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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tis The Season To Get Violent

Don't let this beautiful view of the Swarovski Crystal Christmas tree give you any false assumptions of the environment at the Eaton Centre over the holidays.  What ever happened to "tis the season to be jolly" or "peace on earth and goodwill to all men"?  Well that was run over by, "Move out of the F*$#en way, I have to get that new iPhone 4S!!"

It is clear that shopping at the Eaton Centre is a battlefield of fit soccer moms, desperate husbands, and super grannies.  However, it is not just the Eaton Centre that experiences this yearly time.  The whole city of Toronto is blown into this frenzy of finding the perfect gift for the holiday season. 


There is no need to get upset Lindsay, I will give you some tips about your holiday shopping to kill as many birds as you can with one stone.

  • Don't leave your Christmas shopping last minute, it will prevent you from opening up your wrists when others are opening up their presents.
  • Avoid the masses by shopping during the early or late time periods of the extended holiday hours.
  • Remember you are buying for someone else, not yourself.  So put down those fierce looking boots and get your head in the game.
  • Make a game plan of what you want and where to get it.  Don't window shop, that is how people will lose limbs over the holiday season.
  • Protect your treasure and hold on to your bags tight.  Don't assume that once you have purchased that gift it is yours, for if you lose your focus for one second another shopper will snag that gift for themselves.
It is a very stressful time of year, so save some time with Cole's Christmas shopping tips.  These tips will get you out of the mall and give you more time to spend with your fam-jam or loved ones.  After all Christmas is not about the Louis Vuitton bag you got or the new sports watch you opened up.  It's about the loved ones that you spend your life with and a time for you to show how much they mean to you:)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!



I ♥ TO





 



Monday, 19 December 2011

Only In TO: 35 Foot Reindeer



It looks like Christmas threw-up at the Toronto Eaton Centre, but I have to admit the giant reindeer decorations are really cool.



Only In TO


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Anyone Remember What Happened at The Madison?

Two weekends ago was my good friend Tammy's Birthday and she decided that we were going to go to the Madison.  Then when I discovered that it was located in the Annex village, I knew that this was going to be an interesting night. 

 The pub did not look large when we were standing in line, but once you were inside, I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland.  The different rooms within this bar, consisting of three Victorian homes, were never ending.


Founded in 1983 this bar consists of:

  • Six British style pubs
  • A total of 12 bars!!!
  • Three kitchens
  • Five patios
  • Four fireplaces
  • Two pool tables
  • Three dart areas
  • Over 50 TVs


But the best thing about the Madison was that there were live singers and musicians in almost every major section of the pub.  We ended up in an area with this amazing singer who could play and sing anything the crowed threw at him.  It was clear that he was a favourite at the Madison.

What made it even more exciting was when the singer knew one of our friends and asked her up to sing.  The amazing Stacey Bulmer is quite the power house singer herself and had the bar at her fingertips.  I have to say it was nice after she was done singing that we got a lot more attention for the night. 

When the pub got busy at 11:30 pm I knew that it might be a crazy night.  Plus before we started we only had sushi.  What was that going to soak up?




Luckily we were able to get a good group shot before the night got messy.  This actually might be the last thing some people remember, right Carolina?  I never knew this beautiful little girl could be such a party animal.  Clearly a girl after my own heart.  I also recommend they make the table booths closer to the floor for those who accidentally tumble, but I won't mention names... for the birthday girl's sake;)

If you have any stories from the Madison let me know if they were as crazy as mine.


I ♥ TO














Sunday, 11 December 2011

Only In TO: $20 Mac & Cheese?





$20 Mac & Cheese?  Really Drew?  Out of all the other gourmet selections on the menu? 



Only In TO




Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Only In TO: Walking is Soooo Last Week


While Jenn and I walked down the street we realized that no one walks in TO anymore.





Only In TO


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dumplings In Chinatown

Some friends from out of town and some from way-out of town (Japan) were in TO and as usual I was given the fun task of finding a place to eat.  When trying to think of a place to go that would be interesting my friend Jenn mentioned Mother's Dumplings located in the heart of Chinatown.


Now you do not go to Chinatown for great service. No, you go for cheap food and a unique experience.  This Tapas style restaurant was not given the award of "Best $5 Lunch" by Now Magazine for nothing.  Between the six of us we were able to stuff ourselves for no more then $10 each. Even I was surprised!!!





Some recommended dishes of the evening:


Seaweed Salad
You can't go wrong with seaweed salad, especially since it is no more then $2!!!!

