Monthly Archives: December 2018

It’s The Final Countdown

We finished off our year of fooding at Edulis, listed on Canada’s Best 100 restaurants and Toronto Life’s Top 100 of 2018. It took us months to get this reservation and I could not understand why. We didn’t have this much trouble with other double-listed restaurants. What the heck? When we got there I saw one reason why: it was tiny. There was seating for under 50 people. But when we got there, only two tables were filled. The rest sat empty and only filled up over the course of the night. Once things got going I totally understood why the long wait to get a table. This was it. There was no way they would have another seating at our table that evening, the dinner took three hours. There was no turn-around, no one else would be taking our place for the next round.

We decided on the 7 course dinner, figuring we were probably never going back there. Had we known how long dinner was going to be, we would have probably opted for the 5 course option. It started out at a good pace but as the restaurant got busier, the service got slower. Towards the end we were getting antsy and I wanted to go home. Finally the dessert came and we were like YES we can get out of here! Except while Brent was in the bathroom, I was supposed to ask for the cheque, except as the server was clearing our table, I missed the opportunity as I was finishing off my 2008 Matilda vintage port (so good). Crap. I would have to wait. Except she came back… with another dessert!!! We looked at each other and laughed, any chance of us leaving soon was out of the question. It was a giant slice of pound came with a side of chantilly cream. She said it came with a rum syrup and then proceeded to douse the cake. It was funny because she had implied just a hint and then proceeded to drown the cake. It was really good though.

All of the food was really good, it just took so long it kind of soured us. Great food, meh experience. Weird people all around us. Two drunk co-workers, one of whom was trying to convince the other that they should have a girls-weekend-away and refusing to clink glasses because the other said she was only some-number percent sure (the other was ready to book tickets right then and there). There was the couple on the other side who were regulars at Edulis. How do they have the time we wondered?! And also: a three hour dinner with the guy seemed insufferable. He kept talking about home renos and the shows he was watching. At one point he talked about building a bathroom in the closet space under stairs. Over Brent’s shoulder there was a touchy-feely couple. The girl grabbed the guy’s face with both hands and kissed him aggressively.

The food was amazing. All night, with every dish, we debated if it was better than Yasu (the other contender for best of the year). They made me like olives! I didn’t know olives could actually taste good, but there I was, having just eaten a bread cube soaked in olive oil, mentally preparing myself for a pepper-stuffed green olive. Had I been wrong about olives all along? Probably not. I do not have the time nor the expertise to prepare them such that they become edible. What we found across all of the dishes were the harmonies between flavours and textures. It was not something we notice often, but when you are presented with a fish dish that has cashews, grapefruit juice and jalapenos you can’t help but wonder what?! how is that going to work?! followed by OMG this is so unbelievably good. Even the granny smith apple sorbet with coconut and tapioca cubes. At first bite it was alright, but as I kept eating it I noticed that the tapioca and coconut added the lost texture of the apple.

It was only by a fraction of a margin, and partly based on overall experience, but Yasu still wins for 2018. With Edulis a solid 2nd, where all of the dishes were still in the A-range.

Up next: I will attempt to slow-cook a turkey breast for a holiday meal.

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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized


I’m Just Here for the Bacon

White Lily Diner appeared on another BlogTO best list, this time for best meat loaf. I was super psyched to go back, who can say no to their bacon? I was rather skeptical about the prospect of meat loaf. But then again, White Lily Diner was so good. To start, Brent had ordered a salad. As a side to my beef patty melt, I ordered a plate of bacon. Our server suggested if I wanted bacon, it could be added to the sandwich with a fried egg (making it a breakfast patty melt). I politely declined. I wanted to share my bacon with Brent (it’s called true love, look it up). As she approached with our mains I was momentarily taken aback. All I saw on the plates was a pile of greenery. Excuse me, I ordered a side of bacon with my sandwich- no need to guilt me with the lettuce. I laughed at Brent who had just eaten a rather large salad. Now he had to eat a second one. One bite in and already there was a growing rivulet of grease running down my ring finger. I foresaw this. Any time I sit down to an even remotely greasy meal, I take off all my rings and roll up my sleeves. There is nothing worse than grease in the crooks of your rings, periodically bugging you until you clean it out thoroughly. Both sandwiches held up pretty well and we were able to easily trade halfway (as opposed to times when we have to give instructions on how to grab it and it’s a rush to finish it before it falls apart completely). The patty melt was pretty good. The meatloaf was what you would expect. BUT the meatloaf sauce was something else. It was so good, I kind of wish I had it on the patty melt. Now that would have been an exceptional sandwich!

