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Category Archives: Adventures of Pinka!

We Feastin’!

I’ve had sushi burritos before, they are alright but a bit too much. I was hoping that Rolltation, best sushi burrito, would have size options like the other place I had been to. Alas no such luck, but at least sushi burritos hold up nicely cold (I ended up eating the second half for dinner the next day). Was it a good sushi burrito? It was alright but like I said I am not a fan. It is a monstrosity to eat, the seaweed is not as easy to bite into as a tortilla is. Plus it is impossible to get a bite with all of the components in it. That is the beauty of sushi: you get all the flavours in one bite.

No worries, we could still turn our day around! Up next we were headed to Kensington Market to get waffles for dessert. Wafels & More was trying to emulate Belgium. I think if I had not been to Belgium and eaten so many waffles from different places I may have liked this place more. Overall I was not impressed, it was just below the lowest ranking waffle I had in Belgium. It was not a bad waffle, but when you go in with the high expectations of a true Belgian waffle… The other downside was that they were out of Speculoos butter (even though they had some for sale on the shelf, were they empties? Where the Biscoff cookie packages also fakes?!). I was not going to order it anways, it came with vanilla ice cream- bleh. It was Brent who had wanted it. I went with the cookies and cream. It was very heavy on the cream. I legit think that there was at least half a can of whipped cream atop my waffle. Maybe more. Probably more. Very likely.

On the way we stopped in at Blackbird Baking Co. We were cutting it a bit close, going so late in the day. Our goal was to get a baguette, they had been voted best baguette. And what’s a baguette without some meat atop it? I already had some good cheese at home. It made sense, especially given that Sanagan’s Meat Market was right next door. It was a tasty baguette and the sandwiches were great (it lasted us a few days!)… but I am still a fan of Thobor’s. That one I end up eating half of on my way home, just picking at it.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Adventures of Pinka!, Fooding

 

Kids? Argh!

Piano Piano had been voted best kid-friendly restaurant. Honestly, I was dreading going there. I had visions of the restaurant from The IT Crowd passing through my mind. Children screaming and embarrassed parents. Piano Piano was not at all what I had expected. It had a nice interesting interior and a bar. There were only two kids in there and they were so well-behaved that it was almost unnerving. One of them was wearing a polo shirt. The menu was printed like a newspaper which entertained me to no end as Brent tried to figure out what to order. None of the cocktails caught my fancy and I decided to change it up for once and order, *gasp*, a red wine. Only because it was from Italy and we were in an Italian restaurant. My dislike of red wine may be biased because when I think of it, it is always in reference to a whole bottle not just a glass. This may be added to my future drink rotation.

Brent ordered a pizza and I ordered a pasta dish because those were the two items that Piano Piano was known for. And no wonder, the pasta dish with spicy sausage was amazing. Easily the second best in the city. First still goes to the pig-blood noodles at Enotecca Sociale. Nothign on the dessert menu really caught our fancy. I was intrigued by the Nutella tiramisu but I was not about to eat the whole thing by myself- that would be too much.

I did end up overdoing it later at Dairy Queen, straying from my go-to snack size and getting a small. It was too much and I soon regretted it.

 

I’m Back Baby!

It had been a while since we had gone fooding. We ran out of nearby places, I was going crazy with end of school and we had gone on vacation. Slowly but surely lists starting getting updated and new places started popping up. A few weeks ago we found ourselves having a “business lunch” yet again, this time at Drake 150. And as always I had an agenda on my phone. I tried to limit the wedding stuff and cover a wide range of topics. I have since deleted the list and I have no clue what was on that list.

I made the mistake of asking to be seated outside. Patio season had barely started and I was desperate for the feel-good of the nice weather. As we walked to the patio I glimpsed the wacky interior and all the business people having their business lunches. Dammnit, I thought, I screwed that one up. A business lunch is never complete without alcohol, enter Ginger Rogers: ginger beer and some kind of alcohol that I failed to make note of. If it is not yet obvious, I am not good at business lunching. In fact I am very bad at it.

