Toronto, part deux

Toronto is an amazing city. It’s the 5th largest city in North America (after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago), but it’s clean as a whistle and you have to work pretty hard to find somewhere you’d feel uncomfortable walking around in alone after dark. And there’s a lot to be seen just by walking around and stopping in anywhere that looks interesting. Distinct parts of the city have each their own feel, from the tree-lined neighborhood streets of The Annex and Little Italy to the glassy skyscrapers of the heart of downtown and the entertainment district…

Japanese Maple in Toronto
Reflecting the sky in Toronto

The whole city is studded with gorgeous murals. I kept turning corners and finding them. Peek down any alleyway in Kensington Market and you’ll find an onslaught of color. It really livens up the city, and it’s nice to see that the murals seem to be immune to vandalization. That’s certainly not the case in large cities in this country.

Cabbagetown, Toronto
Mural in Toronto
Mural in Toronto
Mural in Toronto

Strolling down Queen Street West, I stumbled upon this great window display at an independent “concept shop” and art gallery. I love the way that the heads just hang there. You can get a feeling for what the street is like by looking in the reflection.

Window on Queen St W, Toronto

Wandering around is also how I found Jet Fuel, this amazing coffee shop in Cabbagetown. It became my home away from home. I spent the better part of four afternoons holed up there doing math.

Jet Fuel Coffee Shop in Toronto

Jet Fuel Coffee Shop in TorontoJet Fuel is the kind of place that serves lattes in pint glasses and plays the music just a hair too loud on a killer classic sound system. Jet Fuel seems to be favored by cyclists, especially those of the fixed-gear/messenger persuasion, and the scene is decidedly cool. The long, narrow main room is painted red and lined with arthouse photography. You order at a long stainless steel counter, manned by one barista on weekdays and possibly two on weekends. Between pulling shots, the barista washes the pint glasses by hand in the sink behind the counter. They have three kinds of drinks: espresso drinks, herbal tea, and lemonade, but you wouldn’t know it walking in, as there’s no menu or information of any sort on what’s available or what it costs. The focus is on the coffee, and that makes for one of the best lattes I’ve had. Don’t bother asking for decaf or flavored syrups.

Adas Polo at The Pomegranate in Toronto

Another great find is The Pomegranate, a Persian restaurant on College at the edge of Kensington Market and Little Italy. I had noticed it on my first day in town, but it took until my second-to-last day to make it over there. I went with some friends from the Fields Institute, most of whom had never had Persian food before. The food was so great that I went back alone on my last day to have the Adas Polo just one more time. The rice was studded with dried fruit and the lamb was incredibly tender. Delicious.

Sheep's Milk Ice Cream at the Riverdale Farmer's Market in TorontoOn Tuesday, I checked out the Riverdale Farmer’s Market. It was a compeltely different scene than the hustle and bustle of the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. While the St. Lawrence market overflowed with a bounty of imported produce (mostly labeled USA, which I’m pretty sure means California), the Riverdale market was exclusively local Ontario produce. Everything was in season and beautiful. The most popular stand was the ice cream cart, and I got myself a scoop of sheep’s milk ice cream with maple crunches. Click the ice cream to see more photos from the market.

On my walk home from the institute one afternoon, I stopped by Allan Gardens and saw the most intriguing flower there. This was a cluster of about twenty small, fuzzy, thick flowers in a spherical shape the size of a tennis ball. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a name plate! Does anyone know what this flower is called? The plant was about three feet tall and had leaves that were somewhere between a magnolia and a succulent.

Amazing flower in Allan Gardens in Toronto

Overall, I had a good trip from all points of view. If you’re in Toronto, here’s a list of places I’d recommend checking out.

Jet Fuel Coffee
519 Parliament Street
(416) 968-9863

The Pomegranate
420 College Street
(416) 921-7557

The Riverdale Farmer’s Market
Riverdale Park West

This Ain’t the Rosedale Library
483 Church Street
(416) 929-9912

Kensington Kitchen
124 Harbord Street
(416) 961-3404

And here are the places that I stayed. Both are definitely recommended.

Posh Digs II
(416) 964-6390

A Seaton Dream
(416) 929-3363

4 Comments

  1. Posted June 3, 2007 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you found a way to make yourself at home – it looks like an interesting City. The murals and older buildings look like San Francisco to me. There are actually a lot of Toronto food bloggers out there – I am sure they would be interested in reading about your discoveries!

  2. KatieDery
    Posted June 4, 2007 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    The plant is a HOYA. They are normally kept as indoor hanging plants but if they get direct sunlight they bloom those amazing flowers.

    Look here for others: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=hoya&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2

  3. Posted June 4, 2007 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Alice- Well, I was there for 9 days, so I had to make myself at home :)

    Katie- Great, thanks a lot!! I want one, but it seems like it’s quite a bit of work to keep it healthy.

  4. Posted August 18, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

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