My past in Toronto is somewhat limited due to the fact that I only lived there for a short few months out of the 3 years I spent in London, Ontario. Toronto is home to me, only because I have family and a brother that live there. When I do visit, it’s always a real treat.
I was with a friend of mine, a Vegan to be specific, and had an urge for some shopping since the weather is about to change. The beautiful thing about Toronto is its metro system since it’s clean and easy to use. In Los Angeles, I can’t get anywhere without getting into my car or walking 10 miles without breaking into a sweat! We took the train in to Union Station towards the fashion/Kensington Market area. My friend, an avid hockey fan, told me she once ran into Borje Salming here, back in the ‘80s, right after someone skated on his face (he was a Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman who is in the Hall of Fame). He had 126 stitches, she believes. That was back in the days of Harold Ballard and Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens. Nowadays, the Leafs play at the Air Canada Centre, which is relatively close to Union Station. It is also a popular venue for concerts. Union Station is a beautiful Toronto landmark and its high ceilings give it an air of dignity and magnificence. It also has a good view of the CN Tower, the tallest building in the world. In comparison to Los Angeles, there are a lot more walking areas which allow for greater appreciation of the history behind these buildings. I wish I could say the same for LA!
The beautiful thing about Toronto is its metro system since it’s clean and easy to use.
We started our day in the fashion district, which is on Spadina Avenue between Front Street and Queen Street. In other words, it is within walking distance of Union Station. Time flies when you’re window shopping, passing by numerous fashion boutiques, outlet stores with cute handbags, shoes, jackets, skirts, you name it. I ended up buying a leather purse and my friend got mad at me (because of the Vegan thing). But really, if you knew me it takes months for me to find the ‘perfect’ bag, much like the one in Hong Kong that took me a full year to discover. It was so worth it! So I told her I would make it up to her and take her out to lunch to her favorite restaurant in Kensington Market, so we kept walking north past Chinatown to find her haunt.
We headed to restaurant on Augusta Avenue. For some reason, the restaurant was still closed at 11:30am, which we found to be a bit odd. You would think that if they were open for lunch then they would be open at 11:00 at the latest. The sign said they didn’t open until noon, so we went to an organic food store to kill some time. Did you know I once wanted to open a health food market myself? My friend was in seventh heaven, as was I. She tells me that Kensington Market is very popular with Vegans because not only is there that organic food store, but also there are several vegetarian restaurants. Who knew. I just know I love all the fragrant froo-froo things I will buy but likely never use.
Oh right, back to the restaurant. I must say that I was impressed with the prices. You can get a soup and sandwich there for about $8, which is pretty good for Toronto. I had the cheddar and chutney crepes, which were out of this world. My friend also let me taste her salad, which was also good. It tasted natural and flavorful, not bogged down with a lot of sauces.
Now normally I am a semi-huge carnivore, but I can see why my friend likes this place so much. Despite the problem with the hours (only noon to seven) I would probably come back again.
We headed back south to Queen Street and walked west for some more shopping. We did walk past a restaurant called Terroni’s, an Italian family-owned restaurant which I want to mention. My friend told me it got mixed reviews. It has great food, especially the thin-crust pizza, but apparently the service isn’t so good. It reminded me of the soup-nazi from Seinfeld. They don’t take reservations and there is always a lineup. I also heard that a mutual friend went there and she wanted them to take the peppers off her pizza and they wouldn’t do it. They do really well, though; so well that they expanded to two new locations. It’s no different than heading to an authentic Chinese restaurant – never expect fantastic service if you want great food (the waiters yell across the room!) So if you can put up with the service the food is really worth it.
I also heard that a mutual friend went there and she wanted them to take the peppers off her pizza and they wouldn’t do it.
After hours of shopping, ehm, window shopping our feet were aching from hitting the pavement. We came across a park and stopped for a bit to enjoy the greenery, trees, chirping birds and crying babies. I don’t know the name of the park but it’s so nice to be reminded that of nature in the middle of an urban city. The weather was beautiful and the birds were singing their beautiful songs.
We kept going west and ended up at a nice restaurant that was recommended by an Ethiopian friend of mine. She says it is one of her favorite restaurants in Toronto called Addis Ababa and it is also family-owned and allegedly authentic. Dear me – the first thing that struck me when we walked in was the pungent roasted coffee smell that perfumed the air. Do you know how much I love coffee? (she wrote as she sipped her Vietnamese coffee) It was simply wonderful. It had a really homey feel to it. Just to annoy my friend I had the combo platter, which is lamb, beef, sweet potato, chicken and veggies. And for the record, this restaurant is vegetarian-friendly, for people like my friend and brother. The only thing I can say about the place is that the service is slow. Ah well, nobody’s perfect I guess.
Do you know how much I love coffee? (she wrote as she sipped her Vietnamese coffee)
Toronto is full of shopping, lots of sights and wonders. There’s so much to do for each and every person (did I mention the pub in the middle of Kensington Market?) It was a delightful way to end off my day in beautiful Toronto. I wish I could do it every day. Ha!