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A Downtown Lunch

A while back, my roommate told me about this amazing lunch place downtown with wraps and soups. She gushed about how delicious it was and I was left wondering what was so special about a simple soup and sandwich.

I stand corrected.

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Ravi Soups is a bit of a Toronto institution located on Adelaide in the Entertainment District. After a rumour that one was opening up in the East end, I did a little research and discovered this was a favourite downtown lunch spot. I caved and made a lunch date with my roommie. You know me, I had to see what all the fuss was about!

I loved the creative flavour combos for both the soups and wraps. I want to try them all. So I opted for the wrap + soup combo for 12 bucks. But you can also get a GIANT bowl of soup for the same price.

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The Roasted Pork Shoulder wrap immediately caught my eye – with RaviSlaw, spicy tamarind ketchup & fresh herbs.

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The pork was perfectly cooked and paired well with the tangy slaw which included big hunks of mango. Easily one of the best wraps I’ve had in TO and for once better than one I could assemble at home.

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I almost opted for the daily stew with ham and white beans… but the butternut squash special sounded like the perfect compliment to my meaty wrap.

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Loved the bacon on top for a little smoky flavour to the otherwise sweet soup. The Asian pear was a good choice as it maintained its crunch in the hot dish. I wasn’t as “wowed” by the soup as I was with my wrap. I’ve had some pretty darn good butternut squash soups before, and this one was a little bland and forgettable.

Roommie Megan meanwhile got the stew.

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And the Curried Lamb with roasted yam, baby spinach, pineapple mango salsa & mint cilantro chutney.

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Sounds like an amazing flavour combination, no? I couldn’t try it as I’m allergic to pineapple, and Megan said there were big hunks of it in there.

I can finally see how a simple soup + wrap combo can turn into something people rave about. This was unlike any other deli lunch place! I also kind of liked the seating arrangement – one GIANT table. It’s such a “big city” way of doing things and a nice opportunity to get up close with your fellow lunch-goers. No picture of this seating arrangement though in order to protect the innocent.

After saying goodbye to Megan (she’s got a real job), I continued my downtown wanderings in search for the perfect end to the perfect meal.

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Another Toronto institution I’m always hearing about. More for their cute male baristas than their espresso, but I’ll still take it.

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What I really wanted was a chocolate-y sumthinsumthin to tame that post-meal sweet tooth. Instead I opted for an espresso macchiato. Good thing too, as the espresso here is just as sweet as their cute baristas!

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Oddly enough, this cafe also uses the one-giant-table method as opposed to smaller individual tables. People watchers would love this. I eavesdropped on some very entertaining conversations whilst sipping on my espresso.

I ended my downtown lunchtime wanderings at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Not for a drink, but something even more exciting.

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That would be tickets to my favourite highschool band. I know all the words to all of their 3-minute pop-punk hits. Can’t. Wait.

With a full belly and caffeinated spring to my step, I left downtown behind and travelled North to my job. The one where I hang out in a gym all day torturing people. It’s probably for the better that I work next to a treadmill and not a RaviSoups anyways ;)

 

Question of the Day: What are your favourite things to put in a wrap? I was anti-wrap for a long time after working in a deli where I assembled what felt like hundreds a day. But my all-time fave is curried salmon with sweet potato and spinach.

All By Myself

I am not an only child, but I can most certainly relate.

As the youngest of three girls, I spent a lot of time playing alone. My older sisters only had two years between them, whereas I was 4 and 6 years behind. I learned how to make my own fun and spend time with just myself. I became my own best friend in some sense and as an adult I still revel in that time to myself.

Over the weekend, I stumbled across this video called How To Be Alone. It’s a video to accompany a poem written by a Canadian spoken word artist. It’s fantastic and I highly suggest you watch it!

 

It got me thinking about how I never mind doing things on my own. While I do thrive off the energy of others, I also crave that time in my own thoughts. I like shopping alone, going to the movies alone, working out and exploring this city alone. Lately, I’ve also been dining out alone.

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I’ve come to learn that the Pickle Barrel is a bit of a Toronto institution. I’d never heard of it until moving here, but it’s a place people like to go to whenever they’re in town!

I came here after work one late Friday afternoon. I was actually on my way to Subway, but I had time to spare and a relaxing dining experience sounded enticing. They seated me in a small booth and I spent a loooong time going over the extensive menu filled with all-day breakfast options, deli sandwiches and big salads. In the end I opted for the Grilled Chicken Hummus Wrap: Grilled chicken breast strips, black olives, mixed bell peppers, red onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese and hummus tightly wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. Served with mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette and fresh fruit.

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A+ Pickle Barrel! I’m a sucker for soft flour tortillas, the chicken was plentiful and well cooked with lots of hummus and sundried tomatoes (the best part). I didn’t get any fresh fruit, but the salad was fairly big and consisted of more than just greens.

After a busy and hectic couple weeks of work and pleasure, I decided to take myself out on another date this past Sunday morning. It started with a free yoga class at Lululemon. It was a Vinyasa class which I’ve come to love and even did crow pose for the first time!!

Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, I walked down the street for a perfect Sunday brunch treat.

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Cafe Crepe on Queen Street in downtown Toronto has been on my extensive and ever-growing list of “restaurants to try” since I got here. I had high hopes for this place seeing as one of my favourite restaurants back home, Cafe Archbald, is a crepe place too!

