Somewhere Spotlight: June 2020
The June 2020 Somewhere Spotlight is here! I’m slowly catching up to July, which means you can expect the subsequent editions to be released on a monthly cadence. Be sure to check out the April and May editions if you missed them!
In Somewhere Spotlight, you’ll find three sections – Explore, Food & Drink, Products, each with four elements. Hopefully you’ll find something new to try – a brand, restaurant, neighbourhood or sweet treat.
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I recently moved out of my waterfront condo and was missing being by the lake. A girlfriend invited me to The Beaches, which is an area I hadn’t frequented except to play the odd beach volleyball game. Being back by the water, strolling down the boardwalk and meandering through the picturesque neighbourhood streets brought me pure joy.
Bring a blanket and stake your claim on the beach. It’s perfect for a day filled with friends, Spikeball and sunshine or even just a good book (I recommend Where the Crawdads Sing or Little Fires Everywhere – two of my latest book club books)
We picked up Burger Drops on the way down, so I didn’t explore the area for lunch or dinner. But don’t you worry, I’ll be sure to post about it when I venture back! Until then, place an order with Burger Drops, a pop-up that serves up classic smashburgers. The pop-up was moving around the city, but they’ve recently decided to settle down in a permanent location in Liberty Village – you can find the latest details on their Instagram account. Craving something sweet? Pop into one of the many ice cream parlours in The Beaches – Brett’s Ice Cream, Beaches N’ Cream, La Diperie or Ed’s Real Scoop.
I celebrated my birthday in a socially distanced fashion in Sunnybrook Park. The park is huge, and if you venture far enough in, you’re bound to find your own plot of land to spend the day.
It was by far one of the hottest days we’ve had this year, but I was spoiled with sweet treats and summer games by friends who couldn’t care less how sweaty we all were.
Even though Toronto has moved into Stage 3, you may not be feeling comfortable enough venturing out to shops and restaurants quite yet (and rightly so!). There’s still plenty you can do safely outdoors (and while being properly distanced!); the city has more green space than you may realize and I encourage you to find your own little patch of grass to spend an afternoon.
As a way to facilitate social interaction amidst the new work-from-home setup, my work coordinated a virtual cooking class taught by Elle Cuisine.
I hand-rolled gnocchi for the second time in my life, made a tomato sauce from scratch (with San Marzano tomatoes, of course) and learned how to make ricotta cheese! I have since made the lemon-basil ricotta again, which must mean that I walked away with some knowledge. Check out the steps here.
The ricotta is delicious and will be my go-to crowd pleaser when I can entertain friends again.
I am so thankful I discovered Prairie Boy bakery and their delicious ramps bread; it was pure heaven, and I wish I could have a continuous supply in my pantry. Even though Prairie Boy is a 20 minute drive from my neighbourhood, I would gladly make the trip there any time – especially for this loaf.
I learned that ramps can take four to seven years to flower and reproduce. They’re also in season for only a few weeks in the spring, so be sure to grab ’em when you see ’em.
I used the bread to make this radish and pea shoot crostini recipe (approximately 6 times in one week) from Food Network’s Amy Schumer Learns to Cook. I highly recommend both the recipe and the show!
Food & Drink
Delivery & Takeout
Isaan Der recently opened up a location in Midtown. They have another location in the Junction with countless positive reviews for their authentic Northern Thai food. When it comes to Thai food in Toronto, I’ve always been partial to Pai; however, when a new restaurant pops up in my neighbourhood I of course, have to give it a try. We opted for fresh rolls, red curry and pad gra pao (one of my favourite Thai dishes outside of curry). Everything was delicious and I have a laundry list of other menu items that I’m dying to try. I’m thrilled to have a great Thai place in my neighbourhood and recommend that you check out Isaan Der if you’re in the Junction or Midtown.
Note: my birthday dinner from Piano Piano was also delicious – we ordered two pastas and a pizza from the new(er) location on Mt. Pleasant. I didn’t include it as my primary pick for June, since I’ve eaten at both Piano Piano locations multiple times before. I highly encourage you to go there – the Mt. Pleasant location has a great side patio and they just recently opened up a patio at the Harbord location as well.
