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Toronto – Oh Honestly, Erin
Feb 022019
 

We got lucky and had a really clear, snowless drive into Canada on Saturday, but it snowed a bit overnight which made our Sunday about 10 degrees colder than the dumb weather app on my phone said and the snow-piled sidewalks provided a great calf workout.

It’s actually a miracle that we all remembered to leave Pittsburgh with snow boots. Mine are a size too big because I bought them online and made poor choices so I felt like Frankenstein’s monster but at least my feet were dry and mostly-dry. It also made me feel invincible to winter threats so I kept purposely walking in the deeper-snowed areas.

Henry wanted to drive into Toronto this time instead of taking the train so we did that and it was scary because the roads were still not-great from fresh snow and we even saw a car spin-out on the ramp by our hotel, but OK Henry, willingly put our lives into the hands of the ice gods, that’s fine.

Spoiler- we ended up being fine but it was still dumb. We parked and then took the subway everywhere which was fun and isn’t it funny how I hate our public transportation back home but get so excited to use it in other cities? OH THATS BC BIG CITIES HAVE GOOD TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS.

Anyway, here are some pictures from our blustery adventures in the Maple Kingdom.

We started the day in Korea Town, wow so much shocks and surprisals. (YES SURPRISALS THAT IS WHAT I WOULD HAVE SAID IF I WAS WRITING THIS FOR A CAT AUDIENCE OK.) As previously mentioned, we went to Rustle & Still cafe and then I went back to the Kpop shop and snagged a Taemin album and this time the person working was the cutest Korean boy and I felt like there was some level of imprinting happening which Henry ruined by saying that he was certain that guy was only 18.

Meanwhile, Chooch rummaged through troughs of stickers looking for Taemin ones to mock me with and then cried after we left because he allegedly wanted a turnip one (????) and we were like YOU DONT LIKE TURNIPS THO???

Mural posing. This was Dirty Birds Chicken & Waffles. We didn’t eat there. We just used them for their wall aesthetics, boy.

Also, look how cute that milkshake straw is!

I….really don’t know how to pose for photos. I have been doing this same pose since like, 10th grade I think. I mean, when I’m actually allowing someone to take my picture, that is.

We strolled around downtown for a bit and by that I mean we were shaking in our boots and trying to defrost the tips of our noses by blowing hot air into our cupped hands. It was frigid that day, and would serve as a prelude to the stupid-cold weather we were about to get slammed with back home.

I feel like the coldness really comes through in this shot. Also, this was moments after Chooch tried to be cute by scaling a snowbank, lost his balance and slid the whole way down on his back. Henry was DONE after that.

CN Tower, which Henry deemed “TOO EXPENSIVE.”

Toronto’s murals are on point. This was part of a long mural inside an underpass.

Their subway stations are great backdrops for photos as well. It’s an Instgrammer’s subterranean paradise.

When your coat matches the wall…

My coat matched too but that would have required Henry to take our picture while droves of people were filing by and that is a BIG NO.

Fighting over maps, Korea vibes. Also, LOL at Henry’s dorky Clearfruit jacket.

Henry was still looking at the map.

FROZEN WATER. There was one unfrozen path for the ferry. That was really exciting to us for some reason and by us I mean Chooch and me, Henry doesn’t get excited about anything other than the weekly circulars and, I don’t know, new hemorrhoid creams.

You guys. It was so cold that as I was talking, I could actually feel parts of my face tightening up. Now, I have never had Botox, but I think this is how it feels after?! I couldn’t get my lips to move all the way when I was trying to talk, like I was working against gravity. It was really scary.

There was some random gigantic camo picnic table in this park because ART. There was a #bigpicnic hashtag on it but when I used that on Instragram, it pulled up a ton of irrelevant things and like, one other picture of this table.

Here, the extraordinary method actors E.Rachelle & Chooch Robbins audition for the “Happily Arrested” roles in the off-off-off-off-underneath broadway play Picnic Outlaws.

Thank god Toronto has so many different indoor passages to get from one place to the next. We were able to walk a good distance back to the parking lot completely indoors BLESSED BE. I kept hoping we would see Winner walking around in a tunnel somewhere with the rest of the Toronto mole people, but they were probably somewhere warm and cozy with a fireplace and fancy food. It’s OK – they deserve it.

So, all in all, it was another cool time in Toronto but I really would like to go back sometime when we’re not there for a concert so we can focus solely on doing touristy things and, obviously, eating at more cool places. Um, preferably sometime in the summer or fall! AND MAYBE IT COULD COINCIDE WITH A VISIT TO CANADA’S WONDERLAND?! I mean, it’s right there. 

Coming soon, I’ll recap the Winner concert and close this Canada chapter. Sigh.

Feb 012019
 

I was going through my pictures and realized I have way too many for one post so you know what that means — whoooooboy multi-posts!

Since we were in Toronto in the dead of winter with very little time, we didn’t do any touristy things and instead just focused on being gluttons. Toronto is a meatless Mecca so our options were overwhelming, and luckily our resident Meat Man Henry is perfectly content eating vegetarian/vegan so we went, um, hogwild.

Except for breakfast which was just a quick stop to Tim Horton’s because this was like A BIG DEAL for Chooch and you have to throw the kid a bone here and there so that when they grow up and pen an in depth exposé on their childhood, it won’t be all doom, gloom, & my parents locked me in a piss-puddled storage closet, you know?

So here is a little run-down of Sunday’s eats, treats, & drinks.

Our first stop after Tim Horton’s was a Vietnamese cafe in Korea Town called Rustle & Still. I was drawn to this place by a promise of pandan and purple sweet potato latte options. I had a sweet potato latte in Busan and have been dying to have another ever since, especially a purple one! I eat purple sweet potatoes nearly every day at home. My diet is very niche.

My first impression of this place was that it’s very vegetation-friendly. I love plant-filled cafes!

My second impression was that it was not one of those snobby places that brings out a first-timer’s inner-n00b. The barista (possibly the owner? He had that owner-aura to him) had a friendly face and didn’t make me feel rushed.

Chooch and I had a game-plan that morning in the hotel, which consisted of me ordering the sweet potato and him going for the matcha pandan so that we could share, but once we were at the counter, he acted like this was BREAKING NEWS and got all weird and surly about it. He ordered it anyway, but then tacked on, “Because I guess that’s what I HAVE to order” and I was like “WTF is your damage, child!?” because he pulls this shit all  the time and it’s bewildering to me. He has this knack for acting like I have all of these one-sided conversations when he, at one time, is a willing participant!

PARENTS, DO YOUR CHILDREN THROW YOU UNDER THE BUS LIKE THIS!?

Anyway, he also ordered a black sesame coconut cookie so that pacified him a little.

My lattes! Yes, I inherited Chooch’s matcha pandan latte because suddenly, he no longer likes matcha and apparently “never said that [he] did” so I guess that’s another dream-convo I had — am I even really here? Or am I living in the dementia ward at some Ukranian clinic? What is even real anymore!?