Chicken and Mushroom Dumplings
Who does not like dumplings?  Honestly, one of the best creations for human consumption, and even better when stuffed with mushroom and chicken.

Chicken Fried Rice
Anyone who loves Chinese food knows of chicken fried rice, and Mother's Dumplings makes a mean chicken fried rice.



Noodles and Beans
This may not sound appetizing, but the amazing mix of pan fried beans and cucumber with noodles is to die for.

  • While we were looking through the extensive menu I noticed something hilarious under the "Sides" section.  At Mother's Dumplings you can order a side of "Peanuts."  So if you are a really  hard core peanut fan, this is the place for you.

Survival Guide for Mother's Dumplings

  1. Watch out for flying plates, they literally throw your food at the table.
  2. Don't ask for cutlery or any eating utensil. You WILL get a dirty look.
  3. Sometimes they run out of boiling water (how that happens? I have no idea) so ration your tea.



Despite the service, I would definitely go back to Mother's Dumplings because it has amazing food for unbelievable prices.  This clearly is a place that adds to this unique city and the busy atmosphere that night proved that customers feel the same.


I ♥ TO 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Toronto Lights Up For Christmas





This past Saturday, Toronto  was lit up for its 45-year old tradition, The Cavalcade of Lights.  This spectacular event was presented by Scotiabank and brought Toronto together in Nathan Phillips Square to illuminate our Christmas spirit. 

The event started Saturday at 7 pm where it featured a fantastic firework show and the official lighting of Toronto's Christmas tree.  There were also featured performances by Kellylee Evans, Jarvis Church and rising stars Justin Hines and Victoria Duffield.  

But it was not just the concert and fireworks that added to the event.  The square was filled with people bearing lights of all different kinds.  The live DJ gave an extra bounce to the  skating rink where people got to meet Jamie Sale.  But most of all it was the energy of the Christmas spirit that brightened up the evening, another reason why I love this city. 



I ♥ TO 




Friday, 25 November 2011

Only In TO: Dirty Pet Beds



I had no idea that a cute little cat bed could be so dirty.  Take a look.....




Only In TO

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Gourmet Poutine Anyone?


Its Friday night in TO and once two a.m. hits Queen Street West is flooded with people that are half in the bag and HUNGRY!!!!

There is no need to worry, in the heart of this bohemian village there is a little piece of munchy heaven, Poutini's House of Poutine.  This gourmet poutine shop is located on 1112 Queen Street West, and good news, is open till 3:30 a.m. to rescue those who suffer from "midnight snack" hunger.  No need to look so worried Kenny lets grab some good ol' fresh cut fries with cheese curds and gravy.


Some Kenny and Cole recommended choices:

Poutini's Traditional Poutine

Poutini's fresh cut fries, with cheese curds and homemade gravy, for as little as $4.99.

The Works Poutine

Poutini's traditional poutine with added bacon, sour cream, and chives.  Get a large for only around $9.



Poutini's is the Armani of the poutine industry.  Not only do they freshly make their gravy and fries in-house, but they also receive fresh cheese curds daily from Maple Dale Farms

Are you on a diet? Don't fret! Poutini's also makes vegetarian and vegan/gluten-free gravy so that no one feels left out with this tasty experience.  Also the staff are funny and extremely social adding to this great experience.  So next time you are done at the bar, pay Poutini's a visit, you will never have to go to Pizza Pizza again.



I ♥ TO


Friday, 18 November 2011

CN Tower Edgewalk + Cole = Bridget Jones



I know it took me forever to post this, but here is that front lean trick that you will do on the CN Tower's Edgewalk.  My roommate Brittany is cool and collective, I am a hot mess.



 TO

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Only In TO: "Yugoslavia Forever and Ever, F#@* You!!"



This week on "Only In TO" a crazy woman having an episode on the subway.  And yes I am inches away from her.  How I was able to videotape her without attacking me, I have no idea.  But it is clear that if you ever do get bored in TO jump on the subway.



Only In TO


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Raw Foodies Unite







There is no need for an oven in this restaurant, every thing is RAW!!!!!

Three weeks ago my mother was down in the city and I was given the challenge of finding a place to take her for dinner.  Normally in Toronto this is not an issue for this is a very restaurant-based city. However there is one catch..... she is a raw vegan.  Thank god I live with two vegetarians, it gave me an advantage. 








I told my roommate Brittany about my predicament and she said the best place for raw food is Rawlicious.  A subway ride away and a few steps from the Yonge subway station and we were at Rawlicious in Yorkville. 

