Category: Food

“East Side” – Leslieville

We're trying to thoroughly explore Toronto's neighbourhoods, one neighbourhood at a time. It may take us awhile, but that won't stop us.

Every single day as we walk around our city, we experience that each area offers something different to each person. Our intention is to highlight what we think is great about our city, one neighbourhood at a time.

Enter LESLIEVILLE - our next neighbourhood vlog in this "neighbourhood series". A family friendly district settled somewhere in the middle of Riverside, Distillery District, Greektown, The Beach and the soon to be re-vamped PortLands.

Both Jon and I are "west-enders" by default. (Torontonians know that many times there seems to be 2 factions. The west-enders and the east-enders.) It was time for us west-enders to highlight that Toronto isn't just the west end. The east end offers so many amazing pockets and neighbourhoods that beg to be uncovered and discovered!

We have simply fallen in love with Leslieville. 

What we've discovered over the past few months is that there's an incredible sense of community in this neighbourhood. Community combined with many parks, trendy shops, restaurants, close to the Don Trail, the lake + one of our favourite Loblaws... (Yes, yes, we judge neighbourhoods by their grocery stores and we have a list of our favourite Loblaws.)

Leslieville was named after "George Leslie" and first came to life in the 1850's. It was home to light industry for decades and since 2000 has been gentrified at a rapid rate. Gentrification brought those trendy cafes, shops, restaurants, bars, places & spaces. For example; Carlaw Avenue's revamped industrial buildings that have been turned into loft and condominium spaces. As well, for those of you wondering, Leslieville does have a little crossover with the Riverdale neighbourhood (think the brand new Broadview Hotel). 

We could go on and on, but now is when you should stop reading and just watch the video: 

Our top 5 of trendy shops and stops that made our do not miss list:

1. Leslieville Pumps (a gas station/convenience store that is not your normal gas station/convenience store)
2. The many cafes and coffee shops (Te Aro, Mercury Espresso to name a few)
3. Culinary gems such as Gare De L'Est, Descendent Pizza, Barrio and Ed's Real Scoop
4. Gerrard India Bazaar (a.k.a Little India)
5. Leslieville Farmer's Market (Sundays, May thru October @ Jonathan Ashbridge Park)
5a. Greenwood Park's off leash dog parks (we love dogs) <-- 5a is still 5, right?

That's all for now.
See you in the next neighbourhood!

What to do in Toronto – July 2017

If you thought there was a lot of fun to be had in May & June, just wait for July. We are beginning to hit our summer stride.
We think there are two ways to experience Toronto events in the summer. Some will need planning, while others you can stumble upon while exploring the city. 

Your list of July events to plan for or stumble upon, are as follows: 

July 1 - Canada Day

The city will be erupting with celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday!
The below links will bring you to a breakdown of most everything that is happening around the city for that day. Be forewarned, there is a LOT to choose from! From food & drink to markets & festivals to sporting events & family fun and don't forget to end the night with fireworks!
1. Toronto.ca
2. ToDoCanada.ca

To break down firework timing:

✫Nathan Phillips Square 10:55pm (this will be an epic 4 day celebration starting June 30, every night ending in fireworks!)
✫CN Tower 10:30pm
✫Harbourfront Centre 10:30pm
✫Mel Lastman Square 10:55pm
✫Humber Bay Park West 10:55pm
✫Scarborough Civic Centre 10:55pm
✫Ashbridges Bay (The Beaches) 10:00pm
✫Centennial Park 10:00pm (part of Toronto Ribfest happening June 30 thru July 3)
✫Downsview Park @ dark

(If anyone is wondering what we will be doing -- we'll be going to the Canada Day Blue Jays game vs. the Boston Red Sox. Afterwards we will be wandering around Harbourfront/Redpath Waterfront Festival/Artisan Market. Followed by setting up somewhere with a good perspective of the CN Tower fireworks & Harbourfront Centre fireworks that will be happening in tandem @ 10:30pm. If we can squeeze it in during the morning hours, the Royal Ontario Museum has free admission on Canada Day. My feet are already tired and looking forward to resting on July 2.) 

Festivals & Events

1. July 1st thru 3 - Redpath Waterfront Festival - this FREE festival happens along the lakefront. You will finally be able to see this HUGE RUBBER DUCK!

2. July 5th thru 16th - Fringe Festival - Inspired by the worldwide fringe movement, Toronto started their's 28 years ago. These 12 days of Toronto theatre is Ontario's largest theatre festival. And ticket prices are lower than most other festivals in the city @ $12 a ticket!
3. July 7th thru 30th -The 29th annual Beaches Jazz Fest - A FREE 10 day music festival staple that takes over the Beach communities on the east side of Toronto. Full schedule of the events, bands and when to expect Queen St. East to be closed can be found in the orange link. 
4. July 8th and 9th - TD Salsa  in Toronto - Get your dancing shoes on for the 13th annual festival. It is one of the largest latino themed festivals in Canada. It happens during 3 weeks in July, but the big talk is when the festival takes over St. Clair Avenue West between Christie and Winona Drive on July 8th and 9th.  
5. July 11 thru the August long weekend -  Toronto Caribbean Festival (We still call it Caribana) - The official city of Toronto launch is July 11, but the Grande parade, King and Queen parade and OVO Fest won't be happening until NEXT month! Click on the orange link for a full run down of events. 

