The 2014 Gourmet Food and Wine Expo Recap

Group 1

Getting ready to explore the annual Gourmet Food and Wine Expo for the first time!

This year, Raj and I attended the “VIP Preview Evening” of the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. Even though it may sound exclusive, this “VIP Night Admission” on Thursday, November 20, 2014 was open to anyone 19 years of age or older. It was just a chance to attend the event before the “General Admission”, which ran from Friday, November 21, 2014 to Sunday, November 23, 2014. To be honest, if our tickets were not comped, we would not have attended. Although the food and wine selections were great and extensive, it was really crowded and the $45 “VIP Night Admission” tickets did not include any sample tickets, which were an additional $20 minimum. The sample tickets costed and were worth $1 each and they were sold only in multiples of 20. According to their website, the “average spending to enjoy a wide variety of food and drinks is $40 per person”. For us, $20-$30 per person was more than enough.

It only took about one hour after arriving to find Ginny amid the chaos.

It only took about one hour after arriving to find Ginny amid the chaos.

While we found the admission costs high, the food and drinks were reasonably priced and we had a blast sampling food from various restaurants across the city and a few drinks here and there. There were lots of healthy food options for Raj and me too! Here is a recap…

Me and Doug McNish

I was so excited to see Vegan Chef Doug McNish there! He was serving a black bean slider (with roasted red pepper chipotle aioli and caramelized onions) and kale caesar salad (with smoked eggplant “bacon”) for $8. They were so good and you would never guess they were completely vegan!

Nutrafarms Chicken Salad

One of my favourite dishes from the event was the quinoa salad with chicken from Nutrafarms. It was such a simple dish, but I loved it! ($3)

Me and Almond Breeze Collage

Almond Breeze was sampling their different flavours and varieties of almond milk and their Vegan Berry Lemon Muffins recipe (featuring their sweetened Original almond milk). Their drink and muffin samples were complimentary. While the muffin recipe is not all that “clean”, the muffins were certainly delicious and my lactose-intolerant digestive system was just happy they were dairy-free.

Almond Milk and Butternut Squash Soup

Natur-a made butternut squash soup (one of my favourite soups) with their almond milk. It was creamy even without any dairy! The samples were complimentary.

Me and Brown Rice Triscuit

Triscuit was handing out free samples of their new Brown Rice Triscuits.

Nisos Importing Collage

The organic and herb-infused olive oils from Nisos Importing were so aromatic and flavourful! All their products are imported from the biggest Southern island of Greece, Crete.

Me and Rock Lobster Collage

Rock Lobster. Enough said.

Holy Crap Cereal

I finally got to try Holy Crap breakfast cereal! This high-fibre, gluten-free, vegan cereal contains only organic chia seeds, organic buckwheat, organic hulled hemp seeds, organic raisins, organic cranberries, organic apple bits, and organic cinnamon. It tasted better than any oatmeal breakfast I’ve had!


Me and Meow That's Hot Collage

If you’ve been following our blog, it’s no secret that Raj and I love hot sauces! The preservative-free and additive-free hot sauces from Ottawa by Meow! That’s Hot. were tasty and none were too spicy.


Japanese Dishes

There were some interesting Japanese dishes, none of which I was in the mood to try. From top left, clockwise: Seaweed Salad (the only one of the five dishes that Raj and I have tried before), Ankimo Mentai (steamed monkfish liver with spicy cod roe), Chuka Iidako (seasoned baby octopus), Tsubukko Tako Wasabi (seasoned octopus with wasabi), and Kimchee Wakame (spicy garlic seaweed salad).


Bartender in Action

To stay on the healthy track, I limited myself to a maximum of two drinks that night. One of my two drinks was an Orange-Creamsicle-like cocktail made with Pinnacle Vodka. The vodka was too strong, so it didn’t really taste much like an Orange Creamsicle. I wasn’t a fan. The bartender’s mixing skills were better than the drink.


Me and Muskoka Lakes Winery Collage

Raj and I attended the Niagara Food and Wine Expo earlier this year and one of our favourite wines there was the Muskoka Lakes Winery Cranberry Blueberry Wine. So when we spotted it here, I knew it HAD to be one of my two drinks for the night! So sweet, fruity, and festive! ($2)

Next year, if we decide to attend, we will most likely go on Friday before 5 PM or on Sunday when admission tickets are $25 each and $20 each, respectively. It will probably be less crowded then too. I am happy that we finally had a chance to attend this annual event and that there were healthy food options. We had a great time!




