Evergreen Brickworks Food Tour

Posted on July 17, 2011


It was perfect timing when one day I was hovering looking over many tweets that I saw @ChowBellaTO ‘s invitation to enter a draw to win one of the 8 tickets that they were giving away for the inaugural launch of the Evergreen Brickworks food tour.  It was something that I could not resist.  So I took on the chance and I actually got in!  My guardian angel must be a real foodie too! After several emails from Trina Hendry, VP of ChowBella Culinary Experiences & Concierge, I figured out a way to squeeze it my crazy weekend schedule.  I don’t think I’d live it down if I pass this opportunity up.

Saturday morning came and I was still fatigued over the long drive back from Montreal but I found the energy to show up.  As I started to meet people joining the tour like me, I noticeably felt revived.  My curiosity and enthusiasm kicked in.  The vive of Evergreen Brickworks farmers market is lively and cheerful.  The food that is all around you just beckons you to daydream about being in the middle of a family gathering, out in the patio, waiting to take part in a feast.  It’s hard not to feel the energy of passionate people who takes a lot of effort to produce high quality and sustainable food.

So the food tour starts with introductions and we were in for a treat as the chef that would go with us is Toronto’s own Celebrity Chef Brad Long.  I previously read at CityBites summer edition that Chef Long was in the works in opening Cafe Belong inside Evergreen Brickworks.  My smile just grows bigger and bigger as I have previously watched Chef Long cook for a FoodTV Network show called Restaurant Makeover.  I finally get a chance to sample his cooking!  The day was getting better and better, my fatigue long forgotten.

So the food tour starts with Chef Long bringing the crowd into the market and he personally hand-picked variety of salad greens, beans, snap peas, two kinds of trout (rainbow and bespeckled), sausages and some steaks.  Following him around, he gave some tips and pointers how to enjoy the fact that Toronto has a lot of farmer’s markets.  I picked up a lot of pointers how to get to use vegetables that I am not familiar with (I grew up outside Canada and not really used them for my day-to-day meals).  It is pretty obvious that there is mutual respect between Chef Long and the vendors in the farmer’s market.  All are passionate with their own love affairs with food.  We got to sample beans as the vendors were very gracious to hand out a few.  I grew up with snap peas from my home country but it never occurred to me to eat it raw.  Once I have bitten into one, I was pleasantly surprised that it was sweet like a fruit.

I watched Chef Long do a mental checklist of all the items we were carrying and we proceeded to the back of the Young Visitor’s Centre.   We walked in to a space where about four picnic tables were lined up, elegantly set with tablecloths and white plates and wrapped cutlery.  I was in awe with the fine dining treatment.  I silently thanked again that I did not opt to sleep in.  During this time, Trina let some of the participants go around the market to shop themselves before the market closes (Farmer’s market is open every Saturday from 8am – 1pm).  For those who got left behind, Chef Long kept us busy prepping the beans and the snow peas.  All throughout the prepping, he kept an easy banter between the participants.  It was a very good group where the atmosphere was relaxed and informal, cozy at best.  Perfect way to spend a hot summer day.

As Chef Long started to plate the 3 kinds of salad greens, he talked about what made each blend different and the flavor profile each one has, sometimes handing over samples for us to taste.  Then he reaches out for his uber-yummy salad dressing which is a brown butter vinaigrette.  And just like what I expected, butter makes everything taste yummier.  I finished my helping very quickly.  As we were eating the salads, he started out barbecuing the sausages and later the fish and the steaks.  His sous chef was busy tending to the Swiss chard and the kale.  He was handing plate after plate for us to taste and I was beyond words at each bite.  I keep on telling myself how lucky I was to win a seat on this event.  As we were finishing nibbling on the blanched beans and Swiss Chard (drizzled again with his yummy brown butter vinaigrette), Chef Long announces that we are in for a special treat of Cherry Shortcake for dessert.  I was so in love with this dessert as it was just the way I like it – cool, light, buttery and not overly sweet.

The first foodie tour at Evergreen Brickworks was a big success!  I highly recommend it not only for tourists, but even for locals to try it.  Spending an afternoon with such good quality food is a good way to share between family and friends.

As a last thought to share, Chef Brad Long’s Cafe Belong is to open in two weeks at Evergreen Brickworks (550 Bayview Avenue).  He says his vision is for people to have access to good food to grab and eat while exploring the grounds of Evergreen Brickworks. I would definitely be back for sure.  I gotta taste that brown butter vinaigrette again ;)

Special thanks to Trina Hendry of ChowBella Culinary Experiences & Concierge.  I am sure this food tour would be a hit!

Posted in: Toronto Eats