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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Lackluster Dinner

Best Chinese restaurant had been re-voted, but thankfully it was still on Spadina (it’s so annoying when the new winner is really far away when it used to be so close). We went to Rol San without a reservation. There was no way it would be crammed on a Wednesday late afternoon. We did not make the mistake this time of ordering rice. Neither of us likes rice that much and we would rather eat something tastier. Even still we ended up getting too much food. However, the coconut shrimp and egg rolls were so blah that we did not even bother attempting to finish each dish. Those two stood in stark contrast to the sweet & sour chicken and the soy ginger beef which were both amazing.

Our fortune cookies gave me false hope. Mine said “Good news is on its way” and Brent’s said “A confidential tip will clue you in to a great financial deal.” Of course, I thought why not play the numbers from the fortune in the lottery. I lost.

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Bier Here!

Otto’s in Kensington had been awesome and we found out that they had opened a beer hall AND it had been voted best new restaurant 2016 we were psyched! We were less psyched when we could not get reservations. We figured we would go and try to get a table and if not we could find a back-up elsewhere. On a Saturday evening we managed to get a table, although we had to share it but that was not even noticeable. The beer selection was not as extensive as I had hoped for, I wound up drinking Ontario craft ciders instead. We ordered a giant ham hock, a schnitzel and pretzels with cheese. The pretzels were better when dipped in the grainy mustard that came with the ham, the cheese was a bit weird. I was unsure about the ham hock, it was way more expensive than everything else and I was expecting that it was going to the equivalent of a full dinner rather than a sharing appetizer. Turns out it was so expensive because it is a giant leg of ham bone and and all. The bone took up a lot of space and it ended up being the perfect amount of food. Once we figured out how to get the meat off the bone. It was an odd endeavour, we just kept hacking at it with knives trying to pierce the tough skin. But oh man, once we broke the skin and carved off pieces it was so delicious.

On the walk home we stopped at the Snakes & Lattes on College, voted best late night cafe. When we got there we saw a few empty tables but the guy told us it would be a wait and that there was nothing available. He took my name and number for the waitlist… and that was it. We kind of looked at each other, do we bum around and wait, do we bail? Do we go somewhere nearby and wait? Oh wait… there are stools by the bar. We could just have a few drinks while waiting for our table.

Since it was voted best late night cafe, I ordered a hot chocolate with Bailey’s for my second drink (for the first I had to try the winter themed cocktail) and a cake pop. We tried out Patchwork which was a neat little game. We followed it up with a game of Seven Wonders Duel. Brent won both times. Two games was about the max we could do. We had started out drinking at Otto’s Bierhalle around 5pm, by now it was 10pm and we were both very sleepy.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

What A Knockout!

White Lily Diner had been voted best new brunch 2016. I was just happy that something near us had been posted. As it turns out, going out for best-of’s once a week can quickly clear out the surrounding area. We were going out more often than the lists were being generated. We risked it and did not get there for open. Luckily we snagged two stools by the bar. No sooner had we been seated, the last few seats got snatched up. By the time we left there were 3-4 groups waiting.

I did not have superbly high expectations. Best brunch, but only of the last year not best brunch period. Man was I wrong. I was so wrong. This place was amazing. I cannot even begin. It is a must-eat-at in Toronto. We split a plate of two donuts: vanilla custard and sour cherry. Something so simple, vanilla custard and yet it was outstanding. It had real vanilla, you could even see the specks. I ordered the pancakes and I could not resist a side of thick cut bacon. I assumed Brent would help me finish it off. I am not a fan of bacon, but the thick cut sounded intriguing. I just wanted a filling side with my pancakes. I was blown away. I seriously considered asking where they source the bacon from. I wanted a lifetime supply. I ate past the point of being full, the bacon and pancakes were that good and the portion sizes that generous. Every time I put my fork down in defeat I would find myself lifting it to my mouth, for one last little bite. My stomach felt like it was going to explode. But the bacon was just so damn good. And they kept offering to refill my coffee, as any true diner would.

We were finished just before 11am, so close to being able to order alcohol! How could we resist a pour-your-own-mimosa?! Plus I still kept nibbling at the bacon, we could easily draw out our meal. It was funny because as the server was clearing our plates she was looking at her watch, she had heard us talking and knew we were waiting for that magical hour to strike. The food was incredible and the service amazing. I’d go back in a heartbeat for the thick-cut bacon and donuts.

 

Carnaval 2017- Day 4

Mon. Feb. 6, 2016:
Quebec City to Toronto

I woke up at around 8am and assumed that because Brent was not in bed, he must therefore be at the gym. I rolled over and got scared when I saw him sitting at the desk. I told him to wake me up when it was time to go. I also told him that the best way to do that is to bring me a latte from the Starbucks downstairs. All my attempts (you know what would be: romantic, manly, efficient) failed.

