Our international travel has been a bit more limited this year but we were recently lucky enough to spend a few days in Toronto (#inthesix) celebrating a wonderful wedding between two old friends from our graduate school days.
I'd been to Toronto many years ago and I had terrible (and mistaken) recollections of it being a miserable, gray, rainy and freezing place. This time, however, the city welcomed us with brilliant spring weather which made it ideal for walking around and exploring different food options in the city.
Some of my favorites:
Late night cocktails at Drake One Fifty
Not to be confused with the related but geographically separate Drake Hotel across town, Drake One Fifty is an awesome bar/lounge in heart of the Financial District with an expansive booze selection and nice late-night happy hour deals. Going to Canada as an American is (as of now, anyways) already a bit of a steal since the dollar is strong but I always appreciate a bargain. The film crew for Vin Diesel's XXX 3 was actually filming b-roll on the street right by the bar so we had a great time throwing back some Pimm's Cups and watching them film various car scenes and resetting them over (and over, and over) again. However, there were unfortunately no Vin Diesel sightings to report.
More Toronto highlights after the jump!
Exploring the Distillery Historic District
We took a post-brunch stroll around the historic Distillery District which is a cool new neighborhood where old Victorian-era industrial buildings have been transformed into a collection of stores, restaurants, galleries and cafes. While there are sadly no real distilleries to speak of in the area, we did stumble upon the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company which produces quite delicious Izumi sake. The cold Ontario spring water means the sake is really crisp and refreshing - in addition to tasting some of the sake, they also offer tours of the brewery premises.
A taste of historic Canadian cuisine at Boralia
I didn't really have a conception of what "real" Canadian cuisine was but I was glad we snagged a table at the very popular Boralia in the Trinity Bellwoods area, where each menu item includes the date of when the dish was originally conceived, from traditional Aboriginal and settler recipes. We started with deviled Chinese tea eggs which is apparently a reference to the early Chinese population in Canada. Another standout of the night was definitely the Pigeon Pie, stuffed with roast squab breast surrounded by a flaky, buttery pie crust.
Italian small plates at Bar Buca
Discovering Bar Buca's patio for cocktails and Italian small plates was a great way to close out our trip. The smaller, lounge outpost of the Buca restaurant nearby, Bar Buca offers a smaller (but by no means limited) menu of snacks and bar bites like a creamy burrata stuffed with pesto, incredibly tender baby octopus polipo with cubes of smoked soppressata and my personal seasonal favorite, fried fiddlehead ferns with a light, almost tempura-esque batter.
All in all, I felt that Toronto was giving off a cleaner, more organized San Francisco vibe with an equally interesting yet affordable food scene and an easily navigable city layout complete with a very accessible public transportation system. I'm hoping to be back soon and maybe top it up with a transcon jump over to Vancouver as well.
One woman's journey to eat all the food. Or at least, most of it.