6. July 14 and 15 - 1st annual Budweiser County Fair - The spirit of country will be taking over King St. West! Think country carnival with BBQ, carnival eats & games, Coyote Ugly dancers and mechanical bull rides! 
 

7. July 15 and 16 - 45th annual Festival of India - This was originally scheduled to be a Centre Island event. As of right now, they are working with the City of Toronto to find a more suitable location. The parade will still be held on dry land July 15th @ 11am, starting at Bloor & Yonge and moving south towards Queens Quay. We will update you when we have more information. 
8. July 20 thru 23 - Burlesque Festival - The 10th annual Toronto Burlesque Festival takes over MOD Club and Revival for 4 days this month. If you are looking for a summer festival a little different, this could be your choice.

9. July 22 - Junction Night Market - this fun night time community food event supports a good cause. ALL of the proceeds go towards helping members of their community access fresh and healthy food through local programs. Indie 88 will be there spinning some tunes and handing out FREE high fives!
10. July 22 & 23 - Big on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture - A city and community-building street festival that celebrates local arts, culture and community. If you live in the area or want to drive that day, remember Bloor West will be shut between Dufferin and Lansdowne. 
11. July 28 thru 30th - Toronto's Festival of Beer - This is the big one! All the beer will be there! The free music on Saturday will be Toronto's own Sloan will be the band on the Saturday and it is already sold out. (Method Man & Redman play Friday and Alan Doyle on Sunday.)
12. July 30th - Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market - We've hit the middle mark for Pedestrian Sundays now. If you haven't gone out to experience one yet, here's your chance! If you have made your way there already... do it again!
13. Live on the Patio - Roy Thomson Hall - Sit on a patio, listen to some music and admire the beautiful Roy Thomson Hall. This is yet another FREE music event that happens in Toronto during the summer. There are 7 dates to choose from in July with different musicians for each date. The line up can be found in the link. Doors open at 5pm and seating is limited. All you have to do is get there before the Bay Street Crowd does after work.
14. Harbourfront Centre - Free music, movies and events throughout the entire summer. Every Wednesdays are Free Flicks, Thursdays are Dancing on the Pier, Thursdays and Sundays there is Summer Music in the Garden and of course don't forget the Paddle boats on Natrel pond. (Who doesn't like city paddle boats!) Full schedule for the summer can be found in the link. (We're waiting for the Hot & Spicy Festival there in September.)

Unique Attractions & Events

July 14 thru 16 - Honda Indy - Insider Tip: the Friday is practice and qualifying races. And FREE!

July 14 thru 16 - Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition - Nathan Phillips Square becomes a juried art exhibition over these days in mid July. Go to browse, buy or do art tours with beer chats. More information in the orange link.

AGO:
July 6 -  First Thursday this month is called "Future Perfect"  celebrating the diversity of the Canadian experience.
+ Georgia O'Keefe ends this month. We've attended this exhibition and definitely recommend it. If you enjoy art, she's well worth the trip.

Remember ☝︎ if you attend First Thursday, entry into Georgia O'Keefe is included. If you are an AGO member, Georgia O'Keefe is FREE and there is a member's discount for First Thursday!

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada:
Friday Night Jazz on July 14 is Juliet Dinn

Casa Loma After Dark:
Soul in the City continues every Monday
Symphony in the Garden continues every Tuesday
+ the Escape Series continues

Movies Under the Stars 


We've listed all of the parks and rec. centres that are hosting one OR more movie nights in July. And the best part? Most are doing it for FREE! All you have to do is show up, bring your blanket to sit on and maybe some nibbles. Click the orange link above for more details on the movies that will be featured, dates and times. If you live nearby any of these parks or can make the trip, we highly suggest you checking it out!

Regent Park
Corktown Commons
CityPlace's Canoe Landing
Christie Pits
St. James Park
Trinity Bellwoods
Downsview Park
Harbourfront Centre

Food Markets & Food Tours

There are many regular area Farmer's Markets popping up all over the city.
Our select few are below: 

Artisan Market HTO Park every Saturday  
+ Trinity Bellwoods Farmer's Market every Tuesday
+ Adelaide Eats - You originally saw this group at Union Station 2 years ago. The've moved locations and give you great options with places like Tacos 101 and Chimney Stax to tempt your tastebuds
+ David Paecut Square's INDULGE (market/entertainment) every Thursday
+ Brookfield Place every Wednesday
+ Nathan Phillips Square Farmer's Market every Wednesday

We've also noticed Food Tours & Culinary Adventures are becoming more popular. There are many tour providers and we have chosen a selection (see below) from Savour Toronto and Culinary Adventure Co. They all require tickets. Ticket prices range from $50 - $150. 
Kensington Krawl  
Old Chinatown Food Tour
Best of the West Food Tour
Coffee & Pastry Food Tour
Tastes of Little Italy 
St. Lawrence & Old Town Culinary Adventure

Active

July 8 - Bubble Run - Get exercise and play in the bubbles! Jon and I came across a Bubble Run in Marseille, France. We didn't participate and we had no idea what we were witnessing until afterwards. All we knew is this: everyone looked like they were having so much FUN!

