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Stay Cozy: Toronto Restaurant Edition

Dear universe: I have got it in my mind that I would reallyx3 like to receive a Seafood Platter. It's so opulent.  I'm gonna forget about it so it comes true. TRUST.

Dear universe: I have got it in my mind that I would reallyx3 like to receive a Seafood Platter. It’s so opulent. I’m gonna forget about it so it comes true. TRUST.

Toronto temperatures are dipping to that Montreal sub-zero, nasty frost-bite uncomfortable.  It’s when leggings aren’t enough if they aren’t fleece lined or you forego looks and acquiesce to looking puffy (multiple thermals layered beneath chunky wool sweaters).  “Ok fine! You win Winter!” Ugh, I have the worst static-y hair when I remove my trapper hat.  When they issue an extreme cold-weather warning, you best listen.  And if you haven’t declined all socials in exchange for the warmth of that duvet taco as my friend P calls it, you better have a damn good reason for stepping outdoors. Buuuuut delicious food is always a good reason, non?  We’re reallyx3 lucky in Toronto to have a plethora of dining options to keep our tastebuds sated.  Even if I’m frrreeeezing, at least my tummy is full of warm food. Here are a few of my fave Toronto cozy spots that you can bundle up for:

The Federal: These sandwiches are better in real life. Like worth eating bread. TRUST.

The Federal: These sandwiches are better in real life. Like worth eating bread. TRUST.

The Federal (1438 Dundas West) – There is a hotbed of dining options on the Dundas West strip.  This charming restaurant serves up brunch, sandwiches and late-night noshes and cocktails.  Recently, popped in for brunch with my friend A and we almost licked our plates… that good!  They were sold out of Belgian waffles but there were so many delightful options that we needed a few extra minutes to edit our selections.

This End Up: The secret is out! Make Resos to avoid disappointment. I love to sit by the bar. TRUST.

The secret is out! Make Resos to avoid disappointment. I love to sit by the bar. TRUST.

This End Up (1454 Dundas West) – Very close to the first option, this sandwich and cocktail joint is a hidden gem. I reallyx3 shouldn’t be telling you about it.  You can have the most delectable dinner without breaking the bank.  This diner offers a 50/50 variety of vegetarian and carnivore lovers options but everything on the menu is beyond expectation like Kimchi chili fries, Daal Frites, Tofu Tacos or my perennial favourites the Baja Fish. I am always surprised with the bill because it’s never over $50, everrr!

My favourites things are Libraries and Walk-in Closets. This reminds me of the latter. TRUST.

The Good Son: My favourite things are Libraries and Walk-in Closets. This reminds me of the former. TRUST.

The Good Son (1096 Queen St. West) – This eclectic English library-meets den from Top Chef Canada finalist Vittorio Colacitti brings a mix of rustic Italian favourites and fusion cuisine.  This is an open space (occupying the former Nyood), with an inviting old-fashioned cocktail bar, leather banquettes and high tables; diners can watch all the action through the open kitchen.

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February 15, 2015   No Comments

Living Like A Parisian

Don't leave your red lipstick at home! Channel Vanessa Paradis rouge attitude

Don’t leave your red lipstick at home! Channel Vanessa Paradis rouge attitude

I recently returned from a gloriously long vacation in Europe.  It was the kind of trip that continued so long, I lost track of time and dates.  Back in my university days, Paris failed to live up to the hype of its image.  But I rediscovered Paris, charmed by the grandeur of Haussman’s boulevards, twinkling lights shining brightly on the Champs Elysee and the surprising kindness and nouveau joie de vie that greeted me upon my return.  I knew I was demurely blending in as I was often stopped for directions (by the French, no less)!

Should you find yourself in need of an impromptu mini-break, Paris is always a good idea.

