Somewhere Spotlight: July 2020
Mount Pleasant Village is a neighbourhood that I really never paid much attention to. It’s a small stretch of Mount Pleasant, between Davisville and Eglinton, that is dotted with restaurants, cafés and independent boutiques. Now that I live around the corner, I’ve found myself beginning to explore every block, and there’s lots more to discover than I ever imagined.
My favourite spots are Piano Piano (for pasta and pizza, and a cute side patio adjacent to their stunning signature mural), Thobors or Jules Café (for fresh croissants), XO Gelato (for well, gelato), and Collected Joy (for picking up a gift for a friend, or bitters or candles for your own home).
I am looking forward to trying several more spots along the street and was thrilled to see so many CafeTO patio permits this summer. Most notably looking forward to: Positano’s (a favourite Italian spot of my boyfriend’s parents), Wild Chicory (Canadian cuisine), Shibui Eatery & Sushi (Japanese Izakaya), Yukashi (Japanese tasting menu), Smokeshow BBQ & Brew (to check out their ribs and mac & cheese).
July was filled with lots of outdoor walks, with the longest being to the end of Tommy Thompson park and back. Check out a more detailed description of the trail as well inspiration for other outdoor adventures here. There are lots of great views to be found along the trails listed in the linked post, including looking up at the Scarborough Bluffs from Bluffers Park.
July was the first time I learned how to grill fruit! Yes, you read that correctly: I had never grilled fruit on the barbeque before. If you haven’t done it, I encourage you to do it this week. We started with peaches and later tried nectarines. Simply brush the grill with oil (we used olive oil, but any high-heat oil will work. One alternative is canola oil), cut the peach in half and grill on medium heat until soft.
Grilled fruits are great in salads and desserts, or when turned into a compote and used to top pancakes or french toast.
My shop selection this month is technically a restaurant, but since they offer so many take-home and finish-at-home products, I’ve considered them a shop. Therefore, my favourite find for July is Mary Be Kitchen.
So far, we’ve enjoyed their sous-vide flank steak, ginger-scallion salmon burgers (on toasted Cumbrae’s buns and with Neal Brother’s sriracha mayo), masala-roasted cauliflower, red lentil dahl (which we topped with a poached egg), their popular guacamole (indeed, very worthy of its popularity), and their delicious sea-salt chocolate chip cookies (because, you all know I cannot resist a fresh baked cookie). I went back a couple of weeks later and picked up their bumbleberry pie for the August long weekend – it was delicious and massive (and of course, we still ate it within a couple of days). I would purchase everything again.
A friend of mine also told me that their brunch is great, which I’ll be sure to check out soon.
Side note: I had no idea what a “bumbleberry” was, so I googled it. Turns out it isn’t a berry but rather, a Canadian mixed berry pie from the Maritimes. Knowing that made me love it even more.
Food & Drink
A Toronto July is made for eating out, and that’s exactly what I did. It was too hard to pick one favourite spot, so I am going to pick one restaurant for dine-in and another for takeout.
I worked in the office tower adjacent to Bymark for a number of years, but for some reason never made my way there. Worth noting that Bymark is part of the Chef Mark McEwan empire (hence: “by Mark”). I had the perfect evening there in July. The streets were quiet due to COVID, but it was nice to avoid the typical hustle-bustle of a downtown workweek and the patio atmosphere still managed to carry a great vibe. The best part was the food – I was literally saying ‘wow’ with pretty much every bite. Everything was incredibly fresh, stunning and flavourful – oysters, steak tartare, shrimp tacos, ahi tuna, striploin, cucumber margarita and everything in between. It’s certainly on the more expensive side, but a great place for a celebratory dinner.
For takeout, Defina Wood Fired has my July vote. For starters, they have great variety on their menu, including both circular and square pies and a variety of meal deals throughout the week. But the pièce de résistance was the Roncy pizza, which was topped with none other than mashed potatoes. Yes, mashed potatoes, on a pizza. They have two locations – the original in Roncesvalles and a newer one near the Junction. The interior of the Junction location is especially stunning, and they have a great side patio. Go there. Get pizza. Be happy.
I couldn’t resist sharing more than one favourite drink find for July. Below, you’ll find my favourite restaurant cocktail of the month as well as my favourite make-at-home drink.
Restaurant: The Ubud Hangout cocktail from Little Sister (Yonge and Davisville) just might be my favourite cocktail that I’ve had in a long time. It included gin, black pepper jalepeño, cucumber, lime, cilantro and orange bitters.
Make-At-Home: A watermelon slushie is the perfect refreshing summer drink. Dice watermelon and freeze it. When ready to drink (and once the watermelon has frozen), add to a blender. Blend & serve. You can drink it as is or add vodka and lime flavoured soda water.
In July, I got obsessed with fresh herbs and whipped up many sauces to elevate my dinners. My favorites were a chimichurri (and many variations of it), a pea purée, and a healthy avocado lime crèma. You can find the recipes here.
I don’t often order dessert when I go out for dinner (I’ll opt for a second round of pasta or tacos instead!), but it takes a lot for me to pass up churros. Especially the ones from La Hacienda. Their churro poutine has marshmallows melted into the caramel sauce and it is to die for. It doesn’t matter if you’ve eaten too many tacos – you must finish your meal with the churro poutine. As our server said, “I always say I don’t eat dessert, but I eat churros”.
To top it off, La Hacienda has an adorable, casual back patio that is worth a visit in any regard – churros or not.
I’ve been enjoying getting to see more friends lately and having an excuse to dress up a little when I head out for an evening. However, since I haven’t been wearing much makeup in quarantine, I’ve completely forgotten how long it takes me to get ready. As a result, I’m currently gravitating towards products that are quick to use with a high payoff. Stila Liquid Eyeshadow is incredible – it is high-shine and all I do is swipe the applicator across my eyelid and dab it with my finger (it’s applicator is like a lip gloss tip, which makes it really easy to use). And voilà! That’s it!
I absolutely love Knix. I found out about them them several years ago, as I applied for a role there when I was still in university. Since then, I’ve closely followed their journey and their products have recently become a staple in my closet. The leakproof period underwear has been a total game changer. To be completely honest, I originally thought the concept was kind of odd – what do you do with the underwear once you’ve worn it and you aren’t ready to do laundry yet? They thoughtfully include a mesh wash bag with your order. The leakproof underwear comes in a variety of different styles – thong, cheeky, bikini, high-rise, boyshort, and more – each with the absorbency level indicated in the product description. I have never been big on tampons, and this underwear has not only helped me to be more environmentally friendly, but eliminating pads from my cycle has made for a much more comfortable experience.
If you’re still on the fence, read more about them here.
Beyond the period proof underwear, there are tons of reasons to love the brand – it is female founded, Canadian and is all about instilling confidence in women by making products that women actually want and that perform (think: comfortable, odor resistant, moisture wicking).
Clothing & Accessories
I may have worn my Tkees flip flops almost every day in July. They’re lightweight, comfortable and effortlessly cool. They’re stylish, which means you can actually wear flip flops in public, even if you aren’t heading to the beach. And yes, I’m aware that they’re a tad expensive for flip flops, but they’re comfortable and worth the investment. Once I’ve worn through my current pair, I will certainly be buying another.
Use this link for $10 off your purchase.
A friend of mine gifted me coupe glasses for my birthday. We’ve put them to good use, with the watermelon slushie (see above) and several other creations.
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.