I grew up in Ottawa but moved away when I was 8. When I go back I often stick to the By-ward market area because I like the coziness of it. There are the stores I frequent each trip, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant (Saigon, also listed on this blog), and its just comfortable.
One of my friends who lives in Ottawa finally got me out of my “comfort” zone recently and reminded how much more Ottawa has to offer.
Italy has always been on my must have visit list, probably ever since I watched Audrey Hepburn’s “Roman Holiday”. My best friend and I finally decided to just do it! We took 10 days and squeezed in as much as we could in that time.
Knowing we wanted to hit multiple locations, we had to firstly decide the best way to do this. There are multiple ways to get around Italy, many opt for train as you can get multi day passes. We opted to rent a car as we wanted the freedom to stop various places without worrying about dragging our luggage along with us.
One warning many people don’t talk about with regards to driving in Italy is their traffic laws. If you are seen by traffic enforcement not obeying a regulation, they do not actually need to stop you. They just take note of the license plate, send the violation to the rental agency, which in turn provides your information and next thing you know is you have a ticket in the mail. So pay extra attention to restricted driving streets, round abouts, speed limits, etc.
I’m a big foodie so that was what I looked forward to most about Italy (other then the shopping). Following are my food highlights from each city I visited:
Paris is one of my favorite cities, it just has a certain magic to it. I know that is so cliche and I swear I don’t feel that way because of movies and tv shows. I’m drawn to Europe in general as I love the history it holds, something you just can’t rival in North America.
On this trip, I really wanted to experience new places I hadn’t been to before. I took in culture and checked a couple items off the ole bucket list (Mona Lisa, The Thinker). Also stumbled upon some great places to eat and drink.
Sip Café Babylone: 46, Boulevard Raspail
Stopped here to enjoy a sidewalk seat and watch the action pass by with a latte. The location is wonderful, right on a corner with a gorgeous park to one side. I just felt at peace here. Next trip I plan to visit for dinner as the food on their social media looked delish!
Found this boutique restaurant/bar partly due to desperation. Tired and hungry and in need of a glass of wine, Maison Sauvage was near my hotel in Saint Germain. What intrigued me to try it though was their intricate decor of vines. It was literally a gorgeous restaurant. Thankfully the wine and food didn’t disappoint either. A small menu but with a variety of small plates along with a few entrees. I went with the cheese plate which was generous in quantity, I would recommend for two people
Claus was by far the best find of my trip. Stumbled upon it on a side street near the Palais Royale on a saturday morning. I was transfixed by the clean white exterior and the semi modern mid century/contemporary look of the place (exactly my style!). They have a couple locations so you should be able to find one that is convenient. The food is to die for! On the day I was there it was a set menu, but you have about 4 packages to choose from. Each price option has 2 or 3 choices per course. It was way too much food for me but honestly it was so incredibly delicious. They also don’t rush you at all so you can have a leisurely visit. Be prepared, for brunch you may have to wait for a table, but I promise it is worth it. My prix fixe started with a selection of fresh breads, followed by truffled scrambled eggs with mushrooms on cream cheese and brioche toast, ending with yogurt topped with granola and fresh fruit. They offer breakfast during the week as well… please do not miss this experience.
I’ve heard great things about Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen. Finally got to check it out with a girlfriend.
Walking inside is like transporting to a paradise, they have not spared anything on the decor, and the result is magnificent. It is located in a converted older house so you do get a cozy feel inside at the same time. There are two levels with a bar and dining seating on both. Unable to get a reservation (as we waited until the last minute), we did walk in and thankfully was able to get counter seating near the upstairs bar. Full menu is available no matter where you sit so that’s a plus.
Work sometimes takes me to some places I wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise.Recently that meant a night in Moncton New Brunswick.
It was a perfect relaxing evening in a beautiful city.Hopefully in future I will be there to see the Tidal Bore which apparently is quite a sight to see!… read more about that here https://tidalboretimes.ca
I’ve been wanting to check out La Société for a while, I have heard amazing things about their brunch.I love any mention of a French bistro.My best friend and I finally made it out to the restaurant recently for dinner.The intention was to partake in their Summerlicious 2018 menu but of course, murphys law, we were more tempted by items on the a la carte menu instead.
La Société, has two locations, one in Toronto on Bloor street at the edge of Yorkville, and one in Montreal.Rumour is they paid out quite a pretty penny to the previous tenants of the 131 Bloor Street West location in order to take over the lease.
They describe themselves as having a fresher, lighter approach to classic dishes while still being an inspired and dynamic French bistro.You definitely will not be disappointed by the variety on their menu, all the classic French bistro dishes are still there along with some more inventive dishes. Continue reading →
One of the things I love about Toronto is, twice a year they have food specials at various restaurants around the city. Winterlicious and Summerlicious give you the opportunity to try restaurants that you may not have otherwise decided to go to (or shell out money for in the case of the more expensive establishments. During these two times a year, restaurants offer a 3 course set menu for lunch and/or dinner.
This year I decided to check out the lunch at Ricarda’s, a relatively new restaurant in the heart of downtown Toronto. Located at the corner of Richmond and Peter streets, it opened in July of 2016. Ricarda’s describes themselves as featuring “a novel and pure form of hospitality to Canadians, otherwise only known to the fortunate few who have had the chance to experience traveling to the countryside of southern Europe and the Mediterranean coast.” Continue reading →
Pick 6ix is Drake’s new restaurant in downtown Toronto.This newest venture is a collaboration with chef Antonio Park.With a diverse background, Chef Park has a deep connection to Japanese culinary methods.Today Chef Park brings his experience from Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Montreal, to his newest adventure at Toronto’s Pick 6ix.
Pick Six is more glam then Drake’s previous venture Fring’s, which is luxe in a more eclectic way.Pick 6ix makes you feel glamorous to just be there, rich marine blue velvet accents are notonly luxe but comfy as well.Gold accents throughout every room make you feel like you are in another world. Continue reading →
While Old School’s menu might have a foundation built on classic dishes, once the restaurant has put their spin on them, they are anything but traditional.
Nestled on the corner of Dundas West and Palmerston Ave, the choice to go here for the brunch the other day was completely random…. finding a parking spot right in front played a big part I won’t lie.
Considering it was mid morning on a Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised the the wait on a table for 2 was only about 15 minutes. They seemed to have their system down as to how fast tables will turn over, therefore giving waiting patrons highly accurate seating times, which was thoroughly impressive.
The decor is I think best described a modern diner… the seating arrangement is comfortable and the restaurant is deceptively spacious. We had to wait a bit for our food… but hey it was a Sunday and it was snowing outside, what do you expect? I had zero issue with it because if you expect everything to be fast about Sunday brunch…. well then you are just delusional. Continue reading →
I recently made a promise to my 12 year old niece that we would start making the rounds at all the high tea’s in Toronto. After experiencing high tea at Harrods in London this past summer, she loves the whole experience as do I.
I thought our first trip should definitely be to the Nutcracker High Tea at the Shangri-La hotel as it is only on for a limited period of time.
While the Signature Shangri-La High Tea (available all year round) is normally $65 per person (which also includes a glass of La Glolosa Prosecco with mixed berries or a Elderflower Fizz mocktail), the Nutcracker High Tea is $75 per person.
The cost of the Nutcracker High Tea also include the cocktail (or mocktail) along with a small takeaway item…. unfortunately we did not receive the takeaway item. Two email follow ups regarding this have gone unanswered. If you do make a reservation it would be good to clarify this on premises, I left in a rush that day so it completely slipped my mind. Continue reading →