July 15 - Night Nation Run - A running music festival that takes you thru a 5k running course laced with lights, lasers and DJs spinning electronic music. This looks like it may be even more fun than the Bubble Run!



July 23 - Toronto Triathlon Festival - Voted the best Triathlon in Canada last year, this "festival" celebrates human endurance and tenacity. 

Concerts & Music Festivals

July 1 - Electric Island continues with July's installment @ Woodbine Beach
July 7 - Bud Light Dreams Festival @ Echo Beach
July 7 - Ed Sheeren @ Air Canada Centre
July 6 - Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull @ Air Canada Centre
July 8 - Violent Femmes @ Massey Hall
July 8 - Linkin Park @ Budweiser Stage
July 10 - Gorillaz @ Air Canada Centre
July 11 - Joan Jett and The Blackhearts & Boston @ Budweiser Stage
July 14 thru 16 - Ricky Gervais @ Massey Hall
July 15 - Iron Maiden @ Budweiser Stage
July 15 - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers @ Air Canada Centre
July 16 - Metallica @ Rogers Centre
July 18 - Take Off, Eh? @ Second City - This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY, ALL-STAR Benefit. Bob & Doug McKenzie and Jiminy Glick will be there! It's expensive, but click the link and you'll see why.
July 18 - Muse & 30 Seconds to Mars @Budweiser Stage
July 19 - Chicago & The Doobie Brothers @ Budweiser Stage
July 20 - Elvis Costello @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
July 25 - Kendrick Lamar @ Air Canada Centre
July 25 - Korn @ Budweiser Stage
July 26 - Blondie & Garbage @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts 
July 28 thru 30 - 3rd annual WayHome Music & Arts Festival @ Burl's Creek Event Grounds - look at that lineup! 😍

Major League Sports

Rugby: Toronto Wolfpack RLFC (Lamport Stadium)

July 1 vs. York City Knights RLFC
July 15 vs. Hemel Stags RLFC

Baseball: Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

July 1 & 2 Boston Red Sox
July 6 thru 9 Houston Astros
July 24 thru 27 Oakland A's
July 28 thru 30 LAA

Soccer: Toronto FC (BMO Field)

July 22 vs. Colorado Rapids
July 30 vs. NYC FC

Football: Toronto Argonauts (BMO Field)

July 24 vs. Ottawa Roughriders

“Mini Toronto” – Kensington Market

Unique. Eclectic. Colourful. Vibrant. Diverse. Charming. Artistic.
Community. 
Kensington Market.


Those who know this neighbourhood, know those words don't even begin to encompass the experience that is Kensington Market. 

Colourful Victorian houses, old synagogues, vintage shops, cafés & restaurants, a "garden car" and so much street art. Add in a pedestrian only party in the streets once a month, and it is easily one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto.

For the short and sweet history of Kensington and it's diversity ☞
The 1880's brought the Irish & Scottish labourer immigrants, followed by eastern European & Italian Jewish immigrants. After the second world war there were Portuguese immigrants fleeing the Azores from political conflict and a wave of both Caribbean and Eastern Asian immigrants. Then there was the American political refugees after the war in Vietnam. The Chinese immigrants joined in as next door neighbourhood Chinatown grew too large. The 80's & 90's brought in groups of immigrants from Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam and Chile. 
Jon and I noticed that it seems with each diverse group that immigrated to Kensington, they didn't take over the area to call it their own. Each group and era it came in added a layer beside the already existing layers. As you look around today, you feel each and every immigrant community who once called the streets of Kensington Market home. 

In saying all of this, you can see how all of your senses will be at work as you walk around the world in these few city blocks. And there is literally something for everyone and anyone. Beside an organic vegan café may be a Tibetan restaurant. Next to the Italian pizzeria is a vintage clothing shop. Beside one of the many cannabis dispensaries is a Mexican tortilleria.  You want a good Jamaican patty or a Chilean empanada and then go shopping for your fresh produce and meats, we know a few places.  Do you like to people watch? Dog watch? Street musician watch? You can do all of it on practically every street corner. 

But I digress, let's get back to this pedestrian party I mentioned earlier. 
The last Sunday of every month, from May until October, Pedestrian Sundays happen. From noon until 7pm there is a party in the streets that you won't soon forget. The streets are closed to any car traffic and then becomes a great rolling sea of people. Most of the shops and restaurants set up outside on the street to tempt you as you walk by, while musicians and artists litter the areas to entertain. From the Pedestrian Sundays we've been to, you also never know when you might find a flash mob or an unexpected parade erupting. I will put a disclaimer here *do not attempt Pedestrian Sundays if you don't like crowds*. It is the perfect opportunity to people watch until your eyes bleed, but for some that isn't their cup of tea. For those who try to stay away from crowds, mid-day during the week is when it's the calmest.

