Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Ka Chi (Korea)

I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto! You can find all past recaps here.

Today I’m tackling Korea!korea

I’m just highlighing both North and South Korea in the map for this, because I’m not going to be able to find any North Korean specific restaurants and I was reading that the food is very similar anyway (despite their food shortages).

I have, very luckily, been eating Korean food pretty regularly over the past few years due to Evan’s influence. Well okay, due to Brotherman’s wife Kelly’s influence, as she is Korean and knows all of the Korean haunts in the city. She also brings us Korean food (usually side dishes) on a pretty frequent basis, which is awesome. I have also had the ultimate pleasure of experiencing Kelly’s sister Mina’s Korean-style pork which to this day remains the best pork I have ever eaten. But all Korean-style pork I have eaten has been delicious. Koreans do pork right, I tell you!

For eating the world, Korea-style, Evan and I took my brother Eric, who had never had Korean food before, to Bloor Street West between Bathurst and Christie – Koreatown! I have been to both Sunrise House and Ka Chi before in Koreatown, and Sunrise House is a small, authentic family-owned restaurant while Ka Chi is much bigger and has a bit more of a pub-type atmosphere. They both have great food and you can’t go wrong with either, so we decided to go with Ka-Chi since it was a gorgeous night and it had a patio.

One of my favourite things about Korean food are the banchan, or side dishes!

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We have cucumber kimhi, radish, kimchi, glass noodles (japchae), seaweed (wasn’t my favourite), and then individual rice. Kimchi (fermented cabbage) is the most common, and I was reading that some Koreans do not consider a meal complete without kimchi. I have also had a really great potato side dish at Sunrise House. And if you eat your side dishes they’ll bring you more! We also all had miso soup along with that.

We ordered stir fried kimchi and pork for us all to share as well.

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Delicious, as I knew it would be, and as Korean pork always is, but I did wish we got the bulgolgi rather than the kimchi.

For our mains, we all ordered the same. Bibimbap with beef.

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Bibimbap translates to mixed rice, and it is a signature Korean dish that comes with various vegetables, usually sliced meat, and a raw or fried egg on top.

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I really, really like it, and I especially love that the rice on the bottom gets a little crispy in the hot stone bowl. I ate my entire bowl and I could have gone for more. I need more bibimbap in my life.

I have also had the pork bone soup at Ka Chi, another signature Korean dish.

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Which is also very, very good.

We were too full after all of that eating to do the traditional Korean dessert thing, and we were also meeting Eric’s friend for a drink, but you can’t talk about Korean food without talking about their dessert!

This would be the hodo-kwaja, from the Korean bakery also called Hodo-Kwaja in Koreatown.

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They are little walnut shaped cakes filled with either potato or red bean filling and walnuts, and apparently this is the only place in Toronto where you can get authentic ones because they have a crazy contraption that makes them. I don’t love them because I prefer my cakes to be a little more sweet, but I know they are very popular.

They also have these yummy little pancakes filled with syrup, called hotteok.

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And that was delicious!

Of the Korean desserts that I have tried, my favourite was the bungeoppangat, bread filled with sweet red bean or custard filling, found at the Korean supermarket Pat Mart in Koreatown.

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Apparently these are a common street food in Korea, and despite sweet pastry fish not looking the most appetizing, they are pretty amazing.

I think I should also mention gimbap (or kimbap), Korean sushi that you can also get at various places around Koreatown. Brotherman and Kelly actually had it catered in to their wedding.

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As well as the hodo-kwaja.

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Both were a big hit!

So that is it for Korea. Definitely a delicious country and you need to try their food if you haven’t already and if there are any places in your area, especially that pork!

Past Korea adventures:

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New Babies and Old Motors

There’s a new baby in the family!

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Ahhh! Baby! Meet little Landon. Brotherman (Evan’s bro) and Kelly welcomed that cheeky cat into their lives on July 15th. I am so happy for them!

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Such a beautiful family.

On Friday afternoon we all went over to Evan’s grandma’s so she could meet the baby, along with Evan’s aunt and uncle.

When Evan and I first met Landon he was about two days old so he wasn’t doing much yet, and until Friday I hadn’t even seen him with his eyes open (aside from in all the pictures Proud Papa has been sending us). It’s only been a bit over a month but I can’t get over the change already. That baby is already pretty charismatic.

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Waving!

Aww. Uncle Porpy.

