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 (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 (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!
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.
February 15, 2015 No Comments
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 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.
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.
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.
October 4, 2014 No Comments
Many of my friends have invited me to be part of their book clubs but I often hesitated with a suppressed eye-roll and an excuse like, “I’m busy.” Yes, I admit to taking a snobbish anti-stance to book club. I am a bonafide lover of books, a speed reader, a bookworm, a mega-nerd but why would I want to sit around listening to strangers talking about books? In an effort to support my friend S, I decided to put my ‘no-thank-you’ ideas about book clubs aside as she has organized a monthly meet up called BooknBrunch Club which has blossomed into a 260 member group and growing.
This month’s book was Michael Pollen’s In Defence of Food, a follow up to his successful The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The novel recounts the industrialization of the food industry and the ensuing consumer confusion on nutritional choices. It asks the questions – “What does it mean to eat healthy in today’s society?” and “How has it devolved that the common Western diet is perhaps the greatest blame for preventable diseases such as diabetes, strokes and cancer?” Think about that!
To parallel the theme of this month’s book selection, S had a sit down brunch for thirty with a healthy and locally sourced menu. Some of the messages in the book were about taking time to enjoy food as a community and to consume only foods which our grandmothers could name. Our location was The Soho House Toronto (192 Adelaide St. West). It was a beautiful setting, though a larger group than her usual, it felt intimate and the people I met were affable, intellectual and extremely interesting. Talking about books is not so bad especially over salmon, beet salad, dollar pancakes, fresh strawberry compote and fruits! Clearly, I am a converted Brookie (book + brunchie)!
October 19, 2013 No Comments
Forgive my lack of new blog posts, but I have been working day and night, night and day to bring you Creative Heart Collective. Spring is almost here and what better way to celebrate than to have a leisurely afternoon, perhaps brunching, meeting artisans, shopping local and doing a community workshop? Sounds like too much fun, non? Don’t pencil or pen it in. Sharpie that!!
Date: Saturday, April 16th, 2011 & Sunday, April 17th, 2011
Place: The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. West, Toronto ON
Time: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Admission: PWYC* (Suggested Donation $2)
The Love Collage presents Creative Heart Collective, a Spring show and sale for local artisans, crafters, designers, bakers and retailers. The mission of the event is to give artists and retailers an opportunity to connect and showcase their wares with the community in a fun and inviting atmosphere. Join us as The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom is transformed into an exciting, bustling marketplace. This two day event will feature the talent of more than 50 local vendors and artisans.
The focus for the show will be: Indie arts and crafts, Fashionable giftware, Jewellery & Accessories, Homemade food, Home décor, Beauty, DIY presents, Apparel and Vintage.
* Door proceeds will go to the non-profit organization, The Corsage Project www.corsageproject.ca
Join us for the following community workshops:
LEATHER WEATHER – SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH: 1PM – 3PM
The Make Den’s Irene Stickney will be teaching a FREE workshop, ‘Leather Weather.’ She will be teaching participants how to sew little leather medicine or cell phone pouches. These petite fringey pouches are the perfect functional accessory while galavanting on the sidewalks of Queen West West.
WEARABLE ART – SUNDAY, APRIL 17TH: 11AM – 5PM
Steeped in ancient history, symbolism and a celebration of beauty, Mehndi designs are awe-inspiring works of wearable art. Henna Yasir will be contributing her artistic talents to the event. Take a break from shopping and receive a unique herbal temporary tattoo (applicable fees).
For more info, please visit: www.creativeheartcollective.com
April 1, 2011 No Comments
There’s something about Paris that captures the imagination, that evokes nostalgia and romance. That makes you want to start speaking en francais.
A few days ago I rented Coco Avant Chanel, the biopic of famous french designer Coco Chanel. The film traces the humble origins of orphaned Coco (nee Gabrielle), as portrayed by the ever-amazing Audrey Tatou, as she struggles to make a living – poor seamstress by day and cabaret singer by night. A series of calculated actions on Coco’s part, she becomes the mistress of a wealthy French aristocrat, yet falls deeply in love with a married American businessman. A revealing portrait of the designer’s life before fame and celebrity, it is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Coco was a renegade in an era of opulance and repression; she made her mark by breaking out of societal norms but sacrificed much in the process. Le sigh! *Insert sob*
In homage to the spirit of Chanel, I have prepared an appropriate brunch outfit for noshing on pain dore, croque monsieurs, bellinis and creme brulee at Le Select Bistro (432 Wellington St. West). There is an abundance of hottie waiters serving your latte and the chi-chi poo-poo crowd is veryx3 good looking. Just my kind of brunchie spot. My favourite decor accents were the red velvet opera curtains, the black and white mosaic tile floor and the poster for Belle De Jour.
March 14, 2011 1 Comment
If you’re like me, you’re ever on the search for new and dramatic ways to channel Blair Waldorf. Forgive my tendecy to reference soapy teen dramas; I confess I watch way too much Gossip Girl. Fortunately, my fashionistah girlfriends are game and rise to the occasion every time I set a strict dress code.
Our latest foray was a birthday brunch for my loveable, top friend J who is fancy in a down-to-earth way. We had a delightful ladies brunch at Moroco Chocolat (99 Yorkville Ave.), a french inspired patisserie and cafe in Yorkville. Clad in the deepest hues of eggplant and mauve and accented in swirling white framed mirrors, the requisite crystal dog statue and lucky white elephants, the Paris decor matched the sumptuous menu. They offer rich sipping chocolates, fondue platters, lattes with a side of chocolate, mimosas and the fluffiest pistachio macarons (among 11 other flavours). I’m a vegetarian but I was drooling over the birthday girl’s sweet and savoury french toast which was swathed in bacon, cheese and a healthy dose of syrup. Insert heart attack.
On to the outfits… For Spring, half of the fashionistahs chose Chiffon Floaty Things in a grey-beige. Watch for this colour combination as it will be the perfect transitional neutral paired with neons and brights. My bestie C, went with an homage to Chuck Bass, wearing a striped nautical blazer with heavy navy piping juxtaposed with a polka dot cotton t-shirt. There she goes fashion risk-taking: mixing prints! Our birthday girl, never one to disappoint, chose a cape in yellow and black plaid paired with a black sweater and grey bezel statement necklace. Ooh la!
February 24, 2011 No Comments