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.
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.