Read Part 1 HERE !
Continuing east then west on Dunlop led us to the MacLaren Art Centre, City Hall, vintage clothing shops, several Indian takeout joints, and stretches upon stretches of pubs with patios incorporated onto the sidewalk. Honestly, it was quite fascinating to find such a tremendous number of British pubs, Whiskey and Scotch bars, and Irish pub houses centred along the same span.
At a certain point in time, we ducked into a hybrid boutique by the name of J'Adore Cheese and Chocolate. Originally it was the all caps SPEAKCHEESY that had spoken to me (no pun intended) and consequently prompted our entrance. The quiet but elaborately stocked interior carried an insance inventory of spices, preserves, pre-packaged biscuits, charcuterie items, and chocolate-covered confectioneries.
Not to be omitted was the impressive variety of cheeses, which ranged from vegan cashew cheese to Chocolate Cheese Fudge. Most were even categorized according to their source of dairy, be it cow, lamb, or goat.
Have you ever head of a "hotdoggery"? I haven't, at least not until this visit.
As dusk came, the menu posted outside Hooligans suddenly appeared appealing. In complete contrast to the tranquil drizzle taking place outside of the three-floor corner restaurant, noise pollution was extreme in the dining hall. With news that the patio was closed due to weather, there was no other option than to retrace our footsteps into the car and search for an alternative dinner location.
Ominous grey clouds and overcast weather typically means resorting to indoor activities (or at least for everyone but the West Coast-ers that face sun-less skies all year-round).
For me, it means sleeping in, accomplishing a list of errands, and the occasional CoCo run. However, being away from home means making the most of the day, rain or shine.
Following a late lunch, we leisurely traversed down the 400 in search of entertainment near Allandale Waterfront GO. The idea was entirely mine, as few occasions to explore the vicinity had surfaced on our several visits to The Farmhouse.
An incredulous amount of construction was found to have commenced along the waterfront, restricting access to the perimeter of the lake at several points along the shore. With majority of the shops appearing dilapidated and ancient, it was suggested that we continue to skim Bradford Street and venture about the Downtown Barrie BIA.
Exempt from a proper asphalt lot, parking adopted the form of diagonally-aligned parallel parking spots. Meter payments were requested at specified periods on weekdays, while weekday evenings and weekdays were free of charge. Spots weren't scarce by any means, although securing a space within the acceptable walking distance was a bearable challenge.
It was my second day without a proper shot of espresso; once parking had finally been found on Owen St., I knew the first item on the agenda was to tend to my caffeine fix.
If you've ever had the chance to make a 1.2 hour drive with no stops, I would highly suggest stretching beforehand. The lengthiest journey I've made would probably be the 2-hour trip from Richmond Hill back home during rush hour, amidst a collision and the peak of construction season. (And no, it was far from pleasant to shift centimetre by centimetre across Hwy 7 until traffic finally cleared.)
However, that pointless expedition did not involve the continual suppression of the acceleration pedal. This one did, and caused muscle spasms while at it.
Complaints aside, we embarked on a journey to Barrie after I finally obtained my long-needed dose of McD's and 3 Guys. Having arrived just before rush hour but a tad too early for supper, there were few activities that could be engaged in after snacks were devoured and belongings were put in place.
Exploring the nearby area led us to Chelsea Chocolates in Craighurst Belgian chocolate hand-crafted in every shape and form imaginable could be found in the cozy shop: from assorted fish-shaped truffles to milk chocolate wrenches, there were items of varying sizes for each and every occasion. A special Canada 150 series was also available as maple leaves sporting red-tinted cocoa butter on the surface.
Hamilton, Waterloo, and Mississauga are on their way to a more transit-friendly community with the implementation of an LRT system along the suburbs' main corridors. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Markham/Richmond Hill.
The Viva BRT along Highway 7 is revolutionary for northeast GTA, though its kinks still leave much to be desired for regular transit-riders. For weekend travels, and Sundays in particular, it proves insufficient in guaranteeing a stree-free commute with up to thirty-minute transfer gaps; for this very reason, the transition between GO Transit and local YRT would be rendered more troublesome than necessary.
