Somewhere Spotlight: October 2020
Pictured: Drake Devonshire Inn
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.
I finally made it out to visit Prince Edward County for the first time. It was everything I imagined and then some. The fall beach walks, winery & brewery hopping, excellent local food, and stunning country drives all helped to satisfy my travel bug. Read my full post on The County here, to discover my favourite spots, advice for building a great winery-hop, and the perfect two-day itinerary. Most people flock to PEC in the summer, but I’d urge you to consider visiting in the off-season. Not only does it help support the local businesses, but it also gives you all the charm without the crowds.
Through spending time putting together recommendations on the best things to do this fall and for the Thanksgiving long weekend, I inspired myself to spend a day farm hopping. We drove out to Springridge Farms and picked up fresh apple and pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner. Springridge is a beautiful farm, about 1.5 hours west of Toronto. The family set up quite the operations – they have a bakery with the most delicious treats (we enjoyed a pecan tart and a sugar donut during our visit), a market with fresh produce and other local goods, and pumpkins and apples for sale. They also traditionally run a Harvest Festival in the fall and many other great activities that were sadly put on hold due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, it was still plenty of fun (and tasty!) to visit. Taking in the beautiful scenery on the drive to the farm was worth it alone.
After Springridge, we drove less than five minutes over to Applevale Orchards for apple picking. Until this October, I had never been apple picking before, so hopefully that’s a good reminder that it’s never too late to do something! Applevale was especially appealing to us as you can bring your dog – as long as your pup remains on leash and you pick up after them. They have a huge variety of apples and lots of rows of trees to wander and pick from. We walked away with plenty of apples to share with our extended family.
To kept the outdoor adventures going, we returned to the same area to walk the Rattlesnake Point trails the following week. The main trail is dog-friendly with minimal incline and there are stunning views at the end. Afterwards, we popped over to my friend’s newly launched cider company – Carlisle Cider Co. to purchase apples and cider to take home (highly recommend, and not just because they’re my friends!).
In case it isn’t abundantly clear at this point, I love gourmet food stores. So naturally, this month I ventured to one I hadn’t yet explored: Spaccio.
It’s located in Corktown and is a surprising large (16,000 SQFT large!) production facility for Toronto’s Terroni restaurants. At the front, there is a small shop where you can purchase freshly baked bread, fresh pasta, frozen pizzas, soups & sauces, and more. They also offer beyond delicious sandwiches, and if you ask nicely, prepared pasta to eat on your way home. My list of goodies was long on this shop – I just couldn’t help myself. I took home: a frozen flatbread pizza (since eaten & confirmed delicious), olive bread and sourdough bread (both rapidly devoured that evening), meatballs, tiramisu, frozen croissants (that you can finish baking at home!!), chocolate tarts (also to finish baking at home), and Terroni olive oil. My boyfriend and I each got a sandwich to go, and of course I also got the rigatoni all’amatriciana (the pasta menu isn’t posted in store, but I had seen it offered on UberEats so I asked and they made it fresh for me!).
If you decide to head to Spaccio, it’s worth a wander around Corktown afterwards, to check out some of the other shops, restaurants, alleyways and murals. Scroll to the bottom of this guide for some great places to check out in Corktown, once the lockdown lifts (and to order from in the meantime!).
If you’re on the hunt for some more great gourmet grocers, see this post for interviews with four founders.
Food & Drink
If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning, you know that one of my Top Five restaurants in Toronto is Sugo. They opened a sister spot next door – a pizza joint called Conzo’s – and of course, I had to check them out. We picked up one of their pies (which is probably the most restraint I’ve ever had when ordering) and enjoyed it at home. While we found them to be a bit expensive, they’re fairly big and worth the dough (one pie was more than the two of us could finish in one sitting). The sauce was excellent (as expected, coming from Sugo!), and the slices were crispy on the bottom with soft centers. I’ll definitely be going back for more (and might even try to coordinate a simultaneous Sugo order so that I can have some rigatoni on the side).
Speaking of pizza, we also tried Maker Pizza’s square pepperoni pie, which I had been eyeing for some time. I enjoyed it but found that I prefer Descendant’s Detroit style pizza better, if I am going deep dish. Maker is still one of my favourite pizza places in the city, but I think I’ll stick with their regular wheels for my next order. I found the square pie a bit heavy and less flavourful than Descendant (It also probably didn’t help that it is meant to serve six, so I was eating pizza for several days straight…).
On an opposite note, I ordered Mary Be Kitchen for breakfast. The MBK Ricotta Toast comes with Broadflour Bread (if you know, you know) and the Smashed Avo Plate is the perfect, fresh & healthy breakfast option. Their dishes are flavourful and bright and will keep you coming back for more; there’s a reason I mentioned Mary Be Kitchen in the July edition of Somewhere Spotlight, and was enticed to return and try breakfast.
Also noteworthy was Maryik, an Armenian restaurant in Leaside. I highly recommend ordering their “Date Night” offering, which includes hummus, banaganoush, rice, salad, 2 chicken skewers, 1 beef skewer and fried potatoes. The chicken and beef were incredibly flavourful.
Finally, I tried enjoyed many great eats in Prince Edward County – find recommendations in this post.
I had a few favourite drinks in October. Firstly, I picked up hard cider from the newly launched Carlisle Cider Co. They have three variations, each with a different level of dryness that is cleverly indicated on a scale on their cans. I enjoyed the variety and would recommend picking up all three to determine your favourite.
I also enjoyed patio drinks at Maison Selby. They have a full menu of warm cocktails, which was perfect as the weather started to turn. I’m looking forward to safely returning once the lockdown comes to an end (and in the meantime, they have plenty of great items to order!).