La Louvre is worth it – I spent 4 hours in The Louvre and I didn’t even see all of it. Go early to avoid the massive lineups.  While many of the galleries will be rammed with tourists (particularly the Italian and Renaissance), you can still take in the art in relative quiet in the lesser frequented rooms on the 2nd floor.  You can also have a dejeuner at Angelina; there is a great view of the central courtyard to people watch.

Only Beyoncé & Jay-Z can take a selfie this close to the Mona Lisa because in real life, your access to it is 12 Asian tourists deep holding up those stupid selfie rods behind a red velvet rope.  True story. Leonardo is turning in his grave.

Only Beyoncé & Jay-Z can take a selfie this close to the Mona Lisa because in real life, your access to it is 12 Asian tourists deep holding up those stupid selfie rods behind a red velvet rope. True story. Leonardo is turning in his grave.

Wear black head-to-toe – Understated cool and lots of leather.  A black wardrobe is a true French staple.  That and those Petit Bateau striped knit tops.  Parisian style is iconic – chic, cool, effortless.  You can also get a taste of that ‘je ne sais quoi’ at Sandro, Maje, Comptoir des Cotonniers or at their grands magasins (department stores) Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

Red Lips Don’t Care – Bright red or crimson lips are also a MUST – check out my classic-LC beauty post for a tutorial on The Perfect Red Pout.  Obviously, the Parisian classic is of the Chanel variety – Try Rouge Allure Velvet in La Fascinante.  And for the Brigitte Bardot in you, black eyeliner and mascara is welcome too.

Bourjois is like the French equivalent of Maybelline.  A heavy dose of eyeliner and mascara does the trick!

Bourjois is like the French equivalent of Maybelline. A heavy dose of eyeliner and mascara does the trick!

Even though Sky Ferreira is a West Coast gal, there is something about her look that recalls French style. Here she wears American Apparel, all noir bien sur.

Even though Sky Ferreira is a West Coast gal, there is something about her look that recalls French style. Here she wears American Apparel, all noir bien sur.

Éclair is the New Macaron – Parisians are over the macaron.  I’m not over it but just to let you know, it’s so last season.  Novelty eclairs are the ‘it’ patisserie du jour.  I would have brought some home but undoubtedly they would have been squished in my suitcase seeing how I had to sit on said luggage to close it.  Even if you want an après-midi, sugar fix Laduree and Fauchon are not the only macaron games in town. You can hit up any corner boulangerie (bakery) and there will be macarons aplenty.  Just visit a busy one with lots of Frenchies and you know it’s good.  Trust.

Heads up, the trendiest spot in town to get your éclair on is in Le Marais at L'eclair de genie.

Heads up, the trendiest spot in town to get your éclair on is in Le Marais at L’eclair de genie.

Ines de la Fressange covers Paris Vogue this month. Forever stylish in her Roger Vivier flats (aka the Faberge of footwear).

Ines de la Fressange covers Paris Vogue this month. Forever stylish in her Roger Vivier flats (aka the Faberge of footwear).

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January 11, 2015   No Comments

Christmas Wish Lists

Doesn't she look glamourous delivering prezzies in that feathery pink concoction? J'adore!

Doesn’t she look glamourous delivering prezzies in that feathery pink concoction? J’adore!

One of my favourite things is shopping for gifts.  I am reallyx3 gifted. baha. This season, I am high-tailing it out of here for the holidays but I am going to lean into the Winter Wonderland goodness that is Christmas.  As a general rule of thumb, I love to give how I live.  I believe in reciprocity and as much kindness as you bestow, it always comes back to you.  Trust. This season, I have been nesting, enjoying the faux glow of my eclectic lit Christmas tree.  If you’re into quirky and crafty gifts, these picks are for you.  And if you’re not, maybe you just don’t get my brand of humour.

How fun is this MoxieMadness tank? So I'm deathly allergic to kale but doesn't mean I can't support my friends in the love of superfoods. Gawd, it's really the worst since I can't juice kale or spinache and I'm a vegetarian.

