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Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk

Top Food and Drink Festivals in Toronto

December 17, 2014

food and drink festivals in torontoIn the past couple of years, Toronto has become a destination for food and drink enthusiasts. In addition to the number of innovative and ethnic offerings available (not to mention those cheap eats), there have been just as many creative food festivals and events. Here are a few of our favourite food and drink festivals in Toronto that’s happening this holiday season into 2015:

Drake Does Chrismukkah
December 19, 2014 6pm
Before the Christmas crunch, feast on the best of various cultural traditions of the holiday season at The Drake Hotel. The hearty meal (including prime rib, yorkshire pudding, latkes, and apple crumble among the samplings) is only $29.95. Reserve in advance before December 19 to participate in this cheerful occasion.

Guest Chef Pop-Up Series at Drake One Fifty
January 20-21, 2015
This fun injection of the Drake Hotel in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District hosts some of the best chefs from North America and beyond. The first pop-up dinner of 2015 will feature a Portuguese fusion menu from David Santos, ex Per Se, and now of Louro in NYC.

Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival
January 31, 2015 11am-5pm
Just steps away from our 300 Front Street property, sample craft brew from over 20 breweries at the Winter Craft Beer Festival. Hosted by the Steam Whistle Bfood and drink festivals in torontorewery and just outside its doors at the Roundhouse Park, warm up over the outdoor fires with beer in glass sample mugs from great breweries like Oast House Brewers, Flying Monkeys, and Lake of Bays. Food trucks will also be on site if you get hungry. The first 500 attendees at the gates will get a free festival toque.

Recipe for Change 2015
February 26, 2015, 6-9pm
Recipe for Change is FoodShare Toronto’s annual fundraiser for innovative school food programs and sustainability within the food industry. This party brings together over 30 exciting chefs, two craft brewers and four wineries at the historic St. Lawrence Market. It’s a fun party for a great cause.

Whether you’re in town for a quick visit or on business, or you are staying in a furnished apartment rental or suite for the long term, these festivals are a tasty way to stay warm throughout the winter.

Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Toronto History

Toronto in the 1970s

December 12, 2014

Toronto PanoramaSome Torontonians joke that many of the buildings in Toronto look like they are from the 1970s and it’s because they were. Toronto in the 1970s was one that set up its future, now a construction boom of modern glass and steel buildings.

Many of our most recognizable landmarks were built in the 1970s. The Eaton Centre, the CN Tower, Ontario Place (under a current transformation of revitalization), and the Toronto Reference Library (also recently renovated in parts) are the buildings we know and love from this era.

It’s hard to believe now but Yorkville in the 60s was the hippie capital of Toronto, where legends like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young were singing in coffee houses through those brick-laned alleys. Toronto in the 1970s ushered in its change to its tony status today with the introduction of high-end retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen in addition to art galleries and cafes. High-rise office towers replaced the low-rise buildings at major intersections.Toronto in the 1970s

The Yorkville scene of folk music was being ushered out and the rising scene of rock and roll and punk on Queen Street West was gaining prominence. Bands like the Rolling Stones were playing at notable venues like the now historic venue, the El Mocambo.

As writer, Shawn Micallef, notes, “Torontonians generally like their public areas all on one level and in a straight line in contrast to Asian cities like Hong Kong, where street life can easily rise many floors above the sidewalk.” Despite our underground pathways and current consistent construction, this trend hasn’t really changed.

Check out this collection of photos of Toronto in the 1970s here.

 

Community Events, Lifestyle talk, Toronto History

Toronto in the 1950s

December 10, 2014

Toronto in the 1950s The Toronto in the 1950s was still growing and pre-dated the era of skyscrapers which started to boom in the 1960s. After the Second World War, many British children were sent to Toronto for safety while their fathers were in the war. The city continued to expand into the suburbs and it was officially a major city in this era. A mark of Toronto’s prosperity was the construction of the Yonge Subway–it opened to the public in 1954– and a highway to the suburbs, which were located in Don Mills, at the time.

With the end of the war and the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947 (LINK TO 1920s post here), Toronto boomed and made way for an influx of immigrants. Germans, Italians, and Eastern Europeans were our first major wave of our multicultural community. British immigration was on the decline by 20 percent. This pattern continued into the 1960s, with an exotic mix of newcomers including more Europeans, West Indians, South Asians, and Vietnamese.

Residents moved back downtown from the suburbs in the 1960s and this is when the core started to thrive. Yorkville was not the tony neighbourhood of affluent people it is now. Rather, it was the hippie capital of the metropolis, chock full of coffeehouses where legends like Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot performed.