We were going to walk to a bakery for breakfast but when Brent was looking up the walking directions he noticed that Google Maps said it was closed. Maybe it doesn’t open until 10am I thought? As it turns out the bakery is not open on Mondays. We found another bakery and lucky for us, in the -14C weather, it was twice as close! We only had to spend 15 minutes outside in the cold.

Apparently we had walked right by Panetier Baluchon on Saturday on our way to Pain Gruel. The bakery had a small café area. I stole a bite of Brent’s club sandwich, it was so good! And I don’t even like club sandwiches! I had a warmed up chocolate croissant and coffee. Easily one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Once again, I could not help myself and I also ordered a macaron, it was pink and heart-shaped. I had to. It was better than the ones at Paillard but still not as good as Nadege. There was a nice girl working at the bakery, who brought us a bonus pastry to enjoy. Alas we were too full, luckily it was already packaged to go.

We walked over to Bonhomme’s ice palace both because we had more time now that we had gone to a closer bakery and also to have one last look. Only the snow sculpture site was open, it was still a bit early in the day. It was nice to now see all the completed statues. Some of the best ones were a ship in a bottle, a bear with a fish and an axe in a city skyline.

We had one last look at the river and the town below. I had never noticed that beyond the town, on the horizon there were mountains off in the distance. I had been so distracted by the town below and the ice floes in the river.

We ate our pastry in the hotel room, migawd it was amazing. It was a slice of chocolate cake but it so light and fluffy and not overly sweet. We tried to check out of our hotel room via the TV but it wasn’t working. Brent tried to check out via email until I noticed it said Tremblant in the email address. In the end he checked out via the phone.

It was a short cab ride to the airport, but still it was enough to almost lull me to sleep. Because it was a small airport and we were flying Porter, there were no express check-in kiosks and we had to wait in line. From the security check line I was tempted by Tim Hortons but I was certain there would be another one past the checkpoint. This was a Canadian airport after all. There was not. It was a truly tiny airport but it did have nice views of mountains which I guess sort of made up for it? There was also not much Pokemon action going on either. The important thing is that we did not miss our flight home.

 

Carnaval 2017- Day 3

Sun. Feb. 5, 2016:
Quebec City

I woke up at 9am to the temptation of Doritos and the thought of getting a latte from the Starbucks downstairs. The smoked butterscotch latte was only ok, but definitely better than the in-room coffee. There was nothing on TV except for the newest iteration of Scooby-Doo, and Brent was still at the gym running. Meanwhile outside looked like a snow globe.

We started the day out at Paillard bakery. On the way there the church bells were ringing and echoing off the buildings, combined with the snow it was a very nice effect. Paillard was a similar chain to Panera Bread but a thousand times better. There were two separate lines for sandwiches and for pastries so we split up. Brent had wanted a chocolate croissant, but I could not see everything in the display cases so I got him the first chocolate pastry I saw, a chocolate pastry braid. I had a pastry with raspberry jam. At the last minute I could not resist ordering macarons, besides there was a maple flavoured one. I had to. The macarons were good but a little bit dense for my liking. The pastry was fresh and delicious. I couldn’t open the screw-off top on my Boylan’s soda so I put it in my purse for drinking later in the hotel when I could pry it off with a bottle opener.

We walked back to Bonhomme’s Ice Palace because the brochure said he would there for a photo op. We cut through the kiddie section of Carnaval and via the passageway through the fortification wall to get there. There were lots of people milling about, but the ice bar was surprisingly not that busy- probably because it was just before noon. We caught a glimpse of Bonhomme but it turns out you had to line up to get a photo with him and they were winding down. I had always pictured it as Bonhomme just wandering around the various Carnaval sites and waving to people, not a 30 minute appearance behind a velvet rope. It was a bit disappointing.

Our timing could not have been more perfect. The ice canoe race was at 12:30 and we had just enough time to walk over to the site. I was not enjoying going down the steep hills and stairs, they were icy and scary. I slowly inched my way down a steep curving hill, desperately holding onto the handrail. Apparently a lady with a cane and a child passed me but I paid them no mind, I was not about to wipe out on ice. On the way we noticed a small alley on the side with lots of little shops and we noted it for later on our way back. We also passed by one of the other pubs that we had found on Google and we added it to our afternoon plans.

We got to the river and it was already so crowded but we were not even near the official start site. As we got closer the crowds grew bigger. We stopped to look at the ice floes but they were moving so fast it actually made me nauseous. As got closer to the start site we could now hear the announcer. We had no idea what he was saying but the excitement was growing, the race was starting soon. I was more excited by all the dogs I was seeing, it was a great day for dog-watching. Even Bonhomme was there, albeit in the announcer’s booth, to kick off the race. We had mistakenly thought that the race was down river, making the crowds on the other side of the river look like idiots. Turns out we were wrong, the race was across the river, oops. It was ridiculous to watch as the canoes plowed into the ice and the racers had to get out and push the canoe along the ice until they got to a clear spot. All the while the current was pushing them downriver. It was crazy. In the end we had no idea who won. It was however less ridiculous than I had imagined. I linked the words ice and canoe in my head and I was picturing people racing in canoes made of ice.

