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Things I’ll Miss – Bloggers

Phew! I came back to Toronto this week with the intentions of resting up, packing up, and tying up some loose ends. Instead, the last seven days have turned into one big Torontonian feast. I have two days before my next doctor’s appointment in Ottawa and I’m officially stuffed.

I’ve been trying my best to get in some face time with my Toronto friends before I leave for good at the end of the month. Thing is, ALL of these dates involve food. That’s what I get for being a foodie who mostly associates with other foodies.

My best foodie friends of course, are my fellow Toronto bloggers.

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Friday night I took a break from my Toronto restaurant bucket list for a dinner party at Morgan’s with Kristin. I mean, for people who claim to love cooking so much, we don’t actually do a lot of it when we get together. So it was a fun way to break away from the ordinary!

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I’ve had to forbid myself from heavy duty cooking or baking. I did a number on my right and only good hand last week making banana bread. Because my left arm is in a cast, I get overuse pains in my right hand very easily. I had trouble lifting glasses of water for two days after the banana bread incident. So I have to be extra careful with it.

Thus, I brought store-bought hummus. Albeit, made in store at the Leslieville Cheese Market. It was kinda awesome and not that expensive.

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Homemade crackers have been on my “to-bake” list forever. But I had to resist and instead bought a package of locally made crackers. These were very expensive.

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Kristin brought her Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad.

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And Morgan made a Mexican casserole which I ate top of tortilla chips (Que Pasa, the best) with lotsa cheese.

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Oh yeah, and shortbread cookies for dessert! It was a fun and relaxing evening hanging out with two blog-world friends turned real-world friends. The best part is gossiping about the things that don’t make the blog ;)

Monday night we decided to venture out. I know I proclaimed to rarely eat at the same place twice. But by now I hope you’ve realized I’m a filthy liar.

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Many discussions between Callie and I have revolved around self-serve froyo. It’s the nature of our relationship. Toronto (and Canada!) has distinctly lacked such places until recently. We made a date to visit Menchie’s Monday night and realized a real meal first would probably be appropriate. Morgan joined us, as she too couldn’t turn down a solid vegetarian meal.

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Fresh, an all vegetarian restaurant, is conveniently located just down the street on Bloor. In the nine months I’ve lived in Toronto, I’ve been here six times. Just goes to show how much I love this place. Not only are the dishes creative and tasty, but they’re also all healthy. I can eat here any day of the week and not feel like I’ve gone of course with my healthy eating.

I ordered the Tangled Thai Salad: shredded carrot & yellow beets, jicama, napa cabbage, chopped peanuts, cilantro, cucumber & our high protein, omega rich * salad topper with peanut lime dressing
and crispy tofu cubes.

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The salad itself was delicious with the spiralized veggies and a crunchy salad topper made up of puffed quinoa, goji berries, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds & sea salt. Divine. My only complaint is the bowl was too small and made the tangled salad incredibly messy to eat. I lost a lot of it to the table and do not eat off the table in restaurants!!

The salad also left plenty of room for what was arguably the main course.

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Of the dozen or so frozen yogurt flavours “on tap,” I went for the nonfat frozen hot chocolate. I taste tested a lot of flavours before committing to this one. It was just slightly more mild than the regular chocolate. There were even more toppings to choose from, including a hot and cold station.  I opted to go for a “s’mores” theme, topping with graham crumbs, marshmallows, brownie bits, cookie dough bits and chocolate sprinkles. My only regret is that I forgot chocolate sauce.

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Callie opted for a “banana split on crack.”

All I can say is, it’s probably a good thing I’m moving far away from this froyo place ;)

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Morgan, Callie and I ended up sitting here for a couple hours laughing our faces off (Morgan being brought to tears at one point) and admiring the “celebs” on the wall.

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It’s funny thinking back to the hot days of summer when I first moved to Toronto and was meeting up with these ladies for the very first time. My other friends in town would tease me for going out on these blogger blind dates. Like the first time I met Kristin, or the time I met Morgan on the brink of hangover death. Then of course, I got to know Callie pretty well during our 16-hour car ride together to Chicago and back.

Turns out I ended up with some pretty great friends. The best kind really, who understand my need to agonize over froyo flavours and appreciate a good tub of hummus.

Yup, “blogger friends” rank pretty high on the list of things I’ll miss about Toronto.

The One About The Pancake

I’ve already gone on about the things I won’t miss about Toronto. But as my time winds down here, I’m realizing there are a lot more things I’ll actually miss.

Of the things I’ll miss the most, is brunch. Obviously.

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I mean, technically you can do brunch anywhere. Hell, my unemployment pancakes could be considered “brunch.” But no place brunches like a big city brunches. Going out for eggs benny on a Sunday morning is how the new urbanites worship. Over these past nine months, I’ve become one of them. Sometimes looking forward more to my hungover Sunday brunch than the Saturday night that got me there. 