I ordered the chicken sandwich. Honestly, the focaccia bun was the best part. Until it started to disintegrate from all the mayonnaise. The lettuce was actually one of the better components, a welcome texture amidst the chewy (even the chicken was a bit rubbery). The fries were also a welcome change. It was funny to watch Brent, in his dress shirt and tie, cutting a pizza with scissors. Ah yes, in addition to the wedding we discussed an upcoming barbecue at a friend’s house. We thought it would be hilarious to bring kale and rabbit sausages as their dog had recently found a dead rabbit and eaten their kale saplings before they even got planted. I had been assigned a deliverable: get those products. I failed because I was overburdened with shopping bags from all the sales at the Eaton Centre. Like I said, I am not good at business.

 

Veggies?!

Best veggie burger had been re-voted and now it was a stones throw from our house- which in the cold and darkness of March is nothing to sneeze at, I will take what I can get. It may have also won the record for proximity to our house.

The burger itself was not my cup of tea. No surprise there: I hate veggies and I hate all “burgers”- nothing but meat for me. Except portobello mushrooms, but then don’t ca;; it a burger, called it a fried portobello on a bun. Sidebar over.

The real knockout at Planta was the tacos with beans and cilantro with guacamole. The sweet potatoes with beans came in a close second. The spicy fries were good but the portion was way too big even for two of us to split. I also really enjoyed the cocktail made with cold pressed juice and cayenne pepper. It made drinking an alcoholic cocktail seem less unhealthy.

 

East Coast Done: Day 10

Sun. May 28, 2017:
Toronto, ON

The early wakeup sucked, even more-so because I did not sleep well. But it was not as bad as previous times. At the airport I grabbed us some snacks to hold us over: a Babe Ruth chocolate bar, some Swedish Fish and an orange Fanta. All part of a healthy breakfast, no doubt. Because we had a layover in Charlotte, NC our flight was considered domestic and there was no duty-free shop. Even though the flight was a mere 30 minutes, it felt longer because there were really annoying people behind me talking the whole time.

We stopped at Auntie Anne’s to grab pretzels because there was no line and we had about 10 minutes before our connecting flight started boarding. When we got to the gate the boarding time was listed as 15 minutes later than we had been told. We had felt rushed for nothing. The cinnamon sugar pretzel was not as good as the sweet almond or the original.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

East Coast Done: Day 9

Sat. May 27, 2017:
Charleston, SC

Based on the quality of our hotel room we were not going to chance it with a hotel breakfast. Besides, there was a Dunkin Donuts on the way, therefore the choice was quite obvious. I had Biscoff cookies to hold me over until we got there. I went with my usual go-to, the coffee cake muffin. Only after I had ordered did I see that they had a vanilla birthday cake donut! But it was too late. I had also gotten Brent a chocolate donut covered in pretzels which was surprisingly good. I was already dreading the next morning’s super early wakeup- our flight was at 7:30am.

We had a 1.5-2 hour drive ahead of us and an episode of Gastropod all about southern food, it was kismet. They even talked about Charleston, SC and mentioned a restaurant we were going to try for dinner that evening (given we had failed to get reservations). We passed by four different cars all pulled over by cops all within a close distance to each other on a stretch of the South Carolina interstate. The drive felt like it took forever, it had been close to 3 hours in the end.

We got to Middleton Plantation just before noon. It was perfect timing because there is no better time to see a bunch of gardens than at high noon and in the heat. I had thought ahead enough to grab the sunscreen but I had failed to grab the water. No problem we thought, there will be water fountains throughout. I had forgotten how bad Charleston water is. This water however was somehow even worse. I chose dehydration over it, that is how bad it truly was. Easily the worst water I have ever tasted. It was lukewarm, thick and it had an umami taste to it. The gardens were ok and the plantation house was just a pile of ruins after the Civil War. The highlight was the 700-1000 year old oak tree overlooking the Ashley River. The farm section was awesome. We saw chickens, sheep, goats, cows, horses, turkeys, water buffalo, pigs, piglets, an annoyed peacock (everyone kept posing for pictures with him) and a chill cat. One of the turkey’s had somehow gotten out of the enclosure and we tried to heard it back in while its mates all called out in alarm and a horse just looked on. As I was trying to take a picture of another horse it lifted its head up and over the fence- mildly scaring me. It was cute to watch the piglets rolling in the mud.

