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A “legendary” night with American Express and Front of the Line

- August 15th, 2014

Being a lifestyle journalist often affords you experiences that the general public may only dream about. It’s our job, after all, to convey the feelings of what it’s like to be the first to experience, for example, seeing a new designer’s collection or sampling a new food trend. These things are all connected to our senses so naturally, our emotions run high.

This is exactly the experience that American Express’s Front of the Line has been offering to their cardholders for 25 years. It’s a program that originated right here in Canada, launching in 1989 by giving cardholders exclusive access to the Phantom of the Opera in Toronto. Since then, the invitations have spanned to big ticket rock concerts (think, Lady Gaga and One Direction), classical performances, exclusive sporting events and even Fashion Weeks around the world.

To launch the 25th anniversary celebrations, a handful of media and bloggers were invited to The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre in Toronto for a private dockside dinner and show, featuring R&B singer John Legend. We dined on delicious tacos and smoked ribs (courtesy of BBQ-joint, Barque), and listened to a DJ spin groovy tunes before Mr. Legend took to the stage.

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Cocktails made with jam are summer’s coolest thing

- August 12th, 2014

Forget about spreading that jelly on your toast or flaky croissant at breakfast. It’s going in your cocktail. You see, breakfast cocktails are a new trend! At least in Glasgow, Scotland.  But you can still try them in Canada and that’s a good thing.

CHILL Ice House

I only know this through hearsay since I attended Toronto’s CHILL Ice House, Canada’s largest, permanent ice house opening a few weeks ago in Toronto and it was sponsored by Glenfiddich, the giant scotch brand. A couple of us started talking about cocktails, well, actually, we were drinking 15 year Scotch and some other delicious cocktails made with scotch and it sort of came up.

I’ve since looked into cocktails made with jams and there are plenty of spirits to make them with. I’d say jam cocktails would be perfect as a summer drink or even as a dessert, but if you prefer breakfast, go for it! Here is a DIY video tutorial I found on Youtube:

To make jam-based cocktails, here’s a simple guideline for a basic recipe: use two ounces of spirit to one ounce of fresh citrus juice with a half-tablespoon of jam. Tip: If the cocktail becomes too thick, add some soda water.

Here is a recipe for a cocktail you don’t have to enjoy in frigid temperatures courtesy of mixologist Danny Tait, head bartender at The Caledonian in Toronto. You only have to want to drink this for breakfast. Danny says he “found inspiration in the use of fine Scotch in cocktails from my homeland, Glasgow, Scotland.”

Breakfast cocktails, of which jams and marmalades are the key ingredient, are all the rage in Scotland’s burgeoning cocktail scene. Combining Scotland’s most famous export with ingredients that indulge the Scottish sweet-tooth produces some exciting and delicious results.

The Glenfiddich Morning Glory

  •  1 ½ oz (45 mL) Glenfiddich
  •  1 oz (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
  •  1/2 oz (15 mL) apple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp apple jelly

*Add whisky, lemon juice syrup and egg white, ice and apple jelly. Shake, strain ice, then shake again, strain. Serve rocks glass with lemon.

The Glenfiddich Morning Glory

CHILL Ice House is cooler than cool, it’s ice cold!

Owner Gresham Bayley showed selected media around the family-friendly attraction.  The venue houses 185,000 pounds of ice, including carved ice sculptures and ice furniture…for the adults a full ice bar and a non-ice lounge awaits.

“While ice lounges are understandably extremely popular in hot climates, having a venue in Toronto has great benefits,” Gresham explained. “After all, Canadians do know a thing or two about ice and snow, so this becomes a truly Canadian experience for people around the globe. We want locals and visitors to come and see what we can do.”

Greek yogurt now available at Tim Hortons

- July 17th, 2014

Strawberry or vanilla Greek yogurt parfait is now available at Tim Hortons. (Meghan Mitchell/QMI Agency)

Tim Hortons’ customers can now experience a taste of the Mediterranean.

The company recently added Greek yogurt to its menu in the form of a parfait, and in combination with their Fruit Smoothies.

“Greek yogurt has become increasingly popular among our guests and whether they are looking for a great breakfast option or a more satisfying snack, it’s now easier than ever to enjoy this delicious and healthy yogurt while on the go,” said Tammy Martin, Tim Hortons’ vice president of marketing, food and merchandise in a press release.

The Greek Yogurt parfait combines either strawberry or vanilla yogurt with almond granola and mixed berries and contains 6-grams of fibre and 13-grams of protein.

“The introduction of Greek yogurt to the Tim Hortons menu is just one example of our commitment to offering better-for-you options to our guests and we know they are going to love it,” said Martin.

Tim Hortons Duelling Donuts contest is back

- July 7th, 2014

Tim Hortons Duelling Donuts contest is back. The winner will receive $10,000 and their doughnut will be featured on the menu. (Mark Daniell/QMI Agency)

Think you have what it takes to design a doughnut worthy of being on the Tim Hortons’ menu?

Well then you are in luck.

Tim Hortons Duelling Donuts contest has returned following the success of last year’s event.

“With over 63,000 entries in our inaugural Duelling Donuts contest, we were amazed by the creativity of the entries, and we saw firsthand just how passionate our guests are about donuts,” said Tammy Martin, Tim Hortons’ vice president of marketing, food and merchandising in a press release.

From now until August 1, participants can submit their designs at and eight finalists will get the opportunity to pitch their creation to a panel of celebrity judges, featuring Jason Priestley, Jann Arden, Ben Mulroney and Anna Olson.

“Judging Tim Hortons Duelling Donuts contest last year was a donut day made in heaven, so I didn’t have to think twice about coming back this year to eat more donuts and spend the day with Ben, Jann and Anna,” said Jason Priestley in the release.

“Last year showed that Canadians go wild when it comes to donuts. I can’t wait to see what people create this year.”

The celebrity panel will select four finalists and then Canadians will have the opportunity to vote for the winner on August 18.

The winning doughnut will be featured on Tim Hortons’ menu later in the year and the winner will receive $10,000.

Yum? Taco Bell introduces Cool Ranch Doritos shell

- July 4th, 2014

Taco Bell will be launching the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos in Canada July 7. (Photo: Handout)

Taco Bell Canada says, “it’s worth the wait.”

After Nacho Cheese Doritos taco shells were introduced last summer, the company says Canadians have been eagerly anticipating the chance to try their tacos on Cool Ranch shells.

“This bold combination brings together one of the most popular Doritos flavours with Taco Bell’s classic taco to create an exciting experience for Canadian customers from coast-to-coast,” PepsiCo Foods Canada marketing director Susan Irving said in a release.

The Cool Ranch shells will be available starting July 7.

I can’t say this sounds appealing to me. I e-mailed the news to my husband – a Taco Bell fan – and said “sounds gross.” He wrote back to inform me I misspelled “delicious.”