Today we went out for a family member’s birthday for brunch. As I mentioned, my brother is celiac so we had to find somewhere that could accommodate his diet. We originally tried to go to a place in Etobicoke, but we showed up and it was closed, unfortunately not the first time we’ve encountered this. So we quickly google searched and found the Cardinal Rule on Roncesvalles, which has been featured on the show “You Gotta Eat Here”. And I’m sure glad we did.
They had a nice brunch menu and did what so many restaurants should do, clearly marked what was gluten-free (also noted vegetarian and vegan, for those interested). This is a great feature for restaurants because it makes the entire ordering process so much easier. It’s nice when my brother can just order straight from the menu without having to ask a bunch of questions. Just makes things run a lot smoother. I had the Cowboy Benny, it was interesting. I love eggs benedict but I found the bbq sauce overpowered the eggs. The brisket was delicious, the sauce was delicious and the buttermilk biscuit was really delicious. I found it a bit over the top but it was good.The latkes were quite salty but were filled with other herbs and spicy. I also sampled some french toast from someone at the table and it was pretty good, its pretty hard to mess up french toast. A quick look at the rest of the menu shows that they have a bunch of different options on their regular menu with tons of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
They also have a bunch of fun events through the week, including Tuesday night Cards Against Humanity, which I can only imagine is ridiculous and hilarious as well as Wednesday night trivia. If you’re in the west end and looking for specialty food options (or just something unique), I’d recommend checking it out. Is there any other gluten-free (or other specialty) brunch places you like to check out in the city? Let me know in the comments. Happy eating!
Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in the Women Build Toronto with Habitat for Humanity. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t feel comfortable bringing my phone on the construction site but I still want to share my experience.
Very briefly, Habitat for Humanity gives family living in poverty a hand up by allowing them to buy homes at low-interest and no money-down. The partner families commit a minimum five-hundred volunteer hours and all the proceeds from the mortgage gets put back into building homes for other families. This allows these families to have a quality, safe home that allows them to break the cycle of poverty for their families. It was noted at the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday that all children of the Toronto chapter have gone on to post-secondary education. This allows them to become productive members of society. The Women Build is an annual event held by the organization. It goes for ten days, and this year their goal was one million dollars raised for the organization. This event allows women to come together and build homes, from the ground-up. It provides a great service to the community while giving the women participating a rewarding and unique experience. I joined Team CAWIC, which is a non-profit organization enhancing the experience of women in construction, I do not work in construction but know someone on the board and thought this would be a great experience.
The day began bright and early with a groundbreaking ceremony. Over 80 women watched as the CEO of Habitat, title sponsors of the homes, local politicians and the partner families “broke ground” on these homes. Then we got to work. I’ve never worn a hard hat or steel toe boots, I have extremely limited homebuilding/renovation experience. I can hang a mean picture, and I can hang wallpaper but I was not prepared for what we were getting in to (in a good way). The home I was assigned to was just foundation. I was not expecting to be building a home, I thought there was no way I could do that. I expected that we would be painting, maybe if we got crazy, we’d hang some drywall. Instead, I climbed down a ladder in to what will one day be a family’s basement. At this point it was just gravel. We spent the day doing various tasks, we built stairs to get in and out of the site, we laid sills and shoveled gravel. We worked hard but it was rewarding. Some of the other groups had homes that were further along and they were able to put in floor joists and walls. Most of the women working with us didn’t have a ton of experience in construction but we were able to come together to accomplish an incredible task. Not only were we helping these families change their lives but we were able to prove to ourselves that we were capable of more than we thought possible. By the end of the day, we were aching but had smiles on our faces. We were proud of the work we had accomplished, even though we didn’t make a huge dent in the home, we still played our important role.
The end of the day had us going back to ‘base camp’, taking off our heavy boots and receiving a great goody bag from some wonder sponsors. I was really impressed with our loot, which included some great coupons and a ticket for the home show coming in October. It was really nice that they were able to give us a token of appreciation, even though a thank you would have been plenty.
|Awesome goody bag from some awesome sponsors. Not pictured, the delicious chocolates I ate in the car on the way home (thanks Purdys!).
