Salumi and warm homemade foccacia bread, made in a huge pan from Italy
I really like my birthday. It's an excuse to do a lot of really fun things...just because. I'm also really hard to surprise because I'm a little Veronica Mars. Hip + urban husband and I, just sold our three-bedroom home on the Danforth and had moved into our new condo in St. Lawrence Market. Yes, I love food that much - I need to live near it. So I was pretty stressed out and was looking forward to a nice, relaxing dinner for just the two of us after a huge weekend of celebrations with friends. We were stopping by the old house before 'going out for dinner'...when I walked into an empty main floor set with just one table with dinner for two! My birthday dinner was going to be cooked by a private chef and it would also be the 'last supper' in our first starter home together *swoon*.
Appetizer #2 and quite possibly my favourite of the night - panko crusted mushrooms, fried and served on a bed of arugula. I love mushrooms and those were probably the best I have ever tasted.
Me and Chef Massimo! When hubby introduced me to this strange man standing in my former kitchen...I thought he was squatting there and hubby was breaking the news to me. Turns out he was the private chef hired to cook dinner for us that night! I really had no idea what to expect. I thought we were going out for a casual birthday dinner and that we were stopping at the house we just sold to pick up the mail. My head was literally stuck in the mailbox when hubby told me the news. I was VERY surprised! Big points for hubby for getting me the ultimate foodie dream experience. I'm not big into 'things' because we live in such a small space. An experience is worth every penny and something like this, I would cherish forever. I don't think there was even a spatula in my kitchen, but Massimo brought all his tools, a cooler, pans and the ingredients. We later found out that he lived literally around the corner from us, one street over. After dinner, he walked back to his house to grab his car! I think it was meant to be.
Centrepiece from the best and most creative florist in the city, Fresh Floral Creations - on the Danforth. All the orchids were individually set into a water tube and the arrangement lasted a full week. I have never been disappointed from anything I have received from Fresh.
A lovely and romantic dinner for two in our completely empty house! Hip + urban husband had to rent all the furniture, dishes, stemware and even forks from Chairman Mills. If you're ever hosting a dinner party - it's not very expensive if you agree to pick-up. You even get a 10% discount and you get to dress it up like a fancy dinner, except in your own home. I really loved the ghost chairs too.
Appetizer #3 - Shrimp with fresh & juicy grapefruit
Massimo makes fresh pasta on my kitchen counter. We had just come back from a big trip to Italy, so Massimo designed the menu around our love for strong olive oil and simple Tuscan cuisine. We found out afterwards that he worked at one of my beloved Italian restaurants, Seven Numbers. I highly recommend Massimo. He is so personable, friendly and easy to have around in your home. He welcomes interaction and answered all our questions about his preparation and suggestions on where to purchase authentic ingredients.
Pasta with roasted tomatoes
Chicken Cacciatore with fresh rosemary. By this time I was getting SO full. I think it was all the bubbles in the champagne. So I took a bite and then served this over the leftover pasta the next day for lunch and it was perfect. Incredibly light sauce with a very moist chicken, paired well with the thin pasta. I felt bad that I couldn't eat more!
Grilled Steak Florentine with good, strong olive oil and still moist sea salt sprinkled on top. So simple, but perfectly delicious. Proving that the best things don't need complicating...
Asparagus drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Chocolate Souffle - soft and warm on the inside
My vanilla and raspberry filling birthday cake with raspberry butter cream all over. From one of my favourite bakeries in Toronto, Yummy Stuff. We toast to my big birthday with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
For Dessert: Warm chocolate souffles with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream from Ed's Real Scoop. Melt-in-your mouth divine... Well, Happy Birthday to me. It was definitely the most *memorable* one yet and one of the best gifts I have ever received. To hire Massimo Bruno for a birthday surprise for your fave foodie, or for a cooking class, fancy dinner party or to attend one of his supper club workshops go to: