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Top 5 Toronto Weekend Meals by Alexa Clark

kultura restaurant in toronto

kultura restaurant in toronto

I am so glad that Alexa Clark accepted to participate in my top 5 Toronto places for a weekend Toronto. Alexa writes for CheapEats Toronto and has a blog called Unsweetened. I ask her to tell us the best places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three of her suggestions qualify as cheap eats. To have eaten at Kultura, I can attest that this is a worthy indulgence.

Where to Eat in Toronto this weekend?

Le petit dejeuner in Toronto

Le Petit Dejeuner

Still one of my favorite brunch spots in town and based on the weekend crowds around 11:30, I’m not alone. However if you sneak into Le Petit Dejeuner before 11pm or after 1pm chances are good you’ll be delighted by the funky space and wonderfully prepared meals. The menu is exclusively breakfast and brunch items including grilled sandwiches, but it’s nothing like a greasy spoon. The Toast Champignon is a great savory way to start your weekend, but I often go with the sweeter Eggy Fried Bread – which is a caramalized French Toast served with fresh fruit. The Apple Pancakes are also lovely and I usually add a side of peameal bacon just to round them out. They also make excellent coffee, one of the ways I measure the quality of a brunch spot.
Le Petit Dejeuner 191 King St. E

The Fish Store & Sandwich

The Fish Store and Sandwich in Toronto

This tiny little store front makes the best fish sandwiches in town. By far!  I’ve even had a long conversation with someone from the James Beard Foundation about how it’s one of his go-to places to eat when he comes to town.  It is not, however, fine dining.  In fact, there are only 4 seats and the tiny spot is decorated a bit like a shoreside blue tiki hut.  But it is so very worth it to get such fresh fish, prepared with a very gentle hand and wonderful seasoning on fresh panini from an Italian bakery across the street. There is a different fish sandwich special everyday and that’s usually what I order since these guys aren’t going to steer you wrong.  However many of my friends go for the tuna every time. That’s tuna steak not tuna salad.
The Fish Store & Sandwich,  657 College Street.

Granowska’s Bakery and Cafe

With great perogie, sandwiches and lunch specials you can get a bit of a feel of the traditional Roncesvalles neighborhood when it was almost exclusively Eastern European families. Walking into Granowska’s feels more like walking into bakery than a restaurant, but that is part of the charm. And the steady stream of customers popping in to buy pączki provide a great people-watching opportunity. No matter what you get for lunch, finish up with a pączek – a traditional Polish filled-doughnut (pączki is the plural, pączek singular). The rosehip are my favorite and they have mini-pączki too if you are worried you won’t have room after lunch.
Granowska’s 175 Roncesvalles Avenue


Cava is open and beautiful, with accents of the Spanish taverna to keep us in the mood.  It’s just north of St. Clair, tucked into a little courtyard on, but almost hidden from, Yonge Street. It’s a fantastic spot for a casually romantic meal, or an evening with a good group of friends. The primarily Tapas-style menu allows for sharing and great conversation especially if you are just starting your exploration of Spanish food. Chef Chris McDonald obviously has a lot of fun in the kitchen and it shows both on the menu and the plate, for example, his Chipotle-caramel popcorn is a playful and flavorful way to start your meal. The Charcuteria plate is one of their most popular dishes, and pairing that with a selection of tapas makes for a great group meal. My favorite option is to leave my meal up to the kitchen. While Chef’s-choice is often an exclusive offering for VIPs or special guests, at Cava this is a standard offering to everyone and you can get it with or without wine pairings.  Make sure to check out Xococava next door, it’s Chef Chris’ sweet playground – an adult candy store – where he adds unusual flavors to chocolate truffles and ice creams.
Cava, 1560 Yonge Street


Just east of King and Jarvis, Kultura has made one of the many historic buildings in this neighborhood warm and exotic without losing the old stone charm. There is a lounge-style bar on the ground floor, and upstairs there are 2 floors of dining.  The menu is an exploration of cuisines with some items reinvented and all reinterpreted like the Indian Samosas with truffled paneer and Mushroom Orecchiettie with a pear chutney. I always order something new when I am there, mainly because there is always something new on the menu or the specials which tempts me away from what I planned to order.  Everything is prepared and plated beautifully and the service has always been a delight. The food, space and decor all meld together to create an intimate dining experience, even when you are with a group.
Kultura, 169 King St East

Thanks Alexa for participating. Your recommendations inspire me. I went to Kultura in 2008 and I still remember the great meal I had there. Remember that you can read Alexa on Unsweetened and follow her on Twitter.