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Landon is actually the first baby Evan’s ever held (I know, I don’t know how he’s escaped it for so long – I guess he didn’t really have any babies in his family until recently), but I think he is a natural. He is really excited to be an uncle.

I like to think that babies are my thing. I was able to get some smiles out of him!

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The trick is just to smile at them like a maniac until they give up and smile back. This made me smile for the rest of the day. Gah, I love babies. I am looking forward to watching that little nugget grow up and being the coolest aunt ever.

For lunch Evan’s grandma made us her famous rigatoni pasta with meat sauce and salad with oil and vinegar dressing and I felt like I was back at my Nana’s apartment. The salad especially tasted like hers. So salty and so good (you know grandma’s like to add all the salt).

After the baby party Evan and I headed to the cottage for the weekend. We’re trying to take advantage of the last few weekends of summer (I actually saw some leaves changing colour, but I refuse to acknowledge that yet). After grocery shopping, beer store, and all the traffic, we didn’t end up getting to the cottage until pretty late. Like the big party animals we are, we just hung out and read our books until we fell asleep. It was wonderful.

Saturday we woke up bright and early, ate some Eggo Waffles (it’s been so long!), packed up a couple of sandwiches, and headed out on the lake in the canoe. It was a GORGEOUS day and we were feeling adventurous.

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The entire weekend was gorgeous actually. One of the best of the summer. Warm and sunny, but not humid. It was perfect.

We took advantage and canoed around the lake for a couple hours.

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We originally planned a day-long canoe trip but it really takes forever to get anywhere via manual paddle power. And because the lake is so large it feels like you’re not making any progress, which is less than motivating. And our butts were completely numb after an hour. And I got blisters on my palm. Soo, we only made it for about two hours but that was more than fine.

I spent the rest of the day reading on the dock, watching dragonflies mate on my chair…

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Seriously, could you do this somewhere else?

And watching Evan try to get his boat motor started…

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Not to be confused with the other boat motor that was not starting that he was finally able to start. Although that one works now, it’s very slow and it is very unreliable. It dies frequently and then it doesn’t like to start again right away, which is not ideal if you have it out on the lake. This motor is newer (though nowhere near new) and twice as fast (though nowhere near fast), so getting it running has been Evan’s goal all summer (I talked about this before). And, something you should know about Evan, when he has his mind set on doing something he will not rest until he does it.

He said he removed the carburetor and cleaned it out, rebuilt the fuel pump, changed the spark plug, removed and cleaned the points (whatever that means), replaced a little plastic insulator, and replaced the impeller in the water pump…and then, finally this weekend, he got it started! He is just a boat motor expert now. I am so impressed with his handiness. I don’t think I would have the patience for that.

Just after the motor started on Saturday my friends Sherrie and Sarah came over for dinner (burgers, corn on the cob, and salad), and afterwards Evan wanted to test out his new toy so he took me for a spin in the boat while the girls tried out the canoe.

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We seem to like to match at the cottage…

We were attempting to make it out to watch the sunset but, missed that.

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Just by a few minutes. It’s okay though. Still beautiful.

Sherrie and Sara stayed overnight and we had a bonfire and stayed up talking around it until way too late. It was a fun time.

On Sunday after the girls left, Evan and I took the boat out again and went for a three hour cruise to the other side of the lake, opposite from the side we explored with the canoe on Saturday.

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It was much better not having to paddle. We could just relax and take in all the sweet views. And the motor did not quit once! Not even when it was all tangled with weeds. Very reliable. But, Evan is already talking about a faster boat :)

We spent the rest of the day reading by the lake and hanging on the dock. It wasn’t too shabby.

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I think it might be my favourite place.

Sunday was wing night at our favourite cottage haunt the Golden Beach Resort, so after packing up we headed there for dinner. We discovered that their wings are not great, so I think I’ll stick to their fish and chips from now on. But it also happened to be karaoke night, which made up for it because that was pretty entertaining. Nothing like listening to someone’s rendition of In The Arms Of An Angel by Sara McLachlin while you cry into your wings.

We walked around the marina afterwards because Evan wanted to admire all the boats he doesn’t have, and it was a beautiful evening.

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And then we drove home. The End.

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Books Lately

Talkin’ ’bout The Rosie Effect, A House In The Sky, The Husband’s Secret, Not That Kind Of Girl, and Armada.