Mr. I Never Said I Liked Matcha

Mr. Everyone Knows I Don’t Like Matcha But I Will Drink Half of This Latte Because I Paid Like $10 For It

Oh you guys, I was so mad. BUT! The silver lining is that both lattes were just my style and I didn’ regret for a single minute the bloated belly (Chooch hates that word, so now I use it often) I received after drinking nearly 2 thick lattes in one sitting.

Afterward, we went into the city center and hit up Milk Bar at Momofuku. It was actually just a little self-serve area so we just grabbed some cookies and a to-go slice of crack pie and went about our way and by that I mean, Chooch and I fought with Henry as soon as we got outside because we act like we’re starving children just let out of a crate and we didn’t trust him not to eat everything so he threw the bag at us and stalked off toward the subway. Haha, what a bitch baby.

The next part of our food journey took us back to Korea Town that afternoon but not for Korean food, like you’d expect! Instead, we went to Apiecalypse Now, which is another vegan place that Chooch had his stomach set on. Henry and I were actually going to eat here the last time we were in Toronto, but the sweet fucking siren call of Korean food lured us a different direction.

We got here around 30 minutes after they opened so we were able to walk right up to the counter and order (I mean, after hemming and hawwing – there were so many choices!). We all opted for slices of the Pig Destroyer Destroyer which wins for best pizza and also best name because come on now. Henry also got a slice of the BBQ Buffalover which I think I would have loved had I not already tried the Pig Destroyer Destroyer, because anything after that one pales in comparison. It is the ultimate, meaty meatless pizza! I fucking inhaled my slice and the best part was that it didn’t make me sick to my stomach afterward like a regular slice of cheese pizza would. (Which sucks because I love pizza but it almost always makes me sick now.)

As you can clearly tell from the name of our pizza slices alone, this place has major punk aesthetic so I didn’t get that shitty “more vegan than you” vibe from it at all.

Chooch looks solemn in this picture but it was actually just because I had the nerve to take his picture while he was fumbling toward pizza ecstasy.

And here’s Henry (im)patiently waiting for me to TAKE THE FUCKING PICTURE so that he can finally have his carnivore card revoked. J/K. He liked his pizzas too but not nearly as much as he would had there been real fatty meat on each slice.

But I’ll tell you, I’m still talking about that damn pizza almost as much as the Winner concert, which is the actual reason we were in Toronto!

Family Portrait 2019

After a bunch of walking through the one-digit Toronto temps (actually I think it was like 10 degrees that day but, windchill) we headed back to the hotel and  then ate dinner at a Viet-vegan joint called Dai Bi Chay. This was actually Henry’s choice! I was willing to eat at a regular restaurant, figuring that Henry would have been withering away by this point, but he was like, “Let’s eat more soy! Woo! Soy baby!”

Pages upon pages of glorious meat-free options, I could barely stand it. We had such a good  meal there, even though someone behind Henry was eating like a very hungry man without his dentures in and you know it’s bad when HENRY, the White Noise of Annoying Sounds People Make, gets all up-in-arms and hoarsely whispers to me, “What is that behind me!?” And then it magically became less annoying for me, knowing that it was bothering Henry!

I don’t even remember what I had but the broth was piping hot and winter-perfect and the BBQ mock-meat lounging on top of the noodles was just a motherfucking delight. Henry also had some kind of noodle soup dish and this was the meal that he’s still talking about from the weekend. He loved it there!

Chooch had fried rice or something because he doesn’t believe in food adventures, but he had no problem eating more than his share of the appetizers we ordered!

Meanwhile, Chooch and I were so giddy. We have this running joke that whenever Henry is “going to the store” or “to the laundromat,” he is actually going downtown to this strip club called Blush and that his favorite stripper there is some broad named “Cheetah Girl” — Chooch created her but we talk about her all the time like she’s a real person in Henry’s life and he gets really mad about it. So for some reason, Chooch started googling strippers while we were eating and he was like, “HAHAHAHAHA HERE’S CHEETAH GIRL” but then I was like, “No, wrong one” so I googled, “Old ass washed-up strippers” and presented a picture of someone’s grandma sprawled out on a bed in black leather lingerie and at this point Chooch started choking and the waitress kept asking him if he was OK and Henry was signing off on the official Disowning Paperwork.

OMG my stomach hurts right now just thinking about how uproariously we were laughing over this while Henry had virtual steam billowing out of his ears and Chooch and I actually ran to the car ahead of him when we left because we were afraid he was going to beat us with his boot, lol.

(Disclaimer: Henry has never beaten us with his boot but there’s always a first time for everything!)

Henry will never stop eating meat but it’s really cool that he is willing (and without being a jerk) to eat vegetarian/vegan food every now and then. I mean, let’s be real, most times, Chooch and I have to scramble to find something to eat at regular restaurants or we have to settle for the generic Gardenburger of the 1990s. It’s nice to actually experience the other end of ordering anxiety – when there’s so much to choose and everything sounds delicious!

So hats off to Halftime-Herbivore Hank for indulging our plant-based needs.

Well, that concludes my Sunday food round-up. We didn’t purposely go to Toronto with a Go Veg or GTFO mindset, but it just happened that way!

Jan 302019
 

We got a pretty late start to our drive to Toronto on Saturday which I wasn’t pleased about but Henry wanted to rent a car so that automatically meant we couldn’t leave until after 9 ugh Henry ruins everything however the car we rented had heated seats which was fantastic to have while traveling to freaking Canada in January.

So I’ll give him a pass this time.

The drive to the border was pretty uneventful but we did stop at that one travel plaza that requires one to cross over the highway via a skybridge so that was fun. This was also Chooch’s first time traveling along this route but he was buried in his phone the whole time and it’s doubtful he noticed anything except for when he expressed excitement upon spotting the General Mills building while passing through Buffalo. This was inexplicably a big deal to him?

One notable thing was that this was the first time entering Canada with Henry where he didn’t get us pulled off for further questioning because of his suspicious, nervous stutter. We just breezed right through after he said, “concert. Winner” to the border guy’s question of “why are you here.” Good job, Henry.

I don’t know why I was in such a hurry to get there. We didn’t have any standing plans for Saturday other than EAT AT DOOMIES, which is a vegan “fast food” establishment that Chooch and I had been drooling over at the mere thought.

We stayed a bit outside of Toronto this time, checked in around 4 and then took the train downtown. Chooch and I were really excited because while we were waiting for the train, Henry realized he left his phone charger in the car and actually ran to get it which was hilarious because he was wearing this big burly gray fleece-lined hoodie over his jacket, plus a beanie, so I started humming the Rocky theme and then Chooch was nearly peeing his pants. Oh you guys, the sight of Henry actually running, like legit hauling ass, totally gave us the jollies.

Two fucking hyenas.