My sister Rebecca and her very cute boyfriend accompanied mom and I, but we were still waiting for one more important part of the family..... my wife.  So while we waited for her we treated ourselves to the tasty smoothies that Rawlicious makes.  My personal favourite is the creamsicle smoothie with nutmilk, orange, avocado, vanilla and agave






There's my wife... now we can get started.  Sorry, I got so focused on the smoothies I forgot to give you the background of Rawlicious. 

Rawlicious is a restaurant that serves 100 per cent raw food.  This very charming spot holds no more then twenty customers and its art decorated walls create a very comfortable atmosphere.   Rawlicious is a living foods cafe that does not cook anything over 118F so you get all finest enzymes the food contains.... and it tastes pretty damn good too.



There are some great dishes I recommend on this menu:

Taco Wrap

A lettuce wrap containing salsa, nut cheese, tomato, nut-loaf and my favourite, guacamole!!

Nacho Platter

Rawlicious nacho chips with sliced green olives, green onions, hot banana peppers, and the classic salsa, raw sour cream and guacamole.


And for Dessert:

Blonde Macaroons

Coconut, cashew, vanilla and maple syrup... sounds good to me.

Cheesecake of the Day

Selection changes daily, but it was the lemon cheesecake that was the special that day.  I almost pass out from the pleasure it brings just thinking about it.



So, raw foodies I suggest you try Rawlicious and bring along a friend that prefers cooked food, I am sure that they will be pleasantly surprised.  I know I was and I am a "Meatatarian" that burns his food when he cooks.  Rawlicious is another aspect that adds to this amazing city. 



 TO

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Only In TO: Fall on Yonge Subway Tracks





I was walking down the Yonge escalator on my way home when I heard screaming and was surprised to see a rush of people run towards the tracks.  Looking at a clump of people I hear someone calling for help and through the chatter of others discover that someone has fallen on the tracks.  I try and get a closer look and turn quickly, feeling ill when I see a puddle of blood on the floor through the feet of the spectators.





The police were at the scene within seconds and working there magic got the crowds under control while tending to the injured, luckily not dead, man on the floor.  From the sounds of people talking, it was clear that the man had fallen accidentally.  The cops quickly were rushing us on to the train as the paramedics were tending to the unconscious man.



Did anyone hear anymore information?  Let me know.



Only In TO

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mexican Fiesta!!!!!





This is an amazing restaurant, how did I not know about this place?  That introductory video to open my blog starred my friend Luis dancing with a random person in the restaurant, La Mexicana.  And yes, he was accompanied by a full Mariachi band.  If you are looking for a fiesta with an authentic Mexican style restaurant La Mexicana is the place for you. This is not a place for a quiet romantic date, however if you seek a loud and entertaining sense of community come on down to La Mexicana.



One La Mexicana location is found across from the Toronto Reference Library just north of Yonge and Bloor.  This restaurant brings authentic Mexican dishes, as well as traditions, to the city of Toronto.  La Mexicana is a family run business that brings Mexico city right to your table, literally.  This restaurant has a live Mariachi band equipped with singers that get the crowed up and dancing.  And of course you can not have the taste of Mexico unless you order a Margarita, I suggest the Guava flavoured one.

I really didn't know what to expect when my friend Armando (little man) told me about this place, but now I wish I knew about this venue sooner.  So Daryl, Luis, Maggie, Little Man and I immersed ourselves in the Mexican environment.



There are many Mexican dishes to pick from at La Mexicana:

Guacamole Dip

Fresh guacamole, salsa, and chips all for $8, I love guacamole!!!

Queso Fundido

Diced peppers and sausage inside melted mozzarella and Oaxaca cheese, with soft pita bread on the side.


Enchiladas 

For just $14 I was given a great plate full of Mexican treats.  There were three soft corn tortillas stuffed with red salsa and melted cheese then baked and topped with sour cream and onions.  But that was not all, they also gave me a salad and choice of rice or beans as a side.



We were all very pleased with the dinner and this active Mexican environment.  I mean look how happy everyone is.

La Mexicana does not only provide you with great Mexican food but also a great Mexican experience.  I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to liven up their evening in the city.  So grab your sombreros and head to La Mexicana!!!





 TO

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Gay-Old-Time in Halloween Town



The place to party on All Hallows Eve is Toronto's gay village.  The only traffic on Church St. that is allowed during this night's festivities are ghosts, goblins, and drag queens.  It is just one giant party and it is no wonder that it attracts so much attention.

