Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!
It’s been quite the week for holidays:
March 14: Pi Day (aka 3.14)
March15: Ides of March
March 17: St. Patty’s Day!
I hope you’ve been able to celebrate at least one of these. I did on Monday. It all started on a very spring-like day and a trip to Toronto’s Kensington Market.
Going to Kensington is like being transported to another country. It’s a few square blocks in the centre of the city filled with bright colours, loud music, and open storefronts filled with cheap merchandise. It also reeks of patchouli, if you catch my drift.
Our destination was a place I’ve been dying to go to ever since the first week I moved to Toronto.
Yes, a place dedicated solely to the art of making grilled cheese sandwiches. Probably one of my favourite restaurant ideas ever.
It’s this little spot with picnic tables inside and outside. Brilliant woodworking throughout and a wall of creepy pickled items.
My partners in crime for the day included my sister Sara. Too cute that she’s sipping on a box of apple juice – it’s what our dad always packed in our lunches as kids!
And of course my roommie Megan, who has courageously joined me in eating my way through my Toronto Bucket List.
Now, I’ve always been a bit of a grilled cheese purist. Bread, butter, cheese. Anything else is just a regular grilled sandwich. Regardless, I was pretty pumped to see how creative they’d get with the menu. Let’s go in for a close up, shall we?
They all came served with lightly seasoned salt & vinegar chips and a tasty dill pickle. Mind you, we had to wait a long time for the sandwiches to arrive. I had no idea a grilled cheese took so long to assemble?
Sara ordered the Dill-licious: dill havarti, basil pesto, sundried tomato, onion along with the addition of turkey.
I tried a bite. Holy flavourful!
Megan went for the Mushroom Madness: Cheddar, grilled portobello, cremini with the addition of tomato.
I had mushroom on the mind as well, going for the Grill Worx: Provolone, swiss, portobello, roasted red pepper, onion.
On thick sliced white bread, buttered and crisped to perfection. A perfect bread-to-cheese ratio and all quality tasting cheese. My only complaint is that my toppings were piled high in the centre of the sandwich and not spread around evenly.
My dad says buttering the outside of the sandwich instead of the griddle is the key to a good grilled cheese. They don’t quite live up to his grilled cheese, but I’d say definitely second best! Also worth the $6 price tag. With the chips and pickle, this meal made for a very satisfying lunch.
But as I said, this outing occurred on Monday. And we all know what Monday was ;)
Just up the street on Augusta Ave in Kensington is a place called Wanda’s Pie In The Sky. A bakery with a variety of offerings, but specializing in one of my favourite foods – pie!
My sister and I ordered one slice to split and they gave us one giant slice split in two!!
We opted for strawberry rhubarb flavour because I’d never had rhubarb before. I must admit, it wasn’t my favourite. A little too bitter and not enough crust.
We continued on through Kensington, stopping to buy some ridiculous $5 sunglasses on display. A perfect way to celebrate Pi Day if you ask me :)
As for St. Patrick’s Day, I’m back on painkillers for the time being. I’m off to celebrate with friends, but there’s no green beer on tap for me. Regardless, I still showed my green…
Thank you to Janetha for the awesome handmade “fashion sling”! I definitely perked my spirits this St. Patty’s Day :)
Question of the Day: Did you celebrate any of the holidays this week?
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.
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.
The Roasted Pork Shoulder wrap immediately caught my eye – with RaviSlaw, spicy tamarind ketchup & fresh herbs.
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.
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.
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.
And the Curried Lamb with roasted yam, baby spinach, pineapple mango salsa & mint cilantro chutney.
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.
Another Toronto institution I’m always hearing about. More for their cute male baristas than their espresso, but I’ll still take it.
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!
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.
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.
Mooooaaaan. That’s the noise I’ve been making all “Moanday” :P For the third week in a row, I had high hopes of making it to a Monday morning spin class. And for the third week in a row, I failed to go! I’m not very good about going to bed early Sunday nights, so the idea lost all appeal by the time I set my alarm last night. Oh well, the sleep and nice breakfast was well worth it!
I went through a period where I was buying a lot of stuff at the Bulk Barn. I thought it was awesome because I could scoop out just as much as I wanted and the price was right. But the more I did it, the more I realized the product quality sucked. Everything was stale, and the oats were a “bad cut” (you oatmeal snobs know what I’m talking about). I finally finished up my bag of bad bulk oat bran last week and went back to my Golden Box.
It’s like reuniting with an old lover. I made 1/2 cup custard style with a whole egg whisked in.
Topped with Bekah’s Coconut Chia Granola, cashew butter and molasses. Heaven.
Also bought yesterday was a $3 lunchbag! I’m quite proud of it. The top separates from the bottom, so I don’t have to lug the whole thing to lunch with me if I don’t need to.
Hiding in that bag was…
Yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder and granola.
Homemade protein bar. I used just chocolate protein powder on this batch and it actually made it taste more bland! Next week I will spice it up a bit ;)
Had a good day at work today, despite being in a daze for most of it. Have to work tonight too, filming a lecture for the website. So dinner was quick! Good thing I had leftovers ;)
Bean and vegetable chili. Chili leftovers rock my socks. So does turkey. I don’t know how I was a vegetarian for so long when I’m clearly a heartless carnivore :P
I figured it’s pretty much safe to assume that everyone’s gym is crowded these days. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of some helpful tips to beat (or tolerate) the crowds.
1. Stay away during peak times. This is the most obvious one. Everyone goes to the gym at 5pm. If there’s a way you can sneak it in elsewhere – do it! Friday nights and weekend afternoons are some of my favourite times to workout because it’s always abandoned there.
2. Try new machines. Good luck getting a treadmill or elliptical this time of year. Instead of throwing a hissy fit, try something new! Churn out some sprints on the stationary bike, work your arms on the rowing machine, or even (yes) climb onto the dreaded stairmaster. It’s your chance to step out of your comfort zone.
3. Hit up the weight room. New years resolution-ers tend to stick to the cardio equipment. Gym newbies are a little more apprehensive of free weights, so you’ll likely be in there with all the usual suspects. Perfect excuse to incorporate more strength training into your routine ;)
4. Take turns. Forget what I just said – sometimes the weight area is packed! I’ve gotten into the habit of asking people who are obviously doing alternating sets if they mind I use their machine or weights while they’re on their other set. Just because weight lifters are big and scary looking, doesn’t mean they’re not polite and sensible too :)
5. Be a hog. Okay, forget that polite thing I just mentioned too :P If I see a window to grab popular machines or weights, I grab them and hog them for all their worth. I was once the most hated person in the gym by hogging the 10, 20, and 25 lb dumbbells for 30 minutes.
6. Get there early. Exercise classes fill up fast in the New Year! I know getting there is sometimes hard enough, but make the extra effort to get there 10-15 minutes earlier. You can take the extra time to do a slower warm-up, which will boost your performance while you’re at it.
7. Be flexible. Don’t ditch your workout just because you can’t get your favourite treadmill, second last from the water fountain. And do not kick someone off your favourite spin bike! (yes, I’ve heard of both of these things happening before) Now is a perfect time to practice going with the flow.
8. Keep your cool. Don’t let the newbie incorrectly hogging the squat rack ruin your workout. There are worse things in life than having to sub out a set, or opt for a different machine. Remember, we go to the gym to relieve stress, not instigate it!
Question of the Day: How do you deal with busy gyms?