Category Archives: Product Review

A Few Things

Literally just three things.

1. It is hot outside. It is very, very hot outside. I know I have said before that I will never complain about the heat, I live for summer, I’d be fine living on the equator, etc. etc. Well it was easy to say that when it was minus 20 outside. Now that it is plus 40 with humidity (celsius, that’s over 100F), I will just take that back. It is way too hot. It is instant sweat everywhere as soon as you walk outside. I took a break from my beautifully air conditioned office yesterday to check out the outdoor situation and it was a wall of heat as soon as I opened the door.

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It was like stepping into a sauna.

I’m sure many of you who live in warmer climates who deal with this kind of heat all year long will curse me and be all “But you can’t complain! You get a winter! You get a break!” (I am looking at you and you) But I think that gives me all the more reason to complain! We endure terrible weather for six months of the year. We had the worst winter ever. It was insanely cold from October to May. Is it too much to ask for a nice summer? We went from freezing cold and snow, to a ridiculous amount of rain, to outside being an oven. There was no in between. Why does everything have to be so extreme all the time? This hilarious woman sums up my feelings quite well (warning: there’s language in that video)

Maybe it would be more bearable if my apartment had air conditioning, but it does not. I already dislike getting ready in the morning, and the heat is just making it worse. I am sweaty as soon as I exit the shower. I was so hot and frustrated the other morning I almost lost it on Winnie just for innocently meowing at me. And poor Winnie is being hit the hardest.

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Whatever Winnie. Like laying around all day expends a lot of energy.

Anyway, it’s hot. My frigid Canadian skin is not used to this, and I just needed to vent a little bit.

2. My brother was cleaning out some boxes and found this amazing picture of my dad’s band circa 1980.

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Oh Prism. Also known as Bobby and the Rockers. Bob is my dad. (So my last name is Evanoff, did you know this? It’s a funny coincidence that my boyfriend’s name is Evan. Someone said to Evan that it must be fate, and he said “If it was fate shouldn’t it be Evan-on?” which I think is a good point. But we’ll say it’s fate anyway.)

My dad definitely still had those leather pants he is sporting when I was in high school. I remember wearing them once and my legs had never been so hot. I thought the lower half of my body was melting off me. I don’t know how he ever put up with that. Anything for fashion I guess.

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Minus his long luscious curly locks, I think my dad looks pretty much the same.

3. A couple weeks ago I was sent Truvia to try out, a stevia-based sugar substitute.

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I have actually been wanting to try Truvia for a while, even though I am not very sweetener savvy. I still use sugar. I just love it so much. I no longer take sugar in my tea, but I can’t do coffee without it. And artificial sweetener is not the same, so I still use real sugar, I’ve just been cutting down.

Truvia looks a lot like sugar…

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But it has kind of a chemically/caramel smell. I have been using it in my coffee for the past couple weeks and when I just use a teaspoon it’s sweet enough without any noticeable taste. I have to say though that I’m not really a fan of it on its own. I would never dip a strawberry into it, as the label is depicting.

I’ve been keeping it in the kitchen at work for my coworkers to use, and reviews are mixed. Some of them really like it, and some of them really do not, so it’s really a personal preference. For a sweetener it is okay, it is just no sugar.

If you are looking for a zero calorie natural sweetener I’d say give it a try.

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But once this jar is done I am probably going to go back to sugar, even if it is the devil.

And that is all! Have a great weekend!

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Wine & Ch…Chocolate?

As my blog has grown, I am contacted pretty regularly by companies that would like to send me something to review. I am always flattered, but I don’t usually take them up on the offer unless it is something that I genuinely love, have already been wanting to try, feel people would be interested in, is a good fit for my blog, etc. I won’t sell myself out for anything, I do have standards. Though I’d probably do just about anything for a free sandwich, so I’m not saying my standards are high.

But when someone offers to send you a free bottle of wine and a box of gourmet chocolate, friends, if you say no you are doing life wrong.

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That right there is basically my dream. Thank you to the amazing people at STLTO Wine and BRIX chocolate for sending this to me! You are now my new best friends.

