Somewhere Spotlight: April 2020
A few years ago, I made a conscious effort to explore more of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, restaurants, shops, and hidden gems (read this post for some background). I’m launching a new monthly series called “Somewhere Spotlight” that highlights my favourite Toronto finds and global brands. The first installment is backdated to April – I have too much to share to start with June! Stay tuned for subsequent months.
In Somewhere Spotlight, you’ll find three sections – Explore, Food & Drink, Products, each with four elements. Hopefully you’ll find something new – a brand, restaurant, neighbourhood or sweet treat – to try.
Leaside isn’t new to me by any means, but it has been nice to wander through familiar neighbourhoods with a different set of eyes now that life has slowed down.
Some of my favourite Leaside spots: Cumbraes for quality meat, De La Mer for seafood (their crab cakes and salmon burgers are fantastic!), Duff’s Famous Wings for my favourite wings in the city, Hollywood Gelato for gelato, Bomou Artisanal Bakery for cookies and Boutique La Muse for fashion finds.
Next Up: Trying Sophie’s for brunch!
For me, quarantine began with a lot of evenings playing games with friends on Zoom. One of my favourites was when we organized a Trivia Night, where each household created a themed series of trivia questions. Collectively, we covered a variety of topics – everything from pop culture and random facts to art history.
If you’re not up for DIY trivia, there are several facilitated options available online (try: Descendants Beer & Beverage Co virtual trivia on Wednesday nights, The Aviary Brewpub Monday night trivia or tune into Question Everything for Thursday night trivia)
During the first few weeks of quarantine, I found it overwhelming to hear so many people talk about the many intellectual ways they were spending their time – learning to code, making sourdough, reading books on investing. At the time, I didn’t have the energy to spend my evenings doing anything overly demanding.
So instead, I’m proud to say that I learned how to make egg-white cocktails. They’re much easier than I anticipated and a great way to elevate my at-home drinks. Find some of my favourite easy cocktail recipes here!
La Salumeria is located just north of Yonge and Davisville and Pascale Gourmet is just north of Yonge and Eglinton. They’re my new go-to for cheese and meats. If these two stores aren’t close to you, I encourage you to find your own local cheese shop. It’s been a nice change of pace from the grocery store and they have a much wider selection with knowledgeable staff.
Once I discovered these gems, I went to La Salumeria and Pascale Gourmet 5 times in two weeks!
Food & Drink
Delivery & Takeout
Harry’s Charbroiled serves up classic charbroiled burgers that are unbelievably delicious. They closed their beloved Parkdale restaurant in 2019 but thankfully, they reopened for delivery during quarantine.
The burgers are perfect sober or not, and I’m pretty sure you’ll quickly be craving another one.
I tried out my first cocktail delivery kit with Project Gigglewater. I ordered Get Hype & Skype, which came with 6 servings. The cocktails had fantastic flavour notes and were more complex that what I could whip up on my own at home.
Project Gigglewater’s owner, Alfred Siu, is awesome. Read the 20 questions interview I did with him here, and find out the meaning of the cocktail bar’s name.
I was impressed with how quickly restaurants pivoted their offerings during the onset of COVID-19. I wanted to try some of the new make-at-home meal kits and if you’ve read The Top Five, you know I love Buca. So, I went ahead and ordered their make-at-home nodini and carbonara and both were delicious.
Meal kits are generally priced lower than premade restaurant dishes, and they come with all of the ingredients and instructions needed to make a restaurant quality meal at home.
Fourth Man in the Fire is generally known for their pizza, but they also make what’s considered the best coconut cream pie in Toronto. If you know of a better one, please let me know – I’d love to try it. Until then, I’d encourage you to order this one, and maybe get a pizza or two on the side.
Raw Nails is a Canadian company that was established in 2019. Their polishes are non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free.
The brand introduced me to the concept of 10-free, which means the nail polish was created without 10 of the most common chemicals found in polishes. Nail polish is one of the most harmful products that we put on our bodies, so I was thrilled to see the introduction of these beautifully coloured, non-toxic products.
I’ve always loved Neal Brothers salsas, but I recently came across their sriracha mayo at La Salumeria. It’s now a house staple and perfect for summer burgers!
Neal Brothers is a 30-year old Canadian company, and I only just found out that they also make BBQ and pasta sauces. I’ll definitely be trying those next!
Clothing & Accessories
Looking for the perfect summer sandals?
Brave Soles is a Canadian, female-owned company that repurposes discarded tires from the Dominican Republic into shoe soles. I own two pairs of their sandals and love the positive impact they have on the planet and communities in the Dominican Republic.
You can find the brand featured on the Little Joys page.
We’ve been updating our furniture over the last couple of months, and discovered a Vancouver-based direct-to-consumer furniture brand called Rove Concepts. We purchased a new couch, side table and TV stand from them and have loved all of the pieces. They have an optional white glove delivery service that makes shipping and unpackaging super easy.
You can also choose to sign up for their membership program to save money.
Portland and the neighbouring Willamette Valley makes for the perfect quick getaway filled with top-tier wine and farm-to-table dining. Here’s how to spend 3 to 5 days in Portland and the Willamette Valley.
Charleston is a quaint, historical, sea-side town that also happens to be a food lover’s paradise. Here’s how to spend three days in Charleston.
There can be so much pressure with finding the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. My recommendation is to find something sentimental or with a story, that way, your gift ends up being more than just an object.