I could type for days about the history and feel of the Market, but since we are only aiming for a prologue sized blog (and not a novel) to add to our video, I will now glide into this segue ➟ watch our next vlog below! The first in our "Toronto Neighbourhood Series" — Kensington Market.  

What to do in Toronto – May 2017

It's almost May and spring will be officially in full bloom. Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, our city is coming to life. 

We've compiled a calendar of our favourite events to give you some ideas of how you can explore the city during the month of May.
(Psst, many of the events are even FREE!)

For more information on each event, click on the orange links.  

MAY 1:
Hot Docs Canada's International Documentary Festival starts April 27 and comes to a close on May 7. The event schedule is up, check out the link! 

Scotiabank Contact Festival This yearly photography festival runs throughout the entire month of May. You will find exhibitions and events, meant to provide a forum for education and conversation, strewn throughout the city. The list and map of where to find exhibitions can be found in the orange link.

AGO's Georgia O'Keefe exhibition The Art Gallery of Ontario is running a major retrospective on the pioneering American painter until July 30. This exhibition is an extra $5.50 for adults above the regular admission price. If you happen to be an AGO member, it's free!

Toronto Raptors - Eastern conference semi-finals begin against King James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Game 1 will be in Cleveland. This is going to be great. #WeTheNorth (Update: WE LOST.)

High Park is predicting that their cherry blossoms will be in full bloom by the start of May. This only happens once a year, so see it while you can. And visit the High Park zoo while you're there, it's FREE!
(Or judging by our Instagram feed of cherry blossoms this weekend, head down to Trinity Bellwoods Park, NOW!)


MAY 4:
AGO's First Thursday

Loud bands, DJs, performance pieces and art, a lot of art. One Thursday a month, the party happens after the gallery closes, 7pm - 11:30pm. The May First Thursday is titled, "Gender Trouble" as an ode to Georgia O'Keefe who declared, "I am not a WOMAN painter!"
Advance tickets can be purchased for $23 via the link. Cash bar.

Light vs. Dark on May the fourth. An ode to Star Wars, Drink Inc. is hosting a tasting event at the Berkeley Church on Queen Street East. Beer, wine, spirit and cider vendors will produce a light and a dark beverage for you to sample. Which side will win? $25 tickets (includes 3 sample tickets). May the 4th be with you. 

MAY 5:
ROM's Friday Night Live - Splash
The ROM's Friday Night Live happens only in the spring and summer, so come and get it. The first event of the season is called "Splash", to celebrate the Blue Whale that you will be able to view in wonder while you attend a FNL session. You can purchase tickets online for $17. Cash bar.

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada - Splash
A 5 part SPECIAL EVENT series is coming to us also called, Splash. It begins on Friday May 5 and it will pop up throughout the entire year. The theme for the first event is The 90's. Sharpen up your Jenga skills and iron those jean overalls to wear! $30.97 admission + food & drink extra. 

Cinco de Mayo - A day to commemorate the Mexican Army's victory over France in The Battle of Puebla, 1862. It has also become synonymous with celebrating Mexican-American culture. Hot spots to celebrate while eating tacos and drinking margaritas across the city are: El Catrin in the Distillery District, El Caballito in the Entertainment District, Fonda Lola in West Queen West, Playa Cabana in the Annex, and of course our friend Andrew's La Carnita Uptown, College Street, Leslieville or Central, just to name a few. 

MAY 6:
Cinco de Mayo doesn't have to end on May 5th. And it's doesn't in Toronto. Baro & El Cabalitto are partnering up for CincoFestTO and is sponsored by none other than our favourite tequila company, Tromba! $25 admission.

MAY 8 - 10:

The Blue Jays host a 3 game series with the Cleveland Indians (and welcome Edwin Encarnacion on his first visit back to the Rogers Centre!)
Tickets are going for as little as $6 USD (plus fees) on the Blue Jays official re-seller, Stub Hub.


MAY 11 - 14:
The Blue Jays host the Seattle Mariners for a 4 game series.

MAY 12:
ROM Friday Night Live - Fashion 
Celebrate the fabulous world of fashion in the second installment of the ROM's Friday Night Live aptly called 'Fashion." 

Ripley's Aquarium Friday Night Jazz - Ivory and the Sugar Daddies
The second Friday of every month the Aquarium hosts live jazz music. $25.98 admission to enjoy the live music throughout the Aquarium while hobnobbing with the sharks. Cash Bar.

MAY 13:
Color Me Rad All those fun photos of people doing a 5k run, covered in colour? That's Color Me Rad. The runs happen all across North America and Toronto's turn falls on May 13. Your outlook on running WILL be brighter. That can be guaranteed.
 