The flooded rice fields looked very pretty amidst the rolling hills. A guy next to us pointed out three alligators just chilling in the water. Soon we spotted a few more. It was cool to watch them float there with just their eyes poking out above the water and then they’d submerge and resurface elsewhere. There was a giant heron sitting on a branch overlooking the water. We saw some turtles both in the flooded rice field and in a nearby pond. The only food onsite was a sit-down restaurant. I was hot, dehydrated and voraciously hungry. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the car before returning it in the morning. I ended up grabbing a tonne of food: Whatchamacallit, Bright Side Skittles and two sodas, Cherry Sprite and USA Mountain Dew (red, white and blue flavours mixed together making purple). It was all so delicious and quickly devoured but I was still hungry. And of course what snacking session is complete without an episode of Say Yes to the Dress– it was after all 3pm on a Saturday and it was the third episode in a row.

We took an Uber to Husk restaurant. The lady was really chatty but nice. We got to Husk at 4:40. I was feeling hopeful because the lady was on the phone and saying that they do have walk-in spots available. I tried to put our name down and she told me to come back 15 minutes before open… 35 minutes from then. We went to the Husk bar next door and got a table upstairs. I couldn’t resist ordering a Dragoon Punch. The recipe had been found by the Preservation Society of Charleston in the archives and it dated back to 1738. It had California brandy, Barbados rum, peach brandy, black tea, lemon juice and raw sugar. It was so good!!

Brent continued holding our table at the bar while I went over to get my name on the list. At first it was just a bunch of people loitering about outside with no clear line forming. I sat on a bench and watched. Around 5:15pm a line started to form. There were about 10-12 people ahead of me and by the time it got to me we were told we could get a table at about 7:45. Not ideal but still we would take what we could get. I did not have data on my phone so I pulled up Brent’s contact info and read it off the screen to the server (of course I don’t know it off by heart).

Back at the bar we ordered the fried chicken to hold us over until dinner. I was not impressed at all. The hush puppies on the side were far better than the chicken. The Foggy Ridge craft cider from Virginia was delicious.

We went for a walk around town to see what was going on for the Spoleto festival. Two doors down from Husk there was a parking lot with food trucks and tables and a stage set up. We walked past the security guard and once inside we quickly realized that this was not a Spoleto event- it was a wedding. We had just crashed a wedding. It was embarrassing and we quickly got out of there. The open bar sucked, it was just martinis so it would not have been worth it to stay anyways.

We walked over to the arts fair we had passed in the park earlier but it was all shutting down for the evening. On the way we had passed a cat café. I gasped with joy at the sight of a kitten in the window. I got all excited and asked Brent if we could go in and right on cue, as another couple approached, Brent played the mean guy and dramatically said no just to make them laugh. With not much else to do we decided to go scope out the venue where the jazz concert would be. What we were trying to figure out was where to pick up our tickets.

We passed by a parking garage and went in because we saw signs for a bathroom. It was the second worst bathroom I have ever been in. There was no toilet paper and one of the taps was missing and the toilet seat was all scratched up. We walked by Husk but there was no point in sitting outside, we still had some time. We walked to a nearby park and watched some dogs meet and get their leashes all tangled. By 7:45pm we still had not gotten a text about our table. At 8pm we walked over and sat outside. A family came out and the mother complimented my dress and immediately after asked me to take their picture outside of the restaurant. I went inside to follow-up and see what was going on. I had been warned that we were not guaranteed a table so I thought maybe there was just a delay? She seemed confused, she said they had sent a text and gotten no response. I pulled out my phone, pulled up the contact info and verified it- it was definitely correct. I had for sure given them Brent’s phone number… his old phone number. I panicked and in a blink said that it was correct and that we had just never received the text. She said she would see what she could do. And by 8:10pm we were seated and it was all good. I still felt kind of bad, it was clearly my fault but they had no idea.