Nothing on the drink menu really stood out to me. There was a nice-sounding cider but it was a 750ml bottle. I eventually settled on a 5-spice sour. The cherry bitters is what pushed the drink over into amazing, it was already a really good cocktail but that just made it. We ate as much side salad as we could, so we would not look like total gluttons when we ordered a donut for dessert. Alas, the donuts were all sold out and our only options were pudding or apple pie a la mode. No thank you. Donuts or bust.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding


It Was A Compromise Alright

Neither of us could remember why Hungary Thai was on our fooding list. Regardless, it got there somehow, meaning we had to eat there. We eventually figured (based on the decor and the proximity to Thirsty & Miserable, both in Kensington) it was a recommendation from Anthony Bourdain’s show The Layover. What else could it be? It’s not because one of us was craving Hungarian food and one of us was craving Thai food- that’s for sure. I was expecting an interesting combo of the two, not an either/or situation. I was a little disappointed.

The Hungarian side lived up to one aspect: it was cheap and plentiful. I ordered a mulled wine and was given a giant, veritable goblet and it was piping hot. It was also not that good. Following on the heels of that, the beef paprikash was also not that good. Maybe I should have had the chicken option. Who can say? I tried some of Brent’s dishes (coconut chicken curry soup and green curry shrimp). Both were too spicy for me. He had extra rice from his main, I would have happily thrown it in the soup for next day’s lunch, but it was way too spicy. The dessert I had intended on ordering, was no longer even offered. I was not pleased with the meal. All the moreso on the walk home. Oh man did it make my stomach hurt. I kept getting hit with waves of nausea. The pickles were the best part, if you can call it that, they were just grocery store pickles. But who doesn’t like pickles. We disagreed on our rating, Brent rated it higher (I agree, his dishes were better BUT I never got to really enjoy them so it doesn’t factor into my rating).

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding


It’s Got TWO Top 100 Ratings

As the end of the year grows near, we started wondering: what were some of the best meals of the year? It’s no surprise that we struggled to nail down a top list. We’ve eaten at so many places! And a year is a long time! Next year we will be keeping an on-going ranking to prevent this in the future.

I had walked by Lena a few times before and always been intrigued by it. Now I was more intrigued: one of Canada’s best 100 restaurants AND one of Toronto Life’s top 100 restaurants of 2018? My interest was piqued. We had a dinner reservation at the busiest possible hour it seemed, which incidentally did not coincide with happy hour. Why the grumbling? Because it took so long before our drinks arrived. We got our first app before we got our drinks. Brent tried to blame it on my fancy mixed cocktail. I protested that I did not like anything on the wine list. It was also an embarrassing drink to order, the “pink fairy armadillo,” who can say that with a straight face? Brent ordered it for me, stating that I was “too embarrassed” to order it. Only making me more embarrassed in fact.

Our first app was the 24 month aged ham that sat at the bar and we walked by it on our way in. I had to have some of that, they carved it right there! No bread, no side plates, just a small plate with thinly sliced Spanish Serrano ham. I was a teensy bit miffed, no bread? No pickles? At least give us some plates. The drinks arrived soon after we finished off the ham. It had been a last minute impulsive add-on. I couldn’t resist it once we walked by it. We had one more app coming: mini empanadas. First bite, it was ok. Second bite, with the “chiminasty” sauce, it was amazing. The sauce was so good and it was what made the dish.

When I first looked at the menu my eyes alighted on the squid-ink pasta. It sounded so good! Apparently Brent thought so too, that had also been his first pick. He went with his second pick, the 7oz steak. Both dishes were amazing, it was impossible to say which was better. I really liked how black the noodles were from the squid ink. It didn’t alter the taste and it was not off-putting in the least. The sauce was spicy and the squid was delicious. The steak was perfect and the shoe-string fries were an amazing compliment. By now I was on to cocktail number 2: one of their classics, named after the restaurant, the Lena. The service was kind of slow. By the time the server came by to clear our plates, they were empty, making his “are you all done here?” question super awkward.
As we perused the dessert menu I was torn: there was a dessert wine from Provence I wanted to try. The slow service worked to my advantage, I was able to finish my cocktail by the time we ordered our desserts. Brent had the chocolate mousse and I couldn’t resist the burnt cheesecake. The wine was awkwardly named Rinquinquin which I butchered the pronunciation of. It was a delicious peach-y dessert wine. The peach flavour was obvious in retrospect given the second half of the name: a la peche. The desserts were good, but nowhere near as blow-away as the rest of the meal. It was one of the best of the year.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding


I Need A Pronunciation Guide Please

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a spectacular, knock-out dinner. Constantine had recently been voted best hotel restaurant AND it was on Toronto Life’s Top 100 list. To top it off, it was so close to our house- making this week’s dinner plans easy to decide on.