Toronto Comic Art Festival
Do you like Comics? Graphic Novels? Then TCAF may be worth checking out. This 2 day event is hosted at the Toronto Reference Library, only the coolest (and quite possibly the largest) library we've ever been to. And you won't believe this, it's FREE to attend!

Spring into Parkdale
There will be many all spring and summer long, but the first neighbourhood festival of the season happens in Parkdale. It's a day sidewalk festival and a night market that surges summer life into this west end neighbourhood. Queen West from Dufferin to Roncesvalles is where you'll want to be. When you're there, get your ice cream fix at our friend Mel's Boreal Gelato. 

MAY 15 - 16:
The Blue Jays host the Atlanta Braves for 2 games.

MAY 18:
National Caesar Day. And not the salad.

MAY 19:
ROM Friday Night Live - Get Out of Town 
If you aren't "getting out of town", begin your Victoria Day long weekend with the third Friday Night Live of the Month, celebrating the British invasion!

MAY 20 & 21:
**J&C's choice**  Toronto's Festival of Beer - Spring Sessions
The spring sessions are the slightly less expensive and less busy baby sister to Toronto's Festival of Beer that normally happens mid summer. It is a little bit smaller, with maybe a few less beers to sample, but the fun is still supersized! Garrison Common (Fort York) - $30 admission 

MAY 22:
Victoria Day (It's Queen Victoria's birthday but you may know it by the name we do, Firecracker Day!)
You can catch fireworks display at our favourites: Ashbridges Bay (free, you only have to deal with the traffic) or Canada's Wonderland (free with price of admission).        

Electric Island Nothing says summer is here more than music festivals. One of the first of the summer happens on Centre Island. 2 stages of electronic music, food trucks & BBQ, games & activities and the views... that skyline. Bring a blanket! (To sit on... or it works in the case that it's a bit chilly. It is May and you never know.) (*Update - Due to Toronto Island being unsafe for visitors, Electric Island has relocated to Woodbine Park for this event.)

MAY 26: 
ROM Friday Night Live - Flash
Photography is in the air at the final affair for Friday Night Live in May. The new ROM exhibition 'The Family Camera,' will be front and centre on this night. 

MAY 26 - 28:
Blue Jays host the Texas Rangers for a 3 day stint.

MAY 27 & 28:
**J&C's choice**  Doors Open One weekend a year, the City of Toronto opens it's doors at a slew of different, normally off limits, buildings. In honour of Canada's 150th birthday this year, the theme is "15 Decades of Canadian Architecture." Plan your route and see as much as you can. Last year we were able to see inside the Sony Centre, Osgoode Hall, City Hall, Redpath Sugar Building, the Toronto Police Marine Unit,  Railway Museum just to name a few. And the price of admission? FREE!


Woofstock 
The first festival that let's us celebrate DOGS! There will be a kid zone too, so it's family fun. This year it will be all weekend at Woodbine Park in the Beaches. Buy tickets online, $10 for the entire weekend. 

May 28:
**J&C's choice**  Kensington Market - Pedestrian Sunday 
The 14th season of this very popular neighbourhood street festival happens the last Sunday of the month, from May until October. You won't find Dr. Oetker handing out free pizza or the drink out of a fruit that seems to find it's way into every festival in Toronto. You will find a celebration of the unique community with different foods to try, performers to watch and art to admire. In our opinion, it's a do not miss. 

MAY 29 - MAY 31:
Blue Jays host the Cincinnati Reds in the final series in May.  

 

 

The PATH – Toronto’s Underground

Have you heard of Toronto's PATH? It's Toronto's underground lair. It's a way to walk around the downtown core and escape the freezing winter temperatures, the summer's heavy humidity and even to elude the crowds on the city street's sidewalks.  It's a network of underground pedestrian tunnels, elevated walkways and at-grade walkways connecting most of the office towers (and shops, and attractions, and restaurants, and subway stations etc... etc...) of downtown Toronto.

If you do know the PATH, you know it can be a little confusing at times with it's complex labyrinth of passages. We are here to help with that confusion! Or try to help with that confusion?

Cheryl had a little more experience with the PATH than I did. She had worked part-time at one of the stores in 1993 and used those tunnels to explore a whole other level of the city. One day, 3 years ago, we decided to bring me up to speed and explore every nook and cranny of the 'underground', as she referred to it.  We decided if we lived in the city of Toronto, it was our duty to know it inside out!

Fast forward to 3 years later where we've put together a vlog on the PATH, for YOU. It's the perfect companion piece to you reading this blog, right now.

Go ahead, take a break from reading and watch it here: 

Some facts you may want to know about the PATH:

Most of shops hours are Monday to Friday, 6am - 6pm. Although the stores close at 6pm, the majority of the PATH remains open until midnight and on the weekends as well. 

There are 1200 stores and services within the PATH.

The attractions that are connected are: Hockey Hall of Fame, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Ripley's Aquarium, Roy Thompson Hall, CN Tower, Union Station, Eaton Centre.

Hotels easily accessed: Fairmont Royal York, One King Hotel & Residences, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotel, Le Germain Maple Leaf Square, Inter Continental.

