• [Fitness] ClassPass Toronto

    ClassPass is a fitness subscription service that gets you "unlimited monthly classes at the best fitness studios and gyms in Toronto. With just one monthly subscription you can work out at Studio Lagree, Track Fitness, Barreworks, Quad Spinning, Hard Candy Fitness, IAM Yoga, Body Harmonics, Barre3, Yoga Tree, Spynga, Core Studio, and over 80 others all over the city!" for a low price of $99 per month."

  • [Food Post] Paramount Fine Foods

    Paramount Fine Foods is a popular Middle Eastern and Mediterranean chain of restaurants with several locations in Ontario. Their newest location on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Bay Street in Yorkville just opened up yesterday. Additionally, the new 4,500 square feet location is the first full-service halal restaurant in the Yorkville area.

  • [Tech + App] Grabb

    Grabb is a free Toronto-based mobile app that allows users to pre-order and pre-pay for food. The app is easy to use with its user-friendly interface that allows users to browse through the list of restaurants and their menus, select their order, and then securely pay for their order with just a few clicks. Additionally, the app also features a virtual queue, where you are able to see how many other people using the Grabb app are ahead of you.

  • [Food Post] Han Ba Tang

    Han Ba Tang opened up earlier this summer, and is one of the latest additions to the Yonge and Sheppard area. The name translates to meaning "one full round" in Korean and is like a Korean-styled izakaya (or pojangmacha). I was invited to their bloggers' media tasting to preview some of their menu items.

  • [Food Post] Jacobs and Co.

    Jacobs and Co. Steakhouse has a very sizable steak selection which are visibly displayed in a glass container at the front. The glass contains dry-aged beef with information tags on them (name, date, etc ...) for customers to choose from.

  • [Food Post] Sake Bar Kushi

    We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry and non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Food Post] Canoe Restaurant + Bar

    Canoe is one of Toronto's critically acclaimed restaurants offering upscale Canadian cuisine. It is located on the 54th floor of Toronto Dominion Bank Towers in the financial district. As it is relatively high up; its beautifully designed dining room offers a spectacular view of the city's skyline.

  • [Food Post] Au Pied de Cochon

    One of the great appeals of the restaurant is their extensive menu. The menu at Au Pied de Cochon offers concoction of dishes that entails the uses of animal parts that are not always found in other restaurants.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

Toronto’s Gangster Burger Partners with Artist Mark Liam Smith for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche


Toronto restaurant Gangster Burger announced today a partnership with artist Mark Liam Smith that will transform the burger joint into a fine art gallery in time for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche on October 3, 2015.


Gangster Burger is located on Queen West, just steps away from a high concentration of the exhibitions that will mark Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the free all-night contemporary art event.

“The past two years, we’ve loved serving the masses of art aficionados who stop in during Nuit Blanche. This year, we’re looking forward to feeding their appreciation of arttoo. We see our burgers as art, and we can’t wait to see howMark Liam Smith translates that to canvas,” said Gangster Burger owner Lee Baxter.


Smith will begin painting several larger-than-life Gangster Burgers in hyperrealistic detail over the course of the next few monthsThe paintings represent a continuation of hisbody of work, entitled Fast Food, Slow Artin which he elevates the iconic fast food meal to the status of subject for mindful contemplation.


The guys at Gangster Burger are artists too. Their attention to detail, from concept to execution, separates them from the other burger joints. Together, we are blurring the lines between the culinary and the visual arts in a way that is new and exciting,” said Smith.


Smith’s body of paintings (markliamsmith.com) has already garnered the attention of gallerists: Ceci n’est pas un burger was exhibited by The Black Cat gallery earlier this year and has recently been featured alongside another painting, Big Bacon Burger, in the 2015 fall/winter Fleck Contemporary Fine Art Magazine.


Smith’s painting of The Escobar, Gangster Burger’s homage to the infamous Colombian drug lord, will be unveiled on October 3, 2015, at 607 Queen Street West. 


About Gangster Burger

Gangster Burger opened on Queen Street West in September 2012. The restaurant, known for its gourmet burgers and gangster-themed branding, is owned by Lee Baxter, who also owns the tattoo and piercing shop FY Ink across the street and Hardknocks Boxing Club at Queenand Dufferin.

