Mother’s Day with Life Experiences

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It’s almost that time of the year again where we show our beloved moms how grateful we are for everything they’ve done for us! This year, my mom decided to spend mother’s day with her special lady oversees so I’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day when she’s back in the country.

For those that have no idea where to begin or are last minute Mother’s Day Shoppers – LifeExperiences.ca is a great way to start. LifeExperiences.ca is Canada’s largest experiential gifting company. Experiences make great gifts and they promote the idea of togetherness, creating memories.

They offer a wide range of gifting ideas such as:

SPA

ADVENTURES

FOOD & DRINK

GETAWAYS

FAMILY & FUN

GOLF

LIFESTYLE

I’ve used LifeExperiences.ca 2 years ago for a Mother’s Day Gift and it was super easy & straight forward. A few clicks later, I purchased my voucher, called the restaurant letting them know I purchased a great deal from Life Experiences – treated my mom to a lovely 3 course Italian dinner (her favourite). Voila!

You can use my coupon code for a discount: FOODITCMOM15 at check out

Stay tuned for our getaway experience with Vineland Estates Winery – Winery Dining Experience for Two coming soon 🙂

Saturday mornings at East 36

Offered both days of the weekend now, East Thirty Six is serving up a hearty boozy brunch just steps away from Wellington & Church.  We visited East Thirty Six around noon a few Sundays ago and the restaurant was quite happening when we arrived! Patrons were constantly flowing in, drinks were always being refilled and service was very attentive.

We started off with their $5.00 Mimosa and ordered 4 dishes to share. My favourite dish from brunch was by far their omelette – something about the cheese & creme fraiche really brought out the flavours of the mushroom inside the perfectly seasoned fluffly egg. I need all my omelettes to taste like this going forward.

Looking forward to hear what your favourite brunch dish from East Thirty Six is 🙂

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Waffle + Fried Chicken ($17.00)

  • crispy bacon, maple syrup, cheese garlic mayo

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Lamb Burger ($19.00)

  • Green Goddess, gouda, crispy fried onion, salad

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Eggs Benedict ($16.00)

  • 2 eggs, english muffin, hollandaise, market peameal bacon, salad (substitute smoked salmon +2)

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The French Omelette ($15.00)

  • Mushroom, Providence Cheddar, Creme Fraiche, Salad

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This meal was complimentary but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Taking a closer look at Thompson Diner

Located inside the gorgeous Thompson Hotel is an upscale diner serving up your Canadian comfort foods. Situated at King West & Bathurst, Thompson Diner recently revamped their entire menu adding newly Chef inspired items along with a few healthy additions while leaving the favourite classics on the menu.

I’ve visited Thompson Diner on several occasions but usually to satisfy my breakfast cravings late at night. This time, we ordered a little bit of everything from their entire menu to get a full sense of what their new menu brings.

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There is a little bit of something for everyone at Thompson Diner whether that’s something hearty or healthy – they’ve got you covered.

My favourites from the evening include:

Gold Rush
Avocado Toast
Nashville Hot Chicken Wings
Banh Mi Sandwich *must try*
Brown Rice Bowl
& Chocolate Cake

Please enjoy the photos & sorry for making you drool! Happy Monday 🙂

Gold Rush Greenhouse Juice ($14.00)
Farma-C Greenhouse Juice
($15.00)

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Avocado Toast ($10.00)

  • country bread, pickled shallots, radish

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Nashville Hot Chicken Wings ($15.00)

  • Cayenne-garlic glaze, white bread, pickles

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Shishito Peppers ($6.00)

  • gochujang-lime aioli

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Banh Mi Sandwich($16.00)

  • Braised pork belly & shoulder, ham, pickled daikon, carrots, pate mayo, fresno chili, cilantro, baguette
  • Vegetarian Option, substitute the pork for plant based Beyond Meat

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Brown Rice Bowl ($17.00)

  • Poached egg, avocado, kale pesto, radish, pickled shallots, feta cheese, hot sauce