It proved a little difficult to find but eventually we found our way. To start we split a flatbread dish with three toppings: hummus, a meaty-tomatoey one and a Greek yogurt one. It was close but the meaty one came in first with the hummus ac close second. Overall, the dish was excellent and we got to try something from the wood-fired oven.

We traded one bite of mains to see if we wanted to swap halfway. Brent had the grouper with octopus and red chermoula (another item from the 1000 Foods book). I had the house-made noodles (cavatelli) with braised venison. One bite and we both wanted to trade halfway. Both dishes were outstanding.

For dessert we split a sesame mousse and it was the perfect end to an amazing dinner. Constantine was by far one of the most memorable meals of 2018 and some of the best food we’ve had in a while. It should definitely be higher up on Toronto Life’s Top 100. For some reason they have it listed as #63, below Cafe Cancan. Unless the list is not ranked? Either way, Constantine ranks above Cafe Cancan- at least in our books.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


I *CAN* Never Remember The Name

In the summer I saw a post on Instagram about a new restaurant in Toronto that featured a really pretty interior decorated with pastel blue and light pink and a somewhat tropical motif. I wanted to go. My case for the Cafe Cancan only got stronger when Toronto Life recently released their Top 100 restaurants in Toronto list for 2018. We have already cleared a large swath of it and with our dinner we crossed another one off the list.

It was hard to enjoy the interior decorating because it was evening and the lights had been dimmed for the all-important “atmosphere.” No worries, because rosé wine was on tap and I was far more excited for that. Except when I ordered it, I had failed to read the menu carefully. It was sold by the ounce, it was totally up to me how much I wanted! I went with the standard 5oz, leaving room to try the non-tap other rosé option. That is how I ordered it later, the rosé that was not on tap.

You cannot go to a French restaurant and not order the escargots. I was leaning towards the French onion soup but I decided against it as it is almost an entire meal in and of itself. I needed room for dessert, according to Toronto Life that is. The amuse bouche was a butternut squash soup with maple. It made me seriously rethink my recipe collection. Brent had the roasted bone marrow. Both of our dishes came with sourdough bread. That bread was miles above everything else. The bone marrow and escargots were delicious, don’t get me wrong. But that sourdough bread was truly something else. It was smothered in butter and perfectly toasted.The mains were not as great. The peppercorn steak had way too many peppercorns and after just a few bites we traded right back. Brent was not a fan of the duck. I liked it, I just didn’t taste any of the tea marinade. The rice and mushrooms, soaked with the juices from the duck, were awesome.For dessert we split a slice of the opera cake because i had read about it in Toronto Life. It was amazing. Once the plate had been set down on our table, the server poured caramel sauce over it with candied walnuts. It was the perfect end to a delicious meal, even if we disagree on our rating of it.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding


Chabrol? Chab-oui!

We finally got around to rescheduling our dinner at Chabrol in Yorkville. It had been over 2 months since we had last been out fooding and were way overdue. Chabrol had been on a list of top 100 restaurants in Canada that I found who-knows-where at this point.

The restaurant itself was tucked off the main street, down a small alley. It was tiny. There were maybe 4 tables for a total of 8 people and then another 8 or so seats around the bar. The patio was not open as it was November in Canada.

One group of ladies came in with a reservation, saw that they were to be seated at the bar, and promptly left. It’s too bad the people with no reservation didn’t come in after them.

Brent ordered a salad because it had kohlrabi in it, which is in his 1000 Foods book. I opted for the tartine of cured trout. Mine was so much better, it wasn’t even close. The kohlrabi tasted like beets with even more dirt flavour. The trout was delicious. Neither dish was outstanding though.

For our mains, Brent had the whitefish cooked in parchment paper. I preferred my dish, the galantine of chicken. I was expecting chicken in gelatin. Not softly cooked chicken. It was good, but again, not outstanding.