Here we have Henry, deep inside his favorite zone. What you can’t see is Chooch sitting across from him, drawing a weener on a picture of Henry and me spectating this and cackling like a middle schooler. Henry tried to hurt our feelings by saying he’d rather hang out with his 1.5 year old grandson Calvin, who is, and I quote, “quieter and less needy” than Chooch and me.

WOW.

Once in Toronto, we left Union Station (after Henry bought two family day passes for their public transportation system and proceeded to look like a walking fanny pack, that’s how much of a yodel-dodely tourist he came off as. Chooch and I were caught up in Korea flashbacks for real) and walked around for a bit, passing the Fairmont Hotel, where we were fairly certain Winner was staying but Henry drew the line at going inside and loafing creepily in the lobby all evening.

So we got on a streetcar to Parkdale, a/k/a Vegandale where Doomies is located! It’s actually inside the Vegandale Brewery now so that was kind of a bummer because all the videos I had watched on Toronto vegan spots featured the old location of Doomies which seemed to have way more of a “dive” feel to it and that’s what I like. I’m not wild about breweries.

Immediately, we were put off by the host and hostess, who were like the King and Queen of the Glacier Prom. I was not impressed with their hipster ambivalence but I’m glad we gave it a chance because our waitress was wonderful – friendly, helpful, and just genuinely nice – and the FOOD WAS FUCKING STELLAR.

I wanted us all to get something different so we could taste-trade, and Chooch had already called dibs on the vegan Big Mac (not on the menu, but it exists and it is the Holy Grail of meatless burgers, let me tell you), so I opted for the Chik-Bac-Ranch sandwich because anytime a faux-chix sandwich is on the menu, I’m down for that chick-biz.

But then stupid-ass carnivore Henry got the chicken and waffles and Chooch and I were like, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT” because I already got chicken and we wanted him to get a different thing! He is so dumb! Ugh.

I tried some of this and it was legit fam. It’s amazing that I was able to get a taste though because Chooch devoured that sumbitch like he was on a day pass from the orphanage. It was nuts.

Oh man, if I had the time to write a chapbook in honor of this bitchin’ chicken…

This Doomie fake-fowl has my heart. Fuck all the rest.

Bellies full of no-meat and totally content.

It was so cold that weekend in Toronto, but we still strolled around as much as we could handle it. Chooch was mad because he took a picture of this wall-saying first and then I copied him.

We hopped on another streetcar eventually, and then took the subway to KOREATOWN. On the subway, some younger girl next to me nudged me, literally elbowed me like we were bros, and said, “I love your jacket.” I happily said thanks and Chooch was so pissed. “Even in CANADA?!” he cried later, and Henry, who had been sitting across from us, said he was watching the girl right before she went in with the elbow and said he could tell that she was considering doing it.

OF COURSE HE WAS WATCHING HER. He’s the Perv of Public Transit!

Anyway, I think I might start an Instagram for my coat so it can cyberbully him.

That’s what any good mom would do, I think.

Yeah boiiiii. I talk to this Korean guy Kyoung on Kakao (three cheers for natural alliteration) and he was like SEND ME PICTURES and was so excited to see a Canadian Korea Town so that was pretty cool. We stopped at this little place we went to last time that sells homemade walnut cakes (hodo kwaja) because they also have patbingsu and I was IN THE MOODSU.  Chooch got hotteok and was so content.

(Hotteok is a delicious sweet Korean pancake full with piping hot, gooey brown sugar and cinnamon, it’s like something that was created specifically for Jesus to have at his birthday parties, that’s how religiously delicious it is and I cannot wait to get my ass back to Korea and buy one every day from street vendors.)

It was just us and a bunch of Koreans so I was content, too, haha. I didn’t care that it was like 5 degrees outside, that patbingsu was everything I needed right then.

(Even though it wasn’t the fancy kind that I wanted at some place that Henry deemed TOO FAR TO GET TO EASILY.)

This place makes their own pat (sweet red bean) so that was a real bonus, and one of the girls working there even came over and asked us if we wanted more of it. I did NOT hesitate. Pat is my fucking jam, man.

(Actually, it would probably make good jam now that I think of it.)

Then we walked around Korea Town for an eternity and I pouted in a Kpop store because I couldn’t decide what Taemin album I wanted to buy so instead I BOUGHT NONE OF THEM and acted like a brat and then the cafe I wanted to go to was CLOSED and I suddenly had to PEE and it was getting colder and colder by the minute, so we decided to head back to Union Station around 8.

Fucking cold, man.

We walked around Union Station for a bit before getting on the platform to catch the train back. I was happy that they had clean restrooms there.

I insisted that we walk around the block one more time just in case Winner was meandering about, like they would actually be outside in that cold weather and not in some warm and cozy high class steak house or something. Le sigh. I kept seeing people on Instagram posting pictures of their run-ins with various Winner members in Seattle and Houston AND I REALLY THOUGHT IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME TOO, OK?! I did think that I saw Mino near their alleged hotel but it ended up being an Indian in a turban, which really could be something that Mino might be wearing.

HE IS VERY FASHION-FORWARD.

When Chooch realized I took that first picture, he posed for the one above. He’s a camera whore, you guys, and I have no idea who created that monster.

GOODBYE TRAIN.

We got back to the hotel around 10 and promptly crashed. Walking in the cold is tiring.

This post was so exciting. We had a lot of fun but it was mostly because Chooch and I were making fun of Henry the whole time, and that doesn’t translate well on here.

Stay tuned for more walking-in-the-cold that took place the next day!

Aug 102017
 

Keep reading for the not-anticipated conclusion to the cliffhanger from the previous post! So exciting!

….we were halfway back to Leslieville. Henry suggested that we keep walking and just jump on a streetcar when we got tired, but I was having so much fun! The sun was setting, lights were coming on, and the streets were bustling. I loved it—it reminded me of being in Europe as a kid! I asked Henry if just walking the whole way back to Leslieville was do-able, and he muttered, “I mean, I guess.”

I took that as CHALLENGE ACCEPTED so we continued our leisurely stroll through Chinatown where we stopped to get tea at Ichi Tea House, and checked out some street art.

I excitedly hypothesized, “What if G-Dragon was getting ice cream from that ice cream truck right now!?” and Henry just scrunched up his weathered skull-mask in a “don’t be stupid” expression which is basically just his everyday face these days.

Shit started to get fancier by the block and we realized we were in the fashion district, so G-Dragon could have definitely been nearby! I made Henry to see if there was a Gentle Monster in Toronto because maybe he would be there, but there was not  Gentle Monster in Toronto.

Sigh.

Henry and I might have held hands a little. You’ll never know.

We rolled up on this by accident and I was so happy! It was really the only touristy thing we did. (I had a small desire to go in the CN Tower but I also was worried about how much time it would take. So maybe next time when we have Chooch with us!)

There was some dance competition happening on a stage in this plaza but it wasn’t Kpop dancing so what did I care. Just a bunch of dumb little girls in their stupid leotards.

