Category Archives: Diary of A Tourist: in Her Own Hometown

Well That’s Not a Good Start

Propeller Coffee had recently been voted best coffee. The plan had been to go there, order some coffees and sandwiches after which I would head off to a work meeting. Easy. A nice Saturday plan. If only. When we got there and ordered, the barista went ahead and started making our drinks while the other person tried to cash us out. Alas, the machine was being finicky and not working. We had no cash. There was no sign, no warning when we had come in. Nothing. And they had started making our drinks. It was awkward city so we bailed. Even if we had gone to a nearby bank and gotten cash the drinks were already made so either we would be drinking lukewarm coffee or they would have to make them anew. Bad situation all around. I also had forgotten what time my meeting was at and had to rush to get there on time.

We rescued the day that evening though by going out for best jerk chicken. Allwyn’s Bakery was near Sheppard subway station. The directions we had were not clear at all. We ended up wandering around inside a really strange mall with long corridors and yet-to-be-leased shops. I was sure we would never find the place but then we turned a corner and lo and behold we found an entire food court.

The jerk chicken was amazing. Major props go to them for not having any sides. All I had was chicken. Delicious, well-seasoned, fall-off-the-bone, moist and tender juicy chicken.


BBQ For Breakfast

Adamson’s Barbecue, recently voted best barbecue, is only open for a few short hours 5 days a week. We ended up going on a Saturday morning (risking it being busier) because going out for an 11am lunch at the other end of the city on a work day would be impossible to plan.

We got there 15 minutes before open and already a line had formed. I was kind of hoping there wouldn’t be a line as the restaurant was in an industrial part of town in an old warehouse. Nope, there was still a line. A line of insufferable people. I could not believe how annoying the college kids behind us were. How were they even this awake to be this annoying so early in the day?! Meanwhile the guy in front of us had the worst case of ordering anxiety I had ever seen. He kept bouncing back in forth in the line, talking to the people in front of him, trying to talk to us, always underscoring the fact that he had never been here before. We tried our best to remain aloof without being rude. He was also shocked that there was a line before the place had opened. Clearly he was not familiar with the fooding scene in Toronto.

Once the place opened the line moved inside and slowly inched along. The set-up was that you order at the counter, pay and get your food then you grab a table. The menu was simple enough: either a lunch plate, a sandwich or a pre-determined amount of meat (ex.: 1/2lb of chicken). We opted for each getting a lunch plate. I got two meats (brisket and ribs), Brent got three (turkey, pulled pork and jalapeno-cheddar sausage). We basically got one of each, the chicken was not available for the lunch plate. Each plate also came with two sides. The coleslaw was good, the potato salad not so good. Both ended up being abandoned in favour of chowing down on meat. The brisket was the best one I have ever had! And most of the time I don’t like brisket that much! I had opted for the lean cut and even still it was melt-in-your-mouth fatty. The beef ribs were meaty and delicious. The jalapeño-cheddar sausage was perfectly seasoned with just a hint of jalapeño. The pulled pork was good, but I much prefer it with some kind of sauce in addition to the seasonings. The turkey was good but compared to the brisket it was not outstanding. Without the sides and bread it would have been the perfect amount of food. We ended up taking the slice of bread we each had and adding the pulled pork we couldn’t finish in to make a sandwich for later. Maybe that’s why they give you a slice of bread with your lunch plate? I wish I had more room to eat, the beans that Brent got as his side were also really good. I was also a huge fan of the Big Red cream soda.

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Because we were already out in the east end of the city we decided to go to the mon K Patisserie for best Japanese desserts. Turns out we had miscalculated the distance a bit, it was another hour’s walk from the barbecue place (which had taken us an hour to walk to already). It might seem incredible, like the city is huge or we are truly dedicated to getting dessert, but mostly it was a detour around the Don River.

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For dessert we got (ranked in order of best to worst): mini choux pastry cream puff, Yuzu macaron, green tea macaron and finally a really weird take on tiramisiu made with matcha. That last one was a flop but the mini choux was amazing! So it evens out.


I’m Sure We Will Figure It Out

A  few weeks ago’s fooding adventure involved something old and something new. On the way to best hot pot (new) we would stop for best bubble tea (old). I don’t know how many times now we have tried bubble tea but I am still not a fan of it. But nevertheless, if The Alley was the best I’d give it a try. What we did not realize was that not all of the drinks are bubble teas. Some of them are just regular teas.  It was also confusing because after you order they ask you how sweet you want it and how much ice. We had no idea what would be good. So we defaulted with regular. Brent had ordered the original milk tea drink. I had ordered the white peach oolong. Mine was not a bubble tea, it was a regular good quality iced tea. One sip of Brent’s bubble tea, followed by a second to verify was more than enough for me. Yes it was better than previous bubble teas. No I am still not a fan of it. I did like the sweet milk base but it was too much to drink an entire cup of it. There was also some initial confusion as we had mixed up our straws. Brent was desperately trying to drink his bubble tea but his straw kept getting jammed because the tapioca (I refuse to call them deerioca as they are called due to the deer theme of The Alley) bubbles got stuck in his straw. Turns out our straws were different thicknesses and we had accidentally swapped.

If only we knew how much more confusion was awaiting us at dinner. It was a short walk over to Morals Village on Dundas. Hot pot was a new one on the list. And new for us in general. We had never been to a hot pot restaurant and we had no idea what to expect. Brent had talked to his co-workers about it and we googled it. The premise was that you boiled meat and veggies in a broiling pot of broth. It seemed simple enough. Even still we were hesitant about it. Some of the meat was marinated in sauce and it seemed like the sauce would come right off in the broth. It did, but the spicy beef stayed spicy. It was an all-you-can-eat scenario which was a good thing because we had also had no idea how much food to even order. At times they also seemed to bring us the wrong dish, but with it being all-you-can-eat it did not matter. It was a lot of fun throwing slices of meat and fish in the broth and eagerly awaiting it to finish cooking and then trying to fish it out with my chopsticks. Weirdly the “crispy pork sausage”- which was actually just cocktail weiners- was one of the best things to toss in. I can’t explain it. It was difficult to fish out, not crispy at all and yet so oddly tasty.

