbook Store, the best part was the reception afterwards. It featured an open bar and several food stations to test out and enjoy. The food was prepared by culinary students from various schools who were partnered with a mentor chef.

With a glass of Samuel Adams in hand (this time OctoberFest), I tried out all of the stations I could. My taste buds relished in the house cured duck prosciutto, tagliatelle topped with willowgrove hill pork and fennel sausage ragu, maple and espelette smoked Ontario pork shoulder, and finally chocolate raspberry buttercream squares. Beer isn’t usually my go-to beverage, but I’ll definitely be reaching for one more often. Samuel Adams OctoberFest has a deep flavour that goes down smoothly. Whether salty, savoury, or sweet, it paired nicely with every dish I tried. The beer enhanced the flavour of the food rather than changing it or distracting from it. There’s even a hint of caramel in the beer that added a balance to my palate and kept me satisfied between stations.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan Courtesy of Samuel Adams

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan Courtesy of Samuel Adams

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan Courtesy of Samuel Adams

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan Courtesy of Samuel Adams

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan Courtesy of Samuel Adams

I spent my Monday night surrounded by people who love food, books, and beer – what more does a girl need? Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you for sharing your food with me. Check out the list of winners below!

Vanessa Xo

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan. Courtesy of Samuel Adams.

Disclosure: I was compensated for attending this event but only wrote about it due to the amazing time I had, the wonderful food I ate, and the tasty beer I drank. Also, I love anything books so this event was a MUST-attend for me!



Culinary Narratives/Narrations Culinaires 

The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis

Les saveurs gastronomiques de la bière by David Lévesque Gendron et Martin Thibault

General Cookbooks/ Livres de Cuisine Générale

The Flavour Principle: Enticing Your Senses with Food and Drink by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol

Dans la cuisine de Danny St-Pierre by Danny St Pierre

Regional/Cultural Cookbooks

Toronto Star Cookbook: More Than 150 Diverse and Delicious Recipes Celebrating Ontario by Jennifer Bain

Single-Subject Cookbooks/Livres de Cuisine Sujet Unique

Gastro Grilling: Fired-up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals by Ted Reader

Les Règles d’or des épices, recettes et récits de Ethné et Philippe de Vienne, chasseurs d’épices by Ethné et Philippe De Vienne

Joyful Traditions [Chapters Indigo Media Preview]

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures


It was Christmas in July as me and my date walked into the Chapters Indigo head office last night. The white room was decked out in beautifully decorated Christmas trees, a giant sleigh, books galore, and some delicious holiday treats. According to one of the Chapters associates, the inspiration behind this holiday’s preview was Joyful Traditions. The room was split up between cozy Christmas cabin theme (fur, red, black, grey, camel, ivory, and charcoal colours) and Christmas in the city (icy winter pastels, white, gold, silver, and bronze).

I loved the cozy cottage look and was ready to take a nap in the sleigh filled with pillows. They’ve got some fantastic throw pillows coming up this Holiday, I’m thinking of purchasing one for my cousin and best friend. I paused a little longer than deemed normal at their fabulous desk section filled with beautiful journals, witty mugs, and chic pens. I also loved all of their travel items — beautiful passport holders, a cute case with tweezers and manicure essentials, a jewellery roll, and even sleeping masks.

IMG_7549 IMG_7540 IMG_7541 IMG_7539 IMG_7536 IMG_7535

Along with all of these goodies there were tonnes of books to take a look at. There are so many great books being published this holiday season. I am most looking forward to Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham but I also can’t wait to grab a copy of The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion. I received an ARC of A Sudden Light by Garth Stein yesterday which was one of the books on their shelf too.

What I love about Chapters, apart from the books of course, is the range of products that they carry and the simplistic elegance of everything they sell. They have everything from mugs to great vegan totes, DIY drink kits, scarves, wallets, gourmet sweets, and even some pretty sweet tech gadgets! You can find everything you need and want in one place.