HiM Promotions – Gorgeously Fit Men + Messy Show = Hot Mess! (Sorry!)

Me  and Milan

Me with Milan, who was one of the runner-ups for the cover spot on the HiM 2015 calendar. (The 2014 UFC Ultimate Fighter winner, Elias Theodorou, won, but Milan was my first pick.)

HiM (Handsome International Men) Promotions is a company that offers “classy, dynamic and sensual show[s] of male athleticism” to “liven up your events, fundraisers and promotions”. Raj and I were invited to their HiM Coliseum show production last Wednesday and it was nothing like what we expected. If I had to sum up the show in two words, it was a “hot mess”. Let me start from the beginning…

Me and Greg Collage

One of the HiM men, Greg, greeted everyone at the entrance and literally carried me to my seat!

Upon entry and signing in, we were greeted by one of the great looking HiM men, Greg. He actually lifted and carried me all the way to my seat, which was fun!

Me, Greg and Milan Collage

Milan and Greg definitely take care of their bodies in terms of fitness and diet!

At the back of the seating area, there was a HiM Promotions backdrop, in front of which you could take pictures with two of the HiM men before the show. As you can see, I got pictures with Greg and Milan. Milan was one of the runner-ups for the cover spot on the HiM 2015 calendar. He was actually my first pick for the cover spot, which ended up going to Elias Theodorou, the 2014 UFC Ultimate Fighter winner.

Show About to Start

Getting ready for a show that was nothing like what we anticipated.

With such great looking buff guys to greet guests and with $35 ticket prices, which do not cover any drinks or food, I was expecting to be amazed by “feats of strength, speed, and agility” as HiM Promotions describe it. Instead, I was scratching my head at the random kicks in the air, ball tossing, pretend sparing, running in one spot, etc. Sure, there were a few neat flips here and there, but for the most part, it was just a series of random jumps, leaps, kicks, and punches in the air, which lacked coordination at times. You can see and judge for yourself…

Me, Raj and Calendar Collage

You can purchase the HiM 2015 calendar with the 2014 UFC Ultimate Fighter winner, Elias Theodorou, on the cover HERE. A portion of the proceeds goes toward Rethink Breast Cancer.

All in all, I think HiM Promotions has a gorgeous roster of male models, but they need more of a “wow factor” in their show, especially when general admission tickets alone are $35 each. For $20 more ($55 ticket), you could get a HiM 2015 calendar featuring the HiM men along with your general admission. You would be saving a bit since the calendars sell for $29.80 each online here. Either way, a portion of the proceeds go to Rethink Breast Cancer. Although I can’t stand behind the show, I can stand behind gorgeously fit men raising money and awareness for breast cancer.



National Women’s Show 2014 Recap

Me on Escalator to #NWSToronto

I was so excited to introduce Raj to the National Women’s Show this year!

The National Women’s Show definitely hit a home run this year at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre! We attended on Sunday, which was the last day of this weekend-long trade show, and none of the booths seemed to be running low on samples or products. Everyone was well prepared and well stocked for the massive crowds! Raj was thinking of packing a lunch for the day, but I told him he wouldn’t need a lunch and I was right. There were so many food booths handing out samples this year that we were so full by the end of the show. There were also many great deals on food, beverages, beauty products, clothes, supplements, accessories, etc. One of my favourite parts about the show was discovering many new and/or Canadian companies and getting to meet the people behind them. We managed to visit and chat with most (not all) of the booths and here is just the tip of the iceberg…

We arrived at the National Women's Show prepared for a lot of walking and sampling, both of which counteract each other.

We arrived at the National Women’s Show prepared for hours of walking and sampling!

Me & Biocore

We visited the BioCore Food Science booth and I introduced Raj to their “microGREENS” product, which is one of my favourite tasting greens drink mixes. His response after sampling some: “Oh wow, that was actually pretty good!” Yep.

Me & Almond Fresh

This was my first time hearing about and trying this almond milk company called Almond Fresh. Raj’s favourite flavour was chocolate and mine was coconut. I just wish their chocolate flavoured one wasn’t so high in sugar (21 grams of sugar per cup) and their coconut flavoured one wasn’t sweetened with refined white sugar. However, they do have an unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk, as well as an unsweetened vanilla flavoured one.