5 Things to Do in Toronto this Weekend by Ali de Bold

ali de bold's suggestions for what to do in toronto this weekend

chick advisor ali de bold\'s suggestions for a weekend getaway in Toronto

Since I will be in Toronto this weekend to visit the IDS, I asked two popular Torontonians, which happen to my friends, for advices on what to do this weekend.

I started with Ali de Bold, co-founder of Chick Advisor. Ali answered with a fun tour of the city.

1. Start Saturday morning with Brunch at School
School Bakery & Cafe is a new hot spot in up and coming neighborhood, Liberty Village.  French Toast fans might want to try their Nirvana French Toast with strawberries, pistachos and chocolate drizzle.  After breakfast, walk it off by heading over to West Elm for design inspiration from this chic yet affordable furniture and design store or get a latte to go from Balzacs.

2. Consider a 1 hour road trip to Niagara on the Lake to indulge in the Niagara Ice Wine Festival.  Ontario Ice Wine is a Canadian specialty, and $30 gets you a pass to 6 local wineries that will treat you to complimentary ice wine samples with food pairings.

3. Head over to the historic Distillery District to indulge in a collection of great restaurants, cafes and boutiques in a cobblestone setting.  This weekend, there is a Chip & Pepper pop up shop happening at Lileo.

4. A romantic dinner at Nota Bene or molecular cocktails at Barchef are a great way to spend Saturday evening.  At Barchef, I highly recommend the Sour Sake: igori sake, cardamom cumin syrup, fresh lime, egg white, apricot bitters and coconut rum, served with a Thai basil sugar rim.  The top is a sugary crust like creme brulée and it tastes like roasted marshmallows. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan that is served in a cloud of smoke under a glass dome.

5. Sunday afternoon, check out the King Tut exhibition at the AGO.  Adult tickets are $32.50, or if you got a sparkling engagement ring for Christmas you might want to visit the National Bridal Show for inspiration!

By the way, I had brunch at School last year. It was awesome! I was impressed by the food and the decor. And a drink topped with creme brulée is certainly an experience that I would like to try.

Thanks a lot, Ali. Your photo collage looks great and your plan sounds great.

Chick Advisor is a women community on which the members determine the hottest trends, the best local services, and the coolest products in beauty, fashion, restaurants, shopping and wellness.


Stunning Pool Design at Hotel Encanto

Hotel Encanto in Acapulco, Mexico :: pool at night

Hotel Encanto in Acapulco, Mexico :: pool at night

Wow! I am in awe with the pool area and the overall hotel design. I loved to stay there for a week of vacation. This is a night view of the pool area at Hotel Encanto, which is a new hotel in Acapulco, Mexico that was designed by Miguel Angel Aragones.

Hotel Encanto :: views of big pool and villa

The hotel’s 44 rooms and suites all have private terraces facing the ocean. They were designed based on a novel concept of total privacy. It could be an ideal intimate spot to host an upscale destination wedding.

+ photos: Hotel Encanto
+ via Contemporist


30% 0ff on Porter Flights

sale alert on porter flights

sale alert on porter flights

I need to book two tickets to go to Toronto. The service on Porter for short distance travel beats the one of Air Canada. Therefore, I am happy to share that you still have a few hours left to book your flight and save 30%. This offer ends today. Use promo code BOXING30.

+ photo: Porter


Crown & Crumpet Adds Fun to the Tearoom

crown and crumpet tearoom in san francisco

Having tea at Crown & Crumpet is on my agenda for my next trip to San Francisco.  This place inspires me from the whimsical decor to the menu. They served 4 menus: breakfast, lunch, an afternoon tea and the evening menu. They all look delicious. Plus, you can select from 38 types of tea.

Two tea lovers, the couple Amy and Christopher Dean started Crown & Crumpet in September 2008. The tearoom is located in the Ghirardelli Square in old San Francisco. The English architect and designer Roland Courtenay Bishop imagined a decor that is fun, modern and refined. They reinvented the English tea service.

If you live in the San Francisco, they can host a party with up to 20 guests. It would an ideal spot for a baby shower. Otherwise, you could borrow the spirit of their design concept for your own tea party.

Holiday Decorations

They carried their modern Victorian style even in their holiday decorations. I agree with Darling Darleen when she said that they have an Alice in Wonderland vibe.

+ Crown & Crumpet
+ holiday decoration photos: Darling Darleen


Opera: the chic return of the folding camper

opera folding camper :: next step of glamping

I am curious about this upscale folding camper that comes with luxury beds and an enclosed teak veranda. I perceived it as an extension of the glam camping (also known as glamping) trend that grows over the last couple of years. But Opera has the advantage of delivering comfortable camping wherever you wish to camp. It is called Opera because the Sydney Opera House was the design inspiration.