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Turkish Lamb ($15.00)

  • Garlic-eggplant yogurt, marinated onions, chilies, mint, pita

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Blackout Waffle ($16.00)

  •  Apple compote, candied peacans, bourbon aged maple syrup, whipped honey butter

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Charred Snap Peas ($5.00)

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Chocolate Cake ($8.00)

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Pecan Pie ($8.00) – Wanda’s Pie in the Sky

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Sweet & Salty ($16.00)

  • Vanilla ice cream, spiced rum, butter ripple, caramel, pretzel

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This meal was complimentary but gracelisamay.com remains unbiased in our content.

Chapter 2

HELLO 🙂 It’s been a while since I last posted on my blog! Things have been incredibly busy, both personally and with work. Rest assured though, I’ve been working hard on the blog behind the scenes and I’m really excited to share some new changes with you guys. So stay tuned, because things will slowly start to reveal themselves in due time (sorry for the tease!).

First off, as you can already tell, I’ve finally changed my blog name! This is something that I’ve been longing to do FOREVER and never took the plunge. I’m so excited about these changes and I’ll explain more about them below!

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What does Grace Lisa May mean?

No, Lisa May is not the name of my best friend or my future pet’s name. I’ve been wanting to use my own name and develop a personal brand to have the freedom to create original content that is more relevant to me. In short, it is my middle name with a bit of variation.

Why did I change my blog name?

I started foodinthecitytoronto.com back in 2011 and this change has really been a long time coming. Throughout the 7 years of running my food blog, I’ve met a lot of amazing people that I now call friends, attended a lot of unforgettable events (I will never forget those pinch-me-is-this-really-happening-to-me moments), and also been lucky enough to be able to work on many cool projects with different brands and PR companies. This whole journey has been an incredibly rewarding experience and it has certainly opened a lot of doors and opportunities that I would have never even dreamed of.

As much as I appreciate the opportunities that have come my way, recently I felt like I could only write about food or things relevant to Toronto. In the last year and a half, I’ve started to travel a lot more and I also wanted an outlet to share my travel and lifestyle experiences. Rather than maintaining a food and travel blog separately, I thought it would be best to mingle everything together into a medium where I can still share my never ending love for food (of course) while incorporating travel and lifestyle.

What shall we expect now with Grace Lisa May?

Now that this website feels like a true representation of me, I can finally write about anything in any direction. I want to continue to create content that I’m incredibly passionate about that readers find relevant and shareable. There will obviously still be a lot of food posts because there is no way I’ll stop visiting new brunch spots.  You can also look forward to a lot of travel guides and tips from my recent trips (including Japan and New York). I currently don’t have any upcoming trips set in stone but there are some things in the works! Lastly, I’ll be coming up with some technical posts on things I’ve learned along the way and things to consider when switching domain names.

I’ve been brainstorming a lot of ideas for the blog that I’ll slowly be implementing and I’ll keep you guys posted! If there is anything you want to know, or specific posts that you want to see on my blog – feel free to leave a comment below or email me 🙂

Where can you find me now?

You can now find me at the following places:

Foodinthecitytoronto.com will automatically be redirected to Gracelisamay.com
Visit me on Instagram here: @gracelisamay
Visit me on Twitter here: @gracelisamay
Email me at grace@gracelisamay.com

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and joining me for my Chapter 2!

Saturday mornings at Brassaii

There are endless amount of restaurants in Toronto serving up their take on brunch and I’ve made it my mission to  to slowly hit them up (lol this will probably take me years) But seriously, I love brunch! For some reason, when I incorporate brunch into my weekend schedule, the rest of my day turns out to be really productive – I hit the gym, I end up moving my whole work station to a coffee shop and grind away for the rest of the day.

Anyways, last Saturday morning I had one of those productive days and that started off with brunch at Brassaii. Located in the heart of King West, Brassaii is a restaurant and lounge that offers guests a Mediterranean inspired menu. Their venue contains an exposed wine cellar and classy dining lounge that is suitable for a night out or even private events.