My friend made stunning & delicious Fig Bees Knees cocktails (recipe here), and as someone who loves figs, I can’t stop thinking about them.
Since we had so many goodies from apple picking, I had fun trying new apple recipes. The first was an apple sauce recipe from my good friend. Most recipes that I found online require you to add sugar, but her version is much healthier, with no sugar added. Fresh apples are already so sweet anyway! To make the delicious, healthy apple sauce:
- Peel and dice (exclude the core) 8 apples and add to a pot. Add 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of vanilla.
- Note: We halved the recipe and added extra cinnamon, for the two of us.
For dinner, we made the easiest one-pot chicken and apple dish:
- Slice 1/2 a small onion lengthwise, sautée in a pan with olive oil and a pinch of salt until browned
- Peel and slice 2 apples
- Slice baby potatoes lengthwise (no need to peel)
- Add onions, potatoes and apples to the bottom of a baking dish. Add olive oil and salt and mix.
- If you have a broiler tray, use that so that you can put the chicken on top of the rack. Otherwise, you can use a baking dish and put the metal rack from an Instant Pot on top of the onions, potatoes and apples and then place the chicken on top of the rack. If you have neither of those, just place the chicken directly on top of the onions, apples and potatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Add rosemary sprigs on top of the chicken.
- Bake at 400 degrees until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve the chicken with a side of the potatoes, apples and onions!
I have driven by Bobbette and Belle many times – they have two locations, one on Yonge north of Lawrence and another in Leslieville. In early October, we decided to walk our dog in a different neighbourhood and ended up near Bobbette and Belle. Naturally, I had to pop in. My boyfriend got a latte and we shared a chocolate peanut butter cupcake and a chocolate cookie. I don’t often opt for cupcakes as I find they can be quite dry, but the cupcake from Bobbette and Belle was moist and flavourful and definitely the best I’ve had in some time. We loved the shop so much that we returned a couple of weeks later – this time, we shared a Hello Dolly bar (made of nuts, coconut and chocolate) and a butter tart. The butter tart exceeded our already high expectations – it was gooey, extra buttery and had a wonderfully flaky crust. If you happen to be walking by Bobette & Belle, make sure you don’t wait as long as I did to pop in!
Worth noting that I indulged in a few other sweet treats that were excellent:
- Bombolone and croissant from Stock T.C.
- Budino di Caramello from Terroni (which is essentially a butterscotch pudding served in a tiny cute to-go container that delivered perfectly)
- Mos Mos cookies, donut and cinnamon bun (look, it was National Dessert Day so I had every excuse to order desserts for delivery. I liked the cookies and cinnamon bun the best!)
- A cake-in-a-cup from Roselle Desserts (the cutest little to-go cake that I’ve ever seen)
- Not to mention that Craigs Cookies moved to my hood (psst they also started doing national delivery which just might be the perfect thing to send a loved one this season)!
After compiling this list, I’ve realized I need to cool it on the treats in November.
I tried bamboo cotton rounds for the first time, and they exceeded all of my expectations. I typically use disposable cotton rounds to remove nail polish, but was recently introduced to the reusable, biodegradable cotton rounds from The Green Co. You can use them, throw them in the wash and reuse them (yes – even if you put nail polish remover on them!!). They are 100% biodegradable and can replace many disposable cotton rounds. It’s a really simple switch you can make to help protect the environment.
Not only that, but I actually found them nicer to use than the disposable rounds, as the disposable ones sometimes leave pieces of fluff stuck to my nails. No residual fluff with the reusable rounds!
They also come with the cutest mesh bag for safe keeping!
In October, I had the pleasure of interviewing Desiree, the founder of Armed Jewelry. Read the post here to learn more about Desiree’s journey from a jewelry making hobby to having a full-blown retail store on Toronto’s popular Dundas St. She also provides refreshing transparency about materials, and the downsides of gold plated pieces – which are so common in the costume jewelry industry today.
As she explains, gold plated jewelry can easily tarnish and therefore plated pieces should be worn with restrictions: “Don’t wear it in the water and avoid wearing it when you are sweaty – and what kind of parameters are those on someone’s life? People are more spontaneous than that!”
Armed Jewelry’s focus is on costume jewelry, and their amazing niche is that their pieces don’t tarnish! Feel free to wear their jewelry wherever life takes you – even if that is to the gym or dancing in the rain.
Read more here.
Clothing & Accessories
I am super digging The Silk Labs lately – a female founded brand based out of Toronto. Jenna launched The Silk Labs in 2019 and it’s quickly taken the world by storm (her brand has been featured in Vogue Italia!). It’s been fun watching her brand grow and I’ve acquired quite the collection of scrunchies. The product quality is amazing – the scrunchies don’t pull my hair or leave it creased and the elastics have retained tension over time. There’s a reason the scrunchies sell out within seconds of a new drop!
Mrkt Gallery is an online gallery founded in 2019. It is dedicated to works by female artists, with an objective of filling a major gap in the market (What’s the gap? Read our interview with the founder to find out! You’ll find some pretty shocking statistics that may encourage you to shop for art a little differently. Mrkt Gallery is the perfect place to shop if all of this time at home has prompted you to redecorate.
Art pictured is by Toronto artist, Shelina Pachai.
Need ideas for how to spend your virtual New Years? Read this post and get inspired to spend your NYE in the Middle of Somewhere, even if you can’t leave your house!
Take a peek at my favourite monthly finds in the November 2020 edition of Somewhere Spotlight.
It’s easy to #shoplocal this season. You’ll find gifts for everyone on your list and these Toronto gift shops!