Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baby Gap

You know, I've gotten most of Giulia's baby clothes as gifts and have bought some myself at various stores, but the one store I keep going back to is Gap Kids or Baby Gap.  I find the clothes there most durable, yet soft, and extremely cute and stylish.  I bought her a down-filled ski jumper for the winter, months in advance knowing it would sell out the minute snow hit the ground, and boy am I glad I did!  I regularly take a quick stroll up to the Gap Kids on Yonge St., north of Eglinton.  The selection is pretty good there and they always have a sale rack.

Phipps Bakery

For the best chocolate chip cookies in town, I go to Phipps.  I've tried many a cookie from everywhere I go, but Phipps is my favorite.  It has perfected the balance of crispy and soft at the same time.  And another thing, there are no nuts.  Sometimes, I just don't feel like a nut.  Sometimes I do.  Yeah, that's an Almond Joy commercial for you.  Seriously, though, go to Phipps.  Their other baked goods look good, but don't taste as well balanced as their chocolate chip cookies.  For pete's sakes, they even sell the dough in their refrigerated display it is THAT good.  Phipps is on Eglinton Ave., west of Avenue Road.  It is a cute and quaint little bakery and food store---they have a little cafe in the back of the store where you can get expensive yet tasty sandwiches and other hot foods for over $10/person.


When I feel rich in my pocketbook and generous in my heart, I go to Pusateri's for my grocery shopping.  I haven't felt rich in a long time, but boy do I love that store.  They basically have compiled all of the best foods from all the best vendors in Toronto and put it under 1 roof.  The produce section is always fresh.  The meat counter is the best I've ever seen.  The baked goodies are mouth watering.  And the prepared food...when I was pregnant, I had such a hunkering for potato salad, and Pusateri's homemade style potato salad always hit the spot.  Located on Avenue Road, just barely north of Lawrence Avenue, they have a very congested parking lot and it is gosh awful trying to make a left heading south out of their store unless they have a rent-a-cop on duty to help guide traffic. 

Gucci Loblaw's

This title says it all---Gucci Loblaw's, located on St. Clair Avenue just west of Spadina.  Props go to Janice and her friend from her Boot Camp class who dubbed this typical Loblaw's grocery store for the yuppies in their Gucci clad handbags and Bugaboo strollers.  With a nearly 1 year old daughter, I have found the diaper selection (Pampers 3) bountiful and the organic section sells the Organic Meadow brand whole milk for $6.99 a 1/2 gallon carton.  It sure beats the little half quart sized milk they sell at my nearby Metro (formerly known as Dominion grocery chain) at Yonge and Eg for $3.99!  I appreciate that I don't have to go all the way to Whole Foods in Hazelton Lanes to pick up this milk.  Or for my kid's organic apple cinnamon cookies from Earth's Best.

Balzac Coffeehouse

You'd think since I'm writing about a coffeehouse that I'd be rating their coffee.  Nope.  I'm here to write about Balzac Coffee's peanut butter squares that are killer.  I don't even enjoy peanut butter all that much, but these chewy squares of goodness are unbelievable.  They have the right amount of chewiness, crunchiness, and flavor balance.  If you'd like to add a cup of coffee or a chai latte to accompany that, then head on upstairs to the lounge where art work hang and there are an abundance of comfy places to sit and enjoy the offerings.  Balzac's is located in the Distillery District on Mill Street downtown.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Caffe Doria

South of Summerhill, on Yonge Street is a little cafe called Caffe Doria. Inside you will find not so amazing food or service for that matter. However, if you are a red velvet cupcake fan (something in that red dye is made of crack), they have them most of the time every week---but sometimes they don't. Like the time I went with my friend, Sydney a few weeks ago, mainly for those little red cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, they were not in the display. In any case, these red velvet cupcakes are out-sourced by some other bakery in town. At $3/cupcake, they are stiff, but they are worth it. The panini's and other food items leave something to be desired, but go over there and get a cupcake to go. You won't regret it.

Corean Chille

Imagine my surprise as a Korean, to find a little gem among many in Koreatown, aka: K-Town to us from SoCal otherwise known as Bloor Street between Bathurst and Christie. Last night, we had a feast for a mere $13/person. Started off with a hot soup, that was accompanied by toasted rice that was inserted into the soup at the table. It was a nice broth that had veggies and seafood. The next dish is a personal favorite---a sweet and sour deep fried coated chicken. I usually get it in pork, which is more traditional, but I was pleasantly suprised by the chicken being extremely tender with no gelatinous bits or tendons. Last but not least was a big bowl of black bean paste noodles that had veggies and seafood which was also good to the last bite. Highly recommend this place---it was awesome! Located at 681 Bloor Street West. If you see a lot of the Korean peeps sitting in there, you know it's good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One of a Kind Show, Toronto 2008

The One of a Kind Show here in Toronto opened today, November 27, 2008 and I went with my 2 girlfriends, Miah and Sydney from 8 PM till closing at 10 PM. We were like the Korean mafia going up and down each aisle starting from the west and working our way back east. It was great! As it is not my first time there (it was Miah's, however) we all made out like bandits---from food stuffs, especially the chocolates and toffees (Sweet Truth and Brooke's), to boots for my nearly 1 year old daughter (Stonz), soy-wax candles (Muskoka Candle Company), smoked tuna (from Salt Spring Island, B.C.), etc., it is truly a mix of great vendors from all over Canada. Highly recommend it. You can find gifts for yourself and others---for $10/admission (if you bring in a $2/coupon or buy your ticket online directly), it's worth it. The parking is stiff---$12/anytime before 6 PM or $9/after 6 PM, but Miah's parking karma was definitely working tonight and we had "rock-star parking" in the garage right in front of the entrance. Ahhh...what a great evening.