Me & Made Good

I loved these granola minis by MadeGood, especially the strawberry flavoured ones! Their organic and peanut-free granolas are rolled up into bite-size pieces and they contain vegetables (spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, and shiitake mushrooms), all of which you cannot taste! It’s always great when you find a tasty way to add a bit more veggies into your diet.

Me & Pranin Organic

One of my most exciting finds at the National Women’s Show this year was Pranin Organic. Their supplements are 100% organic, non-GMO, dairy-free, corn-free, yeast-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. They are also made entirely from food (so no synthetic nutrients) and they do not contain any binders or fillers. We tried their “PureFood B” (a B-vitamins supplement), “PureFood Iron” (a bio-available, non-heme iron supplement), and “Complete A to Z” (a powdered multivitamin mix). Raj and I were both pleasantly surprised that they all tasted great!

Me & Van Dyk's

I’m not a big fan of fruit juices in general, but I love Van Dyk’s By Nature pure wild blueberry juice. It is made only from grade-A wild blueberries that are grown in Nova Scotia and it does not contain any sweeteners, preservatives, or additives. My favourite way to enjoy this pure blueberry juice is in salad dressings.

Me & Raj w/ Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co.

Muskoka Roastery Coffee Company served amazing coffee at the National Women’s Show. There was an unflavoured coffee and a flavoured one at the show. Raj chose their flavoured “Muskoka Maple” coffee and he really enjoyed it. I, on the other hand, strongly dislike all flavoured coffees, so I chose the “Loon Call Breakfast Blend” unflavoured medium coffee and it was delicious!

Me & Clarisonic

I have friends who swear by the Clarisonic and believe that this oscillating facial cleansing brush should be a necessary tool in everyone’s skincare routine. I have contemplated purchasing it, but I have been skeptical about its effectiveness. However, after getting a demonstration done on the back of my left hand, I have added this beauty tool to my Christmas wishlist! It was so gentle and left my hand feeling so clean and smooth! Imagine the potential skin improvements if I used this brush on my face daily! I sense a Clarisonic purchase in my near future.

Raj knows my favourite lipsticks are from Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). So when we spotted a YSL booth at the National Women's Show, he knew we just HAD to visit. The makeup artist there suggested some products for me to try. He applied one of the new Rouge Volupté Shine lipstick shades on my lips, a complementary Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain lipgloss shade on top, and some of their

Raj knows my favourite lipsticks are from Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). So when we spotted a YSL booth at the National Women’s Show, he knew we just HAD to visit. The makeup artist there suggested some products for me to try. He applied one of the new Rouge Volupté Shine lipstick shades on my lips, a complementary Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain lipgloss shade on top, and some Touche Éclat complexion highlighter under my eyes. I was glad the YSL booth was actually our second stop, because I got to show off the fabulous YSL makeup and his application skills for almost the entire show.

Me and Phasion Village

I’m a minimalist when it comes to my hair. I use clean shampoos that are free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. Also, I hardly ever apply conditioner, styling products, or heat to my hair. At the show though, I treated my hair to some large loose curls by a woman from Phashion Village. There was so much to see and do that I only had time to curl a quarter of my hair!

Me and Camry Collage

We got to check out the new 2015 Toyota Camry. Afterwards, we received a small gift bag containing a bottle of hot sauce, a pair of red socks, and Sally Hansen press-on nail designs.

Me Exit

After SIX hours of walking and exploring every booth, we were exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to sift through the bags of goodies and samples we received.

#NWSToronto Loot

The goodies and samples from this year’s National Women’s Show were amazing! Some of my highlights include: BioCore coreOMEGA omega-3 supplement, Schick Intuition razors, Stayfree sanitary pads, a basil plant starter, and a portable cellphone charger.

Congratulations to the National Women’s Show for putting together another successful and super fun trade show in Toronto this year! The next one will be in Québec City this weekend (November 15th-16th, 2014), followed by one in Montréal (March 13th-15th, 2015) and another in Ottawa (April 11th-12th, 2015). If those shows are anything like the one in Toronto this past weekend, I highly recommend checking it out and setting aside at least a few hours to explore everything. Even if you don’t meet any celebrity guests like we didn’t this year, the show is still a blast!