First though, I wrote this article on outrageous CNE food over the past few years (well, list, article is a stretch) for Buzzfeed Community and I would love it if you guys checked it out!

Ok, onto the books.

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The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simspon

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Synopsis:

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge. Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a book. I completely fell in love with The Rosie Project when I read it, so yeah, I had some high expectations. This book did not meet those expectations. It wasn’t the same at all. In the first book all of Don’s quirks were entertaining, relatable, and endearing. In this book, his quirks were over the top and exaggerated. He was almost a parody of himself. And the author turned Rosie into a total bitch. The storyline was not doing it for me, and I found Don and Rosie’s relationship completely unrealistic (talk, guys! Just talk to each other, you idiots!), which was a disappointment because in the first book I loved their love.

I also don’t think the author paints women in the best light in this book, and that made me angry. So, I had a difficult time getting through it. I didn’t read very much for weeks because every time I would go to read I remembered that I was reading this book and I didn’t care for it, so I browsed Reddit instead. I didn’t care what happened, and I’ve never been so happy to get a book over with. I do not recommend (I gave this 2 stars on Goodreads, only because I still love Don). But I do still recommend the first book, The Rosie Project.

A House In The Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

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Synopsis:

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.

I read this next and it was a breath of fresh air. I loved this memoir and had a really difficult time putting it down. It was so beautifully written it was almost like poetry, and Amanda’s honest and raw narrative captivated me from the first page. I remember Amanda and Nigel being kidnapped in Somalia, and I remember their release over a year later. Amanda’s kidnapping hit especially close to home at the time because she was almost the same age as me, she was also Canadian, and her traveling up until that moment sounded like a dream. I have read reviews where people have said “Well, what did she think would happen going to Somalia?” and yeah, it’s incredibly dangerous and rife with war. But I think we can all relate to being young and feeling invincible. She did not deserve what happened to her and at times her suffering was difficult to read. But she rose above it and is stronger because of it.

This reviewer said it the best:

“Amanda, upon her return, did not disappear into the shadows. She took her experience and decided to create change that would directly impact the lives of the very community and country that so changed hers. Far from spewing hatred towards her captors, Amanda took a road of forgiveness (admittedly not an easy one), recognizing that her captors were born into the violence they inflicted on her and that no good could come of any of her suffering and loss if nothing changed.”

A House In The Sky is up there with The Glass Castle as my new favourite memoir. Highly recommend. Also, perhaps I am naive but I was not aware you could make that much money from serving!

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

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Synopsis:

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive..

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Normally I don’t love it when books skip around from character to character and there’s more than three characters (unless we are talking about a Babysitter’s Club Super Special, and then yes I do), but in this case the jumping around didn’t bother me. I also didn’t particularly like any of the characters, so maybe it didn’t bother me because I wasn’t getting attached to them.

It was what it was, a light, easy, entertaining read (I’m not going to say summer read because I enjoy reading all kinds of books in the summer, heavy included). I was entertained throughout and I LOVED the ending. I do not say that often. Best ending I think the book could have had.

I enjoyed it and I would recommend it. 3 Star rating from me. But I have to say that I dislike the cover of The Husband’s Secret and I probably wouldn’t have read it if it weren’t for my Bestie and her sister’s recommendation. It looks too romance-y.

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham

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Synopsis:

From the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls comes a hilarious, wise, and fiercely candid collection of personal essays that establishes Lena Dunham as one of the most original young talents writing today.

In Not that Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and, most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told.

Exuberant, moving, and keenly observed, Not that Kind of Girl is a series of dispatches from the frontlines of the struggle that is growing up. “I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you,” Dunham writes. “But if I can take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine will have been worthwhile.”

Lena Dunham is a fantastic writer, absolutely. And I know it isn’t easy to write a book, so all the kudos there. But overall, I just don’t think Lena Dunham is my cup of tea. I find her to be weird in a very…weird…way. Weird in a way that is different from my weird, and I have a difficult time relating to her or her situations. I did live a completely different life than her, and I already struggle with understanding that people who live in NYC are real people (they’re too cool and sophisticated in my mind), so maybe that’s why.

Some parts of her book I very much enjoyed, and some parts I found myself skimming because it was too much mundane information and I didn’t care. She has her moments of hilarity and relatability, but I don’t think she’s the voice of her generation. This review says what I’m thinking better than I could ever articulate. In my opinion, it was just okay.