I had to pee really bad when we were downtown still so we popped into a Tim Horton’s, where I accidentally let the door close behind me on some really old homeless guy. A cop was coming out of Tim Horton’s as I was going in and hurriedly held the door open for him and it was like, a really big To Do.

Dumb Probably Pro-Trump American Broad Lets Door Slam on Homeless Man.

Seriously though the cop acted like a fucking hero and I’m surprised he didn’t arrest me to really drive it home, you know? I even said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there!” but the old man didn’t even acknowledge me so maybe he didn’t even realize that his face was nearly smashed by the door that I so recklessly failed to hold.

MAYBE I’M BLOWING IT OUT OF PROPORTION.

Henry owned this block. 

After I peed and Henry bought a bag of Timbits, we continue our trek until suddenly, almost without notice, we went from the flashy fashion district to DARK, EMPTY STREETS and SHAMBLING UNSAVORIES.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” I whispered through clenched teeth, clutching Henry’s hand.

“Good one, Erin. Yeah, let’s walk back. This is great,” Henry sighed.

We walked past an ominous park where we could detect the shapes of people having some kind of suspicious interaction.

“Yeah, that doesn’t look bad at all,” Henry said, keeping his focus straight ahead, pretending like he saw nothing.

We walked past some winos hanging on the front stoop of an apartment; one of them screamed to me, “SHE JUST DID HER LAUNDRY!” and I just wanted to cry.

Also, my feet were really starting to feel the effects of the EIGHTEEN MILES we had walked that day.

But soon we were at the bridge to Leslieville, the homestretch! And because this was Canada, the beautiful land that birthed Degrassi and Drake, nothing happened to us. Even their hoodlums & hooligans are nice! 

When we turned on the street of our airbnb, there were several girls sitting on the road in just their bras and pants, so that was interesting. The house behind them was on the market for $998,000, but I guess even rich neighborhoods get trash on the streets every once in awhile.

By the end of the night, my Fitbit said I had walked 42,0000 steps — a new record for me! (That I know of, anyway.)

What a memorable day. Even with all the walking we did, I had a hard time falling asleep because it was G-Dragon Eve!

Aug 092017
 


After a morning & afternoon of ambling about Koreatown<3, we rested at our Airbnb for approximately 20 minutes (lol sorry Henry) before I declared it was coffeetime. Henry consulted a map, because that’s what big strong men do, and determined that we could just walk to the cafe I chose (Hailed Coffee, read more a few posts back if you’re so inclined) and then walk a few blocks to a subway station to set off for Hogtown Vegan, where we unanimously decided to eat dinner.

Neither of us were particularly hungry yet after stuffing ourselves at Korea House, but we figured with all the walking we were about to do, we’d arrive at Hogtown Vegan right before my hunger turned me into a claw-bearing, hissing hothead.


Our walk to the subway took us through Greektown! It was really tempting to hang out there and get some falafel. Toronto, you have too many options!


By now, I was feeling fine with the subway. If we had relied on our own car or Uber, we never would have had the chance to experience Toronto this way. I’m glad Henry listened to me when I suggested it.

(Lol jk – this was all his plan and my initial reaction was YOU WANNA WHAT?! WHY?? because you know me and that public transportation battle.)

This time when we exited the subway at the Christie stop, we went right on Bloor instead of left, where my beloved Koreatown <3 is. (Don’t worry, babe—we’ll be back.) 

I was just wondering out loud if there was also a Little India when we crossed over to another block and the beautiful stench of curry filled our nostrils. I don’t know it was an official India section of town, but there were definitely a lot of Indian restaurants! So again, I was tempted to trade in Hogtown Vegan for some paneer and samosas.

Ugh, choices!

It was around this time that I made Henry look up incoming flights from NYC, because I wanted to go to the airport and stalk greet G-Dragon.

“That’s what kids do!” Henry cried, but he still looked up the flights like a good boy. He claimed that all the flights had already landed and that there were no more NYC flights listed for the day, but he could have told me anything and I would have had no choice but to believe him since I couldn’t verify on my own phone, thanks Canada-less data plan.

Hogtown Vegan was roughly 7? 8? blocks from the subway station. Who knows. Hopefully no one comes here looking for accuracy. We’re all about the FAKE NEWS ’round here.

“We’re” — you know, me and my staff.

I just learned that Hogtown is a nickname for Toronto. I couldn’t figure out why else a vegan restaurant would be named Hogtown because typically, if I saw a restaurant with that name, my mind would go straight to bacon and I would think it was some mega-meat hut.

True to Toronto’s form, the staff in this joint was so great! I really liked our waitress — she was so fucking cute and when I started my order with my signature meek inquiry of, “Can I have….”, she answered, “Of course you can!”

I don’t know why I order food that way. Instead of being all assertive and STATING what I want, I always pose it as a shaky question. Maybe because I’m so used to the waiter coming back and saying, “OH I’M SORRY BUT WE’RE ALL OUT OF THAT” or “WE DON’T ACTUALLY OFFER THAT ANYMORE YOU HAVE AN OUTDATED MENU I GUESS TOO BAD SO SAD” so now I feel the need to question if I can have what I want.

Ugh, my life.

Henry got something. He liked it.

I ordered the Unchicken and Waffles, which came with a  dollop of sweet potato mash (it was terrific, better than Thanksgiving) and collard greens which I just can’t like, sorry Mother Earth for rejecting one of your babies. Anyway, my entrée is what Hogtown Vegan is known for and I’m not surprised — that was the best fake chicken I’ve ever had in my 21 year meat ban. Typically, when I eat things like this, I have to go into it with the mindset that I’m not eating something that is meant to replace the thing that I no longer eat, so that I can fully appreciate the thing for its own unique flavor.

DOES THAT MAKE SENSE OR NAH?

But this unchicken was fucking bomb. It tasted real! The texture was SICK! I have never had fake chicken with such realistic mouth-feel!

The food here was hearty as fuck. I couldn’t clean my plate so Henry had to help me (and he was happy to, believe me). When you eat at a place like this, it will quickly dispel the myth that all vegans are malnourished waifs.

Trust.

Meanwhile, there was family of three at the table next to us. Their little boy was probably about 3 and he made me miss Chooch SO MUCH that I actually started crying for a minute or two. Henry rolled his eyes and reminded me that if Chooch was there, we would probably be bickering because that’s our schtick.

We bicker. Quarrel. Nit-pick. Compete.

We’re ridiculous.

But being there with Henry made me realize that as much as I love being together as a family, sometimes it’s necessary for Henry and I to get away for a bit and be a couple. I think he was less stressed because he only had one person’s happiness to maintain all weekend, instead of contending with me and Chooch crying about being hungry and wanting him to buy us things and CARRY US HENRY, WE’RE TIRED. So in other words, this was almost like a real vacation for Henry!

There were moments of tension—because we’re a couple and we’re traveling, nerves are gonna be struck eventually—but this particular evening was WUNDERBAR.

