DR Food Fest kicks off in Toronto

11-03-2016 10:02 am
DR Food Fest kicks off in Toronto
Abdalah Castillo, chairman of the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic & Elaine De Windt, encargada de creacion y recetas, Kah Kow Chocolate Company

“We all know how to eat chocolate,” Elaine De Windt, encargada de creacion y recetas (recipe creator) for Kah Kow Chocolate Company told guests at a curated chocolate tasting yesterday at Marché Brookfield Place, “but not a lot of us know how to taste it.”

The tasting, which featured Kah Kow’s organic and gourmet chocolate products, was part of a kick-off brunch for the Dominican Republic Food Fest at Marché Brookfield Place in Toronto, taking place Nov. 2-4 and showcasing a customized menu designed by renowned chef and Dominican food ambassador Ines Paez Nin (aka Chef Tita).

The festival is part of a campaign by the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic to promote the country’s increasingly innovative culinary scene, as illustrated by the avante-garde creations on Chef Tita’s menu, such as mangu (mashed plaintains with fried cheese, fried egg and chocolate covered bacon) and salpicon (a ceviche salad with lion fish and mangos).

“We’re here this week to show [Torontonians] that we have more than just beaches in the Dominican Republic,” Abdalah Castillo, chairman of the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic greeted guests as the event began. “We have culture, we have a very high-end gastronomic scene, and we have some of the best cacao in the world.”

It was dessert first for guests of the event, with a tasting of Kah Kow’s signature chocolate products led by De Windt, who spoke on the importance of using five senses (see, hear, smell, touch and of course, taste) to experience a Dominican delicacy which has been a popular world export since approximately 1965 (43 per cent of which is currently supplied to Canada).

Guests sipped Dominican hot chocolate, a unique blend of ginger, milk, cacao and malagueta (sweet pepper) as they examined, snapped, smelled and sampled chocolate Kah Kow squares, looking for notes of almond, licorice and a smooth flavour.

“Our island is very fertile, and we enjoy a microclimate,” De Windt informed PAX. “Everybody knows our beaches, of course, but our landscapes, our mountains are there to for people to discover, and that makes our food ingredients very diverse.”

Chef Tita’s five course brunch followed the cacao experience, featuring quintessential Dominican dishes including fruit tartar, roasted pork sandwiches and salad with chocolate vinaigrette.

A selection of Chef Tita’s authentic culinary creations, along with an exhibition of crafts and artwork by Dominican artisans will be available to the public at Marché until Nov. 4.