I AM NOT A FOODIE: A Chance to WIN with Dempster’s #DIYSandwich!


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For the past 6 years, I’ve had a unique job that sees a site change every 6 months or so. Most recently, I was banished exiled transferred to Yonge & Finch, where I quickly found the lunch options rather… limited*.

So to save money and keep me healthy, Sarah helped me fall in love with the sandwich all over again.

*From 2009 through 2011, with a work team that was 2/3 Asian, lunches mostly consisted of dim sum, sushi or Korean BBQ. Let’s just say we overdid it and I’ve yet to recover.

The Poor, Poor Tale of the Sandwich

Las Vegas 2013 — Earl of Sandwich — Chipotle Chicken Avocado Hot Sandwich
If you’re ever in Las Vegas, do yourself a favour and eat this.

The sandwich gets a poor rep among the foodies of the world, preferring to nosh on more delicate fare, like foie gras, canapés and salads with balsamic reductions.

But I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy, returning to the same comfort food time and again, when I want something to eat.

More than once, Sarah’s worried that I’d get tired of spicy Italian sausage, old cheddar cheese, Miracle Whip and mustard on an Italian bun, but two months in and I still gnaw away on them merrily while working on spreadsheets!

As tasty as that is, though, it’s not nearly enough to make it Canada’s Most Epic Sandwich.

We Paint Like the BOMB, Though at Paint Nite Toronto!

Banu Iranian Restaurant and Vodka Bar at 777 Queen Street West in Toronto.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Once upon a time, drawing was all I’d ever do. I carried sketchbooks and supplies wherever I went, transforming my imagination into all sorts of pieces. I don’t know when I stopped, but if you’ve got a good thing going, never stop, because you never know when you’ll pick it up again.

Other than sketches in the margins of meeting notes done in ballpoint pen, my days of drawing had become a distant memory — a dream deferred, perhaps never getting the chance to see reality.

But that doesn’t mean I ever stopped thinking about it. When I daydream, it’s like an animated movie playing out in my head, all my characters playing their part in a grand sci-fi odyssey. But I never make the time to make the ideas in my cranium any more than that — mere thoughts.

Which is what made Buytopia’s invite to a Paint Nite so appealing.

All You Need’s at Viamede

Viamede Resort (32 of 72)

If you’re like me and from big, bad Toronto, you don’t do the outdoor thing too often. Before dating Sarah, I never imagined I’d be climbing mountains, camping with my in-laws or taking extended leaves from my electronics.

I was originally invited to Viamede Resort as part of a zombie survival-themed weekend, but due to a pregnancy in the family (I do not know how Lori pulled it off in The Walking Dead), we thought it best that we sit that wilderness trek out.

Instead, we got to check out what a relaxing stay at the Viamede resort would be like, complete with a deluxe cottage to call home for a couple of nights.

The Skinny Behind Mattel GAME ON!’s Gameology

Mattel Game On! Gameology — The Game On! Party PackageIn an age where everyone’s rocking games on every device they’ve got (Candy Crush Saga, anyone?), it’s surprising that board games are still alive and well.

It wasn’t until well into dating Sarah that I’d come face to face with my inner board game geek over a game of Settlers of Catan (known simply as “Settlers” to anyone who plays). Since that day at her colleague’s place, I’ve ventured to Catan’s expansions, other strategy games like Puerto Rico and Race for the Galaxy, and even some that’re a little wackier like Anomia and Wizard. There was even a time a few years back where they paid me and some friends  to shoot footage for a Cranium WOW commercial!

So when MATTEL approached me to throw a GameOn! board game party, “Yes” was the only answer they were gonna get.

CONTEST: WIN a Pair of Derek Cardigan Sunglasses!!!


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I’m not cool. I can admit it.

I’m not trendy, I like looking good, but won’t blow a pay cheque on fashion – I’m just a guy who’s trying t o enjoy life as best he can. I’ve long since stopped trying to be “cool” – even in high school, I floated across social groups, wanting to befriend everyone and not shun anyone.

