Sunday, August 23, 2009

More Guests!

About 20 minutes before Alan and Judy left, I got a phone call from my best friend Jess! She had just arrived in Toronto from Calgary!

We met at Bloor & Young. It was the first time I'd seen her in over a year. We headed to a restaurant near Bloor & Bay called Hemmingway's for martinis. I had never been there before and it was really nice. They had two levels of rooftop patios, so we went all the way to the top ordered some quesadillas, potato skins and drinks. Everything was really good, but the service was slow (probably because we were seated so far from the kitchen). We stayed through two martinis getting caught up on her life in Calgary and my new life in Toronto. All is well with her, she has a great job but she said she missed Toronto.

On the way back to the subway station we stopped at a fabric store and picked up some green cotton with kitchsy teal and grey flowers so that I could sew her an apron. It was really cute.

We came back to my place so that she could see the apartment and say hi to John. We were only here for a few minutes before we headed back out to the movies to see Julie and Julia. It was okay, Meryl Streep was fantastic, but it wasn't great and the ending was anticlimatic.

By the time we got back to the apartment, it was time to head out again, this time to a club called Sacco that's about a block away. There we met Christa and Jenn, whom I haven't seen since university. It was really nice to see them again!

Yonge & Eglinton, where I live, is also known as Young & Eligible because it's an area full of young professionals. The bar had a martini by the same name, so I figured that now that I'm a local, I had better try it. I forget what was in it, but I do remember that it reminded me why I don't really care for peach schnapps. But I couldn't complain because the drinks were over 3 ounces.

So we sat around and swapped stories for a few hours and a few drinks. I got to hear all about Christa's wedding, and we talked about what we had been up to for the past while and reminisced about the times the four of us had hung out in Halifax. It was really nice to get caught up and reconnect with people I hadn't seen in such a long time.

On Saturday, John and I had decided to pay a visit to Chinatown because I really wanted to see it. First though, we went to take a trial run to my work to get an idea of how long my commute takes. It took us a while to figure out where to catch the bus, but eventually a bus driver took pity on us and showed us where the station was. Apparently the bus runs ever 3 minutes during rush hour. Crazy, right? We caught the bus and rode it to Eglinton West station and took the subway from there to Lawrence West. The trip took half an hour so I'm going to hope that giving it 50 minutes will be enough to take traffic into account and still make it on time. Apparently we're getting a street car over the same stretch of road by the end of the fall, so then it will be quicker.

On to Chinatown! We took the subway to Bloor & Spadina and headed south, but we sort of detoured into Kensington Market.

I had heard a lot about the market so I was interested to see it. In my head I pictured a huge farmer's market but in actuality it's a series of streets with really quaint little shops. They sell everything from organic food to locally made art. It's sort of a hippy area. We didn't go through the whole thing because then we wouldn't have made it to Chinatown, but what we saw was pretty neat. We stopped for lunch at a little sushi restaurant in the area and I think it was the best sushi I've had since we got here. They had a vegetable tempura maki roll that was really delicious.

From there we headed to Chinatown. Oh my, there was so much to see! I was most impressed by the kitchen supply shops that carried every Asian cooking implement I could think of. The grocery stores were amazing as well but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was near things I was looking for but because I don't speak the language, I couldn't identify them. For example in one store there were packages of fresh herbs, and although I thought I recognized many of them, I couldn't be 100% sure they were what I thought they were since it was the first time I had ever actually seen them. And of course, none of them were labelled. I did find one shop that sells banana blossoms though, which I thought was pretty cool. I have some recipes that use these that I want to try now.

We walked around for hours visiting the little shops and two Asian malls. The Chinatown festival was going on as well so a section of Spadina was blocked off and full of performers and kiosks. Because we had spent so much time at Kensington, we didn't have time to fully explore that area either. When I checked my watch it was 7:30pm. Where had the afternoon gone?

We headed home after that. I was exhausted from the day in the sun and the fact that we had been going pretty much non-stop since Tuesday. We were supposed to go out dancing with Jess that night, but I just didn't have the energy so I had to cancel. We spent the evening tucked on the couch watching movies on TV.

This morning we were up pretty early. I finished up the apron I made for Jess and we went to Bathurst & Bloor to meet her for brunch at a place called Butler's Pantry. The eggs benny were great and the hashbrowns were shaped like adorable triangles. We were joined by Aseem and Neeti, friends of Jess that I hadn't seen since university when Jess was living on Queen Street. It turns out the Aseem plays squash so he and John made plans to play.

From there we went to a store called Honest Ed's that is like a giant BiWay. They sell everything you can think of and they sell it for really cheap. And the decor is gaudy like nothing I have every seen. There was the most gigantic, frightening grandmother clock in one the stairwells. It was about ten feet tall, and at the top was a psychotic looking deer head with giant eyes bulging out of it's head. The rest of the clock was carved with various images including a dead rabbit. And to add to it's freakiness there was a layer of dust on it about an inch thick.

Apparently Ed was an immigrant who came to Toronto and wanted to make a place where everyone could get anything they need for little money. Once a year (Thanksgiving I think?), people would line up for blocks and he would give them each a free chicken. Now there's a village named after him.

Next we walked to Kensington where Jess was meeting Riley. It was getting late in the day so John and I didn't stay. We headed to Bloor & Bay to check out a Winners that Jess had recommended to me when we went out for drinks. I had a hard time finding it (my sense of direction is still pretty shaky), but it was worth looking for. It is the nicest Winners I have ever seen, they carry some really high end stuff. John and I both found a couple of work shirts so it was worth the trip.

We went home after that and ordered in some Thai food for dinner. There's a website,, where you type in your postal code and it gives you a list of restaurants from which you can order delivery online. You don't even have to call in, it's great. We ordered from a place called Mai Thai and when it got here, it was the best pad Thai I've had since we got here (I've had two that weren't great before this one, they were too tomato-y). I felt like ordering in so that I would have time to do my chores tonight and leftovers for lunch tomorrow since it's my first day of work.

Dad called to check in on me which was nice. He told me that hurricane Bill was no big deal despite the media's warnings for the past three days. It was nice to hear news from home, it makes me feel like I'm a part of it. I'm not homesick per se. I'm quite happy to be in Toronto. But I do miss my family and friends at home.