Tag Archives: toronto

Livin’ on the Edge

Back in the summer (and I’m sad it’s over) my pal Casey asked me if I would be interested in doing the CN Tower EdgeWalk with her this year for her birthday. If you are not familiar with the CN tower, it is the giant focal point of the Toronto skyline.

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Pretty sure I mentioned this when Evan and I went up there with Emily and Corey a couple years ago but it is the tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere and the fifth tallest in the world (it was the tallest until 2010). It’s about 1,800 feet, so it’s tall. It is large and in charge. You’ve always been able to go up inside the tower. It’s a pretty big tourist attraction and it has a revolving restaurant and a glass floor and a few other things happening. But in 2011 they started the EdgeWalk which is a walk OUTSIDE – around the circumference of the roof. You are tethered the entire time so it’s not quite as scary as a free walk. But it is still scary.

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It’s kind of been on my radar to do for a while, but it’s expensive and I live here so I figured one day, but I’ve never really had an excuse. Evan can’t even walk on the glass floor up there so there’s no way I would ever be able to get him to do it. When Casey asked me it was all the encouragement I needed! So a few Sunday’s ago I met up with Casey, her mom and her friend Erika and we got suited up for our adventure. We were looking goooood.

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They take you out in groups of eight, so we had some new people with us. The two guys on the right in the above picture were visiting from Sweden (here for the World Cup of Hockey) and the couple on the left were from San Diego. We were the only Toronto natives!

I read reviews beforehand and the main point that kept coming up was that they take safety extremely seriously, and I have to agree on that. They are super super safety conscious. We had to be wearing rubber soled shoes, we could not bring anything out with us that could potentially fall, any jewelry we had on needed to be stored in a locker, and they triple checked our suits and harnesses. Once we were suited up in our attractive red jumpsuits they took us up a dedicated Edge Walk elevator, double tethered us to a track that goes around the entire building outside, and we were walking out over 1,600 feet in the air above the city.

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Pretty crazy.

Heights are not really a fear of mine, but that feeling of falling sure is. Evan is absolutely not a heights fan and he thinks it’s so funny when I say that I’m more afraid of falling than afraid of heights, he’ll be like “But that’s the whole point!!!!” But I mean that just standing up high doesn’t get me. The feeling of free falling though, that terrifies me so bad that I worry I’m going to die of anxiety on the Drop Zone at Wonderland. So for me I think I found it easier to do something like this as opposed to jumping out of a plane.

But even though heights have never really bothered me, when we first walked out I felt breathless when I looked down. It was an adrenaline rush for sure and it was a pretty weird and unsettling feeling. The very first activity we did was called toes over Toronto, where you walked to the very edge and kept only your heels on the platform. Eep. I think that was the toughest for me. But after that I started to trust my equipment and feel comfortable with the height.

The next activity was where we walked backwards to the edge and leaned back. We got a video of our entire experience afterwards so I made a short clip of this…

Did the CN Tower #edgewalk today, and it was a time! Thanks for organizing @wafflingblog! 😬😅

A post shared by Lindsey Evanoff (@happyorhungry) on

The first time was definitely scary, but by the time I did it again I felt like an old pro!

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We were outside for a good half an hour walking around the tower, pointing out our city’s landmarks and and doing activities. Another one was leaning forward over the city as opposed to backwards. Our guide was fantastic and I’m kicking myself for not being able to remember her name – she remembered all of ours after a very short time and that was really impressive.

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I would definitely recommend the EdgeWalk whether you are visiting the city or live here. And if you don’t like being up high, we had a guy in our group who was super afraid of heights and he didn’t do all the activities but he was okay, and I think even he was feeling more comfortable towards the end. It is expensive at about $200, however I feel like it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was definitely worth the money. We received a couple printed photos and a full DVD of our experience, all included in our package. We also split the photos package between the four of us – It was only $20 extra so $5 each for all the photos taken of us that day, so that seemed worth it to us.

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It was a good time! Super cool experience that I can cross off the ol’ bucket list. Thanks for inviting me, Casey! I don’t know how you’re going to top this on your next birthday…

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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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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Paracas Peruvian Restaurant (Peru)

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.

My 21st country is Peru!

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I have never eaten Peruvian food before, so I was looking forward to it. Evan and I went to Paracas Peruvian Restaurant (Paracas is the capital of the Paracas District in the Ica Region in Peru) on St Clair W with Dawn, Mark, Emily and Corey before we did Escape Casa Loma.

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I asked Evan to take a picture of us girls and this is what I got.

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Not quite.

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Better.