Some of the Restaurants: Canoe, Bymark, Jump, Hy's Steakhouse, Far Niente, Marché, Ki, Epic, Stratus, Tundra, Speakeasy 21, Bannock, Leña, Baton Rouge, Joey, Drake One Fifty. 

Other buildings and areas: Allan Lambert Galleria, Metro Hall, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, City Hall, CBC Broadcasting Centre, Skywalk, UP Express.

Numerous Food Courts, dry cleaners, doctors, dentists, grocery stores, fitness clubs... you name it, you can probably find it. 

You can enter into the PATH as far south as Queens Quay and wander as north as the Bay on Atrium and soon, College Park. 

And if you wear a FitBit or keep track of your steps, that's a whole lotta steps (now you know our secret fellow FitBit-ers)

Our favourite building for shopping: First Canadian Place.
Our favourite food spots: Jelly Modern Doughnut, Prairie Girl Cupcakes and Canoe.

If you ever need any help navigating or suggestions on where to go, don't hesitate to contact us. We're here to help.
You can also learn more by clicking HERE.

Have fun exploring!

Double birthday – What you can do for FREE in Toronto on your birthday!

November 9. It’s OUR birthday. A day we have also nicknamed, “First Christmas.”

After spending many birthdays together, it hit me. We exchange gifts and we try to make the other one feel (extra) special. It’s similar to what happens on Christmas, right? And only about 6 weeks before real Christmas. It’s almost as though Christmas happens twice for us. And so the nickname was born.

Yes, yes, Jon and I share the same birthday (one year apart). Seriously, what are the chances? They do say that ‘sharing is caring.’

Now… What to do for our birthday? We try to come up with something a little different every year to kick off our next one. Something that will be for both of us, celebrating ourselves and each other. This was the first year we were celebrating together at home in Toronto too! We wanted to find something memorable to do.

I had once seen an online article outlining some of the things that are offered free - services, food and beverages - on your birthday. I asked Jon what he thought of this idea to celebrate us. What if we spent the day running around the city trying to find out what offers we could take advantage of? He didn’t even have to think about it, he was onboard immediately.

Turns out the answer to, “what you can get for free on your birthday” is – a whole lotta fat. You can get a bloated belly for free on your birthday. And you can have a lot of fun doing it…

 

We've put together a video to outline our day of free. Watch it here:

Breakdown of the video and how you too can get the free benefits of being born are as follows:

1st stop:
Starbucks
(multiple locations)

If you belong to the Starbucks Rewards program you are entitled to any free beverage of your choice, on your birthday.
I had a peppermint mocha and Jon tried the new praline chesnut latte.
Saved: $11

 

2nd stop:
The Works Gourmet Burger
(multiple locations)

Remember to sign up with your email for their Burgers with Benefits program. You will receive an email coupon for a sandwich of your choice, for FREE on your birthday!
Thanks to James Cambrian, our server, for having fun with us. His initials are our initials (JC/ J & C), so we think he was meant to be our server!
I ordered the Jalapeno Popper burger and fries (a jalapeno popper was cooked inside of the burger, topped with onion rings). Jon order the Reese PBC burger with chips. (Yes, the burger was topped with cut up Reese Cups and it was amazing.) We cut the burgers in half and shared. *Remember - Sharing is caring.
Saved: $38

 

3rd stop:
Rainbow Cinema
(Imagine Cinemas Market Square – 80 Front Street East)

All you need is your ID saying it is your birthday and you get any movie for free! We went to see Trolls (it was fun!) Jon ordered popcorn from Kalen, who he said was the nicest and friendliest movie theatre employee he’s ever encountered.
Saved: $20

 

4th stop:
Booster Juice
(multiple locations)

Sign up for BoosterNation and similar to The Works Burger, you will receive an email coupon for a 710ml smoothie of your choice. David, the lovely gentleman working the cash, told us jokes while we waited for our Funky Monkey and Brazilian Thunder smoothies.
Saved: $17

 

5th Stop:
Panera Bread
(multiple locations)

Sign up for My Panera for a free pastry on your birthday.
When we arrived, Matthew at cash informed us that we also receive a sweet welcome pastry for being a part of the club! Bonus! 4 pastries, for FREE!
Saved: $18

 

6th stop:
Yuk Yuks Comedy Club
(224 Richmond Street West)

If you visit their website (www.yukyuks.com) you can register for your free birthday show. No purchase required, just free.
Saved: $26

 

7th stop:
Denny’s
On your birthday you are entitled to a free Grand Slam Breakfast by joining the MyDenny's program at: www.mydennys.ca. Since they serve breakfast all day long and are a 24 hour diner, we thought 10pm would be the perfect time to get another free meal.

When we arrived, Denny’s was closed with a sign apologizing for their short closure. Of all the days Denny’s… it’s okay, we were feeling pretty full at this point anyway.

Saved: $0

 

Total Saved: $130

Other than what we have listed, there were other places that we never made it to. We literally ran out of time but thought we would include ten more of them for those of you looking for options on your birthday.

