When I heard about a milestone birthday on the horizon for my friend and yummy leader, Erica Ehm, I knew I wanted to do something special. Erica has done so much for me personally, I wanted to show my appreciation. So, I did what I do best - I planned a party.
The first thing, when planning any party, is to come up with a solid theme. Once you nail that, the rest of the details extend from there. Erica is yummy, obviously. And her stomping ground is Toronto's Yonge street. So the theme for this party was, “Yonge and Yummy!”
I started with the guest list. Dear God this woman knows a lot of people. I was afraid of inadvertently leaving somebody out, so ultimately decided to keep it to just the ladies who blog for YMC and work behind the scenes. Guest list in hand, I went to work.
The plan was to cruise in a limo bus, pub crawl style, stopping at a series of fun venues along Yonge Street. Ever tried to secure a limo during the Toronto Film Festival? Thank God for Adria Mackenzie from GM Canada. This woman should have wings, because she’s an angel! She provided us with four pimped out vehicles and four (hunky) drivers! I rode in a sleek black Cadillac Escalade.
We felt like celebs for a day, cruising the strip in this sweet ride! Sharon made CDs of Erica's favourite tunes to play in each car. Even though Lyle Lovett was on the playlist, we still enjoyed it (just kidding Erica...he's hot).
Though she couldn't be there (*poor woman* was off touring Africa), Erica's mum, Evelyn had a sneaky hand in the planning. She booked a hair appointment for her daughter at a swanky salon in Yorkville. Mama Ehm, you are one fab lady. Thank you for your help!
As far as Erica knew, a few girlfriends would pick her up after her appointment for lunch and a day of shopping and low key antics. I couldn't help but tease her with random email messages asking if her tetanus shot was up-to-date or if she liked her strippers greased or ungreased.
The birthday ambush started at the salon. From there we whisked our coiffed friend down the road to her favourite store, Anthropologie. We pretended to search for a friend who was meeting us at the store. I received a (fake) text and exclaimed in disgust, "Of course, Sarah is trying something on. Sheesh. She wants us to come up to the change room." To Erica's surprise, when the change room door opened, the party guests were there!
The personal shoppers at Anthropologie went all out. If you ever visit the Yorkville location, ask for Jelena. She is amazing. They coordinated outfits for Erica to try on (later to be purchased with a gift card left by thoughtful Mama Ehm). We enjoyed snacks, browsed and had a good 'ol girlie great time!
Shopping bags in tow, we hopped in our GM chariots and headed uptown.
Our first tasty stop was Alex On Yonge, gourmet cheese shop. We nibbled and sampled and fondued. You can read more about that here.
Our next party destination was Scallywags at Yonge and St. Clair. It turns out, the proprietor's wife is a YMC member and she joined us on the patio. We ate, drank and toasted our birthday girl (I said, toasted, we didn't "get her toasted"...yet). My very first apartment was a few doors down from this awesome neighbourhood pub with one of the best rooftop patios in the city. It was so nice to be back. Sigh. Memories of the good old days.
In addition to a spread of tasty food and drinks, the folks at Scallywags surprised Erica with flowers and displayed the YMC website logo on their big screen T.V. for all to see.
Happy, full and possibly a little tipsy, we made our way up Yonge Street to Coco Rogue. This must-visit destination takes "chocolate bar" to a whole new level.
Owner Bruce Tanton spoiled us with sparkling shiraz, paired with origins chocolate. This super sexy location would be perfect for a date night or a funky GNO!
From there we headed over to our final stop - a quaint gastropub called The Twisted Kilt.
We felt very welcome and lucky to have the upstairs to ourselves, where we were treated to delicious nachos and flatbread. No time was wasted before shooters were racked up along the bar. Erica, not exactly a shooter kinda gal, played along and gingerly sipped her Bailey's shot for about three hours. lol!
Eileen (@YMCbuzz) may not have been there in body, but she was definitely there in spirit. We were treated to a beautiful slideshow retrospective she made for the occasion.
Cupcakes came next. Decadent, sweet, moist, YUMMY birthday cupcakes!! Thank to Elyse from Sullivan and Bleeker for this sweet treat.
On a night as momentous as this, there had to be swag. And just what kind of swag does one offer a bevy of Yummy Mummies? Why, wine of course! When STLTO heard about the party, they were in! Each party guest went home with a dressed up, sparkly bottle of STLTO wine! You can read more here.