Though Toronto in the 1950s might have not been as exciting as the Toronto of other eras, it was still a definitive period of the growth of our urban landscape, which thrived into the 60s and 70s.

Photos

 

Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Events, Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel

Toronto in Ten Photos

November 25, 2014

Capturing Toronto in ten photos is not an easy task because this city is so vast. There are a number of things to do and a number of icons that define the city. We have illustrated the city from a local viewpoint with a mix of those icons that make Toronto just what it is. Luckily, our landmarks are within walking distance of your furnished apartment in Toronto. Hopefully, this provides inspiration for you to photograph your Toronto.

Toronto in Ten Photos1. Evergreen Brickworks
The Brickworks, as it’s affectionately known, is an old brick factory which provided bricks for the construction of some iconic Toronto landmarks such as Massey Hall and Casa Loma. The Brickworks is now used as a cultural space and for events. Check out the kilns and the interesting graffiti on the walls; the farmer’s markets on the weekends; and Cafe Belong, for a leisurely brunch. Around the site, you can sit by the pond or hike behind the area over to Rosedale through Milkman’s Lane or north to St. Clair via Moore Park.

2. Toronto StreetcarsToronto in Ten Photos
These trolleys are a signature icon of Toronto. Concurrently, they’re offer one of the best ways to see our massive metropolis from east to west for $3. Just hop on the Queen Streetcar and it will take you all the way from Roncesvalles where King and Queen intersect, past through Parkdale, Queen West, Corktown, Leslieville, and to the Beach all the way to Neville Park. Make sure you check out the old streetcar yard at Queen and Greenwood, which will move to Leslie and Lakeshore. The streetcars have also gotten an upgrade and are currently of use along Spadina Avenue.

Toronto in Ten Photos3. Kensington Market
One of the most colourful, eclectic, and bohemian neighbourhoods in Toronto, Kensington Market is also designated a National Historic Site. Once populated by Jews and Italians who sold items and gifts. After the recession in the 80s, Latin American immigrants began to move in and this habitation is reflected in the many Latin American stalls and grocery stores in the market. Now you’ll find more modern cafes, restaurants and shops (from vintage to modern) in the neighbourhood. Don’t forget to check out Pedestrian Sundays, when the market closes its streets to pedestrian traffic and celebrates on the last Sunday of every month from May to October.

4. Queen Street WestToronto in Ten Photos
Queen Street West is considered one of the most exciting neighbourhoods in Toronto and was recently rated by Vogue as the second coolest neighbourhood in the world. This section of Queen, which expands past University to Lansdowne Avenues, is a hodge-podge of trendy boutiques, an eclectic mix of restaurants, vintage shops, bars, art galleries, Trinity Bellwoods Park, and two hotels (the Drake and the Gladstone). It is the perfect street for an afternoon stroll.

Toronto in Ten Photos5. Trinity Bellwoods Park
Aforementioned, Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the mainstays of the Queen Street West scene. Whether you’re biking, running, playing tennis or partaking in other activities at its adjacent community centre, this is one of the best people-watching spots in the city. Grab a blanket, some homemade food, or head over to one of the local cafes across the street for the ideal picnic spot.

6. Graffiti Alley
Toronto in Ten Photos Located just south of Queen Street West, this alley filled with local graffiti and artwork is not only an alternate route away from the people traffic, it’s an underrated destination in Toronto. Expanding from Spadina close to Bathurst, this alley is just a glimpse at the growing graffiti scene in Toronto, whose walls have now been marked by icons Banksy and Sheppard Fairey. Want to learn more or meet others while checking out great art? Check out the local tour by the Tour Guys.

Toronto in Ten Photos7. Great Food
Toronto’s food scene is eclectic, multicultural and always evolving. You can get great deals but you do need to know where to go. Some great areas to dine in the city are Queen Street, King Street, Ossington, Kensington Market, and Dundas West. The Junction, St. Clair West, and Leslieville are underrated for their dining scenes and you should explore and dine in these areas if you have the chance. One of my favourite spots is Fresh, the healthy food chain, which has a great lunch special of their soup, salad, and cornbread combo for $10!

8. CN Tower ViewsToronto in Ten Photos
It’s hard not to try to find the best spot of this view. From our 300 Front Street West furnished apartments in downtown Toronto, you’ll feel so close to the tower, you can almost touch it. Head over to Fort York or the BMO Exhibition field for that landscape view. Downtown, you’ll get a good glimpse from OCAD (and some great architecture to photograph as well right near the AGO). Further east, Polson Pier and Ashbridge’s Bay are your best bets to get that skyline shot.

