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Toronto Neighbourhood Guide: Distillery District

November 11, 2015
Distillery District

Photo Credit: Alonso Inostrosa Psijas

The Distillery District, a national historic site in Toronto, is a neighbourhood and village of its own, a distinctly unique area in the city, just east of Old Town (King East) and south of Corktown. It’s a great mini-escape from the hustle of downtown Toronto and outside of our downtown properties while still being in the downtown area. Though it’s much quieter during the weekdays instead of the weekends, it’s a lovely way to explore more of the city, get connected to its roots, and escape the hustle of downtown. Here are our favourite places and events to explore the Distillery District.

Distillery District

Photo Credit: Tasting Toronto

1. El Catrin
As one of our top patio picks in Toronto, El Catrin’s bright outdoor display is one you can’t miss in The Distillery. Sun yourself alongside a margarita amongst the bright yellow lamps on the heated patio or stay awhile under the large scale murals and comfy benches inside over Mexican inspired fare. It’s our pick for a date in the area.

2. SOMA Chocolate
SOMA has been known as the best chocolate maker in the city and it’s a treat to visit its original location in the distillery (just past El Catrin). Taste test a truffle (or ten), savour the gelato, or sip on SOMA’s famous drinking chocolate on the back wooden stairs. At this location, you can also watch the chocolate-making process through the glass windows. Of course, this is one of the best places to get a “Made in Toronto” gift. Closer to our downtown locations is SOMA’s second King Street location.

3. Events Year round, The Distillery District provides ambiance with its open area in the main square for performances among its cobblestones and unmarked green doors. Stroll for fresh produce and other made in Ontario products at the Sunday Summer Market; Lounge in the main square during the numerous festivals like the TD Jazz Fest; Art Fest is a more unique festival in September; and the most famous event–rounding out the end of the year– is the Toronto Christmas Market, ideal to find unique gifts and warm up under the fire with some mulled wine.

4. Pikto When is the last time you pDistillery Districtrinted a photo? Professional services still exist and Pikto is the place where photography enthusiasts and the pros get their prints and photobooks done. Peruse the photobooks, sign up or inquire about a photography workshop, or even print your instagram photos.

5. Soulpepper Theatre Though the Distillery is known for its art galleries, tucked in the back of the district on the east side, you’ll find this treasure trove of a theatre. Watch a new play or check out their concert series when in season. The theatre is a strong supporter of youth and has many free programs and initiatives in this area (great for your child who has a creative or dramatic streak).

There are so many other reasons to visit the Distillery District. Not too far from your furnished suite in Toronto, we hope that you check out the Distillery when you are in Toronto. What is your favourite thing in or about the Distillery District?

Business Travel, Downtown Toronto, Food & Recipes, Holiday Events, Lifestyle talk

Best Restaurants for Groups in Toronto

October 22, 2015

Group DinnerThough we think that the best place to have a group dinner is at your furnished apartment rental in Toronto, sometimes, it’s nice to take your friends out to a meal.  The trouble can be finding a restaurant that caters to large groups or groups, in general. Here are our top five restaurants for groups in Toronto. Also ideal for small work holiday dinner parties and team outings.

1. Momofuku Daisho. It can be difficult to find fine dining for a large group and Daisho excels in that. One of the three restaurants at Momofuku in the Shangri-la Hotel (close to your short or long term rental apartment or suite), Daisho specializes in large format menus with a niche in one item. (You can also order off the a la carte menu for more variety). If you want to celebrate a special occasion with 10 people, this is the place. Reservations are required.Restaurants for Groups in Toronto

2. Bestellen. If you want a casual atmosphere but upscale dining experience, Bestellen is a good bet and known to serve menus for groups. You can get a whole roasted suckling pig with all of the fixings, for a minimum of 8 people (and you must give 72 hours notice); or you can choose between a 3 and 5 course tasting menu. A Sunday night chicken dinner is another option for $25 per person. A great option in the Dufferin Grove/College area.

3. Wvrst. Located in the heart of the King Street West district and a short walk from our downtown short and long term rental properties, the modern beer hall is a casual stop, whether it’s after a baseball game or if you want to socialize late into the night over long, picnic-style benches. Various types of sausage are on offer as is a curated selection of craft beers. Don’t forget those duck fat fries!