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Of all the brunches I’ve had in Toronto, there is one that has stuck out in my memory like a flashing neon light. It was a rainy Saturday back in December when I met up with Kristin and her husband at Mitzi’s on College in Little Italy. Word on the internet was that they had the best pancakes in the city. I just had to try it for myself. I can turn down a lot of things, but I can’t turn down a flapjack loved so dearly by the masses.

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I try not to visit the same restaurant twice in Toronto unless there are different dishes on the menu that I really want to go back and try. I’m not the kind of person who regulars a place and orders the same thing over and over. My tastebuds are always demanding something new. Something different.

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This is not the case with Mitzi’s. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have talked about this pancake in some form or another every single day since the first day I had it.

You see, I’ve been adding all these new experiences to my Toronto bucket list. Things I’ve never experienced but want to before I leave.

All except for this pancake. I decided that I could not leave this city until I had The Pancake one last time.

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Mitzi’s Famous Buttermilk Oatmeal Pancake: Topped with tiramisu and lady fingers. Served with home fries, fresh fruit, pure maple syrup & fresh whipped cream.

The toppings always change. Last time it was topped with apple cider caramel and toasted shaved almonds. I didn’t like the tiramasu quite as much. It didn’t mesh with the sweet maple flavours as well as the caramel did. Plus, I’ve never liked mixing chocolate with my pancakes. I’m a bit of a pancake purist.

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The rest of the pancake was just as I’d remembered it. Ridiculously large, thick and fluffy. Like an oatmeal cake cooked in a cast iron skillet. Hearty and soft, then saturated with sweet maple syrup. It arrived piping hot, straight from the pan. And didn’t last long.

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Like I said last time, when I think back to this moment in time, I won’t worry about how many calories or sugar were on this plate. Rather I’ll remember this particular rainy Saturday in March as the day I enjoyed my favourite brunch as a 25-year-old single girl living in Toronto.

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Accompanied by multiple mugs of Mitzi’s own roasted coffee.

And of course, my brunching partners in crime.

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Roommie Megan and fellow Leslievillian/J-Schooler Colin. We seem to be the only ones motivated enough to get out for brunch every weekend. Okay, that and we share a deep love for breakfast foods.

Mitzi’s by the way, doesn’t just serve pancakes. They’ve got a stellar brunch menu. If I were staying, this could easily become a place I’d actually regular.

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Megan ordered the Omelette: With jerk pork and old cheddar, and a curried banana chutney. Served with home fries, fresh fruit and toast.

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I tried a bite and it was awesome. I think I like pulled pork better inside eggs than on a bun. And banana chutney?? Amazing!

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The Aquarius drinking from a Sagittarius mug. This was also the day I learned how to shimmy my hair into a barrette with one arm (the other arm still in a cast).

I will definitely miss the brunch options when I move home to Moncton. But I return with an arsenal of brunch recipes and ideas to recreate in my father’s kitchen on weekend mornings for the family. Including the above pancake, which I am determined to make my own version of.

In the meantime, check out my new Restaurant page for a listing of all the restaurants I’ve ever blogged about. It hasn’t all been pancakes!

Cookie Lovers Anonymous

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I made a bit of a mistake yesterday.

You see, since I can’t do vigorous exercise right now, I’ve been trying to get out walking for an hour every day. Thing is, walking can be kind of boring. Hence the need to give my long ambles some form of purpose. Errands. Things like buying gum. Or diet coke. Or in yesterday’s case, chocolate and tea.

Then I found this place:

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Mary MacLeods Shortbread. A store dedicated to my third favourite cookie in the world. A love passed on from my great-great-Nana Susan MacLeod from the Isle of Skye. Shortbread is often ignored for it’s fancier, chewier cookie cousins. But when done right, a good shortbread is anything but bland. It’s a drop of silky heaven.

I wanted just one. A plain shortbread. Few things are greater than a buttery shortbread that is soft on first bite, then crumbles with each following nibble. Really, it’s just my obsession with butter.

I left with seven.

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I blame it on the minimum $10 debt purchase. But I think I may be an easy sell. Put me in a sweet smelling cookie shop and all sense of reason flies out the window. Stores that smell like that should be illegal. Or at least take ID at the door.

I ended up with coffee crunch shortbread…

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Dutch chocolate crunch shortbread…

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Their “signature” chocolate crunch shortbread…

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Hazelnut crunch shortbread…

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Rolled coconut shortbread…

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And the traditional shortbread…

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Where’s the seventh cookie you ask? There was also a whole wheat almond one. But it, erm, didn’t make it to the photoshoot.

I’m in trouble dear friends. Please help me with these cookies. I don’t have the time to work them off with 12 hours of non vigorous walking exercise. There should be a support group or this kind of thing.

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