A ride is required for days like these. However, it remains unknown whether time was actually conserved at all, for cars on Hwy 7 merely creeped along with torpidity
The reverse situation was witnessed at Downtown Markham, the city's attempt at creating a publicly accessible spot for casual get-togethers and potential future night markets. Go For Tea was likely my last visit to the buildings at Enterprise and Birchmount, but even with a year's absence, I can't say I missed out on much.
One would have believed that a stretch of underground and abundance of asphalt would be more than capable of meeting the parking demands of Markham's driver-burdened population. Great disappointment found its way toward me, as this was not the case: frustration was thoroughly felt after making several loops around the underground lot with little luck. Eventually, a lone spot was secured at the edge of the exterior lot and the trek was made in the direction of the air-conditioned building duo. We climbed up the snail-like escalator - actually, I just hiked up the single flight of fifty-or-so stairs - and came face to face with the ridiculous crowd at Kiu.
It wasn't that I hadn't expected a greater volume of customers on Father's Day; a lunch rush had been anticipated, though I had hoped an arrival within forty-five minutes of their opening hours would reduce crowd congestion.
Thankfully, small groups were easy to accomodate. The hostess was pleasant and offered to seat us at the sushi bar to fulfill my request for ample natural lighting. The lower level bar seating was actualy far more superior than the boxy booths and wooden tables: Noise levels were lower along the perimeter of the restaurant, the corner spot permitted plenty of space for storage of belongings, and the seats provided a clear view of the sushi chefs at work.
Scaled salmon heads, empty hangiri, Styrofoam boxes, and blowtorch flames could be observed from our place of positioning. A myriad of activities were taking place simultaneously. The bustle was exciting; it was exciting to watch, almost alluding to promising final products. I honestly could have done without mounds of butchered fish placed immediately before me though.
The scene tempted me to try their Aburi Sushi. My dining partner, who exclaimed that majority of their offerings were too pricey, took to the White Sesame Shio Ramen. As Kiu operated in partnership with Ramen Isshin on College, half of their menu had been allocated towards ramen bar items.
Orders were collected by a waitress with slicked back copper treads and dusty white complexion. Ice water and a dish of soy sauce followed up shortly after.
The 7-piece platter of flame-torched sushi bore a description that possessed little information besides that nigiri and oshizushi would be included. Neither variety could be confirmed by our waitress, as the choices were "chef's selection", a glorified term commonly denoting items of utmost convenience or those in need of urgent utilization.
Artificial slate would have added points for visual appeal, but instead a rectangular slab of chipped, substandard wood was used to support the seven microscopic pieces of Aburi to our table - er, bar seats. (The lacquered plank made even Sushi Tei's more economic goods appear refined!)
My first reactions comprised of aghast shock and disappointment; these emotions were then overcome by biting bitterness and sheer sadness for my wallet.
The ratio of fish to rice was an abhorrent 4:1 ratio, with four parts adopting the form of crumbly rice featuring untossed spoonfuls of salt/sugar and inadequate ladles of vinegar. Failed to have been seasoned evenly, the frail fragments swirled about the insides of my mouth, much to my misery.
The highlight of Aburi is, without a doubt, the fattiness of the fish. Its technique intends to activate the natural fatty acids embedded within the fish, nixing the need for soy sauce or any other condiments. Jalapeno slices are occasionally used to cut slickness while leaving the remainder of the specimen untouched.
With the Hallyu Wave taking over North America by storm, I wouldn't be surprised if Nature Republic or innisfree franchises being popping up any time soon. (Actually, since 101 Boys (aka Wanna One) have officially been confirmed as CF models for innisfree, I honestly would not mind having a location near me.)
The Face Shop, Tony Moly, and Missha have been long-time contenders of Pacific Mall's K-Beauty aisle; more recent additions include It'S SKIN, Myeongdong Beauty, and Multi Brand. New to the roster is ARITAUM, who opened their first standalone BC location in Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. (Oddly enough, I hadn't been aware of this at all during my summertime visit until orangecane brought it up in one of our conversations.)
Amore Pacfic, Sulhwasoo, and Laneige are only several of the brands that the store carries; majority of the shop's perimeter is lined with skincare items such as sleeping masks or serums, while colour cosmetics and beauty tools fill the core
Photos were forbidden inside the two week-old beauty store, which I assume is to protect their pricing system and prevent promotions from leaking to other retailers.
