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Markets and Bars

Hellohello! Hope everyone had a fantabulous weekend! I sure did…

karaoke

Thank gawd this cellphone photo is the only evidence of my busting out Moondance at karaoke last night. Also very happy that Billy chose not to take a picture of me awkwardly dancing during the musical interlude. Don’t ever let me do this again, mmmkay? :P

Anyways, I am not here to talk about how much whiskey it took me to do that, or the fact that I woke up at noon today. Ohno, today it’s about the food.

First things first, I’ve been eating a lot of bars. My cupboard is overflowing with all the bars I acquired in the U.S. last weekend!

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I was really excited to try my second Clif Mojo flavour after declaring Peanut Butter Pretzel my favourite bar ever.

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Mountain Mix had the same sweet & salty theme with almonds, peanuts, raisins and chocolate, among many other goodies. I did not dig the dried fruit in the mix. PB Pretzel still has a hold on my tastebuds!

Saturday morning I was up early (read: 8am and not noon) to attend what could be my last ever Les Mills step class. A very sad occasion, but I can’t afford to keep up my gym membership when I already have access at another gym for free!

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I fuelled up for step with this Clif Z Bar in Chocolate Chip as I’ve heard they make for a good snack before running as well.

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Not a big fan of this one. In general, I don’t really care for baked bars unless crumbled over top of something. It did at least sit well in my tummy while I jumped over a step for 60 minutes :)

Lastly, I reached for another Clif bar while working on the blog today. This time for one of the new Luna Protein bars in Chocolate Cherry Almond that came in my Healthy Living Summit swag bag.

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For 180 calories, it was small….

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And only 12g protein (compared to a regular Luna, which has 10g anyways)

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Taste was just okay, I’m picky with my fruit-chocolate flavour combos. The texture however was great. Similar to certain flavours of Atkins or ISO Femme protein bars.

When not drinking whiskey and eating protein bars (killer combo, no?) I was eating some of the best food Toronto has to offer!!

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I finally made my way down to Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. It’s a combination indoor-outdoor market district.

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I explored mostly the indoor markets as it was raining outside. They looked like your typical market set-up…

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In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of farmer’s markets. I know it’s a great way to support local farmers, but the crowds aren’t that great for my anxiety, and I find the food is often too expensive for my tight purse strings. 

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However, I am never one to turn down free food ;) LOVE the free samples at markets. The above photo is a table with a gazillion different flavours of mustard – my favourite being the maple mustard. 

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I asked Kristin for some market recommendations as I now consider her my expert resource on all things related to the St. Lawrence Market ;) Her first suggestion was to get a peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery.

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A quick Google search led me to discover the sandwich is world famous, touted by celebrities such as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.

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I showed up starving after Saturday’s step class and this sandwich hit. the. spot. Wowza.

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I ordered the regular peameal sandwich, with just the meat, cheese, on a amazingly soft and flaky bun. The bun is totally what made the sandwich, but I was impressed by how much meat they put on it too!!

After much wandering around, I decided it was time for some of the Freshly Squeezed juice Kristin also said I had to try.

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I went for a carrot + apple + ginger juice made right in front of me!

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Loved it. I’m always a little weary of vegetable juices, but carrots are so sweet and the ginger gave it a wonderful kick.

While sipping on my juice, I stumbled across this place…

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I was actually in search of dessert when I saw this, but remembered that Kristin also said the perogies were a must-try. I LOVE well-made perogies. So I ditched dessert for something more savoury.

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I ordered three potato and cheese perogies and three veal. Only cost $2.50 and they threw in an extra one! Even better, I had my camera around my neck when they handed me the perogies. The guy at the counter opened the container and asked if I wanted to snap a photo of them. How did he know?? :P

A lot of wonderful looking produce at the market, but again, much of it I passed up. Except for these little babies…

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Those would be fresh dates. I’ve never seen fresh dates before!! The girl selling them said to keep them out for 3-4 weeks until they get wrinkly like the one in the top of the picture. That’s when they get good enough to eat. Can’t wait!

Finally, I had one more stop.

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Just the other day I was reading about the best place to get a bagel in Toronto (because that’s apparently how I spend my free time) and St. Urbain Bagel was listed among them.