Armada by Ernest Cline

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Synopsis:

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

I loved Ready Player One. I knew that Armada couldn’t be as good and I tried to go into it with my expectations low, but I was still disappointed. I did not love it. I have heard this book being compared to a lot of other sci-fi works (Ender’s Game and The Last Starfighter in particular), but aliens are not my favourite and I don’t typically seek out alien things to consume so I am not familiar with either of them and can’t comment on that.

It was the entire narrative that I didn’t enjoy. While the book had its witty moments, I found the characters to be thin and difficult to connect to. To me, the dialogue between them was not realistic and seemed very surface and juvenile. I know it’s young adult, but I have read many young adult books where the characters were so real and vivid their conversations reminded me of real-life conversations between teenagers. I didn’t get that impression here.

Armada also lacked surprises and twists. Or I should say, the surprises and twists didn’t surprise me. I never fully felt into it, and I was never on the edge of my seat. I never had that feeling of not being able to put the book down because I couldn’t wait to read what happened next, and I never had any doubt about who was going to win the war in the end.

I would not recommend this book for my friends to read, because I know they would not enjoy it. I do, however, think there is a specific audience that would like it.

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Parapan Am Athletics and the Scarborough Bluffs

This past weekend was the first weekend since May where nothing was going on. Evan and I didn’t have any plans or obligations, and we didn’t have anywhere to be, and it was awesome. I love being busy in the summer, and I prefer to be out doing things while the weather is nice and I specifically plan my summer around fun events, but I was beyond happy to not have to be anywhere doing anything.

This weekend was also the last weekend for Parapan Am Games events in the city, and I had been wanting to go but kept putting off getting tickets so I didn’t know if I would end up making it to an event… But then a friend I used to work with posted this video…

I can't even….. #paratough #parapanamazing

A video posted by Taylor Durand (@taydur) on

And I was like dayummm. Amazing. That immediately made me get off my butt and get some tickets already.

So on Friday evening Evan and I made it to the final Parapan Am Athletics event at York University stadium.

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Tickets were pretty inexpensive (like max $40) so it was disappointing that the stands were so empty. But, I almost didn’t go either, and I didn’t buy my ticket until I saw that amazing video, so maybe we all just need some more awareness of how awesome the para athletes are.

The event ran from 3pm-9pm, and we didn’t get there until about 6 but we were still able to catch a lot of the events.

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That would be the Men’s T11 (blind) 1500 final, and Canada took silver! The athletes have varying levels of sight so to level the playing field they all run wearing a blindfold. They also run with a guide, which I thought was interesting. I can’t imagine trying to run with someone holding onto me. So I guess the guide would have to be as fast as the athlete, or else they’d be holding them back. Or maybe they are faster so they are pulling them ahead? I am not sure, but it was fun to watch.

The second group of blind runners did not wear blindfolds, and could choose if they wanted to run it alone or with a guide.

We also caught several of the javelin events, blind (F11/12) and physical disability (F44).

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Man, the guy from Trinidad and Tobago (not pictured above) KILLED the Men’s F44 javelin. He won gold and broke the world record, twice. He didn’t even take a running start like the other athletes, he just stood at the line and chucked it like a beast. It was so impressive to watch.

We also caught the Men’s and Women’s 400m T53 (wheelchair) races, which were my favourite.

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You could really see how hard they were working and how much power they were putting into each and every push. It is very inspiring.

Canada won gold in the men’s event, so that was great to watch.

We also caught the medal ceremonies, and I may have had something caught in my eye for most of those…

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I genuinely love watching any kind of sporting event. I could really get into watching anything live, even marbles (okay maybe not marbles). But the Parapan Am Athletics in particular were such an uplifting event, and it was really fun to go to. I am so glad we made it. And I am so thankful to my friend Taylor for posting that video and getting me to buy tickets.

On Saturday Evan had to pick up some tile over in Scarborough (a suburb just east of Toronto, usually still considered a part of Toronto), and my plan was to sleep in and do some stuff around the house while he was gone. But then he suggested we check out the Scarborough Bluffs (the eastern portion of Toronto’s waterfront on Lake Ontario) and make a day of it, and I had never been to the bluffs before but I have heard it’s really beautiful there, so I was down. I’m pretty sure he just wanted me to come along on his tile adventure. He knows how to lure me into doing stuff.

I had no idea how beautiful Scarborough Bluffs is. We parked near a park at the top of the bluffs, hopped a short fence (everyone does, we’re not hooligans), and I was immediately blown away.