There were line ups to all the major bars:



However, I got an invite to a weekly Monday night event called FML at Fuzion by my horned friend Andrew.  Among other amazing event planners, Andrew collaborates on this weekly FML industry night, but this occasion took the cake. 





Fuzion is a high end resto-lounge style venue with elegant settings within a beautiful Victorian building.  This building is sectioned off into different rooms making it perfect for a private party.  It also has one of the most beautiful summer patios on the strip with trees strewn throughout the space.  However, tonight is unlike any other as Fuzion becomes a busy night club.  As I head towards the dance floor I run into my good friends, Hugh and Esme.  They both are lookin' hot.  Hey, did you know they are sisters?









FML is an event located on the upper floor of Fuzion every Monday night where a live DJ packs the house with some of the best beats.  I arrive with my 'wife', but there is so many people we lose each other.  No need to worry, just look for the woman squeezed into a Shrek costume that was meant for a child.










The night was a great success.  I had a blast and got to party with some cool freaks.  Halloween may be over on Church St. but there is still an array of costumes and characters found in this area on any given day.

And then there was my sad attempt at a last minute costume.  Can you guess what I am? ..... A fairy... get it?

Church St. on Halloween.  Another reason why I love this amazing city.








I ♥ TO

Monday, 31 October 2011

I Love Haunted TO?


When it comes to ghost stories I am always the first person to rationalize the reasoning behind a creepy event.  I find that if you look closer into the eerie situation it never is what it appears to be.  That shadow of the horned figure actually belongs to your Aunt Ruth or the high pitched screaming is really your cat stuck in the washing machine you just turned on.  However, I thought what better time of year to suspend disbelief and let my imagination take over.  I mean what is better then a Halloween blog on October 31.  So when my mom signed my friend and I up for a ghost walk, I decided to open my imagination up to children running around with a bed sheets over their heads..... oh sorry, I mean ghosts.





So as many of my friends know, my crazy mother came down this weekend, and one way to easily entertain her is by taking her on a scary ghost walk.  So I found myself allowing my mother to sign us up for "The Ghosts of the University of Toronto."  For those of you who have an interest in the afterlife or anything spooky a fun company to look at is Muddy York Walking Tours.  This tour based company is dedicated in bringing the past back to life in many different areas of Toronto.  It also is an exciting way to learn some of Toronto's history without passing out from boredom in class.








Some of the stories I found hard to believe, despite the engagement our tour guide had on the rest of the group.  Yulia, my "wife" made up for my lack of enthusiasm by asking many questions to the tour guide.  I have to admit he was very consistent with his stories.  However, without trying to spoil the tour, the story with the man trying to hack through the door with an axe to kill his victim shared a great similarity with a scene in The Shining.  I think we all know the scene I am referring to, "Heeeerrrrrree's JOHNNY!!!"  But supposedly it happened, because there is an axe mark in the door.




There were many stories that the tour guide shot out causing chills to run down the spines of the others on the tour, but I was just not feeling creeped out one bit.  It wasn't till he told us the story of Celest.  Now, to start, Celest is a little girl ghost and I don't know who came up with the idea of children spirits, but children in the afterlife are f#$*ing creepy.  Supposedly Celest is a small ghost that lives in the old planetarium which once used to be a mansion in where she lived.  There were many stories of Celest playing tricks on people who worked in the building in hopes to get their attention.  The tour guide told us that many people on the tour have seen her behind these doors, sad and lonely, trying to get the attention of anyone who will listen. 




I have to admit this last story of Celest made a small chill run down my spine and turned me into a believer of the afterlife, just for a second.  The ghost walks offered by Muddy York Walking Tours are something I would really recommend for ghost lovers at heart.  It was good enough to make a believer out of me, one of the biggest and toughest critics.  Take a good look at the picture above, where Celest is normally found.  Is that a small ghostly orb in the right corner?



I ♥ TO

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Update on Protesters Camp-Out for “Occupy Toronto”



Dozens of tents offering shelter, protesters reading stories to passing children, guest speakers giving motivational speeches, and an overall sense of community.  There is no lack in charisma that the protesters display for passing listeners as they further express their opinions during their camp-out in St. James Park.


For the last two weeks protesters have been camping out, rallying and spreading the word against economic inequality.  The movement of  "Occupy Toronto" is proving to be as influential as its American counterpart.


The protesters are receiving support from several unions adding to the volume of their voices.  Many activist groups are also speaking out against economic inequality, such as Toronto's "Stop the Cuts" committee.  The following is a quick clip of their efforts in this uprising and what their group stands for.