I was way too full from the fried chicken to even look at the appetizers or to think about dessert. Plus we had a concert to get to. I was fine just ordering a main (even that seemed like almost too much food). I ordered another cocktail, this time a Husk bartender concoction that had pepper in it. We had already decided on our mains earlier at the bar. Ever since I had gone in initially and seen on the board that they had catfish, that was stuck in my mind as the dish I wanted to order. I stole a bite of Brent’s pork chop and it was amazing. It was a very close call but he won. The meal was amazing and it is difficult to say if it was the best of the trip, competing with Mrs. Wilke’s Kitchen and Bowen Island.

We got to the concert 20 minutes after it had started and we stayed until 10pm. I really enjoyed watching the Cuban jazz band the Pedrito Martinez Group. It was all great except for the part where the singer tried to get the crowd to sing along but instead of just the usual one or two simple words he was trying to get them to sing a long complicated sentence in Spanish. It failed epically. There was one guy at the back of the crowd, who was just loving the concert, he kept yelling YEAH really loudly.

Getting back was not as easy. The first two Uber drivers couldn’t find us and bailed on us. When we got to the hotel there were three cop cars pulled up outside but it did not seem serious, maybe just a fight? The hotel did not have a business centre so we could not print our boarding passes. I had to rush to finish writing in my note book so I could go to sleep.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

East Coast Done: Day 8

Fri. May 26, 2017:
St. Mary’s, GA

The early 7:15am wakeup was not problem, I had gone to bed at 10pm and slept like a rock. My wakeup was made all the better with Biscoff cookies and Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. Apparently we were up at the rabbit hour, I could not believe how many rabbits we saw by the side of the road munching on grass. We were listening to Stuff You Should Know in the car and for once I did not fall asleep while we were driving. Even though we had purchased our ferry tickets online we still had to wait in line to pick them up. What was the point?!

When we arrived we saw that there was a street festival being set up but it did not interfere with the parking. It was a 45 minute ferry ride to Cumberland Island. We sat on the lower deck out of the sun because we would essentially be spending the whole day outdoors (our return ferry did not leave until 4:45pm). We somehow wound up in seats right next to the snack bar. We hadn’t really eaten a proper breakfast so it only seemed fitting to buy some Doritos cool ranch, Skittles and to keep things healthy: peanut butter crackers. We also split a bottle of water to get a head start on staying hydrated. We glared to kids who grabbed drinks from the cooler and did not close it. Only one of the docks on the island was operational which made figuring out where to go for pickup in the afternoon a lot easier.

Cumberland Island was wilder than the other islands we had been to because it was largely untouched. There was only one hotel and bikes were only allowed on certain trails. Other than the hotel shuttle and a tour car there were no other cars on the island.  We arrived at around 10am and we had basically the whole day to explore the island. I had varying levels of hope throughout the day of seeing wildlife. We had a list of what we hoped to see and a list of what we hoped not to see. That second list was pretty short: rattlesnake.

We started out with the beach. The ranger had warned us that getting to it you had to cross hot sand dunes plus the beach has no shade. He called the dunes the Sahara desert of the island. It made sense to start there and get it out of the way. There was no one else on the beach, the ranger and his group had gone in the opposite direction of us. We figured we would eventually run into them.

Walking through the dunes Brent claimed to have seen a small crab scuttling across the sand and then into a hidey-hole. All I saw were squiggly marks in the sand. Walking along the beach was nice and relaxing, it was quiet and peaceful because there was no one else there. Just like the tide, my hopes of seeing a crab were low. I was keeping a vigilant look out. Soon enough we saw a ghost crab walking sideways, he was halfway into a hole. He poked out, then hid, then poked out and a second crab also may have poked the tip of his (or her) claw out. We had no idea who else was also in the hole because the second creature never emerged, we just saw something moving. Further down the beach we saw another ghost crab but this one seemed to be dying. He did not scuttle away as we approached and he was only moving one leg.