I have never thought about pairing chocolate with wine before. Honestly, I don’t really think about pairing wine with anything. Sure, cheese, but both wine and cheese are good on their own and I would never associate one with the other. I find it really funny when I’m buying wine at the liquor store and the salesperson asks me what kind of dish I will be pairing it with.

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Oh, good one. I’m not that fancy. Maybe some chips later? We’ll see how the night goes. Actually chocolate sounds pretty good!

So clearly I am a classy wine connoisseur.

Anyway, it was all I could do not to bust into that chocolate as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. It was probably the biggest test of willpower I have ever gone through. However, I thought it would be best to get an opinion other than mine, and with no girls’ nights on the horizon (meaning not in the next day because I wouldn’t last any longer around temptation), I brought everything over to Evan’s. I figure that EVERYONE loves wine and chocolate, so I was sure the lads could help me out with the incredibly strenuous task of reviewing these things. It’s a tough job.

They were up for it though.

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They are supposed to be looking sophisticated. Are they succeeding?

So BRIX sent me a box with four different types of chocolate: extra dark (70% cacao), medium dark (60% cacao), smooth dark (54% cacao), and milk chocolate (46% cacao).

chocolate1Each chocolate is designed specifically for wine, and is suggested to be paired with different types. The idea behind it is that chocolate and wine bring out the best in each other. I was reading somewhere that the creator of BRIX chocolate would get together with friends and enjoy red wine and cheese, but thought it was foolish to be eating fat-laden cheeses while trying to benefit from the health effects of the red wine. Enter BRIX, chocolate designed for wine.

I don’t usually appreciate the badmouthing of cheese and I will defend all the cheese until the end of time, however this does make sense to me. I can’t ignore that cheese is quite calorie-heavy (doesn’t stop me from eating it in abundance usually…), and I am not sure why no one thought of this before.

STLTO had sent me a bottle of merlot, which was best with the medium dark chocolate.

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We followed the steps for preparation and testing, and honestly it was amazing. The chocolate was really good, and it genuinely did bring out other flavours in the wine. We tried all the chocolate, and even though the medium dark was best with our wine, they were all great. Who knew chocolate would be so perfect with wine?

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Brotherman said he is going to make the poor man’s version of this with the $9 bottle of red wine they like and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers bars. Sure, you could do that. But I would just like to point out that BRIX is actually very reasonably priced if you order it from the website, and it tasted gourmet to me.

Obviously the four of us finished the bottle of STLTO wine that night, but I had a lot of chocolate left over, so we did the chocolate and wine thing for the next several days with different types of wine. Excellent every time, with every wine. And then I just ate the rest of the chocolate by itself (by myself). Also very good sans wine.

So, wine and chocolate! I highly recommend this. Try it out, it’s insanely good!

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Eat All the Food and Drink All the Wine

On Monday evening I was invited to Milestones Empress Walk in Toronto for “an exclusive evening of culinary creations prepared by Milestones’ Executive Chef Jason Rosso.” According to the email I received, Milestones would be serving a six-course tasting menu inspired by their upcoming Summer Chef Menu, and each course was going to be accompanied by a selection of Constellation Brands’ finest wines.

I’m sure you can guess what I said to that invitation. Food + wine? Yes and yes, count me in. I roped my beautiful friend Dawn into joining me for the evening (she didn’t need a lot of convincing).

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I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a Milestones. It’s been years for sure. And I didn’t even know what was on their menu, to be honest, so I was excited for some exclusive tasting action.

I was immediately impressed with how professional this event was. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the Chief Operating Officer of Milestones, Montana’s, and Kelsey’s, Mark Findlay, and also Dave Grant, Strategic Account Manager at Constellation Brands (producers of wine. Wiiiine). Usually when I am invited to events like this it is run by a PR company, so I mainly interact with them. There may be a representative from the actual company in attendance, but the COO? Well now, that is just impressive. Everyone was very nice, and they seemed to enjoy talking with us and asked us lots of questions.

All was going well until one of them asked me what my favourite restaurant was.

