This summer in Toronto, our city had the privilege of hosting over 41 countries in the 2015 Pan Am Games. Despite not a lot of interest and attention on the games from the local Torontonians, there were a lot of great events hosted around the city that you could take part of if you really paid attention. It’s ironic that I didn’t attend or pay attention to any of the Toronto Pan Am Games events, but that I was attending a “hand over” ceremony for the upcoming 2019 Pan Am Games which will be hosted in Lima, Peru. I actually didn’t even know that this was where the upcoming games will be!
Thank you, Mark, for inviting me to this private reception! It was a Taste of Peru Private Reception for the 2019 games where over 200 people were invited including dignitaries from Peru since the “hand over” ceremony was going to be the very next day. It was held at the Stirling Room at the the beautiful and historic Distillery District in Toronto. I had heard about the Stirling Room before but had never been so I was also excited for that as well.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this Taste of Peru private reception. I had thought that it would be like an open room with booths where there would be chefs having cooking demos and people walking around with food for us to try. This was definitely not the case!
In the invitation e-mail, it included this description of the event: This celebration for the reception includes vendors from a broad range of diverse manufacturers showcasing their agricultural products, retail products, seafood products, apparel and exportable services. Guests will enjoy product tastings such as Maca, Sacha, Inchi, Golden Berries, Quinoa, as well as super fruit drinks — all of which are enriched with attending nutritionists who will be providing the ingredients for a healthy diet and menu options.
There were also are specialized Chefs doing live cooking demos with ingredients from Peru such as Chef Giancarlo Colombaro, of PIsco 1641, and
Chef Dennis Palma Cedeño, Executive Chef and Partner of Hunters Landing. Also, there would be a variety of cocktails made from the Peruvian traditional brandy, Pisco.
I arrived early to the Distillery District early with my guest and friend Jack before the event started at 7 p.m. From 5 to 7 p.m. at day, they also had some free Peruvian Super Smoothies that anyone could walk in to try. Jack and I had a field day trying all of the samples. They had flavours like apple pie, lime pie (with avocado inside), sanna banana and sanna chocolate. I absolutely loved the chocolate one. It was the best! 🙂
This was a nice start to the evening but we still had some time before the event started so we strolled around Distillery District where there are a lot more pop-up shops for merchandise and eating than I’ve seen before in the Distillery District. In fact, these were shipping containers, much like the ones I had seen at Petit Nuage at Market 707. We toured the bakery and patisserie shop at Cluny Bistro and that crazy shop that sells the most fascinating and laugh-inducing stuff I’ve ever seen. It was a lot of fun. 🙂
Once 7 p.m. hit, we walked back to the Stirling Room and were admitted. I was on the guest list since Mark had put me on it. I got a nifty name tag with my name on it and the Taste of Peru signage on it. 😀 I felt important since everyone there had their names on name tags too. It seemed that we were the youngest ones there. Everyone was dressed very classy and nice for the event.
We walked inside Stirling Room to scope out the place. They were just starting and people were still arriving. The highlight of the night were the two chefs that would be cooking and serving food for us. I was really excited!
Before long, there was a line-up of people building and Chef Giancarlo Colombaro was preparing his ceviche for us to try. It took a little bit of time for us to get to the front of the line to get our food and there was a little bit of a chaos because the line wasn’t organized. Nevertheless, we each got a serving of ceviche to try. It was made fresh in front of our eyes with fresh fluke, limo pepper, cilantro, fresh lime juice, glazed sweet potato, Andean corn, and red onion. I liked seeing how Chef Giancarlo Colombaro would taste each batch of ceviche juice to make sure that it was up to his standard or adjust it before serving. It was great!
This was also a fantastic ceviche. I’ve had ceviches before but this one contained the best mixture of sauce I’ve ever had. It was perfectly tart with a little bit of spice and the ingredients were just so fresh! The butterfish was soft and smooth too. Delicious! The glazed sweet potato was also a great addition in there because it was so soft and sweet. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Andean corn since it was a little hard to chew through and I didn’t like its texture. Jack and I actually were able to get another serving after we had a taste of the Peruvian traditional brandy, Pisco.