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Website @ http://www.markliamsmith.com/

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Streetcar Developments Upper Beaches Tour

I had the opportunity to attend a tour of this lovely neighborhood called “The Upper Beaches" about two weeks ago. The neighborhood had an abundance of small and indie shops, and there was a sense of belonging to a community, as shop owners and locals knew one another. I joined a small group of bloggers, and we visited a couple of the shops in the neighborhood, where we got to meet and chat with the respective local business owners. We also traveled in style - in a limo.

The evening started with a visit to The Southwood Presentation Centre designed by Streetcar Developments; a Toronto-based real estate developer. The company designed a variety of contemporary urban homes, and The Southwood is one of their latest ones. The Southwood is a new "community tailored to urbanites, devoted east-enders and modern families located in the Upper Beaches." The neighborhood is great as it's easily accessible by TTC, and there are tons of shops, cafe, schools, and parks all within the vicinity of one another. At the end, we were all gifted with a fantastic picnic bag filled with everything needed for a perfect picnic. Streetcar Developments have definitely helped to shape the neighborhood's evolution, and helped to create a strong yet tight-knit community.

The second stop on our tour was to a lovely art gallery called Yellow House Gallery. It's a new art gallery in The Beaches area, and located in the heart of Kingston Road Village. The gallery aims to showcase a lot of local and regional artworks from emerging and established artists. It's owned and operated by Christina Kostoff, who is an alumna of the Art Institute of Chicago. We were lucky enough to visit on a day where some of her artworks were on display on the wall. Yellow House Gallery also hosts exhibitions, and special events such as artist talks, lectures, workshops and neighborhood gatherings. 

The Art of Cheese was our next stop; it's a cheese shop that opened its door in 2007. It's owned and operated by Bill Miller who is known around The Beaches area as "the grand fromage". Bill was full of energy, and was completely passionate when talking about the variety of cheeses that the store had to offer. The Art of Cheese specializes in Canadian cheeses, but they also carry European & international classics and specialty cheeses that are not found in the typical grocery stores. Bill was kind enough to prepared us with some samples of an Italian cheese called San de Oro, a raw cow's milk cheese made in the Grappa of North Eastern Italy. The wine selected to complement the cheese was a 2011 East Dell Estates Black Label Shiraz from Diamond Estates.

Next up was a visit to Collected Joy; a local shop "dedicated to the ongoing discovery and collection of beautiful things." The shop is filled with plenty of items that would make perfect gifts, such as small-batch and locally made quality gifts, jewelry, cards, stationery, pottery, and glassware. Owner, Sharon Smyl, left her corporate job as a marketing director, to open a shop filled with wonderful things that she personally loves, and wants to introduce to her customers. Many of the items found in the shop are also locally made and sourced. 

We were served homemade guacamole made with using La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde, which was made locally in Toronto.  It's super easy to make guacamole with the jar of this sauce, as all you need is 6-8 ripe avocados, freshly squeezed lime juice, pinch of salt, and a jar of La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde which is available at Collected Joy. Lastly, we quenched our thirst with ice tea made with Toronto-based Sloane Fine Teas. Thank you to Sharon for gifting us with a jar of "That's My Jam!" - marmalades are made by Maggie Fruitman in Riverdale.

We made a quick pit stop to The Stone Pizza; a local pizzeria that specializes in eight house-made pizzas with customizable toppings. They pride themselves on making everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients, as they don't even have a freezer on-site. We tried three of their pizzas; The Apple Jack, The Margherita, and The Me-Ted. 

The Apple Jack - vintage cheddar, caramelized onions, grilled apples, arugula and herbed oil
The Me-Ted - grilled sausage, smoked bacon, vintage cheddar, and tomato sauce
The Margherita - roma tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, Bononcini, and balsamic
We stopped by The Beech Tree for a quick dinner; it's a restaurant along Kingston Road offering traditional pub fare. Robert Maxwell, owner, quit his job as a former analyst, to open up his own restaurant after realizing his culinary dreams. Despite being a first-time restaurateur, he has succeeded in creating a warm space where people could enjoy "comforting and accessible food made with good ingredients and flair." The Beech Tree specializes in creating from-scratch dishes that are made with locally sourced ingredients, and providing customers with an exceptional dining experience. I liked that the menu incorporate inspirations from British, Italian, and French cuisines, but they do add a more Ontario-centric interpretations of these dishes.

