If you’ve started reading this blog over the last year, it may come as a surprise to you that I spent 8 years as a vegetarian. I wrote all about my decision to eat meat again in this post.
For eight years I was that vegetarian who said I never missed meat. And I really didn’t. I was that vegetarian who would scrunch my nose up at anything meat related. I was that vegetarian who told my meat-eating friends that veggie burgers were just as good as the real thing.
About this last point – they are not. I must have been ill with a carbohydrate induced fever. I’ve already apologized profusely to many of my friends for force feeding soy burgers and hot dogs on them. For complaining when they spit them out. For insisting that a frozen patty was comparable to a juicy beef burger squeezed between two soft buns.
Ohgosh. I’m drooling again.
Since the re-introduction of real burgers in my life, I have become a bit of a connoisseur. Of all the ways to eat animal meat, in burger form is hands down my favourite way.
Luckily for me, one of Toronto’s best burger joints happens to be close to my neighbourhood. The Burger’s Priest is a teeny-tiny indoor grill located in this rough transitional area between Leslieville and the Beaches, aka “no man’s land.”
The self-proclaimed “All American cheeseburger joint” offers five kind of burgers with the option of fries or cookies on the side. The place is small and cramped with a handful of stools against the wall. Line-ups are often out the door.
My roommie and I arrived on Saturday night after a brisk and chilly walk over. Something we hoped would be made up for with a mind-blowing hamburger. Luckily, we were able to snag a couple stools rather than return to our apartment with cold burgers in tow.
I went for the most basic version – the cheeseburger with all the toppings – ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce.
A thin crumbly patty topped with a processed cheddar slice, between a soft white bun.
Let’s talk about the meat. It was amazing. My roommie got the double double with two patties, and I regret not doing the same. Just the one thin patty didn’t seem like enough. The beef itself was melt-in-your mouth. Cooked to perfection (not too little, not too much). It was fatty in the sense that the juices dripped everywhere, and I saw them vigorously shake salt over each patty before cooking.
I cannot however claim this to be the best burger of my life (like I did with the pancake). I wasn’t into the processed cheese or bun. Both were cheap tasting and dumbed down the amazing beef enclosed inside. It reminded me of a burger you’d get at a charity picnic, minus the crappy patty.
Thus, The Burger’s Priest only makes it to my Number 3 spot. In case you are wondering, I have dozens of Top 3 foodie experiences floating around in my head. Burgers being one of them. Normal?
The Number 2 spot goes to this bison burger I had at the Elk & Oarsmen Pub in Banff back in June.
Fresh ground seasoned bison patty topped with melted pepper jack cheese, butter leaf lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo. This burger came on a crusty white bun. The bison meat, while typically dry from being so lean, was thick and juicy. The best part was the seasoning. It was seasoned just like sausage. If I had ever doubted bison as a viable burger meat, I was now a believer.
And the top spot? My favourite burger of all time?
My mom’s of course!!
Actually, this particular burger was eaten on July 13, 2009. What made it so special was that it was my first real hamburger in 10 years. To quote from my blog at the time (I know, here I go quoting myself again):
Ohmygoodness. Words cannot even describe. I cannot believe my tastebuds and body have been missing out on this for so long! (ahem, more than a decade!) My mom and I picked up some ground hamburger at a local store in Cap-Pele, a small Acadian town not too far from here. So we assume it was good beef. My mom said she mixed it with an egg, some oregano, and a piece of flax bread, and then just cooked it on the stovetop.
Let me put it this way: I will never again compare a veggie burger to a real hamburger. There is no comparison.
I believe we can pinpoint my love for hamburgers to that specific moment in time. In all fairness, The Burger’s Priest had a lot to live up to. Clearly, it will be hard to find a burger in Toronto that will change my life the way my “second first” hamburger ever did.
I just ask one favour to all my vegetarian readers out there. Please, please, never tell your friends a veggie burger tastes like the real thing. Learn from my mistakes :)
Question of the Day: What’s the best burger you ever had?