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Like WUT?! What the actual F. How is this in Toronto?! How have I never been here? Its 20 minutes from where we live and it feels like paradisio!

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It’s pretty crazy. We walked around and took in the view for a bit (no crazy rock climbing, don’t worry), and I don’t know what else to say about it except it was beautiful.

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It was extremely hot and humid and we were both sweaty beasts, but it was beautiful. I almost couldn’t believe it.

After our mini hike at the top of the bluffs, we drove down to Bluffer’s Park, on the bottom. Where the beach is!

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Usually I make sure to bring my bathing suit around with me to places, in case an impromptu dream swimming situation pops up. I don’t want to be unprepared and have to miss out on dream swimming because I don’t have the proper gear, you understand. Well, this was totally an impromptu dream swimming situation and I unfortunately did not have my bathing suit, so I missed out. I would have preferred to be submerged in that water, but I settled for watching from afar.

We stumbled across the Dogfish Bar and Grill in the Bluffer’s Park Marina, so we stopped for lunch on the patio. I ordered the chicken fajita wrap with the Caesar salad, and it was pretty decent.

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Not the best wrap I’ve ever had, but it was okay. The view though…

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That was good.

There are various trails that lead around the park, so after lunch we walked around for a couple hours and took in the beauty views.

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I felt like we were on a tropical island.

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Definitely need to go back here for a beach day. It would be a really great spot for a picnic date also.

Such a nice time with my lover!

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Toronto continues to surprise me, I tell you what.

And then we spent two hours waiting in Rona (the Canadian Home Depot equivalent that is shutting down pretty much everywhere because they can’t compete with Home Depot) for this tile that Evan needed, and we shall never speak of this time again.

The rest of the weekend was cleaning and errands and doing a whole ‘lotta nothing, and it was great.

Those Scarborough Bluffs though…I’f you’ve never been and you are in the area, GO THERE!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Pero (Ethiopia and Eritrea)

If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto! You can find all past recaps here.

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The two countries I am talking about today are Ethiopia and Eritrea.ethiopia

I am doing the two African countries together as the food is almost identical, which isn’t surprising as Ethiopia and Eritrea were the same country until the early 90s. I ate Ethiopian for the first time a couple of years ago, and I have to admit that I was surprised at how delicious and flavourful it was.

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I don’t know what I expected, but for two of the world’s poorest countries that are known for food shortages and malnutrition, Ethiopia and Eritrea sure do have delicious food.

Toronto has many Ethiopian restaurants, and most of them seem to be concentrated on the Danforth or Bloor Street West. I have been to Lalibela on Bloor before (where that above photo is from) and had a really great experience, and I have heard that Nazareth, also on Bloor, is really, really good and very inexpensive (but pretty small and very busy). For the official eating the world adventure I ended up going to Pero, also on Bloor West, with Evan and our friends Emily and Corey.

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I really enjoyed the atmosphere in there.

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We were sitting by a window at the front, and it felt like we were sitting in a tent.

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It was nearly empty on the evening we went (a Wednesday), so I think we got a lot of extra attention from our server, who was dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb (a white linen embroidered dress), and very knowledgeable. She would come by and chat with us often and did not mind answering our questions.

We definitely wanted to take part in the coffee ceremony, one of the biggest traditions in Ethiopian and Eritrean culture. An invitation to a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship and respect, and is almost obligatory when hosting a visitor. It is apparently quite the ordeal and can take hours. I also read that less elaborate coffee ceremonies happen three times a day in most parts of Ethiopia.

First the coffee beans are roasted over hot coals, and once they are black and shiny they are brought over to the participants and the aromatic smoke is wafted towards them.

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The beans are pungent and smell almost like strong popcorn. I love coffee and after smelling those beans I have never wanted a cup of it more!

The beans are then taken away to be ground with a mortar and pestle, and then boiled in a jebena, a pot made of pottery with a large round base, a neck and a pouring spout. While our coffee was being prepared, we ate. We started with appetizers, but I am not sure either of the ones we ordered are something you would actually get in Ethiopia or Eritrea.

We started with the veggie roll, which was corn, lentils, onion and other veggies rolled up in injera.