Toronto in Ten Photos9. Toronto’s East End and the Best Skyline View
If you have a chance to head east, Riverdale Park East is your best bet for stunning skyline views. A few blocks south of the Danforth on Broadview, it’s a quick streetcar ride or 15 minute walk down to the park. Make sure to go to the best coffeeshop in town, Rooster Coffeehouse to help take in the view. Across the park, head to Riverdale Park West and up the stairs, you’ll find the free Riverdale Farm, Toronto Necropolis, and the historic Cabbagetown district.

10. The St. Lawrence MarketToronto in Ten Photos
Ranked as the world’s best market by National Geographic, the St. Lawrence Market definitely lives up to its reputation. Whether you’re looking for meat, fish, cheese, bread, or produce, it’s all here. Specialty items like mushroom truffle dip, oils, or gorgeous bouquets are all here too. You won’t be starved for lunch. Check out the famous Carousel Bakery for its peameal bacon sandwiches, St. Viateur for those famous Montreal bagels, or Buster’s Seacove to satisfy that fish craving (lobster, halibut, shrimp, and much more!). There’s nothing like it on a Saturday morning.

Hope you enjoyed our photos! If you could choose ten photos to describe Toronto what would they be?

Photos: Complimentary of Natalie Taylor

Feedback and Reviews, Lifestyle talk

Ten Tips for Travel Writing

November 20, 2014

Tips for Travel WritingTravel writing seems like a dream: you can travel to any possible location–your dream destination–and write about it! But it is also hard work and requires strategy, like any other job. If you are looking to take the next step in your travels and write about your journey, here are a few tips.

1. Travel! I know this sounds like simple advice but the best way to get into travel writing is to actually travel. Pick your dream trip and your topics of interest (this is key) and go on a quest in search of those topics. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find and who you will meet. When you travel your own way, your story becomes more interesting because it’s genuine.

2. Read. To be the best writer you can be, you must read. Whether it’s a guidebook about your destination/topic or fiction related to your destination, you’ll become more enriched in your trip by reading everything you can about it. Reading all types of genres also enriches your vocabulary. Read great travel writing if this is your chosen genre. By reading magazines or books like The Best American Travel Writing, you will get a sense of what a good story is and this could help you with your style or give you ideas.

3. Have a quest. When you pick a particular focus, this will help shape your story. Looking for a story in your destination and taking a vacation are two very different trips and unfortunately, often get confused with each other.

4. Try to pitch your story to a publication before your trip. Having a secure outlet or publication will help you with deadlines and also help you if you’re trying to find interview subjects for your story. Pitching your story will also help you focus on what your story is.

5. Observe. Take a step back and observe every detail when you’re on the ground. Whether it’s the cuff links on the waiter’s sleeves, the sound of someone’s voice, or the smells in the air, tapping into your senses will really help bring your story to life.

6. Ask Yourself “What am I learning?” As veteran travel writer, Don George, says this question is another way of asking yourself “what is the story?”

7. The Four Pillars of Engagement. As Don George mentions, these are the points of the story where you check in with your subject, with yourself, with your audience, and with your writing. What is your subject? Who are you writing for? Who do you want to see this piece? Why is this story personal to you? Is your story touching on these points? Is your story precise? Is your story meaningful? Does the story flow?

8. Keep a notebook and write during your trip. When to write will vary for everyone but writing down the details as they are happening or soon after they happen will help Tips for Travel Writingyou remember the vivid details that will make your story pop. When you are in the moment, jot down those notes. Having a notebook with you or an app like Evernote will help you with this. Use your smartphone to record conversations as well, so you can go back and transcribe them later. Try to make the time during the trip to write down what you have learned and try to write your story right after your trip so it is fresh in your memory.

9. Step away from your story. After you have finished writing, take a day or a few days to let your story breathe. When you go back to it, you may have a different perspective and you may also catch details that you want to remove or add to.

10. Kill your darlings. The editing process is an essential process of making sure your story comes together in the best possible way. The first draft will never be perfect and though there may have been a great anecdote or detail, if it doesn’t fit in with the overall theme or big picture of the story, as difficult as it may be, it must go. Get someone to read over your story and edit it and then go back and edit it again if you have the time. This will make your story stronger and the best possible version of itself.

Travel writing is about research, observation, and telling a great story. Hopefully, these tips for travel writing will help you in getting your stories –travel or non-travel related–published.