Thank you to Indigo for inviting me to such a great event! I’ve never been to one of your media previews and I am happy to say that you’ve got me itching to do some major shopping when these products launch!

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

Bursting the Bubble [WEEK 1]

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

I’m happy to call Random House of Canada my 9-5 home from Monday to Friday. The commute isn’t as awful as I thought it would be and I really enjoy taking the subway (believe it or not :P). I normally get a seat which gives me plenty of time to read and relax. I’ve also started walking around my work-hood if I arrive too early or even on my lunch. I’ve found some awesome coffee shops, some restaurants that I want to try, and I’ve started to appreciate the beauty that is Toronto. Yes, I still feel like a tourist but the best part about downtown is no one really cares if you’re taking pictures of buildings they see everyday, or staring in awe at the beautiful church, or smiling broadly when you hear the church bells ring — as long as you stay out of their way no one cares! I love the independence I feel when I’m walking around downtown. I love not knowing what I’ll discover when I walk down a new street. I love it all.

It’s been a busy week but I’m enjoying this whole publicity intern experience even more than I imagined. Yes, my days are filled with filing, answering emails, couriering, mailing out books, binding 900-page manuscripts, and lifting boxes of books but I actually enjoy it — even the binding. There’s something about the monotony of it that allows your whole body to relax and your mind to wander. It’s also placed in the mailroom, a central location in the office which ensures that you’ll always have someone to say hello to. There’s always someone to chat with about a book that you’ve read, there’s always someone to ask if you need help, and there’s a wicked book room that is my kind of heaven.

I’ve learned quite a bit this week but the highlight was helping out at the launch for The Juggler’s Children by Carolyn Abraham. The launch was a wonderful experience and I think I put all of the skills I learned at Caruso’s into good use. I enjoyed setting up the venue with my coworkers at the beautiful Ben McNally Books store and interacting with the attendees who were there to support Carolyn. As an aspiring writer who hopes to have her own launch one day, I got teary-eyed listening to her speech and seeing the happiness in her eyes. I hadn’t read her book yet and just hearing her speech made me want to pick up a copy — you could tell that she has a way with words. I’m sure I’ll have a review of The Juggler’s Children up this month.

Overall I’d say my first week was pretty fantastic. I’ve met some wonderful people, learned quite a bit, and I’m starting to feel more at home. I’m getting into my own little routine and rhythm that will ensure another great week (I hope). Although I know there will be more traffic, a few train delays, more paper-cuts, and more 900-page manuscripts to bind, I’m going to make the most of it — that’s the only way to burst the bubble.

image copy

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

I love LOFTing (not loafting, although that’s cool too)

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

Yesterday I got to Party Like A LOFT Girl thanks to Valerie at Charming Media. It was my first time stepping into a LOFT store and only my second fashion event — I’m hoping to attend them more often, I’m learning so much about fashion and I’m finding my own style. You can read my recap on Chic Darling but here’s a sneak peek to hold you over!

Needless to say I had an awesome time, I took my best friend and I was happy to see that she was enjoying herself as well. We shopped, we mingled, then we went to grab a coffee — something we haven’t done in a few weeks. Gosh I missed my best friend, thanks for coming with me Katri! ❤

This happened.

This happened.

Apart from the lovely event I attended I was in one of those moods all weekend — you know those moods where anything can set you off, make you nervous, make your skin crawl with anger? I was the crabbiest person I’ve been in a while and I took it out on the wrong people.

<— And then this happened. My heart melted, puddles formed in my eyes, and I wondered why the heck have I been such a bitch this weekend? I can’t even tell you the answer to that. It might be nerves, it might be anxiety. Either way, I forgot about everything the second I bent down, reached behind my tire and picked up the five dollars that were hidden there.

*Cue goofy smile, guilty heart, and lifted soul.*

Note to self: don’t take out your sadness, fears, or frustrations on anyone — least of all the people who love you and think about you even when you’re being a bitch.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

P.S Stay tuned this week for some FOODIE FUN! ❤