Dated: August 31, 2019
Read Part 1 HERE !
Desperately wanting to walk off the meal, we proceeded to venture about the market - this time acquainting ourselves with the district's historic and political elements.
Sussex Drive was the west limit of Byward, along which many a government institution could be observed beyond secured gates.
Notable buildings were the Embassy of the United States of America, Connaught Building, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, a non-government building for religious activity.
Across from the basilica was the Maman Statue, a tourist-friendly spider sculpture that resided just beyond the doors of the National Gallery of Canada. We spent quite the duration attempting to capture the statue from varying - and sometimes humorous - altitudes.
Protected bike lanes were a swell addition to the tourist area. While many Ontario municipalities have expressed intent to incorporate cycling infrastructure as part of new development, existing roads are often challenging to modify, particularly in the instalment of barriers and delineation measures. Priority often shifts to pedestrian-heavy areas such as BIA districts, fostering foot traffic while maintaining safe levels of adventurism.
The above is a statement declared as a biker of beginner skill, as well as an outcome of infrastructure planning discussions. One of the grand tasks of the day included renting bikes for the purpose of exploration.
These rentals did not come cheap, though. Several sources were perused before I had finally settled on a hidden establishment underneath the Plaza Bridge of the Rideau Canal.
Dated: August 31, 2019
We started the morning off with a ByWard Market visit.
Pavilion vendors had long shuttered by the time we had pulled in late the previous afternoon, so the arrival of sunny, blue skies was our opportunity to peruse the market's very own food court, numerous produce stalls, and several independent artist booths.
BeaverTails boasted a lengthy lineup that hadn't been present the previous night. This lineup extended into the afternoon, and even late into the evening hours; a winding crowd persisted each time we passed by.
There were no purchases made at the market, despite stopping at the sights of mini yellow watermelon and potato bread.
To satisfy the yearn for breakfast, we walked into Zak's Diner upon catching glimpse of its old-school diner furnishing.
After making our way through the double doors, a pair of elderly women in pasty white pixie cuts turned to me. "Excusez." One of the two uttered.
My brows furrowed, my mouth agape. I had no idea how to respond, for I was not standing in their way. The lady changed to English with snooty French undertones, "Excuse." and mumbled something along the lines of allowing "elders" in first. This statement further added to my confusion, since she spoke as if I had purposely accelerated to overtake them. But I had merely walked up to a door - one out of the thousands I've opened in my lifetime - and propelled myself through in the name of obtaining sustenance.
A crowd had assembled by the entrance, which we interpreted as a wait longer than necessary. Perusing the menu, there were zero entries piquing curiosity; the obnoxious, sky-high prices were what had me slightly taken back.
The intent had been to find more unique breakfast options elsewhere, but we were quickly running out of time. As we continued northbound, one of the pub menus caught our attention. On it featured "black pudding". And if you're aware of my fondness for the SORTED crew, you'll know that I'm not the type to easily pass up an opportunity for outlandish English fare.
Heart & Crown was a larger restaurant than we imagined. It housed a total of three patio entrances, and it just so happened that we passed by one. Rather than being seated on the patio though, we opted for a table indoors - specifically one that preserved a sunny perspective of outside occurrences. The booths in the sports-viewing lounge corresponded to this description.
Irish pubs were frequent in the neighbourhood, so the impromptu dining decision wasn't completely impetuous. The assortment on offer included English-style breakfasts in addition to the typical Fish & Chips and beer. Topping the list was the H&C Irish Breakfast, which entailed elements such black pudding and baked beans, nabbing my attention from the get-go.
We resolved for just that, as well as the eggs benedict-containing option of The Irish.
Coffee from Lavazza was served, scalding. Despite the name being a familiar sight back home, I can't say I've been bestowed with the opportunity for trial, especially with more cafés in the core than able to count. The cup was sufficiently tasty with the addition of cream. Its untouched (black) status cannot be confirmed, but the inclusion of a creamer definitely benefitted the overall profile.