It’s possible I was never cool in the strictest sense of the word. I was always a popular kid, but not because I was an alpha male, or dating the head cheerleader or anything like that (especially since Canada doesn’t put nearly as much funding into its sports programs as America does) — but because I wanted to know people, regardless of where they come from.

But not being cool means things like not being up-to-date with what’s playing on the radio because you only listen to the same songs over and over on your iTunes. It means marathoning through Breaking Bad while doing the work you brought home so the Internet won’t spoil it for you. You’re too old to set trends, but still quicker at the Internets than many of your peers, so you do what you can.

But even though you might not be “cool”, it doesn’t mean you can’t look cool.

COMING RIGHT UP: #TheArtOf Small Business!

Yesterday, I mentioned dreams in my blog — we live in a world where we see them come true for people every day, so why not for us?

But they won’t often come true if we don’t prepare ourselves accordingly.

To take control of our lives, we often need to change the game. We could do like most do, find a stable path and stick to it, or we could carve something out for ourselves, choosing a path less travelled, but ultimately far more rewarding.

Welcome to The Art of Small Business.

I AM NOT A FOODIE: Getting #MyMagnum On at the Magnum Pleasure Store — Does it Live Up to the Hype?

Magnum Pleasure Shop — Front EntranceYou may have seen it from afar. You’ve heard people talk about it; you’ve seen it in the news. You see photos all over social media of these ice cream creations layered with all sorts of toppings, each on looking more individual than the next! And as of reading this, you have less than 3 weeks to try a boutique ice cream parlour experience in the middle of Toronto!

The Magnum Pleasure Store wants to change the way Toronto looks at ice cream. There’s the ice cream you knew from when you were a kid — your parents would bring home a huge tub or you’d run up to the guy in the ice cream truck as he rolled through your neighbourhood, bells a-ringin’.

That’s not what this is.

SPONSORED POST: Take me out to the Ball Game — A Buytopia Deal

Escobar signs a ball and asks Patrick Burke to give it to me.

My Dad loves baseball. I don’t know whether it’s something hearkening from his days in Jamaica or a burning desire to show patriotism in his later life as a Canadian, but he’s fiercely followed the progress of the Toronto Blue Jays for as long as I can remember.

There must’ve been a time where sports played a greater role in my life as well; I remember one birthday where I was thoroughly excited that I was going to a Jays game with my Dad — on the 100 Level of the SkyDome, no less… the good seats.

I know there’re likely a number of Torontonians out there still reeling from the  Stanley Cup slipping through the Maple Leafs’ fingers for the 46th time — but never fear, baseball’s here!

A WEEK IN THE LIFE… Sodas, Saving and Bowling

Sunday, May 5th – May 11th, 2013

Not all weeks are created equal. Some have events that you may have waited ages for, like a vacation, a birthday or a milestone in your life – but some will pass by in the blink of an eye, without you fully realising what you did or why you did it.

So, in the spirit of making the most of the life I have, every now and then I’d like to put together posts called “A Week in the Life…”, a quick look at the madness I get up to and the lessons I learn from my experiences (if any).

Let’s start with May 5th through 11th!

SUNDAY the 5th

Saw Iron Man 3, and despite some clever one-liners, was generally underwhelmed by the closing act of the Iron Man trilogy. Also planned some downtime — a picnic down at the Toronto Islands, because you can’t be on “go time” all the time.

MONDAY the 6th

Went to ING Canada’s #SaverSearch as a +1 and got to see the launch of their ING Superstar Saver Search with their special guests and partners, Walk Off the Earth 🙂

TUESDAY the 7th

Hit up the Scarborough Dishcrawl to see what Wexford Heights had to offer.

WEDNESDAY the 8th

Got an email from Nicole letting me know that we were only a week away from BiSC and to get ready!

THURSDAY the 9th

I took Sarah to Kraft’s SodaStream promo events at 2nd Floor Events.