Given that it was just a few days after Halloween, thoughts of dessert turned to thoughts of deeply-discounted mini candy bars instead of creme brulee. Given the meal so far, we did not feel like we were missing out on much. The standout of the whole meal was the little mini cookie macarons made with lavender and orange that were presented with the bill.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


Budapest, Vienna, Prague: Honeymoon Edition: Day 17

Sun. Oct. 7, 2018:
Prague Czech Republic to Frankfurt, Germany to Toronto, ON:

Breakfast was open this time. The Nutella crepe followed by Nutella spoon in coffee was genius. Because the sun had woken me up so early we actually still had some time after breakfast, I spent it well, playing Mario Odyssey. I thought we were done with the stairs but apparently, I was celebrating too soon. We still had one more (bonus!) flight left. We walked away from the historic part of town and apparently that required yet another flight of stairs. We took a streetcar and then transferred to a bus that took us to the airport, sounds simple enough right? We got to the transit stop and had no idea how to buy fares, eventually I spotted a fare-vending machine on the other side of the platform. Why they didn’t have one on each side made little sense to me. More confusion ensued when we tried to transfer to the airport bus. There was a giant sign on the bus stop saying something about the route being affected this weekend. We went across the street to the metro station, where a schedule said the bus was coming in 2 minutes. So, it wasn’t affected? We ran back to the bus stop. If the bus didn’t arrive in a reasonable amount of time, we would look for alternative methods: from the metro map it looked like we could also take the subway to the airport. There was also no one at the metro station to help us. Thankfully the bus came and it dropped us off right at the terminal.

We were so early, two and a half hours! I wandered around the airport and visited all of the shops. I bought some chocolates for my co-workers. I was tempted by honey wine at the duty-free shop. But we had a layover in Frankfurt and I wasn’t sure if we would have to clear security again. I tried asking the people at the check-in desk but they had no idea. I set to googling it and found my answer: as long as it was sealed and marked with the duty-free it would be ok. I screen capped and walked over to the shop triumphantly. I would have my delicious Medinovar fix. On my way back, I stopped at the café and ordered a salted caramel cappuccino. I’m pretty sure they gave me a large, because it was enormous. I downloaded Bridget Jones’s Baby on Netflix for the flight in case there weren’t any good movies. During my airport wanderings I found that Pilsner Urquell had a restaurant in the airport. We split a pretzel and Brent had a beer that was a mix of light and dark beers, but the way it was poured they separated and it had a layered effect. The Prague flight was delayed by 40 minutes. We had to run like mad through the Frankfurt airport to make our connection. I was not happy about this, I was tired and achy and rundown. We made it just in time. I did wonder about our friend we had made in line at Prague, who was grumbling he would miss his flight to DC. On the second flight there was a great movie selection and I didn’t end up needing my iPad. We watched Get Out, Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation and the first three episodes of Sharp Objects. We got home tired and exhausted, having briefly forgotten about the giant post-wedding mess strewn across the entire house. I was in need of a second vacation.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Travel


Budapest, Vienna, Prague: Honeymoon Edition: Day 16

Sat. Oct. 6, 2018:
Prague Czech Republic:

I was really starting to miss curtains. The breakfast door was locked again and I really did not feel up to battling with the coffee maker. I tried searching for some nearby cafes but nothing was open yet, the earliest was a 10am open and I did not feel like waiting an hour for coffee. Especially given the curtain-less sleep and awful wakeup. On the way out I had to leave a note on the door: we were out of toilet paper. I tried the Starbucks by the castle but the line was too long, and I figured the wait would be even longer if everyone was ordering barista drinks. Instead I went back to the McCafe. It was incredible how long it took only 2 people in line ahead of me to order. I had almost been better off staying at Starbucks. One lady was trying to order cheesecake. She had two options: plain or strawberry. Apparently, this was a monumental decision and had to be done very carefully. To go with my caramel latte, I had a nougat donut, even though it was actually Nutella.