Presented in a cast iron skillet, the H&C Irish Breakfast comprised of two eggs (sunny side-up for our prefrences), sausage, black pudding, roasted potato gratin, tomato slices, baked beans, sautéed mushrooms, a potato scone, toast, and a handful of fresh fruit. The sausage was extremely crispy, obnoxiously so, and the eggs decent. Crowned the "highlight" of the dish, I had expected the black pudding to bear similarities to soondae. Unfortunately, it was neither firm nor contained rice noodles for structure. Tacky and gamey was the general consensus. Its soft consistency definitely caught me off guard, along with the peculiar stringiness.
Dated: August 30, 2019
Read Part 1 HERE !
One of the most challenging aspects of planning the long weekend getaway was the hunt for unique dining destinations. An all-too-common situation is finding an excess of POIs, then conjuring up routes to hit them all. It was the opposite in the case of Ottawa.
There weren't many spots that had spoken to me amidst the pre-departure online research portion of the trip, despite our primary area of focus being the downtown neighbourhood of ByWard. The sun was rapidly making its descent once we spilled onto the mural-decked streets of the neighbourhood, and our closest options (from the pre-determined map) were either Jackson or Das Lokal. Since Jackson was renowned not for dinner, but rather brunch, I voted in favour of the closer bistro.
The dining room had reached capacity on that Friday evening, so the hostess offered us seats at the bar or on the patio. Given the dim conditions of the much louder interior, there were no issues with hopping onto one of the patio tables, especially with its perimeter nicely lined with strings of bulb lights and leafy shrubbery. Despite being roadside, it was a refreshing change from the cigarette and pot fumes back home. The interior possessed an upscale, modern vibe not dissimilar to popular hidden bars around Toronto.
We seated ourselves at one of the many raised tables by the entrance, one that coincidentally, and inappropriately, happened to be positioned above two uneven concrete slabs (meaning that chair legs had been trimmed to fit the grade difference). The hostess, who also adopted the secondary role of a waitress, examined us with a discerning look as she placed the single sheet menus before us. It was an annoyed almost-glare, as if we appeared to be the types of people to take one look and storm off without placing a single order.
She "warmed" up, if I can depict the progression as so, over the duration of the evening though, with her talktativeness as an indication of the mood change.
< Pictured above and below: Market Soup, Scallops, and Beef Short Rib >
The restaurant's dinner selection was straightforward, with edibles all listed on a single sheet and drinkables (cocktails, wine, beer, etc.) separately pinned to a clipboard. For an eatery with a relatively casual atmosphere, its prices veered into fine dining territory. Appetizers ranged between ten to twenty-three dollars, while Mains were upwards of twenty-four. Very few greens were spotted and swaps were not permitted.
View the full album HERE !
Dated: August 30, 2019
In a world where everything is almost instant, society always manages to find ways of waiting.
Waiting for the laundry to finish;
Waiting to see the doctor;
Waiting at the cashier to check out; and
Waiting in lineups for grand opening specials.
If not already evident, delays aren't my thing, which is precisely why a readily available set of tools to pass time effectively is always on hand.
In preparation for The Great Wait that was the arrival of K-beauty giant, innisfree, at Toronto's luxury shopping centre, several offline sequences were loaded onto my mobile device for viewing.
The next morning denoted an early morning trip via the GO Bus. While I had my qualms about the notorious 401 volumes, my arrival at Yorkdale was smooth and uneventful - in the best way possible. I joined the lineup around 8:10 AM, at which point I had already found myself in 17th place.
My position in line subsequently dropped as people slowly started re-joining the lineup after having their spots held by a single member of the party. I took to my slightly soggy steamed sponge cake while others munched away at lattes and breakfast sandwiches - a luxury I did not have as a unaccompanied voyager.
I concluded an episode of Moment of Eighteen as members of the media team instructed us to rise; around 9:30 AM, preparations commenced for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. At exactly 10 AM, the first group of customers were allowed within the store, and I, having been pushed back due to spot-holders, was none too thrilled about being coerced into the second group. Being 21st in line, the permissible allotment was cut directly before me. (Grrrr).
On the bright side, the store was well-staffed, making the entire endeavour more organized than I expected. There were plenty of opening promotions as well: each member making the first 200 count would automatically receive a Hydration Trail Kit, while additional gifts would be bestowed upon those making purchases of $50 (tier 1) or $80( tier 2).
