Category Archives: Toronto

Toronto Times

One of the things I really wanted Eric and friends to experience while they were here was Choir! Choir! Choir! I know that going to choir on your vacation doesn’t exactly sound like the most fun time. Believe me, I wouldn’t have pegged myself as a “choir” joiner, even though I do love singing (by myself in my car)…but C!C!C! is different. I was pretty apprehensive my first time, but once you start singing you feel more comfortable and now I think I’d even go by myself if I couldn’t find someone to come with me. It’s also in a pub so, that definitely amps up the coolness. It is truly an amazing experience. Someone described going to C!C!C! as taking a soul bath and I think that is pretty accurate. It is uplifting and stress relieving and I always come out of there feeling so happy. I love it.

So last Tuesday after work I roped Eric, Kenya and Dixon into joining me at choir, and Emily and Dawn too as they have been wanting to come with me for a while. Party! C!C!C! happens at Clintons on Bloor West, so first we all went out for dinner at Ka Chi, a Korean restaurant just down the street (same restaurant I went to for HoH Eats The World – Korea). I LOVE the bibimbap there.

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So good.

After dinner we walked over to Clinton’s. It was a SUPER hot day so we were all sweaty and shiny-faced, but everyone was so at least we weren’t alone.

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I know that none of them have really done anything like this before so I was excited for them to experience it. We sang The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows in honour of the 50th anniversary of their album Revolver. Definitely an interesting (and psychedelic) song choice… I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but I know that all of Daveed and Nobu’s arrangements are amazing so I was pretty confident that it would be awesome. It totally was. And we got in the video!!!

Prominently. Dawn and Emily are right up front, just in front of Kenya and I (I’m wearing glasses in the vid), so we’re pretty much in the entire thing – although I wish I hoisted Kenya on my shoulders! Eric and Dixon are singing mids behind us. Eric’s bright shining face is prominently featured at exactly 3 minutes in, and you can catch a good glimpse of Dixon’s luscious locks in the beginning. I love it. And I feel like it’s a good souvenir of their trip! Pretty groovy. You can watch the video here if it doesn’t load above. They all said they loved the experience and were glad I dragged them to choir (probably better than the time I dragged Eric, Kenya and Dixon up a mountain in the pouring rain). I’m still a cool sister!

I got off work early on Friday so I picked up the trio and we met my dad at Nana’s, who just turned 102! She was SO EXCITED to see Eric.

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Although at first she didn’t realize who he was. I introduced Kenya and Dixon as Eric’s girlfriend and best friend, respectively, and she said “And how is Eric?!” and we were all “he’s standing right there!” and she just about lost her mind. She just kept saying “What a surprise!!!!” and of course “Beautiful! Wonderful! … Fantastic!”

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She is nearly completely deaf now so we write her love notes to communicate.

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Sometimes she writes back instead of speaking. I’m amazed at how quick her mind is and how great her writing (and spelling and grammar) still is. I asked her how she was doing and she wrote back “Very bad. Pain everywhere, all over my body, all the time. But…” and then she made a what-can-you-do motion with her hands and said “It’s okay! I’ll just carry on.” Aw, Nanners. That was sad, but she is so funny and never feels sorry for herself, so we didn’t dwell on it. I can’t imagine how crappy that must be though, and I am not sure how she stays so positive. Anyway, it was a cute visit. She was not understanding that Dixon was in fact not a girl (the hair confused her) so that was pretty entertaining.

After Nana’s we ordered takeout Chinese and watched the Opening Ceremonies back at our place.

On Saturday we went to da island!

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I like to show it off to the tourists. It was again a super hot day and Eric and Kenya have seen the more touristy side of the island with the gardens and Centreville amusement park, so we went to Hanlan’s Point Beach!

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It is the most beautiful beach on the island, in my opinion. A bunch of us had a great day there last year, you may remember me posting about it. And yes it’s a clothing optional beach and no our clothes did not come off. I mentioned last year that we all stayed fully clothed also and someone recently commented on that post and said “What a sad bunch of prudes” which…is the opposite of how I would describe my friends – they are very happy and inappropriate. I am in favour of doing what you feel, and I personally do not feel comfortable leisuring around in the nuddy-pants in my own city where I might actually run into people I work with. Awkward. Also this time my brother was here, so, that would be weird…

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We spent most of the day lounging around on the sand and swimming. The water is gorgeous! So clear and blue.

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Speaking of gorgeous…

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That hair.