St Clair W seems to be the Peruvian hot spot of the city — there were three Peru restaurants to choose from and Paracas was actually our last choice. I first tried to make reservations at El Fogon (which has amazing reviews) and Dona Luz, but unfortunately both were closed early that Sunday due to the holidays. So Paracas it was, and I was worried it was going to be a let down because of some iffy reviews, but let me tell you, we had an AMAZING experience. It could not have been any better.

We ordered a ton between the six of us and everything we tried was delicious. Most of us (not preggers) started with the pisco sour, Peru’s national drink made with pisco (it’s an alcohol), lemon, and egg white (for the frothiness).

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I am actually familiar with pisco sours as our friend Ian has a Peruvian aunt and has made pisco sours for us at the cottage before. They are goooood. I really like.

Appetizer-wise I felt sure that I would get the ceviche, a seafood dish popular along the coast of Latin America. It is apparently part of Peru’s national heritage and they even have a holiday dedicated to it. It’s basically chunks of raw fish in citrus. Another well known Peruvian appetizer caught my eye though, anticuchos, or grilled skewers of beef heart. I’m not sure I’ll have the chance to eat that again, so…you only live once.

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I had no idea how I was going to like it, but it was quite good. The texture was slightly different from most beef cuts, but I enjoyed it. Evan did too. We were the only two who would try it, haha. The potatoes it came with were also good.

I tried some of Dawn and Mark’s Papas Rellenas, potato stuffed with meat. The most popular croquettes in Peru!

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Delicious! I loved the addition of cilantro to the dishes. If you you plan to go here and you don’t like cilantro, make sure you request your dish cilantro-free. I loved it though. So fresh.

I also had some of Emily and Corey’s grilled calamari.

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Really good.

I was absolutely in love with my main dish. I got the Lomo Beef Saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish. It’s stir fry beef with onions, green onions, tomatoes, and fries, served with rice. You know I only wanted it because of the fries AND rice (and note the cilantro, though not listed).

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I loved it so, so much. Every bite was heaven. I wanted that dish to go on forever.

Evan ordered the Tacu Tacu, another traditional Peruvian recipe — Biftek served with olive oil creole sauce, with rice and beans.

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Evan is a rice and bean connoisseur and he approved. I do think he had some meal envy about my dish though.

All the salads that came with our meals had oil and vinegar dressing and tasted just like my Nana’s! I loved!

Peru is big on seafood, so Dawn and Mark got a giant seafood platter for two, and Corey got the same, but for one.

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I tried some of this and everything was fresh and tasty (I feel like I say the word ‘delicious’ too much, I need to switch it up).

Emily went with the Parillda de Criolla, grilled short ribs, spanish chorizos, and lamb with salad.

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Hers was really good also. We were all absolutely raving about our experience afterwards. We’re still talking about how good it was. One of the best meals I’ve had since I started eating the world, and that says a lot ’cause there’s been some really great ones!

Shout out to our awesome server, who I think might be the owner as well.

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We love Peru!

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Escape Casa Loma: King of the Bootleggers

Last Sunday Evan and I met up with our friends Dawn, Mark, Emily and Corey at Casa Loma to do their newest escape game, King of the Bootleggers.

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The first game, Escape from the Tower, has been running since last year and is very popular. So popular that it’s difficult to get into. That was actually our first choice but it was so booked that we were unable to find a time slot for 6 people. So, King of the Bootleggers it was.

We still had to buy our tickets three months in advance, on Thanksgiving weekend back in early October. And the only time we could find a slot for six people was 9:45 on a Sunday, which was not ideal as Evan and I had to work the next morning. I thought since last Monday was the first day back after the holidays I would feel rested and rejuvenated despite the late night. I was wrong, but no regrets.

If you’re not from Toronto you may not be familiar with Casa Loma. It’s our city’s majestic castle!

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It was built in the early 1900s and is now a landmark and museum. You can read all about it here.

Casa Loma has tours of the house and gardens during the day but since we were there after hours we did not get to explore the main part of the castle. We did get to explore the basement and tunnels underneath Casa Loma though, which was definitely a cool experience. We started at a side entrance and were led into a theatre room (which was apparently once a swimming pool) for a briefing.

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Here’s the premise of King of the Bootleggers (which I have not edited from their website but I really want to):

In 1920s Toronto prohibition is at its peak and at the top of the bootlegging empire sits notorious gangster Rocco Perri, but in the sordid world of swingin’ speakeasies, everyone’s out for a piece of the pie. You receive an invitation to a secret meeting at Rocco’s infamous bar hidden inside Casa Loma. Bessi Perri has set her sights on her husband’s moonshine throne and is assembling a gang to take him down and needs your help. This is your chance to join the big leagues, but it won’t be easy. Someone’s squealed to the cops and within the hour they’ll be on their way to raid the joint.  Will you and your team be pinched or become the new Kings and Queens of the Bootleggers?

