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What to give for a Wedding Gift

It’s that age-old question we all come across at some point, “How much do we give?” “Do we buy a gift?” “What do we get?, they have everything!”…

Figuring out how much to spend and what type of gift to give can be stressful, particularly if your generosity exceeds your budget.

First rule of thumb is to check if they have registered with a store. 98% of brides have at least one registry. These days, couples are statistically older and more established in their lives so when they register, they are truly asking for things that they need.

If items listed on the registry aren’t within your price range, consider giving a gift card to the store where the registry is listed. Think creatively if you can’t spend a lot of money, it’s not about the dollar amount you spend, it is the thought that counts most. They’re probably more concerned you can show up for their big day than they are with some pricey gift anyway. Small and simple things can have the most impact or value when linked to the day and couple, such as an engraved picture frame or other unique and creative wedding gifts.

If the couple registered for a big-ticket item that’s a little to much for one person to afford, why not consider a group gift. Couples love group gifts because they most likely can’t afford those luxuries on their own. Also consider a theme idea, with multiple gifts, or an overnight mini staycation with dinner or spa.

Wedding experts agree on a couple of things: the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more you are expected to give, and do not give more than you can afford just because of the expectations. It’s a bad idea to use the price-per-plate as a measure for how much you should spend on the wedding gift, the location and cost of the reception should not be the burden of the guest.

Give what ever you think is appropriate to your budget and your relationship with the couple but a ballpark guide would be… A distant relative or co-worker, $75-$100; a friend or relative, $100-$125; a closer relative, up to $150.

With regards to the Plus-One Status, you don’t need to double the amount if you’re double the guests, but you should multiply your base number by 1.5. (So if you generally don’t go lower than $100 when you’re solo, don’t go lower than $150 if you have a plus-one.)

You should never feel bad if travel costs impact your gift budget. If you’re spending money on travel and hotel to be there on their day, that is a huge contribution already. It is more important that you give within your means.

Whatever you decide to give, do so with thoughtfulness and affection, because you were invited to a special event where your presence is considered important.



Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Bruschetta

A classic recipe with a gourmet twist!  While entertaining your guests this summer enjoy a delicious and versatile summer appetizer using sweet heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella. 

 

Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Bruschetta Recipe

Ingredients:

2 Heirloom Tomatoes, ¼” slice (different colours, preferably)

1 pc. Large Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

3 tbsp. Pesto

4 leaves of Fresh Basil

1 French Baguette

2 tbsp. Butter

1 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt

 (serves 2 – 3 people)

Method:

  1. Slice 8 pieces of the French Baguette on a bias about 1/2” thick.
  2. Brush the baguette with Butter and quickly toast both sides on a grill or in a large frying pan. Warm slightly.
  3. Place pieces of Baguettes on a large platter. Spread about 1 tsp. of pesto on each piece. Place thinly sliced tomatoes on each piece.
  4. Next, cut the Buffalo Mozzarella in half and then in to 4, to create 8 equal pieces.
  5. Place each piece of Cheese on top of the tomato. Then place one leaf of fresh basil on top.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Enjoy with a nice glass of White Sangria or a lovely glass of Chardonnay!                     


Kalmar says goodbye to a ‘magical, beautiful place’

Old Mill Toronto owner Michael Kalmar says goodbye to ‘a magical, beautiful place’

Party held to celebrate outgoing president and VP; new owner Frank De Luca promises a ‘seamless transition’

Old Mill Toronto is under new management. A reception was held in former owner Michael Kalmar’s honour Thursday evening to celebrate his 24-year contribution to the Toronto landmark. He is pictured here, at left, with new owner, Frank De Luca, a long time Etobicoke resident.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Wednesday evening at the Old Mill Toronto for a final farewell party to bid adieu to its president Michael Kalmar and VP of finance Blain Parsons after more than two decades owning and operating the century-old landmark.

The iconic restaurant, hotel and banquet complex on the bank of the Humber River has been sold to a property management group directed by Frank De Luca, a long-time Etobicoke resident.

