Tag Archives: Toronto

Favourite Things: April Edition

1 May

A day late, a buck short.

Oops!

It was a very busy month full of transition (finished undergrad!), a quick West coast trip and a few Sephora splurges. Here are a few of my favourite things about April.

Weddings

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We went to Vancouver for Easter weekend to witness two amazing people get married. I love weddings.

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A group shot during the festivities, after a beautiful ceremony, lovely dinner and several Negronis.

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Some urban wildlife.

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And stumbling upon a quintessentially Vancouver scenario- a weed rally on 4/20

Although it was mostly rainy and I only got a quick clear view of the mountains, I still knew they were there by the fresh West coast air. Toronto’s got many things, but its got nothing on that.

Hibiscus

Is one of my favourite eateries in Kensington Market. The salad is worth the trip alone. It is at once both epic and refined: sweet potato, kelp noodles, lentils, broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, quinoa, tofu, currants, sesame, mint, green onion with a side of some sort of raw cracker. Oh my. The buckwheat crepe is pear, pecans and vegan cheddar. So homey and delicious. Hibiscus is the perfect spot to bring a book or a friend to enjoy on a rainy day.

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Two Faced Melted Liquified Lip Stick

I’m somewhat of a beauty product junkie and love to read about the latest and greatest. I’m excited to share this lipstick I picked up on a whim thanks to some strategic product placement at Sephora. The pigment is super bright, long wearing, and the application is so easy- no need to pair with lip liner (hurray!). There is another stunning shade called Orchid I’m dying to get my hands on, but it was sold out at the time. I want one of every shade.

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Tarte Cheek Stain

This one is called Blissful. I read some silly celebrity beauty profile about Anna Kendrick, and she claimed that she “doesn’t leave the house” without this. She always looks great and I respect her on Twitter so naturally, I had to try it. I really like the Tarte line because it is free of synthetic ingredients. You just swipe it on and blend it in. I use it on my lips too and it actually tastes good (so weird). It feels a little sticky at first but that goes away quickly. And it sounds crazy, but I enjoy not having to use a brush.

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New MacBook Air

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Best. Grad Present. Ever.

I’m so lucky.

Hoo-Ray for May!

M

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My Favourite Things: February, 2014

24 Feb

February itself is NOT one of my favourite things. Speaking as a Canadian experiencing our coldest winter in 40 years, I can officially declare that February is in fact my least favourite of all months. There. I said it. Good riddance.

To brighten things up, In no particular order I’ve decided to post about the various things, large or small, that have brought me some joy, over the past month.

ONE:  You know a product is good when you are already nervous about running out of it right from the start. Amiright?20140227-224208.jpg

This Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream– has been a godsend for me while stuck in this 100+ year old apartment full of super drying, old school rads (not as charming as they look). This stuff is apparently good for lots of uses, lips, face, hands, split ends, flyways. It is apparently the duct tape of beauty products.

Personally, I like to use it most on the dry areas of my face. I usually get dry, itchy cheeks in the winter but no longer (!)  thanks to this stuff. I also like to use it on my décolleté and cuticles. It works on lips, but not as well as true lip balms do (too light). It smells yummy too, kind of citrus-y and little bit goes a long way. Bonus: it is free of nasty chemicals.

TWO: Another stellar performer in my beauty arsenal is this homemade brown sugar body scrub. It too has been a saviour for dreaded dry winter skin.  PLUS: it is extremely economical and easy to make. Simply mix!

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • Optional: add a few drops of essential oil like tea tree, mint or vanilla.

20140227-224253.jpg20140227-224240.jpg I use this in the shower as an exfoliate, and it leaves my skin very soft. It’s also great in the summer for extra glow. The best part is you don’t need to use moisturizer after. This has replaced  my use of coconut oil, which I find to be way more greasy. Try it out!

P.s I know it is popular on Pinterest, but do not, under any circumstances, make the same mistake I did and attempt to make a body scrub out of coffee grounds (huge mess).

THREE:  Clothing Swaps. The only thing that would keep me away from a clothing swap is severe illness or maybe a natural disaster. These. Are. The. Best. Who doesn’t love free clothes you never knew you never knew you loved?! Here are some of my recent favourite scores: 

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FOUR: Olympic hockey was another blessing this February. The Olympics in general really helped pass the dreary time (hundreds of billions of dollars well spent!) Who knew I could stay up until 3 am watching bobsledding? Or curling?! The apex of excitement of course was Canada winning gold in men’s AND women’s hockey AGAIN. Suck it USA.

