Whistle While You Work: The Steam Whistle Brewery Review

imageAs an Irish person living in the metropolis that is Toronto, it is impossible to escape the typical stereotype that comes with our nation’s territory. Known for being big party people, up for a laugh, and of course our fondness for a few sociable drinks, this image is something we pride; as this positive and harmless nature is adored by others.

So what better way to embrace the “Paddy” in me than to visit Toronto’s famous Steam Whistle Brewery, for a guided tour of its history and operations.

In Ireland, we have come to call Guinness “The Black Stuff,” but today I am moving further afield and introducing my taste buds to “The Golden Stuff.”

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Situated within The Roundhouse at 255 Bremner Blvd; beneath the shadow of the CN Tower, lies the Steam Whistle Brewing company itself. Originally built as a repair facility for steam trains in Downtown Toronto, this building played a huge role in helping to pioneer this great nation in times of development and discovery. And despite changing both product and purpose in later years, the Building stills provides many jobs to the city and continues to encourage Canadian innovation and promote creativity.

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The dream to create a memorable, premium Pilsner beer that Toronto could claim as it’s own and be proud of, first started when its founders Greg Taylor, Cam Heaps & Greg Cromwell set out on a canoe trip in the springtime of 1998. Here, they discussed at lengths their hopes and aspirations to one day own their own brewery, and create a Pilsner that would compete with already established beers and lagers across the world. And in the year 2000, this dream became a reality, when they opened for business and the “Steam Whistle was Born.”

 

imageAs I walked up to the Brewery, I remarked on how well maintained the building and it’s surrounding grounds were. The large red brick brewery, had fantastic period-style windows, typical of most factory buildings from 1930’s-1950’s. As I stepped through the doors, you could appreciate how the architecture ensures a perfect tourist experience. The layout has allowed the light from outside to illuminate the visitor reception and gift shop, making it feel refreshing, and both open & cosy at the same time.

Booking in for my 3pm slot, I met up with the rest of my group, who all happily chatted to each other, prior to the commencement of the tour. With a TOOT TOOT of the classic steam whistle horn behind the bar, the tour was set in motion and we were introduced to our fantastic tour guide Max.

imageAfter a complimentary bottle of Steam Whistle, our guide firstly told us how the beverage was created; by explaining to the group the brewing process, as well as the vital ingredients needed to make it happen. The smells, sounds and tastes awaken your senses within the brewing chamber, which only help to enhance the tour experience. Later we moved into several other rooms, where brew master decisions were made, as well as the bottling, canning, packing and distribution rooms. With 88,000 bottles produced per day, you can only imagine the amazing scenes that this number of green bottles look like… It was like walking into the Emerald City of Oz.

imageAs the guided tour concluded, Max encouraged us to ask any questions we had, which was really helpful and informative. If the tour wasn’t good enough already, we then got given another sample of Pilsner on Tap. With it’s smooth, refreshing taste, it was the perfect beverage on this hot day in Toronto.

In conclusion, the Steam Whistle tour was so enjoyable and a great way to spend my day off. As a person who loves a bit of history and sociable outings with friends, the brewery is a great way to put these two together.

You could only imagine my devastation, however, when I found out that this Pilsner is not sold back home in Ireland. But I do believe that someday it will. With the success of it already here in Canada, the only way is up. And when you think of it, with its beautiful, eye-catching green bottle and can, where else would it look better, than in the Emerald Isle? I’ll just have to make sure to raise a bottle of it on the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations next year, here in Toronto.

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But I must say, the tour and brewery itself would not be the success that it is, if not for the fabulous people that work inside. Our tour guide Max, was a wealth of information and with her fun personality, witty humour and welcoming manner, she was a delight to all the visitors. She had an infectious energy, which you couldn’t help but admire.

Also, I must give credit where credit is due for a second employee. As a writer, it is imperative as to how any story begins, develops and ends. The same goes for all interactions we have with others, especially in the tourism industry. I met a girl called Sarah working at the ticket desk as I first entered. She graciously greeted me and explained the offers that were available. Her warm, cheerful and bubbly personality make her an asset to the company.

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Whilst browsing the gift shop, Max and Sarah kindly agreed to have a photograph taken. As I thanked them, and waved goodbye, I realised that the Steam Whistle Brewery is definitely a gem within Toronto’s Tourism industry. For tourists, natives and everyone in between, make this attraction a MUST SEE on your to-do list.

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For more information on how to visit this attraction and where this beverage is sold, the official website can be found by clicking Here.