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I picked up a couple whole wheat sesame bagels and brought them home for later.

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And by “later” I mean it was the first thing I ate when I jumped rolled out of bed this morning afternoon.

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Toasted and topped with laughing cow cheese, eggs and chicken bacon. Damn, this bagel was good. The perfect mix of soft, chewy and puffy. I may have to go back for these!

I also passed several meat stalls at the market. I so badly wanted to stop and pick something up, but I kept reminding myself that I actually live close to one of the best sausage shops in the city!

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I picked up a strawberry spinach chicken sausage on my way home Saturday. Ate it for supper that night on top of lettuce, tomato and onions with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut and Trader Joe’s corn salsa. No doubt the sausage was fresh, however I don’t think the fruitier flavours are for me. I guess my inner German prefers a more savoury sausage ;)

 

Ahhhh, another weekend, another three days of wonderful foodie adventures :) I’m kinda lovin’ this city!!

Also, if you’re taking it easy tonight like me, feel free to check out my updated pages: The Girl Behind The Blog, and Links I Love. I read so many blogs, I know I forgot to add some to my new blogroll. Don’t be shy, let me know if you think you belong on that list! Blog updates are still a work in progress, more to come in the following days!

 

Question of the Day: What would be your karaoke song??

Toronto Restaurant Tour: Round 1

Aaaaand I’m back.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!! Mine was action-packed, which would have been fabulous if I wasn’t coughing up a lung. After two months of living out of suitcases, sleeping in strange beds, and literally traveling across a continent, my body is finally saying “enough.” Okay body, you win. Instead of exercising, I’ve been feeding it. There seems to be no better way to celebrate moving to Canada’s biggest city than a weekend of testing out all the wonderful food it has to offer.

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There’s a lovely place down the street that serves cheap big salads. I don’t use the term “big salad” loosely, it is definitely Susan-sized.

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They also have a wood-fired stove and have really good pizza. Lots of toppings, amazing crust. Good price. I can see myself coming here a lot :)

Also close by is this quaint little coffee shop, where I currently sit, filled with comfy chairs and a welcoming staff.

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Pictured is a chocolate cinnamon pastry of sorts. It tasted much better than it looks. Their pastries are all dense, but super flaky, which in my opinion is the best way to have them. Apparently they come from a popular bakery in Toronto called Miss Cora’s Kitchen.

Remember that giant enchilada from our first day here?? Well Sara and I got two more meals out of it.

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For breakfast on Saturday, we cut the leftovers in half and topped each with a fried egg. Voila! A Mexican breakfast! This was SO filling. Eggs + beans + cheese = no hunger signals for five hours.

Once again, the sustenance was required, for we had another long day ahead of us.

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Shopping!! Sara and I had big plans of starting on Queen West and making our way to the second-hand shops in Kensington. But we never made it off the first street!! I picked up some very cute items which I’m sure you will see over the course of the summer. My wardrobe was reduced to one suitcase before I left New Brunswick, so my circulation these days is pretty small :P

We eventually started to get the hunger tickle around 2pm. Sara mentioned there was a great place called Fresh around the corner and I jumped. I’ve heard all about this place from Angela!

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It’s a pretty popular vegan restaurant in Toronto that also offers up great juices. I highly suggest you peruse their menu. It was so hard deciding on something!!

I started with a juice.

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I’m not a huge juice person, but I thought it couldn’t hurt with my wicked cold. Went with the Immune Boost: carrot, beet, apple, ginger, vitamin C, echinacea.

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It was actually really good! Only complaint is that it was warm, could have used a few ice cubes.

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Sara started with a carrot coriander soup.

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Which I had many bites of, for the sake of “the sickess.” The toasted coconut on top was a nice touch.

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Sara also ordered a big salad, but I can’t for the life of me remember what kind it was. The crispy tofu on top was really good though!

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Fresh is famous for their “bowls” so I knew it’s what I had to go for. I settled with the Jerusalem: hummus, grilled spinach, tomato, cucumber, parsely, red onion, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, mixed herbs, lemon & chili powder.

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I asked for it on soba noodles, but they brought it rice. I also asked for marinated tofu cubes for extra protein. It was a huge bowl!! I couldn’t finish it. Which is saying a lot.