My friend Hannah and a friend of hers met up with us for a while in the later afternoon (Hannah knows Eric as she came to Taste of the Danforth with us last year)

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This photo unfortunately had to get cropped as there was quite the bare bum behind Evan. This is my life in PG, always remember.

After beaching it up we got changed out of our bathing suits and headed back to the docks. We had to wait a bit for the ferry so in the meantime SKYLINE PHOTO SHOOT. I love Toronto!

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After we got back to the mainland we wandered around the harbour to the Amsterdam Brewhouse on the lake. We needed to hydrate so BEER FLIGHTS!

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And lots of water. I got the smoked brisket sandwich and I have zero regrets about it. Delicious.

I’m really going to miss those three. Luckily not for too long ’cause I’m heading out west on Labour Day weekend to stay with them for a couple nights (with Lisa, Sherrie and Sherrie’s friend Yamina from Switzerland – we have quiiiite the road trip planned that includes some camping in the mountains and hopefully some white water rafting, so I am super excited for those adventures!

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Toronto Waterfront 10k Recap

Back in March I signed up to run my first 10k race, the Toronto Waterfront 10k, and this past Saturday was the day!

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Yeehaw!

I have run several 5k races in the past, but that’s all I’ve done as far as “racing” goes. If you can call that racing. I was apprehensive about the distance as 10k is actually the furthest I have ever run before. It was a real big deal and I have been training for it for the past several months.

Initially I followed the Couch to 10k app on my phone, until I got past the 5k distance and then at the end of April I switched to Hal Higdon’s novice 10k training plan. I really liked doing Couch to 5k to get me started, but once I got past the 5k mark going to 10k was difficult because of the amount of time required. It was getting to the point where every run was 60+ minutes and it was difficult to fit that in three times a week, especially when the weather was getting hotter. I found Hal Higdon’s plan much better as I got closer to race time, not that I followed it to a T. I didn’t exactly do the strength training and I didn’t always do the full long run distance (I am so weak-willed sometimes…especially when it’s really hot and humid out).

Anyway, the longest distance I ran before the 10k was 8k, and at a pretty slow pace, so for the 10k I didn’t really know what to expect of myself. My 5k PR is just over 30 minutes, but 10k is a different beast. I doubted I could do it in an hour. And then last week I suddenly got really, really sick. I am talking threw up for nearly 8 hours straight, plus a fever. That kind of sick. The sickest I’ve ever been in my adult life and I thought I had food poisoning, possibly from the wedding, but it only happened to me so it looks like it was just the flu. Fun!

Needless to say, that left me drained and weak. The worst of my sickness was on Wednesday, so by Friday morning I was starting to feel human again and decided I was still going to run the race. But I dropped any sort of time goal. I was running with my good friend Melissa (who I blew across the lake with, and you may remember her from her ridiculously fun Jack and Jill, and then her wedding this past November), and she is in the same running boat as me. We’re pretty equally matched.

She slept over on Friday night (I was feeling back to normal by then but we had too much wine and stayed up too late talking, maybe not the best of ideas), and we got up at 5:30am on Saturday, made our way downtown, and promised each other that we would do whatever it took to run the entire thing together. Even if it was at a super slow pace!

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We also met up with my friends Michelle and Casey (this race was Michelle’s idea in the first place, I cursed her at times but now I’m glad she got me to do it).

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At 7:45am we were off! It was HOT, and it was humid, and that wasn’t awesome, but for some reason I felt awesome. We started off running down Yonge Street to Lakeshore and that part was a bit of a downhill and it may have had something to do with this, but I felt better than I have ever felt while running. I was chatting to Melissa and Michelle and around km 3 or so and I remember thinking that I wasn’t even out of breath (Missy and I stayed with Michelle for the first 5k, Casey took off like a gazelle immediately ’cause she is freakin SPEEDY). That was crazy to me because normally I can’t hold a convo while running. I don’t think. I only really run by myself and I don’t really talk to myself, but I really didn’t think I could. My friend Emily texted me while I was running and I just responded with this selfie:

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Feeling good! Until about 6k when I started to deteriorate. At km 7 we had a turn around and were running directly into the sun and I went rapidly downhill. There’s a big uphill around there too which was not my favourite. 8k was the worst. I really wanted to stop and walk and I know Melissa was right there with me, but we soldiered on!

I am so happy to report that we ran the entire race, no walking, no stopping — though we ran super slowly through the water stations while dumping water down our throats, and onto ourselves. Gah, it was hot. We finished in 1:14:16 and I am super happy with that time!

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Yeahhhh!