Fried Chicken and Avocado ($22.00)

    • Gluten-free fried chicken, sourdough bread, avocado, sweet dijon
    • The sweet dijon sauce paired perfectly with the fried chicken. Although the skin of the chicken was a little dry for my liking, the chicken itself was really moist and sat really well on a delicious avocado toast

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Omelette Provencale ($17.00)

  • Three egg omelette, pepperade, goat cheese, fresh herbs, salad
  • The omelette was one of my favourites – very fluffy and delicate.

DSC_0641Steak and Eggs ($27.00)

  • Flat Iron Steak, scrambled eggs, hollandaise, rosti potato
  • A soft and runny scrambled egg cooked on a medium rare flat iron steak.

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Lobster Croque Monsieur ($23.00)

  • House Salad, bechamel, swiss cheese
  • heaps of lobster chunks inside and outside of the croque monsieur. I would definitely order this again.

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Apple Crumble ($8.00)

  • with house-made vanilla ice cream
  • I’m not usually one for apple crumble but my boyfriend and friend couldn’t stop raving about this dessert

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Vanilla Creme Brulee ($8.00)

  • with seasonal berries
  • one of my favourite creme brulees. It’s not your average hard custard layer on the top (which I actually prefer). The custard was creamy and sweet.

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Mousse au Chocolat ($8.00)

  • with seasonal berries
  • The mousse was very decadent and soft.

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Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

This meal was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content.

Feast of St. Lawrence

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We were incredibly lucky to be back at the Feast of St. Lawrence for a second year in a row! The feast began in spectacular fashion with an exclusive, al fresco fine dining event for charity. 250 guests were seated at 1 long table on Front Street and were served a delicious 5 course dinner prepared by chefs from some of the top restaurants in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood. This was definitely one special dinner and for a great cause as well!

RECEPTION

Oyster Station (Pearl Diver)

Whisky Bar (CC Lounge)

Saucisse en Brioche – House Made Sausage baked inside a BIFF’s Signature Brioche (Biff’s Bistro)

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APPETIZER

Corn Gazpacho – Corn Chutney, Corn Bread and Pickled Cherries (Barsa Taberna)

Beef Tartare – Hand-Cut Enright Cattle Co. Beef, Tallow + Herb Aioli, Pickled Mustard Seed, Marinated Anchovy, Olives, Grilled Baguette (Hawthorne Food & Drink)

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ENTRE METIER

A Salad of Kale & Fresh Berries (The Hot House)

Citrus Cured Salmon on a Wave of Watercress, Shaved Fennel, Pickled Peach, Pool of Mustard and Snipped Dill Fronds (Omni King Edward Hotel)

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MAIN

Canadian Prime Rib Striploin with Tomato Salad and Salsa Verde (Woods Restaurant)

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SWEET

Mini Creme Brulee (Biff’s Bristro)

Mini Middle Eastern Baklava (The Sultan’s Tent)

Moroccan Mint Tea (The Sultan’s Ten)

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Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

This event was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content.

Paris travel diary

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We spent 4 days in Paris and it was just enough time for me to fall in love with the city. We left Paris knowing we would come back very soon. We probably could have spent a couple weeks and not run out of things to do. There is so much to explore and endless cafes to try.  Paris was the last stop of our 3 weeks Europe getaway. Here is a snapshot of what we got up to.

17ème Arrondissement

We stayed at a really cute boutique hotel called Hôtel Le Trente in the 17th Arrondissement in Paris. We decided to wake up bright and early one morning to explore the neighbourhood.  We stumbled across a cozy picturesque cafe with lots of patio seating that was serving pancakes! We learned that a lot of cafes in Paris don’t usually serve hot breakfast items so if you’re a croissants and muffins type of breakfast person then you’ll do just fine 🙂

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18ème Arrondissement after Marché aux Puces St Ouen

After our attempt to visit Marché aux Puces St Ouen, we strolled back through the 18th Arrondissement along this quiet neighbourhood full of galore of beautiful homes.