Opera is scheduled to launch this December. I will be looking for more details. For now, you can watch a promotional slideshow on Your Suite in Nature.

+ photo: Your Suite in Nature


Beautiful Amsterdam

jordaan area in Amsterdam photographed by pia jane bijkerk

If you never went to Amsterdam, you are missing something. The gorgeous has its share of cool modern design shops, you eat well and it is an urban area where you will feel in vacation. It has been a while since my last visit. Looking at these beautiful pictures taken by Pia Jane Bijkerk, show me how much I miss the European city vibe.

Pia is a known interior and food stylist who currently divides her time working and living between Sydney, Paris and a houseboat in Amsterdam. What a good lifestyle! Naturally, Pia talked about these 3 cities in her blog. I guess it will become one of your favorite blog. I added Pia’s blog to my daily fab read blogroll.

Taking about blogroll, I discovered Pia’s blog while commenting about stylish lampshades on Design Hole.

+ photo by Pia Jane Bijkerk


More Designer Hotels

bulgari hotels in milan

I introduced the Missoni Hotel a couple months ago for their bold use of colors in a bedroom. Missoni is one of many designer brands who joined the hospitality market.

These days, the fashionista can do more than decorate her home with designer’s bedding and cushions, or entertain with tableware from the same fashion maven than the clothes she wears at her dinner party. The next frontier is to fully experience a designer style by staying in an hotel room. Seriously, I am all for stylish, well-designed hotel rooms. I am tired to see the generic hotel rooms. When I travel, I want a better experience that will inspire me. That is the main appeal of the boutique hotels.

Elle Canada listed 9 designer hotels from established fashion houses and hip designers. If you wish to stay in an interior designed by Christian Lacroix head to Hotel Du Petit Moulin. You could enjoy a night in a Bulgari Hotel when you visit Milan or or the remodeled Mondrian designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz when you go to Los Angeles.

+ more at Elle Canada
+ photo via Bulgari Hotels


Bed-in in John and Yoko’s room at Queen Elizabeth

jerome paradis and kim vallee doing their john lennon and yoko ono

Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth was one of the sponsors of PodCamp Montreal 2009. After the Saturday sessions, a selected group were invited for a cocktail in the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite.

room 1742 of fairmont the queen elizabeth montreal

Fairmont put the bed as the place it was for the bed-in. One thing that you may not know is that the suite was rearranged for the bed-in. We all appreciated that Fairmont was kind enough to change the place of the bed for us.

The story goes that John and Yoko wanted the bed in front of the window with the best view. The lounge area became the bedroom. Everything has changed since then. Except for the pictures on the wall and the floor plan, nothing from that area is still in the room. Still, it was a great feeling.

archive photos of John lennon and yoko one bed-in for peace


Everyone had his or her picture taken in the bed. Michelle Sullivan did a live interview with me to talk about my top blogging tips and trends. It was a lot of fun. I included more pictures of the small suite to give you an idea of the space.

giving interviews in john lennon and yoko ono suite at fairmont the queen elizabeth

Here, Laurent Maisonnave set up his video camera to capture a live interview with Scarborough Dude, Bob Goyetche, Julien Smith and Laurent Lasalle. Observing is my husband, Jérôme Paradis.

entry hall of john lennon and yoko ono suite at fairmont the queen elizabeth

Until December 31, 2009, you can book the Bed-In for Peace package at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel.

+ Bob Goyetche
+ Jerome Paradis


Ecological Underwater Sculpture Park by Jason de Caires Taylor

james de caires taylor

If you ever go to Grenada, do not miss this incredible exhibit. British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor wanted to do something to help the endangered reefs along the coast of Grenada. He came up with a solution that uses his skills. He created artificial reefs made of sculptures fashioned out of materials suitable for marine life.

Jason de Caires Taylor did it with humor. He sculpted modern art pieces in the ocean. It is a fantastic sight. His 79 art pieces continually evolve as nature dwells the park. People can dive to admire this surrealist art exhibit.  I would like to go. You can start to understand the magnitude of his creations by watch this video. It is a treat!

Limited edition prints and posters are sold at Limited edition prints are £260 each and posters are £20 each.

Where Is It?

The underwater sculpture park is integrated into an artificial reef at Molinere Bay, north of St-George in Grenada. Do not expect a sign at the surface of the ocean. The sculptures are sited in clear shallow waters to be accessible to divers, snorkellers and those in glass-bottomed boats. Before you start your quest to explore this unique underwater sculpture park, read this detailed article in Maco. It explains everything you need to know to find the spot.

+ Underwater Sculptures – copyrighted photos by Jason de Caires Taylor
+ Via WebUrbanist
+ Via my friends Nathalie Rivard and Renée Wathelet who shared the video on Facebook