Distinctly larger than the Union Square store, the Canadian flagship carried a greater number of individual product lines as well as a dedicated section for sheet masks. The interior of the store emitted a similar aura to that of its Asia locations, making use of the high ceiling for artificial shrubbery and blank walls for projector-originating promotional videos.
The store did not carry cushion compacts nor sunscreen - it apparently hadn't passed the quality check in time for Grand Opening, though a staff member noted that they would have it eventually. The Skinny Brow Pencil was not in stock either.
Purchased instead were (multiple bottles of) makeup remover, toner, the ever-popular Jeju orchid eye cream (a winter staple), and the fermented green tea mask that I loved so dearly from my New York haul.
The mobile app was an entry pass to a free Welcome Kit on Grand Opening Day; it also enabled customers to log receipt codes to automatically add points should in-store system be laggy or down altogether. The cashier was swift and extremely kind, tending to my various hurried requests.
To be completely honest, my recollection of any other aspects are faint: with a pre-assembled list in hand, I simply missioned to tick off items of interest and speed back to make the next bus. I promptly rushed back after finishing the ordeal and swung by McDonalds for a 2 for $5 McMuffin deal.
Although intended for sharing, both were eventually consumed by yours truly (Oops).
Shortly after noon, we began our painstakingly long, long weekend road trip, with me gorging on The Night Baker cookies and Iced Coffee the entire way.
Summer is drawing to a close, and, with its departure, should humidity excuse itself accordingly. The past two weeks have proved cooler than the predicted seasonals - not that I'm grumbling about that, of course.
Nevertheless, chilly mornings are the stealthy culprit of summer colds, as made evident by those around me falling victim to summer colds, one by one like dominoes on a playing board. A compact cardigan goes a long way, my friends.
Moving on to our regular run of feasting snapshots:
1) The Night Baker's insufficient grassy Mistachio prompted the seventh iteration of an old recipe on a relatively quiet Sunday afternoon.
Roasted peanuts remained an essential element in the dough, but white chocolate chips had been swapped for semi-sweet ones due to availability. This modification yielded a sweeter core, while the accidental increase in beaten egg resulted in overall softness.
2) Ice Q (Round 5)
Affogato is one the newest items to ease their way onto the menu, following closely after the café's introduction of crepe-and-coffee pairings. Having ordered an Americano to go in my past, as well as a Thai Iced Tea with a (pricey) shot of espresso, I didn't think twice about the quality of their espresso. It was surely better than whatever disappointing ration Archtop had offered.
The order included two scoops of vanilla ice cream - plain, in the absence of vanilla bean; a delicate drizzle of chocolate drizzle glazed the surface of the top orb, with dark chocolate curls dispersed for an added dose of texture.
Presented separately was a small pitcher of "Italian espresso", an aromatic presence of fine surface bubbles and minimal crema. Acidity was mild, though it mattered moderately, given the pre-existing profile of the ice cream and sugary profile of chocolatey condiments.
The combination was a match made in heaven: the fruit of bitter grounds gradually penetrating icy, sugary mounds, then finished with the tinge of semi-sweet crunch. I finished the creation with glee, foregoing any and all woes about becoming ridiculously roused for the remainder of the day. My surroundings appeared heavily saturated - and sharp, almost to a digitally enhanced degree - in the subsequent hours, which was a first for me. Thankfully, these stimulated perceptions of the world diminished during the later hours, enabling a restful evening of uninterrupted sleep.
All factors taken into consideration, this would be an option I wouldn't hesitate to order again, especially alongside a nectarous bowl of ice shards.
I can't identify with the CNE being an annual tradition.
Rumour has it that the August-limited venture warrants a visit from Ontarians near and far every single year. And that is, personally speaking, an occurrence that would spur greater stress than joy.
Scorching temperatures, draining energy levels, public transit chaos, obnoxious lineups, and pricey, off-tasting fare characterized my first visit. It's been five years since then - half a decade, in other words; the expedition garnered a lasting impression, flourishing with enough negativity to recall several years later.
This recount then poses the question: So why visit again?
Because I was looking for a post-work hour activity that could be easily accessed by all members of the party. At the same time, everything deserves a chance for redemption.
