Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Toronto 2010

We went to Toronto for a week. And I record here our schedule and impressions for sake of memory and so when people ask me what to do in Toronto, I can send them a link.

Keep in mind that we have two kids, currently age 7 and 5.

Our first day, a Saturday, we went to the Skydome / Rogers Centre and saw the Red Sox play the Blue Jays! There were a lot of Red Sox fans in attendance. Mari lasted for about 5 innings, and then we stayed for one more before heading out to walk over to Harbourfront and Queen's Quay. Harbourfront was hopping with an electronic music festival which included lots of hip hop dancing. At Queen's Quay, we looked in on the Museum of Inuit Art. Although I learned something from the museum, I wouldn't put it on a must-see list. That said, Julie was charmed by her first visit to the Harbourfront.

On Sunday, we hung out at the pool with my sister's family. For lunch we went to Asian Legend on Shepherd Ave. The food there is very good but not particularly distinctive.

Come Monday, we let the kids go wild at Ontario Place! Every year we admire Ontario Place and wonder if we need to go again. And every year the kids demand it and we find more for them to do. This time around, they were much braver in the water park and we went down the big slides a number of times. Austin turned out to have outgrown the kiddie rides but is now tall enough for the full sized bumper boats! That was great. As usual, some of the most seemingly prosaic equipment was the most fun, in this case, some trick basketball hoops. Everyone from age 2.5 to 40+ had a lot of fun shooting hoops.

Tuesday was spent in the orbit of the Pacific Mall. Julie ordered some new sunglasses, we had lunch at the Mongolian BBQ and then more shopping! Also, bubble tea. We had dinner at my friend Sheldon's new house and he let us play on his drum set! Loud fun.

Wednesday was a day out for Julie and me. We started out down at the Beaches, walking the boardwalk and then heading up Queen Street East. We stopped in the Purple Thumb which had lots of neat locally made and designed clothes and accessories. For the lack of one size, Julie would have bought a dress. The nice ladies there suggested we try the desserts at Dufflet. We took their advice! In fact, we had a gazpacho and a ham and brie sandwich there before gobbling up two tarts: key lime and apple berry. Yum. Still in the Beaches, we stumbled upon Ends and bought some clothes. Not high fashion, but cheap. Like, 99 cent T-shirts (quality cotton, no obnoxious labels or sayings).

We then ventured west to Leslieville. Julie was struck by how many specialty dog stores we've seen in Toronto and declared her favorite was The Bone House, in part because it's small but every item seems well selected (as much organic and Canadian manufactured as possible). Found a great new collar for Boo! We had a couple of beers at Lil' Baci while waiting for my sister and Stephen to join us downtown. The Denison wheat beer (with a note of banana) was very good and we liked the name and glass of another beer, Flying Monkeys, whose motto is "Normal is Weird."

Once we met up with the rest of our group, we went for another drink (hey, it's our annual bar hopping tradition) at Swirl. Not the easiest place to find, you can see the black and white decorated door on the left of the Bone House in this photo.

I heard about Swirl in this review, and sure enough, the food is cooked off-site, stored in mason jars and is pretty good. We had the duck rilletes and a cheese plate from the Leslieville Cheese Market across the street. And I had a nice pear white sangria. (oops, forgot in the first draft to mention Ed's Real Scoop -- a very good ice cream shop at 920 Queen Street East. Apparently Ed was inspired by Steve Herrell's ice cream in Boston!)

From there we went to the Distillery District and Julie and I saw Jitters at the Soulpepper repertory theater. Great fun, and we enjoyed seeing actors we liked from other productions.

Thursday, the whole family went down to the ROM. We saw an exhibit of the Terracotta Soldiers from Xian and was again amazed at how nice the cafeteria is (not aesthetically, but good, decent food at non-gouging prices). Afterwards, we sent up to see the animal exhibits and there were lots of educators showing off hands on exhibits. That was really neat. Julie was amazed by the spider crab. I popped upstairs to look at the Middle East exhibit and watched Clemens Reichl in a two minute film about a lion from Babylon.

On Friday, we went to Ding Tai Fung. This is Julie's favorite restaurant in the area, serving Shanghai style dim-sum including xiao long bao that are so juicy, they seem like soup dumplings. Plus they make mini-dumplings and there is a big window on the kitchen where the kids can watch the dumplings being made. Yum. The mini-mall nearby had some good bubble tea and then we took the kids to the Kidstown waterpark. No giant slides, but otherwise as good as the Ontario Place water park. And free.

A great trip. What was best: discovering new neighborhoods in Toronto. Live theater. Ontario Place.