We finished up dinner and continued to stroll around Bloor Street, stopping at a super new-age-y pet shop called EarthEchoes, the proprietor of which was strutting about the shop in bare feet and some really scary guy with face tattoos was feeding the reptiles.

“Jesus Christ, that guy looks like he just got out of prison for murder,” Henry said.

This place was nuts. There were snakes and chameleons and tropical birds EVERYWHERE. I totally fell in love with Bradly, the store’s pet Savannah Monitor.

“Are they mean?” I asked Henry while Bradly was flicking his tongue at me from between the cage bars.

“Um, yeah,” Henry said before I shoved my whole arm in the cage to caress Bradly.

Henry pulled me out of the store before I took off my shoes, got a face tattoo, and started luring in homeless people for Bradly to feed on.

I talked about how awesome that store was for like, three whole blocks until we dipped into a junk store.

Then Henry distracted me before I found a new wheelchair for the collection by suggesting that we get a beer, which is something that I can do now.

“Get a beer.”

Except that I have to ask questions like, “Do you have wheat beer? OK but if I like <x> and <y> then will I like <z>?” and then I order the opposite of what the bartender suggests and Henry is like, “You won’t like that” but then I like it….

…for the first two sips, until the after taste kicks in.

And that’s exactly what happened at Disgraceland!

I got something that I can’t remember. It was on tap and Henry said I wouldn’t like it but the bartender let me taste it and I was like, “Wow this isn’t bad” and it actually wasn’t bad except that at the end of the day, I just really don’t LIKE beer. I have just found a few that I can TOLERATE. I’m learning that this is a big difference. But at least I’m trying, unlike Henry and coffee!

I love a good basement bathroom!

The bartender was really great. He was very helpful, and also super apologetic that he didn’t really have much in the vein of wheat beers to offer me, so he started listing off suggestions in the area of bars that are well-known for their crazy beer collection and how this broad at this bar used to be the bartender at some other bar, and blah blah blah. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were dumb Americans on vacation and had no idea what he was going on about.

I just appreciated that he was attentive but not overbearing. And I really enjoyed the ambiance of the bar. The music was grungy, the art on the wall featured spider people and I wanted to buy one but the one I wanted, one that reminded me of Robert Smith and Lydia Lunch, was already sold. :( Henry was happy though because they were all $200.

Disgraceland has a vegan comfort food menu! I wished we hadn’t just eaten dinner, but now at least I have somewhere else to add to the food list if and when we visit Toronto again.

Oh I just checked their menu and I believe I drank the Amsterdam 3-Speed and by that I mean that I nursed it forever and then made Henry drink the last third.

“I was just going to ask if you guys wanted another round, but considering she just gave you the rest of her beer….” the bartender laughed.

I felt like I had to justify the fact that this was actually good for me, that I basically considered it a win, because he was nice and I felt like I was offending him, like he hatched all the beer himself in his bedroom beer-incubator.

Also on Bloor, we went into Through Being Cool, which I had heard about via some Toronto vlogger, because why Google when you can just have pretentious local YouTubers tell you about all the cool shit to do in town. Through Being Cool is a vegan bakery but they also sell vegan goods from other local companies too. I’m not sure if they’re named after the Devo song or the Saves the Day album, but their name is definitely what drew me in.

I’m easily hooked.

I had no idea that this place was even on our route, so it was a happy accident.

Neither of us had any room in our bellies, but we wanted to get some donuts to take back to the room with us, save them for breakfast,  chuck them at orphans, use them to play ring toss with a nude Mounty on Viagra, it’s really none of your business.

However! While we were looking at the packaged food in the cooler (things like vegan chicken salad and homemade vegan cheese), a couple came in and ordered a bunch of donuts. Then another guy came in and got to the counter right before us and he ordered a dozen donuts which made Henry agitated because “Who orders a dozen donuts at 7:30pm?!”

But then he fucking took the DONUT I WANTED. Some raspberry thing and it was THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND.

JUST LIKE G-DRAGON.

IT WAS THE G-DRAGON OF DONUTS AND THAT MOTHERCANUCKER TOOK IT.

So I did my “JUST FORGET IT” song and dance and we left.

It could have ruined my night. In Pittsburgh, my night would have been shot to hell. I probably would have flipped a garbage can. But Toronto Erin was minding her temper, although she did bring it up at 37 sporadic moments during the night, but just in a casual, “Remember when that guy took my donut? I hope he chokes” kind of way.

And then we began our trek back to Leslieville, which was supposed to be via subway but it was a really beautiful night and we were enjoying the sights, and the next thing we knew…

Lol cliffhanger.

 

Aug 072017
 

Usually when Henry and I road trip for a concert, it’s a whirlwind of checking into some crap hotel, struggling to find somewhere to eat, going to the show, waking up early & coming home. Never anytime time to explore, sightsee, or immerse ourselves in a new place.

Originally we were going to leave Saturday morning and get to Toronto in the evening, but Chris talked us into leaving a day earlier so that we could have time to explore and see the city. I am so glad we did this. Thank you for the push, Chris!

We woke up early on Saturday because I was REARIN’ to go. Henry had made the unilateral decision to use public transportation and at first I was on board with this, but then when it came time to step on the streetcar on Queen St, I FUCKING PANICKED.

“I don’t think I can do it!” I cried around the fist I was biting.

It doesn’t matter whose fist.

Stop asking about the fist.

Henry was all GODDAMMIT but then remembered that this was my Special Weekend so he swallowed some Prozac and read another chapter from the Tucking Thee Penis Betwixt Thee Legs manual. He declared that it was fine, this was all just fine, not a problem, he understands how anxious public transportation makes me. We walked another block and caught a different street car.

Of course, it was one of the old dingy ones and not the pretty ones we kept seeing rumbling gently down the street. Ugh.

A VIEW FROM THE WINDOW.

We were only on the street car for a few blocks when Henry chirped, “OK, let’s go” and lead me off the street car right into a subway station, ughhhhh!! Henry didn’t disclose that there was a second leg of this pub-transporting odyssey.

We barely had to wait at all for a train to come. I was still pretty leery of this whole procedure (hi, my name is Erin R. Kelly and I’m scared of the mundane) but I blindly followed Henry through the whooshing doors and proceeded to stand alone and scowl at him from across the train because what’s life if it’s not dramatic.

But you know what? It turns out that Toronto’s subway system is pretty fucking amazing, fast, convenient, and it helped us get to Koreatown, so I can’t hate it. I just can’t.

Altogether, it took us about 17 minutes to get to Koreatown from Leslieville using the street car and subway (this doesn’t include the walk from the airbnb to where we caught the street car, but you get the point. This blog post is boring because Henry is feeding me dry information). I would highly recommend it! It ended up being kind of fun and made me feel like I was on vacation and not just killing time by driving around in a strange city before a show which is what typically happens.

We took the subway to Christie Street. When we emerged from the subway station and rounded the corner, I was nearly felled by all the glorious hangul everywhere!