When they’re able to reopen for brunch again, I also recommend their greasy breakfast pizza.
June seemed to be the month for me to discover new brews.
I tried and loved the Fuzz sour beer from Fairweather Brewing. I like a sour beer that has some bite, but isn’t ‘stick to the inside of your cheeks’ sour. Fuzz is one of the best I’ve tried in some time. Other sour beer recommendations are Nula from Burdock and Jelly King from Bellwoods.
If you’ve seen my Instagram stories, you know that I love everything I’ve been trying from Ace Hill lately – their Mexican lager, lemon cayenne radler and raspberry vodka soda are standouts for me. Ace Hill’s beverages are well loved because they use real fruit – none of that deceptive ‘natural flavour’ nonsense. Check out their blog post on it here.
Since I tackled making mussels for the first time in May, I thought I would step it up and try grilling octopus in June.
I somewhat cheated, as I picked up sous vide octopus from Giulietta. Since it was already cooked, I avoided the 2+ hours boil time that’s typically required. All we needed to do was put it on the bbq for just long enough to get grill marks (shout out to my boyfriend for perfecting this!). We paired it with ramps bread from Prairie Boy (see “Shop” section above) and rounded out the meal with one of Giulietta’s make-at-home pasta kits (one of the best we’ve had so far!).
It should be no surprise by now that I love a great cookie and croissant, and it’s highly likely that I will stop into any bakery that I pass by to pick up one or both.
That’s exactly what happened with Bomou Bakery in Leaside. I’m so glad the shop’s stunning, gallery-like window display caught my attention because their chocolate chip cookie quickly became one of my favourites in the city.
I was also spoiled with Homemade Brazilian chocolates from my friend for my birthday. Since you can’t buy her treats, I will share one of her favourite Brazilian bakeries in her honour – Mary’s Brigadeiro. My freezer is currently full of their cookie dough, ready to pop in the oven when I want a sweet treat.
I have dry skin, so I love a good scrub. I recently tried the A-Beauty Body Scrub from Australian brand, Frank Body. Frank Body was an idea that began in a coffee shop between five friends. They set out to make a great coffee scrub that worked.
Their reviews are plentiful and insanely good, and their branding is hilariously cheeky (it’s probably the only packaging I have read start to finish and actually enjoyed). Most importantly, I can attest that their scrub works wonders!
19/99 is an incredible beauty brand launched by Camille Katona and Stephanie Spence. They are challenging the idea of appropriateness in beauty and are focused on “narrowing the generational beauty gap”.
Not to mention, their products are fantastic. I am a lipstick fanatic – you’ll find a lipstick in every crevice of my home and at a handful at the bottom of every purse – and I absolutely love their precision pencil.
They just launched a second shade, Neutra, and I suggest you check it out.
Stay tuned for an interview with the founders, coming to the blog soon!
Clothing & Accessories
Marina De Buchi is a jewelry designer from London, England. Her brand’s mission is to fight human trafficking, and as part of that, they donate 10% of every purchase to the A21 campaign that works to fight human trafficking and abolish slavery everywhere.
The brand’s pieces are dainty and feminine. I have the ‘Little Things’ necklace, and it has quickly become one of my favourite pieces of jewelry.
Our bar cart from Article wasn’t a new purchase in June, but it definitely got a lot more use!
Article is a Canadian company that offers modern, mid-century, and Scandinavian furniture at more affordable prices, since they ship directly to the consumer. The product quality is great and the pieces are stylish.
Take a read on why I love the bar cabinet so much at the bottom of this post.
And be sure to check out some easy cocktail recipes here! Aperol Spritz anyone?
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Rob and Jen launched the Home Appliances Food Co. food truck amidst the pandemic, as a way to pivot when the restaurant industry was heavily impacted. Read on to learn about their inspiring journey and how they’re making a go of it.
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