Bonjour!! I am in a bilingual city, I can say that here ;)
Wonderful questions and feedback on my last post: Ripped Arms: A How-To Guide. I made some clarifications in the comments section if any of you are interested. In terms of designing an arm workout, 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps of each a shoulder exercise, triceps exercise and biceps exercise, 1-3 times a week, is enough to do it. Got that? Just don’t forget about your other muscles too! ;)
I also got a great comment from Averie:
10 yrs of yoga gave me a foundation for everything, 4 mos of lifting is giving me some size :)
Couldn’t agree more. If you’re already athletic, but still want to see more arm definition, heavy weight lifting will get you where you want to be in no time.
Now this is where I seamlessly transition to talking about FOOD.
I really just want to show this pic of Sunday’s breakfast because my toes are stealing some of the spotlight in the bottom right of the frame :P One of the reasons why I love reading food blogs, as opposed to professional food publications, is the level of “real life” you get from photos such as these. Hello toes!
Rainier cherries are continuing to rock my face off. They taste milder than regular ones.
The last of my homemade rosemary yogurt biscuits topped with eggs and bacon. If it’s been a while since you last had this combination, I highly suggest you get on it. This is the best post-run weekend breakfast. The HEAB-ster just posted an even easier biscuit recipe just in case ;)
Okay, now that we are done ogling at breakfast, I must introduce you to Sunday’s lunch!! Sister Sara had tickets for a play and the theatre is conveniently located across the street from an amazing vegetarian buffet called The Table. I grabbed a little scoop of everything that struck my fancy. I’m a sampler.
As well as a bit of lentil quinoa salad and dandelion greens. The salads were a little lacklustre (surprisingly!). The hot foods were my favourite. Especially the braised onion and tofu patty. I want to recreate both!!
As we were leaving, Sara heard that you get 20% off if you’re going to see a play. We’d already paid, but we wanted our discount!! So we went back after the play for tea and dessert :)
Not your typical coconut pie. It was surprisingly light and fluffy, not at all chewy like a macaroon. A touch bland though, so I topped it with this:
And the tea!
The perfect flavour to pair with the desserts I’d chosen. I love me some chai!
Me, being my usual contemplative self.
Another highlight from Sunday was biking down to one of Ottawa’s beaches. It may take a while for the idea of a beach not meaning “ocean” to sink in.
Me just looking awkward :P My biking adventures in Ottawa have been my first of the season. It would be an understatement to say they came with a little apprehension. In fact, I had a moment of sheer panic within minutes of being back on the bike. But yesterday I started to feel relaxed again and less like I was chained to a death trap. Also impressed by how strong my legs got over the winter – hills are nuthin’ to me now!
Because of my new-found ease, we opted to take the long way home and enjoy some of the (weird) sights Ottawa has to offer.
Inukshuks on the river!!
Clearly, we had to stop and take silly photos with them.
I just wish I’d read this sign first. I maaaaay have decapitated a statue :\
Today’s breakfast had a significant lack of biscuits.
Eggs and bacon were instead eaten between two seedy pieces of bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato.
I made a fruit salad for us using watermelon, banana, cherries, lime juice and some of this stuff:
From Alberta! It was very pepperminty, but added a nice refreshing kick to the salad.
Let’s see… there was also a notable breakfast dessert.
Camino Coconut gets a thumbs up!
It took me a really long time to get motivated to go the gym today. I am having motivation issues lately. I’m thinking it may be resolved once I finally get settled in Toronto (moving Thursday!). Until then, I forced myself to do a full-body lifting workout.