Rather than go back to the Klementinum (where we were pretty much guaranteed entrance) we started our day at the Old Town Hall. We were there on a Saturday and it was only going to get busier. People LOVE the 600-year-old astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall. We had to push through the crowd to get inside for tower tickets. Because the tower is square shaped, we didn’t have to climb stairs. Instead we walked up not-steep ramps. It was only at the spire that there was a narrow spiral staircase. Except it had an genius design. At the top and bottom entrances there were traffic lights. That way there was only one direction of traffic flow on the stairs at a time. Brilliant. I wish the same had been done for the tiny tower terrace. It was a glut of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, all slowly moving as one mass. Until it wasn’t. Until someone decided to go the wrong way. Until someone decided to take more than the usual amount of time to view (as determined by the movement of the crowd as a whole). Then it became nightmarish as we had o try and squeeze past and around people. There was an obvious rhythm to it and some people were just dumb. You stopped when there was a moment, took a photo through the window gate and moved on. There were beautiful views of the town and of Old Town Square down below. We could see two churches, one of which was our next destination. We could also see people down below looking at the astronomical clock.

We walked across the square towards Our Lady of Tyn. The entrance to the church was unclear and we ended up circling the building before finding an alcove between two restaurants that lead to a small courtyard where- finally- we found the entrance. The buildings had been built around the church. We had no chance of getting a full view of the church façade. We weren’t allowed photos inside. It was killing me; the interior was so beautiful and there were intricate wooden sculptures and everything was gilded in gold. I recognized it as Baroque style. We saw Tyco Brahe’s grave. Apparently, he used to live in the building that was now our hotel. Brent loved pointing out, every time we left or entered the building, the plaque stating this. I hated it. Almost as much as I hated the stairs. Afterwards we stopped in at the Old Town Square for a quick lunch. I could see the vendor slow-roasting a giant ham hock over an open-fire beside his stand. There was no way we weren’t going to try some (authentic?) Old Prague Ham. Especially when it was that fresh. It was so freaking (*not the original adjective I had used) good. We had ordered a plate of 100gr to split. It was only later when Brent went back for more mustard that I saw the sign saying you could order any amount; the price was listed per 100gr as a reference point. Oops. The bread on the side was stale and therefore utterly useless. There was no real need for it, the ham was that good. No one in the town square was selling “hot wine” or mead. My only options were beer or nothing. We walked around the town square but there wasn’t really much to see, other than a few other food vendors.

The amount of people looking at the astronomical clock had doubled in size in the past half hour (from when we were up in the tower). We stopped in at a more tourist-y alcohol shop and I found two new ones I had never tried before: TK Mojito and a Carling cherry cider (*insert hearts). I went into a souvenir shop looking for a Szwejk figurine as a souvenir for my dad. The lady followed me all around the shop, plus it was rather expensive.

We got to the Klementinum Library and while we were waiting in line one employee was asking everyone what language tour, they were interested in. When he got to us, he recognized us. He wrote a note on our ticket giving us readmission on the noon hour tour. We had half an hour before the tour. We sat on a low wall nearby. Brent read his book, I listened to podcasts. Out of nowhere, a little black kitten appeared. We later found out the kitten’s name was KIementin, there was a sign on a restaurant patio about it. At first the kitten was busy doing the butt wiggle and pouncing on unsuspecting bugs. She came out from under the fence and started play-attacking Brent’s elbow. She was tiny but her claws were sharp. We were unsure what she liked so much about his elbow. The shadows in the folds? Did he smell like ham from the town square? Eventually the kitten got bored of us and left. We later saw it doing the same song and dance with a lady who was decidedly not cool about it, yelping and then giggling. Things got worse when she tried to pick up the kitten.

The first part of the tour was a repeat but we did get to see the innards of a clock and learn how clocks work- that was pretty mind blowing honestly. Same as yesterday, we did not get to stop further into the library but at least this time it was properly lit. We had a better view of the ceiling frescos and the intricate details of the bookcases. It was worth it to have come back.

At the start of the bridge I found another tourist shop and found a much more reasonably priced figurine for half the price and none of the being-followed-around. The bridge was quite crammed but it was moving well. While Brent stopped in and went to the bathroom at what was supposed to have been out hotel, I cracked open the Carling cherry cider. It was rather hot outside and I was dehydrated. It really hit the spot. I almost finished it in the time he was gone. We stopped at the grocery store for snacks for lunch. We were having an early dinner again. I got a Milka ice cream bar because it was so hot outside. Brent had an Oreo ice cream bar that had a cookie (!) coating. Yet again, I grumbled about the stupid stairs.