I kept making Henry stop so I could read signs. It was an excelsior learning experience! I know it seems trivial, but this was so exciting to me. I dream every night and every day of going to South Korea, and this was like a tiny little consolation.

However, it was only 9:30am and nothing was open yet. So we just strolled around and drooled over all of the menus posted outside of the restaurants. There were so many to choose from! So different from Pittsburgh.

Henry and I had a small spat because we were both hungry and I didn’t really think this part of the day through. So it was all, “YOU’RE THE ONE WHO HAD TO COME HERE SO GODDAMN EARLY!” and “WELL I DIDN’T SEE YOU SENDING AN ITINERARY TO THE PRINTING PRESS MOTHERFUCKER!” but then we walked to get ice cream and took the street car back to Koreatown for lunch, and everything was amazing after that because Ice Cream Saves.

But first—Kpop shopping!

There was an adorable card shop called Just You – Sarah & Tom that Henry was trying to keep me from seeing. He was rummaging in his cargo shorts for a BB gun to shoot my eyes out when my hands found the door handle and I was whisked away to Kpop Heaven.

A chorus of “Hello! Annyeong!” greeted us before the door had a close behind us. The most adorable Korean women were running the shop, demonstrating some of the knickknacks for us, fawning over my tattoos, talking to us about Kpop—-it was heavenly! Even Henry’s frown was no match for the joy brewing up in that bitch—it got its hooks into the corners of his mouth and tugged them right the fuck up.

ADMIT IT HENRY, YOU LOVED IT.

Especially when “TT” by Twice came on the store stereo and an impromptu dance party broke out.

I wanted to buy every Kpop album they had available but Henry was like DO YOU NOT WANT G-DRAGON MERCH THEN so I settled on two sticker packets for me and Chooch to share: BIGBANG and Twice.

Our favorites. <3

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Today is awesome. ❤️💕

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After such an amazing experience, we were ready to eat. We chose Korea House, and it was motherfucking magic. I love the ambiance!

Being able to read the menu and know what most everything is was so rewarding. Learning Korean is a struggle for me, but I haven’t give up. And when I’m able to use it in situations like this, it just motivates me even more.

I ordered the bibim naengmyeon. Henry has made me versions of it at home and the first time I tried it, I was like, “OH FUCK NO.” Even though I knew it was a cold noodle dish, it was still very alarming and jolting the first time it was placed in front of me. But then something just clicked and it became one of my favorite things that Henry makes me.

When I ordered, I said the actual name of the dish. I didn’t point and I didn’t rely on the number. And the ajummah knew what I ordered! She didn’t make me feel dumb like the time I was at a Mexican restaurant and tried to order rojo sauce on my enchilada and the waitress kept asking “What?” in escalating volumes until I finally just whispered, “Red sauce” with my head hung in defeat.

While we were waiting for our food, the younger guy working there turned on the TV. I figured he was going to put on the news or some sport thing, but instead, he turned on a Jay Park YouTube playlist!

“This is just like being at home,” I giddily squealed to Henry, who was just like, “OH BOY.”

But he loved it. Korean food and kpop videos are life, you guys. Such life.

GOD YES.

The only problem is that I am in a constant war with noodles. It doesn’t matter what the cuisine is. Have you seen me eat spaghetti? By the end, I look like I just went down on a can of slutty tomato sauce. Fork, spoon, chopsticks, my motherfucking phalanges — I AM A MESS WITH NOODLES.

When Henry makes me noodles at home, he cuts them for me (because I’m 5), and in the YouTube videos I watch of people eating food in S.Korea (my life is so full), I often see them using kitchen shears, which is a relief to know that the noodle experts need some help sometimes too.

But the waiter didn’t bring me any noodle scissors. I tried to use my chopsticks to cut them, but then I gave up for a while and just focused on eating the banchan—American restaurants really need to get on the ball with offering complimentary sides for the table. Holy shit, it was a veritable rainbow of pickled delights.

By the time I started working on the noodles, two Korean guys were seated next to us and my noodle-eating stage fright set in. Right before they walked in, I had felt a surge of bravery and started to shovel a huge mound of noodles into my waiting maw via chopsticks, and then immediately realized I hadn’t thought this through. I was frozen, a mile of noodle-drapes hanging out of my mouth, cheeks blown out like a chipmunk, sweat springing up along my hairline—I was seconds away from choking. I kept trying to inhale and suck back the strands of cold strangulation to no avail.

I was only making it worse.

Noodles were flipping and flapping around, splashing my eyeballs and Henry with gochujang,

“Oh my god, what are you doing!?” he hissed. I was in tears, noodles hanging in shame from my mouth like their mom had just caught them watching deep throat porn. I couldn’t breathe because every slight inhale was causing more noodle to slide down my gullet. I just wanted to enjoy my lunch without danger of asphyxiation.”Do you want me to ask for shears?” Henry asked.

I shook my head violently, and in a moment of panic, I reached up with my hands and began tugging the noodles out of my mouth with my fingers, LIKE A BARBARIAN.

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Henry said, and walked over to the counter to ask the waiter to put me out of my misery.

He returned with shears, cut my fucking noodles like a good dad, and then life went on.

Meanwhile, one of the guys at the table next to us also ordered a noodle dish, and he was given shears with his meal without asking!

Speaking of asking, I heard him ask for more bap and I knew that he was asking for a side of rice!

I LOVE KNOWING THINGS.

After lunch, I celebrated not choking to death by buying some G-Dragon pins across the street at Mr. Pen. We also went to a large market but their candy aisle was kind of a letdown, surprisingly. Sorry, co-workers. I mean, I still bought candy, but not as much as I intended.

After a sufficient Korea immersion, we took the subway back to Leslieville because I promised Henry we could “rest” for awhile, but all that really meant was that I wanted to change clothes, send Chooch some messages since I had wifi at the airbnb, and get coffee before heading back out for dinner.

I’m not one of those people who take vacations to relax, clearly. MORE LATER!  TORONTO IS SPLOOGING CONTENT ALL UP ON THIS HO.

Aug 052017
 

One of the things that was recommended to us by Chronica before our Toronto trip was an ice cream joint called Sweet Jesus. They could have stopped right there and I would have been sold on the name alone. My Grandma Kelly was always saying “Sweet Jesus!” when I was a kid, so this place appealed to me on a personal level already!

But then they mentioned that Sweet Jesus has a butter tart soft serve, and I had to for sure check this out.

They had a small walk-up window shop right down the street from where we were staying in Leslieville, but if you don’t know this about me yet, I am hugely particular and wanted to go to the main location that I saw in all of the YouTube videos I had been watching on Toronto ice cream places, and this is why we got rid of cable because we’re basically YouTube (and DramaFever) exclusive now.

So basically we got rid of regular TV in favor of vloggers.

Hmm.

Anyway, Henry thought this was absurd because we walked past the Leslieville Sweet Jesus at least 78979 times that weekend, but he knows better than to try to silence my chaotic world in order for me to listen to reason.

