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Toronto in the winter can be universally terrible, except during Winterlicious when restaurants decide open their doors and keep us warm with affordable prix-fixe meals. Winterlicious, the 13th annual mid-winter culinary feast, which kicked off January 30 and comes to an end today.
From $18 lunches to $45 dinners (and other price points in between), Winterlicious puts a lot of restaurants within our price range. This is the 13th year for the event, and over 200 eateries are participating this year — a long list to wade through if you’re looking for a dinner spot.
For those who don’t know the Winterlicious and Summerlicious started in 2003 to boost the city’s restaurant industry. So far, it has generated more than $215 million. The event is run by the special events department of the city, and the city selects which restaurants are allowed to take part. There are several rules for becoming a participating restaurant, including certain price standards, a clean health inspection record, and good reviews from prominent Toronto restaurant review guides. It is also closed to chains. There is much demand to be included in Winterlicious. While the prices are discounted, participating restaurants see three to four times as much business.
If you read my restaurant reviews you’ll notice that one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto is Auberge du Pommier. My first visit during regular service was love at first bite, and I was not going to let Winterlicious pass me by without paying them another visit.
The weather outside was frightful but Winterlicious at Auberge du Pommier was so delightful!
My menu choices for the Winterlicious menu:
Instead of order a bottle of wine I decided to go with the wine pairing option, which lets you enjoy a different glass of wine with every one of your courses. For $20 per person this is a great way to indulge in different types of grapes and wine countries.
Spiced Pork Terrine — pork cretons, apple cranberry gelée, pickled vegetables, rye toast. There are so many reasons I love terrines. For starters they look pretty impressive for little work, plus the ingredients (and high satiating fat ratio) make this perfect for a feast.
White Bean Velouté — smoked sturgeon, sweet sour onion jam, warm bean salad, scallion crème fraîche. This soup might not have the most appealing name, but its smooth creamy texture and deep rich flavor definitely won me over.
Winter Provençal Fish Stew — poached fish & seafood, fennel, leeks, saffron rice, spiced orange & preserved tomato. This classic French shellfish and fish stew recipe was the perfect choice for a winter comfort dish; fragrant with tomatoes, fennel, garlic, orange peel, saffron and thyme. Harmoniously hot, rich, and soothing.
Venison & Beef Haché — fried egg, sweet & sour beets, sautéed spinach, horseradish & cauliflower purée. What a combination, Venison and beef! A very intense Haché. High quality meat cooked near perfectly and finished with a really great smokey flavour that I loved.
Beignet — fried donuts, apple cider parfait, apple butter. I had never had a beignet before, but I had a pretty good idea of what they would taste like. Pillowly and yeasty little balls of dough, covered in powdered sugar.
Chocolate — cocoa brioche, chocolate marquise, cashew, blood orange coulis. The design is perfection and the cashews just makes it a winner.
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise paired with the beignets. This wine displays very delicate, lovely aromas and prominent flavors of honey, dried apricot and raisins.
Going to Auberge du Pommier for a meal never gets old, boring or out of fashion. When I was first introduced to Auberge du Pommier a few years back I quickly learned that it’s a restaurant that never fails on consistency, attention to detail, great service, not to mention the superb food.