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Afterwards we found Michelle, Casey and their friend Stephanie. We were all proud of ourselves. That Casey man, she ran it in 55:07. Crazy. Maybe one day…

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I think I caught the running bug. I am already thinking of what 10k I could do next (I’m not ready for a half marathon yet, if ever, but 10k I can do!).

Afterwards we went out for brunch at Hunter’s Landing. I have seen a picture of their recovery Caesar before and I knew I had to have it, even though it wasn’t 11am yet and they weren’t serving alcohol. I was okay with a virgin one. The garnishes made up for the lack of vodka.

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I always say I like Caesars because they are a drink and a snack all in one… In addition to your usual spicy bean, celery stick and olive, this Caesar included sausage, cheese, bacon, pizza slice and a freakin lobster tail.

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Ridiculous. I loved it.

And then I went to a fish fry party with my friends and spent the rest of the day eating, but more on that later!

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The Chef Cartel

This past Monday I was invited to round four of The Chef Cartel at the Luxe Appliance Studio on King East. If you haven’t heard of The Chef Cartel (I hadn’t really), it’s an ongoing series of events to showcase Toronto’s upcoming chefs — chefs battle it out in various rounds to become… well, I’m not sure of the title actually. The champion. Maybe they just get bragging rights. Either way, it’s pretty cool. Basically like the Iron Chef.

And if you haven’t heard of Luxe Appliance Studio (I hadn’t), it’s a big showroom of amazing appliances, and in the main room there’s a giant kitchen space with some of the most amazing appliances I’ve ever seen, and they actually work!

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I went with my friend Casey (Waffling Blog!).

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I didn’t really know what to expect food-wise, as is common with events like this. I wasn’t sure if I should pre-eat beforehand, in case there wasn’t any food (only the judges got to try the food the chefs cooked, which is a flaw if you ask me), but it took place around dinnertime so I assumed there would be food present. Luckily I assumed correctly or someone would have had to deal with my rage. (Probably Casey.)

There were many sampling stations around of local (and mostly natural) food products, and Nugan Estate wine… (they sent me some a little while ago you may remember, and I like.)

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and for anything substantial you purchased drink and food tickets. It ended up being about $5 per food item. We spent our first two tickets at the Japanese snack food stand for Pass the Table. ( <- check them out, they offer really cool unique off-menu dining experiences, you can basically tailor your meal to the kind of food you want!)

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I got the chicken and Casey went with the croquettes.

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Both were seriously delicious.

We also went for the barbecue beef brisket from Baroque BBQ.

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I liked, but not as much as I liked that Japanese chicken.

I also spent a ticket on a caesar made with Walter Craft Caesar mix (a natural alternative to clamato juice, without MSG, colouring or corn syrup). I am a bit of a caesar connoisseur and it was probably one of the best I’ve had, I can’t lie.

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But it did have a sausage on it, so that may have swayed my opinion.

The chef we were standing by was Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, so naturally that is who we cheered for during the competition.

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She was battling Chef Takumi Saito of Hapa Izakaya.

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I want to go to both of their restaurants. From where I was standing they both looked like amazing chefs. I loved watching their techniques — even watching Elia cut onion was entertaining. Evan would have friggin’ loved this, he has some pretty good techniques himself (and always tries to teach me but I will probably always be a slow and awkward chopper). Also, watching them made me realize that we really need a new and decent knife.

Both chefs received two secret ingredients at the last minute that they had to feature in two dishes, an appetizer and an entree. The ingredients were white fish (ah the fish had a name but I can’t remember), and eddoe (a root vegetable). It was fun to watch them prepare and I was happy with the other food that was present, but it took me an incredible amount of restraint for me to not dive bomb into this when it was set in front of me.

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I’m really proud of myself.

Elia made ceveche and grilled fish and ahhh it smelled and looked so good. I saw the judges faces when they were eating it and I was jealous. Takumi’s looked great too, he made some amazing-looking risotto. But in the end, Elia won and is moving on to the semi-finals. YEAH ELIA!!!

It was a fun night and and we even left with a left with a little gift bag food of foodie goodies. Those are the best.

Also, a friend posted this on Facebook recently and it really resonated with me…
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Have a great weekend! I will be back next week with stories about mine, a bunch of us ladies are renting a houseboat and cruising around the Thousand Islands for our friend Melon’s bachelorette. I can’t even imagine the shenanigans, but my pirate hat and megaphone are all packed up and ready to go.

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Sausage Parties, First Thursday and 1950s Bridal Showers

Hey hey hey.