Everything that had been set up the day before on the castle grounds to celebrate 100 years of independence, including a full stage, had all been taken down. Why would they set it up for one day?! They could’ve partied into the weekend! It seemed silly to me. The strings duet was there again, playing the same song, and having the same effect on me. Making me feel all smooshy and lovey.

We got to the hotel room and the cleaner was there. We threw our coats on a chair and went back out. We walked further down the street our hotel was on. Apparently, there was an old wooden house down that way, that the hotel guy seemed fit to recommend. As promised, at the end of our street, there was a little wooden house. It was labelled a “romantic” hotel. We circled around the Loretta abbey, seeing it from the other side. We checked out the Czernin Palace Garden. There were some nice roses bushes but the fancy pools weren’t filled so we didn’t get the full effect of the gardens. We continued via the backstreets and rounded the corner of the main square. We didn’t usually get to see this side of the square, as we usually cut diagonally across it (aka the opposite of this side we were seeing now).

Back in the hotel I steeped some tea. But it was too hot to drink right away and I was thirsty. I cracked open a mojito to hold me over while I caught in my notebook and waited for my tea to cool. Reading in bed, I finished Amy & Isabelle and took to Pinterest and catching up on Try Not To Laugh’s animal videos on Facebook. Fun times. We went out for McDinner around 4:30pm. This time I got their version of a Quarter Pounder, it was good. But the best part was still the fries with the sweet chili dip. Brent had the regular Maestro burger. It had horseradish, which would sound weird, but was actually really good.

My plan was that while Brent was at the play at the Estates Theatre, I would go out and photograph the sunset. We walked together through the castle square and parted ways at the Starbucks. I refused to go down the stairs, I vowed that with our McDinner that would be the last time. The sun was not setting over the town but over the hill. I got a few nice photos but not as many as I would have liked. It was an awkward spot. I wandered past the Starbucks in the opposite direction of the giant stairs and away from the castle grounds. I found a better view of the sunset over a monastery/church/nice-looking building. Walking back, I continued down the street rather than taking the left turn back towards the Starbucks. It was the same as all other roads, lots of little shops, cafes and restaurants. I half suspected it would lead me all the way to under the Charles Bridge. Instead it led me to the mini-square and church before the steep hill to the bottom of the horrible stairs! I had found a roundabout way to avoid the stairs! Instead of going up them it was a winding ramp way to get to the top! Good thing I found it, at least now I had a story to tell. There was no way I was hoofing it up the stairs, I went back the way I came. Along the way I saw two girls who were stoned out of their minds. One was crouching in the street, doubled over laughing. She then had to lean against the wall, she couldn’t contain herself. The other girl still had a solid ¾ of a joint in her hand. What lightweights, I thought.

I stopped in at the Starbucks for a white hot chocolate and sat on the patio. I used their ledge as a pseudo-tripod to get some night shots of Prague. At the castle square I found a nice ledge to take more night photos. A lady had walked into my shot and started apologizing and I shrugged and said it was ok. It was such a long exposure she didn’t even register in the shot. I got back to the hotel room and the TV was showing MLB baseball. Brent didn’t know how to disconnect the app on his phone from the TV and we just assumed once he was out of range it would stop playing. It did not. I sent him an email about it from the iPad. He had messaged me saying he was sitting in box with one lady whose boyfriend was in box next door and they talked over him. My joke about sitting in the hotel room watching baseball while he’s at a poetry reading did come true. Rubbing that dog on the bridge proved to be lucky after all.

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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Travel


Budapest, Vienna, Prague: Honeymoon Edition: Day 15

Fri. Oct. 5, 2018:
Prague Czech Republic:

I woke up just after 9am with purpose: I could finally write the postcard to my dad, I had finally eaten at U Kaliche. Never mind that the postcard would surely arrive way after me. We went downstairs for breakfast but the door was locked. We did not feel up to ringing the doorbell and having them make a fuss over us. We still had butter cookies and apricot jam in the hotel room, plus we had a coffee machine. I would survive. It was an awful coffee maker, with the stupid pods and it was impossible to figure out. When I eventually did get it going it turned even more disastrous. I went to take a sip and it was not even warm. Turns out the coffee maker had been set to cold brew. Except it wasn’t a nice cold brew, it was a room temperature coffee. Add insult to injury: there were grinds in the coffee. Disgusting. We stopped at the McCafe on the way so I could get a better coffee. The cookies with apricot jam barely helped improve my mood. The McCafe, even though it is in the McDonalds, was upstairs and separate. The downstairs kiosks didn’t apply. I had to attempt to order my caramel latte despite the language barrier.