Started with a 10-minute run to the gym. I did three sets and 10 reps of everything. Colour-coded to indicate which exercises were supersetted together (ie no rest in between alternating sets).
|Sumo squat||70 lbs||Quads, glutes|
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||60 lbs||Back, biceps|
|Good morning||45 lbs||Hamstrings, glutes, lower back|
|Incline push-up||bodyweight||Chest, abs, front shoulders|
|Forward lunge||30 lbs||Quads, glutes|
|Arnold press||15 lbs ea||Shoulders|
|Overhead cable extension||30 lbs||Triceps|
|Seated calf raise||90 lbs||Calves|
|Incline curl||10 lbs ea||Biceps|
I went up in weight on my squats… yayy!!! Only 60 lbs left to go until I reach my lifetime goal of squatting my bodyweight – ha!
Ohyes, then I ran the 10 minutes back to my sister’s place. Mygosh it was hot by then. Brutal.
Sister Sara said I had to try these tofu cutlets they carry at an organic food store called Herb & Spice.
I cut it up cold and put them on top of a salad (dressed with watered down hummus). I would have to agree with my sister, these are amazing!! It almost tasted like they were baked in cream of mushroom soup, but Sara says the spread vegepate on top. Genius.
Late this afternoon I continued my quest to find a decent cottage cheese in Ontario…
Half a cup of Liberty 1% cottage cheese on top of the leftover fruit salad from the morning.
It was good but still not great. Also, Liberty is significantly more expensive than other brands.
I miss my Scotsburn 50% less sodium cottage cheese!! They need to supply outside of the Maritimes!
For dinner, I made Sara and I bison burgers using my mother’s method of locking all the juices in (start with a hot pan, then lower it down to cook)
Sara doesn’t keep ketchup in her place (the horror!), so I loaded up on the tomatoes, and ate it on pita bread. A Susan version of a hamburger thin if you will ;)
Roasted corn in the oven. So easy. Throw it in, husk at all, and cook at 400F for 30-40 minutes.
Sara and I then sat around contemplating what we could do this evening. We both agreed dessert was in order, but I’d already eaten three pieces of chocolate today (as I do every day, fyi).
Somehow we decided it was a good idea to walk 30 minutes to this delightful place called Oh So Good near the Byward Market.
Seriously you guys, I’m not a huge cake person, and I loved every bite of this. Incredibly light and fluffy, with shaved white chocolate on the top. Both Sara and I agreed that the small layer of jam in the center made the cake.
We both enjoyed our cake with a cuppa tea. We briefly discussed the calories in each slice, and agreed it was a pleasure too great to pass up.
That’s why you walk to the cake ;)
See you tomorrow!! xoxo
Well, Holly and I are back after a weekend of camping in the Canadian Rockies. We haven’t showered in a while and reek of campfire. But we both agreed that blogging would come first ;) LOVE travelling with fellow bloggers!
Saturday started off with another one of our now famous maple-y oatmeal concoctions.
I believe this was Nature’s Path cinnamon raisin oatmeal cooked with soy protein powder and a banana. Topped with maple fudge, cinnamon peanut butter and maple jelly. Every bowl of oatmeal now must be topped with fudge. I’m ruined.
Saturday was our first legitimately beautiful day weather-wise. Around 23 C and not a cloud in the sky.
We couldn’t see the mountains very well when we first arrived, but they popped in the sunshine. Here’s another shot of the main strip in Banff with Cascade Mountain in the back. Never gets old!!
We hit up Evelyn’s Coffee Bar for our morning coffee. Holly and I are a little useless without that one (big) cuppa joe in the a.m.
The heat called for an iced latte with skim milk, an extra shot of espresso and sugar-free vanilla syrup. Hit the spot, fine work Evelyn ;)
Somehow, after coffee, we ended up wandering into this tea shop called the Banff Tea Co.
There were probably a hundred different kinds of loose teas lining the walls. Every sort of flavour you can imagine. The little canisters in the front were for smelling – I whiffed on a lot!
I’m not a big-time tea person, but I definitely appreciate a spot like this. It was so cute!!
Karen is a huge soccer fan and was excited about Saturday’s US-England World Cup match. So we all agreed to watch some of the game at a local pub/restaurant.