London Calling - London dry gin, Pimms, St. Germain Elder flower liquour, lemon juice, garnished with a lemon twist, and rosemary, and House-infused hot pepper tequila margarita with fresh Ontario peach puree, salt/sugar rim
Gnocchi - The gnocchi is house-made traditionally with potato, tossed with a sweet corn puree, and garnished with marinated zucchini, feta, and a fennel bread crumble
Charcuterie Board - Everything on the charcuterie board was made in house; pork rillettes, the pork and walnut terrine, pork and herb terrine, the air-cured duck ham, chicken liver parfait, apricot chutney, and turmeric Dijon

Short Rib - 36 hour sous-vide short rib with deep-fried broccoli, sherry vinegar, and roasted king oyster mushroom, topped with a caper and raisin dressing
 Walking along the Glen Stewart was part of the plan, but it was too dangerous as it got dark pretty fast. However, if you're every around the area, definitely check out the Glen Stewart; a 11-hectare ravine with plants and bird life all around. 

We did get the chance to encounter Steve Sanna who owns Sanna's Farmacia Juice Bar. Sanna's Farmacia is an organic juice bar located on Queen St East that offers potions, elixirs, detox programs, power drinks, smoothies, and juices. All of the cold pressed juice available at the store are made using only organic ingredients to ensure that you're getting all of the right nutrients. To make his products more accessible to people, owner, Steve Sanna, also drives around on his mobile bike in the neighborhood.

I had a great time exploring the neighborhood of Upper Beaches, and definitely discovered some really nice gems. Many thanks to Streetcar Developments for being a great host, and Rock-It-Promotions for the opportunity.

Disclaimer: The food and products provided in this post were complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Stone Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Beech Tree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sanna's Farmacia Juicebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Libertine

The Libertine are now under new ownership, and I was kindly invited to try their newly launched snack-lounge menu. The outside of the bar was rather unassuming as there was no clear sign of the bar's name. Rather, there was a tarot card and palm reading sign brightly flashing before my eyes, so I was slightly confused. The dim-lit yet modern speakeasy was actually located in the basement level of the building. The 2000-square-foot basement retained most of the previous space's decor, which featured high counter tops, photographs, and comfortable side booths. My boyfriend and I were greeted warmly by the main bartender, Matt, who showed us to our reserved booth. We ordered some drinks, and while we were waiting the new owner, Phil, came out and introduced himself. Phil was the one who explained all of the dishes that came out, and he was very attentive, and accommodating throughout the night. 

We were shown the menu, and Phil told us that we were going to be tasting several of the items that are available on the menu. I also noticed that their menu also caters to those who have stricter dietary restrictions as they offer both vegan and gluten-free dishes as well.

 Many of the dishes on The Libertine's new menu incorporates Chef JP's Middle Eastern roots, which I could tell as many of the dishes were colorful, vibrant, and had intense flavors. We actually started the night off with Hummus & Pita ($6), which is a staple dish in Middle Eastern cuisine. The hummus was relatively standard, but I did like the texture, as there was a nice consistency to the well-blended chickpeas.  

The Falafel Blinis ($9)  - fluffy falafel, chickpea blini, date & cinnamon jam, rainbow swiss chard, pickled watermelon radish, bitter melon candy & toasted fennel/cumin Tahini sauce, were beautifully presented. Blinis are actually light pancakes that are traditionally served in Eastern European countries. The ones from The Libertine incorporated Middle Eastern influences with the layering of both the falafel, and chickpea to the mix. I also really liked how flavorful these bite-sized appetizers were, and not to mention that they are also vegan, and gluten-free.

The Coconut and Spiced Pecan Arancini ($7) - Gochujang & almond sauce, fried sage, was another vegan, and gluten-free item on the menu. The creamy risotto was cooked in coconut soy milk, which gave the ball a very sweet flavor. However, since this was a savory dish, the addition of the Korean paste, gochujang, added a nice kick, and balanced the sweetness of the arancini.


The Baby Clam Po'Boys ($9) - Swiss chard & mustard green slaw, apple cilantro mayo, sweet scotch bonnet sauce, was made with homemade milk buns, which were a little thick for my taste. However, it was dressed with a nice sauce that was both sweet, and spicy.

One of favorite dishes of the night was JP's Mac n Cheese Balls ($8) - Casal Da Ermida, a rich stank Portuguese cheese. Blended with fresh garlic scapes. My intital thought when I saw that Casal Da Ermida was used was that the scent would probably be overpowering. However, that was definitely not the case, as it was delicious. Normally, this dish would come with three pieces, but we feasted on a lot of food that night. The mac, and cheese were tightly packed inside of the deep-fried balls, and the cheese sauce was made with real garlic, which added a lot of flavor.

