By Diana Condolo
Torontonicity received a media invitation to try Summerlicious at Azure Restaurant and stay overnight at the InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel. I was absolutely delighted to have this chance since I have never eaten at Azure, but was curious about the restaurant because I walk through it when I attend various shows at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which is attached to the hotel.
First, I must say that we received very courteous treatment throughout the whole evening from servers, parking staff, and other attendants at the hotel.
Azure Restaurant is a beautiful space under a canopy of glass, offering views of the Toronto cityscape. We had both dinner and breakfast there. The restaurant is stylish and comfortable at the same time, plus I love that they have all the glass on the roof and sides to let the sunshine in. Very summery!
We started off our evening learning to make our own cocktails. I’m a novice at making cocktails so learning about all the steps in cocktail making was very interesting and using the shaker for the first time was a treat. I closed my cocktail shaker a little too tight, so I needed assistance opening it (oh my strength)! I’m proud to say my cocktail was awesome.
With cocktails in hand, we went into the kitchen, donned InterContinental Toronto Centre aprons and were given a demo on how to make Seared Albacore Tuna with avocado aioli and pineapple salsa. Various members of the media volunteered to participate in the cooking. I hung on tightly to my cocktail and sat back in my chair. I made it clear I was there to relax 🙂
While in the kitchen, we had an interesting conversation with Executive Chef Shawn Whalen about cooking and discussed ways that the Seared Albacore Tuna dish could be adapted to tofu. This is something of interest to us since we are vegetarian. Shawn said the dish would adapt to that exchange of ingredients very well. I sampled the summery-tasting dish without the tuna and found it delectable and refreshing. They generously provided us with the recipe – I’m putting it on my DIY list.
Then we sat down to our dinner, which was paired nicely with the Trius wine. First we had a refreshing Leaves of Watercress & Baby Kale Salad with compressed peaches. The colour, texture, and flavour are intensified by compression. I enjoyed the lightness of the watercress and baby kale, which contrasted with the denser and intensely-flavoured fruit.
My neighbour was enjoying the Cherry Wood Smoked Duck Breast.
Next came the main dish: Macadamia & Spinach Pesto Capellini. The macademia nuts and spinach pesto coated the pasta in such a delectable and smooth way that I could see myself eating a big bowl of this as comfort food. The onions, tomatoes and zucchini were so delectable and cooked perfectly. I wondered how I could replicate the dish at home (I’m always on the lookout for new ideas). This dish reminded me of dining in Italy, with the country’s dedication to great ingredients and cooking them just right.
I did not try the Maple Almond-Crusted Salmon, but everyone said it was delicious.
Mary Ann Gamboa, the Director of Sales & Marketing at the InterContinental Toronto Centre, told us that they give full portions of dishes during Summerlicious and Winterlicious. Some restaurants cut the size of the portions down to reduce costs. I was already feeling full, but I seem to always make room for dessert. I did not anticipate that I’d be head over heals for the white chocolate cheesecake. The cardamom ice cream is aromatic – I just needed to eat this slowly to fully savour each delectable mouthful. I’m known to be crazy about cardamom, so this may influence my thinking. Try it and let me know what you think.
Jai had the strawberry tart, but he found it too sweet so he shared it with me. Well, I ate it all up (I guess we all tolerate sweetness differently). I really enjoyed the lime basil curd and adored the presentation. The rosewater candy on top is so pretty (and delicious). I love sweets. I do find that sweets can be sometimes too cloying, but this was an ideal level of sweetness for me.
After the meal, we headed to our spacious room and thought about sinking into our heavenly, king size bed, but we were taken with the magnificent view, so we grabbed some drinks from the fridge and sat on the couch for a while.
We enjoyed the view of The Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, Centre Island plus Billy Bishop Airport, Toronto harbour, the CBC and the little parkette beside it. We spent a long time identifying places we know and determining the last resting spot for the six-story rubber ducky while the inflatable duck was visiting our city (oh yes, we went to see the cutie). The room had a great view of the Roundhouse, which had functioned as a Canadian Pacific Rail steam locomotive repair facility when built in 1929. The hotel is just steps from all these attractions – it would be a lovely getaway for people living in the GTA to combine some sightseeing with a luxurious night at the InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel.
Azure Restaurant is a showcase of seasonally inspired, contemporary Canadian cuisine, which changes with every season. Enjoy #Azurelicious for Summerlicious , which runs from July 7 to 23, 2017 or at any other time.
Azure Restaurant & Bar
Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel
225 Front Street West
Summerlicious 2017 prices at Azure Restaurant
Plus taxes and gratuity
Vegetarian options available