Tag: What to see in Toronto

Market Battles

Ahhhh the St. Lawrence Market.

Did you know that we live next door to the St. Lawrence Market? Y'know "the Market"... the one that was named one of the Top 10 food markets in the WORLD by National Geographic. (Yes, in the WORLD!)

It's a pretty awesome place to visit. Which is why it's also such a big tourist attraction in our city.

There's a little bit of history, a lot of food and some entertainment too. We like to buy our fresh produce there. And our bulk food, our cured meats, maybe our cheese, and veal parmigiana, apple tarts, peameal bacon sandwiches... okay, we like to buy pretty much anything we can eat there. Are you getting hungry?

Living next door, we've also discovered how much more the Market offers above and beyond weekly grocery shopping or a quick lunch on the go. First we discovered Evening at the Market (tickets on sale now for this year's event!) Then it was Chef Scott's Friday Night Market Feast (awesome date night idea, you won't be disappointed!) And this summer they added the delicious Market Battles series to the rotation. 

They hosted 3 Market Battles over the course of 3 Summer Months. Each time, 6 Market vendors would vie for a "best" title. We love trying anything new that the Market does to entertain us and this was a great alternative to cooking dinner on those Friday nights.

Month 1 was the battle of the Burgers. Month 2 was the battle of the Smokehouse BBQ. The 3rd and final month was the battle of the Skewers. Want to see how tantalizing and delicious all of the food looked? Watch our videos below (of course we made a video, it's what we do!)

*WARNING* watching these videos may cause drooling and a rumbling in your stomach. 

“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.  

Toronto’s Castle – Casa Loma

98 rooms, secret passages, towers overlooking the city... and maybe even a couple of ghosts!? Jon and I are a little obsessed with ghost stories and ghost hunting "reality" shows that somehow never end up finding any ghosts. (Sad!) When it came time to take our CityPASS adventure to Casa Loma, we were ready to do our own ghost hunting. 

I mean, it's a little difficult to do ghost hunting in a tourist attraction, that was hosting a Beauty and the Beast week with about a million (few hundred, I like to exaggerate) kids running around, but we definitely had fun doing it. 

We learned that Casa Loma means "Hill House" in Spanish. It was built for $3.5 million from 1911-1914 for financier, Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Sir Henry Pellatt is one of the rumoured ghosts that roams the hallways. Ghosts said to be roaming along with Sir Pellatt are his wife Lady Mary, and the most often seen ghost - the lady in white. The lady in white is believed to be a maid who once worked at Casa Loma. Staff and visitors alike have reported strange sightings over the years, noises and even felt grabbing hands. We didn't experience any of this, but we'll be back at Hallowe'en when Casa Loma hosts their haunted castle, to try again! One thing we like more than laughing, is scaring the crap out of ourselves!

Other than ghosts (or no ghosts), there is a Great Hall, a beautiful conservatory where weddings are hosted, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum for history enthusiasts, a potting shed, a vinatge car collection and soon there will be a steak restaurant run by Liberty Group. Casa Loma also hosts events such as the aforementioned Hallowe'en haunted house called Legends of Horror, they are currently hosting an Escape to Casa Loma series, there will be the upcoming Mother's Day brunch, they've hosted a Symphony in the Garden music series & Soul in the City concert series in the summers and so much more. 

If you have never been to this stunning mansion, you may also recognize Casa Loma from the movies. She's famous in Hollywood for playing the part of Guru Pitka's Ashram in the Love Guru, she made an appearance as a battle ground in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, she was in Cocktail, The Vow, Chicago... just to name a few.  

For the 4th installment of our CityPASS adventure, come with us up to the top of Spadina Avenue, where you find Toronto's castle, Casa Loma.