We got to the Klementinum Library just in time for the 10:30am tour. I was so excited to see the Baroque library- it was the main draw. Alas, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. I was so sad about this. I settled for buying a postcard later on our way out. Things only got worse from there. The lights in the Baroque library wouldn’t turn on. I was really starting to regret not having rubbed the dog in the statue on the bridge last night. I vowed to rub it at some point in the day. When the tour guide announced the problem, one lady in our group asked if they couldn’t just open the curtains and let in some natural light. It made me shudder to even think about. Why did she think the place was kept in the dark? Clearly, she knew nothing about museum stuff. We continued on with the tour, the plan being that we would come back at the end of the tour and see if the issue was resolved. In the tower there was a camera obscura onto the Prague Meridian line and when the light was on it, you knew it was midday. It’s too bad we were too early. We continued up into the Observatory Tower. From the deck we had a view of all of Prague. Off in the distance we could see how crammed the Charles Bridge was with tourists- it was just a solid mass of people spanning the whole bridge. When we got back the lights were still not fixed. We were able to walk up to the barrier and at least peek in, once my eyes adjusted it wasn’t that bad actually. Everyone was so quiet, an atmosphere of hushed reverie as we all stole glances. We were told we could come back later and a staff member would escort us to the library to see. I secretly wondered if it would be the same view by the barricade, just better lit. Or would we get to walk through it? The same lady from before piped up again. She was mad and she was leaving town, she wouldn’t get to see it. What she seemed to not grasp was that an electrician had to come and fix the problem.

For lunch we went to a hotdog window shop. We tried to order one hotdog and one kielbasa but the guy said it’s the same meat, the difference is in getting a bun or not. We got two hotdogs with everything. I was too lazy to pick and choose my toppings. Therefore, I ended up with sauerkraut, red cabbage, cucumbers, mustard, mayo and ketchup. Not exactly the ideal assortment- it was still good though. Brent had a Pilsner Urquell, I had a mulled wine. Problem was, the hotdogs were two-handed meals. I held Brent’s beer while he ate, then he held my mulled wine while I ate. It worked out well, my wine needed time to cool down. The hotdog was an unruly mess. We backtracked to the Klementinum so I could buy some postcards (when we were leaving there was no one at the ticket desk).

We stopped at a grocery store on our way back to the hotel, the one across the street from our usual shop just after the bridge. I got a red cacao bean Kit Kat, a chocolate Cornetto ice cream, piquant paprika Lays and a Koppaberg Swedish cider with strawberry and lime. It was a tiny can, but I had run out of bottle caps to collect. Smirnoff Ice being the only one left. The chocolate Cornetto was a lie. The bottom 2/3 of it was vanilla ice cream with only a little bit of chocolate fudge. Why call it a chocolate cone?! Why only have chocolate ice cream at the top?! WHO DOES THAT?!?!?

Back in our hotel room we found that all of our towels, save for one crumpled one on the floor, were gone. The coffee bar had not been replenished and we did not have new sheets, the bed was just made. I felt like we were getting ripped off. I brewed one of the sample teas I had gotten from Kusmi, the lemongrass green tea. It was so good! Once I got caught up in my notebook, we settled on planning the evening, and if I had time, maybe some Mario Odyssey. I finished writing all of my postcards. The Czech stamps were so big I had to stick them on sideways. With this I had to move on to pen #3 of the trip, #2 finally giving up. In the course of the trip, I had only acquired one free pen. Thank god I brought some from home. My book, Amy & Isabelle, was finally available again. I made it through 2 chapters before I called it quits and took a 30-minute nap, I was so so so tired.

Dinner was at the Medieval Tavern, which apparently was under a kilometre away from the hotel? We must’ve walked by it and yet I couldn’t place it. I did remember passing a pub touting itself as medieval. Could that have been it? What were the odds that there were two medieval pubs? It was so funny to get there and realize how many times we had passed by it on our way back to the hotel. Now it made sense why I always saw people outside taking pictures. Even walking there, having confirmed the address, I still questioned it. Was this right? Were we going to the place that the Toronto Star had written about? As soon as we stepped inside, I was sure, this was definitely the right place. It was dark with low vaulted ceilings and lit only by candles. It 100% felt like Prague’s oldest pub. The outside had been misleading but it makes sense being so close to the castle. In the doorway a lady asked us if this was the place with all the bones. I said it was a good bet that it was, especially given the skulls over the entrance. For some reason they left.