1. Body Shop – Sign up for the Love Your Body program and receive $10 towards any purchase in your birth month.
2. Sephora – sign up for Beauty Insider and receive a free gift for your birthday.
3. Jack Astor’s – free dessert in your birth month when you sign up for their Friends With Benefits program online.
4. Boston Pizza – sign up for MyBP online and receive a free dessert on your birthday.
5. David’s Tea – sign up for the Frequent Steeper program and receive a free tea on your special day.
6. Teavana – owned by Starbucks, same rules as Starbucks apply.
7. Menchies – Sign up for My Smileage and receive $5 towards a frozen yogurt on your birthday (valid 15 days before or after your birthday).
8. Marble Slab – Join their Slab Happy Rewards program and receive $5 towards a free ice cream for your birthday.
9. Medieval Times – Join their Fellowship and receive free admission on your birthday.
10. W Burger Bar (10 College Street)– Join the e-club and receive a free burger on your birthday.

*Remember that some of these programs need to be joined a month prior to your birthday, so get planning now!

Thanks for letting us share our day with you.
Until next year…

St. Lawrence Market

Join us as we show you around the St. Lawrence Market. One of our favourite places to visit in our neighbourhood in Toronto.

What I ate at the CNE

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has held many memories for me over the years. For some it marks the beginning of the end of the summer. Back to school sales are starting and the days shortening just enough to be noticed by the earlier sunsets. The rides have always been a big draw for the kids, as have the midway games with young suitors trying to win hearts and stuffed animals at the occasionally rigged game booths.

My first experience at the CNE, otherwise known as "The Ex", was when I would spend summers in Toronto from 1985-87 to visit my Dad. He arranged a summer job for us kids with a catering company that catered all of the concerts at the old CNE grandstand. I was working backstage stocking the trailers and hospitality tents with food and drink during the few glorious weeks of shows before, during and after the Ex. As an 11 to 13 year old kid, I thought I had the coolest job in the world. Doing mountains of dishes and feeding the roadies and rock stars seems a bit surreal to me now. My claim to fame during these years was that I personally removed all of the brown M&M’s for Van Halen (it was in the rider, 5 lbs of M&M’s, no brown ones). I experienced and saw more things than I should have for a kid that age but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I wish I could go back in time to fully appreciate all the bands - David Bowie, New Order, Bruce Springsteen, The Cult, Pink Floyd and COREY HART, just to name a few.

One of the biggest draws of the Ex now is the food. Back in the day, I don’t remember it being the spectacle it is now in the food building. It seems like every year the vendors are trying to out do each other with the “frankenfood” creations. This year, sweet and savoury combinations seem to be the rule of thumb, with the old faithful, deep-fried (insert food here) being ever present. Let’s hope that we don’t have a repeat of 2013’s cronut-burger fiasco. I hope Epic Burger and Waffles learned their lesson; refrigerate the condiments! I am sure this year many of you have already read numerous top 10 must try food lists at the CNE. I am going to try to sample some of the best (and worst) and give you a heads up on this years offerings in my first ever blog called WHAT I ATE AT THE CNE.

My girlfriend Cheryl and I did a full circuit of the sweatier than usual Food Building to get our bearings and decide what to eat first. It was packed with all shapes and sizes of people of every persuasion. The Ex is always a people watcher’s paradise. After careful consideration, we zeroed in on our first stop on our culinary adventure.

 

 

1:30pm - Churro Burger ($14 / 1200 calories) - Epic Burgers & Waffles, Food Building

This CNE food building stalwart is only open during the CNE and has a loyal following. The new offering this year was the Churro Burger. I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before (large popcorn with extra butter, we went to see Suicide Squad, average at best) so I had quite the appetite. The line up was a bit long but the wait was worth it and the churros were fresh out of the fryer. The burger patty was juicy and the cheese melted perfectly. They asked if I wanted lettuce and tomato and I figured some healthy additions would be a good idea. The crispy and cool lettuce and tomato was a nice contrast to the burn the roof of your mouth-ness of the churro. The sweet, salty, greasy, sugary, savoury mix was a hit. Next year I will go for the donut burger, which looked amazing.

 

 

 

2:00pm - Deep Fried Cookie Dough ($3 / 250 calories) & Deep Fried Reese Peanut Butter Cup ($4 / 350 calories) with Caramel topping – Cookie Dough Me, Food Building

We spotted these balls of deliciousness and were initially going to have them for dessert a bit later in the day. However, we decided that dessert should come early. We let them cool as we walked over to our next destination. SO DANG GOOD. They were heavy though. I think it would have been too much to have any more than one, plus I needed to save some room for stop 3, 4 and 5 and 6. I could eat one of these doughy balls every day for the rest of my life and be a happy man (insert balls joke here).

