Monday marked yet another trip into downtown - a quiet one, thankfully - accompanied by my new friend, LCBO's Summer Cooler Bag.
Assembly Chef's Hall was my proposal, on the bases of proximity and assortment.
Having requested takeout packaging, I unveiled the contents of the plastic bag upon being seated. Neatly secured within was a small container of miso soup with scallions and wakame, an untainted napkin, chopsticks, and a plastic spoon. The entrée was filled generously with tempura: at least two ebi, one sweet potato, one sizable round of zucchini, and a few other vegetables I did not identify. Nestled underneath was a thin layer of short-grain rice, benishouga, and scrumptious strips of tender beef.
Thrilled I was to have received the congratulatory message, but overjoyed was I to lay eyes on a tissue-wrapped present. Unravelling the package, I retrieved a mesh Cinamoroll pouch, likely from Miniso, and a sealed package that caused instant formation of an open-mouthed grin.
I had entered through the glass doors feeling weary and lifeless, but the surprise had brightened my day immediately. Truly, I couldn't have been more appreciative of the gesture - from a mere coworker no less!
- Ham & Egg Sandwich (火腿蛋三明治)
- Classic Taiwanese Breakfast Milk Tea (臺式早餐奶茶)
- Winter Melon Tea w/ Soy Milk (冬瓜茶豆漿)
- Cheese & Sweet Corn Egg Crepe Roll (起士玉米蛋餅)
The Winter Melon Tea with Soy Milk was unveiled upon returning the office, proving itself as an incredibly refreshing combination to beat the heat.
The Cheese & Sweet Corn Egg Crepe Roll was also found to be spicy, but on the peppery side. Toasting the rolled segments led to parched surfaces and stiff blobs of Kraft cheddar, while microwaving reinstated a chewy wrap-like texture and stringiness. High expectations had been extended towards this dish, though it suffices to declare that the $5.99 was not justified.
The first was Chocolatta Brigadeiros, located within The Food District at Square One. Conflicting schedule arrangements had involved some degree of logistics planning: instead of merely proceeding with the pickup and returning home, individual agendas were coordinated such that I could complete the pickup and utilize gym facilities within a 75-minute window.
Crème Brûlée was sampled first, for scorched sugar often results in condensation quickly. The mushy morsel shocked with an extravagant punch of sugar. Disgusted and gasping for water, the remaining halve was wrapped within a tissue for discarding. The unnamed sprinkle-rolled variation was next. It retained its shape well, but was still far too cloying for my sanity.
The delicate chocolate curls adorning the Strawberry Blossoms was admittedly tasty. Regrettably, the interior was just as devoid of structure as the Crème Brûlée, and perhaps equally sugary. The chocolate-coated version was the least disappointing, and arguably decent overall, despite not being comprehensively pleasurable to consume.
I was glad to have tried the treats via Too Good To Go's discounted portal, for they are normally priced quite steeply at $2.85 apiece (or upwards of ten dollars for a box of four. The dozen brigadeiros constituting the Large Treats Bag had set me back $11.99 plus tax - a significant reduction, but sadly not one that could be fully embraced and appreciated.
All Too Good To Go-inflicted excursions had brought me near City Centre, leading my fitness needs being taken to the LA Fitness location at Hurontario and Eglinton. The parking lot was treacherous, as it often is, but the surrounding arterials even more tragic with lane closures, rowdy drivers, and rush hour volumes.
Upon entry, I was astonished to find a very welcoming interior. Spaces were clearly labelled and cardio equipment were neatly organized in rows. Next to the check-in desk was an unobstructed view of the pool, and next to the pool were vending machines and a Kids Klub play area. Business discussions were held directly behind the check-in desk in a lounge area furnished to resemble an office landing area.
I heaved a disappointed sigh, knowing that this cleaner location was hardly convenient for me given the congestion and tumultuous driving environment of the surrounding intersection.
I had arrived early in anticipation of back-to-back Yoga and Zumba classes. To my surprise, the 4:30 PM yoga session would be led by an elderly man of (presumably) South Asian descent. He strode into the relatively empty group fitness studio in grey sweatpants, rolled out a towel and thin yoga mat, then began to lecture those that had taken spots towards the back of the room. "Why do you guys stay in the back?" He commenced, "You come here to learn properly, so come to the front and pay attention."
The instructor had failed to provide a welcoming environment for individual progression, all while neglecting each participant's existing abilities and underlying biomechanical conditions. It was hardly an experience I'd be revisiting, though I did appreciate his offering of Fisherman's Friend after witnessing a terrible coughing fit - complete with phlegm - overtake me towards the termination of the session.
I flipped over one of the bags. "But this is $7.99 - the same price I paid for the bag." My brows began to furrow. "Where is the discount?"
"Oh we're just testing the prices to see what sells. The labels are confusing, but the cookies are ten dollars a bag." The girl added, "We need to add the labels for the expiry date."
Shortly after this exchange, a duo of young men entered the store. The hoodie-donning staff member greeted them, then injected that "bags (of cookies) were just 'eight dollars'" in my presence.
The posts on Reddit had been accurate as far as using Too Good To Go in the suburbs. Given the unpredictability of the yield, pickup times, and pickup locations, the resource is often a hit or miss. Further testing shall be conducted in the dusty but pedestrian-friendly downtown quarters deductions are declared.