Novellahoods: Amanda’s Guide to the Beaches

For a west-ender like me, the Beaches are a beautiful little escape from the crunched-up downtown areas. It has a slight Niagara-on-the-Lake feel, making it a quaint spot to for a refreshing walk, bike ride or picnic, and it’s home to an abundance of local business that keep residents looking and feeling sharp.

Wunderland in the Beaches
Wunderland in the Beaches

STYLE: Parlour Salon East

I can personally attest that this place is the bomb. If you’re thinking about putting pastel in your hair (or making any other dramatic colour-related change to your locks), come here and ask for Megan, who often brings her tiny but well-behaved chihuahua Olive to work. The bright, sunny salon is a fun place to be while you undergo your little makeover.

CAFFEINATE: Wunderland Gallery & Espresso Bar

There’s never been a more romantic love affair than that between art and coffee, right? Immerse yourself in both at Wunderland, where you can soak in locally made art and sip on a latte at the same time. Heaven.

LISTEN: Beaches Jazz Festival

Ah, a summertime classic. The Beaches Jazz Festival is happening this July 10 — 26, so bring your dance moves because it’s going to be a hoot.

EXPLORE: Kew Gardens

Making the Beaches even more nature-centric is this busy 6.5 hectare park that stretches from Queen St. East to Lakeshore Blvd. It’s the perfect spot to curl up on a picnic blanket with a book, but if you’re up for more adventure, go for a jaunt to check out the wading pool, tennis courts, trails, playgrounds and other fun stuff.

EXPLORE: R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

This is more for you history buffs, or you CanLit lovers: This famous plant played a big role in Michael Ondaatje’s Toronto-based novel In the Skin of a Lion. The landmark is definitely worth a visit, if only to take in the opulent grounds, which are now open to the public.

SNACK: Ed’s Real Scoop

A must. All the treats here are inspired by Ed’s mom’s homemade candies, and the results are breathtaking. Stop here for a sweet escape from the heat and a sugary pick-me-up.

Best Summer Cocktails

At the end of May, Romain Cavelier was crowned the Made With Love National Mixology Champion with his concoction Le Saint-Laurent Sour. The Montreal mixologist credits classic Quebecois cuisine and Montreal culture as the inspiration for his cocktail, which is a mixture of Wild Turkey Bourbon, homemade beet juice, apple juice infused with Montreal steak spice, egg white, lemon juice, walnut oil and garnished with a mist of walnut bitters and Wild Turkey.

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“I chose these ingredients because the beet is used often in Montreal,” Cavelier explains. “Its colour represents the street art from which we drew inspiration from for the cocktails. As well, the apple juice infused with Montreal steak spice reminds me of the culture of Montreal cooking, and principally, the restaurant Schwartz on one of the main streets in Montreal, St.Laurent.”

Cavelier shared his special step-by-step recipe of his award winning cocktail and included a couple of the best summer cocktails that are perfect for patio season. Plus, we share our must-try summer mixed drink – the Aperol Spritz.

Le Saint-Laurent Sour

1 ½ oz Wild Turkey Bourbon
¾ oz Beet syrup
¾ oz Apple Juice infused with Montreal Steak Spices
¾ oz Lemon juice
½ Egg white
½ Barspoon Walnut oil

Black walnut bitter and Wild Turkey mist as a garnish.

For the method:
Shake all ingredients first without ice, after put the ice into the shaker and shake hard again.
Fine strain in a coupette and garnish with a spray of black walnut bitter mix with wild turquey bourbon.

For the syrup:
Juice 4 beets in a juicer. Put the juice in a  pan with 700ml of water and 500ml of sugar. Boil. Reserve.

For the Apple juice:
Put 1 L of Apple juice in a pan, with 1 table spoon of Montreal steak spices. Boil. Reserve.

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Daiquiri Number 1 Natural

2 1/2 oz of white rum
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup

Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into couple glass on the rocks or keep it neat. Garnish with a big lime wheel.


Last Word

3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 gin
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino

Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lime twist.


Novella’s Pick: Aperol Spritz

3 parts Cinzano Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash of soda

Method: Start by adding ice into a glass, then pour the Prosecco, the Aperol and a splash of soda. Top with a slice of orange. 