Restaurants for Groups in Toronto4. The Sultan’s Tent. Transport yourself to the souks of Marrakech at this Moroccan restaurant. One of many ideal restaurants for groups in Toronto, every table is inside a tent, and on weekends, you have a choice of a 3 course prix-fixe menu. The highlight of the meal will be to test out your dance moves with the belly dancers who dance for and with you in the evening! This is a popular choice for bachelorette parties on the weekend.

5. Far Niente. Located in the heart of the Financial District, this is a great choice for a business lunch or dinner. Choose from two different lunch menus or three dinner menus. Don’t overlook their extensive wine cellar if you want an accompaniment to your meal.

What is your favourite place or recommendation for a restaurant for a group in Toronto?

Fitness and Health, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk

Easy Make-Ahead Dinners When You Are On the Go

August 28, 2015

Easy Make-Ahead DinnersOne of the major advantages to staying in a furnished rental in Toronto is that you will be able to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals, which will save you a lot of money because you won’t have to pay restaurant prices for your meals every night. However, making meals when you are travelling will bring with it a unique set of challenges – as you might be short on time and you might not have all of the ingredients that you have at home.
In order to make cooking in your furnished condo as easy as possible, here are some easy make-ahead dinners that you can  heat up when you need them. Some of these recipes require a slow cooker but if you don’t have one where you are staying, you can always let them simmer on the stove for a while instead.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili
This is a deliciously creative twist on chili and the flavour of pumpkin really enhances the dish. Start by heating up a pound

Easy Make-Ahead Dinners

of cubed round steak on a large skillet in oil, simply browning the pieces lightly. Transfer the meat to a five quart slow cooker and leave the oil on the skillet. Use the oil to saute onions and yellow peppers until just barely tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Add to the slow cooker one can of pumpkin, two cans of black beans, two cups of chicken broth, one can of diced tomatoes, dried parsely flakes, chili powder, dried oregano, ground cumin and salt. Cook on low for five hours.

Spiced Braised Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes
A comforting stew that freezes well, this delicious dish is easy to make and delicious. Start by combining 1.5 pounds of beef cut into chunks, 2 sweet potatoes cut into half-moons, cumin, onions, apricots, ginger, cayenne and cinnamon and one can of tomatoes in a slow cooker with ¾ teaspoon of salt and a half cup of water. Cook the ingredients on high for 4 hours or on low for 7 hours. Right before serving, add a can of chickpeas to the mix and let them cook until they are heated through, for about 2-3 minutes. Serve the stew along with cuscous and spinach.Easy Make-Ahead Dinners

Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Casserole
This is a tasty kid-friendly favourite that you can make in advance and keep in the fridge or freezer. Start by cooking the rice while also simmering the chicken until it is cooked through. Cook two chopped leeks until they are brown in oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until the liquid has been released and evaporated. Add sherry and increase the heat to high and cook until most of the liquid has been evaporated. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour, then stir them to coat. Add milk and then simmer the sauce for one minute before adding parsley, sour cream, pepper and salt. Line an old baking dish with cooking spray and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Spread the rice in an even layer in the baking dish, then add the chicken and the green beas – pouring the sauce over top and sprinkling with almonds. Bake in the oven until the casserole bubbles and let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Do you have favourite easy make-ahead dinners that you turn to? We’d love to hear about them!

Business Travel, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk

Top Coffee Shops in Toronto

August 25, 2015
Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Sam James Coffee Bar

Sometimes, you need the professionals to take care of your morning pick-me-up, aka that really strong coffee or espresso to get you ready for the day. Even though you have a coffee maker in your furnished rental in Toronto, going out for a coffee is a great way to explore a new neighbourhood or connect with the local community. We’ve rounded up our favourite coffee shops in Toronto –  for both quality of coffee and ambiance.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Ryan Fung

1. Odin and Thor Espresso The Scandinavian inspired coffee house, Thor, located at Bathurst and Wellington near many of our downtown properties, serves up strong espresso and treats to go. It recently got a new sibling, Odin, in the developing neighbourhood of Corktown. Odin’s minimalist designed space is a treat for fans of architecture and of course, coffee. The difference at Odin, however, is that there are more food options as well as a chance to have a drink later in the evening. Watch their space for different events throughout the year, check out the new patio, or purchase locally-inspired swag.