Il Gelatiere: Best Gelato Outside of Italy

If you enjoy ice cream, sorbet, then gelato is the way to go---Il Gelatiere on Mt. Pleasant and Hillsdale is the best gelato in town. Not Paloma's on St. Clair Ave., not Hollywood Gelato on Bayview Ave., and certainly not anywhere else claiming to sell gelato. Il Gelatiere is the real deal. To be honest, it tastes better than most gelato stores in Italy. In our 13 day trip to Italy last year, we hit quite a few cities---started in Milan and winding up in Rome. In between was Venice, Bologna, Carpi, Fossoli, Assisi, Modena, Maranello, Sulmona, Terni, Florence, etc., and the best gelato we had was a place in Milan, on the main drag. But I digress. Il Gelatiere is great and the people running it are awesome---shout out to my girl, Madeline. She's fantastic!

Brick Street Bakery in the Distillery District

The whole Mill St. area called the Distillery is really picking up.
I'm talking about Brick Street Bakery that makes my day every time I go down there.
They make the best sandwiches in town. From the lamb sandwich to the post-Thanksgiving sandwich, they are just melt in your mouth amazing. They are reasonably priced in all regards. They also tout having the best banana bread in town and I have to say, it's pretty damn good.
The eccles cakes are good and so are their scones. I'm not even a huge scone fan, but I'll go only here if I have a scone craving. They're like buttermilk biscuits---guess you'd have to be a biscuit fan to truly appreciate Brick Street's scones.

Terroni: Best Thin Crust Pizza

If you want a truly thin crust pizza right from Italy, look no further than Terroni. They have the most amazing pizza in town. I get the "Capriccioso" pizza every time I go there---it's got olives, Italian ham, artichokes and mushrooms. It's awesome. I love spicy, so I always request the side of hot pepperoncini, which will make you sweat. The original one is on Queen St., but the one on Yonge St., south of St. Clair is closer and is just as good as any other Terroni in town. Somehow, after a little dinner for 2, it always costs $60.00 a meal with tip. That includes perhaps 2 pizzas, maybe 1 appetizer, and maybe 2 glasses of wine. Not cheap, but a good time indeed and worth it.

La Bamboche: Macaron

La Bamboche on Manor Road, off of Yonge Street, and south of Eglinton Ave., has the most amazing little treats called "macarons"---now, they're not your typical ghetto American macaroon coconut treat that looks like little haystacks. These are right out of a patisserie in Paris, where the little meringue cookies, encompass an amazing cream or ganache. If you can only afford one, (at I believe, $2.50 a pop, they're a bit rich in pricing for a single macaroon), the sea salt caramel flavor is the way to go. I've tried other flavors, but they're not as interesting to me. They also make a decent croissant here, but like I said before, Rahier is the place to go for a croissant.

Rahier Pastries

If you want the best, most amazingly flaky, rich but not too over the top croissants in town, you must go to Rahier on Bayview, south of Eglinton. It is the best. I've tried many a croissant---from Frangipane, Brick Street Bakery, La Bamboche, Celestin, Whole Foods, you name it, I've tried it---Rahier is the best. They make awesome plain ones, almond (I'm not even a fan of almond croissants, my husband is, but I'll eat them if they're from Rahier), chocolate and even a ham and cheese that is to die for. Rahier is my bakery of choice for these delectable French goodies.

Ahhh...back home in Toronto, Canadaland

Thank you to my dear friend, Miah, who has been on my ass lately to update my little blog.  :)
This is for you, Mi...

From food and life and having fun, I've found a few new hangs that I will now frequent.

First things first...Body Blitz Spa, located in the heart of downtown Toronto on Adelaide Street.  It is an oasis in the middle of chaos and entropy.  It is not cheap.  As a matter of fact, it's down right costly.  But is it worth it?  Oh, yes, absolutely!  I've been to so many spas in my short lifetime:  from Burke Williams in Los Angeles, to 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe, to Bliss in New York City, to the "it" spas in Toronto like Elmwood and Stillwater---I hate to break it to you all, but Body Blitz is "the one".  It has water therapy like no others.  A green tea hot tub, a warm sea salt pool, and a cold plunge occupy the communal area.  Not to mention the sauna, the steam room, the amazing shower heads that are like rain falling from the heavens above.  It is just amazing.  At $45/visit, it is expensive, but it's worth it.  I had the body scrub done, and a massage---those were done very well, but I wouldn't go back for that.  I'd go back to just veg out in the pools and order smoothies from their juice bar.  (sigh)  They don't do facials or mani-/pedi's, and the best part about Body Blitz is that it's only for the ladies.  Sorry men...hope they open a spa like that for you guys, too!