On Saturday, we woke up early to go to Koreatown and by doing so, nothing was open yet. God, I’m so smart! So Henry started looking up other options, and he noted that the Sweet Jesus I wanted to go to opened at 11, so I decided that we could always just pregame our Korean lunch with a little softserve. I mean, that’s what vacation is for, right?

(Pfft fuck that noise, I’d do this on a regular day at home too because I’m an adult and no one controls my life BUT ME. And also the government, I guess.)

Henry started looking up streetcar info, but I suggested that we just walk because he said it was only 48 minutes away by foot and fuck, I walk so much more than that in a day, so why not? WHY NOT EARN THAT MOTHERFUCKING SINFUL SOFTSERVE.

Plus, this allowed us to walk through Little Italy (where I had my water/hobo piss splashing accident; see the coffee post) and Chinatown, which was really fun and made me feel like we were really making the most of our time there.

So when you ask me if I thought Sweet Jesus was worth a 48-minute walk, I will say yes, and that’s why.

As for the actual ice cream though, I thought it was fine! They sadly didn’t have the butter tart toppings though, so maybe it’s a seasonal thing. This threw me for a loop and I was having ordering panic. I wound up getting the red velvet option because I always snatch up that red velvet shizz.

The 90s yo-girl in me appreciated that the sizes came in Biggie and Smallz. We both got a Smallz, even though they came in plain white cups and not the pretty blue ones with the cool design. Of course I dwelled on this! But I was inspecting the orders of the people in front of us and there was no way I was going to be able to down a Biggie.

Not without some warm-up.

#ColdFellatio

Henry ordered the lemon / coconut cream pie variety.

Henry was “not impressed” by the experience at all, but I think it’s mostly because I made him walk for 48 minutes and the finish line didn’t include an orgasm. He was annoyed that all the good stuff was just a coating and once it was gone, all that was left was ice cream, but I pointed out that this is true of soft serve pretty much….everywhere. I mean, the sprinkles only go so far, Hank!

As for me, I appreciated that the soft serve was more of the rich custard variety. I thought it was fine all on its own, and the toppings were just gilding the lily, really. LOL, j/k — dump on those extra fucking calories, I’m on vacation!

I think it’s good that we went so early in the day because some of the YouTube videos I have seen have mentioned that this place gets packed. There were only three people ahead of us at 11:30am though! Soft serve brunch, how you doin’?

I liked mine though. I’m not sure this would be an old standby for me if I lived in Toronto, but the novelty of it was just good enough for tourist purposes. It was definitely Instagram-friendly, and isn’t that what everything is based on these days? And I for sure inhaled it, and you probably would too, maybe even AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST, OH SHIT KPOP SEGUE IN THE HOUSE:

Up next: KOREATOWN!!!!

Aug 042017
 

One of the biggest differences between Henry and me, perhaps even greater than the age difference, is my crippling dependence on coffee and his extreme dislike of that beautiful brown broth-babe in the buxom mugs and….and…SORRY WHO TURNED ON THE COFFEE PORN?

I mean, just look at his grimace up there!

While we were in Toronto, I wanted to try and hit up as many cafes as possible without going into cardiac arrest. I had a half-assed list that I had prepared from various vlogs I had peeped and also my nemesis Yelp, but some of them were off-the-cuff.

Of course there was the obligatory Tim Horton’s stop on Friday, right before we got into Toronto, when I was having major coffee-craves and starting to picture visualettes of me cracking open Henry’s jugular and gulping on that to tide me over.

Friday evening, we were walking around Leslieville when I realized it was time for my third serving (I’d usually be on my fourth by now but I had beer with dinner instead because Henry wants to have couples beer bellies and pressures me to drink).

This is all fascinating stuff, isn’t it? Like a super personal inspection of my pathetic life? Can you tell that I’m just stalling because I’m not ready to write about the G-Dragon concert?

Ugh, the agony that is my life. It’s not easy being a sixteen-year-old zipped up inside the flesh-bag of an adult working professional.

OK, so Friday evening we stopped at Tango Palace, which I already mentioned on Friday’s liveblog but my OCD nature demands that I mention it again because everything needs to be organized or I’ll lay awake at night with a fluttering heart rate.

Which will probably be more from caffeine intake than actual prescribed OCD symptoms.

So, back to Tango Palace. I just had a plain cup of coffee because I hadn’t had a PLAIN CUP OF COFFEE ALL DAY and it’s not all about frozen mochas and halfcaf skinny soy lattes or whatever it is that the cool kids order so confidently while I’m in the bathroom reciting my order out loud in front of a mirror even though I’m going to end up stuttering it anyway when it’s show time because PRESSURE.

Yeah, so…it felt great to just walk up to the counter and say, “JUST COFFEE.”

Henry got nothing and then proceeded to sit at the table and pout.

I mean, it was just a plain cup of coffee so there’s not much to report on but the ambiance of that joint was supreme. I also noted that in addition to the barista being friendly, everyone in the place seemed like regular people, and by regular I mean that no one was dangling bangles of pretension and coffee snobbery from handlebar moustaches. It was a nice, cozy vibe and I’m glad I got my coffee in a mug instead of to-go. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a break and talk your boyfriend’s face off about an upcoming concert that you’re super stoked for, you know? As opposed to talking off the side of his face while you’re walking around being obvious tourists.

I don’t have a picture of it, but in the back of the cafe, there were two mannequins laying on top of a ceiling-thing. I was happy they were there.

Saturday morning, I tried to use the Keurig in our airbnb and wound up practically flooding the kitchen. Henry came out of the bathroom and actually thought it was from his shower, but nope — just me struggling with a Keurig when all I know how to use these days is a French press. Needless to say, I didn’t drink much of my busted coffee, so the first thing I did when we got to Koreatown that morning was stop at a small cafe called Hodo Kwaja, where I ordered a beautiful, refreshing 얼음 커피.

God, that’s iced coffee, OK.

When the friendly ahjumma handed it to me, she said, “You try first and tell me if it’s OK,” and then she gestured to the row of sugar packets and creamers.

I tried it and said, “It’s perfect” BECAUSE IT WAS.

I felt like singing a Bruno Mars jam to it.

Maybe I was just punchdrunk from being in Koreatown, but it was a wonderful way to the start the morning. Plus, Henry got a bag of walnut cakes with pat (red bean) filling and they were just delightful. Love you, Korea.

About an hour later, we were in the midst of a longer-than-it-was-worth walk to Sweet Jesus. We walked through Little Italy on the way and passed Voodoo Child, which was on my list! However, this happened right after I stepped on a loose pavement tile thing, which resulted in the cold, dirty water which had been collecting underneath it to splash onto my leg, and my mind immediately went to: IS THIS WATER OR IS THIS HOBO PEE and in my mind I felt I looked like I had just been sneezed on by Morla, but if you ask Henry, he’ll tell you I looked like less like a filthy Atreyu and more like I had one tiny dirt fleck on my shin.