ARITAUM carries several crowd pleasers from Laneige, though the majority of the skincare items lean towards the mature skin group. I resorted to Multi Brand for tea tree-containing acne products.
Debbie Cosmetics, presumably a Missha spinoff, is a name I've been noticing frequenting my inbox as of late. Located immediately across from Missha, the smaller shop retails products from particular brands that have gained individual popularity. The layout and pricing system is similar to that of Myeongdong Beauty.
After inspecting the Korean Beauty aisle, I soon felt pangs of hunger, and reasonably so since I had swapped breakfast for prolonged periods of sleep. We headed to the food court, only to find every single seat in existence occupied.
It was suggested that we backtrack towards Papa Chang's Express, for there was a vacant dining area and absence of a lineup.
A combo of Minced Meat + Sausage on Rice and Wintermelon Tea was selected. The contents of the paper bowl was greasy, but capable of satisfying a ravaging appetite - probably Taiwanese street comfort food at its best. Its accompanying beverage, on the other hand, was just downright sugary and too sweet for my preferences.
Dak Lak, which was simply around the corner from Papa Chang's, was a spot that I anticipated returning to on each of my P-Mall visits. In a sea of synthetic bubble tea stands, authentic Vietnamese coffee stole the spotlight for its energizing properties and unique presentation.
It brings me sadness to announce that Hong Kong Milk Tea with Coffee Jelly no longer exists as part of their lineup. In its stead is Vietnamese Milk Tea and a milder variation of their best-selling Iced Coffee. Owl-themed cups and bubble tea have also replaced their pastry selection.
Although my favourite has vanished from the menu, refuge was still found in their extra-potent Iced Vietnamese Coffee. The friendly shop is indeed appropriately named: 딱 (Dak) 좋아! (아가새s, are you with me??)
We've just entered the six month of the year. Along with the official commencement of summer break for elementary and secondary school students, June also marks the halfway point of the year, especially if exactly half of the month has gone by.
Few vacation days were taken for the previous month, though I had made vast efforts to ensure that I would be engaged with exploration for the periods where I was not occupied with work. Hence, the brief pockets of leisure time that followed my excursions were made quite agonizing as a constant race to finalize backlog within a timely manner.
Consequentially, I've made laborious struggles to suppress desires to venture about the GTA and halt any intense adventures until my mind recovers from overexertion.
Of course, casual trips within the vicinity have been made on several occasions because, in reality, there's no way I could remain still at home with beaming weather out my window.
1) Port Credit
Apple Pie Crisp from Scoops has finally been obtained!! Several weeks ago, I had already been dreaming of the cinnamon-laced deliciousness; on a much warmer day, I proposed the trip to my favourite fangirl, who was on board with the idea despite the sudden gusts that slapped us in the face as we made our across Lakeshore.
A small Artisan Waffle Cone and large Apple Pie Crisp, Hazelnut, and Berry Coconut later, we wandered into Port 1 (which now offers crepes and savoury wraps) to warm up with Americanos.
2) Complimentary Canada 150 Edition sandwich cookies that were made extra patriotic with maple filling and red maple leaf-shaped exteriors
3) Peace Collective is opening in Square One?! Looks like there won't be a need to venture out to Ossington nor Yorkdale for this month's CONCEPT pop-up.
4) True 아가새s are capable of making the relation between anything bird-themed or chartreuse green-hued with their all-time favourite K-Pop group.
5) COBS Bread
Besides de la terre, the only bakery able to meet my persistent demands for crispy, flavourful croissants is COBS. In addition to securing a Chocolate Croissant and Traditional Croissant (for sandwich-compiling purposes), I was also persuaded into testing out the Raspberry & Custard Teatime.
The incredibly indulgent pastry is meant to be shared amongst family and friends, and, as the name suggests, with tea or coffee. By itself, the rotisserie chicken-sized twisted creation pairs wonderfully with cold brew as a sweet mid-morning treat; though COBS also suggests pairing it with ice cream to enhance the gooeyness of the chocolate icing and soft tartness of raspberries. Either way, the item was stellar.
