An Aroma Kidz Adventure — Why I Can’t Take My Kidz ANYWHERE.

It’s no secret that I don’t drink coffee.

Every morning, Sarah makes herself a pot of coffee, filling her travel mug1 for whatever adventures she has planned for the day. Once she was running short on time, asking me to brew it for her… let’s just say she had to stop into a local coffee shop on the way to a play group that morning.

But that doesn’t stop me from frequenting my fair share of coffee shops, enjoying all sorts of other things their menus have to offer. Lattes, chilled drinks, pastries and more—not drinking coffee doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to everything else on the menu!

And so I heeded the call when Aroma Espresso Bar came looking for the Palmer family in their launch of a brand-new campaign — Aroma Kidz!

But one doesn’t do this on an empty stomach, so the first priority? A trip to Aroma—and where better than the Shops at Don Mills, just up the street from Casa de Palmer???

GIVEAWAY: The Fastest Game on Earth Brought to You by Buffalo Wild Wings!

It’s an undisputed fact that Canada’s Hockey Nation. I didn’t grow up with it myself, but Canada deeply respects its hockey—it even runs through the veins of those who’ve never touched a rink! And so, one should never underestimate our sporting culture and how rabid our fans can get when it comes to the fastest game on earth!

Which is why you shouldn’t watch it alone.

To celebrate the sport that whips us all into a frenzy, Buffalo Wild Wings invited me to check them out during the World Cup of Hockey.

But I couldn’t make it—being a family man means carving out family time, so I wasn’t leaving on a Saturday for anything short of the Rapture ????!

Good thing I knew a hockey fan or two willing to take my place!

We Paint Like the BOMB, Though at Paint Nite 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.

I AM NOT A FOODIE: The WVRST Night of My Life

You’ll probably need to hit WVRST multiple times — it has a LOT of options to offer!

As Lisa McPhee would tell you, the west side is the best side. While I can’t completely agree (since I rep the Danforth these days), there’s plenty of things it does right.

Like sausages made from animals that make no sense being on this end of the world!

Welcome to WVRST!

Planning for the WVRST

Trevor and I had been planning to go to WVRST for a good while now, but never seemed to get around to it. However, on a day where our schedules got flushed down the tubes due to oversleeping and being too tired to bother doing anything too nuts, getting this item off of the to-do list didn’t seem like — wait for it — the WVRST idea!

Making the Best of the WVRST

One thing to keep in mind about WVRST is that it’s not your typical restaurant. Yes reservations; no wait list — just a lineup; no specific waiter or assigned seating — just a bunch of benches where they bring your food to you after you order and pay for it at the front counter.

And maybe it’s because they keep things so simple (i.e.  a beer hall-style restaurant that serves mainly beer and sausages) that they actually manage to understand customer service!

We did get there without a reservation and had to wait in line, just like everybody else. While some people were told an hour’s wait when we were at the back of the line, it was only 15 minutes in reality. And in those 15 minutes:

One guy was a complete jerk and wouldn’t let a German tourist pass to ask the guy manning the stairs a question about the wait time, causing her and her friends to leave angrily

Ironically, the jerk and his friends would leave angrily almost immediately after, helping shorten the line by about 10 people between the two groups

Even better, almost immediately after they left, one of WVRST’s staff came out with a ton of free fries, offering them to us to apologize for the long wait! Note to all restaurants: if patrons are waiting in line to get into your establishment, they’re probably hungry. A little food can go a long way in making that wait better!

From Better to WVRST

We got in and found some seats, but damn that place is loud!

One thing I forgot about King Street West is how trendy the area is. We’re not even 30 yet, but we were easily some of the oldest people in the room! It was a very different crowd than what I’m used to having around, but everyone looked to be enjoying themselves thoroughly.

But back to the food.

I went to WVRST to try something different, so I got some elk and kangaroo sausages, washing it down with some Church-Key beer from Campbellford, ON. The beer was a bit bitter to start with, but the sausages made it a lot sweeter! Not being a foodie by any measure, I could always tell the difference between a hot dog and a premium sausage I’d get from a butcher, but I never really appreciated the difference between different kinds of game.

What I can tell you is this — while I enjoyed both, the elk was definitely more to my tastes, with a pinch more spice and other spices. Because of the free fries, we didn’t get much more than just the sausages on buns, but next time I’d love to try some currywurst and duck fat fries!

So if you’re ever in the mood for something different, I recommend WVRST. With efficient staff, tasty food and a large list of international beers, I think it’ll do well to sate most people’s appetites. Well, you know — as long as they eat meat.

Seriously, check it out. What’s the WVRST that could happen???

–case p.

Marben Pig Roast — Goodbye Chef Misha

Despite only really making Twitter part of my life these past 18 months, it’s not as if I had any shortage of events in a year and a half! From celebrations to coffee dates, conferences and cinema — it’s been a wild ride!

But considering all that, there’s a special group of Torontonians on Twitter that I never really broke into — the foodies. (Foodies are way better at writing about food than I am; if you want to see how this event unfolded through the eyes of a foodie, you should check out mi amiga Joie’s post on it!)

I’ve made a ton of foodie friends over time — conversation with them will invariably turn to the new place they tried, new technique/device they used in their cooking, or the new tastes they’ve been acquiring in their lives.

For someone like me who usually sticks to their stomping grounds and doesn’t often cook as to avoid poisoning himself and whoever else might fall prey to his cuisine — this was all completely foreign!

So when I heard through the tweetvine that this guy named Ken was organizing a pig roast Tweetup as a send-off to Marben’s chef, Misha Nesterenko, saying “no” didn’t even remotely sound like an option.

I’ve said that over time as you use Twitter, you come to learn who you could see as part of your life beyond 140 characters and who will forever be “just someone I know from Twitter”. Fortunately, this event was shared with plenty of people from the first category!

It’s these little added touches that can make an event stand apart. I might use the idea for future events, myself! (Thanks in advance, Ken!)

Upon arrival, Ken presented us with funky name tags and manoeuvred us around the Marben basement masterfully, finding seats for everyone without too much of a problem.

Left to right: Fries, Pork, Side Dishes. Everywhere: DELICIOUS.

For a mere $25, we go to gorge ourselves on:

  • delicious kale;
  • cranberry baked beans (thanks to Yvonne for reminding me!)
  • coleslaw seasoned with a Dijon mustard;
  • kim chi and apple salad;
  • fries with sides of ketchup and truffle aioli;
  • and of course — spit-roasted pig with a delicious BBQ sauce!

You’d get this all family style, so in servings meant to feed a group — so when the amazing ladies accompanying me in my group had their fill, I wasn’t left wanting for more — there was more than enough to go around!

Add the fact that Great Lakes Brewery was on tap (har dee har har) for the night to ply us with free and endless samples of several of their beers, and you had a winning combination!

The night was a testament to the good times that can come together on account of social media, and the fact that people who use social media every day of their lives can still keep the social in the equation (which was only further accented by the fact that this event marked my 1000th Foursquare check-in). While I didn’t get a chance to meet Chef Misha and wish him well, I’d like to think that the crowd that came out can be its own testament to the fact that his reputations preceded him, and preceded him well.

Thanks go out to Ken Samuel, Marben and Great Lakes Brewery for putting together such an enjoyable night!

–case p.