Winterlicious meals – likes this risotto at Il Fornello – will warm your winter spirit — Photo courtesy of Il Fornello
Toronto is becoming more known for its inventive food scene than it is for the CN Tower. From food trucks to menus that are oozing with creativity, there is no shortage of fresh and fantastic food. It's easy to forget about the fancy and special occasion restaurants when you can grab a fantastic Banh Mi sandwich for under $10.
Enter Winterlicious, which for two weeks (usually at the end of January and start of February) allows you to frequent fancy restaurants for not much more than a food truck. Indulge in dishes that are so sumptuous that they require you to put your fork down in between bites in order to digest how good it really is.
Caprese doesn't just come in tomato form. This beet variety is a great way to start your meal — Photo courtesy of Paese
Toronto has a heck of a lot of festivals to choose from, yet in a recent Toronto entertainment survey, Winterlicious was placed in the top five festivals, fairs or events. We warned you: Torontonians are serious about their food.
The celebration of the black truffle is certainly exciting (and finally affordable) — Photo courtesy of Rosewater
The 2015 program has some restaurants that sell out quickly, so it is best to be armed with a plan. Reservations are strongly recommended, and some extremely popular restaurants (like Canoe) often sell out on the first day.
Choco-banana cake may not help you with your resolutions, but it will help you with your happiness levels — Photo courtesy of Drake Hotel
Susur Lee's recently opened dim sum restaurant has also made the list this year, making us all Luckee indeed to be given a prix fixe menu that doesn't give you a choice for dessert, because he wants to give you all three. Save some room for chocolate sponge rolls, sesame rice donuts and vanilla ice cream with salted caramel sauce.
Steamed dumplings that are as beautiful as they are delicious, by Chef Susur Lee — Photo courtesy of Luckee
Even if you have a masters in eating, you may want to get your PhD by participating in one of Winterlicious' coveted culinary events. This year, there are 15 ticketed events that will teach you everything from how to master risotto to how to pair wine with your meals. The tickets are already on sale.
There's even a dinner party with renowned chef Anthony Walsh, his family and anyone who enjoys extraordinary three-course meals (which we assume is everyone in Toronto).
Care for a risotto master class? — Photo courtesy of Arcadian Studio & Loft
Winterlicious was created as a way to generate business during the slower periods of the restaurant season. Since it began in 2003, it has resulted in the serving of 4.9 million meals. It has been a success at getting Canadians off of their sofas and back into the world, even during the polar vortex.
If local vegan pesto cream fettuccine won't do it for you, we don't know what will.
Pesto cream fettuccine — Photo courtesy of Grasslands
This year's Winterlicious runs from Friday, Jan. 30, through Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. Reservations for the prix fixe restaurants can be made starting on Thursday, Jan. 15. Three-course lunch menus range from $18 to $28, while dinner selections range from $25 to $45.
On the event website, you can narrow your choices to a neighborhood, cuisine or dietary preference (such as vegan menus). Or you can just pick one and assume you will be treated like a king or queen for the duration of the meal.