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I just didn’t know what to say. As I love food so much (I don’t want to call myself a “foodie”), I wanted to seem worldly and cultured and say a trendy place that was well-known without being too popular, you know? But all I could think was chain restaurants, and I didn’t want to name one.

And this was interesting, because one of the reasons for this evening of food was to change our opinion of chain restaurants. There is definitely a bit of a stigma surrounding them, that they may not be as good as independent restaurants. I have been noticing this a lot more lately. When I lived in the suburbs I used to eat at chains all the time, and all my friends did also. But now that I am in the city I am starting to become a little bit of a restaurant snob, and I am not sure why this is happening. Maybe because there are many independent restaurants located close to me? I don’t know.

Anyway, upon our arrival we were immediately set up with two  of Milestones’ new cocktails.

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I can’t remember either of their names, but that raspberry one on the left was amazing. Definitely my favourite. The cucumber martini on the right was good also, but Dawnald and I agreed that it was just a little too sweet.

There were also some pretty great appetizers floating around.

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Mozzarella Cheese Balls

There are few things in life I enjoy more than a good cheese ball, and those did not disappoint. Dawn and I both ate four of them.

And then we were all ushered upstairs for dinner.

I originally expected to be sitting with only Dawn and enjoying a romantic dinner for two, but this was not the case. There were about 20 people in attendance, and we all sat together at one long table. Just an intimate dinner with people who are way more important than me. No big deal. I am really not sure how I got invited to this event (wait, yes I am, ahem Stephanie Fusco, you cheeky minx), because I certainly am not that important.

Dawn and I were sitting with a handful of chefs. Real chefs, who actually cook for a living. I am in serious awe of them. Like Rossy Earle, who coincidentally is the chef at Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, which I visited in January. We talked about how hilarious Prince Charmin is. And Joshna Maharaj, who is probably the biggest celebrity chef I’ve ever met.

Someone asked me if I was a chef.

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No no friends. I just like to eat. I could never be a chef, because you’re never home for dinner! That is very important to me.

So let’s talk about the Milestones Summer Chef’s Menu samples.

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Extensive, and amazing sounding. But the funniest thing about this photo is my place card, Lindsey Evanhoff. That is not my name. It’s just Evanoff. No H. But this was exceptionally funny to me because at my previous job one of my coworkers thought my last name was spelled “Evanhoff” for four months. When she called me that in emails I thought she was joking, until she wrote “Evanhoff” on my birthday card and I realized she really thought that was my last name.

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Just Evanoff. But I do understand how it could be confused, so no worries.

Anyway, moving along. Check out this food. It was AMAZING.

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Crispy quinoa shrimp with chimmi churri aioli and vegetable slaw

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Panko blue crab cakes with fennel and arugula salad

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Spicy Thai basil stir fry

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Grilled Japanese tuna Tutaki with asparagus and fennel slaw

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“Surf and turf” – grilled flat iron and lobster fricassee

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Avocado and lime tart

Six courses in total. I really need to say that everything was fantastic. Everything. Honestly. Best meal I have had in a long time. I cleaned every single plate and it was so good I probably could have eaten more, even though I was dying of fullness. I truly would order any one of those dishes, and they were all even better than I was expecting. Chef Rosso and friends do not mess around.

My favourites were probably the stir fry, because it tasted like curry, and the tuna Tutaki. Sweet baby cheeses and all things holy and delicious, that tuna… Dawn was studying the menu before everything came out and she mentioned to me she probably wasn’t going to be a fan of the tuna, and then it ended up being her favourite. It was so good.

Also surprisingly good was the avocado and lime tart. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that but I loved it. It tasted like a lime meringue pie to me.

Dawn and I were so impressed with everything that obviously we had to pay our compliments to the chef.

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Excellent job Chef Rosso. If you would like to move in with me and be my personal chef I would be very okay with that. I think I could eat that stir fry every day of my life. But I’ll allow you to cook me new things also. I’m not picky.

Oh, and the wine! I can’t forget to mention the wine. There was so much of it!

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I can’t remember all the selections, but each dish was perfectly paired with a glass of wine ranging from pinot grigio, to pinot noir, to sparkling wine, to ice wine. I am not a huge wine connoisseur, but I do love it. They all tasted great to me, though red is always my favourite.