(I’m sorry that our sense of national pride is so concentrated in this one sport)

Here is a photo of us at 7 am on a Sunday. 7amWe showed up to our neighbourhood pub at 6:45 and were denied for lack of a reservation (surreal).

FIVE:  Solo sojourns to the AGO. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown up than going to see an art exhibit by yourself on a Thursday afternoon. This was actually so amazing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major audio tour enthusiast. My idea of a dream holiday would be to go to Rome (or Paris or the middle of nowhere really) and listen to every last audio tour in town.

Here are some pics of our ugly, glorious and dynamic city. Plus some of Ghery’s magnificent design  in the ghost-town gallery (there was a hockey game on?)

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The Great Upheaval Guggenheim masterpieces exhibit is on (until March 2nd), with works from Matisse, Picasso, Marc, Kandinsky and Duchamp displayed chronologically in an understated way. A complete departure from the crowded Sunday madness that was the David Bowie exhibit, obviously, and a very relaxing way to while away an afternoon. (I actually went for a school assignment, but that was an afterthought if we’re being real. I came to analyze this beauty, Picasso’s (post-upheaval) Seated Woman (1927). 

SIX: Buying tickets to summer music festivals. This is a little bit painful in the frigid  grips of our third polar vortex, but it should be mostly over by early June, no?

Last week we got tickets to hometown festival Field-trip, which is two days in June this year (Broken Social Scene! The Kills! Chvrches! Washed Out!) and also to Pitchfork (again) for three days in Chicago (Kendrick Lamar, Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel, Grimes!) While I didn’t take a single audio tour last year in Chicago, I’m also SO.EXCITED. FOR. BECK.

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SEVEN: Making cured lemons. Thank you Chuck Hughes (my recipe to follow)

EIGHT: Getting out of the city and watching this little guy tryski-ding” for the very first time! Winter is much more charming in rural settings. Cozy ski chalets don’t hurt either!

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NINE: Listening to Phosphorescent perform Songs For Zula live once more, this time at The Mod Club.

That is all. 

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Bring on March

M

Kensington Market, Carlo’s House of Spice, and my Curried Carrot Coconut Soup

27 Oct

Oh, Toronto.

You aren’t so pretty, all street car tracks and telephone wires, parked cars and concrete.

Noisy and sprawling with expensive taxis, glacial transit and grubby pigeons.

But you’ve got character. For all the shopping malls and chain stores, there is plenty of independent and creative spirit alive and thriving in Toronto

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Perhaps nowhere more so than Kensington Market

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One of my favourite things to do is spend the afternoon poking around, grabbing coffee and eating lunch with someone lovely tucked away somewhere in this neighbourhood.

One of my favourite shops is Carlo’s House of Spice. Because I’m a huge fan of spices! Did you know?

He’s got everything, including personal blends.

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This place is my Mecca.

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I like to go and buy obscure spices I have yet to experiment with. This trip I procured sumac powder, amchur powder (mango powder), curry leaves and fenugreek.

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For vintage shopping

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People watching

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And the obscure,

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Kensington Market always puts me in a good mood.

The last last time I visited Carlo’s, I bought his custom hot madras curry powder. I’ve twice made this curried carrot coconut soup, which was so delicious, healthy and simple, my fave combo.

Great for an appetizer, lunch, or in instances requiring immediate night-vision.

20131027-215551.jpgCurried Carrot and Coconut Soup 

  • 1 big bag/bunch of organic carrots (2 lbs?)
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (of your choice)
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat for maximum richness)
  • Appox 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock. Water will do too, in a pinch.
  • salt n’ pepa
  1. Roughly chop carrots, and add to boiling water, peels on. Boil until soft
  2. In the meantime, thinly slice onions and fry in coconut oil until soft translucent over high heat.
  3. Add curry powder and mix. Add 1 tablespoon more oil so spices do not burn. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Drain carrots of water and add stock to the pot. Add onion and spice mixture and coconut milk.
  5. Blend with hand held blender until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let simmer for about an hour

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This soup was even better he next day, as most soups are. It was hearty, spicy, satisfying, and healthy too!