When we said we had reservations, they asked (again!) if we were absolutely sure that we did not want to stay for the medieval show. The first time they had asked after we made an email reservation. It was hard to see when we first entered, it took my eyes a while to adjust. Reading a menu by candlelight may sound romantic- but it really isn’t. We didn’t order any apps because we’d had a pretty heavy lunch. Brent had the duck leg confit and I had the goulash. The first drink I ordered was grog. It was just as I had expected based on what I had read on the internet: rum in hot water, garnished with a lemon and sweetened with sugar. It was really hard trying to carve the duck leg by candle light, so instead of swapping plates we just traded bites. The goulash was so good. It was more along the lines of what I had expected and was used to. Except instead of potato dumplings (kopytka) it was served with “bread dumplings” which were just slices of white spongy bread. It was good for dipping in the gravy. Brent ordered a second pint, actually it was more of a half litre, but pint is so much easier to say! I had already finished my dish while Brent was still hacking away at his duck leg. I ordered a glass of mead when Brent’s second beer was brought. The lady asked me if I wanted it hot or cold: HOT! I almost yelled it from excitement. While I waited for my drink I wandered over to the bathroom- more so because I wanted to see the rest of the pub décor and I was curious what a bathroom in a medieval pub would look like. There were skulls and animal pelts hanging everywhere. The bathroom had an old-looking stone sink and it was tiny. The hot mead was the best drink I’ve ever had. This one was less sweet and slightly more herbal and it was amazing. There are hearts drawn in my notebook around this experience.

After dinner we walked over to the Estates Theatre. Brent had gotten the last ticket to a show. It was a Russian poetry reading with Czech subtitles. He really just wanted to see the theatre. I was more than OK sitting this one out. I had found a nearby mall where I intended to while away the time. The trouble was I didn’t have data on my phone. Brent had to walk me to the mall where I was able to connect to wifi and keep in touch. We agreed on a meeting spot at the Palladium Mall and I set off on my shopping adventure. Except my phone was being spotty about connecting to the wifi and immediately worry set in. After eventually getting it to connect I saw that Brent had messaged me. The theatre performance was the following night. Once we met up, we went to the Albert grocery store for the all-important snack supply. We grabbed white chocolate covered Oreos and vampire teeth gummies. We went up one floor and Brent found a spot on a bench while I set off for some shopping. The mall had a really confusing layout, there were half floors and all the escalators didn’t line up. I had to walk to the other end of the mall for the next escalator to the next floor. There were only a few stores I wanted to go to but now I did not feel like exploring to see if there were any new stores, I was unaware of. At C&A I found two dresses but they weren’t in my size. Eventually I found a black dress with white and blue flowers. I also found a ~$2CAD long sleeve t-shirt for Adrian. I had no idea how European sizing worked, who measures children in inches?! I got the largest size even though it still seemed so small (I later found it was for a 2-year-old toddler- oops).

Walking back, it was unbelievable how many people were still at Old Town Square. It was just a giant mass of very slowly moving people. I waited until we were at the start of the bridge before cracking open the Lisacke-Jablko cider. It was good, tasted more like a traditional cider and it was the perfect walking drink. The only downside was that it was in a can, so no new bottlecap for the collection. On the way back over the bridge I caved to peer pressure and rubbed the dog on the statue. As we passed by the Medieval Tavern the place was rocking, loud music was playing. No wonder it had been empty when we were there. Everyone wanted to see the show.

Going up the awful stairs, there was a small group of people sitting on the stairs. From afar I guessed it was rowdy teenagers out on a Friday night. I was worried they would laugh at me as I struggled up the stairs. When we got closer, we saw that there was one guy standing and telling stories to the group. My guess was that it was an improv troupe all telling stories about the stairs. But fine, maybe Brent was right, maybe it was just a regular old boring ghost tour. My version is more interesting. It was a small comfort knowing I’d only be going up those damn stairs a few more times.

Back in the hotel room I finished off the apricot jam (that for some reason became known as marmalade in my book halfway through) while catching up on writing. The Shake Cocktails: Mojito from the Ukraine was ok, but it was not the best mixed mojito by far. I was only trying to delay the inevitable: having to wash my hair in that stupid shower. It made me so mad just thinking about it.

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Posted by on December 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

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