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Quest For The Best Brunch

When I first moved to Toronto, I was admittedly confused by the city’s obsession with brunch.

Every restaurant promotes an extensive brunch menu. Weekend plans with friends don’t just revolve around pints at night, but also sharing eggs benny the next morning. Walk down most main drags on a late weekend morning and you’ll find line-ups of hungry brunchers spilling on to the sidewalks. I thought it was all so silly.

But lo and behold, I’ve turned into something of a brunch connoisseur during my time in Toronto. I’ve suddenly found myself searching for the city’s best brunch spot in vain. Through all of my searches, one name keeps coming up.

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Auntie’s & Uncles is this tiny spot just off of College near Bathurst. Walking in, I felt like I was transported to a 1950’s style cottage. Or maybe the diner up the road from a 1950’s farmhouse.

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The place was eclectic to say the least. But I kind of loved it, as I have a thing for country cottages. Especially when I get transported there from midtown Toronto. I also love open kitchens like this one where you can see the cook pumping out heaping plates of pancakes and burgers.

However, to be honest, the place kind of reeked of hipsters. The waiters were very blasé.  Nice, but seemed like they were more there to hang out than actually serve you.

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Of all the brunch items, two consistently got the best reviews. The Chickpea Salad: green thai curry and dried mango, served with potato salad and greens.

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And the Breakfast Pocket: scrambled eggs, peameal bacon, cheddar, tomato, and carmelized onions with dijon and aioli on focaccia.

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Roommie Megan got the above breakfast pocket and to quote, she says “It was fucking loaded with stuff.” In other words, tons of perfectly cooked eggs and peameal bacon. However, not actually a “pocket” but more of a sandwich. She ordered the home fries and they were just “alright.”

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I on the other hand went for the chickpea salad. Holy moly it was good!! A little heavy on the dressing, but the dressing was at least delicious. Tangy and savoury all at once with lots of celery. I can’t express the same excitement for the potato salad, which was way too chunky with too much dijon.

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Overall, I really liked Auntie & Uncles. We went on a Wednesday afternoon to avoid the weekend craziness. Not sure if it would be worth fighting the crowds on a Saturday or Sunday to try it.

So I can’t quite say it’s my favourite brunch place in Toronto. That has yet to be revealed. I’ve got a few more places to try in the next 10 days before I leave to move back home. Then I’ll be able to come up with a comprehensive list ;)

This brunching is serious business!

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite brunch? Mine’s French toast!

Amblings Of An Injured

Hello friends! A few people have been asking me for an arm update, but at this point there’s still not much to tell. Tomorrow not only marks one month since the skating accident that shattered my elbow, but I’ll also be getting another round of x-rays in Ottawa. My orthopaedic surgeon in Ottawa is keeping a close eye on it to ensure the surgery took.

I may also be getting my thin fibreglass splint off. It runs from my armpit to my wrist on the left side and keeps my elbow at 90 degrees. I’ve gotten pretty good at managing it. The pain has decreased significantly since my last round of x-rays two weeks ago. The swelling is virtually gone, and I’m getting more functionality and strength back in my left hand every day. It will be a looooong time before I can do normal things like carry grocery bags or do a push-up (6 months to a year). Driving a car may still be a few months off. But it’s at least really comforting to notice progress with each passing day.

There is however one thing that I am really struggling with – not being able to exercise. I hate for this to sound trite. And at first, my body was so traumatized the idea of exercise was virtually impossible.

But I’ve been sitting on my butt for a month now. Mostly alone, while the rest of the world does productive things at their respective jobs all day. I’ve been very candid about my struggle with anxiety, a condition I’m able to control partially with the help of vigorous exercise. I’m an endorphin junkie. Sweat and high heart rates make me happy and ready to face the world. Without it, I’ve noticed some of my difficulties with speech are returning (I mumble and stutter when anxious). I’m antsy. My mind is racing, I’m worrying and obsessing over things, and I’m having difficulty concentrating.

Friends, this girl needs to work out. For the sake of my mental sanity!

Unfortunately, since I no longer work at a gym, I also no longer have access to one. Even with my arm in a cast, some incline walking or recumbent cycling on the machines would be fabulous right about now. There are a million reasons why I can’t wait to move back home in a couple weeks. Going to my hometown gym is one of them.

With that said, I have been getting out walking every day. Rain, snow, sleet or shine. Walking is nothing compared to the high intensity exercise I used to do and loved. But it’s at least getting me out in the fresh air more and an opportunity to explore my neighbourhood.

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Most notably, “The Doll House.”

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Do not adjust your monitors. That is indeed a town house with thousands of dolls crammed into the tiny front yard.