It is clear that this movement is extremely exciting and definitely a part of why I love this amazing city. I suggest that you go and see first hand the unfiltered sound of the protesters in their camp-out.  I will also keep track of what the protesters are saying when I am not in class.  Please, if you have any updates feel free to comment under my blog of any new information you come across.


I  ♥ TO

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

BPR's Guu'd Night Out






"What do you mean it's going to be an hour long wait?"







Don't let the painfully long wait keep you from eating at Guu, go around the corner and grab a drink at the nearest bar to tide you over because this is a Japanese experience you do not want to miss.  This traditional style Japanese Tapas restaurant is located close to the corner of Gerrard and Church and offers you with a unique experience that brings your right to the heart of Japan.  










It was my good friend Nam that recommended this restaurant to start our Saturday night and guided our group through Guu's exciting menu.  Following traditional Tapas style we all ordered different dishes and shared our choices with each other.  There were definitely some Guu'd dish choices that I would recommend. 

Yakiudon


This amazing pan fried udon with beef, mushroom and scallions is a good introductory dish for those who are new to the Japanese experience.  Even ask Katie!!!!

Scallop and Enoki Mushroom

One of my personal favourites, scallops and enoki mushrooms wrapped with pan fried bacon  and flavoured with soy sauce and karashi mayo.



Seaweed Salad 


A well known Japanese dish is the marinated seaweed on greens and I can never get enough of it.

Salmon Natto Yukke


Even people who "don't eat fish" like Arden love this salmon sashimi with wonton chips and egg.

Guuuuuu'd Sake


What tops your Japanese experience more then a cup of warm Sake?





Now if you are looking for a quite peaceful night, Guu is not your choice.  The serving staff here is extremely vocal and always spend the time to celebrate a birthday.





Three Funny Things to Pay Attention to in This Video


1. The pissed of guy who leaves the celebration.
2. The size of the guys beer mug at the end of the video!!!!!!
3. My side commentary of "That could have been better"

I recommend this Japanese Tapas restaurant because it has Guu'd food, Guu'd service and is a Guu'd time...... I will never get tired of saying that!!!!!  And besides look how happy we all look.




So put Guu as one of your spots to hit in Toronto.  There is nothing more to say but Oyasuminasai!!!!!!!!



 TO



Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lasagna for Dummies





"Ok it's your turn to cook!"



        This is a statement that terrifies me.  The result of Toronto containing endless selections of restaurants has led to my cooking ignorance.  I mean, I use my oven as storage!!!!  So when my friend John said that it was my turn to cook I was worried.  Thankfully he was there to keep an eye on my potential disaster with his recipe for gourmet lasagna.





         So we went to Sobeys and bought a few ingredients to prepare our masterpiece.  Once we contained all of our ingredients we started working towards perfection, or at least preventing me from blowing up John's kitchen.  Now I will lead you through a simple lasagna recipe that will allow you to impress dinner guests instead of ordering takeout and slopping it on empty plates before they arrive, like events hosted at my house. 


Lasagna for Dummies Recipe 

  • First add mushrooms, red onion, olive oil, salt and pepper to a pan and cook on medium to high heat till tender.
  • At the same time cook your lean ground beef, with added red pepper, red onion, fresh garlic, a pinch of basil, and olive oil in a pan at medium to high heat. 
  • Once your contents in the pan are prepared you can start the layers of your lasagna, but don't forget to pre heat the oven to 350 F.  
  • Take a lasagna pan and add a layer of any tomato sauce of preference, followed by a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles, add an even layer of cottage cheese, a layer containing the mushroom mix cooked in the pan, another layer of noodles, a layer of Parmesan cheese, followed by a layer of the previously cooked hamburger mix, a layer noodles, another layer of cottage cheese, some more noodles, followed by the rest of the hamburger mix, and finally top it off with a layer consisting of four types of shredded cheese. 
  • Loosely place tin foil over the lasagna to avoid the burning of the top layer of cheese and place in oven for half an hour. 
  • Then remove tin foil and continue to cook for another twenty minutes until the top is golden brown. 
        
         If you follow the instructions properly or have a friend you trust monitoring you it should look like this...

       
   Is that not amazing!!!!  Believe it or not, but it tasted even better, right John?  




See, John liked it so much that he needs to take a nap to digest.   That or I have accidentally killed him.  


On today's blog I have proved that you don't always have to spend a fortune going out to eat, but with a little hard work and proper supervision you can make an affordable gourmet lasagna for under $30.  

So go ahead and try John's lasagna recipe and let know how it tastes!!!



I   TO