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Cafe Crepe has a to-order window on the street, then a take-out counter at the front with a small eat-in counter. At first I was going to eat here since I was only a “party of one.” But then I thought “what the hell” and got seated in the dining room in the back.

I was surprised to see that while the menu was large, it didn’t necessarily have a lot of crepe fillings to offer. I opted to make up my own filling combo of ham, swiss, mushroom.

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What they lacked for in options, they made up for by stuffing the crepe full. Definitely did not hold back on any of the fillings! The crepe itself was a little on the sweeter side for me, but it was perfectly crispy and didn’t go soggy.

One thing I will say about dining alone is that servers get more nervous when you start taking pictures of your food :P

On my way back to the subway station I stumbled across this:

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A restaurant specializing in baked potatoes. Something else to add to my “to try” list. Although I think I may need reinforcements in the form of dining companions for this one ;)

 

Question of the Day: Do you spend much time alone or do you prefer being with others? What’s your favourite thing to do when it’s just you? I could easily seclude myself away from others without noticing, that’s why I try to make an extra effort to be social! And I like grocery shopping alone best :)

 

!! Voting is now officially open!!

You can read and check out my entry for Project Food Blog here if you want to help me become “the next food blog star!”

The Tourist That Wasn’t

 My family is here!!!

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Well, a small fraction of my family anyways. There’s a lot of us ;) My step-sis Sarah and Dad drove from New Brunswick and picked up my big-sis Jane in Quebec City along the way!

They showed up with an SUV filled to the brim with things I had to leave back in NB when I left. The world is such a better place when you have a rotating stand fan in your living room.

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We were all hungry when they arrived, so we went to a nearby spot called the Ceili Cottage. (where I also went with my other big sis!)

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The special of the day was an 8oz burger, which seemed too ludicrously huge for me. So I went for the Ontario Berkshire ham, soda scone, hot mustard.

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Also came with some cabbage…

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Yummm. I love old-man food and this hit the spot for me :)

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Jane et moi! I must give Jane credit for about half the photos in this post. She is much better paparazzi than me ;) Jane is also a full-time musician, you can listen to her music here!

After dinner we hit up the friendly neighbourhood coffee shop.

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Deciding on what tea to drink is serious business.

We then all went home and read books like the nerds we are. I was delighted to wake up this morning and have a group of people to make breakfast for!!

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Fried up a large batch of scrambled eggs with bacon, whole wheat toast with a variety of nut butters (I chose dark chocolate dreams).

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A fruit salad made with apple, orange, banana, coconut, cinnamon, maple syrup. I topped mine with cottage cheese. Fruit salads are way too underrated.

Then we hit the streets of Toronto!!

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Funny that I’ve only been here three weeks and I’m already showing people around the city. The best part though was that I got to do some of the touristy things I’ve missed out on so far.

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Including visiting the CBC Mothership (aka the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s headquarters). This building is ridiculous, but as a former broadcast journalist, it’s the kind of geeky thing I love.

It was also within these walls that I found the coolest thing I’ve seen in Toronto.

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 Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk!!! I loved this show as a kid.

Even more…

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The window from the Friendly Giant!

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The trolley from Mr. Rogers! Man, I loved his cardigans. Anyone outside of Canada ever watch these children’s shows? Jane and I got all giddy over these things, but they were a little before my step-sister’s time :(

Other touristy things included going up the CN Tower.

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…and being sniffed for bombs on the way up. Thank you for capturing this moment in time Jane ;)

All the signs everywhere said the CN Tower is the tallest structure in North America, or something along those lines.

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Nice view!! The place was like a mosh pit of tourists though.

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Sarah and I were all over the plexi-glass floor.

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It wasn’t really as scary as I was expecting. The elevator ride down was worse :\

Even though I haven’t been here for long, I knew just the place to bring my family for lunch downtown…

Fresh! I knew they’d love the healthy vegetarian fare.

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Started with a beet root frappe: apple, beet, carrot, nutmeg, ginger.

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Definitely the most “vegetable-y” one I’ve had yet – but it was at least cold!

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I’ve already tried their salads and bowls, so today I opted for a wrap. I got the magic tofu: savoury coated tofu steaks with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, grated carrot & vegan mayo.

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Omg. This was good. Sounds so simple, but the vegan mayo had a wonderful flavour, and the tofu steaks were marinated to perfection.

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It came with a “coleslaw” and I ordered a side salad with their vegan caesar dressing. Another Fresh success!!

Fresh on Spadina is just a stone’s throw from Chinatown.

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Chinatown still has the cheapest produce. And most unique ;)

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By the time we made our way through Chinatown, we were all beat. I had to scoot off to the gym I work at for a “practice” training session. It went really well and I’m really appreciative that my new gym is taking the time to help me hone my skills as a trainer. Good thing too – I’ve got three clients starting at 5:30am Monday!

Now it’s time for me to sign off and spend these last few hours with the fam. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new weekly series on my blog – so be sure to ch-ch-check it out!

 

Question of the Day: What touristy thing is your town known for? In Moncton, where I’m originally from, we’re known for the “Tidal Bore” when the tide comes in on the river. It’s as boring as it sounds. But we’ve got good seafood! :)

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