We passed a giant osprey sitting on a log, carefully watching us as we walked by. It was creepy knowing that it was watching us that whole time even though we kept our distance. Eventually our nice beach walk was ruined by the sight of factories off in the distance. It may have been Florida. We may have also passed into Florida on our ferry ride over. It was crazy just how close to Florida we were. Alas it did not count as new state for either of us so it was not that exciting.

It soon started to feel like we had been on the beach for a long time. We still had not passed the group going in the reverse direction. We had not seen anyone. We had been out there so long we had to put on sunscreen. As we walked we kept an eye out for the markers leading us off the beach and continuing the trail. Just as Brent started to wonder if we had passed it and mentioned that we really have to keep an eye out- I interrupted him with a there it is! The markers were almost impossible to discern, they were white with thin black stripes but it easily faded into the white of the sand dunes. Walking through the sand dune passage I could see what the ranger had meant by Sahara desert. It was bad. It was made worse by the bright sun reflecting off the white sand. I wanted out. We had a brief break on a boardwalk but then it was right back into the sand.

As soon as we were out of the dunes and on a trail in a grassy meadow we saw a brown feral horse. We got super excited! A wild feral horse! We did not think we would see any. He was much slimmer than his domesticated counterparts, I could see his ribs. He also did not care at all about us, he just went back to munching on grass. A few minutes later we saw another feral horse, this time a white one. A family passing us in the opposite direction did not seem to care at all. We were bewildered. Had they been to the island before? Was this just a beach day for them?

On the way to the bathrooms we heard a ruckus near some of the ruins. We turn to look at the commotion and we saw a deer taking off. A kid had gone over to look at the ruins and inadvertently scared a young deer- which scared the kid. By the bathrooms there were some picnic benches inside the building. It felt good to sit down in the shade. We refilled our water bottle and ate granola bars and cookies.

Near the edge of the ruins of the Carnegie mansion were the ruins of the servants’ quarters. There we found a trail to the salt marsh. We had glimpsed the salt marsh from the cemetery but now we got a closer view. This time we saw some wildlife: a wild racoon (much cuter than its city counterpart). He was much lighter in colour and it was adorable to watch him hunt in the tall marsh grasses. We also saw some small fiddler crabs scurrying about in the mud. There was an egret nearby as well.

When we got to the ruins of the main house we realized why the people we saw earlier were not excited about the feral horses. There were 5-6 of them hanging around the ruins, oblivious to all the people gawking at them. We watched as people got a little too close to them. At the ice house museum we learned more about the house but also the history of the island and the archaeological finds. On the way to the ice house museum we heard a loud thudding. Someone (or something, maybe) had spooked the horses and they were galloping away. I was glad we were so far away from them. Near the ice house museum there were 3 more horses just hanging around in the field. As it turns out feral horses are quite common. We walked over to see the broken down dock, it was definitely not functional.

We walked along the River Trail back to the dock for another rest break. Along the trail Brent almost stepped on a tiny crab. I was very confused. What was a crab doing on a wooded trail?! It was a nice trail with lots of trees shading us from the sun. Along the way we passed a couple going in the opposite direction who asked us if there was anything cool back that way. They got really excited when we mentioned the feral horses. We stopped for a brief moment because there was stuff falling from a tree. We looked up only to see a red-headed woodpecker going at the tree. He was picking off bark and Spanish moss and dropping it. He also pecked at the tree a bit.

We sat on the porch of the ranger station in rocking chairs. It felt good to sit down, my legs were starting to hurt. It was a much needed break: there were bathrooms and potable water and I had a chance to reapply sunscreen.  The most important part was the cool shade. There was a guy fishing off the dock and he caught a stingray in his net. It was suspenseful watching him try to release while having no idea what he was doing.