How fun is this MoxieMadness tank? So I’m deathly allergic to kale but doesn’t mean I can’t support my friends in the love of superfoods. Gawd, it’s really the worst since I can’t juice kale or spinache and I’m a vegetarian

Hope you are as obsessed with Mindy Kaling as I am. If you disagree, not sure if we could be friends.

Hope you are as obsessed with Mindy Kaling as I am. If you disagree, not sure if we could be friends.

These Smitten Kitten holiday cards are terrifying. Santa is watching!

These Smitten Kitten holiday cards are terrifying. Santa is watching!

Say a little prayer: You want this Jai'me candle via Saint Celebrity. Hilaaarious

Say a little prayer: You want this Ja’mie candle via Saint Celebrity. Hilaaarious.

This pic has not much to do with my post except that I like their sexy Santa outfits and Bill Nighy is giving blue steel from Love Actually.

This pic has not much to do with my post except that I like their sexy Santa outfits and Bill Nighy is giving blue steel from Love Actually.

 

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December 13, 2014   No Comments

Sweater Coziness: Channelling The Holiday

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. Sherling coats and leather driving gloves. I also need a drink.

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday. Sherling coats and leather driving gloves. I also need a drink.

So don’t make me watch a rom-com, unless the fashion is good. Maybe I can handle a 1/2 hour but then promise me, we can switch to a zombie dramedy.  You swear? Right now, I’m building a winter cozy wardrobe reminiscent of Cameron Diaz in The Holiday (2006).  The premise is that Cameron Diaz’s character longs for a change of scenery from LA and switches homes with English Kate Winslet during holiday season.  Trading in the sunny palms of West Coast for the quaintness of cottage life in the English countryside, shenanies ensue.  I don’t remember the rest.  At some point, she also hooks up with  hottie mchotterson Jude Law (pre-nanny scandal).

But I digress. My interpretation of channelling Cammy in The Holiday… aka Chalet Chic-y.

Blanket brilliance: That ubiquitous Burberry blanket cape monogrammed if you are fameuse or too lucky.

Blanket brilliance: That ubiquitous Burberry blanket cape monogrammed if you are fameuse or too lucky.

Sister: "You look like a grandma" Moi: "Oh yeah, the baggier the better." Trust. Zara Oversize Cable Cardi

Sister: “You look like a grandma” Moi: “Oh yeah, the baggier the better.” Trust. Zara Oversize Cable Cardi

I'm so fancy, you already know: J. Crew cashmere sweater in camel

I’m so fancy, you already know: J. Crew cashmere sweater in camel

Even though Cam wouldn't necessarily wear this hat, I would keep my head warm in Beyoncé's double pom pom

Even though Cam wouldn’t necessarily wear this hat, I would keep my head warm in Beyoncé’s double pom pom

Chillin' Pop Dylan: Cam lounging about in her creamy cable knit sweater. That looks like fun.

Cam lounging about in her creamy cable knit sweater.

And if you’re looking to trade places this holiday season, flash-forward 2014 and we’ve got Airbnb.

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November 6, 2014   No Comments

My Fave Spots in Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles true neighbourhood vibe.

Roncesvalles true neighbourhood vibe.

I love Roncey.  On the western edge of the city, the happening stretch of Roncesvalles between Howard Park and Queen Street is a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood overflowing with gourmet restaurants, cozy cafes, independent retailers and fresh fruit markets.  I was really lucky to accompany my friend D on a foodie lovers walking tour in the summer hosted by Yellow Pages Taste Your Neighbourhood & the Roncesvalles BIA.  My friend and I were the requisite tour girls who lagged behind sampling and buying everything.  Ahem, we were taking one for the team and supporting local.  Yeah we were.

La Cubana (392 Roncesvalles Ave.) – With its retro green and red subway tiled walls and open kitchen, this Cuban style diner is charming and funky.  The menu boasts an overwhelming selection of diner favourites with a latin twist.  Of course there is the Cuban sandwich, corn frituras and empanadas.  Try them brunch or dinner.