So I have been procrastinating on my Havana post all week. I know it’s not that important and probably no one cares…but I do. We saw so much, I have about 500 pictures and I can’t remember what everything is, and I’d like to be at least a little educational. So it’s daunting and I just keep putting it off. Anyway, I’ll get to it. I just wanted to drop in so you knew I was still alive, so here are a few things that have been happening the last few weeks.

Our roommate (who was also one of Evan’s really good friends) Ian moved out a couple of weeks ago, so that’s kind of exciting. We love Ian, he’s funny and nice and he always goes to the store for snack runs (and he takes requests) so he’s good to have around, but I can’t lie, it’s nice having just Evan and I here again. Evan helped him move so the moment they were gone I was all…

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I’m excited to dance around the condo in my underwear again.

We have been working on getting the guest room back up and running so we don’t have to make our friends sleep on the couch when they stay over. And we’re also preparing for our new roommate to move in, the kitty Mya. I’m not sure what’s happening with that though, as her move-in date keeps getting pushed back by the rescue organization… She has a rash on her tummy and they don’t want to give her to us with a health problem, which I completely understand (and appreciate), but I’m getting antsy. The summer tends to be pretty busy so I’d like to have a new cat settled in here before then. And I have really been missing Winnie lately. I know another cat can’t replace her but…I want one. I hope it still works out.

In other news, on the first Thursday of May some of my coworkers and I went to First Thursday at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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It’s similar to Friday Night Live at the Royal Ontario Museum (we went last summer) — you can get drinks and food and walk around listening to music while looking at the exhibits. My friend Frances (on the right) took art history in school and is super knowledgable so it was like having a tour guide with us. I was so impressed, I think she needs to work there.

The main draw for us was the Outsiders exhibit, American photography from the 1950s-1980s. It was extremely compelling and interesting.

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And as expected I saw some art that I didn’t really understand…

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It was a good time with those girls though. We’re going to have to hang out outside of work more often.

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A couple weeks ago I met up with my friend Catherine (aka CathRON) and her friend Cam for a literal sausage party. We took a sausage-making class at The Spice Trader on Queen West.

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Yep, sausage making! Close To The Bone, a butcher in Scarborough, use The Spice Trader’s spices in their sausages so they started running a class there. It was definitely a random thing to do, but it was super interesting.

We learned what cuts of meat are best for sausage making (pork and beef trim, and pork has the best fat for binding the meat so that is why pork is the most common sausage ingredient).

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We ground that meat using a meat grinder…

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We learned what to add to make a tasty sausage (we did a pork and beef sausage with onion, garlic, and paprika with salt and pepper, and a pork sausage with onion, garlic, sage and salt and pepper).

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We mixed that all up…

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Catherine was a pro.

And then we stuffed our intestines and separated the sausages.

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I am a bit weird about the intestines, but the butchers explained that it is the best casing because it has the best consistency (artificial casings can be sort of papery) and it’s the best to use intestines because it is the most respectful to the animal — less waste.

Here’s a highlight video.

It was a really interesting night. And they brought us some sausages to try!

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All of them were delicious.

I also got a bag of sausages to bring home with me, so it was fun carrying that on the subway. Evan sent me a text just saying to get home safe and I was all “Don’t worry, if anyone tries anything I’ll just slap them with my bag of sausages.” I haven’t tried ours yet but we’re having them for dinner tonight so I’m excited for that.

Finally, last weekend was Dawn’s sister Melon’s bridal shower. Melon be gettin’ married!

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The theme was 1950s pinup model and there were some great outfits happening. Dawn’s mom Brennie looked pretty spectacular.

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And Dawn has a very fitting apron…

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How To Keep Your Husband, which includes sage advice such as watch your weight, always look innocent, always have dinner ready when he gets home from work, don’t make him jealous, and don’t boss him around. Wonderful. Really captures the 1950s theme.

So, that was a good time with the ladies.

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I think that’s everything exciting that’s been going on… Have a great weekend! I’m extra excited ’cause it’s a long weekend here in Canada land!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Little Sister (Indonesia)

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

Last week I finally made it to Little Sister food bar to eat Indonesian.

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I mentioned Little Sister briefly a while ago because I tried to get in a couple months ago but couldn’t. We had to make reservations two weeks in advance and even then the only time we could get was 6:30 or like 9. It is super trendy right now. I was worried it wasn’t going to live up to the hype but do you know what, it was delicious! I went on St. Paddy’s Day with my friends Liz (from the way more popular blog than mine will ever be One Twenty Five), Amy and Amanda (also who I was with the last time we tried to get in here and we ended up going to Tabule instead).

