Tag Archives: restaurants

Death by Chocolate

Cafe Maroc cake platter
Spring rolls, burgers and chips and cake (all chocolate!) at MoRoCo


Took in the ice festival in Yorkville today and, as the ice sculptures began to drip in the thaw, indulged ourselves at MoRoCo – afternoon tea with a difference; definitely not English tea-room style.

Slightly tongue-in-cheek,  definitely camp, but in the best way, it felt distinctly decadent and definitely fun (if decidedly expensive, but we are talking Yorkville prices)! The sipping chocolate alone was ludicrously rich, and the shared platter of cakes was to die for (good thing our cholesterol and sugar levels are healthy!). The spring rolls, served hot, contained, chocolate, banana and just a hint of peanut butter in a fine pastry case, served with a caramel dip.  The ‘ketchup’ for the shortbread ‘chips’ (light as anything) was raspberry coulis.



In choosing Canada as our home, we were aware that one of the possible downsides is that paid holiday (vacation) time is significantly less than in the UK. However, we felt that this was balanced out by an apparent Canadian capacity to make the most of leisure time. The weekend just past certainly saw us embrace this spirit, nourishing mind, body and soul!

Friday evening: etchings by Rembrandt and Freud – the Rembrandt so incredibly fine and detailed, the Freud bolder but no less masterly, both capturing so much more than a visual likeness of their subjects; then fabulous photos, model ships and (as AGO members) VIP entry to the King Tut exhibition, recapturing an earlier fascination in the breathtaking beauty of so many of the items on display.

On to fire and ice – the Angel of the Apocalypse belching flame into the darkness as we skated, the trees glinting red and gold with Chinese lanterns to welcome the new year of the Tiger, as pillow-fight snow-flakes drifted down;  a huge screen, held in the embrace of City Hall’s twin towers, provided a constantly changing vertical stage filled with oriental images and peopled by fan dancers, stick fighters and more. (On Sunday we caught a different acrobatic  spectacle by Compagnie Les Passagers with a more elemental theme.)

Winter City Winter City - Compagnie Les Passagers Winter City - Compagnie Les Passagers

Appealing to our senses, the foodie explorations encouraged by the fixed price Winterlicious menus are a delight – we enjoyed two great meals over the weekend.  A late Saturday lunch at Pure Spirits took us to the Distillery District, followed up with the post-prandial pleasures of checking out our favourite galleries there, as well as lusting after high-style lights at Artemide.  And we can’t seem to resist the wonderful Quebecois cheeses, St Lawrence Market offering up this week’s temptation!

On Sunday, we went Tumbling Into Lightamazing music, dance and visual imagery! Deeply moving, its intention to reflect the constant spiralling of light into darkness into light (individual, cultural, cosmic), I was awed by the twin awareness of the hugeness of the human capacity to encompass pain and the hugeness of the human capacity to manifest beauty.

On our way home from an early supper (Moroccan at 93 Harbord), Winter City claimed our attention again with an eerie performance by Glacialis, an Ice Orchestra. Who would have believed that ice tubes would resonate so wonderously in response to a hot flame!

So often here I am conscious of that I can still be that saucer-eyed child, utterly present, utterly entranced and engaged . . .

Toronto Highlights

By the end of our stay, I was beginning to be frustrated by the sense of ‘skimming’ – we never had enough time really to get to see anywhere very fully. But, on the plus side, this means there are so many places we are looking forward to exploring and experiencing more deeply when we return to Toronto to live.

Highlights included:

  • The Beach – already mentioned in earlier posts.  We loved the leafy streets, the ‘buzz’ of Queen St. and the laid-back feel of the Boardwalk and shore. This remains top of our list of desirable neighbourhoods. We didn’t find an outstanding restaurant, but then we didn’t really look as we were happy to eat well and inexpensively both in the Beach and further afield.  Top choices included, Green Eggplant, ViVetha and Bow Thai.
  • Greektown – some interesting shops, including a brilliant workers co-operative supermarket that had us drooling, as well as a host of Greek restaurants.
  • The CN Tower – we have been to other cities with towers, but somehow the CN is special.  It graces the skyline from so many different viewpoints and, as night falls, plays out a variety of light shows on the hour depending on the occasion. I even stepped out onto the glass floor – which for someone with a tendency to vertigo felt quite a big step!

CN Tower CN Tower CN Tower CN Tower - looking down

  • Old Toronto, the district slightly to the east of downtown which includes the Distillery District (high on the list for further exploration), the Flatiron Building (10 years older than New York’s) and the wonderful St Lawrence Market, foodie heaven and much more! Don’t let anyone tell you there is no back bacon in Canada – the Carousel Bakery is famous for its Peameal Bacon Sandwiches,  the best bacon butty variant I have tasted, filled with lean, salty, peameal encrusted pork and egg.  A further plus was the Hot House Cafe opposite the Flatiron Building, where we ate as part of the Summerlicious Food Festival – my Lobster Fettucine, with Cremini mushrooms, snow and spring peas and tarragon was perfectly balanced in flavour, colour and texture. We didn’t see the cakes until after we finished our meal, which means a return visit is essential!

Downtown Toronto - Flatiron Building Toronto - St Lawrence Market Toronto - St Lawrence Market Toronto - St Lawrence Market

  • Toronto Shore – the Martin Goodman Trail runs for 219 miles along the shore of Lake Ontario, with Toronto at its heart. This is very appealing to a cyclist who is less than proficient and terrified of cars, who also quite fancies getting back on roller skates (or probably blades, these days)!  The Boardwalk in the Beach runs along part of this trail, as does the whole downtown harbourfront area, not to mention Ontario Place.

Toronto Shore Toronto Shore Toronto Shore Toronto Shore

  • Just back from the shore, walking west from the harbourfront, is the tranquil oasis that is the Toronto Music Garden. I look forward so much to taking in the free concerts held on Sunday afternoons and sunny evenings through the summer, though I’m sure I will also seek out its peace at other times.

Toronto Music Garden A splash of Toronto colour Toronto Music Garden Toronto Music Garden

  • A brief exploration of the Harbourfront Centre on our last day confirmed that we will be back – full of interesting exhibitions and performance space! And in the winter, we can skate outside looking out across Lake Ontario.

This is already a long post and I seem to have missed out so many things . . . We do have one concern about living in Toronto; there will still be only 24 hours in the day!

Georgian Bay – Creemore

Georgian Bay forms an almost separate lake at the east of Lake Huron and is a relaxing 2 hour drive or so from Toronto. As such, it is an obvious year-round weekend playground and is often referred to as ‘cottage country’.

Creemore, Georgian Bay - the roads go on for ever . . .The city gives way to rolling countryside, cut through by almost straight roads in a gridded roller-coaster.  On a hot summer’s day, it is hard to realise that many of these ‘hills’ become ski slopes in winter.  Stranger still to a Brit used to the world grinding to a halt when it snows, there are plenty of people who commute daily from the area, even in winter.  As someone pointed out to us, it makes a huge difference not having to brake constantly for bends! I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this challenge just yet.

Creemore, Georgian Bay Creemore, Georgian Bay Creemore, Georgian Bay

An invitation to an exhibition opening at the Mad and Noisy Gallery (Silicamorphous   GLASS VARIATIONS – inspirational!) took us to Creemore, considered one of the prettiest small towns in Ontario.  Sitting between the Mad River and the Noisy River, Creemore lived up to its reputation and we spent a relaxing afternoon just mooching, before eating a mountain of meat in a very well established Hungarian restaurant – yummy cabbage rolls as a starter and Apple Strudel to die for! (The Sovereign Restaurant is the building you see at the foreground of the first picture above.)