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Walking by Le Grand Hotel Paris – Intercontinental

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Galeries Lafayettes

If you’re a lover of high street brands, Galeries Lafayettes is the place you’ll want to spend most of your day at. Galeries Lafayettes has multiple floors with a little something different to offer at each level. We grabbed a quick Starbucks here to relax and continued to souvenir shop!

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L’église de la Madeleine

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La tour Eiffel

This was my very first time laying eyes on the Eiffel Tower in person. We managed to see the Eiffel Tower from some really nice spots close and afar. If you’re a blogger or a photo junkie, you’ll find some great shots from Trocadero as well as the Pont Alexandre III. We didn’t end up going up the Eiffel Tower but we’ll definitely do during our next visit.

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Trail walk after Eiffel Tour

After seeing the Eiffel Tour up close, we decided to stroll along the Seine and ended up walking from the Jardins du Trocadéro to the Grand Palais before making our way towards (luxury brands area) It’s quite a peaceful morning walk. We spotted a few groups of people taking wedding photos around the area.

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Île de la Cité and Cathédrale Notre-Dame

I really enjoyed strolling along the neighbourhood – the buildings and tall trees just give the city a romantic feel to it. Be sure to check out Berthillon for your dose of ice cream. Come early of expect to wait in line for a bit!

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Musée du Louvre

E and I aren’t exactly art enthusiasts but we thought it wouldn’t be a trip to Paris if we didn’t tour through the Louvre. We really enjoyed the architecture and design of the Louvre – the endless corridors and tall ceilings bring a really romantic feel to it. We woke up bright and early to be one of the first people to arrive at the museum but once the door opened, the museum was filled with exciting tourists!

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Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

Where to eat in Paris

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We spent  4 full days in Paris and ended up visiting a lot of the restaurants on our list. The foods in Paris were even better that how I imagined it to be. I wish we could have stayed in Paris for another week just to find more ‘hole in the wall’ type restaurants because the list here is endless!

(1) Le Petit Canard

We visited Le Petit Canard for dinner service for our first night in Paris and I’m so glad we didn’t have any delays coming into Paris otherwise I would have been so gutted. Le Petit Canard is a super small and cozy restaurant located in the 9th Arr. The owners here were really welcoming and were quick to offer us English menus upon arrival. If you want to try foie gras in Paris – this is the place to do so. The foie gras plate is served 3 kinds. I was quite excited about their duck offerings and wanted to try something other than ‘Duck Confit’. We opted for there Aiguillettes and Ze famous Duck a l’orange. The dishes looked simple but it was cooked and prepared really well. Reservations are accepted.

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(2) Le Beouf Volant

We decided to splurge at a higher price point restaurant for our anniversary and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We found Le Beouf Volant from a food blog for best steaks in Paris. Located only steps away from our hotel (Hotel le Trente), we headed there for a very late dinner around 10:45pm or so, to find that the small restaurant was still very lively and happening on a Tuesday evening. Once we finally made it inside, we realized the restaurant was incredibly packed – to the point that tables needs to be pulled out in order to let guests sit on the inside booths.  I personally thought it was an interesting experience. Our server and the chef were the only two people serving the entire restaurant but we didn’t feel that service was lacking. Our server was quick and attentive. In terms of the steak, it was probably one of the best we had. We try 4 different cuts. If you’re down for a local experience and a good night out, this is the place to be.

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(3) Leon de Bruxelles

If you fancy some mussels, I recommend Leon de Bruxelles which is a chain restaurant with multiple locations across Paris. They have an extensive mussels menu prepared for mussel lovers to eat their heart out. We opted for a their baked mussels and mussels in a casserole.