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It was actually our one year anniversary! Well, Liz and I brunched before so we already knew each other…but last year Liz and I were out for St. Paddy’s drinks and Amy came up to us and was all “I’m sorry to interrupt you but I’m pretty sure I read both of your blogs…” Liz and I were super excited about this so we invited them to sit with us and we basically became friends on the spot. The rest is history, as they say. We try to get together every few months now, and Amy even roped me into trying crossfit with her. I think it is a romantic story of our first meeting.

Okay, onto the food. Little Sister is a tapas restaurant, so a lot of small plates for sharing. We ordered most of the menu, including two of Indonesia’s national dishes — satay and nasi goreng (fried rice). Tumpeng is actually their official national dish but that was unfortunately not on the menu. We did the best we could. We ordered all three kinds of satay — satay sapi with beef, kecap, lime leaf and lemongrass…

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satay lilet, Balinese spiced chicken…

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and an unpictured satay ayam, chicken in peanut sauce. The chicken peanut sauce satay was probably my favourite. It was so good.

We ordered babi guling, a Balinese roast pork with slaw and served with iceberg lettuce that you can make wraps with…

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Not bad, but for four I thought we could have gone for a bigger portion of pork.

The semur java is a Javanese dark spiced braised beef with crispy potato and green onion (from the Java island in Indonesia, where Jakarta is).

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Next up is the ayam panggang, sweet chili grilled chicken with bean sprouts. green onion and cilantro. This one had a bit of a spice to it.

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Panggant literally means grilled or roasted.

My favourite was the Balinese shredded chicken taco.

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I would have been happy with several rounds of just that.

We also ordered croquettes that did not photograph well at all so I will save you, and finally we have the nasi goreng!

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Just fried rice, but really good fried rice. I love that it was made with a sweet soy sauce, or kecap manis. It definitely gave it a different flavour than regular fried rice.

So we had quite a delicious time. Indonesian food was awesome and it made me want to go to Indonesia for real. I should mention that Little Sister was surprisingly reasonable also. I ordered two drinks and we ordered basically the entire menu and it was only like $50 each with tip. I had a good night with those girls and I had tears in my eyes from laughter, always a good sign. I hope we can make it out to celebrate out anniversary every year!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Kanga (Australia)

G’day mate! I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

Today I am talking about a land down under!

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A few weeks ago I hit up Kanga, a cute Australian meat pie counter-serve restaurant with my Ozzie coworker friend Rachel. Meat pies are iconic in Australia and New Zealand, and when I asked Rachel what their most authentic dish would be, a meat pie is the first thing she said. Though if you talk to an Australian they will tell you that New Zealand stole meat pies from them. It might be a bitter subject.

I love a good meat pie so I was all for eating Australia. Kanga is relatively new and I think it is the only place in Toronto where you can get authentic meat pies, and Rachel vouched that they are the Fair Dinkum*. She said that when she is feeling a little homesick here she just gets an Australian bottle of wine, goes to Kanga to get her some meat pies, Skypes with her family and she is all fixed up.

Kanga has several kinds of pies, but the choice for me was easy. Traditional Aussie.

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Minced beef in a rich beef gravy, with a hint of vegemite. I could taste the hint of vegemite! Rachel says she can’t, but I think it might be because she eats vegemite all the time, whereas I have only tried it once in my life and that distinct salty rye taste is different than anything I eat on a regular basis. It stood out.

As soon as Rachel noticed my little cup of Ketchup she was like “you’re doing it wrong,” and I looked over at her pie and saw that she had a pool of Ketchup sitting on the top. She explained that’s how they did it in Australia, just covered the whole thing. Huh. It made me wonder how many other things I am eating wrong when I don’t have someone from that country hovering over me.

The pie was everything I hoped it would be and more.

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I wish it was closer to me because I’d be picking up their frozen pies and bringing them home all the time.

I also ordered ginger beer (very popular in Australia, and sadly kind of hard to find here) and fries or “chips” because for some reason I was worried about still being hungry after my pie…

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But in reality I was so chockers** after my pie that I could not do them justice. I also needed to save room for my lamington.

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Lamington is an Australian sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce and coconut. Rachel assured me it’s all the rage in Australia and one of her favourite desserts. I get why, it was totally delicious.

So that is Australia done in Toronto. One day I hope to eat a proper vegemite sandwich in a land down under!

*Fair Dinkum: the real deal
**Chockers: full

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