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And yes, this is located right in my Toronto neighbourhood. The first time I saw this was at night and the owner of the house came out. He looked just like Crispin Glover and started talking to us. So. Creepy.

When the city streets become too much, I can always wander down to the Leslie Spit.

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The Spit is a piece of land that juts out into Lake Ontario. It’s where they put the dirt they dug up while building the subways.

It also happens to be the my most used running trail while living in Toronto.

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Never run on when snow covered of course. This little slice of nature is what kept me sane while living in my concrete jungle of a city.

Of course, the view of the Toronto skyline always served as a reminder of where I was.

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Just beware the stink of Lake Ontario. Certain gusts of wind bring it right to your nostrils.

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There’s also random sculptures. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s art.

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Even though it will be some time before I can lift weights, do yoga, swim, or even bicycle, the one thing keeping me going is knowing I’ll soon be able to run. Just as the weather warms up for the running season. It’s hard to get bummed about my injury when I still have two working legs.

Honestly though, I am completely terrified to get my cast off. Moving my elbow is excruciating, and not having it locked in place with the splint gives me a lot of apprehension. Last time I moved my left arm even the slightest, my hand swelled like a balloon for two days.

Knowing the recovery process it going to be long, I have decidedly taken a very short-term view with it. I will start physio immediately and do those exercises every day. I will dedicate time each day to stretching, something I embarrassingly haven’t done since the accident. My new short-term goal is to be pain-free enough to hold my left arm up on its own to go for a run. It’s something I am desperately looking forward to.

Until then, you can find me aimlessly wandering the streets of Toronto over the next two weeks in efforts to boost my mood. And possibly looking for croissants.

A Pub To Call Home

If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve probably seen my daily menu postings. I’ve eaten out every day for over a week now in attempts to experience some of Toronto’s best food before I leave on a jet plane in a couple weeks. Menu consultations are serious business and they often require the help of my peers.

Tuesday’s menu came from The Queen & Beaver, a place some call Toronto’s best gastro pub.

I was expecting some dark run down pub in the downtown area filled with noise and sticky tables. Boy, was I wrong.

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Tucked between Yonge and Bay, just north of Dundas, is this old style British pub inside a house. Even though it was packed with people it still felt like a home.

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Okay, it felt like my home. My mom has always decorated with old English paintings, china, and has a set of creaky stairs to boot.

Navigating the menu however, was a little more difficult. I’m familiar with a lot of traditional British fare, but not quite this traditional.

 

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I came here with Cathy and Lauren whom I both met while working a Simply Bar event this summer. They’re some of the few people I know in Toronto who I didn’t meet through my Maritime or blogging friends!

We started with the Ploughman’s Platter. I was positively delighted when they brought out the plates.

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I love dishware like this. We have a bunch at my cottage and my sisters and I always used to argue over who had the “prettiest plate” as children.

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The platter was the perfect appetizer. Piled high with pickled goodies like eggs, beets, onions and other veggies. A slab of meat, hard cheese and soft bread.

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Cathy ordered the  Sea Bream & Fondant Roots without the cream sauce. I had a piece of the fish, mild and cooked to perfection!

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Lauren went for the Fish Cakes & Tartar Sauce. Surprisingly spicy with a thick breading.

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After reading multiple reviews, I was left with only one choice. I had to get the Q&B BLT.

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Served on buttery white toast with roasted tomatoes and romaine. The most interesting part was the bacon, which wasn’t really bacon at all but pork belly. The meat was positively delicious. A soft and smoky pork flavour that flaked with each bite. Despite its deliciousness, I would say it’s more of a pork sandwich than a BLT. In my mind, a BLT is made with cool tomatoes, crispy slivers of bacon, and oozes with mayo.

On the side was a small bag of Hand Cut Chips. So good!! Cathy gobbled them up while I wasn’t looking ;)

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We were all equally stuffed by then, but Lauren said their desserts couldn’t be missed. I must say, British style sweets are probably my favourite.

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We played around with the idea of getting almost everything, but in the end the Walnut Maple Butter Tart won out. Served with a scoop of Whiskey Gingerbread Ice Cream.

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The tart was like pecan pie, but with big chunks of walnuts. Absolute heaven. The ice cream super boozy!

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All chased down with a cuppa tea ‘o course. No Earl Grey though. I’m a rooibos girl.

Cathy and Lauren managed to escape my camera’s iris. I did however pose for an Instagram pic on Lauren’s iPhone rocking the one-handed sandwich.

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And check out my nails! I did them myself!

Many thanks to Cathy and Lauren for the amazing meal. The Queen & Beaver is a cozy little pocket of Toronto I could see myself coming to for a pint or two again. It’s easy to get so comfortable there you lose track of time. Just like we did last night, while eating tart and gabbing about Twitter ;)

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