What we got:

  • SodaStream-carbonated drinks
  • appetizers
  • a SodaStream source and Country Time lemonade mix
  • candy

How it was:

Okay. Mostly mingled and took photos; we had a good chat with someone we met named Avery about travel, Twitter and how the Internet is changing the way we live. But the SodaStream is ridiculously amazing! We’d put it in action at Sarah’s birthday party later in the week (see below)

Danforth Pizza House

FRIDAY the 10th

Got together with some fellow Ingress players from the Enlightened faction at Pour Girl to socialize…

A Week in the Life May 11 2013 (8 of 39)

…and later hit up Bite Bar to get what would turn out to be some delicious miniature cupcakes… (Buytopia Deal: http://www.buytopia.ca/deal/3546/?a_aid=4de9b34e683ca?skip=true&a_aid=casepam)

 

 

…ending the day with some Indian from Banjara Indian Cuisine, eaten with Sarah’s siblings to celebrate her birthday 🙂

weekend 11-12 pics-1

SATURDAY the 11th

We wrapped up the week with Sarah and a number of her friends to celebrate a milestone birthday that I won’t mention any more specifics on. It was a good time at the house and at Danforth Bowl, and I’m prettysure she enjoyed herself!

Until next time,

–case p.

I AM NOT A FOODIE — Four Courses with Scarborough #Dishcrawl!

Scarborough Dishcrawl II (2 of 32)

Somewhere in Scarborough is some sushi with your name on it.

For someone who’d decided to keep west of Victoria Park Avenue, it seems like I’m spending a whole lotta time in Scarborough these days!

In the land of strip malls, beauty salons and more ethnic diversity than almost anywhere else in Toronto,

Welcome to Wexford Heights. On Lawrence Avenue East, an area of town that saw coaching inns and country estates 200 years ago, it now offers foods from a wealth of different global cuisines. Why grab lunch at the local KFC when you have so much to choose from?

But how do you know what’s good? How do you know where to go when you have so much to choose from?

With this question in mind, Scarborough Dishcrawl stepped in to help me answer it.

What is a Dishcrawl?

As Dishcrawl describes itself, it’s all about

Food, Fun, and Exploration! We here at Dishcrawl aim to provide you with a premier culinary social experience by bringing together neighborhood restaurants, local chefs, regional food producers and fellow food enthusiasts. Join us if you’d like to embark on a one-of-a-kind gastronomic adventure!

A Dishcrawl is the pub crawl equivalent for foodies. You pay one price beforehand and visit several restaurants throughout the night.

In order to keep it a surprise, you’re not told where you’re going beforehand — 48 hours before the event’s start, you’re emailed with a meeting point to start the night, but everything else is a mystery from there!

The night would be led by Jennifer, the Scarborough Dishcrawl Ambassador who’d orchestrated the night’s event and set it up to make sure we all enjoyed ourselves as much as possible.

Here’s where we wound up that night….

Gu-Mi

Gu-Mi’s been around for more than 25 years and specializes in Japanese and Korean food (as its owner, Susan — who was very nice and welcoming — demonstrated to us by a short pantomime of PSY’s “Gangnam Style”). They sat us in its newest section, and with a glowing review of the food by a South Korean family that was visiting, we got to sample some of the cooking from Susan’s brother, the restaurant’s chef working his magic in the back.

What We Had:

  • Korean pancake
  • chicken teriyaki
  • California and avocado rolls
  • zucchini and yam tempura
  • miso soup

How it Was:

Largely like your typical Japanese restaurant — the only item that was new to me was the Korean pancake, which was delicious with some soy sauce! Would’ve loved to have some of the spicy food that Korean cuisine is known for, but it was an event trying to appeal to a variety of people and not just me, so I could make do!

Gu-Mi on Urbanspoon

Naan and Kabob

Naan and Kabob is just a few doors down from Gu-Mi and offers up Afghan fare. You can immediately tell that a professional interior decorator designed it; many of the motifs, from the lighting to the art and colour choices, give a feeling like many of the dining choices you’d find on Queen or King Street and not Lawrence Avenue East.

