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The Toronto Day

For Paula and Fabian’s last day in Ontario, we needed to show them Toronto. It was the only thing missing from their trip. One day is obviously not enough to see the entire city. I mean, I’ve lived in Toronto proper for three years now and there are still parts of the city I haven’t been to (and I grew up only about an hour and 45 minutes away). Toronto is huge, extremely diverse (Fabian actually said he thought it was the most multi-cultural city he’s ever been to, and that included Chicago and NYC), and there is always something happening. But for one day, I sure do think we squeezed in a lot. And we didn’t even have great weather.

Their last full day here, last Sunday, was also Paula’s birthday, so Evan made a pancake breakfast here at the condo in her honour. Our roommate Ian also made freshly squeezed orange juice in honour of our guests, so that was nice. Until he accidentally dumped half the orange juice on top of Paula’s birthday pancake. That made us laugh hard. Starting the day off right!

After breakfast we headed to Chinatown, I think a must-see if you are in the city because Toronto’s Chinatown is large and pretty legit, and there are a million interesting things to look at. I didn’t take any pictures while we wandered around there, but Evan and I had a pretty good adventure there a couple summers ago, if you want to check that out.

Next we walked down Queen West. I personally do not think Queen West is as hip as it once was (though Vogue named it the world’s second hippest district in 2014), but there are still a ton of interesting stores around there and it’s still a major tourist attraction. By this time we had done a lot of walking and were ready for a break, so we found a rooftop patio that lured us in because hey, rooftop patio, and also $6 mimosas.

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Not a bad view either.

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Sadly that was the sunniest part of the day. The weather went a bit downhill after that.

Next we hopped on the subway and took that over to Union Station, and then walked down to the Harbour. Obviously I was taking Paula to Toronto Island! So we got on the ferry and headed over.

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I like to try to get to the island a couple times a year, and you can read about my past island adventures here, here and here.

The weather wasn’t the best and my favourite restaurant with a patio on the water wasn’t open for some reason, but we got some pizza and settled in for a picnic.

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And of course took lots of the customary pictures with Toronto’s skyline.

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Oh that Paula. She is a minx to the ninth degree.

And the boys.

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I really loved showing Paula and Fabian around because it gave me an excuse to do all the touristy things. I felt like I was on vacation, too!

After our picnic we walked over to Centreville, the little amusement park on the island.

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It’s really cute. I obviously had to take Paula on this ride. I still can’t believe it exists. Every time I go on it I feel like I come out of it looking at the world a little bit differently. Like everything is a party.

Centreville also happens to have a zoo, which I was not really aware of until we were there this time because I have never wandered far enough back there. Ponies!

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This ridiculously cute cow with the softest fur!

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This beautiful alpaca.

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Baby piggies!

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Peacocks!

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And a ton of every farm-type animals. These goats that were making us laugh VERY hard.

Goats are funny.

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Paula got a better video of them than I did. They were absolutely killing us.

I am not sure how good of an idea this was…

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But the sheep sure liked it.

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Hope that tree isn’t poisonous…

And we found this giant Muskoka chair that screams Ontario.

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The island is pretty. It feels like you’re at a cottage in the city.

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I just wish it was a nicer day, but what can ya do. At least is wasn’t raining. Yet.

We walked to the pier, checked out the gardens, and then got back on the ferry to do dinner downtown. We walked to the Bier Markt on the Esplanade. I have always had a great experience there and they have over 150 types of beer, it seemed like a good choice.

I started with the Scofferhofer, on Paula’s recommendation.

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Delicious, like drinking grapefruit juice, but I definitely couldn’t drink that all night. I switched to Delirium Tremens after because it’s one of my favourites.

To start we shared the baked brie and the pretzels.

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All of it delicious.