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Green Garden Beef & Mushroom Salad: A Restaurant Worthy Dish in your Own Kitchen

imageAs many of you may know, one of my many passions is discussing food/drink with my followers. An element of this blog, at times, has been used to review restaurants and places of fine dining. But don’t you think it’s time we developed some culinary skills of our own.

Regardless of cooking experience, we have all tried, at one point to recreate that one dish we always order in our favourite restaurant, or even try to awaken the dormant mixologist within ourselves, by thinking we can produce that signature cocktail.

Well, what if I told you that this can be possible? Take your favourite meal…break the elements down…identify the necessary ingredients…balance the flavours…but most of all, do it within a reasonable budget. Sound difficult? It’s not.

So without further ado, I will guide you through making a dish that I have come to adore preparing since moving to Toronto. It’s not only exceptional in taste, but also cheap to purchase, easy to put together and ready in no time at all.

imageI give you the Green Garden Beef & Mushroom Salad. Aspects of this meal have been inspired partly by numerous restaurant menus, as well as my own imagination and tastes.

All you will need are the following ingredients (Serves 2 People):

 

1) 6-7 Leafs of Green Curly Leaf Lettuce

2) 150-170g of Lean Beef Strips Cut Thin or Cubed (NOPAC MEAT, ON, Canada)

3) 1 Tablespoon of Sliced Green Olives (SARDO FOODS, ON, Canada)

4) 9-10 Cherry/Grape Tomatoes

5) 1 Clove of Garlic

6) Half of a White Onion

7) 4 White Mushrooms Uncooked (BELLE GROVE MUSHROOMS, ON, Canada)

8) 2 Tablespoons of Sweet Chilli Sauce

9) 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Natural Basil

10) Montreal Steak Seasoning

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So as mentioned before, the preparation process is quite simple:

STEP 1) After washing all of your produce, thinly slice the curly green lettuce. After this cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and then move onto cutting the 4 white mushrooms into medium-thick slices. Place all prepared produce into a large bowl, and add in 1 heaped tablespoon of sliced green olives to the salad mix.

STEP 2) Now that this is done, you need to carefully cut the beef strips into smaller pieces or cubes, if this is not already done for you. Lightly season raw meat with 1 teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning. Refridgerate until later.

STEP 3) Now dice half an onion and slice 1 clove of garlic. Add both of these to a non-stick frying pan, with a tablespoon of olive oil and lightly sauté. After this is completed, removed the previously seasoned meat from the refrigerator and add it to the pan. On a medium heat, occasionally turn to ensure the meat is cooked through. This should only take 2-3 minutes, due to the small amount of meat required.

STEP 4) TIME TO PLATE UP! Place the prepared salad onto a plate; followed by the beef, onion and garlic mix, which will be placed on top. However, no salad is complete without a dressing. With just 2 tablespoons of olive oil (Basil infused) and 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce, evenly mix the two together. By lightly drizzling on top of the dish, you have created the most complimentary condiment for your beef and mushroom salad.

STEP 5) GRAB A FORK, TUCK IN & ENJOY!!!

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So what did I say? Easy to do? Of course it is!

Now, I enjoy dining out as much as the next person. However, the majority of us; myself included, are on a budget and this luxury is not always affordable. But with this simple recipe, you can bring fine dining to your very own kitchen. Whether you use it as an afternoon snack or as a starter when guests are around…it will not fail to impress.

But most importantly, it is delicious and something you can be proud of. The colours, tastes and smells seem impossible with such simple ingredients, but it works wonderfully. To make the savouring process even more enjoyable, this healthy, appetising alternative is only 288 Calories per serving. So maybe this dish is a true exception to the statement that “Everything that tatstes good is bad for us.”

An important part of this salad is the ingredients; specifically the mushrooms and olives. I myself am a huge fan of mushrooms, ever since I was a child. Therefore I always look for the best quality, but still at an affordable price. This is why I continue to choose BELLE GROVE MUSHROOMS time and time again. They are packed full of B vitamins and antioxidants, as well as being low in carbs. Mushrooms surprisingly make you feel fuller for longer, which quickly disperses the opinion that hunger cannot be simply satisfied with salad. Belle Grove Mushrooms are grown entirely pesticide free, which relieves many of our health conscious society in Canada. These particular Mushrooms can be purchased in all Metro Stores.

The olives on the other hand are great for hair growth, skin quality and, most importantly, contain oleic acid, which has been associated with improved heart health.

