Thursday, October 09, 2014

36 Hours in Toronto: Food

If there's one quality that I must have in a travel partner, it's a mutual love of food. I can't be on holiday with someone who won't get excited about scoping out the best restaurant to grab our next meal. And I can't be on holiday with someone who is satisfied eating ready-made meals from the sad little fridge section of the grocery store.

Luckily for me, H is friggin' awesome and enjoys food as much as I do.
During our 36 hour trip, we managed to hit up five different eateries. Yes, we are impressive. So, be warned, this post is on the longer side.

Since we had flown in on an early morning flight, we just had to start the trip off with a delicious brunch. We headed to Last Temptation at the Kensington Market. H had been here before and enjoyed it and that was enough of a recommendation for me.
We grabbed a seat outside because it was so beautiful out.
The menu is really extensive and diverse - they have pierogies and pad thai on the same menu - so whatever you're in the mood for, they'll be able to take care of you.
We started off with some white wine sangria. It was delicious but not v. powerful; I have a sneaking suspicious that this was mostly orange juice with just a splash of wine. However, it was still fruity and refreshing.
We were feeling ravenous so we ordered four dishes. The roasted garlic and brie with pita chips, pierogies, honey & garlic wings, and a kolbassa sandwich.
The brie was ooey gooey and the roasted garlic was sweet and fragrant and delicious. Look at that stretch!
The pierogies were crisp and pillowy.
The kolbassa sandwich was made on this super fluffy, buttery bread; it totally hit the spot.
And the wings were crispy and delicious.
There was one problem though. As soon as sangria was brought to our table, we had one or two bees that kept hanging out near us and they'd climb into our drinks. As more food arrived on the table, the pair of bees multiplied into a full-on swarm. No one else seemed to be having a problem though, so we stuck it out for a little longer but after five minutes, our fear of being stung grew to a point where we couldn't take it anymore. So, we asked if we could move inside.
Our waitress was so lovely and accommodating. And lucky for us, the view from inside was just as picturesque. We managed to scarf down our food (we literally ate everything) with only one or two interruptions from straggling bees who wandered indoors. We grabbed the remaining sangria to enjoy outdoors (where yes, a few more bees came to say hello) before paying the bill and heading on our merry way.
Our second food-venture was at the St. Lawrence Market. Since our hotel had a little kitchenette, we thought it would be nice to buy some ingredients to make ourselves some breakfast for our second (and final) morning in Toronto.
We had some impeccable timing because we managed to get to the market just as the shops were starting to close up.
There was a lot to choose from but we decided we wanted to do sausage and eggs and bread. We grabbed a lovely, delicious looking fluffy sourdough from a little bakery stand and then went off in search of protein.
We ended up purchasing some sausage at Carmichael's. They also happen to sell some "exotic" game. H loves llamas so she was pretty horrified. I was more turned off by the camel.
We opted for plain ol' pork breakfast sausage.
We also grabbed a little round of goat cheese camembert (chevrita brand). As you scroll down, you'll see how we turned these ingredients into a full on breakfast.
We also did a lap around the market just for kicks. I definitely recommend coming to this market. Even if you don't end up buying or eating anything, it's fun and there's a lot to see.
Our second official meal was at the Biermarkt, where they have a jillion different beers; totally my scene.
They've also got excellent food; totally my scene x 2.
I went super girly and went for some strawberry beer concoction which tasted like juice, except it was alcoholic - score!
We'd been dreaming about this 'poutine flight' for weeks so that's what we got. The poutine in the back has candied bacon, the center poutine has pastrami, and the one in the front has braised short ribs and mushrooms. These were so decadent and delicious. Sorry about the fuzzy photos; I took these with my iPhone.
Stretchy cheese is my love language.
Because we're pigs and maybe because our eyes seem to be bigger than our stomachs, we also ordered mussels & frites. Let me clarify: we each asked for an order. The mussels were really delicious but because we'd just shoveled three types of poutine down our gullets, the frites were not appealing at all.