The waitress asked me if I wanted hot sauce and I thought why not…

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I have no idea what this hot sauce was, but it was good!! Fresh will definitely be a re-visit for me :)

The eating didn’t end there though, ohno. By 6:30 we’d made our way to Lemongrass too meet up with our Aunt Heather. Apparently it was the first Thai restaurant to open in the city!

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We all started with a spring roll appetizer, I went for the “non-crispy” kind with chicken.

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That peanut dipping sauce was to die for. Omg. It took everything I had not to stick my finger in it and just eat it that way.

The three of us then split three dishes:

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Holy Basil Crab. Delicious, but super messy to get into. The crab wasn’t shelled but covered in sauce. Tricky!!

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Bok choy. The token green.

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Pad thai. With chicken and shrimp. I’m not a huge noodle person, but really enjoyed this!

My plate:

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My plate, times two. 

Dessert was honey ginger tea, again, for the sake of “the sickness.”

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This tea was SO good!!! Not my usual kind of flavour, but I would get it again and again. I have a feeling they made it themselves with real honey and ginger, and not from a tea bag.

Me and Heather!

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Thank you for everything Heather!! I’ve already promised to take her out to “Toronto’s #1 gelato place” when I get my first pay check :)

The family bonding didn’t stop there. We then rushed off to meet up with my two cousins, one of which was my bestie growing up.

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Some of my best childhood and teenage memories were shared with Ellen! I’m super excited to be in the same city as her again. We’re amidst cooking up a stellar fitness plan, so I foresee more fun times in our future :) I may be leaving some family behind, but it’s pretty nice to be close to other family now!

In all, Sara and I were out and about for 12 hours yesterday, leaving at noon and returning at midnight. Thanks to a newly bought eye mask, I conked out for a solid 8. I could have slept longer, but alas, we had more eating engagements to attend.

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Sara was super excited about brunch today at the Free Times Cafe. As soon as we arrived, I understood why.

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The owner started chatting with us and said she started the Sunday brunch years ago as a nod to a huge brunch your Jewish grandmother may have made. Everything is made at the cafe, including the breads and smoked fish. Yesplease.

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First trip included pita, hummus, beet salad, a pickle, some crab cake thingy.

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Challah french toast and smoked salmon scrambled eggs. The french toast was my favourite of this plate. I’ve been told that challah is the best bread for french toast and I am now a believer!!

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Potato latke topped with an apple sauce and a cheese blintz topped with a berry sauce. The latke was amazing because it was deep-fried. And let’s face it, deep frying things makes them delicious. The blintz I could have gone without. The texture was weird and I didn’t like ricotta. Not for me I guess!

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Did I mention there was live Klezmer music?? There was live Klezmer music.

Second plate!

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I missed some of the breads the first time around, so I grabbed two pieces. One topped with a homemade smoked salmon cream cheese the other with havarti and smoked herring. In the back was my second favourite thing from the buffet – a beet and smoked herring salad. Sounds strange but it was dreamy!! I think the base for it was cream cheese or sour cream or something. Awesome.

The desserts!

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Not entirely sure what all of these are. The thing in the back is an apple streudel of sorts. The pinwheel in the front had a date puree. The chocolate square was like a chocolate mousse cake (excellent). That brown clump was pretty interesting. My first thought was that it was a butterscotch fudge thinky, but it had little sugary pieces in it reminiscent of cotton candy!! Sara said it could have been halvah, but I’m not sure if it fits the bill. Anyone out there know??

 

Well, that just about wraps up my first weekend of eating in the city!! I’ve already been exposed to so much new food, and it’s only just a small microscopic dent in what Toronto has to offer. However, once I hit publish, I’m walking down to the closest store to pick up a giant bunch of kale to make a green salad the size of my head. I am then going to lay in bed reading a book for the rest of the night. It would be nice if I no longer sound like I smoked a pack of cigarettes and downed a pint of Jack Daniels before my job interview tomorrow!! Operation: Get a Job is now in full swing. Wish me luck – I might need it!

 

EDIT: Don’t forget! There’s a Toronto meet-up happening next Sunday. E-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com for details!

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