Finally, a BIG yummy thank you to Cherie-Lynn from clbuchanan.com for capturing the night so exquisitely in photos.
I'm sure Erica's recollection of the night will be hazy after that ONE shooter. haha. But, thanks to CL, the memories are vivid and forever.
To view the video slideshow presentation Cherie-Lynn put together, click here.
Happy Birthday Ms. Ehm! You rock.
As we head into the season of which I dare not name (*hint: Daylight is limited and Kleenex is plentiful), I'm craving comfort food. Is there anything more comforting than melted cheese? I think not. Therefore, 'tis the season to host a fundue party!
Here's What You'll Need:
The host provides the cheese fondue (BEST recipe ever below), while guests go potluck for a chocolate fondue dessert.
Last weekend I visited Alex on Yonge – a gorgeous cheese shop in Toronto. Check out their yummy Facebook page for cheese expertise and recipes. I sampled some of the most delicious cheeses. My favourite was the cave-aged Gruyere.
Just when I thought my taste buds had died and gone to heaven, out came the fondue. I know my way around a fondue pot, and this was truly the best I’ve ever had. Serve this to your guests and I guarantee there will be applause.
Alex on Yonge’s Swiss Classic Fondue Recipe Serves 4 (or me)
250g Emmentaler cheese, grated
250g Gruyère cheese, grated
100g Vacherin Fribourgeois (or Appenzeller Extra)
1 Cloved garlic, halved
1 cup Dry white wine
1 tbsp Freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp Kirsch (dry cherry schnapps)
1 tbsp Cornstarch
Pinch Freshly ground white pepper
Pinch Ground nutmeg
* To make it easy, you can buy pre-packs of the cheese blend from Alex on Yonge.
1. In a bowl, combine Emmentaler, Gruyère, and Vacherin; mix well. Set aside.
2. Rub the inside of a large saucepan with cut sides of garlic. Discard garlic. Add wine and lemon juice; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.
3. Add cheese mixture in small amounts to saucepan, whisking constantly after each addition in a figure-eight motion until cheese is melted.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together kirsch and cornstarch until smooth; stir into melted cheese. Season with white pepper and nutmeg, stirring until smooth. Transfer to fondue pot and serve immediately.
For a sweet dessert, assign guests "dipping items" to bring for the chocolate fundue, i.e. strawberries, banana chunks, cake cut into cubes, etc.. There are lots of great chocolate fondue recipes, but I enjoy the simple Toblerone version.
Break up a 100g Milk Chocolate Toblerone bar and heat in a sauce pan on medium. Add a 300g can of condensed milk. Stir until the mixture is completely blended.
For a fall party, serve chocolate fondue in a pumpkin!
Kids at your party? Hopefully not, but sometimes we have to bring them along. I love my children, but I'm not letting them near a hot fondue pot or those pointy sticks. Here's a safe and simple, kid friendly fondue.
Get cheesy and have fun everybody! Happy FUNdue!
Here’s a simple and inexpensive way to host a low-key evening with friends. Bonus - you get to sample some new wines and beers. Er, wines and beer? I never know if it’s beer or beers. Whatever. Just keep ‘em coming and after a few beer(s), grammar doesn't matter as much no more do it?
Here’s how to hook this shindig up:
Invite a few couples.
Ask each woman to bring one favourite bottle of wine. Nothing expensive, just something tasty they enjoy and would recommend. Also request a small sample of a nice cheese to complement their wine.
Ask the guys to bring a six pack of an interesting beer. Perhaps a relatively unknown gem from a microbrewery. They should also bring a savoury snack to accompany their beer, i.e. chips, seasoned nuts (yes, I know there's a joke to be made, but I'm far too mature for that), pretzels, etc.
Set up two tables:
A wine table with glasses, cork screws and ice buckets to chill the whites. Put out the cheeses with a cutting board and knife. Provide crackers, tart apple slices and grapes and even some dark chocolate to nibble while enjoying the wines.
A beer table with beer stines, openers and a large ice bucket to keep the beer bottles chilled. Arrange the snacks on the table. Bring out some hot appies a little later in the evening, i.e. tangy chicken wings or hot flat breads with a yummy topping.
Have each guest say a few words about their wine and beer selections and then....have at it. Try everything. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite or at least have fun trying.
Cheers! ~ Party Mummy