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(4) Monsieur K

Thai food in Paris? Oui! We found Monsieur K on a food blog that recommended this Michelin Guide restaurant. I’ve never been to Thailand before but apparently Pad Thai’s are served in omelettes so I thought it was pretty neat for us to give it a try! Plus, we were in Europe for 3 weeks so at some point we were bound to squeeze in some Asian foods to fix that withdrawal 🙂

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(5) Cafes in Rue Montorgueil (2e Arr.)

Parisians love their patios and so we managed to hit up a few random cafes whilst wandering around the streets of Paris. I highly recommend you try to do so yourself if you’re tired from a long day of sightseeing or shopping. We visited Cafes in Rue Montorgueil after ‘business hours’ one evening on a weeknight and it seemed quite the spot for locals to go to after work to relax and grab a drink. There are endless amount of restaurants and cafes with their amazing patios.

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(6) La Briciola

We thought it would be a nice break from trying French food for 2 weeks straight so we ended up at a restaurant called La Briciola that specializes in Pizza. The pizza menu here is quite extensive and if you’re craving for a simple  home made pizza – this would be the place.

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(7) Sacree Fleur 

Sacree Fleur was another steak restaurant listed in the ‘best steaks in Paris’ blog that we were following. If I had to pick between Le Beouf Volant or Sacree Fleur, I would pick Le Beouf Volant just because the restaurant just gave a more local and vibrant vibe. The steaks at both restaurants, however, were both executed really well. Reservations are accepted.

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Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with No Yolks

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Creamy mushroom pasta using No Yolks noodles for Valentine’s Day? Yes please and thank you. I’m a huge fan of carbs so when I had the opportunity to use No Yolks noodles – it was a no brainer for me! One of my 2018 goals that I’ve been working really hard on so far, is eating healthier. Whether that’s using organic produces or healthier selections of ingredients – I’m always striving to incorporate these changes into my lifestyle.

One of the many great things about No Yolks is that their products do not contain egg yolks which means no cholesterol, no sodium and low in fat. And what more than a girl who is trying to eat healthier ask for? In addition to using No Yolks’ noodles, I also opted to use organic unsweetened almond milk which tastes almost the same as regular milk. The use of almond milk gives the same creamy texture that any other milk would give but its a healthier alternative to use almond milk.

Print Recipe
Creamy Mushroom Pasta with No Yolks
A delicious creamy mushroom pasta using fresh and healthier selection of ingredients.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 bag No Yolks Dumplings Noodles
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 12 oz portobello mushrooms sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups original unsweetend almond milk
  • 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley plus extra for garnish
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 bag No Yolks Dumplings Noodles
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 12 oz portobello mushrooms sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups original unsweetend almond milk
  • 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley plus extra for garnish
Instructions
  1. Cook the noodles. Follow the directions on the No Yolks packaging for al dente texture. Drain and set aside
  2. Add olive oil to the noodle pot and turn the heat to medium. Add garlic and onion to oil and saute onion until it has softened.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot and cook until they begin to brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mushrooms will start to produce some liquid in the post - this is a good sign. If the pot looks dry - add more olive oil
  4. Add the flour to the pot and stir to help the flour soak up some of the liquid from the mixture. Cook for 1 minute
  5. Slowly add the almond milk to the mixture, stirring occasionally to break up the chunks of the flour
  6. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the shredded parmesan cheese
  7. Add cooked noodles to sauce and stir to combine. Add the parsley for garnish.

