YYZ’s Best of 2013

3 Jan

We started YYZGourmand quietly in March 2013, only sharing our project with friends once we had passed the three month mark and realized that our little project had momentum. The blog has permitted us to become vocal supporters of the flourishing Toronto food community and meet some really fantastic people.

This is our first, of what we hope will be many!, “Best Ofs” where the writers of YYZ Gourmand share what they think was the best of the year – most of what you see on this list is new, and others will reference memorable posts from 2013.

Best place to hold a grown up party: Archive 909

We didn’t promote it on the blog at the time, but we decided to celebrate our 6 months of being in the blogosphere with some of our fellow Toronto food bloggers, friends and supporters. We ended up at the Dundas West gem, Archive 909. The owner, Joel, was an excellent host and chef. t’s really a perfect venue for tapas and drinks. We’ve had other friends host birthdays there since – and everyone said that they wanted to go back after our September soiree. Take a look at our party photos, and then head over and say hi to Joel for us! – Cherry

Where to bring your classy and hungry friends: Archive 909!

Where to bring your classy and hungry friends: Archive 909!

Best books to read when

You need an #uglycry: JoJo Moyes, Me Before You (Penguin) and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (St. Martin’s Press) — Clementine

When you want to contemplate the slippery and tricky nature of time: Ruth Ozeki’s Tale for a Time Being, with a side of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad. But perhaps not one after the other. You might start questioning time and if you’re running out or into it. Mix it up with Clementine’s suggestions! – Cherry

Best bar for creating drunking memories: Rock’n’Horse Saloon and Clinton’s Tavern

Not that long ago, 60% of YYZ drank too many of these:

'The Bulldog' from Rock 'n Horse Saloon : the margarita/beer combo is a magical elixir that makes you think that you're invincible

‘The Bulldog’ from Rock ‘n Horse Saloon : the margarita/beer combo is a magical elixir that makes you think that you’re invincible

And then decided it was a good idea to try riding a mechanical Bull.

The results were as expected.

Same goes for two YYZ writers joining forces for a birthday bash at Clinton’s. All the photos are blurry, as are the memories. I was dancing in such a happy daze that I forgot that Alice was even there (for shame!).  – Cherry

Best travel destination for twenty-somethings easing into retirement:

Prince Edward County

The #smugcouple is on a quest to discover the bounty Southern Ontario has to offer. We did a lot of driving and tasted a lot of delicious food. Prince Edward County is a nice escape from the city for those looking for small town charm, outdoor activities, and yummy food. Think: small friendly wineries, LAVENDER gelato, and restaurants like Blumen and Pomodoro showcasing fresh local ingredients. Also a great place to be eaten alive by black flies the size of small birds … or visit an ER and not wait 10+ hours – Clementine & HoM

Clementine looking out over Prince Edward County

Clementine looking out over Prince Edward County before the ER visit!

Stratford

Another thing that #smugcouples love in addition to wine and bike rides through the country is live the-a-tre. Another little escape overflowing with quaintness and culture is Stratford (yes, the hometown of the boy idol that shall not be named). In search of Cynthia Dale and Christopher Plummer (who we heard was in town for opening week), we discovered a great production of Othello as well as Blithe SpiritClementine has always wanted to see a Noel Coward play (featuring the foibles of swishy aristos). Sometimes when a movie or play is billed as a “comedy,” it is more witty than laugh-out-loud funny. Blithe Spirit, however, was genuinely hilarious.  Each successive act upped the ante as Charles Condomine (played by Ben Carlson) was driven to the edge of madness, henpecked by his wife Ruth (played by Sara Topham) and the spirit of his late wife Elvira (played by Michelle Giroux). Going back to Stratford on several occasions revealed some hidden culinary gems like Monforte on Wellington and Revel Caffe. We will definitely be back in 2014 to see Colm Feore in King Lear and skip through the streets while holding hands. — Clementine & HoM

Best way to get your greens: Join a CSA!

Now that my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm box has ended for the year, I realize even more how amazing it was. I miss having kale and swiss chard coming out of my ears.  I miss the vibrantly coloured and impossibly sweet and flavourful tomatoes.  I miss the jalapeños that actually packed a serious spicy punch, as opposed to their bland grocery store counterparts. Store-bought lettuce now seems to be a poor imitation of real lettuce. Unlike many people, I love winter, but the anticipation of spring and the bounty of vegetables my farm box will bring is giving me some conflicting feelings. -HoM

Best coffee in the Financial District: Dineen

Progressive Torontonians are putting more emphasis on properly made coffee.  I base my observation on what I see in the financial district, and while that area does admittedly contain a fair number of people who likely do not merit being described as progressive, the explosion of establishments where one can enjoy a proper espresso points to the triumph of the progressives.  I noted this trend in my review of Dineen, SJCB and Kupfert and Kim.  All three, while quite different, should be recognized for providing the Bay St. suits with something better than Starbucks sludge-in-a-paper-cup.

Another place that requires requires recognition: iQ at Wellington and Bay does espresso right.  They brew it with care, and it comes out tight and luscious.  Even a simpleton could come up with a word other than “coffee” to describe its complex flavour.  Best of all, it only comes out in a proper porcelain cup.  The friendly till-minder warns you that you can’t get it to go, a warning that brightens my day every time I hear it. The fact that all these places are packed at most times of the day, especially the coffee-driven spots like Dineen and SJCB, tells me that people actually want the quality brew they are offering up.  They are by no means struggling, and this is a sign that we finally want something better than warm manure. – MCyyz

Best Airport Lounge(s)

2013 boasted a lot of travel for our editors including Belize, Ecuador, Iceland…and even closer destinations like Boston, NYC and San Francisco! There’s no better way to set the mood for an awesome trip than…an awesome airport lounge.

Best Free Lounge:  Hands down, no competition, because quite frankly there’s only one lounge in Toronto that doesn’t require a membership and is available to all flyers, frequent or not, and that’s Porter’s Lounge [insert link to Porter’s site]. Each and every patron can relax in deep-seated leather chairs, read complimentary newspapers, and help themselves to an espresso-based drink, premium snacks, and unlimited wifi.  No laptop or tablet or smart phone?  Then head over to their tech savy business centre filled with Apple computers.   I once took advantage of the comfy chairs, bottomless cappuccinos and Walker shortbread a little too much and had to be paged for my flight-true story.

Best Valued Not-Free Lounge:  Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge (for those flying Air Canada).  Unless you have a membership or access to this lounge through a frequent flyer program or whatever fancy travellers have, it’s normally $50 for a pass (for an economy flex ticket).  But Craiglist and Kijiji are filled with $12-$15 priced guest passes and with a bit of effort you can easily figure out a discounted or free way of entering (I did, shhh!).  So for $free-$15, you can enter a private oasis in the middle of Pearson where there are no screaming babies, clean washrooms with no lines, hot showers, big screen Sony tv rooms, and…12 yr Glenlivet.  Unlimited.  Complimentary.  Oh yeah and soups and healthy quinoa salad and veggies & hummus and other weaker alcoholic beverages blah blah blah.  Go.  Spend the $15 and drink yourself to a warm cozy nap and possibly miss your flight but hey, nobody knows you’re here you can probably just live there and declare it your kingdom.  Hot showers and scotch-what more does a gal need? – Alice

And there is our review of our best of 2013! We can’t wait to share and discover what 2014 has in store for all of us, and especially for our city, YYZ.

 

 

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One Response to “YYZ’s Best of 2013”

  1. Natalia July 2, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    2014’s list?

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