The Pisco was served by Vera Spirit, a featured bartender who specializes in molecular gastronomy. So cool! We had to wait in line for a little bit to get this drink but it was very good! It was pretty strong too but I held up pretty well. 🙂
After this, the food started to flow quite well! Chef Dennis Palma Cedeño, Executive Chef and Partner of Hunters Landing, was serving his lamb chops! Just as I was in line, this was when Mark found me and I was so thrilled when he was able to bring me to the front of the line since I was “media” so that I could get the food without lining up. Food blogger is I. 😛
I was very grateful for this! 🙂 The Huacatay marinated lamb chops with squash al aji amarillo and peruvian mini peppers was ridiculous! It not only looked amazing like it came from a five-star restaurant but the taste was incredible. I am a huge fan of lamb and lamb chops and lamb rack and this one was one of the best I’ve ever had. The meat was marinated perfectly and it was medium rare with the fat on the bones. Even the fat contained so much juice and flavour. Oh, man, this was amazing! 😀
After that, the food kept coming. I had the Peruvian quinoa prawns with aji panca aioli next. It was interesting to me that they use a lot of quinoa in their cooking! I’ve never had quinoa-encrusted prawns before, but it was delicious! I loved the aji panca aioli as it was creamy and just the right spiciness. The prawn was large and juicy and the quinoa was such a unique texture and flavour to it. It was so good!! I’m happy I got to eat two. 😀 (My mouth is watering as I’m writing this and recalling how amazing it was!)
Up next, I had something else from the first chef, Chef Giancarlo Colombaro. He was serving shrimp morsels and also octopus bites. It was unique and pretty good! It was on a spoon and easy to eat. 🙂
As it was quite crowded inside the Stirling Room with no place to sit, we kept moving around from inside to get food and walking outside to the patio where there were comfortable lounge sofas to sit on and eat. It was a hot day but it was a beautiful venue and lots of great food!
Our last serving from Chef Dennis Palma Cedeño was the Cocoa-maca striploin medallions with purple corn jus. Wow, I really didn’t expect such great-tasting and high-quality food at this event. The striploin medallions were the real deal and so tender and tasty. Some of it was a little tough to chew through but the flavouring and sauce was delectable! Delicious! 😀
We were still running back and forth from inside the restaurant to outside to enjoy the nice summer air with our food. We also met a few new friends and were chatting with them throughout the night. However, we did manage to catch some dessert before we leave. All thanks to Mark too who got us some! 🙂
For dessert, we had the Mango and Chia mousse with pisco macerated golden berries. These chia seeds that were inside the mango mousse reminded me again of the quinoa that they use in their dishes. It was a light dessert and the moose was so smooth. This was a great dessert and so unique too because of the little seeds inside the mousse. Yum! The golden berries were chewy like raisins and gave an extra boost of texture to the dessert too!
As a grand finale, Mark led us down into the downstairs kitchen where I got to meet Chef Giancarlo Colombaro again. I also got to try a sweet dessert that you could drink from a shot glass. I couldn’t remember the name though. Oops. I also got to chat quickly with him and another chef and took a picture with them too! What a wonderful night it was. 🙂
I really have to thank Mark for bringing me to this event and taking care of me so well throughout the night. He made sure that I got my food first for most of the night so that I didn’t have to spend too much time waiting in line. It was an amazing experience! It totally exceeded my expectations. Now I can say that I’ve been to the Stirling Room and also a Hand Over Ceremony for the Lima Pan Am Games in 2019! How cool! Thank you, thank you, again! 🙂
Before we left Distillery for the night, we enjoyed some live entertainment from The Hot Sardines band. Happy Pan Am Games 2015, Toronto! You did a great job! I wonder if we’ll get the 2024 Olympic bid? :O
FTC Disclaimer: Although Mark reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to showcase the Taste of Peru Private Reception, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the organization.