Diversions Food Review Toronto

Eating around the world

I do well with lists. I like checking things off.

Left to my own devices, I will stay inside and never leave the house. Now I have a puppy. I leave the house several times a day. I have spoken to more people – STRANGERS! – in the past 7 months than I probably have since 2012 when we moved into this house.

Toby likes going out. And Toby loves trying new and different places to eat.

So I thought I’d combine the two – a list and going out to eat.

What better list than ALLLL the countries of the world?!?

Well, probably lots. There are honestly loads of better lists to use to pick restaurants than “an alphabetical list of the countries of the world.”

First of all, not everyone agrees as to what is “a country.” And seriously, this is not at all supposed to be political (not the blog, the eating out!). But if the list didn’t have Palestine on it I wasn’t gonna use it. This is my favourite list though – it recognizes Palestine and Kosovo (to the Mighty Q’s great relief).

And second, wow there are a LOT of countries that start with A. And not a lot of restaurants for all of them in Toronto. So Toby suggested, 1 country per letter and just keep cycling through the alphabet. I think that’s actually what I’m going to work with.

But wait…why eat around the world at all?!?

Okay, let’s step back a minute. I was born in Toronto Ontario Canada. In the early 1970s. I basically grew up with the story that Toronto is the most multicultural place in the world.

It turns out it is actually not just a story – see here: BBC Radio – behind the stats; or here: BBC Travel: the city of 140 languages; about half our population comes from elsewhere AND half of the immigrants to Canada come here: wiki.

But of course it’s not all honey and love and equality. Most people have heard of Little Italy or Chinatown. But we also have a Little Jamaica, and a Chinatown East, and Little India. I live near Greektown. And then there’s Koreatown. And so so many more. So the idea came to me to get out of the house and explore the city a little more. To entice Toby, and maybe some friends too, I’d link it to food.

Start at the beginning

So – I started at the top. With Afghanistan.

Map Of Afghanistan And Surrounding Countries

I googled “best [country] food Toronto.” I relied heavily on reddit: specifically /FoodToronto. And this is obviously not a new idea. There are other blogs dedicated to this: Eat the World TO, Global Toronto Eats, even a food tour! But hey I am still gonna do it my way.

On January 14, Toby and I and the Mighty Q and some friends (people came along! wheeeee) met at Bamiyan Kabob on Overlea Blvd. in East York. Inexpensive and cheerful – think hard tables, plastic chairs, picking your food up on trays etc. – and the food was really really good and three of the boys (7, 11, and 48 years old) all really liked their mango smoothies too. It was busy. We grabbed a table for the 9 of us and almost all the other tables turned over while we were there. A mix of ages and races and genders and everything.

barg kabob on rice with some lettuce and chopped tomatoes
barg kabob
kofta kabob with rice, lettuce and chopped tomatoes
kofta kabob

Even Q ate it. Well, not the lettuce 😉 Turns out he liked the barg best. I ordered it because I had no idea what it was. According to the website it’s filet mignon. Kid has good taste.

And then across the “street” in the little plaza-type place, there was an ice cream shop. Remember we had 3 kids with us.

Anyway – why not have Afghan dinner and then Thai dessert?

Ice cream is rolled out on a tabletop that is chilled to -19 degrees Celsius. Then rolled up. That’s it in a nutshell. The Mighty Q got smores (complete with marshmallow). I got blueberry cheesecake with whipped cream and white chocolate. I don’t even remember what Toby got but I’m sure there was fruit involved. And no pictures even. Clearly we’ll have to go back.

Next up I think is Belgium. Moules…. lambics…ales… steak frites.

My brain is already thinking things like “so many different types of “Chinese” food – what the heck are we gonna do?!?!?” But one thing at a time I guess. January was Afghanistan. March will be Belgium. If you have a favourite “country” restaurant in the GTA let me know!

Food In the kitchen Review Toronto

Praising Black Gold (aka coffee)

Since Friday July 19, I’ve done my best to stop drinking coffee (all caffeine really because 99% of my caffeine is consumed in black gold form) by about noon. The first few days I strayed till 1 pm or so but since then it’s been finished by around 11:30 am.

No real change in sleep (which was the experiment) BUT it really is only one part of the equation (snoring, heat, beer all add up on the other side). No real change in mood either.

So why am I posting do you ask? Because I knew I was only going to be consuming a much smaller amount of coffee than before I figured I was going to be sure it was GOOD coffee, and not just the free unlimited stuff I have access to at work.

Sparkplug Coffee gets delivered to the house. I have used my french press every freaking day for the last couple of weeks and have enjoyed my coffee so much. I will probably never cut coffee out completely – I enjoy it too much – but I am actually enjoying it more when it isn’t so much the “quantity” of the stuff but the “quality.” Who’d a thunk it?

The most recent limited edition was called Mad Bastard. They describe it as a “blend of premium Arabica beans from Colombia and Brazil.” It’s a medium roast and tasty! I can’t wait to see what the next blend will be!

Logo from the sparkplug coffee website

Food Review

Purple Penguin Cafe

I really want to start talking a lot more about nifty stuff in Toronto – places we’ve been, food we’ve eaten, things we’ve seen. And this came to me of course as soon as I had something that I knew you’re really gonna want to try yourselves: the apple fritters from the Purple Penguin Cafe. (They’re also on facebook and twitter – well, the cafe is, not the fritters 😉 )

Located in Leslieville right at the corner of Queen East and Logan, they’re open every day and occasionally have a sale on the fritters – 12 for $12 (instead of the usual $15 – which is obviously still an awesome deal for freshly-made apple fritters!)

We stopped by Saturday morning, calling about 30 minutes in advance to reserve a dozen – they were quickly enjoyed by everyone at work. So quickly I forgot to take a photo so had to ask June for one:

We also picked up a chocolate brownie for the Mighty Q. He said it was good and when I asked if he could compare it to other brownies he’s had, without hesitation he declared it the “best ever. ”

(I’m not going to bother to tell him it’s vegan and gluten free!)

vegan AND gluten free! who knew!?!

Oh and a better picture of the “best ever brownies” (remember this is the kid who is on an ongoing search for the city’s best pain au chocolat!)

best ever brownies

And then on Sunday, when we were out running errands, Toby asked “where was that place that you got the amazing apple fritters.” And he ate his a good 7 hours after I picked them up. It just so happened we were driving up Logan so I was sure to point out the purple corner!

taken from google search

Definitely a local business we’re happy to support – fresh, natural, and amazingly delicious.

(a final note, these are definitely my thoughts, I paid for everything, it wasn’t until after everyone devoured the fritters that I thought it would make a good blog post. I did ask June for some pictures but well after I did the draft and she’s gonna see this post at the same time as all of you!)