For my main I got the mussels, because they were $5 off on Sunday special. I regretted this decision immediately. I’d show you a picture of them but they gave me some mild food poisoning the next day so I do not want to look at them ever again. I instantly noticed that the mussels smelled fishier than they should, but I thought maybe I was imagining it so I went ahead and started eating them anyway. A couple of them tasted fine, and a couple of them tasted very obviously not fresh at all. I actually ended up sending them back and getting the cheeseburger and frite sliders. Our server was really good about it, but I was disappointed because I genuinely love the Bier Markt. I have been there several times, even for their Oktoberfest event (which I loved!), and never had a bad experience. I wish I ordered the Wurst sausage board like Evan. My opinion of the Bier Markt hasn’t been altered, but I don’t think I will be able to eat mussels again for a while. Maybe the mussels there are usually great, but I would not recommend ordering them on Sunday. I have a feeling they’ve been sitting there all week and they’re trying to get rid of them.

Anyway. We drank a lot of beer and that was good. And then I made everyone walk over to the Distillery District because it’s pretty.

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We finished our day at El Catrin, where I went for my Mexican Happy or Hungry Eats the World adventure with my blogger buds. Only this time we sat inside at the bar. It is amazing.

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Look at all that repurposed wood. The building itself is really old and I have a feeling that wood was found in there when they were renovating it. El Catrin truly has the most amazing restaurant decor I’ve ever seen.

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We all agreed it was a Toronto highlight.

We shared a pitcher of the classic margarita, which was delicious.

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And then moved on to a pitcher of mojitos.

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Also really good, but not enough for four. BARELY enough for three, and poor Fabian’s glass was three quarters mint leaves and one quarter booze. Our server needed to think about our priorities when she was pouring that. That would be my only complaint. Otherwise we had a fantastic experience.

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And Fabian’s shirt because I know you’ve been admiring it…

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I want it.

Drinks at El Catrin was a really great way to end their trip. I am sad they’re gone and already thinking about where we need to take them the next time! And also thinking about when we’re going to get out to Florida so we can make them show us all the things.

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Beer & Lederhosen

The other night I was invited to Bier Markt Esplanade’s Oktoberfest VIP Party.

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I am really not sure how I snagged an invitation because I am certainly not a very important person (having a blog does not = important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but the invitation promised beer and food, and since I love both of those things very much of course I accepted.

I am also genuinely a fan of Bier Markt in general. I have enjoyed many a good meal there.

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Someone at another table ordered that waffle while I was there once and when the server walked past me with it I stopped talking mid-sentence and just followed it with my eyes. I had to have it.

Anyway, this Oktoberfest party sadly did not include waffles. It was the launch of Bier Markt’s annual Oktoberfest collection in celebration of Toronto’s Beer Week (aka the best week in the city) and was to include options from this limited-time menu.

I arrived having no idea what to expect. Well, food and beer, but I didn’t know how much of either, and I came straight from work and I didn’t pre-eat so the amount of food worried me. I don’t like to be starving. I was allowed to bring a guest, which was a very good thing because I need a partner in crime at things like this and if I didn’t have one I would just be sitting at a table alone in a dark corner eating and drinking in silence. So Evan was the chosen one. He was excited.

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We got a goodie bag as we arrived (goodie giant mug would be more accurate) that included those sweet lederhosen t-shirts, so we brought our stuff over to a dark corner and sat down to get the eating and drinking fest started. But not in silence.

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The servers were bringing appetizers around, so I tried some of everything that came my way. I am holding chicken schnitzel that has some sort of deliciously interesting jam on it above, and there were a bunch of other German-inspired foods like mini sausages in a bun and giant pretzels.

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I don’t think I have ever tasted anything so salty. I loved it.

Maybe I am oversensitive to this because as soon as there is food somewhere I am on high alert instantly and I pretty much can’t take my eyes off of it (ESPECIALLY if I am hungry), but I notice that the servers often come around to where I’m sitting last, and sometimes there is not even anything left on their platter by the time they make it to me. This makes me sad. This was not the first time I have noticed it happening at an event like this (the same thing happened at the Firkin party), and again, maybe it happens to everyone, but it seems to be an irrational fear of mine. I will see a server carrying a platter of goodness across the room and I will get this almost anxiety feeling that the food is never going to come to me. And then it doesn’t and the fear is realized. It’s just because I don’t want to miss anything delicious! But at the same time I don’t expect the servers to hang around just me and feed me all night…

Luckily the entire pig that was roasting in the middle of the room eased my fears of starving. I took a picture of it, but it’s under a red light which makes it look grotesque, so I will save you from that sight.

