Now that December is well underway, I am still reminiscing on some amazing moments from the last year of our lives here at DoTheDaniel.com. With so many to pick from, it’s important for me to remind myself how incredibly lucky I am to have this platform to share with you all – and how amazing it is that I have had it for almost five years. As we draw nearer to 2019 and our fifth birthday as a blog in January, I am so happy about the return of the rejuvenated #DanielsDish.
From where it all started, five years later things are coming full circle for me and the blog in the best ways possible.
For those of you who didn’t know, #DoTheDaniel originally launched as a food blog. Coming from a contributor for one of the best fashion blogs in the country, I wanted to create a platform to share the world that I called home for over a decade. Having worked in the restaurant industry for such a huge part of my life, I wanted to showcase what Toronto had to offer when it came to dinning experiences. #DanielsDish was born as my first regular column and I loved it for a very long time.
I should be honest, there was a reason that inspired this desire to launch the new column. At the time I was really upset with the food critics of the city because all they did was point out the negative and criticize. Not knowing whether these “experts” knew they could destroy someone’s dream with one bad review, I set out to try and focus on the positive. Even if it wasn’t perfect, and I was honest when it wasn’t perfect (because I don’t like the idea of promoting something I don’t enjoy or use. Never have. Never will) I tried to point out the good and showcase what each restaurant offered to their patrons. Because in a sea of choices, everyone has something unique that makes them shine.
Life get’s busy, as it does, and eventually as we transitioned into a lifestyle blog I simply let the column fizzle out. Flash forward several years, and here we are in 2018 with a rejuvenated #DanielsDish which has evolved into a new iteration. So, what does it entail? Essentially the idea is to gather together 8-10 of my friends and colleagues at a restaurant in Toronto to showcase what they do best. Pairing the restaurant with an amazing alcohol partner, we get to share the experience with you all. Here are just a few of my favourite moments (and people) from our first of the new series in partnership with Labora Restaurant & Bar and Ungava Gin.
So let’s talk a little bit about Labora Restaurant & Bar. Located conveniently in the heart of downtown Toronto, this Spanish inspired restaurant seeks to take the idea of tapas and bring it to a whole new level. From the intimate and almost baroque vibe when you walk in the doors, the restaurant lives up to the idea that food is meant to be an adventure. I can’t remember who wrote the quote, but it went something along the lines of a meal can allow you to travel the world without leaving the comfort of your restaurant table. I’ve always believed that food is meant to be enjoyed with those you love, and so the fact that I was able to relaunch this series with eight incredible human beings who all inspire me in ways they can’t understand still brings a tear to my eye.
The menu itself truly showcased what the restaurant and it’s undeniably talented bar staff are able to do for you. From the Atun to Rubia Gallega (a MUST in my opinion as you’ll see from the photo of my stuffing my face below), the dishes are elegantly simple. I think the idea of Tapas can get a little lost in the restaurant world or become overly complicated. Not at Labora. From the family style dishes such at the Arros Brut (one of the heartiest menu items I have had in a long time) to the Pulpo, Labora is at the top of my list for date nights going into the new year. The ambiance of candle light and the open kitchen makes it feel as though you’re coming home for a meal you won’t soon forget.
Pairing a meal with a delicious cocktail is no easy task. For those of you who host dinner parties, or enjoy going out to eat with friends like I do, you’ll know what I mean. I remember being introduced to Ungava Gin many moons ago – around the same time that Daniel’s Dish was in it’s heyday now that I think about it – and being enamored by the bright yellow colour.
To quote myself from 2014 (jeez. That’s surreal to do) “with ingredients such as Nordic Juniper, Wild Rose Hips, Cloudberry, Crowberry, Arctic Blend and Labrador Tea… this is a gin like none I have ever seen.” And that is still very true. Having a more herbaceous and floral palette than you might expect from a gin, it actually is extremely versatile and lends to the idea of creating not only beautiful cocktails but delicious ones! The team at Labora creating several that they should definitely think about adding to the cocktail list in the new year – it was so magical to watch as this Canadian made Gin paired beautifully with traditional Spanish dishes. How very Canadian of it to get along with everyone. ?
To say the evening was perfect in my eyes would be an understatement. I loved bringing together friends in the industry and allowing us the opportunity to catch up for a few hours over delicious food and drinks. If you’re looking for a perfect girls night outing, a place to grab a wicker Ungava Gin cocktail, or that romantic date night for the two of you, Labora is at the top of my list.
I cannot wait to continue the series in 2019 with more restaurants, more friends and more alcohol partners. And of course for those of you who enjoy the contest life, you’ll always want to follow along because we’ll be giving one lucky winner a #DanielsDish prize pack each and every time!
Sometimes in life it’s about reminding yourself where you started. From the incredible introduction to the blogging world when I first start – I will always pay homage to our beginnings – to coming full circle with the idea that brought up to today, I cannot wait to continue sharing some of the best dinning experiences in Toronto and across the country in 2019 with you all!
This post is not intended to be seen by persons under the legal alcohol drinking age or in countries with restrictions on advertising on alcoholic beverages. Please remember to enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive.
For more behind the scenes of this and other amazing brands we are working with around the world, make sure to follow along with the #DoTheDaniel Instagram account. We would love to have you join on our adventures!
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Photos: Do The Daniel, Daniel Reyes & All Social Media accounts listed above
With love & always cheersing,
Mobile photos were taken with my #HuaweiP20Pro on the Rogers network
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