I eventually arrived home after our night of gourmet eating and face-planted onto my bed, unbelievably full and a little bit drunk. Milestones, I don’t know what I thought of you before, but I’ll tell you what I think of you now. You are delicious. I like you, and I like you a lot. I am coming back and I am eating all the things and I am telling all my friends. Thank you so much for having me! You have definitely changed my opinion of chains in general.

In other news, though kind of related, the subway stop where this Milestones is located is THE subway stop where Dawn and I had our unfortunate accident 15 years ago. Perhaps you will recognize these doors. They are the ones we got stuck in.

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I drew them, though my memory was off slightly.

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Ah, memories. If you don’t know that story you can read it here.

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Eat all the Froyo

Last night I was invited to the Liberty Village Yogurty’s for a little froyo patio party to celebrate some new frozen yogurt flavours, and also their free wifi.

I never realized how grateful I was for free wifi until I was traveling and couldn’t use my phone otherwise, so this is a very handy thing. So if you are visiting Canada, hit up Yogurty’s. Frozen yogurt AND free wifi? Wins all around.

Anyway, I was told I could bring a friend, and since Evan has never tried froyo like this before, he was my friend of choice. I knew he would appreciate.

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Evan really loved Froyo the Bear.

This was my second Yogurty’s event. Last year I went to a similar thing around this time with my friend Lisa, and I had the best time ever.

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Since Yogurty’s is a client of Lisa’s PR agency, rock-it promotions, she was in attendance once again.

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And I haven’t seen her in a while so it was great to catch up with her.

I wasn’t quite as excited this time around, and only because I am no longer a stranger to froyo. Last year was my first frozen yogurt bar experience and I remember being blown away by the selection of flavours and toppings. And the fact that we were allowed to have ALL OF THEM. I couldn’t get over that. I went absolutely crazy and my froyo to toppings ratio was probably 50-50.

So this time I knew what to expect. I was still pumped though.

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And this Yogurty’s did have a great selection of both flavours and toppings.

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And I could kind of relive my first Yogurty’s experience through Evan, because I noticed he was a lot like me. He seemed pretty overwhelmed by all the toppings and kept exclaiming “cheesecake?!”, “cashews?!”, “chocolate MALT BALLS?!” It made me laugh. I could totally relate.

But I have learned my lesson since last year. Don’t go crazy with the toppings. This is very hard for me because I just want to try everything and load them all on there, especially if they are free. But typically I prefer my ice cream/froyo to be light on the toppings for an optimal smooth and creamy experience.

So, in order to maximize my flavours and toppings I made myself two cups.

My first was the chocolately cup, and included Belgian hot chocolate, peanut butter, and salted caramel popcorn froyo flavours, and brownies, cookie dough and Skor pieces for the toppings.

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Ridiculous. It was so good.

My second was the fruity cup, which included mango, strawberry fields, and raspberry chocolate cupcake froyo, and then pineapple, mango, strawberries, mango balls and gummy bears as toppings.

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Both were delicious, but if I had to pick a favourite I think it would be the chocolatey one. Usually I don’t even bother with fruit stuff because I am chocolate all the way, but I decided to switch it up.

It was a very good time, and my love for froyo lives on. Thanks for having us Yogurty’s! I will be seeing you again very soon.

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All the Toppings in the World

So last night I was invited to a tasting at Jamba Juice and Yogurty’s on Bloor Street West in Toronto. I was pretty excited about it, as the word tasting was in there, so I was pretty sure I could expect to taste some deliciousness. Obviously I was more than down with that.

My friend Lisa works for rock-it promotions, the PR agency that represents Jamba Juice/Yogurty’s, which was great because I ended up going over with her.

It was nice to have a friend there. If I was alone I probably would have been standing around by myself all awkward-faced, and I probably wouldn’t have eaten as much as I did. I needed a partner in crime.

We started off the night of sampling at Jamba Juice, which I had heard of, but had never been to before. I figured it was just like a smoothie place/juice bar, and it is, but I had no idea about all the other amazing things they have.