There was lots of reminiscing at the reception, held in the Old Mill’s Guildhall Room, July 23, that featured none other than acrobatics, even a mime, who welcomed celebrants at the hotel’s front entrance.

Those closest to Kalmar wouldn’t expect anything less to celebrate a man who is described as the life of the party.

“It’s better than a wedding,” Kalmar quipped, “because I know everyone here.”

After partaking in appetizers and beverages, guests were treated to a trip down memory lane through stories shared by Kalmar and Parsons’ long time friends and coworkers, as well as Kalmar’s son.

Natalie Bauer, Old Mill Toronto’s director of marketing, communications and events, called Kalmar a “fabulous leader, an extraordinary person, who I think is quite awesome.”

“I’m sad because when I think of the Old Mill, I’ll think of you. You’re one of the best mentors I’ve ever had,” Bauer said.

Catering manager Helen Weech expressed her mock frustration at Kalmar’s departure.

“I was supposed to retire before you,” she pretended to scold.

Wheech recalled when her office was situated directly below Kalmar’s and all the times she had to bang on the ceiling because it sounded like he was having a party. At the podium, Weech told of Parsons’ John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever impersonation, which garnered laughter from her audience.

Kalmar’s son, Lorne, took a turn behind the microphone to share memories and express gratitude and pride for his father.

“I grew up here, running around. We consider this a second home,” Lorne said of the Old Mill, standing beside his two sisters, Rachel and Alana. “Even if it took our dad away from us a bit, he made up for it with free buffet food.”

He added, “This is quite emotional. I’m so grateful for all you’ve done. I’m so proud of you, dad.”

The Old Mill’s heritage and its integrity will remain, vowed new owner De Luca, who celebrated Wednesday evening, but chose not to speak, making sure the spotlight remained on Karlmar and Parsons.

De Luca stressed the change of ownership will be a “seamless transition” in a statement.

Recalling his many years with the mill, Parsons said, “It’s been a rewarding and wonderful journey.”

“I can honestly say, every morning when I came in here, I felt refreshed, invigorated. It’s a magical, beautiful place,” he said.

Where does one begin when trying to say thank you and goodbye, mused Kalmar, as he expressed his appreciation for the Old Mill’s management and staff. Kalmar paid tribute to its founder, Robert Home Smith, and his predecessor William Hodgson. He didn’t get emotional until acknowledging his late father, George “GK” Kalmar, with whom he purchased the Old Mill, in 1991. The duo would go on to expand the Old Mill to include a spa and hotel.

By Lisa Rainford 



It’s Business As Usual

   

  It’s Business As Usual At The Historic Old Mill Toronto
Now Under New Ownership

After 24 years owning and operating the century-old landmark Old Mill Toronto, Lark Hospitality President Michael Kalmar has announced sale of the iconic restaurant, hotel and banquet complex to a respected asset and property management group directed by Frank De Luca, long-time resident of Etobicoke.

Expressing mixed emotions at now “ending this chapter in the century-long ancestry of the Old Mill Toronto”, Kalmar cited “three distinctive elements functioning in harmonious collaboration over the past hundred years to bring this cherished aspect of our city’s cultural life to the international prominence it enjoys today:

“At the forefront were the visionaries, risk-takers, and entrepreneurs who guided growth and transformation of the ever- evolving complex throughout its existence – founder Robert Home Smith, followed by the dynamic William Hodgson, and latterly, George and Michael Kalmar, the father/son team who orchestrated the addition of a boutique hotel and spa in 2001, and established the Home Smith Bar which has become one of the city’s most popular jazz venues.

“Of primary importance, too, has been the generations of dedicated staff who have personified the value and importance of customer service as a guiding principle of Old Mill policies from our earliest beginnings.  And our loyal customers, a multi-generational roster who have enjoyed, and helped create the century of memorable experiences that enrich our history.”