For our afternoon hike we decided to head north as far as we could. We had about an hour and 15 minutes. We were going to try and make it to Willow Lake which looked like a reasonable plan based on the map. We were hoping to see some alligators in the lake. Along the way we noticed a turn off to the beach. Not heeding my warning about the heat and the sun, Brent suggested we go have a look. It was instant regret as we stepped back out on the white hot sand. We quickly retreated to the shade of the canopy of the maritime forest. We switched from walking on the roadway to walking on the pedestrian trail. We kept hearing rustling in the leaves but it was just lizards. Brent heard some rustling coming from underneath a tree and then he noticed an armadillo rutting around in the foliage. He was so cute digging around and looking for bugs. This was probably the most excited we got about wildlife on the trip. The armadillo did not care about us at all- he just went on digging. This was confirmed with a second armadillo sighting. It looked up, confirmed we were not food and kept digging, even getting quite close to us. Brent even posed for a few pictures with it, the armadillo was not phased. We saw the second armadillo as we approached another beach entrance. In looking at the map we realized that we still had a long way to go before we would reach the lake and not enough time at all. We were not even halfway there.

We walked back along the roadway because we wanted a glimpse of the super fancy hotel. Alas, in keeping with it being super fancy, it was hidden from the road and far down a private driveway. When a tour van drove by we moved to the side of the road. The driver waved, so Brent waved back and so he thought we needed help. It was mildly confusing. We saw one more armadillo but it was further away and we did not get a good look at it.

By the time we got back to the meeting point I was exhausted. I was covered in sand and sunscreen and sweat. I was tired of the sun. I was sick of the smoke-flavoured bad water. We sat a picnic bench because all of the rocking chairs were taken. We still had 45 minutes before boarding. I had a short nap. I awoke to find ants all over the tabletop, eating the cookie crumbs from my earlier snack. It was fun to watch the disordered chaos as they tried to coordinate carrying crumbs and breaking it up into smaller pieces. One ant tried to carry a giant piece and he was succeeding until his friends came in and piled up on it all tugging in different directions, leaving all the other crumbs unattended. We watched an ant carrying a crumb down the side of the bench after a long struggle only to drop the crumb.

I was so tired on the ferry ride back. I had a cold Coke and some peanut butter crackers and I fell asleep listening to podcasts. I was too hot, tired and in need of a shower to think about getting food from the street festival. I just wanted to get to the hotel room. The street festival looked pretty lame anyways, there was no one there and we felt sorry for the vendors. It was all very awkward. The hotel was less than stellar. The tub faucet was missing and in place there were pliers on a small knob. It did not matter- it felt so damn good to shower.

For dinner we had an epic plan. There were a bunch of fast food chains all near each other. The plan was to grab items from a few to create a mega-fast-food dinner. Brent had a Chick-Fil-A spicy sandwich and we split an 8 piece nuggets box. While Brent was at Chick-Fil-A I went to the gas station and grabbed some iced coffees and strawberry M&Ms. I fed Brent the sandwich as we sat a red light. Up next we went to McDonald’s where I got a pico de gallo burger. Brent at the last second got a smoky BBQ bacon burger. His bun was better because it was artisanal but I won by a long shot with the guacamole. Finally we went to Arby’s for curly fries. In all the places nothing met my drink standards: I wanted a frozen lemonade or something close to it. In a moment of bad judgement I ordered a Ghiradelli chocolate milkshake at Arby’s. Can’t go wrong with Ghiradelli right? Plus I had never had a milkshake since childhood. Now I know why: they’re just too thick and heavy. It’s not a good food. We were so hungry that the meal never fully came together, we ate it in parts. By the time we got to the hotel we were just eating fries and nuggets.

Our hotel room was right above the bar below. We had to turn the AC on to drown out the noise as we tried to finish the episode of Olive Kitteridge we had started the night before. The bed was crappy and the only good thing about the hotel was the dog that greeted us when we checked in.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 
 
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