What We Got:

  • Naan
  • Mantu, a popular Afghan dish that’s a pasta filled with ground beef
  • Chicken breast from a kabob
  • Basmati rice
  • Salad with a yogurt dressing

How it Was:

I have to admit, I was looking forward to the Indian naan I know (and love — thoroughly), but the meal wasn’t bad. I would’ve liked slightly larger portions, but it was still enough to give me a good idea of what the restaurant had to offer.

Naan and Kabob on Urbanspoon

L’s Chinese Eatery

Our next stop was a slight walk from the first two, but not a problem with the wonderful weather we had!

L’s Chinese Eatery has only been open a month and serves what you’d expect from a Chinese restaurant, offering up Cantonese and Hakka-style Chinese food. The decor is really nice — the mirrored wall distracted me from the restaurant’s small size (it likely only seats 25-30 people). Our night’s host, John, would apologize for his bad English (which wasn’t all that bad) and tell us about the bites of Chinese cuisine we’d be noshing on.

Quick Caveat — The place is so new that it doesn’t even have a liquor license yet, so I hope you like water and tea!

What We Got:

  • homemade egg rolls
  • hakka chow mein with chicken
  • hot and sour soup

How it Was:

The standout item here was the homemade egg rolls. It was a shame that we were given little packets of plum sauce to put on them, but they were still delicious! Everything else was pretty standard, though.

L's Chinese Eatery on Urbanspoon

Damas Mediterranean Grill House and Juice Bar

The night’s final stop was Damas Mediterranean Grill and Juice Bar, a Syrian-owned restaurant on the corner of Victoria Park and Lawrence that’s been in business for more than 25 years.

Not really much to say on this one — the owners weren’t there and we were just there for juice and baklava, but it was a good way to wrap up a night of Dishcrawling!

What We Got:

  • mango/banana/strawberry smoothies
  • baklava

How it Was:

The smoothies and baklava were both sweet. That’s really all I’ve got on this one.

Damas Mediterranean Grill House and Juice Bar. on Urbanspoon

So how WAS Scarborough Dishcrawl?

PROS

  • Great socializing: It’s always good meeting new people you wouldn’t otherwise, and because the Dishcrawl forces you to find new seats every time you change locations, it’s something that you keep doing with each new restaurant. The night’s highlight for me was meeting a Whitby couple who’re just the kind of parents I’d want to be with their approach, their mindset and the relationship they have with their kids. I was definitely taking notes.
  • No choices = no wasted time: With a budgeted 45 minutes per restaurant, it surprised me that we never felt rushed — by taking away the need to figure out what we’d be eating, it left plenty of time to focus on time with the restaurant owners, time for conversation and time for enjoying the pre-set meals that’d been prepared for us.
  • Location: If you live east of Yonge (that’s right — you don’t even need to be from Scarborough to enjoy a Scarborough Dishcrawl), it’s not all that hard to get to the locations in Scarborough. It also offered something that’s a bit of a rarity in downtown Toronto — free parking! Car or no, though, the fact that you just need to get there and then walk to each location is a huge draw for you subway warriors out there!

CONS

  • Same ol’, same ol’: With a few notable exceptions, most of the food was stuff I could find just about anywhere I look in downtown Toronto. If you want something that’s different from the norm for Toronto, it might not be in Wexford Heights.
  • A Tough Sell: Maybe it was poor luck, but some of these restaurants didn’t sell themselves very well. Despite Dishcrawl  bringing in business and offering the spread the word about their restaurants, neither Naan nor Damas had any management on hand to help us learn about their restaurants. Part of attracting repeat customers to a restaurant is creating an unforgettable experience, but in forgetting this it made them seem inexperienced.

Would I do it again? Sure — Dishcrawls are a great way to discover foods in parts of the city that you’re not familiar with, and Toronto has no end of things to discover!

Watch for the next Scarborough Dishcrawl whenever it comes your way! In the meantime, you can see their official rundown of the night’s events here: http://www.dishcrawl.com/blog/community/3626/four-gastronomic-delights-in-one-spring-night-dishcrawl

Until next time, amigos,

–case p.

 [Disclaimer: I was given a free ticket to Scarborough Dishcrawl to write this post, which admittedly turned out a lot longer than I originally anticipated!]