I would highly recommend looking into this organization, they always have events and builds going on and could use anybody’s help, even if they use the ladder upside down at first (don’t worry, we fixed it…) and if you’re a woman, definitely look into joining a team next year for the build. You can also still sponsor me for this worthy cause until the end of September, every dollar counts! I’d love to hear where other people volunteer in the community? I’m always looking for new experiences!
I attended the Gluten-Free Expo this weekend. Based on my previous posts, you can tell I eat gluten but my brother was diagnosed with celiac disease about ten years ago so I’ve been familiar with the diet for years. I’ve also tried the good and the bad (and sometimes that’s very bad) so I thought I would share my favourites I tried at the expo this weekend. In no particular order:
1. Cuisine Solel – They had a large selection of flours. They also had samples of their product and I had to say, it was really delicious. The bread was moist, which is not very easy to do with gluten-free. They also had two types of flour, one that was for the bread maker and one for the over. If you’re into making your own breads, I highly recommend this brand.
2. Comensoli Foods – We tried some pizza at this station, they were really good. I had the vegan vegetable pizza, it did not taste vegan or gluten-free. My brother had the cheese – which was not vegan, he loved it so much he bought 4 pizzas.
3. Queen B – This booth had a large selection of cakes and biscottis. We tried their signature orange cake and their banana hazelnut cake and they were great. They were moist and flavourful (can you tell moist is a big deal for me when eating gluten free). They also had a Cocolime cookie that looked good but I’m not a coconut fan, but if it was anything like their cake it would be great. They also have beautiful packaging, I love pretty things.
4. Pillers – We tried their turkey kielbasa, pepperoni and my brother tried their spicy pepperoni. I loved their kielbasa and pepperoni. I would always be frustrated when purchasing meats and finding out they had filler and wheat in them. This brand proves that it doesn’t have to be filled with gluten to be delicious.
5. All But Gluten – We tried their bite-sized brownies, they were absolutely fantastic. They were chocolatey and moist (again, with the moist, I know but if you’ve ever had bad gluten-free you know this is important). They were definitely melt-in-your-mouth and tasted like ‘regular’ bite sized brownie.
The expo was a great opportunity to learn about brands I was not familiar with. There were a number of brands that I had never heard of, it is great to see how many brands are making gluten-free more accessible. When my brother was diagnosed 10 years ago, the gluten-free market was completely different. This expo continues to prove that there are great brands out there providing great food for celiacs, gluten-intolerants and people who just want a delicious brownie! What favourites of yours made the list, or which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments! Happy eating.
We are definitely a culture of never having enough time.
VolunteerTO recently posted a TEDx Talk from Ben Rigby about microvolunteering. He talks about the fact that over 70% of Americans say they do not have time to volunteer, likely it is similar in Canada. Many non-profits have processes to volunteer with them and many of them have resources stretched thin, so in my experience sometimes it takes a while to get started. Ben Rigby discusses how much time we spend every on games like solitare or farmville (or more recently, candy crush) and he wanted to find a way that people could help from their phones and on their own time. This would give non-profit the resources they need for smaller tasks and also allows the average person to give back and also give the public an easier way to donate their time to causes that are important to them. This talk really articulated how we can all make a difference, without a huge time commitment.
KoodoNation is a Canadian microvolunteering site. You simply create a profile about what your skills are and the types of causes that are important to you. It can include your bio, links to your site and your social media. You can then search by challenges, causes and skills. Some of the challenges or tasks can take a few minutes; the first one I did was helping a non-profit develop hashtags they could use to promote their organization. All of the information for challenges I could see were targeted to me based on my profile, changes to your profile will give you different results. KoodoNation also makes an effort to make you feel as if you’re part of a community, people and nonprofits can like your suggestions. The site is definitely worth looking around and playing around with; particularly if you want to make a difference but feel overwhelmed by how much time you think you need to make a difference. They say in fundraising “every penny counts”, I think the same could be said for microvolunteering “every second counts”.