Needless to say, we didn’t go to Voodoo Child after that because I was too busy limping under the weight of the filth I was now carrying on my leg.

A bunch of other things happened, but that will be another post.

In the late afternoon, we pub-transported it back to our airbnb, changed clothes, didn’t rest like I promised Henry we would, and then hoofed it to Hailed Coffee, which was about a 15 minute walk from our pad in Leslieville.

This place was on my list because “hailed” is Arabic for cardamon, which is added to this joint’s signature coffees. My heart bleeds for cardamom, so we had to go. Plus, they sell an array of dates! Henry and I love dates! The kinds you eat, not go on.

God forbid.

I ordered the Hailed Cappucino and urged Henry to scoop up some dates, but he was being a big coffee-hating bitch baby and opted to stare sadly out the window instead.

[I just had to take a time out because Catherine was telling Lori about the time Jeannie let me cut her hair one night on late shift and Glenn was all, “Why would anyone let you near them with scissors” and then Lori said one time she had a Vietnamese lady dry cut her hair, and she pantomimed the motion of the blade sailing across a fistful of hair and I had SHIVERS. Like, the good kind. Because I am obsessed with the sound of dry hair being shorn. Oh when that sharp blade crunches down….BRING SOME HOME TO ERIN. And now Glenn and Todd are horrified.]

But um…back to the coffee! I think Hailed was my favorite of all the coffee I had in Toronto. There is just something special about cardamom and also, why don’t I order cappuccinos more often!? 90’s coffee culture is BACK.

I just wish we had gotten some dates to go with this bangin’ mug.

Much later in the evening, we were about to begin our walk back to the airbnb from somewhere stupidly far away. Henry had been complaining about having a headache all day and then suddenly realized he hadn’t had any iced tea. Because it’s OK for him to be addicted to tea but my coffee craze is a burden, OK cool. We were in Chinatown for the second time that day (we get around, guys), and decided to stop into Icha for some iced tea. I got classic milk tea because I’m more Asian than Henry. He got…something else, I don’t know. I quit paying attention to him once my bubble tea was placed in my mitts. I vaguely recall the tea blend being brewed in front of him in some weird mad scientist-looking orb thing.

They’re apparently known for their craft teas. I would highly recommend this joint if you’re looking for something non-coffee at some point, and the people working that night were so friendly and helpful! There is nothing worse than walking into a new place and making a rash decision because you’re so nervous about what you’re looking at.

OK, there are like a million things worse than that but it never feels like it when  you’re frozen in that moment!

He said he liked his tea, in case you were wondering. Hold on, I’m going to text him and find out what it was.

*crickets*

“I just got an iced oolong.” That’s his final answer.

The next morning, a/k/a Sunday, a/k/a my birthday, a/k/a G-DRAGON DAY, we left the airbnb first thing in the morning and walked the short distance to Boxcar Social.

The aesthetics of this place spoke to me in ways that lovers are just not capable.  However, I was nervous at first because the barista seemed like maybe he was going to be snobby, but he was fantastic and super helpful when Henry was perusing the tea menu (he finally found a way to enjoy cafes with me, or at least make it more tolerable for himself). I hate when you go to a coffee place and feel confident enough to ask, “Say, what’s good up in here?” and they just dump a bucket of shrugs on you.

A little guidance please!

I got a soy latte and it was divine.

Henry settled on whatever this fluffy pink thing is and I derived great pleasure from watching his thick, rough man-hands lift that delicate glass by the stem toward his bristling, tea-thirsty moustache, leaving behind a soft brushing of foam on the bristle-tips.

Who hit play on that coffee porn again?

I kept hoping one of these owls would transform into David Bowie. :(

I loved it here. They even do coffee flights! Just not when we were there. :(

This was the only cafe we stopped at on Sunday because the rest of the day mostly consisted of standing in one line after another inside the Air Canada Center. However, I did have an iced coffee that Henry fetched for me at some basic bakery down the street from our airbnb while I stayed back to have my obligatory “everything sucks on my birthday and no one loves me” tantrum even though the day was absolutely fine and I had no reason to feel this way but all y’all bipolars out there can feel me, I’m sure. Henry also came back with a butter tart which I made a point of not sharing with him because it was MY BIRTHDAY NOT HIS. And then suddenly I felt fine! Hey blood sugar, I see you.

I think my main take-away is that people in Canada just truly are nice. I never felt out-of-place anywhere we went, like I wasn’t vegan enough to eat at Hogtown Vegan, hipster enough to sit at the bar at Disgraceland, or trendy enough to order anything more than basic coffee at a pretty cafe. I don’t know where Pittsburgh gets off being so exclusionary, but that’s definitely how I feel in my own city — like I don’t fit in anywhere, and that deters me from going to a lot of places.  I didn’t get that feeling once in Toronto. Toronto, please adopt me.

So now you know where I got my coffee fixes at while we were in Toronto. I can’t wait to go back because we never made it to Strange Love and that was #1 on my dumb stupid no-good list.

Our next trip is a quick stop in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, so if any non-bot is reading this and feels like telling me where to go (AND DON’T SAY TO HELL), I welcome any recommendation!

Aug 012017
 

It’s amazing how much I have to say about two and a half days in Toronto. We saw some shit, eh. We ate some food, we rode some pub-tranz, we pounded some pavement. I was initially going to just start with Saturday and recount the day’s events, but there’s just too much for one measly blog post. 

So let’s break it down. We’ll start off light, with a collection of street art we saw during our time on Maple Leaf turf. The street art was top notch. And since Chooch wasn’t there, Henry had to be my mural stand-in. He was not very happy about it BUT GUESS WHOSE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND IT WAS THATS RIGHT NOT HENRY’S. 

This was somewhere on Bloor, and I was half-tanked on a beer that I forced down at a dive bar called Disgraceland which I liked a whole lot. (The bar, not the beer.)

This picture has a weird glow to it because it was across from some amazing home decor place that had the coolest illuminated facade. While I was making Henry pose for this, he said some girl was walking by the window of the store behind me, laughing at his discomfort. #InstagramHusband

Hey-o, this was somewhere in Dovercourt. I’m so good at knowing where everything is! Jk, my photos are geotagged. Thanks, Apple. 

This was a taco joint in Koreatown. I know right?!? Apparently it’s not just Korean things in Koreatown. :(

(I’ll write more about Koreatown later. I had my best/most awkward meal there.)

I wonder what the landlord would say if I let someone spray up the side of our dumb duplex….

I already posted these last two on my live blog but TOO BAD FOR YOUR EYEBALLS BC HERE THEY ARE AGAIN.

This is one of my favorite parts about being in a new city: finding art all around us. 

That the one thing I will say about Newark too–we didn’t get to spend much time in the city because KCON took up most of our time, but their street art was on point. 

I’m glad that we were on foot for so much of our time in Toronto because it made it easier to appreciate all the little nuances and personality of each section of town. 

I asked Henry if he has anything to say about the murals I forced him to stand in front of; he said no.