I renounced the grueling door-to-door trip on transit in favour of driving then commuting along the Lakeshore West corridor. By the time 4 PM rolled around, I was ready to head over, but due to staggered work times, the trio didn't assimilate until closer to 6 PM.
Brown had snuck his way into my bag, prepared to ventilate the vicinity when summoned. However, this year's visit was nowhere near as sweltering as the 2014 run. Weather conditions were stellar throughout our entire visit - totally unlike the sticky, humid obscenity from before. In spite of the incredulous amounts of foot traffic, neither a fan nor a sleeveless, strappy top was critical to my overall sanity. An occasional breeze was felt here and there.
Sundown paved the way for stooping mercury levels, prompting the need for either a cardigan or thin jacket.
View the full album HERE !
It's pouring outside in the nastiest way right now. You know, that on-and-off madness where you're considering cancelling plans in favour of compiling paperwork in the company of hot tea and mellow playlists.
But perhaps I oughtn't to complain, because West Coasters endure far greater amounts of precipitation, suffering darker, gloomier days. Moreover, the entire week has been (mostly) mild with blue skies welcoming me into every weekday morning.
1) A lunchtime stroll thrust a complimentary can of White Ale into my hands. Enjoyed responsibly at home, the Niagara brewery's patio-perfect product was summer-ready with a refreshing, clean finish.
2) Double the Uncle Tetsu, double the fun.
3) More Percy Pigs grace this week's snacking roundup.
4) Palgong (Distillery District)
With the exception of the Grapefruit Green Tea and their lack of a functioning faucet, Palgong - or rather, Two Nine - has never disappointed. The act of extending operations into the Distillery District came as an odd discovery me; nonetheless, I was determined to see the store for myself.
The journey felt longer than anticipated, and unbelievably hot despite the waterfront breeze. Instead of biting the bullet, I hopped onto the first TTC bus I spotted, which ultimately took me to George Brown's waterfront campus instead of my desired destination. I trekked the remainder of the way, making my arrival with prominent sweat droplets lining my forehead.
For the sake of sheer comparison, I took to an Original Milk Tea via Ritual. And as the system was devoid of a "less sugar" option, I promptly selected "No Sugar". Minutes later, I learned the direness of this decision. A plastic cup under my name was plopped onto the counter, within it containing a tacky, repulsive substance that I'd be perfectly fine with never tasting ever again. I searched for a wastebin, where it rightfully belonged, however those thoughts were dismissed as my wallet wailed in outright disagreement. I also couldn't stand the thought of wasting food.
To further escalate my displeasure, the $3.49 price tag had come exclusive of tapioca. I only later learned that the business was holding a 50% off promotion for in-store orders.
5) "It's said that if you are able to look up at the sky three times a day, You Are happy."
Indoor rock climbing was observed to be a trend since the first quarter of this year - "Suddenly everyone was scaling a wall", as artist Dami Lee calls it. Another observation was the general shift to a healthier lifestyle amongst my immediate circle. Gym memberships, yoga studios, and sore muscles were key words that rapidly infiltrated daily conversation.
I'm rarely one to enjoy perspiring in the presence of others, with the exception of badminton, so it took quite a while before my favourite fangirl could convince me to take advantage of her gym's one-time day pass. Truthfully, it sparked due to over-indulgence the day prior by means of boozy brunch at Pray Tell and devilishly decadent stuffed cookies from The Night Baker.
We stayed for a solid four hours, then hunger hit. When the nearby Freshco denied me of a readymade salad, I turned to foodora. A limited-time voucher prompted a late lunch at Basil Box; featured on the side is a refreshing, albeit slightly sugary, Pomegranate Mojito, which is retailing for two dollars till the end of summer.
One dollar Iced Coffees from McD's are a godsend. Even more so are the customization options; my go-to is: no liquid sugar and substituting milk for cream.
Outtakes from the aforementioned downtown excursion can be found below as well.
Resuming our routine format:
1) Homemade Cold Brew from my favourite fangirl (and her gifted pack of Albuquerque beans)
2) Blueberry and Lavender Honey Butter Chips proved underwhelming in profile, despite their fantastically floral fragrance.
