Tourists in Toronto, Day 1

Last year we kept a journal of our adventure in British Columbia and Alberta. This year I didn't bring a journal to write in so these blog posts will serve as a record of our summer vacation in Ontario and Quebec. Spoiler alert: the majority of this post will be about food and beverages!

L arrived on Saturday evening. We were late picking him up from Pearson Airport because my dad and I were working on our traditional, embarrassing greeting poster. This year's poster featured L sitting on a corn on the cob throne with the heading "Hold The Corn," a reference my dad and his wife didn't understand because they haven't seen Season 6 of Game of Thrones yet. Back at home, we ate stuffed portobello mushrooms and, of course, corn on the cob. It was early to bed so L could beat his jet lag.

Sunday morning started with mass at Our Lady of the Annunciation followed by breakfast at Symposium Cafe. After finding out that I'm low in vitamin B12 because of the vegetarian/vegan diet I've been following since February, I decided to eat a BLT with an egg. L had French toast with bacon. We drove down into the city after breakfast. My friend let us stay at her place in The Annex/Casa Loma area for three nights while she was out of town.

After dropping off our luggage, we met up with our friend for our Bike 'n' Brewery Crawl. You can check out our antics on Instagram by following the hashtag #lcktakeflight. We decided to try the Bike Share Toronto bikes since L and I have had success with BikeMi bikes in Milan. The Bike Share Toronto bikes turned out to be a bit of a bust. We paid $7 to use them for 24 hours and were only able to use them once because there are few stations in the Bloor & Dufferin area where many of the breweries we wanted to visit are located. We started our crawl at Blood Brothers Brewing. This place reminded L and I of the Tofino Brewing Co. because of it's garage door entrance and casual atmosphere. We each ordered flights that included Hail Saison, Horse Face IPA, Inner, P.Lost White Lies, and Abattoir Farmhouse Brett. The beer was delicious and refreshing. With a bit of beer under our belts, we made our way to Halo Brewery next. The beer wasn't very distinctive or memorable and the place felt more like a café than a craft brewery. After our flights at Halo we were feeling a bit buzzed and peckish. At our next stop, Burdock, we ordered food and beer. We shared the Rye Bread & Pickles, the Spicy Greens, the Broccoli & Cheese, and the Lamb Andouille. The portions were pretty small and definitely not enough to share between three. In our flights were Brett Farmhouse V.4, Hop Cone Syndrome, West Coast Pilsner 50, and Rainhard Armed & Citra. My final impression of Burdock was that it was overpriced. Our final brewery crawl destination ended up being our favourite of the four breweries, Bandit Brewery. The patio at this place is huge and beautiful. We ordered flights and the highlight of this place, food! Since we were still hungry after our tease at Burdock, we ordered Beer Battered Cheese Curds, Fries, and Fresh Pretzels. BEER BATTERED CHEESE CURDS are little clouds of heaven, especially after four rounds of flights of craft beer! Our friend acquired two souvenirs, Bandit glasses, for L and I to take home and remember our experience.

Although our brewery crawl ended at Bandit, our food tour continued into the evening. We met up with my brother who has been wanting to try Bar Raval for some time now. This place is magical; it's like walking into another world. It totally captures the beauty of Barcelona and Gaudi's architecture. The interior is lined with a flowing wood bar that climbs up the walls and ceiling as if it were a living thing. The service was terrible, but the food made up for it. I am a tapas skeptic, but the Tomato Bread, Green Beans in Buttermilk Dressing, Shishito Peppers, and Hot Octopus have converted me and made me a believer. I would definitely like to go back and sample more of what Bar Raval's menu has to offer. As if beer battered cheese curds and all the tapas weren't enough, we couldn't leave College Street without trying the Big Mac Bao at Lopan, the upstairs dim sum and cocktail bar above DaiLo. Even though I am not eating meat and cannot remember the last time I ate anything from McDonalds, the bao was well worth the calories. We threw in the towel after the bao! On our way out, my friend recognized one of our elementary/middle school classmates, Bruce Lee, who owns Roselle with his wife Stephanie. Although we couldn't possibly consume anything else on Sunday night, we will be trying a dessert from Roselle on Friday after our dinner and theatre date with my dad and his wife.

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