Aperol Spritz Cocktail

NOVELLAHOODS: Matthew’s Guide To Affordable Eats In Yorkville

Japanese Pancake Yorkville

There is no doubt that Yorkville is home to some very expensive restaurants in the city. Whether it’s Cafe Boulud at the Four seasons hotel, or The One at the Hazelton, there are more than your fair share of white table cloth dining options in the Yorkville area. Having the high end dining experience is great, if you can afford the champagne and caviar, but what about the times you’re looking for something a little more casual and affordable? Believe it or not, it is actually possible to eat in the Yorkville area without a look of regret after receiving your bill. Here are five affordable dining options in the Yorkville.

Okonomi House

okonomi house
Photo Credit: BlogTO

Okonomi House is a hidden gem in the city, which has been open for over thirty five years. The affordable Japanese restaurant focuses on authentic Okonomiyaki, savory Japanese pancakes that can be customized with beef, bacon and seafood options. The pancakes start at around 6.50 and, for an extra cost, you can keep it authentic by adding Bonito flakes (dried tuna flakes, that move, when placed on hot food)

Location: 23 Charles Street W  M4Y 2R4

Xtreme Taste

Xtreme Taste Yorkville
Photo Credit: BlogTO

If you’re looking for a quick, affordable bite but want to opt for something that is still healthy, and tasty, look no further than Xtreme Taste. The family run business opened in 2010, and is known for their homemade Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Most people that go to Xtreme Taste come for their famous platters, where you get one protein (salmon, chicken, or beef) and a choice of two side salads for 5.00. The restaurant also specializes in lebanese chicken and beef Shawarma, and falafels, which are all made in house.

Location: 6 Cumberland St. M4W 1J5

Summer’s Ice Cream

Summer's Ice Cream
Photo Credit: BlogTO

During the summer months you often see people stroll around Yorkville, enjoying the warm weather, shopping, doing a lot of people watching, and often with an ice cream in their hand. That ice cream is most likely coming from the Yorkville Gem, Summers. The ice cream store in the heart of Yorkville is a staple and must have, if you’re in the area during the summer. There are often long lines at the ice cream parlor but for a good reason. Summer’s has been  making all of their ice cream, sorbets, frozen yogurts, and waffles cones in house, for the past 30 years.

Location: 101 Yorkville Avenue. M5R 1C1

Crêpes à GoGo

Crepe A Go Go Yorkville
Photo Credit: BlogTO

If you’re looking for a taste of Paris, without having to fly overseas, Crêpes à GoGo should be your go-to spot whenever you’re in Yorkville. The small cafe takes you out of Toronto and into a small cafe in paris with their french decor and  traditional French Crêpes. The Crêpes are offered in savoury options such as smoked salmon, brie cheese, ham, mushrooms, but also  sweet options include, dark chocolate, strawberries, bananas and nutella.

Location: 18 Yorkville Avenue M4W 3Y8

Dimmi Bar & Trattoria

Dimmi Toronto
Photo Credit: BlogTO

In the mood for something that is not as casual – a grab and go spot – but don’t want something that puts a major dent in the bank account? Dimmi Bar & Trattoria is an ideal landing spot, if you’re look for quality Italian comfort food all for a fair price. The restaurant has all the offerings of your traditional Trattoria, with homemade antipasto, pizza and pasta.

Location: 140 Cumberland St. M5R 1A8

NOVELLAHOODS: Amanda’s Guide to Leslieville

Leslieville is like a less try-hard-ish Queen West (I live on Queen West so I’m allowed to say it!). Everyone has fallen for this east-end ‘hood for its great brunch spots and lovely little antique shops. It’s the perfect spot for young, working couples, new families — you know, morning people. Here’s my take on a perfect day in this quaint little neighbourhood of new beginnings.

Photo via


SWEAT: Anchored Social Club

Sure, you’ll be working your butt off at this unorthodox gym, but you’ll be so distracted by all the awesomeness that you might not even notice the pain. These guys use odd but fun fitness techniques (like, using huge bags of rice and lentils as training equipment), reminding us what getting into shape doesn’t have to involve any technology whatsoever. If you hate the gym, give this place a try.

EAT: Rashers

BACON. Yes. This place is “North America’s only bacon sandwich shop.” All their meat is sourced locally, and their breads are made with no preservatives. So that should make you feel a tad less guilty as you devour a Bacon Butty, Bacon-on-a-Bun or Brie & Bacon sandwich. They even have a picture of Kevin Bacon on their wall.