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I recently attended a No Yolks event at the top of the CN Tower where Executive Chef John Morris shared with us his ideas for a simple, creative date night dish. The evening also consisted 10 up and coming Toronto chefs – graduating student chefs from Toronto’s leading George Brown Culinary School that prepared a variety of noodle dishes for us to taste. We’ve partnered up with No Yolks to give away 1 lucky winner to win two cases of No Yolks noodles ($60 Value)

1 WINNER WILL BE RECEIVING:

  • Two cases of No Yolks Noodles

To enter, you must (1) follow me on Twitter (@foodinthecityTO) and (2) follow @NoYolksCanada on twitter & (3) tweet the following message:

I’ve entered to win 2 cases ($60 worth) of @NoYolksCanada noodles from @foodinthecityTO #BringHomeNoYolks You can too! https://wp.me/p7VHwg-2Xk

  • Contest closes Tuesday February 20th 5:00 PM EST
  • Winner will be randomly selected via random.org and announced on my blog on Wednesday February 21st
  • Canadian residents only (excluding Quebec)
  • You may tweet once a day throughout the duration of the contest
  • Re-tweeting does not count as a valid entry
  • Winner will be selected via http://www.random.org/
  • Twitter Entries are tracked by the @foodinthecityTO tag, if you do not see your entry in the stream, there is no valid entry from you. Please READ HERE as to why tweets are not showing

 

*Update: February 22, 2018*

Congratulations @EmmLeeXo, You are the lucky winner taking home 2 cases of No Yolks Noodles home!

Thank you to all those that entered this contest. There were a total of 59 valid entries. Entries were tracked in chronological order on Twitter. I received email notifications every time an entry was made & recorded the time entry was received. I ensured those who entered were following me on twitter. The winner was selected randomly using the “True Random Number Generator” via Random.org.

Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

This product was complimentary but Foodinthecitytoronto.com remains unbiased in our content.

Day Trip to Verdon Gorge

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When I was googling things to do and places to visit, Verdon Gorge came up almost  every search and the photos posted online by other travelers left me in awe. I told Eden there was noway we’d be visiting South of France without making a quick stop to see one of Europe’s most beautiful river canyons.

Easier said then we done – we Eden drove a total of 6 hours (3 hours each way) not to mention it was completely out of the way just to catch a glimpse of this postcardesque view – but it was TOTALLY worth it! Verdon Gorge was incredibly beautiful and no photos taken by me would ever do its justice.

An hour into the drive – we came across this bridge in the middle of nowhere with a small crowd of tourists and maybe locals getting ready to bungee jump – with a licensed company. I’m assuming the bungee company is a full time set up all year long. Loud music was playing – pumping up people’s adrenaline that were about to jump their life away. It was quite interesting for us to watch. We walked across the bridge and walked back to get different views with people screaming in the distance.

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The drive to the Verdon Gorge was quite similar to the movie “Initial D”or so we thought. The roads were tight, one way roads with sharp turns. Incoming cars were coming at us with incredible speed. A good chunk of the drive, as we we’re driving up the mountain, was terrifying (for me) but a thrill for Eden haha. I couldn’t look over my shoulder  most of the time on the way there because we were so close to the edge of  cliffs and tunnels with little to no barriers. We had no idea how people were driving at such speed.

So now that you’ve arrived at the Verdon Gorge and taken a lot of photos of the postcardesque Gorge – now what? There are a lot of rentals and fun activities to do while you’re there like rafting, canoe/kayaking, hydro speed, water hiking and canyoning. For those are less about the water sports, there is also hiking, climbing, adventure course, all terrain cycling, paragliding, bungee jumping, fishing, horse riding and motorbike and quad bike. Restaurants and hotels are located nearby for those that are looking to stay overnight. The company we were looking to do our booking with was Verdon-Booking.com. Unfortunately, with our packed schedule, we were only able to make a quick stop to the Gorge during the day.

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Finally being able to see this view was totally worth the 6 hour drive.

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That’s it from me for South of France – hope you enjoyed all my posts and happy planning 🙂

Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

FOLLOW ME ON: TWITTER || INSTAGRAM || FACEBOOK || ZOMATO

Saturday mornings at The Carbon Bar

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I love brunch. I especially love brunching in the east end of town. I feel like there are so many brunch spots in the east end that are the next up and coming spots (minus a few older staples like Le Petit Dejeuner). I’ve been to The Carbon bar on several occasions and have been pretty impressed with their dinner offerings especially the pit master platter! When I heard they started to offer brunch service – I knew I had to make a visit.

