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Susan’s Day Off

Not only has another weekend come and gone, but it seems another month is close to passing us as well! How the heck is it already October 24th?? Ahh… I try so hard to make the best of my days, which seems to make me forget that time is passing at all.

Even though I had many days off work last week, they were all jam-packed with activities with my visiting family. This past Saturday was my first day off all to myself in a while. So I made sure to make the best of it!

My weekend really started with a Friday night in bed watching Mad Men. Just what the doctor ordered. A very long slumber ensued leaving me refreshed and ready for my Saturday off!

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It began as any day off should – with French toast. Nothing fancy here folks. Dipping mix included two eggs with almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and flaked coconut.

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The only bread I had on hand was a very light and thin flax bread. If only I had some challah! In my humble opinion, challah bread makes the best french toast.

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Dipped in E.D. Smith brand sugar-free syrup. Love those extra eggy bits ;)

The French toast sufficiently fuelled me for a mat pilates class at Chang’e Studio!

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Chang’e is a Leslieville studio that I bought one of those “deal of the day” coupons for. I haven’t done pilates in foreveerrr, so I thought it would be a fun new activity!

I used to love doing pilates back when I first starting getting into healthy living. For some reason my brain only remembered the easy parts of it, so I’m pleasantly surprised by how sore I am today! Pilates is great for the abs, but also works muscles in a way I don’t get when heavy lifting. My body was definitely confused as to what I was putting it through ;)

Saturday is traditionally also my “long” run day (ie, anything that takes me longer than 45 minutes). I had my heart set on running 6 miles. The Weather Network told me it was 15C so I threw on shorts and a t-shirt and hit the trail.

Whoooaaa. Did not factor in wind chill to that temperature. Rookie mistake. I’m most likely to overheat while running, and this time I was freezing! I lost feeling in my left arm. I shaved a solid three minutes off my time running back because I was trying to get home as soon as possible. Lesson learned. Even when it’s “warm” this time of year, the wind still has a harsh, cold bite to it.

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My apartment wasn’t only warm when I returned, but smelled of baked goods! My roommie whipped up a batch of chocolate chocolate chip cream cheese muffins.

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I inhaled it, melty chocolate chips and all. YUM. I love having foodies for roommies :)

I tried not to spoil my appetite though. I was off on a special date!

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A food blogger date ;)

For some reason Toronto’s Little Italy has been on my mind. I blame my sister Sara, who was raving about it last week. Then a client told me our Little Italy has the best Italian food outside of Italy!

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Italian food. I actually find it a little too plain for my tastebuds. And I like meat more than carbs (gasp!). However, I’ve been dreaming of a traditional Naples-style pizza ever since reading about it in the book Eat Pray Love.

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I’ve read of a few places in Toronto that serve Neapolitan pizza, but Pizzeria Libretto on Dundas/Ossington consistently gets the best reviews. Thus, the location of our next blogger date suddenly became obvious ;)

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Because we were two, we only had to wait 30 minutes to get a table. Larger parties had to wait at least an hour! We were immediately brought bread and oil.

Kristin and I decided to split an appetizer and pizza rather than try to conquer a whole pizza ourselves. We were feeling a little adventurous with our first pick. The appetizer featured three things:

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Octopus in an orange dressing. I’ve never had octopus before and really enjoyed it!! I get the feeling it was cooked really well, as the texture was just like that of any other seafood.

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Grilled polenta. Which I’ve also never had (we don’t each much cornmeal in Atlantic Canada, I think it’s a U.S. thing). It was divine. Mostly because of the cheese that was also baked in there.

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Finally, sardine! Topped with pickled onions + pine nuts. This was a new one for Kristin, I’m a long time lover of sardines. The pickled onions were the perfect match and the quality was much better than the canned variety I’m used to.

Now, the star of the show…

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The pizza! Based on the recommendations of the waiter, we went for the Ontario Prosciutto with tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella. Apparently, they use a 900F oven and cook the pizza for only 90 seconds. Creates a crust that is crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

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Loved the impossibly thin-sliced prosciutto, mozzarella and basil on the pizza. The crust was just right. However, I didn’t care for the tomato sauce. Too plain. I like a little extra kick!

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Kristin actually lived in Italy and has eaten pizza in Naples!

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I on the other hand grew up eating the corner pieces of Greco party pizzas dipped in donair sauce. Maritimers, you know what I’m sayin.

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It may be a while before I get the opportunity to eat the real thing in the real place. But I think I can say it has sufficiently curbed the craving until I get there ;)

I ended my Saturday off honing my bass skills on Rock Band and being reminded why I quit drinking vodka coolers when I was 17. In all, a Saturday off spent in the best ways possible.

 

Question of the Day: Favourite pizza? Go! Mine is the Greek pizza from Pizza Delight. Regular crust, creamy feta cheese with chunky vegetables and spinach. Ohmy.

Deep Dish

I have a confession to make.

Before arriving in Chicago, I did no research on the city.

I didn’t look at the Healthy Living Summit schedule.

I didn’t even get a good grip on where Illinois is on the U.S. map.

But I did spend hours researching deep dish pizza.

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The content of the summit itself will be saved for another blog post. Right now, it’s a Saturday night, and I feel like we need to keep it on the lighter side ;)

Lori used to live in Chitown and gave me a bunch of restaurant recommendations for deep dish pizza. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl. No. Really.

Lou Malnati’s, while not the best according to the experts, is sufficient enough and was close to the hotel. Sold.

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A lot of the conference folk had fancy dinner plans for this evening. I just told people that if they wanted greasy, cheesy deep dish, to meet me in the lobby at 6pm. We had a good showing.

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You probably recognize some of these faces as some of my new blogger friends! Sarah, Miranda, Callie, Julie.

Seeing as we didn’t have reservations and it was a Saturday night in Chicago, the hour-long wait for a table was expected. Lessened by the free thin crust samples at the counter ;)

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Callie and I had agreed that splitting an individual serving of pizza would be in our best interests.

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When in Chicago!

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Omg. The cheese. It was as thick as the crust. The sausage was pretty good too. I hear you can get deep dish with one slice of sausage patty that covers the whole surface of the pizza. Whoa.

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Callie and I also split a Malnati Salad for, ahem, “balance.” Although, I’m not sure how balancing bacon bits are ;)

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After dinner, we decided to walk the pizza off and see some of the sights Chicago is known for!

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A lot of us went to the photography session at the conference today, so we had fun playing around with the settings on our cameras!

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We then went up to a vegan restaurant called Karyn’s On The Green to meet up with some of the other bloggers.

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They had a pretty neat looking cocktail menu.

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I went for the Green Mojito.

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At 9 bucks a pop, it was my only cocktail, but a delicious one at that! By this point however, I started to crash and my ability to socialize plummeted. I promise to give you a more in depth scoop from the day when I return to the comforts of my Toronto home.

By the bye, toooootally weird to tell people here that I’m from Toronto when I’ve only been living there for six weeks. I feel like such a faker! :P

 

Okay, the bed calls, and I’m getting up to do the 5k fun run in the a.m. AND my first ever visit to Trader Joes! Youbetterbelieveit. Then the 9 hour drive back to Canada :\

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

 

Question of the Day: Trader Joes experts – what should I get??

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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