So, I haven’t been to the AGO in years. Like most people, the last time I was there was on some long ago-forgotten field trip, long before the renovations. I’m not a huge art gallery fan, I always feel like I’m not appreciating the art enough but I heard about First Thursday, it sounded more up my alley.
The first Thursday of every month the AGO re-opens at 7pm – there is special exhibits, bars, food and live entertainment. Tickets are $15 at the door and $12+$2 service fee online in advance. The regular price for the gallery is $19.50, so it is worth it if you don’t want to spend the entire day at the gallery. Drinks were what you’d pay at a regular bar, about $6-$7/piece, depending on what you wanted. The food was small, appetizer sized – we had cripsy noodles and chicken as well as a steamed bun with chicken, it was $5 total. They also had a selection of desserts. It definitely wasn’t a meal but it was delicious and a good amount just to munch on. Only the first and second floor are open during this time and as we were walking around they closed part of the second floor off, at about 9:45 – it seemed a little odd. The gallery was pretty busy and expect to stand in line, outside, even if you’ve purchased tickets in advance. It is a 19+ event but the crowd was definitely a mix. Art galleries have the reputation of being very quiet and a little empty (unless there is something famous on display) and so it was interesting to see basically the complete opposite, loud music and a lot of people, a real mix of people as well.
As I said, I hadn’t been to the AGO in years and I must say, I really enjoyed it. They even had a few stations where you could “create-your-own” pieces. We did one, related to their Ai Weiwei exhibit, where we created posters of what we stand for.
|Selection of “I Stand For” Posters
I would definitely recommend getting out to a First Thursday, it was fun and something new to do in the city.
Time for the cliche “I don’t know where the summer has gone”, every year it seems to get shorter and shorter, even though I’m not sure that is possible.
I love the summer, and the fall coming means that winter is coming. I’m trying not to be too upset about it. I will instead share the things I am excited to do in September. There’s so much going on in the city and that will help me not miss summer (too much).
This Thursday, I will be attending the AGO’s First Thursday for the first time. This is when they open up the AGO after hours, apparently there is DJs and a cash bar – really, its my kind of art experience. I will definitely be blogging about my experience.
Starting September 13th, it is Toronto Beer Week. I’m not sure how I never knew this existed in Toronto, I’m obviously a beer fan! I’m pretty excited. I haven’t been able to pick out what I will be doing because there is just so much but I promise to share my experience.
September 20th, I’ll be seeing Sarah Silverman at JFL42. I’ve never attended Just for Laughs in Toronto. We also get to pick 4 smaller acts. I’m pretty excited because I love stand-up comedy.
I know the focus is on September but I also want to mention an event I’ll be attending in October. The Delicious Food Show is happening the weekend of October 25th. There is a Buytopia deal for tickets until midnight tonight.
I hope that everyone finds some awesome events to usher them into fall, I’m sure a lot will revolve around TIFF coming up next weekend. If you know events I should be checking out, leave a comment. Happy September!
I tried hot yoga for the first time today, it was definitely an experience. We were met with a warm welcome (no pun intended) we registered and picked our spots. It was so hot. It was already 40 degrees and I’m sure the floors were heated. It was a 90 minute class, I think a 60 minute class would have been less overwhelming. We were just about to finish the warm up and I was already feeling ill. They tell you to try your hardest to stay in the room, even if you aren’t doing anything. I found it even difficult to lie on the floor because it was heated. At about the 50 minute mark I started to feel short of breath. I went to sit on the bench outside. The person in reception talked me into going back in, that it’ll be a litte easier every time if I just stay in. So I went back in. I found it difficult to do a lot of the poses, not really because of the heat, more because I was absolutely doing with sweat, sexy I know. I kept slipping out of position.
I’m pretty sure by the end it was around 47 degrees. It was crazy. Everyone who is into it says I need to go back. Luckily I signed up with a friend, I don’t know if I could survive this trial month alone.