2. Boxcar Social Over a year into the game, these coffee experts located in Rosedale have already opened up a second location in Riverside. What’s fun about this place is that their selections change all the time. Don’t know what you want? Try one of their coffee flights. Want to go next level? Try a whiskey and coffee flight. At night, their spaces transform into a wine bar. It’s a great place to work and socialize.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Ryan Fung

3. Tandem Michie Yamamoto, who used to work at Rooster Coffeehouse, has opened up this cute cafe with her husband in Corktown, just east of Parliament. For strong espresso shots, you can currently select from suppliers Pig Iron, Cut Coffee, or Detour. It’s a great pitstop to the Distillery District.

4. Fareinheit. Located on the edge of the Financial District, these award-winning baristas know their coffee and if you need to grab and go, they’ll get your expertly pulled americano or cortados with a smile. Try any one of their choices from Pilot like the silky Diablo beans or Ethiopian selection. Stay for the energy-inducing dance music.

Coffee Shops in Toronto

Photo Credit: Sam James Coffee Bar

5. The Common Now with three locations (it’s most central in the Annex), come for the $2 americano. Stay for the rustic atmosphere. Come back for the Rufino and Mountain View beans.

6. Sam James Coffee Bar Back when he was a barista at Hank’s and Dark Horse, Sam James has moved up the ranks as one of Toronto’s best baristas and making a name for himself with his eponymous cafe now with 5 locations. Serving the Cut Coffee brand, SJCB serves up espresso based drinks from macchiatos to mocha lattes. Every shop minus the Coffee Pocket serves rotating single origins as brewed drip coffee. If you’re on the go, this is your daily pick-me-up.

7. Te Aro One of Pilot Cofee Roaster’s cafes, the industrialized garage space serves up some perfectly executed coffee and is now known for Toronto’s best cold coffee. Te Aro is also the only cafe in Toronto that pulls coffee from a tap. Worth the trip to Leslieville to stock up on beans for your furnished rental or to sit with a cup in hand and watch people walking by on their expansive streetside patio.

8. Manic One of the pioneers in Toronto’s coffee scene, Manic still continues to pump out some of the best espresso in the city. They were also one of the first shops to perfect latte art. There’s no wifi here so it’s an ideal place to read a book or catch up with friends. They also serve gelato if you’re looking for something frozen and sweet.

Photo Credit :Rooster Coffee

9. Jimmy’s This tiny spot at Portland and King has become so popular, it now has three locations. It’s the place to get a strong cup of joe quick.

10. Rooster Coffee Not only does Rooster have one of the most scenic spots in the city to get your espresso at their Broadview location, they also have some of the best coffee. If you’re working or living closer to their King Street location, it’s a great place for business meetings or to savour over their custom Pilot blends or single origin beans. Stay tuned for a third location soon!

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Community Events, Entertainment, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel

Our Top Five Favourite Summer Festivals in Toronto 2015

July 10, 2015

Summer Festivals in Toronto The summer season is Toronto’s chance to shine, and especially this year with the number of visitors touching down in the city for the Pan Am Games. While you enjoy your stay at one of our short term or long term furnished apartment, we encourage you to see a festival this summer. There are over 50 summer festivals in Toronto and they keep getting better each year. Here are our top five picks for July and August. Enjoy your stay!

Fringe Festival (July 1-12). This alfresco theatre festival is a cheap way to see performances in unusual venues across Toronto. It’s also a great date idea.Summer Festivals in Toronto

Way Home (July 24-25) Though not in Toronto, this music festival promises to be one of Ontario’s biggest, featuring artists like Neil Young and Sam Smith. 72 artists will be playing the three day festival amongst four stages. It’s a great way to get out of the city.

Toronto Food Truck Festival (August 1-2) A fun festival for the whole family, your chance to eat at Toronto’s favourite food trucks will also be an excuse to bike to and from Woodbine Park back to your furnished condo or apartment. Eating challenges, live music, Summer Festivals in Toronto and a children’s village will also be part of this tasty fest.

Summerworks (August 6-16)
If you missed Fringe, Summerworks will fill the void. The festival is a melange of theatre, dance, music, and live art showcasing Canadian and Torontonian curation.

Sweetery Toronto (August 15-16) Toronto’s first sweets festival features loot bags, pinatas, and so much more. The festival features advanced French Patisserie students from George Brown College, who will be preparing a sweet as part of their final evaluation, so it’s a great way to give back too.

What summer Festivals in Toronto are you looking forward to the most this summer?