Its recommended consumption period is between 1 to 3 days, though I personally already found staleness by the conclusion of the first day. (But trust me, this treat won't last long anyway!)
6) Coffee Milk has officially landed! While Brown, Cony, and Sally had adorned the Banana, Strawberry, and Melon versions respectively, Moon is the next character to be featured on the recent Binggrae release.
The taste is similar to that of UCC circa 2010 - a milkier, sweeter rendition of iced coffee that's undoubtedly excessively processed before sale. Sugariness aside, the version is likely my favourite amongst the three I've tasted.
7) Sushi Tei platter from Sushi Tei, only of which one fifth of the six Dynamite rolls and numerous assorted nigiri were consumed (as my already small appetite only shrinks with the passing of evening hours.)
8) After months of doubt regarding Starbuck's tri-colour matcha and espresso beverage launch in Singapore, I finally persuaded myself to take the dive. Personally, I found the combination quite peculiar, but also unexpectedly pleasant. One need be a fan of both caffeinated components to fully embrace this beverage, as the first sip can come across a tad overwhelming for non-addicts.
The next step would be nailing the distinctive, layered presentation...
9) Toasted Coconut Cold Brew from Starbucks is definitely a hit for the scorching summer months, especially with a pinch of tropical-tasting sweetener and dash of coconut milk for substance.
Commonly overheard in conversations with friends regarding dining choices is "You're the picky one, not me. (Hence,) you decide."
And I admit it; it's true.
In my defense, without the presence of standards, expectations, and comparisons, improvements would never be witnessed. Things would remain identical for eternity, ceasing efficiency in all its forms.
Over the course of two years, I've travelled to and from the eatery-laden strip of North York between Sheppard/Yonge and Yonge/Finch an excessive number of times, trying everything and anything along the path. Aside from a few select bistros, franchise shops, and overpriced establishments operated by wealthy international students, I've tasted majority of the items on offer.
"North York? It's my 'hood." I once responded to an acquaintance.
"No, I'm pretty sure it's mine." The Thornhill native proceeded to list several establishments, all of which I admitted to have dropped by with the exception of Cho Sun Ok, a Korean franchise.
"...it is your hood." She eventually acknowledged, a little taken back.
As someone constantly on the hunt for new, innovative opportunities, I concluded that it was time to move upwards - northbound along the ever-congested Yonge Street to try a taste of Thornhill. Private parking lots are also more common with shops situated north of Steeles, making meals more driver- and family-friendly.
Hub Sushi, Soohyang, The Cups, and Love Me Sweet are a mere quartet of the eateries beknownst to me in the Viva-accessible region. A small spot on Centre Street/Thornhill Summit Drive recently piqued my interest: The Guksu and Noodle, an authentic Korean spot serving both hot and cold noodles in a humble plaza.
Within the vicinity was Starbucks, a local fashion boutique, and a handful of other businesses; all were accessible from a tiny parking lot facing the hustle and bustle of Yonge Street. Should the meager number of spots be filled, a spacious, unpaved (read: dusty) lot could be found towards the back entrances. The interior pathways weren't exactly safe to manouever between, as haphazardly stopped cars and incompetent aligning skills contributed to quite the hazards. Nonetheless, it was a spot that was complimentary and secure.
The noodle house comprised of two entrances: the main accessway that featured the shop's black-white-red logo and a backdoor that would lead to a tiny patio and connect to the arenaceous parking lot.
Inside was a small waiting area and two levels of dining space, each enveloped in a yellow-tinted mahogany furnishings and the occasional accent of artificial greenery. The floors were separated by a short staircase. Seating was roomy, albeit the minimal proximity between tables/booths. Spot lights and partially-enclosed spiral bulbs cast orange glares on the lacquered surfaces below.
The Guksu and Noodle is a relatively recent addition to the area, however its menu showed signs of extreme wear. I suppose the rips and faded edges were a proper indication of their popularity; the neighbouring tables comprised primarily of those that spoke Korean - a sign I considered reflective of the restaurant's authenticity.
First spotted in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, I had originally been unfamiliar with guksu and unaware of the other varieties of Korean noodles besides those used in naengmyeon (buckwheat) and japchae (sweet potato). As observed from the menu, guksu ranged from thick/thin wheat noodles to the rare Momil Guksu (chilled buckwheat), and could be served cold or hot.