La Cubana

La Cubana: Great décor, delicious smells and friendly service.

Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) – You would think as a vegetarian I wouldn’t be into it but the smell of those baby-back, baby-back ribs almost turned me carnivore.  But alas, I lived vicariously through my friend S who tried the sampler of ribs, chicken, brisket and Italian sausage.  I had the plank salmon with a variety of sides which included heirloom tomato salad, panko crusted penne n’ cheese and bbq-spiced French fries.  We didn’t talk for half an hour because we were too busy eating.

Just so you know, Barque Smokehouse is always crowded but this is what it looks like without patrons via EnRoute

Just so you know, Barque Smokehouse is always crowded but this is what it looks like without patrons via EnRoute

The Mercantile (297 Roncesvalles Ave.) – Gourmet meets giftshop.  If someone wants to buy a gift or surprise dinner party guests with something to ‘ooh and ahh’ over, you will find an array of specialty snacks, artisan teas, chocolates and preserves galore in this treasure bursting pantry and sweet boutique.

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October 13, 2014   No Comments

New York State of Mind

I like reading Conde Nast Traveler while I'm on vacay, so I can think about my next vacay. haha.

I like reading Conde Nast Traveler while I’m on vacay, so I can think about my next vacay. haha.

Sometimes I can’t help myself.  I can be self indulgent and impulsive — both common traits of Geminis.  Though I am planning a holiday trip, I could not resist a Fall mini-break to New York with my sister.  This travel compulsion trumps any chocolate addiction.  I can often lure a few friends to tag along because they know I love to plan a) brunches/dinners b) shopping c) activities involving champagne spritzers/Riesling and in general I up the ante on my comedy game.  More fun? Yes please!

I dreamed of New York

I dreamed of New York

I was feeling nostalgic so the theme of our trip was throwback.  I tried to mix in a little of this and little of that, some places that we used to haunt and some new ones to keep it fresh.

Cafeteria (119 7th Ave.) – We were just babies when we used to come here. Do you remember China Club? Carrie loved it. Still open 24 hours, good for brunch mimosas, great for after the bar comfort food. Mac n’ Cheese is still on the menu.

Cafeteria in the heart of Chelsea is open 24 hours. So you can #nomnomnom anytime

Cafeteria in the heart of Chelsea is open 24 hours. So you can #nomnomnom anytime

Nobu NY (105 Hudson St.) – There’s a reason people come back for chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s new style Japanese cuisine. Spaces are warm, subdued and elegant. The Tribeca location is the original (famously backed by Robert de Niro) which opened in 2004.  With imaginative dishes and high quality sushi I’m like ‘whoa.’  This is saying a lot coming from a vegetarian who detests raw things.

Ladurée (398 West Broadway, Soho)  – A Parisian tea room with a glass case of patisserie and candy-coloured rainbow of macarons await.

Decadent delights: I shared the macarons this time. They come in the most beautiful little boites, non?

Decadent delights: I shared the macarons this time. They come in the most beautiful little boites, non?

Stanton Social (99 Stanton St.) – My friend S said, “Lower East Side is the new Meatpacking.” That makes me giggle.  There’s still a bit of grungey edge to LES but I like when the sketch intermingles with trendy spots.  Keeping it real.  Celebrity chef Chris Santos’s menu is a mashup of ethnic tapas from Kobe beef sliders to Nori Spice Tuna Wonton and Summer Squash Ravioli. Try Monday nights if you want a downtown crowd.

Stanton Social plays good hip hop while you are noshing on your gourmet eats.

Stanton Social plays good hip hop while you are noshing on your gourmet eats.

Wayback playback: Supermodels at Indochine.  FIN.

Wayback playback: Supermodels at Indochine. FIN.

 

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October 4, 2014   No Comments