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I ordered a grapefruit juice that came in a cute mason jar along with my Huevos El Carbon. The grapefruit juice came cold, crisp and refreshing. I recommend the Huevos El Carbon to anyone that fancies a Mexican touch to their brunch. Normally chorizo is not my preferred protein but it totally worked with a mixture of black beans and eggs. The tortillas came warm and were very soft and chewy. I couldn’t stop eating my dish.

Grapefruit Juice

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Huevos El Carbon ( $19.00)

  • warm tortillas, black beans, two eggs sunny, Manchego cheese, chorizo, guacamole, charred pico de gallo, coriander, lime

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Smoked Brisket Benny ($20.00)

  • high rise brisket, two poached eggs, red cabbage slaw, Anaheim chili, dill pickle, hollandaise

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Chicken ‘N’ Waffles ($17.50)

  • buttermilk fried chicken, citrus crema, chili + honey + garlic sauce

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Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

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Ultimate Guide for a week in the French Riviera

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The French Riviera was one one of those places that we read and heard about as a vacation destination and when we decided to go on our trip to Europe, it was the perfect opportunity to head down. Also known as Cote d’Azur, it was fabulous to visit in the month of September when both the temperature and crowds were moderate. We loved the time away from the hustle of two of the largest cities in Europe. We took a Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Nice where we rented a car and drove along the coast to Marseille before taking the train to Paris.

 

How many days should I stay in South of France? 

We stayed in South of France for approximately 5-6 days out of our 15 day trip to Europe. For first time travelers to South of France, like us, we wanted to get the most out of our time here and we managed to hit up a lot of stops along the way. I would recommend 6-7 days to get the full experience especially if you love shopping and want to spend more time on the beach.

 

Driving in South of France

E drove during the entire trip and my god it was stressful as the passenger! (lol) South of France is such a beaut so it is totally worth driving along the French Riviera but here are some things worth noting. Tolls appear in the middle of nowhere and you don’t even see it coming (i.e. at the end of a sharp turn on the highway) They accept cash or you can simply tap your credit card – which we did. But ensure you always have your wallet handy because these tolls are completely random and cars are rushing behind you to get through.

Another thing we noticed was the number of large roundabouts that they have in some parts of France. At one point there were eight exits! As long as you have your GPS handy, you should be good, even if you make a wrong turn.

 

Cellular Plans and SIM cards

We bought a SIM card with a data plan from EE mobile when we were in London that included roaming in France. However, some areas in France, we noticed we had to turn off our LTE and switch on the good old 3G in order to use data.

GPS

When we were selecting our rental car, we actually opted for a car without GPS but they ended up giving us one with a GPS built in and my god – it was a lifesaver! For whatever reason, we both lost data on our phones in Monaco and had to rely on the car’s GPS. But even so, the paranoid me had printed out paper maps prior to the trip just in case and they came in handy when none of the car’s GPS and data on our phones were working – but I think this only happened once during our entire trip.

Where should I stay in South of France?

I have a thing for boutique hotels and that was pretty much where we stayed during the entire time in France. We stayed 3 nights in Nice, 2 nights in Cannes and 1 night in Marseille. I selected all the boutique hotels via Expedia. Since we were driving, I wasn’t selecting hotels that were necessarily close to train stations per say.

Hotel in Nice – Hotel du Midi
Hotel in Cannes – Simone Hotel
Hotel in Marseilles – Citadines Casteillane Marseille

Parking your rental car 

Street parking was available outside of hotels in Nice and Marseille and is free in the evenings. After doing our research, we only parked on the street outside our hotel in Nice. Cannes, was a more condensed city and the Simone Hotel was pretty much in downtown. We opted for a multi-story parking lot which was a 30 second walk away from our hotel and was discounted by the hotel. Citadines Casteillane in Marseille had their elevator down during the time we stayed and they granted us free parking for the duration of our stay.