I was captivated by the colours of the Fruit Bibim Guksu, though we also ordered a Gogi Guksu to try their dishes at two varying temperatures.
Water and tea were served in handle-less mugs lined with a gorgeous teal. Banchan (ie. side dishes) were presented to us in the form of sodium-laden kimchi and butternut squash purée shortly after placing our order.
Despite the saltiness of the kimchi, I rather enjoyed the fact that it wasn't as spicy as other establishments. The inclusion of leafy greens in addition to the standard napa cabbage chunks was greatly appreciated.
Individual mounds of sweet butternut squash was served alongside a teaspoon of ginger jelly. A calming sensation was perceived as I, ever so insensibly, dug into the chilled mashed root vegetable with chopsticks, forgoing the tiny spoon wrapped alongside the provided utensil set. The ginger jelly possessed nearly unnoticeable flavour, though the texture complimented the smoothness of the purée.
No inveracities are told when I describe this past month as being a cyclonic roar of errand-running, job-hunting, and backlog-clearing, with smidgens of hangout sessions somehow wedged in between. At this point, I can't seem to recall a time when eight hours of sleep were garnered effortlessly, or when returning home after dusk meant watching GOT7 instead of working on my endless batch of images.
It would be an understatement to say that I had overestimated my abilities to properly function after several hours of mental strain. One can only hope that by restraining curiosity, and consequently restricting the number of adventures around the GTA, that personal and social harmony can be attained in the upcoming summer months.
As always, here are my visuals for the past thirty-one days - primarily of food but with the occasional fangirl content.
1) Laneige - Multiberry Yogurt Repairing Mask
Recently introduced into my skincare routine, this sweet, scented formula is not to be neglected after slathering on deep cleansing and purifying clay masks. The creamy consistency and soothing properties render it suitable for almost all skin types.
I initially obtained a miniature sample of the product via Sephora's point redemption system, but its rapid repairing traits soon convinced me to purchase the full-sized product after two weeks of being without it. The sleek round pot of riches is essentially indispensable now.
2) COBS Bread
Nothing quite tickles my fancy as a customary croissant of satisfying flakiness with a breviloquent aftertaste of butter. de la terre's warm bakery goods may be my top choice while frequenting the region of Halton, however COBS offers the closest comparison in terms of quality, and at a much closer proximity too. Service has also been superb during most visits.
< Pictured above and below: Chocolate Croissant, Ham & Cheese Croissant, Baguette >
3) Dropping a visit at New Balance's Upper Oakville location amidst the evening rush
4) Homemade Lattes and Cold Brew served with classic Korean snacks
5) Matters, specifically a Frankenfrap recreation, are taken into one's own hands when cravings make their presence and Frappy Hour hasn't yet commenced
6) Produce 101 Season 2
The currently airing season of the trainee survival show is undeniably a hot topic amongst groups of all ages. It isn't particularly difficult to understand why the audience is primarily comprised of female viewers; the media has enabled these talented boys looking for an outlet to show their skills to gain exposure to both national (Korean) citizens in addition to overseas K-Pop fans. Mnet is far from an unbiased channel, but given that it is one of the largest and most established, little can be done from point of a mere spectator.
As opposed to drawing light to the rumoured "evil editing", I'd like to introduce my two favourites of the season: Fantagio's Ong Seungwoo and MMO's Kang Daniel.
Incredibly skilled at dance and articulating memorable facial expressions, neither could be more suited to performing on stage.
I am ineligible to vote as a foreign fan, but nevertheless will continue supporting them on their journey to stardom!
(Side: Totally unimpressed am I that Woo Jinyoung and Park Seungwoo were eliminated in the May 26th airing.)
7) Mid-week Pick-Me-Ups:
I finally had the opportunity to meet up with my favourite fangirl for a much-needed catch-up session, and one of the very topics of discussion was selecting restaurants on the basis of whether atmosphere/price point would agree with the corresponding dining partner(s). As I, the one with too many opinions, am generally situated in a position of decision-making, it is my sworn duty to match up the correct auras, cuisine category, and budgets of those that grant me permission to drag along my journeys.