SHOP: Arts Market

This year-round market sells unique wares of local artisans, so if you’re one of those great people who likes to support the makers in your city, get your bum over here. Lots of artists are based out of here, letting you claim neat (and often one-of-a-kind stuff) for your home, your wardrobe — basically anything.

EAT: Bobbette & Belle

This place! You probably already know all about it, but I couldn’t not include it. It’s not only one of the best places to go for sweets in Leslieville, but in the entire city. Everything is as gorgeous as it tastes, and make sure your phone is charged because you’ll definitely want to be that annoying person who Instagrams all the things.

SHOP: Raise the Root

Raise the Root is a tiny organic market that’s worth a visit if you’re into using genuinely good food in your recipes. It’s small but perfectly stocked, and it doesn’t take too long to navigate.


Te Aro makes really good coffee. The baristas can act a tad pretentious, but the drinks are fantastic and the atmosphere is cool. Stop in here for an energy boost in the middle of your Leslieville exploration.

SHOP: Matter of Time

You can’t spend a day in Leslieville without visiting an antique shop or two, and this one is my recommendation. Stuffed with old oddities, it’s like you’re stepping back in time — and then stepping out with an armful of antiques.

Shop All Weekend: Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day – that one time of the year when all dads are celebrated for being the witty, brisk and fun loving dads we all adore. With Fathers Day right around the corner, wives, daughters and sons are scrambling around to get dad the perfect last minute gift. But, you don’t want to buy him the typical card and sock combo. This year you want to spruce it up a bit. We want to give him that wow-factor and make him go from ordinary to extraordinary. With so many options and so little time, what would be the absolute perfect gift for the number one dad? We have created a quick go-to list of a few ideal last minute ideas that will make any father smile from ear to ear.

 Harry’s Winston Set

Harry's Winston Shave Set
Photo Credit: Harry’s

Getting your father something that has to do with shaving is a little stereotypical, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great gift. If you have ever shaved with a manual razor, it’s safe to assume that you’ve come to terms with purchasing overpriced blades that often having you feel a tad bitter after purchasing them. Harry’s is looking to change the way men purchase their razors and shaving experience, by offering quality razors replacements and shaving creams for a much lower price. Simply sign up and Harry’s will send you a certain amount of razors per month, depending on how often you shave. To get dad started, the Harry’s Set is a great introduction to the brand, which includes the high quality Winston Razor, foaming shave gel and three German engineered blade cartridges. For an extra personal touch, you could also get the razor engraved with you dad’s name.

Where To Buy:

 Bather Trunk Company Swim Trunks – Grey Hex Surf

Bather Trunk Co
Photo Credit: Bather Truck Company

One item that rarely gets updated in a man’s wardrobe is a pair of swim trunks. If your father either sports swim trunks that either look like a speedo or look like a pair of baggy shorts, he definitely needs a modern upgrade. If you know your dad will be enjoying the hot summer weather by a pool or lake, these Bather Trunk Company swim trunks should be an ideal gift. These shorts hit right above the knee for a modern fit and are well made by 100% quick dry nylon, that’s double lined, and has a back pocket with a snap enclosure.

Where to Buy: Lost and Found

 Keurig Coffee Maker

Keurig Coffee Maker
Photo Credit: keurig

The Keurig coffee maker is great for the on-the-run dad. It makes mornings extremely fast with its easy functions. With three different brewing systems, and a variety of subtle colours, dad will wake up every morning excited to make himself a hot cup of coffee. There are thirty beverage brands that are compatible with the Keurig and multiple flavours that can be tested out. If he needs a pick me up, he can make himself a quick cup of joe and be ready for anything that comes his way. Or if he’s in the mood to kick back and relax, then he can calm down by pouring himself a hot cuppa. The Keurig is an excellent gift for any father this year and since dads are awesome, they won’t have any problem sharing it with the rest of the family.

Where To Buy:

 Polo Red Intense Cologne

Polo Red Intense
Photo Credit: Polo

You can never go wrong with choosing nice cologne. Have dad smelling great this Father’s Day with the award winning fragrance of the Consumer Choice Awards, Polo Red Intense. The Polo brand is known to never disappoint with their assortment of colognes that they put on the market. If you want to really impress your dad this year, instead of buying only the cologne, go one step further and get him the gift set. The three-piece set includes, a 4.2oz eau de toilette spray, a 1.4oz travel size eau de toilette spray and a 3.4oz aftershave balm. This gift set will give any father the perfect excuse to go out to dinner, just so he can try out his new fragrance.

Where To Buy: