Supporting Local: Through Being Cool

I love my area of Bloor & Lansdowne, especially all the cute business that have been popping up. Every week, I take a walk and try to support some of them so I can keep the independent vibes alive.

Starting with this post, I’m going to mark all my nearby businesses with the tag “Supporting Local”, to show off the vibrant community around me.

For this post, I want to show some appreciation for local vegan bakery Through Being Cool. Though I have yet to try their baked goods, I’m totally in love with their pickled beans, asparagus, and chutney. I picked some up for a house party and they were a hit. They are not shy on spices and flavours.

Next time I will try their baked goods. They even have some for your canine friends too.

Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burgers at Buskerfest 2012

Last weekend was Scotiabank BuskerFest in Toronto. While most people went there to see performers such as magic shows and silver Elvis, I visited for the food.

There was various vendors for food: ones that you normal find at fairs selling nuts and cotton candy and the fatty delicious foods. However on the first day me and Nash passed by the festival on the way to a concert we stopped by Yes to Fresh’s stand where they offered up Burgers with an Asian twist.

One of these does not have meat!

I accidentally ordered a portobello mushroom burger, not realizing the meat was the mushroom until Nash pointed it out. Luckily he ordered the pork tenderloin and we each had half of each other’s. They were both pretty delicious. The pork had some Thai corn that added a nice sweetness and the mushroom burger had crunchy onions of some sort. Both were served with a green salad.

Friday was my last day at work and we went to Buskerfest for lunch. We started with this Moroccan smoked meat sandwich from Berber.

The meat was really good but I wish there was more of it. There was an abundance of bun. The little pickles were a nice touch also. They were sweeter than usual.

Lastly we had a burger at Great Burger Kitchen. I wouldn’t say it’s the best one I’ve ever had but it wasn’t bad.

I’ll definitely stop by the actual restaurant to give their real burgers a try. Their menu has some drool inducing ones for sure.

We also found trucks giving out free slivers of pizza. The Mozzarellissima sponsored slice definitely highlighted the cheese.

I’m in love with the food at Toronto’s great festivals. However neat year, I am going to definitely make time to check out some of the performers at Buskerfest too!

Uber Cool Taxi Service

In the past, whenever I hailed a cab in Toronto, I would be constantly rejected for not going a far enough distance. For example, none would take me from Sound Academy (most inconvenient location ever) to Union Station. However, recently I decided to try the new Uber Taxi service and I think it may solve all my taxi problems.

The service operates with a smartphone app. It pinpoints your locations as well as how far away the closest cars are. Once you hit the big green button you get a text and a cab instantly heads to you and your phone keeps track of it’s location. They’ll call you once they are outside. The cars are black and sleek and makes me feel like I have a million dollars. There are two types of cars you can choose from; a normal black car and an SUV.

Another neat feature about Uber Taxi service is the payment is done through the app with a credit card. There is no worry about having cash at hand, and they don’t need to know how much you tip. The service fee (of $8) is a little bit more than the normal $4 you pay to get in regular cabs, but at the end of the ride you don’t have to add tip (and there’s no option to even if you wanted). There is a minimum charge of $15, but at least that means they will take you anywhere no matter the distance.

I love that Uber has considered business through an app. It’s innovated and smart, and I’ll definitely be riding them again! It’s still in testing in Toronto but the other cab companies can learn a thing or two from their business model.

Snakes and Lattes- A Board Game Cafe

Located at 600 Bloor Street West, Snakes and Lattes has become one of my favourite new discoveries. Simply put, it’s a board game cafe. A place where you can have a drink and play a game with your friends.

The place is only a few years old, but already they’ve expanded into the building next door. For now, only one side is liquor licensed so if you’re looking for some drunk board game times ask specifically for that side. When you walk in the place its usually full of people playing games of all types. I saw some pretty complicated boards with islands and giraffes.

The atmosphere is friendly and inviting. There are a couple of walls lined up with thousands of board games. According to their site they have over 2208 games. There are even really limited edition versions of the board games that you can’t even buy any more. I got really nostalgic when I visited the shelves. I love Jenga and I found the Mario version (which I later ended up buying).

I was there for a birthday party and we asked for game suggestions. The staff is pretty knowledgeable about all the games and will teach you how to play if you’re too lazy to read the instructions. We discovered a game called Cards Against Humanity which is a hilarious and dirty minded version of Apples to Apples. Definitely a great one to try if you’re there to drink.

I wish I lived beside this place, because I want try all the board games. It’s a great place to kill time and hang out with friends. For only a $5 per person charge, you can sit in the cafe all day. There is also food and drinks available so you won’t starve if you really do decide to stay the day. It’s also a great place to try out new board games before you buy them. They have a bunch of new games on site that you can purchase if you do become attached to one.

I definitely will be back to play some more games soon!

Novo Horizonte and the X-Everything Burger

I heard of Novo Horizonte because a friend posted this Spice City link on my wall. As a burger aficionado, I had to try the place Since I was heading to the Drake for a concert it was the perfect pre-concert meal.

Located at 1430 Dundas Street West (at Gladstone), it’s a tiny little place where you’ll see a bunch of Brazilian’s hanging out and drinking. We seemed like such foreigners walking in. At first glance, it simply looks like just a bar. The waitress politely asked us what we would like to drink and we had to specifically ask for the menu.

The menu consisted of only burgers, which were very decently priced. You could get a burger of under $4, if you weren’t picky. Of course we opted for the X-Everything Burger (not the X-Challenge because we still needed to live) and I also ordered this mango orange juice thing. It was a pretty sweet nectar like juice in a mini container I probably could have drank in 2 gulps.

The X-Everything Burger was a glorious combination of things. It consisted of hamburger, chicken, bacon, ham, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn and shoestring fries (which were hickory sticks). They all combined together really nicely with some interesting textures.

It was easily devoured and this is what was left of the burger less than 10 minutes later:

We had 2 X-Everything Burgers, the mango orange drink, and a Moosehead beer and our bill only came up to $24. I don’t get it.. that would mean the beer costs close to nothing here! We’ll definitely be back, for drinks and more burgers. Perhaps, we’ll take on the X-Challenge next time.

Novo Horizonte Sports Bar on Urbanspoon

Fusion Hot Dogs and Manic Coffee

I found Fusia Dog one day when I was wandering downtown. We decided to try it. Located in the Entertainment district, this mini joint puts an asian fusion twist on the hot dog.

I ordered the Fusia Dog which had kimchi, daikon carrot salad and coriander wrapped in a paratha. For a hot dog, it was very light and refreshing. There was a wasabi mayo that had quite the kick. For some reason I thought the hot dogs would be over $10, but it was only $6.95. I finished it in less than 5 minutes.

Nash ordered the Boston Dog. It had more American toppings with baked beans, cheese, crispy bacon and fried onions. I stole a bite and it was delicious and surprisingly not too heavy.
Fusia Dog on Urbanspoon

It was another concert night and since we finished our hot dogs way too fast, we decided to hit up another local coffee joint. We ended up at Manic Coffee at College and Bathurst. I ordered a mocha.

It’s amazing, how many coffee joints there are in Toronto that aren’t chains. I think I’m going to make an effort to support more little places. Not only are they cheaper than Starbucks, but can be more delicious too!

Brazilian Star Steaks and Nova Era Mocha

Another concert trip led us to the unfamiliar territory of Dundas West. There were a bunch of bars and expensive looking restaurants around. I wanted to continue on with my personal goal this year of delving into something new. We opted for Brazilian Star Bar & Grill based on it’s price and quality rating on Yelp.

We ordered the Alcatra (I think that’s what the word was) for 2 for $27. Alcatra is a type of thin steak. It was full of flavour, but a bit difficult to cut because it was fibrous. However, if if you google the definition of Alcatra, that is actually part of the definition, so it wasn’t any fault on their part.

The order came with rice, fries, salad, beans and what I think are bread crumbs. It was like a home-style meal where you just scoop things on your plate and eat it. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the bread crumbs (tell me if you know), so I spread them on top of everything and it had a nice crunchy texture. For the price, it was a lot of food. I assume it’s the kind of things Brazilian people would eat at home with their families. We were probably the least Brazilian people in the restaurant, but it was a pleasant experience.
Brazilian Star Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

After dinner, we were still too early for our concert so we decided to try another random local coffee shop. This led us to Nova Era Bakery. I had a lovely little mocha. We were too full, but I definitely think I want to come back and try one of their pastries!

Rotis and Gelato Mochaccino

As I previously mentioned, I want to eat at least 25 new things this year. I wasn’t sure about how to go about it, but then I realized Toronto is full of culturally unique restaurants that are worth the visit. So instead of opting for burgers and poutine all the time, I will venture into the unknown.

Yesterday, I tried out Bacchus Roti Shop located in the Parkdale area downtown Toronto. A roti is a type of south-asian wrap but it also consumed in areas such as the Southern Caribbean and Guyana. I ordered the jerk chicken roti which also contained spinach and squash. At $12.50, it was deliciously filling with a fiery kick to it. Nash ordered the shrimp roti with spinach and cheese. It had a nice creamy texture to it.
Bacchus Roti on Urbanspoon

After dinner, we had a ton of time to kill before door times for a concert. Instead of searching for the nearest Second Cup we decided to try one of the local coffee shops. We ended up in The Boreal Gelato Company. I ordered a mochaccino and they made it with a scoop of chocolate gelato! It was had a lovely aroma and chocolate taste. We also got a hazelnut gelato that was to die for. It was like Ferrero Rocher (my favourite chocolate by the way) in ice cream form!

So far my food adventuring has taught me to try new things, because you never know what delicious things you are missing!

10 Types of People That Need to Stop Calling My House

Our family is seriously considering cancelling the home phone. With the exception of a handful of people who don’t know how to use the internet, nobody calls the house. The four of us have our own individual cellphones and the only calls we seem to get are the irritating kinds.

Duct cleaning services are by far the worst offender. Every day it’s a different company in the city. How many ducts can possibly need cleaning that requires the need for 100 companies making 25 calls a day? I’m beginning to think that all these companies and phone calls are just a front for something else. I mean, if you did need duct cleaning, I don’t think you would go to the first person who calls you. You’d probably research it first. It’s not cheap. Maybe these duct cleaning calls are a secret message for “Do you want to buy drugs?”