Restaurants

Food is incredibly expensive in South of France especially Cannes but if you’re there, might as well live that lifestyle for a week haha. Originally, I had looked up a bunch of restaurants and even made reservations. Then realized when we arrived, it was a much better idea to play it by ear. There are endless amounts of restaurants everywhere you are so your safest bet (coming from someone who likes to pre-plan everything) is to stroll along, take your time looking at the menu displays and just wing it 🙂

So now that you have everything sorted out, and you’re ready to think of places to explore – we have come up with an ultimate travel guide to South of France based on places that we’ve really enjoyed exploring

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Nice and up Colline du Chateau

Since we rented a car, we drove up Montée Montfort and parked on the street near the cemetary and hiked up the rest of the way to see Colline du Chateau just for this magnificent view. It was really relaxing strolling around the Chateau. There was even a park up here where people were enjoying a picnic. The hike up to the Colline du Chateau was quite easy. Just a few flights of stairs in all directions and put all will lead you to find Colline du Chateau. In terms of food in Nice, we pretty much went with the flow. There are so many options so you don’t have to ever worry about not finding the “right” place. South of France was during our second week of vacation so we were craving for Asian food and somehow ended up in a pho restaurant next to our hotel. One of the best bowls of pho we’ve ever had!

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Villefranche-sur-Mer & Eze Village

Roughly 20 minutes drive away from Nice is Villefranche-sur-Mer. If you’re into taking photos with a gorgeous view, this is the place to be. I could only imagine what Villefranche-sur-Mer would look like during sunrise and sunset. Read more about our experience at Villefranche-sur-Mer & Eze Village here.  

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Menton

It was around lunch time when we arrived at Menton and we decided to park the car somewhere to find a bite to eat. We ended up at a restaurant right on the pebble beach. It wasn’t until when the food arrived that we realized all our worries of being first time drivers in a foreign country went away. Eating lunch on one of the most beautiful beaches was simply heavenly!

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Monaco 

Monaco was one of E’s must visit places. We had brought out passports with us that day thinking we would need to go through customs but oddly enough, we drove straight though into Monaco with no signs of any border or customs. Monaco was a completely different vibe. We walked along the waters and made our way to Monte Carlo just before sunset to see the casinos. We stumbled to a Starbucks and purchased a warm beverage and watched the sun slowly set. I highly recommend this Starbucks just for the magnificent view overlooking the waters. The Starbucks has a large patio with comfy couches and lounge area. For dinner, we found a random Italian restaurant that looked quite bustling at the time and decided to join the crowd.

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Beach day at Juan Les Pins & Shopping in Antibes

Spending majority of our day at Juan Les Pins playing beach volleyball was one of my highlights of our trip. I purchased the volleyball set for E from Bed, Bath and Beyond in Toronto and brought it over to France (E really likes the sport!). After a couple of hours of fun in the sun, we stumbled our way  to one of the many restaurants plotted along the beach. We found ourselves craving for burgers and that is exactly what we had got. One of the freshest burgers we’ve had in a very long time. We napped for an hour on the beach chairs and headed to Antibes for a little bit of shopping. Lucky enough for us, we arrived at the day of their annual sidewalk sale!

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Cannes 

Out of all the hotels we stayed at during our visit, my favourite was the boutique hotel at Hotel Simone. I highly recommend it and would love to stay there again in a heartbeat. Everything from the service, to the rooms to all the small touches and even the location suited our needs perfectly. That being said, we spent a bit more time in our hotel room than others during our trip. Our balcony had the perfect view of the bustling streets below (not too noisy in the evening) and we had easy access to all the cafes and restaurants below. We spent an evening walking towards to the water and just relaxed by the beach. I also did the most amount of shopping I’ve ever done in the entire trip during our stay in Cannes. The fashion pieces were up my alley.

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Photography: Eden and myself 
Content: Eden and myself

Cheers!
Grace, Food in the City Toronto

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