Nakayoshi and Fiorentina, which is now closed for the summer holidays, have been my few encounters with The Danforth. Residing on the east side of Toronto - east of the Don River anyway - the neighbourhood is usually out of the walk-able radius of my regular downtown excursions. Precisely due to this point, Taste of the Danforth was one of the many Toronto street festivals that I hadn't given much contemplation to.
But since I deemed this year a period of (re-)discovery and self-reflection, I decided it the appropriate time to partake in the festivity. Getting to the area seemed relatively straightforward during the planning stage: Danforth GO was a mere ten minutes from the province's biggest transit hub, and the west limit of the festival was only a few subway stops away. In reality, the GO terminal and TTC facilities were separated by a discernible distance, instead of being connected via an underground commuter tunnel (as I had hoped). Unable to directionally orient myself upon departure from the Danforth GO platforms, I turned to the assistance of a friendly-looking passerby, who had no qualms whatsoever about pointing me in the right direction (aka the shortest and fastest path).
I was fifteen minutes delayed in meeting feedthebear, but somehow managed to arrive in one peace.
The best way to tackle amusement parks in the summer is by travelling light, which is definitely easier said than done.
Arguably the furthest from minimal, changing my own habits for a day was quite the challenge.
Swapping my daily travel backpack for a fabric cross-body helped to ease pressure off the neck and shoulders, simultaneously enabling tanning on the backside. Downsizing the essentials - such as carrying individual wet wipes intead of a family pack - was another strategy.
For your purposes and mine, I have compiled a list for quicker planning. The following items have assumed a status of utmost importance, collectively constituting the Wonderland Survival Kit:
1) Water Bottle
The average adult requires eight glasses of water per day, which roughly equates to 2 L. When on the go, it's easy to overlook regular fluid consumption, so carrying a small reusable bottle is a good reminder to staying hydrated. Moreover, plastic water bottles are likely to be marked up 200% in the park. Take advantage of the numerous fountains and refill for free instead.
2) Wet wipes
This one shouldn't come as a surprise. Amusement parks are popular summer go-to destinations for people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and origins. Synonymous with such high quantities of traffic are grimy entertainment facilities, plastic seats tainted with butt sweat and handlebars made greasy from the anxiety of roller coaster riders. So wipe those hands, because brow dabs and poutine pokes happen subconsciously.
3) Handheld fan (optional)
Humidity can easily bring out the grossest of us. This is an optional inclusion, but don't say I didn't provide a preventative measure against melting makeup (and sweat patches). Long lineups under direct sunlight are inevitable. To combat this, a light, portable fan is more than sufficient in keeping B.O. at bay.
4) Non-perishable edibles
Rules forbidding outside food are commonly imposed in amusement parks, with the exception of medication and specialty items. However, whenever possible (read: not against the rules), I'd recommend bringing a handful of non-perishable snacks. Low-sugar granola bars, pumpkin seeds, and trail mix are great examples of dry food that promote the slow release of energy.
5) Sunglasses and sunscreen
Again no-brainers amidst the sweltering season, keep these two handy for the ceaseless afternoon lineups to protect oneself from the elements. A little Vitamin E never hurt anyone, but the effects of sun damage can be both acute and chronic.
For runny noses, inexplicable sources of dampness, and bathrooms devoid of TP, have a pocket pack of Kleenex within reach.
A duo of travel-sized hand cream and lip balm also prevented one from being affected adversely by the disgustingly drying commercial(industrial?) liquid soap installed in the mirrorless washrooms. And, last but not least, keep your wallet in a zippered pocket. Having cash handy also enables one to participate in roller coaster pachinko on a whim.
Because, that's precisely what I did.
Strategically positioned by the two most popular roller coasters were ten-dollar pachinko games, though, if my memory still serves me correctly, they had only been five dollars a drop previously. Players would drop a white puck at the top of the structure; the puck would trickle down to one of the many slots at the bottom, each corresponding to a different ride in the park. A Fast Lane pass (for two riders) for whichever ride the puck landed was the prize.
Who Am I?
Formerly an avid owner of several interest-based portals, Random Thoughts of a Quirky Blogger presents precisely the elements expected. From experiments in the kitchen to miscellaneous musings, from IGOT7 reflections to developments in transportation infrastructure, it's all consolidated here. Welcome to the raw, unfiltered side of Quirky Aesthetics.