Pretty groovy! I’ve never done an escape game before but I think this was a great first one to do. Because it is so popular, all Escape Casa Loma games are done in groups of 12-15, which would be my only complaint. In regular escape rooms (which are popping up everywhere) you book with only your friends. I obviously would have preferred it to be just our group, but I understand why they can’t accommodate that.

After our briefing we headed into the tunnel, through the bowels of Casa Loma, to another part of the castle, which was set up to look like a 1920s speakeasy (when we eventually got out of there we realized we were in a house across the street!). Then we broke into three groups, which was also kind of annoying because our group of six had to split up. Evan and I ended up leaving our friends and grouping with three strangers for the main portion of the game (although, this was kind of entertaining because one of the strangers was incredibly stoned and therefore useless). Our groups each had to find a specific item to take down the kingpin bootlegger, to steal his fortune before the police arrived.

Each group was taken into a separate room by one of the characters, who are shady 1920s types.

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The characters were definitely the highlights for me. They were incredibly theatrical and made the entire experience. Our guy, Eddie, immediately called Evan and I Plaid and Blondie (I’m sure you can guess who was who), which made me laugh.

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I shall call him ‘Vest’. Or ‘Cap’.

Eddie was quite snarky, but also pretty helpful. He led us into the library, which was my dream because most of our clues were located in books! I loved it in there. Our clues were NOT easy, but we managed to get it!

After each group solved their puzzle separately, we all came together for the final puzzle: who is the rat?! Unfortunately, we did not find the proof of who the rat was before the police arrived. Evan actually knew who it was but couldn’t find the evidence in time. Boo. Oh well, we still got to take a victory photo.

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And a closer shot of our friends (and some new friends).

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It was a really interesting experience and definitely a fun night! I would recommend Escape Casa Loma, I want to do the other one! And I’d like to do just a regular escape game as well, with less strangers.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Cafe Polonez (Poland)

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.

Today I am all about Poland.Print

Mmm, Polish food. I have been looking forward to an Eastern European country since I started this mission. Polish cuisine is very similar to Ukrainian cuisine, which I grew up eating thanks to my Ukrainian Nana. My Nana’s Ukrainian pierogies (recipe there!) are probably my favourite food of all time, and I also love Borscht and cabbage rolls, two other very common dishes in Poland (and Ukraine). Polish food is also heavily influenced by Russia, Germany, Belarus, etc. so I am excited I have all those countries left to eat!

For my Polish eating experience I went to Cafe Polonez, in the heart of Toronto’s Polish community on Roncesvalles, with my blog friends Michelle, Casey and Shanondoah (aka the bloggers and lagers). Toronto has quite a few authentic Polish restaurants, but all my research told me Cafe Polonez was the best.

I started with a Zywiec, a popular Polish beer.

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I quite liked it, and it’s available at our local LCBO, so I may have to buy that in the future…

Cafe Polonez has an extensive menu. Almost too extensive! I wanted to eat everything but I went in there knowing that there were several things I needed to try. Borscht was one of those things. It actually originated in the Ukraine (I will be eating it again when I do Ukraine, for sure) and both my Nana and my aunt make a delicious borscht. I was looking forward to the Polish version, and it was definitely not a let down.

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Borscht is basically beet soup with other vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, parsley root,onions, and sometimes potatoes and tomatoes. That picture is not doing it justice at all but it was seriously good. I felt like I could have gone on eating it forever.

Since Cafe Polonez has such a big menu, we decided to get the platter for four, as it included all the things we wanted to try. Like kopytka…

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Little Polish potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, covered with gravy. Deeeelicious.

Hunter’s stew…

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A traditional Polish dish of cooked sauerkraut with slices of sausage (kielbasa) and pork. It was pretty good, and I especially loved the little bits of meat in there.

And a giant platter with all the Polish things.

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Cabbage rolls (golabki), Polish sausage (kielbasa), schnitzel (under the mushrooms), pierogies, fresh beets, coleslaw, carrots, and fried cabbage. Everything was delicious, especially the pierogies.

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My only complaint is that there weren’t more pierogies. They were so good that I bought 12 additional pierogies (you can buy their fresh pierogies frozen for takeout) to bring home and we ate them the next night. My favourite kind were the ones filled with pork and the cheddar and potato. So good! The other highlights for me were the kopytka, schnitzel (though I would have been okay if it was slightly smaller) and the cabbage roll. Those were very similar to my Nana’s.

It was quite an amazing evening of eating and I think I am going to start having dreams about that Cafe Polonez, specifically the borscht and the pierogies.

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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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