Like oatmeal, my breakfast BFF!

This is my new best friend Dean (best friend because he is holding a tray of samples) and I with steel-cut, fresh banana oatmeal.

I was so impressed with the oatmeal. SO impressed. I sampled three different kinds: blueberry & blackberry, apple cinnamon, and fresh banana. All three were amazing. Like, ridiculously amazing. And I am a (self-proclaimed) oatmeal connoisseur, so I like to think I know what I’m talking about.

I never make steel-cut oatmeal for myself though, because it takes a million years (well, an hour), and I definitely don’t have that kind of time in the morning. I am all about instant.

Jamba Juice had a ton of breakfast options!

If there is one in my new neighbourhood I just may have to drop by in the a.m. for some b-fast action. And everything is under or around 300 calories also.

There were some other samples floating around as well, including possibly the best sweet waffle I have ever tasted, and a delicious tomato twist pastry thing.

And of course, smoothies!

Starting June 1, Jamba Juice is introducing Fruit Refreshers in three flavours: tropical mango, strawberry lemonade, and watermelon splash.

I liked them all, but watermelon splash was my ultimate fave. It really was refreshing (and the girl in the banana costume holding the tray of them was so cute).

After our Jamba Juice party, we headed over to Yogurty’s for some frozen yogurt adventures.

I was realllly excited for Yogurty’s. I knew it was going to be the highlight of the evening for me because I have never been to a froyo bar before, but I keep hearing about their amazingness. I think they are a lot more common in the US than here in Canada, because I see American bloggers eating froyo with crazy toppings all the damn time. I was always so jealous. I have been DYING to try something like this, but I know there are no froyo bars in my neighbourhood, and I wasn’t sure where to go.

Well now I know. You go to Yogurty’s.

This may be old news for those of you who are froyo savvy, but because I was not, and I know that most of my friends are not, I am going to explain it.

You choose your flavour of frozen yogurt…

Only chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are shown here, but they had a wide variety. I sampled tart honey, peanut butter chocolate, Greek yogurt (!!!), red velvet, salted caramel, cotton candy, and a couple others that I can’t remember…

And once you’ve chosen your yogurt, you lay on the toppings!

The toppings are RIDICULOUS. I have never seen so many options. I was absolutely dying of excitement (ask Lisa, she said she wanted to videotape my reaction). I can’t believe we were even allowed to use all of them! I was sure there had to be a limit. I expected someone to rain on my parade at any moment and say something stupid like “now go pick your ONE topping!” I probably would have cried. But they basically said “Go to town!”

And well, you don’t have to tell me twice…

Sweet baby cheeses and all things holy and delicious… Isn’t that picture beautiful? The cup of amazing froyo looks like it is floating on a cloud.

And how could I not go crazy? I couldn’t. Not with these toppings…

For my froyo, I chose a combination of my two favourite kinds of yogurt that I sampled, red velvet cake and Greek yogurt (so impressed there was Greek yogurt, it was great). And for my toppings, I pretty much chose everything chocolate.

I ate the entire thing, and I felt no shame. But in my excitement about the toppings, I forgot something very important. I don’t particularly like a lot of crunchy toppings in my ice cream/froyo…I kind of prefer it smooth and plain for an optimal eating experience. So in hindsight, I got a little carried away. It was still delicious though, obviously.

But not to worry, after my first cup of froyo I went back for seconds (MUCH smaller seconds) of ONLY red velvet cake, and some strawberries and blueberries that I missed the first time…

I was so sad I missed out on the cookie dough and brownie chunks and the WAFFLES. Totally missed them the first round in my excitement over the other toppings. I wouldn’t have gone for the fruit the first time though, come on now. You gotta do it right.

Anyway, I don’t know if I can even put into words how awesome this place was. And it can be a low-calorie dessert (though mine was obviously not).

It was just an amazing night of eating. I am so glad I was included in this, and so glad the world of froyo bars has been opened up to me! I feel like a new woman.

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The Chobani has Arrived

I love Greek yogurt.

