By Lory Diaz
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto’s TOCA Restaurant, located at 181 Wellington Street West, is best known for their amazing Sunday buffet brunch, but for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration, they’ve added some amazing experiences to their calendar. I was invited to a preview of the TOCA Tastemaker’s Series for 2017 on May 8, and have to say that this year sounds exciting for the TOCA team!
The restaurant is located on the mezzanine level of the hotel, and always hosts a series of educational events for patrons, such as their Cheese Cave tours. This tour in particular introduces guests to their 35 local and international cheeses housed in a temperature-controlled glass-walled vault. The restaurant has collaborated with Michelin Star Chef Oliver Glowig from Rome for the past three years to update the menu every four months, but also to host an annual dinner: this year featuring the wines of Pio Cesare.
Two of the Pio Cesare wines were featured during the event and meant to accompany Chef Oliver’s signature ravioli stuffed with cacciota cheese, in a marjoram and tomato sauce. All ingredients were incredibly simple and fresh, which is essential to the flavour, explained Chef Vikas who was preparing the dish. The chardonnay went perfectly, as it was not too oaky, and crisp with light acidity. A deceivingly simply dish, but absolutely delicious!
TOCA’s Chef Dan was also busy preparing a truffle and foie gras agnolotti. The chicken consommé was brought to a boil in a vacuum coffee maker containing aromatics such as shiitake mushrooms, celery, carrots, lemon, ginger, and turmeric. The reason Chef Dan used this technique was so that the flavours could be infused quickly, and remain vibrant just before being enjoyed. This dish had lovely warm flavours, with a delicate broth that allowed the mushroom and citrus notes to show through. This was fantastic!
A Nova Scotian Organic Salmon was cured with apple and beet, then glazed with maple. This was not only a striking shade of magenta, but also a beautiful buttery flavour.
Another delicious event that will be hosted on October 14, 2017 by TOCA is the Wild Mushroom Forage and Picnic in The Don Valley. Guests will spend roughly half a day learning how to safely forage for edible mushrooms, then enjoying a delicious array of mushroom dishes such as this mushroom sherry and Manchego cheese dish: served on a crostini then covered with more Manchego cheese, this was any cheese lovers dream!
Mini lemon tiramisu and caramel budino were prepared for guests as well. I could not pick a favourite between the two, as both were deliciously creamy and topped with pearls that had a slight crunch!
It was hard to ignore the bounty of cheese, cured meats, salads, pickled vegetables, and assorted olives that were just a sample of the treats that will be available to guests on the Canada Day July 1st Toronto Island and Gourmet Paddle adventure. For this event, TOCA will be taking 40 guests to a delicious gourmet picnic on the Toronto Islands to enjoy an array of items such as the Barolo cheese aged in wine barrels. I’m sure this will be an experience to remember!
If you aren’t able to attend any of the TOCA Tastemaker’s Series 2017 events, make sure to grab a reservation for one of their spectacular Sunday brunch spots at 11:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. Then be sure to keep an eye out for more TOCA events here, or on their website at TOCAresturant.com. I can’t wait to see what they’re planning for 2018, but I’m sure it’s going to be innovative and delicious!