Navigating menus on this trip has been so hard. Everything looks absolutely delicious. We haven’t been doing much snacking – mostly just three big meals a day to keep us fuelled for long spurts of activity. Saturday’s lunch was chosen with just that in mind ;)
Manitoba Bison Bruger? Yesplease!
I haven’t been overly concerned with choosing low-cal or super healthy foods on this trip – but doing things like asking for the mayo on the side, or getting the bun un-buttered at least helps the cause a little.
Omg. This burger was spectacular. Second favourite meal of the trip thus far (elk stew still sitting at number one) Bison is a really lean meat, so it can sometimes end up on the dry side. But this burger was thick, juicy, and perfectly seasoned with spices reminiscent of a sausage. YUM.
And let’s not forget our vegetables ;)
Sweet potato fries count… right??
Dessert were goodies we spied with our little eyes at the Wild Flour Bakery.
Raw desserts have always intrigued me, and cinnamon rolls are one of my fave treats!
It came with a soy frosting. Unfortunately, this was not great. A little bland from being made with ground flax, and waaaay lacking on the cinnamon.
Karen got an almond square that was a little better.
I think the chocolate coating was made partially with dates? And the base was coconut based. Oddly enough, after all the meat I’ve been eating, the raw desserts have so far been the most disappointing!
A guy working at the hostel recommended we go up and check out Lake Minnewanka just a short drive up the road from the town Banff. Karen had her car with her… so why not?
Moi et Karen:
Minnewanka Lake is a glacial lake fed by the Cascade River.The water here is the most gorgeous shade of turquoise. I’ve been trying desperately to capture it properly on film, but it just won’t work.
Even the gorgeous shimmers in the water are dulled on film.
We also checked out Two Jack Lake just a hop skip and a jump away. Everywhere you turn here, there is something more beautiful from the last!
There were also an unusual amount of goats in the area.
I think we saw around 30 altogether? Don’t be fooled by these creatures. They may look cute from afar, but their eyes are bright orange. Creepy.
After much wandering, we eventually hit the road for Tunnel Mountain.
The Tunnel Mountain Campground is also very close to the town of Banff. Many of the trails in the area lead straight through the town.
However, we were more concerned about setting up camp.
But we’re pros and got the tent up in no time!
This is where I conveniently leave out the part that the folks at the mountain equipment store gave us a tutorial on how to set it up ;)
We also learned that coolers are not bear proof.
No worries here though, for coolers are much too classy for gals like us ;)
Holly claims she’s a dolt when it comes to campfires, but the old camp counsellor had one flaring immediately.
My only experience in lighting fires is doing it in my kitchen :P
Between the three of us, we pretty much had enough snacks to forage together a meal.
I opted for a sandwich – campfire style.
One half consisted of gouda cheese and sundried tomato tuna.
The other half was almond butter + gouda.
Amazing combo you guys!!!! The unsweetened almond butter paired perfectly with the melty cheese. Don’t just take my word for it – try it!!
Karen also had the brilliant idea of pairing smoked salmon pate with Mary’s Herb Crackers.
And of course – what’s camping without a brew??
We opted for the Big Rock Pale Ale as a pale seemed perfect for some fireside drinking. Big Rock is an Alberta beer too – thumbs up!
Honourable mention goes to the seedy bread we enjoyed with dinner.
Silver Hills Bakery sent me some coupons to try their bread a while back, but I couldn’t find any in New Brunswick. We found a wide array of their breads at Nester’s Food Market here in Banff. I immediately remembered those coupons and Silver Hills came to the rescue!!
All of their breads are sprouted grain, but not frozen like your more popular ezekiel brand. The Hardy Hearty Harvest seemed like the perfect choice for hiking and camping, you can check out the stats and ingredients here. The bread is Susan, Holly and Karen approved! Can’t wait to try out some of the other varieties!
A tired Susan, but a happy Susan :)
This is where this post ends… but I’ll be back with Part 2 of our Camping Adventure – Lake Louise!
See you soon!!
Question of the Day: What’s your favourite camping food? Mine is beer by the fire. Beer totally counts as food.