I ordered the 'porto fino' mussels which were super spicy with chilies. Chilies are also my love language. H went for the 'a la snob' which had a lobstery broth; so divine.
After this major pigfest of a meal, we went outside and sipped on some Red Bulls and Monster energy drinks (and if I can be honest, a little vodka) before heading to the Guvernment for one last hurrah. If I can be honest again, we both had a horrendous time there. We definitely enjoyed each other's company but the main floor where Markus Schulz was playing was disgustingly crowded. It felt like a sauna, except all of the heat and moisture was being generated by human beings. Thankfully, that fire hazard of an excuse for a club is closing its doors soon. Guv, I loved you once and I will always have fond memories of you. But you changed, and I'm not sorry to see you go.
All right, our next meal! So this one was a breakfast made from the bits and bobs we collected from St. Lawrence Market and a bodega near our hotel.
I managed to slice up the bread using the pathetic butter knives and popped them in the toaster.
I cooked the sausage in a little frying pan while H put a pot on to boil for some peppermint tea.
And, because we didn't have any butter or oil, I cooked the eggs in the rendered grease from the sausages. Aren't I resourceful?
It was a delicious and hearty breakfast that filled us up. Perfect for the long day ahead of us.
Okay, now for one of my favorite treats of the weekend: Bang Bang Ice Cream.
Basically, you wait in line and order an ice cream sandwich and it's made right in front of you. It's awesome. I've only experienced this once before and it was in LA and the line was so long, it was annoying. I've heard the line can get long here but it was only a queue of 5 or 6 people when we showed up. And it was the perfect day for ice cream: sunny and almost uncomfortably warm.
The available ice cream flavor choices are written on the buckets on the back shelf.
The cookies are on display.
You can even get a macaron-wich or a cream puff-wich.
This boy was an Aussie, which we found out after H asked for his life story. He was cute.
You can get a half sandwich, if you're so inclined, and the staff will cut a cookie in half before generously stuffing it with ice cream.
H opted for the birthday sugar cookie with vanilla bean ice cream and rainbow sprinkles. They skimped on the sprinkles, right?
I asked for the nocciola (hazelnut) ice cream on the chocolate cookie but they didn't have enough nocciola so I was allowed to pick a second flavor. I asked for chocolate hazelnut - sticking to a theme here - and it was delicious. The cookies are so soft, so you could totally pick this up and eat it like a normal ice cream sandwich.
But, to avoid the mess and sticky fingers, I went with a spoon. We sat in a lovely little area outside and enjoyed our sugary treats in the sunshine.
On our way to Bang Bang, H spotted this board for The Ossington. H had just come back from living in Holland so she was totally missing Dutch food. So, after our frozen treats, we headed back in that direction and popped in for some lunch before we had to head to the airport.
Look at this happy little camper!
We started with kaas en grillworst, a.k.a. cheese and sausage with a little tub of whole grain mustard.
We also got chicken bitterballen. Neither of us had tried bitterballen made with anything other than beef so this was new for us. However, we both really enjoyed it. The chicken made it taste lighter but it was still super flavorful and delicious.
We had to give the bitterballen at least three minutes to cool before biting into them. We both knew the tongue-burnt consequences of diving in too early.
We also got the frikandel, a super delicious sausage with curry ketchup. I love curry ketchup; it's my new love language, I think. How many love languages is one allowed to have?
And last, but not least, we got the veal kroket on a bun. It was super crispy, delicious, and everything I love about Dutch food. I mean, I've only been to the Netherlands once, but I have to say, I loved the food and since I never get to eat Dutch food in the States, this totally hit the spot.
And to finish it all off, we were given stroopwafels with our check. The pre-packaged stroopwafels are not really my scene, but they're still delicious.
So after this meal, we raced back to our hotel on our bikes and then rode all the way up Spadina to the subway station to catch a train to the Rocket bus. We balanced our luggage on our bikes; I was amazed by how cute and awesome we were. Can I say that? Yeah, this is my blog; I can say that.

We mistakenly remembered that our flights were at 6:30 instead of 6 but it worked out because we made it to the gate just as they were boarding. We didn't have to sit around and waste time in the airport. Oh! And my favorite part of the whole trip! They made us go through customs in Canada prior to the security gate (where they scan your belongings) and they have these machines now that snap your photo through a little webcam. I smiled a cheesy grin for my photo op. H moved as the camera was snapping so her face was just a blur! We giggled about it a ton.

What was the least favorite part of my trip? The customs agent who looked at my passport as I was leaving asked, "[stern face] You were only here for two days? Why?" "I was here for a party." "Where?" "At the Guvernment." "The Guv? [sly grin] Did you pop mollies?" "... Drugs aren't cool. Stay in school." I'm pretty sure he was just joking and giving me a hard time but seriously? I was half expecting drug dogs to come and attack me but he just laughed and sent me on my way. What a weirdo!

So that's it for my Toronto trip. I'm flying out to Turks and Caicos on Saturday morning. My fingers are crossed that we have at least a few days of beautiful weather and I can't wait to snorkel! Snorkeling is another one of my love languages. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the love languages.

xoxo.

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