We had a split pot so we could each get a different broth. Brent got the spicy one and I did not not trust it, it had multiple chili pepper icons beside it on the menu, the second most of all the menu items. I opted for the much milder bone broth but I did still try the spicy one just to see how spicy it was. It was unbearably spicy, I did not regret my choice in opting to split and have two broths.

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To finish off the night we went to an LCBO whisky pop-up. We each had a flight of 4 different alcohols. I was tempted by the around the world flight whcih had a Japanese whisky and a Swedish whisky but they lost me when the last two were both Irish whiskys.  I opted for the bourbon flight and Brent had the scotch flight. It was fun sniffing them and ranking them. The pop-up gets bonus points for providing mini shortbread cookies along with the flights.

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I May Have Been Wrong

Continuing the impromptu theme in our fooding, we recently went out for best breakfast sandwiches. Originally we were going to go out for best dim sum until we realized that the #1 spot had not changed. We had already been there. I’m not gonna lie- I am not a fan of breakfast sandwiches. It’s just something about them, too much egg or too much grease. I’ve never had one that was outstanding or memorable. Initially I was going to just get a grilled cheese sandwich, but once we got there and I looked at the chalkboard menu, something about the breakfast burrito just seemed enticing. I think it was the chorizo sausage.

I was expecting gargantuan messy monsters of a sandwich and burrito. I was pleasantly surprised when our reasonably-sized, can-get-all-components-in-one-bite breakfasts arrived. The Rise & Shine breakfast sandwich from Lazy Daisy’s Cafe is hands down the best breakfast sandwich I have ever had. The burrito was also amazing. They have made me seriously rethink my stance on breakfast sandwiches. Which up until now was lukewarm at best (save for a few specific exceptions).

I would happily go back there again and get a breakfast sandwich. Except it was weirdly very busy for a Wednesday at 11am. The cafe was packed. It’s a good thing we had not tried to go there for brunch. I can only imagine the line.


It’s All Day Breakfast So It’s OK

After a long Thanksgiving weekend followed by a week of both being sick we were finally ready to get back into fooding- just maybe not at 100%. Emma’s Country Kitchen had been voted best all day breakfast. We decided to go on a Saturday and not get there for open. The thinking was that it’s all day breakfast, so why get there for open? Surely it would not be as busy around lunch time. It was. Thankfully they had a system wherein you left your cellphone number and they called when your table was ready.

We walked maybe one block from there and decided to go to a pub for a drink. It was afternoon so it was ok. What I had not anticipated was that having a drink on an empty stomach after taking DayQuil, ~might~ not be the best idea. I did avoid being embarrassed at the bar by ordering the pinot noir cider, rather than the Shinny pinot noir cider. I had thought it said Skinny and I was not about to call it that. Little did I know it was a double typo. Turns out it was Shiny. I would have looked like a fool.

Earlier while we were waiting to get put our names down on the list we had glanced over the menu. As soon as we sat down at the counter at Emma’s Country Kitchen we knew what we wanted to order. I had been thinking about it the whole time that we were at the pub. I was super excited about the pumpkin spice pancakes. Even moreso when I ordered them and the guy said they have walnuts in them! The pancakes lived up to my dreams, they were so delicious, easily some of the best pancakes I have ever had.



Cappuccino Eh?

Best cappuccino had recently been updated. In all honesty I could not remember the previous best, nor for that fact could I remember the last time I even had a cappuccino. It’s not my favourite espresso based drink. I always feel like I am getting ripped off with the milk foam, I prefer a latte with steamed milk. From my day’s working as a barista the one thing that has stuck with me is that you can judge a cappuccino before you even have a sip: the cup should be light, after all it’s mostly milk foam with espresso and just a bit of steamed milk. So I was taught. *runs away and Googles cappuccino* Ok, yes I have not been misled.

Brent says we had been to de Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters before. I just shrugged, I had no idea if we had or hadn’t. My memory is terrible. Only once we got there did I get a faint familiarity. For some reason on a Wednesday at 11am the place was packed. There was nowhere to sit so we got our drinks to go. The cups were heavy. That was a strike against it being the best cappuccino. But they redeemed themselves with really (I mean really!) good espresso. Brent, the non-coffee-drinker, had his as is, aka with no sugar. That is how good the espresso was. So if you are not a stickler for the cappuccino being exactly perfectly proportioned milk foam to milk, then really, it was the best. The chocolate chip cookie was also excellent.


Poke Bowl

I was excited to try a poke bowl, from the best place in the city: Poke Guys. It sounded like a more manageable sushi burrito. Plus the honey ginger and crab slaw one sounded amazing. What we did not realize was that you don’t just order the bowl, it’s like Subway in that you choose toppings and sauce. I was holding a table so Brent ordered for me- we had not coordinated, he just guessed what I would like. He ordered a mayo sauce for mine. At first it was great, I was loving every bite of my bowl. I liked the fish, the edamame beans were great and the seaweed was awesome. But soon it became stomach churning. You see, the crab coleslaw also had mayo in it. And soon I felt like all I was eating was mayo. I ate around it, focusing on the fish, beans and seaweed but soon all I had was crab slaw and mayo on top of rice. It was still really good and I would happily go back there again. Just with less mayo sauces.

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