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Injera is a spongy flatbread made of teff flour that is a staple in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. It actually serves as a utensil, as you pick up your food with it. The texture is weird at first, because when you look at it you think it would be similar to a tortilla but it is definitely softer and, well, spongier. I remember being a bit surprised the first time I tried it, and I think Evan, Emily and Corey were this time (none of them had tried Ethiopian before). It’s just different, but it grows on you. They all liked it. The flavour of those rolls was amazing.

We also ordered the E’kategha, which was crispy injera made into crackers, which came with some sort of lentil dip and spicy red berbere sauce (very popular in Ethiopia).

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I have tried looking up E’kategha but I think it is specific to Pero and not actually a name for an Ethiopian/Eritrean dish. I am not sure if they would actually make the injera into crackers there, or if they just did that here to westernize it.

Both appetizers were good, but our main dishes were the best!

In Ethiopia and Eritrea, meat and vegetable sauces and dishes are commonly put on top of the injera, which is then used to pinch the dishes to transfer them into your mouth. You do not use utensils. The four of us ordered two platters for two, with the intent on sharing all the vegetable dishes.

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Evan and I ordered the beef tibsi, chicken tibsi (tibsi is basically a simple meat or mushroom stew, sauteed or pan-fried), timitimo tsebhi (split lentil stew), split pea, and shero (chickpeas with berbere sauce), as well as the salad in the middle with an olive oil and vinegar-type dressing.

And our pals Emily and Corey…

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also got the beef tibsi and chicken tibsi, with mushroom tibsi, cabbage with carrot, and hamli (cooked collard greens with onions, green peppers, garlic and ginger).

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Everything was so full of flavour and so, so delicious. I mean it, everything. There was nothing we didn’t like. The chicken tibsi was seriously to die for and my favourite vegetable dishes were the mushrooms, lentils, and chickpeas. We polished off both of those platters, and by the end we were full and satisfied, but not in the gross I-just-ate-a-Big-Mac-and-I-feel-disgusting way. It was so good, and looking at it again right now I am really craving it!

Since you just tear off pieces of injera and scoop up your food with it (with your right hand, apparently you do not use your left in Ethiopia or Eritrea because your left hand is your bathroom hand), our hands were quite messy afterwards so our server brought a bowl of warm rosewater (with actual rose petals) for us to dip our hands into.

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And then our coffee was ready!

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I did not know this, but apparently it is rude to accept less than three cups of coffee during a coffee ceremony because the third cup is said to bestow a blessing. I think we all only had two. Whoops. It was very strong, and I really liked it.

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Because the coffee ceremony is so long and peeps get hangry, food is usually served alongside the coffee, traditionally popcorn!

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We shoved our faces with that until there was not a kernel left, as you do with popcorn (I can’t not do that with popcorn).

Our entire meal was a fantastic experience and I am glad we had Emily and Corey with us for it!

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It was tricky getting Evan to stop eating popcorn long enough to get a decent picture. I have several versions of the following:

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He kills me.

If you have an Ethiopian restaurant near you I highly recommend you check it out. That food is so, so good. BlogTO has an extensive list of the best Ethiopian restaurants in Toronto.

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Jays Game, Beavertails, and Jeffrey (where’s your purse?)

On Tuesday evening Evan and I hit the Toronto Blue Jays vs Oakland Athletics game with these two.

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Eric and my dad, who is seen above in his very first selfie. During the game my dad told us that he’s never really worn sunscreen but he’s thinking about starting. He’s 64 and he smoked until about 7 years ago (I am so proud of him for quitting!). Now, I’m not saying stop wearing sunscreen and take up smoking, but I am saying his skin looks damn good. Of course, he is my Nana’s son! I would be ecstatic to have one and a half wrinkles when I’m his age.

I haven’t been to a Jays game since last year in Boston and it was pretty great to see them on our home turf with my family and Evan.

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Oh, Eric. I am going to miss him.

If you follow baseball at all you know the Jays have just been on fire lately. We actually have a good team this year, so that is pretty exciting. They won the game 4-2 and have won two games since against Oakland, totally sweeping them, which means they have now won 11 games in a row! The series record! If they win against the Yankees this weekend they will actually break the record. People are going nuts for those games and the ticket prices have absolutely skyrocketed. Jays fever hadn’t quite hit yet when we went though, so we still got a decent price. We paid $50 for our tickets and we had pretty good seats.

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I chose the first base side rather than third base because I think it has more action.

The guys all got new hats and I debated buying a Blue Jays T-shirt from the shop there, but the majority of the female Blue Jays’ shirts were bedazzled so I refrained. Whyyyy? Why bedazzle?! I don’t need gems on my baseball shirt!