Goldstar Café is located in Downtown Oakville, an area near Oakville GO that combines an assortment of local and international retails shops, bakeries, and cafés. The vicinity comprises mainly of residential areas and the odd church, thought the GO Transit carpool lot isn't too far away either.
Expansion of the parking building had been taking place as we weaved our way from the QEW, through the quiet single lane streets, and the chaos of one-way streets whose signs were camouflaged by transport trucks and utility vehicles; it made the drive needlessly more complicated than Google Maps had intended.
In comparison to Streetsville, it offers wider pathways and sidewalks, brick buildings with tall ceilings, and an added dose of vibrancy. The Oakville BIA is only two regional train stops from Port Credit, Mississauga's entertainment-filled waterfront, yet it retains an entirely different vibe. Shops are more scattered, the waterfront view involves a bit more walking, and the absence of the Credit River and lighthouse are apparent; visitors of downtown Oakville were observed to have a higher average age than the Port Credit crowd.
Parking is yet another issue to be noted with diligence. Whether east or west, Lakeshore Road in itself presents a parking nightmare for many. While Port Credit lands automobile users in a similar scenario, the situation is not as dire with the availability of an open lot outside the library. Free parking is nowhere to be found near downtown Oakville, even if any of the city's libraries, community centres, or churches in sight house a private lot.
The surrounding area either comprises of residential lots for tenant parking, or paid pieces of asphalt and confined, metered slots.
Evaluated on a scale of frustration, securing a spot is equally, if not more, annoying as Port Credit, and departing is only slightly less hectic than exiting Queen Street (and all its narrowness) in Streetsville. A local informed me afterwards that free parking was essentially nonexistent in the area, as the added travel fees were intended to deter citizens from residing too leisurely and improve congestion levels.
An alternative choice was to park at the Oakville GO station and walk over. This would have permitted an excuse to explore the nearby establishments, however, neither of us were wearing proper walking shoes. The construction of the parking building also posed some degrees of confusion.
There was surprisingly spacious seating for an eatery in the heart of the Oakville BIA. Sleek white walls and uniformly-toned seat covers created a relaxing atmosphere, while the frequent positioning of potted plants and colourful cushions encouraged the flow of creative juices.
Around noon on a quiet Tuesday afternoon are shift dress-donning ladies on business lunches, laidback laptop users, and retired residents in casual attire. (We may or may not have been the youngest duo of diners occupying the space during the time.)
The Wi-Fi connection was strong and secured, outlet ports were adequate, and natural lighting was abundant.
The entire café comprises of three "floors" and an outdoor patio, complete with wide white umbrellas whose ruffled hem swung with the movement of the wind.
On the ground floor was a front-facing area with bar stools and a slender white table. Adjacent to this was a shelf of merchandise, which ranged from Reunion Island roasts to the café's very own sleepy duckling mascot and minimalist gold-eared ceramic mugs.
A lengthy cashier and preparation area spanned the remainder. Of course, it couldn't be devoid of a fully-equipped condiment bar (complete with lemon water), and two individual washroom stalls towards the back. The insides of these stalls housed electric jet dryers, automatic toilets operating at high efficiency, as well as an environmentally sustainable lighting system; after one to two minutes of inactivity/movement, all bulbs would extinguish automatically.
I was quite appreciative of the implementation of this technology, as it not only conserved energy but also eliminated the need to be in contact with the light switch on one's way out, thus limiting possible risks of contamination should the previous occupant not have washed his or her hands.
A light dusting of negligence lined the toilet paper dispenser and hand dryer, sacrificing the uniform sophistication of the environment.
It should be remarked that a malfunctioning soap dispenser was found in the second, and only other available, stall for customer use. Otherwise, I had no complaints.
The first and second floors were allocated to commodious dining spaces in the form of round booths and sleek, white tables with comfy cloth-covered chairs. Group tables were aplenty on the first floor, while parties of two could find ample spots on the second, centred around a communal table for large gatherings. Separating the first floor and ground level was a short flight of stairs; the second was distinctly differentiated with a longer flight of wooden stairs that included a landing platform for making a sharp right-angle turn.
View the full album HERE !