Commenting on acquisition of the Old Mill Toronto and plans for its continuing operations,  principal Frank De Luca affirmed that it will be a “seamless transition”.  It will continue to be operated with respect for the establishment’s colorful heritage and a commitment to maintaining  the integrity of its current standing in the local, national, and global communities.  The vision for the future will reflect its celebrated history as a centre for the community.

For The Old Mill Toronto, contact:

Natalie Bauer – natalie.bauer@oldmilltoronto.ca      

Adam De Luca – adam.deluca@oldmilltoronto.ca



Chocolate Espresso Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Espresso Mousse 

Try this easy-to-follow chocolate Espresso Mousse recipe straight of the press from our Pastry Chef Hayley. This delicious dessert is so impressive your guests won’t think you had time to make it yourself!

500ml (2 cups) 35% Whipping cream

454g (1lb) Dark Chocolate (not cookie style chocolate chips)

3 Eggs

1/4 cup White Sugar

50ml (3tbsp) Espresso or 2tbsp instant coffee

 

1. Using an electric mixer, or a hand whisk, whip the cream to soft peak stage. (Whipped but still slightly soft). Set aside in refrigerator.

2. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the espresso/instant coffee until smooth and lump free.

3. Using electric mixer or hand mixer, whip eggs with sugar until they are light and fluffy.

4. Add melted chocolate to whipped eggs and mix until smooth. The mixture will deflate slightly with the addition of the melted chocolate.

5. Gently fold in the whipped cream by hand using a spatula until it is smooth and no lumps of whipped cream remain.

6. Pour into desired vessels (glasses, ramekins etc.) and chill in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving. (looks cute pipes into small teacups)

ENJOY!



“Festival Within The Festival”

“For the fourth consecutive year, the Home Smith Bar’s ‘Festival Within The Festival’ was one of the runaway hits of the 10-day TD Toronto Jazz Festival annual extravaganza, with tickets for all four concerts in the Home Smith Series sold out well ahead of the first performance.

Once again produced by veteran Toronto event manager Fay Olson who has held responsibility for jazz project development and performer booking at the Old Mill Toronto for nearly a decade, the 2015 Home Smith Bar ‘Festival Within The Festival’ fielded another four-night spectacular, offering music lovers the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with vocal royalty Heather Bambrick and Jackie Richardson, trombone giant and music director Russ Little’s all-star Quartet (Tom Szczesniak on piano, Scott Alexander on bass, Brian Barlow on drums), and guesting music luminaries who joined the stellar troupe in an all-new show nightly.

Ultimate entertainer Heather Bambrick — multiple award-winning vocalist, highly-rated JAZZ.FM91 on-air host, and one-third of the smash hit ‘Broadsway’ ensemble — got things off to a sizzling start June 19 with musical BFF Amy Cervini in from New York to add her vocal superiority to the series launch.  Juno-nominated songstress Amy McConnell joined the featured guest line-up for another unforgettable performance June 20. 

 

Canada’s reigning queen of jazz, blues, and gospel Jackie Richardson‘s spellbinding musical talent, her dynamic personality, and, of course, some of her own multi-talented musical compatriots climaxed the closing weekend of the ‘Festival Within The Festival’. Affectionately known as ‘The Girls’ over decades at the forefront of the Toronto studio and broadcast scene, Colina Phillips and Sharon Lee Williams tore it up June 26.   Former member of ‘The Nylons’ and award-winning recording artist/composer Micah Barnes wrapped it all up in memorable style June 27. 

While the ‘Festival Within The Festival’ may be over for another year, the ‘Year ‘Round Jazz Festival’ at the Home Smith Bar continues non-stop, 52 weeks a year, presenting the best of the best jazz singers and instrumentalists on today’s jazz scene in the charming intimacy of the Home Smith Bar.  And in the meantime, stay tuned for the Toronto Downtown Jazz Society’s announcement of plans for the 30th edition of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in June of 2016.  You can be sure planning for the Home Smith Bar’s role in this important international jazz showpiece won’t be far behind.

Photo Credit Don Vickery