As a person whose cholesterol likes to creep up and scare them from time to time, these 2 ingredients are the most beneficial additions to any dishes I create. So there you have it folks… A cooking lesson and a health analysis rolled into one blog. How lucky are you? 

Let me know how you get on with this recipe, and I hope you enjoy your culinary experience. Happy cooking my little fairy followers. xxx.

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Meghan Patrick: Let’s Get Countrified

imageHello to all my Fairy Followers, or should I say; in the spirit of this new article…HOWDY YA’LL!

So what do we think of when we hear country music these days? Do we think about family, home or maybe even songs of long, forgotten love and loss. Even the words country music conjure up images of iconic artists such as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Taylor Swift and The Dixie Chicks.

But what if I was to tell you that there is a new singer-songwriter on the block, who not only takes all the classic elements of the country genre, but adds a new, edgy and exciting twist to the music we have all come to love.

Let me introduce you to the new Princess of Country Music…Meghan Patrick.

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This young artist, at only 29 years old, has dedicated the majority of her teen and adult years to pursuing her dream of being a country music star. She is already taking the West Coast by storm, and soon Europe and beyond, with her boot-kicking, toe-tapping and hip swaying new music.

Originally from Bowmanville, Ontario in Canada, Meghan was the lead singer of The Stone Sparrows, a popular roots group. After deciding to go their separate ways in 2013 and pursue different career paths, Meghan set out in search of her destiny in the music world.

Needless to say, it was not long before music executives heard her strong, unique & effortless voice and recognised her undeniable passion, and with this she signed a recording contract with Warner Music Canada and a publishing deal with Ole Nashville.

imageImmediately, Meghan set everything in motion by starting to write, compose, rehearse and perform each song that was to make it onto her debut album. Not only is this lady a professional in composing and a genius in writing musical lyrics, but she possesses the heart, soul and attitude required in their deliverance, as a performer.

Meghan has been quoted in the past as saying, “I was drawn to playing guitar, so I could start writing music to go along with the words I was writing. I wanted to be self-sufficient as a creative artist.

And you only have to listen to her debut album to hear this for yourself. Released on April 29th 2016, she cleverly named her album, GRACE & GRIT.

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In my opinion, there could not have been a better name for this musical effort, as it describes its content perfectly. As I listened to the entire playlist, I understood how clever it was for Meghan to split the selection of songs into a mixture of initial heart-warming and emotional ballads (The Grace) and then inject the album with a taste of raw, passionate and powerful tunes (The Grit), in equal measures.

Since its release, her music has went from strength to strength, through her performances in several music venues; most recently in Peller Estates Winery, Niagara On The Lake.

imageHer debut single off the album has been her most popular to date, titled Bow Chicka Wow Wow. The lyrics are sexy and smooth, the tempo is upbeat and addictive, and the Music Video to accompany its release, makes the song Triple Country Perfection!!

The video itself is filled full of strong, confident women, cowboy hats and boots, ripped denim shorts, as well as fantastic dance scenes. Throw a “bar hunk” into the mix and great Canadian Beer on tap, and you’ve got yourself a top class accompaniment to an amazing song.

The album is packed full of tunes that everyone will fall in love with. If you’re not tearing up to Still Loving You, you will be either swaying to I Won’t Drink or raising a glass to I Believe In Beer.

imageSo if you are reading this, then I hope it will encourage you to get online and start listening to this outstanding new addition to the music scene. For ages we have been in search for a breath of fresh air, and Meghan Patrick is the answer to our prayers.

So if you like what you’re hearing then make sure to purchase Meghan’s album by clicking the following links or through iTunes.

To purchase Meghan’s album in the US & Canada via the official website click here, or via amazon.ca click here.

To purchase Meghan’s album in the UK, please click here.

Meghan can be also seen performing at the CMAO Showcase at Country Music Week on Sept 9th 2016. The Show is taking place at The Bull & Barrel Urban Saloon, at 359 Talbot Street, London.

imageShe will also be presenting at the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards, which airs on September 11th 2016 at 10pm on CMT, where she is also nominated for “Songwriter of the Year.

Since contacting Meghan via social media, she has promised the public, “I’ll have all upcoming tour dates on my website.” So if you want to see Meghan on tour in both Canada and the US, as well as throughout Europe (hint…hint…Ireland, my home country), then we all must make sure to purchase her album; either CD or digital download, using the links provided above.

Let’s show the world how fantastic this girl truly is, and let’s get #COUNTRIFIED. 

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Visit Meghan Patrick’s Official Website by clicking here.

You can also view all music videos and more media content by clicking here.