Uncommon is it that I proclaim the need for a scheduled hair appointment. The mere snipping procedure is deemed pricey by many, and I am no exception.
I sought out Salon de Elephant initially, for I was intrigued by their combined cafe and cut services. As luck would have it, their first slot was already taken when I attempted to book four days in advance. Prices for junior stylists weren't budget-friendly either.
Miss Rushka had mentioned NC Salon for her pink-purple dye job, so I contacted their North York location. Equally steep prices and unavailabilities for the Saturday morning appointment prevented me from booking yet again.
SORA in Koreatown had provided a satisfying experience previously, so I opted to take my business there, even though it was kilometres further from my original choice of location.
The stylist that my friend had recommended had been taken for the morning, but there was an option for whichever employee happened to be unoccupied at that time. I took it with wariness.
Seven minutes early for my scheduled slot, I popped into Put A Cone On It for cookies and a cozy pick-me-up. A tasty Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie and Rosetta-topped latte eased the effects of sleep deprivation slowly.
I was ushered immediately to a salon chair upon arrival; the stylist wore a blank, listless expression and a medium-long bob (a "lob") of copper. She seemed extremely eager to wrap up the process, directing my belongings to be stashed away in a deep cupboard and preparing the plastic apron before even bothering to take my outerwear.
Trimming split ends and evening out odd strands isn't tremendously challenging, but she seemed confused at my request to straighten the layers, even furrowing her brows in judgment. Few words were exchanged as she snipped away the centimetres.
I was taken to the hairwashing station mid-cut, then taken back when she confidently sliced away fragments of soaking wet hair. She didn't inquire whether I wanted the cut styled at the end, nor did she bother with heat protectant until I inquired so. In under forty minutes, I had received a decent cut, but an incomplete blowdry job and unnecessarily rushed appointment.
While my head is now free of scraggly bits and split ends, I wish the matter was carried out in a more enjoyable fashion.
A little over an hour remained until I had plans to show my face at Anime North.
The coveted Juniper coaster from hanji (finally) made its way into my bag. Sarah and Tom's was browsed. Parking was found.
Apiecalypse Now was a spot I had been eyeing for some time now, so it only made sense to test out the vegan pizza joint with an excuse for lunch. Alas, its operating hours did not align with our schedule, and we were regrettably left to fend for our stomachs at other eateries along Bloor, many of which had committed DineSafe infractions.
As the final decision lay with me, I chose Big Tuna. Instead of their trademark poke bowls though, I pointed towards a smaller item on their menu: the Musubi Bowl. Three pieces of pan-seared Spam found their way on top of zucchini noodles (for their white rice hadn't been ready yet) seasoned with ponzu sauce and wasabi cream.
The girl behind the cashier, who bore a strangely similar appearance to Emily the Strange (without bangs) for her pin straight black locks and pale complexion, was outwardly apologetic that many of the ingredient weren't available yet. She was gushingly friendly, and even offered to top the bowl with taro chips in addition to crispy seaweed bits and wasabi peas.
The bowl was honestly more filling than it appeared, which meant that surviving till 5 PM shouldn't have been an issue.
Anime North was already a bustling neighbourhood of colour, armour, and swords. For reasons beyond me, a substantial section of the TCC parking lot had been reserved for members attending an event led by the Conservative Party of Canada, further complicating the pre-existing parking mayhem.
Finding myself amidst a crowd of eager cosplayers and enthusiastic photographers, I was overcome with the realization that the scene no longer retained the same appeal as when I had first landed on its heat-stricken grounds four years ago. I haven't laid eyes on anime in a long time, neither can I guarantee that I will in the near future. Impending adulthood means greater responsibilities and lengthier time commitments to non-leisure activities. The K-Pop fangirl within me is already suffering from lack of sleep and attention, let alone the interests of lesser priority.
One can view my condensed album of this year's Anime North HERE (once updated). It remains in the air whether I'll still make the strenuous efforts to attend next year though.
The day ended in reiterated gratification and apologies towards my chauffeur, and a trip to CoCo.
May's monthly specials of Sago Milk Tea and Black Tea Macchiato weren't really my cup of tea (no pun intended), so Mango Green Tea and 3 Guys were chosen instead.
Hopefully June will introduce a better selection.
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.