I love the thick and creamy consistency (it’s so much more thick than regular yogurt), I love that it has two to three times the amount of protein as regular yogurt for about the same amount of calories, and I love how filling it is.

I eat it nearly every day around 10:30am for my mid-morning snack, and it keeps my hunger monster in check until lunchtime. I also use plain Greek yogurt in any recipe that calls for sour cream.

Here in Canada, we do not have the biggest Greek yogurt selection, although I will say that it has gotten better. When I first discovered Greek yogurt, I could only find Liberté in grocery stores, and even that was hit and miss. I usually could only get the plain, or sometimes vanilla.

(I just Googled Liberté Vanilla Greek yogurt, and three of the pictures in the first two lines of Google images were from my own blog. Weird.)

Note about Liberté – I really like it, but at $5.50 for the tub pictured above, it’s expensive.

Anyway, not long after I embarked on my Greek yogurt adventure, PC jumped on the bandwagon and started making their own.

It’s cheaper than Liberté. I don’t find it to be quite as good (except the 2% kind – that stuff is dynamite), but I do like it. Plain, honey, and the flavoured kinds (mango, strawberry, blueberry) are the best, in my humble opinion. The vanilla one tastes like dirty bum to me.

I can always find PC Greek yog in the grocery store I shop in (Superstore), even if Liberté is out, so I like that it is readily available.

And lately I have been noticing Fage and Oikos making an appearance on our Canadian shelves! I have tried both, and they’re okay…comparable to PC and Liberté, but not as cheap as PC.

Since I have started reading blogs though, it has become quite apparent that I am missing out in the Greek yogurt department.

We Canadians have been apparently missing the alleged God of Greek yogurt.

We don’t have Chobani.

All the American healthy-living blogs I drop by seem to absolutely rave on about Chobani and how amazing it is. It is rare to go one day without hearing about how awesome it is, and how it must be made of unicorn tears, and will make you look like a supermodel, and is heaven in a plastic cup, and I’m going to post a million pictures of me and my Chobani and make all you Canadians jealous, and you haven’t experienced Greek yogurt if you haven’t tried Chobani, blah Chobani blah.

Yeah yeah, rave on, rave on. You got me, I’m jealous.

So I had never tried Chobani. I know, your American mouths are probably wide open in shock right now, since Chobani is so rampant on your grocery store shelves and your entire country seems to be overflowing with the 30 flavours of Chobani available to you (that is my view from here, anyway). But yep it’s true. I am a Chobani virgin.

Or I was. Until yesterday.

Look what arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon!

YES! Free samples from the beautiful people at Chobani, to celebrate CHOBANI COMING TO CANADA. Finally, FINALLY I get to taste what all the hype is about!

I immediately busted open the peach, because I looove peach yogurt and have never tried peach yogurt – Greek edition.

I expected to be disappointed. I had heard so much about this yogurt that I did not think it was possible for it to live up to my expectations. I was wrong. It was thick and creamy and delicious. I have since tried the black cherry and strawberry flavours, and they are both awesome as well.

Where have you been all my life Chobani?!

Oh right, not in Canada.

Except it is now! At a Loblaws/Superstore near you!

Well probably not near you. You can check out the store locator on the Chobani Canada website, but so far these creamy tubs of deliciousness are only available in Mississauga, and one location in Etobicoke.

This is bad news for me as I typically do not go west of highway 400, and because Mississauga confuses me. But I do plan to bribe my coworker who lives there to pick these up for me.

And I’m hoping they come to Toronto soon!

Update: Emily from Chobani informed me in the comments that Chobani is also available in Toronto, Scarborough and Ajax. Excellent.

Note: Chobani is not paying me for this review, but they did send me free samples of Greek yogurt and I assume the trade-off is that I talk about them. All opinions expressed in this post are from my own brain.

But they also sent me a pretty sweet recycled lunch bag…

And I can be easily bribed, so you should probably take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt.

(I had just gotten back from the gym, hence the sweatiness and the bad hair going on in that pic.)

I do really love Greek yogurt though. And Chobani really is good. I am already a big fan! If it ends up in a store near me, I’ll probably be buying it all the time!

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