 

 

 

2:15pm - Philly Steakclair ($14 / 1200 calories) – Philthy Phillies, Food Building

I wonder if every year, the vendors sit around and discuss, “I wonder what we can substitute for a regular bun in a sandwich that these idiots will line up and pay twice the price for? Donuts as buns? What about grilled cheese as buns? Jamaican meat patties as buns? You say it’s all been done before? Ah yes! Chocolate éclairs! Ureka!” And so this is how I ended up eating shaved philly cheese steak in a chocolate éclair with crème and all. The steak was top-notch, the éclair was OK not great. This messy experience was not really worth the $14. The straight-up philly cheese steak sandwiches looked and smelled amazing. The lineup was big, I was the only one to order the novelty sandwich. Lesson learned.

 

 

 

3:00pm – Big Pickle Dog ($9 / 1000 calories) – Pickle Pete’s, Midway

This pickled up version of the carnie classic looks really good on paper. A corn dog where the dog is stuffed into a giant pickle and then battered and fried. This curiosity was at the top of my list this day on my quest for carnival food. Unfortunately, it was kind of flavourless and a bit watery. The pickle was not tart enough, the dough was not salty enough and the wiener was lost in the mix. The big pickle dog contained 100% of my daily allowance of vitamin G (grease) however, so there is that going for it. The deep fried pickles at Hooter’s are 10 times better, which doesn’t say much.

 

 

 

At this point I am sweaty, bloated and on my way to some old good fashioned diabetes. Fortunately we have tickets to the Argos/Eskimos game at BMO Field so I have a chance to digest and have a couple cold beers to wash down my lunch. Sitting down for 3 hours is just what the doctor ordered. On second thought, no doctor in their right mind would condone any of my not so healthy choices today.

 

 

 

7:15pm – Ramen Burger ($12 / 900 calories) – Yatai by Liberty Noodle, Food Building

I love Ramen Noodles. I love Burgers. I only liked this burger. I noticed it last year and had food envy when I saw someone enjoying it. Am I glad I tried it? Yes. Will I order it again? No. The ramen bun was not as big or as grilled as it was the photo. The burger patty was very good, cooked to perfection and seasoned just right. The Durty Fries and J-Pop chicken that everyone else was ordering from this place gave me food envy all over again.

 

 

7:45pm – Tacos Grillos with chili lime crickets ($8 / 600 calories) – Bug Bistro, Food Building

One of the big food items on the lists this year is the hot dog with crickets. I was debating on whether or not to try it and then this taco jumped out at me from the menu Anyone that knows me knows I love tacos. Anyone that doesn’t like tacos has something wrong with them. I’d be willing to bet even Donald Trump likes tacos. After all, they do come from Mexico and his Trump brand suits are made there! So this taco has Tabasco chili lime crickets and sirloin, tomato, onion, cilantro and spicy crema on a corn tortilla. The crickets dusted the top of a really good taco. You could see the legs, wings and bodies sticking out. They were very light and crispy, and they had a kick. The corn tortilla was the only thing that wasn’t great. It wasn’t very fresh and fell apart a little bit. I find it funny that this cricket taco was probably the healthiest thing I had put in my body all day. Up until this point Cheryl had at least a bite of everything I tried. She passed on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

So at this point in the evening it was almost time to go watch the Tragically Hip concert with the rest of the country. This event will be one of the “where were you when” moments for a lot of us Canadians. I will always remember it as the day that I ate cricket tacos. It was nice to sit down again and have one last cold beer on a hot summer evening with an extremely full belly. The concert was being shown at the CNE Bandshell, and with the exception of the technical difficulties (the first 5 songs sounded like they were in an echo chamber) it was a powerful, poignant moment to share with my girl Cheryl and a big crowd of our fellow Canadians.

 

 

 

11:30pm – Bacon and Pulled Pork Cinnamon Rolls ($10 / 1600 calories) – Howie’s Cinnamon Rolls, Midway

 

What better way to finish off the night than with a nice light 1600 calorie dessert. I was looking to try the pulled pork roll on its own but they ran out of regular cinnamon rolls. They offered me the one with pulled pork AND bacon for the same price! SOLD! It was gooey, salty, sweet and soft, all in a good way. The melty icing topping mixed and mingled with the crispy bacon and pork like they were meant to be together, kind of like peanut butter and chocolate.

That was the cherry on top of my incredibly unhealthy day. In NO WAY do I condone this sort of bad choice behaviour, kids!

 

When all was said and done this was another great day out at the Exhibition. For those of you thinking of heading down, see if you can combine in your CNE visit with a concert at the Molson Amphitheatre, a TFC game or an Argos game as your admission to the CNE is free when you are going to one of these events.

 

For those of you not keeping track of cash and calories, here is a quick recap:

 

 

 

Churro Burger $14 / 1200 calories

2 Deep Fried Desserts $7 / 600 calories

Philly Steakclair $14 / 1200 calories

Pickle dog $9 / 1000 calories

Ramen Burger $12 / 900 calories

Tacos Grillo $8 / 600 calories

Pork & Bacon Cinnamon Roll $10 / 1600 calories

 

2 Tall Boy Cans, 1 28oz draft beer: $41

 

Calorie intake with beers: 7600

Cost: $105

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed eating the food. See you next year Exhibition!