The Pork & Potato Asian Slaw ($9) - soy ginger lime vinaigrette, house smoked pork, potato skin chips, bbq chips, pickled ginger, green onion, avocado crema, was another dish that I really enjoyed. It was presented in a creative way; in a make-shift take-out box with wooden chopsticks. I thought that the Asian slaw was very well made, and contained a generous amount of house smoked pork that had a nice smoky flavor to them. The coleslaw had a lot of components to it, so you have to mix it very well. However, I did find that the bbq chips that were on the bottom got soggy fast when mixed. So, it would have been better if the potato skin chips, and bbq chips topped off the slaw. Overall, I thought that the shredded pulled pork tasted amazing with the light vinaigrette.

I was too full by the time the Gnocchi Poutine ($8) came out, so my boyfriend helped himself to the entire thing. The dish consisted of fried gnocchi, root vegetable gravy, cheddar cheese, and topped off with some green onions, and fried shallots.


I was full, but I can never say no to desserts. We ended the night off with two pieces of Churros - cinnamon butter, and coconut dulce de lece; a fried-dough pastry that are very popular in Spain. The cinnamon-dusted churros tasted great with the sweet coconut dulce de lece that I could have gone for seconds.

Overall, I enjoyed both the food, and service that we got from The Libertine. All of the staff, including the owner (Phil) were very pleasant, and helpful. We also got to meet Chef JP, who came out of the kitchen to tell us a little bit more about his dishes. He was very humble, and just completely passionate about cooking, and food. I love meeting, and talking to people who share the same love of food as I do, so I appreciate him coming out. The Libertine has since improved their drinks and food menu from their predecessor, and I think it's a very relaxing place to hang out on the weekends. Many thanks to The Libertine for having us, and we had a great time!

Address: 1307 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X8

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

The Libertine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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[Launch Event] McDonald's Mighty Angus

Did you know that the very first item on the McDonald's menu in 1967 was a hamburger? Since then, McDonald's has added several burgers that have become permanent fixtures on their menu. Back in August, I was invited to attend their Mighty Angus Open Kitchen Flavour Session, where guests (bloggers and media) were introduced to the all-new Mighty Angus burger. This was the first new premium burger that McDonald's has added to their permanent menu since 2012. The launch event was held at McDonald's Canada's corporate head office, and guests were given the opportunity to tour the kitchen, and watch the process behind making the new premium burger. I thought that the overall kitchen tour was both interactive, and informative.

 The Mighty Angus burger is made with juicy, tender cuts of 100% Angus beef that are locally sourced from Canadian farms. It's served on a sesame and poppy seed bun, and topped with a smoky Angus sauce, hickory smoked bacon pieces, crisp leaf lettuce, tomato, processed cheddar cheese, and grilled onions. The Mighty Angus is now available in stores, and costs $6.40 for the premium sandwich, and is also available as a part of an Extra Value Meal. Based on its good size and quality, I'd say that this was appropriately priced for a premium sandwich.

 In regards to the 100% Angus beef, I think it's great that McDonald's uses beef that are locally sourced from Canadian farms. By doing so, they have shown that they are placing a priority on buying Canadian 100% Angus beef, and not outsourcing outside of Canada. This way, they are supporting the Canadian economies and taking great pride in working with local farmers to ensure quality products. McDonald's have also taken an extra step in ensuring that the beef is always up to standard, as there would always be a representative from the Canadian Beef Grading Agency present every time McDonald's make Angus patties to verify that they're 100% Angus beef. 

After completing the kitchen tours, we were treated to the new Mighty Angus, which I quite enjoyed. Three things stood out to me; the sesame and poppy seed bun, smokey flavor of the chopped bacon bits, and lastly, the smoky angus aioli. Visually, the combination of the sesame and poppy seed added to the overall pleasant aesthetic. Additionally, instead of bacon strips, McDonald's has opted to use Hickory smoked bacon pieces. This allows the natural smoky flavor of the bacon to seep through, and just complement the overall burger. Lastly, the smoky angus aioli stood out to me, as it had a nice sweet yet light smoky flavor to it, which I don't find on a lot of burgers in Canada. Overall, this was a welcome addition to the McDonald's permanent menu line, and I will return for one.

McDonald's Mighty Angus is now available at participating McDonald's locations in Canada, so drop by soon to try one.

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

McDonald's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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