February 22, 2010

Vintage Gardener's Valentine Luncheon

February 13, 2010

Elaine Martin, of Vintage Gardener, really knows how to throw a party.

I first met Elaine when I attended her Evergreen Festival in the fall. Tara Nolan, The Budding Gardener, was tweeting about it, so I decided to cover it for gardentoronto.ca.

Her shop is in the trendy Distillery Historic District. The District sort of reminds me of the Diagon Alley from the 'Harry Potter' stories. It's this mysterious enchanted place that you could miss if you didn't know it was there.

Outside Vintage Gardener

Elaine's Valentine Luncheon included a great meal for two at Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant, 3 dozen long stem roses, a lesson on how to create beautiful floral arrangements and live Jazz. All of this for $175 per couple. Considering long stem roses on Valentine's weekend were priced at about $5 per stem in downtown Toronto, it was quite a bargain.

I had never been to Tappo before but it wasn't hard to find. It sits right across the lane from Vintage Gardener.

Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant

It has a huge patio in front. It must be fantastic to sit out there on a warm summer night, with a great glass of wine and good company.

The interior takes full advantage of the atmosphere of the old factory.

Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant

I'm not a food critic, but I very much liked what I had. This was a full meal with hors d'oeuvres, appetizer, entrée and dessert.

To start with there was a little bruschette. I had salad and then grilled salmon. There were capers on my salmon. I always have capers on smoked salmon, but this was a very pleasant surprise. Maybe I don't get off the farm enough.

Next time, I might try the steak. It looked really good also.

Then I had chocolate cheesecake for desert.

I can tell you definitely, people that attended will be going back, now that they have found Tappo.

I'm afraid there are no photos of the food. I was too busy eating. But I did manage to get a shot to the champagne with strawberries before that disappeared.

Champagne & Strawberries

One of the best parts of the program was the profusion of roses. Elaine explained about colour theory and how things work together, and what colours give “lift” to an arrangement.

A Beautiful Rose

Between the appetiser and the entrée, people were encouraged to start selecting their roses.

The hunt for the right rose.

There were tonnes of roses, in every colour imaginable.

Buckets of Roses
No war of the roses.

Though it looks like a “free for all” in some of these photos, it was really fun. Everybody got exactly what they wanted because there was no end of choice. There were plenty of roses left over after everyone had finished collecting the ones they liked.

The hunt for the right rose.

Once you had finished your selection, then you had to strip the roses of their leaves and thorns. There were several different tools for this but I think most people decided to use the funny pink bumpy rubber stripping pads. You just grip the rose with this pad, pull down, and off come the thorns.

Stripping Roses

Elaine was teaching people how to make a Diva Bouquet, the same kind you would see given to Miss America.

More rose prep.

And here she is, Gail Winskill (below), looking very much like a pageant winner with her Diva Bouquet. The truth is she looks really happy, which she was, because she made this beautiful bouquet and it was so much fun.

Gail Winskill

Here we can see Elaine (below) with Steven Botelho (left) and Tom Rawding of The Berkeley (right).

Steven Botelho, Elaine Martin, Tom Rawding

(Below) Elaine helps one of the attendees to put together her arrangement. She had split her bouquet with her Mother. Both she and her Mom were so sweet. Her Mom made me a boutonnière for my suit jacket. I remember thinking, “My Mother would have loved this!” “I wish I had brought my Mom!”

Tying the roses into place

Everyone that was there was really nice. Everyone, staff and attendees had a really enjoyable time.

At times during the meal the band played. After most of the people were finished with their roses Errol Fisher performed bluesy Jazz with his band. His voice was in some ways similar to Ray Charles, very soulful and expressive.

Errol Fisher And His Band

It was a real treat for me and I had to snap a picture of myself from my table as he performed.

Errol Fisher performs at Tappo Restaurant

If you are hosting a garden related event in the GTA and would like it covered in gardentoronto.ca or would like to place an e-poster about it on our Events Calendar, just contact me. I am always delighted to promote anything gardening in Toronto.

Mark Disero

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