Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Toronto, I love you.


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This post is dedicated to Toronto.

This post is dedicated to all the amazing food and memorable experiences you can find in the city.

I really don't know where to start. I have a great fondness for Toronto. I've been here for fours years and still feel like there is much to explore.

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I've also been very fortunate to live in one of the best neighbourhoods in the city. When you live at  College and Ossington, or Dundas and Ossington... pretty much anywhere near Ossington you have an entire street to explore. It's filled with the best restaurants in the city, gold mine vintage shops, an abundance of bars and endless coffee shops.

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These are a few of my favourite places in Toronto, all walking distance from my house. I'll start with the closes to my house, because they are impossible to put in any order.

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Lit Espresso Bar is my go to coffee shop when I need to get out of the house and focus. Rich espresso and delicate scones are just a few minutes from my home. I also love their loose leaf teas, which they serve in a beautiful Bodum double wall glass cup.

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What's wonderful about Lit, is that you never feel you've over done your stay, making it a great place for studying. I'm sure they don't want to be known for that, but it's kind of what their coffee shop has turned into. Also, if you're into silent movies (Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, one of my favourites) they have them projected on the back wall of the coffee shop.

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Next on the list is Pizzeria Libretto. Known for the best pizza in Toronto. And it is.

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Of course if you don't like soft, chewy Neapolitan style pizza made with fresh, simple ingredients, baked at 900 degrees in a wood burning oven creating a charred, blistered crust, then this probably isn't your thing.

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But if it is, then you seriously need to go there and try some of the best pizza you can get outside of Italy. And it's not just the pizza that makes this restaurant. All the food there is made with hight quality ingredients, San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, Fiore di Latte Mozzerella made from fresh milk and local ingredients whenever possible.

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Now after dinner you may be too full to move and decide to head home so you can recline yourself in a position which will allow you to comfortably digest your food... or you may be feelin' so groovy from the meal that you want to stay out a grab a drink elsewhere.

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I suggest the Dakota Tavern. A classic western saloon located in a basement at Dundas and Ossington.

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If you're wondering who hangs out at the Dakota, well, I couldn't pin point one type of crowd for you. What I can tell you, is that everyone is there listening to some of the best live music in Toronto. They have a variety of different bands that come and play. Rock, country, bluegrass and cover bands that can get the entire bar dancing and singing along.

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The great thing about the Dakota is you don't have to wait for the weekend for a good time. Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm they're open for their Bluegrass Brunch where it's an all you can breakfast for $12.  The best times I've been there are during the middle of the week, where I was lucky enough to see Dwayne Gretzky or Hot Rock, both fantastic cover bands. One particular time when Hot Rock (made up of The Beauties, Flash Lightnin' and Samantha Martin) were playing, Ron Sexsmith decided to join them on stage. Those are the moments when I really think, I love this city.

Here's a Wednesday night with Hot Rock. Sorry for the shakiness of the video, I was trying really hard not to dance...



Another bar that brings "I love this city" moments is the Communist Daughter.

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The tiny bar on Dundas doesn't look like much from the outside. In fact, you might even mistake it for a convient store as a great big yellow sign that says Nazaré Snack Bar hangs above the window. The real sign hangs beneath. A small chalkboard, with the words The Communist Daughter written on it. It really is the perfect sign for the humble bar.

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Saturday afternoons from 4-7 is a must attend. On this day, at this time, you will catch Michael Louis Johnson and the Red Rhythm band playing live jazz music in a close and intimate setting. Its best to arrive 15 minutes earlier or you may find yourself standing behind the bar with Michael himself. During these 3 hours, the real world seems to disappear and you're transcended into a time where the only things that really matter are love, music and beer.

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The last place on my list, is the last place I end up on Friday or Saturday night.  Poutini's House of Poutine on Queen Street. It is a must after you've been singing karaoke all night at the Gladstone or dancing up a storm at The Ossington. This place is always a bit of a blur for me. First of all, it's 2 in the morning and I've had a few drinks. Second, the place is always packed at this time and thirdly my memoires come from my pictures, which literally are blurry.

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Don't get me wrong. I've been to Poutini's during the day. I've experienced it in a clear state of mind. And it is just as good. Hand-cut fries, fresh cheese curds from Ontario, topped with an in-house gravy sauce which was made by roasting bones and fresh vegetables for at least 8 hours and then seasoned and thickened to perfection. For the weaker ones, the also provide vegetarian gravy and cheese curds that are vegan/gluten-free/soy-free/nut-free/taste-free (ha! just kidding, I've never tried them).

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These are just a few of my favourite places.

I can only fit so much information in one post.

I hope this inspires you to explore the streets of Toronto, and hopefully, your own neighbourhood too.

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