I can’t wait to experiment more with my growing spice collection, and share it with y’all!

Oh, and if you’re ever in the Market, make sure to check out Carlo’s.

Fun Facts:

Carrots: protect against Cardiovascular Disease, are high in antioxidants and Vitamin A, and are extremely low in calories.

Coconut milk: although high in fat, it is “good” fat, which makes you feel fuller, longer. It is also packed with vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is an anti-viral, coconut milk contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, which is quite valuable to the human body. When it enters the body, lauric acid is converted to monolaurin, which is a compound that has antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Onions: the phytochemicals in onions improve the working of Vitamin C in the body, thus gifting you with improved immunity. They also contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar.

What are your favourite new spices to cook with?

 

A Graceful End to Summer, Spicy Corn Chowder with Shrimp and Bacon

17 Sep

The Queen West Art Crawl happened today, where local artists showcase their wares in Trinity Bellwoods park. It could not have been more perfect September afternoon in Toronto, sunny, clear, and 24°.

We chose to not only participate in an art crawl, but a self possessed food crawl as well. Because it is corn season, a buttery cob could not be passed up (and yes, the above vat of boiling goodness  is pure butter, or so they said)

Lemon pepper, salt, cayenne. Too many choices.

Food trucks are finally taking off in Toronto, but mostly only at sanctioned events. Despite being an amazing city for food, T.O severely lacks in any sort of  street eats other than burgers and hot dogs. New York puts us to shame (naturally), but I’ve recently discovered Vancouver does too (gasp!)

The blue truck is a cupcake truck. Not really my thing, but cute nonetheless!

We decided to try some tacos at Gourmet Bitches (or temruoG sehctiB, as the lettering on the truck states). It is a taco truck run by hot bitches in Van Halen tee-shirts. I dig the aesthetic.

Totally intrigued, we ordered the Bitchen’ Beef, described as Hibiscus vanilla bean beef (?!) with fresh tomato salsa and green onions.

$10 was a little steep, these were pretty tiny. The vanilla bean was present but subtle, and they had a nice heat. The hibiscus however, was lost on me.

Yum.

We then walked West along Queen, heading up to the Polish Street Festival on Roncesvalles. Why not, right??  We  ate meatballs with fried peppers and onions and salmon cakes with tartar sauce. Both were delicious, but the salmon from De La Mer Fresh Fish Market was outstanding.

(P.s. the distance from the Art Crawl to the Polish Festival was significant enough to warrant multiple snacks)

There was also fresh corn roasting going on there, which inspired me for dinner- Can you say, Chow-dah??

‘ I picked up five fresh ears on the way home.

Spicy Corn Chowder with Shrimp

Freakin’ Delicious.

Recipe inspired by Bev Cooks

  • Bacon, 3 slices, cooked crispy and chopped
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled
  • 3 cobs of fresh sweet corn
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (ish) cayenne
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • course salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  1.  In large pot, boil corn on cob in salted water for approx 10 minutes and set aside
  2. In small pan, fry bacon. While bacon is frying, prep veggies, garlic and shrimp
  3. Remove bacon once crispy and set aside.  Fry shrimp in pan with bacon fat for about 4 minutes. Toss and cook another minute until shrimp are opaque (do not over cook), and set aside.
  4. Saute onions, red pepper and celery in same pan (if desired) until onions are well cooked. Add garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and cayenne and turn heat to medium low. Add small amount of water to pan if it starts to get too dry.
  5. Cut cooked corn from the cob to produce kernels, and saute with veggies and spices.
  6. In medium pot, bring chicken stock to a simmer.
  7. Add 1/3 of veggie and corn mixture from pan to the pot with stock and add sour cream. With hand held blender, emulsify until smooth (does not have to be perfect)
  8. Add shrimp, 2/3 of the bacon, and remainder of the corn and veggies. Add basil.
  9. Serve in bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream, black pepper, more basil and bacon.

The bacon with paprika added smoky saltiness to the sweetness of the corn and shrimp, and the basil added freshness and depth.

Great flavours, pretty, and also, very filling.This eats like a meal!

A new favourite to be sure.

Immy May

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