That pig was delicious though. They just hack off the pork and put it right on your plate.

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Along with some pasta. Filled me right up.

Oh, and there was beer also.

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We got two drink tickets, and we could either use them both to fill up the giant mug we got, or use them separately for two pints. We went for the pints so we could try different things (and so our beer wouldn’t be warm when we got to the bottom of the mug). My favourite was the wheat beer, I loved it!

There was a live band playing also, and they were quite groovy.

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They played a lot of Mumford & Sons and Lumineers-type beats, and my favourite Radiohead song High and Dry. I liked them, and it was a great atmosphere.

After a while the Bier Markt starting turning into more of a clubby-type party, so we headed out since it was a school night. I remember saying to Evan “What are all these people doing tomorrow? Does no one have to work?!” Ah to live a life of leisure…

It was a good time and I’m glad I was included. It was nice to have an excuse for an evening out during the week.

And of course an excuse to wear lederhosen-themed attire.

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I really need a haircut…

And to own those shirts so we can break them out in the future.

So, good times. If you like beer and sausages and pork and pretzels and live in the T-dot, I would suggest heading over to a Bier Markt location before October 22, as that is when this menu ends. And on Sunday nights they’re having a pig roast!

And that is all. Thanks Bier Markt!

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How to Gain 10lbs in One Weekend

It is very, very easy. Allow me to demonstrate.

I recommend starting your weekend off right with a huge burrito bowl for lunch on Friday.


That was deeeeelicious. And don’t be fooled by the lettuce. That bowl also included rice, chicken, pinto and black beans, corn, cheese, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. So basically everything you can possibly put in a burrito bowl. I do not mess around.

Next, hopefully one of your friends will have a little potluck gathering pre-bar and will make an amazing dip that you can eat for hours and hours.

That was probably the best spinach and artichoke dip I have ever eaten. Huge credit to my friend Lauren for that warm and creamy deliciousness. I couldn’t get enough.

And if you are out with friends who you haven’t seen for six years and you don’t want the party to end, you should definitely hit up a 24-hour diner that serves everything imaginable. And poutine is always, ALWAYS a good idea, no matter what time it is (even at 3am).

I had some help finishing that, because right before I filled up with this:

A chocolate shake and poutine seemed like a really great combination when I spotted them both on the menu. And actually, my instincts were not wrong. No regrets here.

If it’s a beautiful day on Saturday, you should probably take advantage and sit out on a patio. And it’s hard to sit on a patio and not order food when everyone else around you is…

So that explains this:

I’m not sure if you’re supposed to share that, but I ate the entire thing.

And then when the people at the table next to you order the most ridiculous waffle you’ve ever seen and your eyes almost fall out of your head and you start salivating uncontrollably, you obviously have to order it too…

Because not ordering that would have been an absolute tragedy. I would have thought about it and regretted it for at least the next week. Possibly even the rest of my life. But I did split that with my friend Rebecca, so don’t worry, I didn’t get too crazy.

Oh, and you should also go out for brunch.

Twice.

After all, it’s the best meal of the day!

And you should probably drink.

Yeah, definitely need to drink.

Quite a lot.

(Best mojito I have ever had.)

And that should do it. I haven’t weighed myself, but if I’ve gained 10 pounds since Friday because of my gluttonous antics I would not be surprised. Though one of my goals since I moved to the city was to try out different restaurants, so I feel I made a decent dent in that this weekend.

Now please excuse me while I go and lie in my bed of shame. Ohh just kidding! I ran this morning. All good.

I hope you guys had a great weekend, filled with amazing eats. I had a really, really amazing one, so I still have some recapping I want to do. But for now, enjoy the food porn!

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