We did all the ballpark things, a la drank expensive beer (I actually saw a bottle of Smart water for $8.50! WTF is that?!) and ate giant expensive popcorn and footlong (expensive) hotdogs. Evan was really excited about his hotdog.

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I was excited about the toppings. I was getting my money’s worth.

I was monitoring the @IsTheDomeOpen Twitter feed (I am so happy it exists, Jays games are always better with the dome open and it’s good to know what you’re going into) and it said the dome was going to be open so I was pumped. We had some sketchy rain clouds around though, so the dome didn’t actually open until midway through the game. I don’t actually think I have ever seen it open in action before.

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It just…slides across.

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And then the smaller dome just slid over and in between the other two parts of the dome.

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Et voila. Open dome. All electronic, and pretty impressive engineering for being built in the 80s.

I am almost positive we spotted Don Cheadle on the JumboTron. If you look really closely in the below photo I think the man sans hat is him.

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And he was sitting at the bottom of our section. We should have done some stalking.

Once again I did not appear on the JumboTron. Story of my life.

It was a really good game, and it was so close that even in the last inning it could have gone Oakland’s way, but the Blue Jays killed it. Good times.

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I took Wednesday off work to take my brother to Canada’s Wonderland, our largest amusement park, for his birthday. You absolutely can’t go on a weekend, it’s way too busy. There were still lineups, but definitely not as bad. I think the longest we waited was 45 minutes.

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We got there as soon as the park opened and ran straight for the Leviathan since it is the newest roller coaster and therefore usually the busiest. It is hands down the most intense rollercoaster I’ve ever been on. During the first drop I was thinking I wasn’t sure if I could handle rollercoasters anymore…but then I got over it and was all good.

I haven’t been to Wonderland since I got stuck on the Windseeker for 40 minutes and thought I might die. That wasn’t the best experience and I totally avoided that ride this time.

windseekerNever again (also, that is my top viewed post the last couple of years – people really like Googling about people dying at Wonderland – and note, no one has). Eric and I just stuck to all our favourite rollercoasters.

I had my very first BeaverTails experience! BeaverTails are a pastry in the shape of, you guessed it, a beaver tail, with all kids of delicious toppings.

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I wanted to experience it with Paula when she was visiting earlier in the summer, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a stand. It was everything I thought it would be and more.

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I went for the Triple Trip with Nutella, peanut butter and Reeses Pieces, which was so sweet my teeth hurt. But insanely good. Eric got the Cookies n’ Creme, and his was pretty delicious also. I think even the cinnamon sugar would be good, or the maple! I think I’d get that next time.

We stayed in the park for a good 7 hours (I don’t think I could do opening to closing anymore) and had a great sibling adventure.

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After Wonderland we picked up Evan and the three of us headed downtown to Koreatown for dinner (will be a separate eating the world post). And then we met Eric’s childhood friend Jeffrey for a drink. Jefferey, like my best friend Lisa, had a cottage near the house we grew up in, and he and Eric were absolutely inseparable when they were kids. I’m so glad they were reunited.

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The last time we were all together was about 5 years ago, so it was good to see him!

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Back in 2010

Jeffrey used to refuse to look at the camera in pictures. I’m glad he’s outgrown that.

I was describing Jeffrey to Evan before we met up with him and I said that Jeffrey was the kid from the city who would come around and know all the dirty words way before any of the other kids and would teach them all. So then Eric would come home and ask “Lindsey, what’s a scrotum?” Jeffrey kills me like no other though. When he was about five or six he used to carry around this little Pokemon sack that Lisa and I called his purse and he would be all “It’s not a purse! It’s a Pokemon bag!” and then the next time we saw him he had a little fannypack type bag and I was all “Geez Jeff, you have more purses than I do!” So now it is a longstanding joke whenever we see him, we’re like “Jeffrey, where’s your purse?!” The second I saw him this time he was all “I’m sorry, I forgot my purse.”

Evan and I had a good time laughing at their antics.

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Sadly, I dropped Eric off at the airport early yesterday morning, and I am already missing him. He just makes me laugh hard. I do think our relationship is closer because of the distance though. It’s hard to have typical sibling fights when you’re across the country from each other (and you have a 10 year age difference). And he and my mom give me an excuse to visit Beautiful BC.

Have a great weekend!

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