After the second race set off we left, it was much the same as the first and again we had no idea who was winning. We walked around some of the pretty little side streets of the lower half of the city. Eventually we made our way back to the little promenade we had walked by earlier. On our way to Uncle Antoine’s pub we stopped at a mystery doors booth which was part of the Comedy Festival site. I was not amused. One door was an upside down bathroom, one was a wall and one had a funhouse mirror. I didn’t get it at all. Brent was tempted to have a fireside beer, but the thinking went that the beer selection at the bar would be better. On the way to the pub we stopped in at a cider store. It was my kind of heaven, I ended up getting a small bottle of Le Pedneault cherry flavoured cider, made in Quebec, of course.

The pub was a small former cellar, with an arched ceiling. It was very cozy and we had seats right by the fireplace. I did not know this until we had sat down, because as soon as we entered my glasses fogged up. I had wanted to order a locally brewed wheat beer with elderflower and raspberry but it was all sold out, so I settled for a mulled wine instead. The service at the pub ended up being unbelievably slow. It was a good thing we did not have anything else planned for the day. Needless to say, we only stayed for one drink. The ladies at the table next to our finished up around the same time, on the way out the door they warned the group coming in that the service was slow- it was that bad. They were nice ladies, one of them complimented Brent’s Blue Jays hat.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the beer shack and Brent had a fireside beer. We had a nice spot by the firepit- that is until the wind changed direction and blew smoke all over me. We stopped at Mary’s Popcorn, I was convinced that this was a Canadian version of Garrett’s Popcorn and there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to try it. At the last second I opted for the maple pecan popcorn over the caramel popcorn. It had maple, I had to. I kind of wish I had paid more attention to the prices. Ah well.

It was nice to chill in the hotel, drinking cider and soda and eating popcorn and Doritos. As we were watching The People Vs. OJ on a streaming site, I could not believe the commercial. It said it was 10 second long, but it went on for at least a minute of just a message on the screen.

For dinner we headed out to Bar L’Inox. The plan was to stay and watch a bit of Superbowl 51 as well. The weather was horrible, everything was slushy and melting because it was only -1C. As we walked it started to dawn on us that the bar might be full, we were cutting it close. On the way we passed through another Carnaval site but it was closing down for the day. We did get to see a kid in a giant inflated bubble roll down a hill and try to knock some pins down.

The bar was not super busy and we managed to get a table with a great view of the TV. We ended up staying until half-time. The service was great and we had great seats. The whole while I nursed a giant pint of cider, meanwhile Brent enjoyed four pints. All I could think of was taking an Advil, my knees and hips were hurting. The hotdog I ordered was far better than I had expected. It was called “European,” so I assumed it would be a higher quality meat. Instead it was baked into a French baguette. It was very convenient and not messy. My only complaint is that there was not enough whisky cheddar. I also regretted eating the chips on the side. I had forgotten my Invisalign containers and toothbrush back in the hotel and the chips were sticking in my teeth.

Across from us there was a reserved table of millennial couples and their kids. Some of them were quite drunk and one started slow-dancing with her husband, blocking our view of the game. She was more into the half-time show, singing along with Lady Gaga, than the game itself. I too was not much into the game, but I did not make a fool of myself. I was content with being entertained by the commercials and saying things like “he’s running up the pitch” from The IT Crowd. The best commercial by far was the one with Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken. There was also a promo for the upcoming TV adaption of The Handmaids Tale. I was all excited until I realized it was on Hulu, meaning it would not be airing in Canada. The half-time show was really weird. Lady Gag was flying around, and she ended it with a mic drop. At least by then the annoyingly loud and obnoxious guys were gone.  They were ridiculous. All their team had done was walk onto the field and they started cheering like crazy.

On the walk back I had Pokemon Go open and I was narrating the walk. There was one stop that claimed to be a 400 year old cannonball that a tree had grown around. I took a picture of it and we would look it up once we were back in the hotel. We walked over to the Dufferin Terrace by the hotel for one last look at the St. Lawrence River and the lower part of the town. It looked so pretty all lit up and with snow swirling around. Even the trolley that transports people between the upper and lower halves of the town was lit up. From the other end of the terrace we had a great view of our hotel and the wall and the town below.

Back in the hotel room I snuggled up with my book and a cup of Honey Lullaby tea under the covers and some popcorn. Brent had the football on in the background but I was over it by then. Even though it had taken a dramatic turn, I had checked out. I tried to read my book but I kept getting distracted by Pokemon. An hour later, all caught up in my notebook and having run out of Pokemon to catch, I was ready to settle down with my book. The football was still going, it was now in overtime.

 
 
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