Last night, floating about a kilometer out on Lake Ontario, I discovered that no matter how hard I try to salsa dance, it will always look like I’m doing the chicken dance.
But despite my lack of balance (and rhythm), I had a grand time on Mariposa Cruises’ Salsa Cruise, which was hosted as a part of the 11th annual Salsa in Toronto festival. Over wine and a Latin-style buffet dinner, guests mingled and made friends before gathering on the upper deck for a Salsa lesson at dusk (this is where I failed miserably, but the fact that I managed to not fall overboard was impressive enough).
After the lesson, cruise-goers sipped their drinks and enjoyed the view of a brilliant pink sunset over Toronto’s skyline while professional Salsa dancers took to the dance floor.
After three hours of blasting Latin music over Lake Ontario and making us all reminisce past vacations hotter, sunnier spots, the cruise brought us back to the Harbourfront at 11:30. The experience not only made me wish I was more coordinated, but made me happy that I’d managed to celebrate one of Toronto’s most colourful festivals in such a unique way.
There’s one more Salsa Cruise coming up on the 16th, so snag your tickets before the boat fills up!
Ontario’s Southwest is home to some of Canada’s most fertile farmland, but fresh produce isn’t the only thing growing here. Ontario foodies are discovering that there are an increasing number of unique beer, wine and food experiences to be had in Ontario’s Southwest.
Beer and Cider From microbreweries to large-scale producers, there’s plenty for beer lovers to see and sip in Ontario’s Southwest. For great themed trip ideas like a bike tour with stops at Windsor’s hottest microbreweries and a scenic country drive to area cideries, click here.
Wine and Spirits Take Ontario’s longest growing season, add intense summer heat balanced by cool Lake Erie breezes and what do you get? A perfect breeding ground for amazing cool climate Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Merlot and more. Taste for yourself with trip suggestions including a winery trolley tour, the new Ontario’s South Coast Wine Trail and a walking tour that celebrates the stories and spirits of Windsor’s role in the prohibition here. Food and Agritourism Discover the impact some of the country’s most fertile land has on the products that are grown and made here. Flavourful ways to experience it for yourself include tasting your way along the Dairy Capital of Canada’s Cheese Trail, visiting area farms and markets or dining at one of the many area restaurants that celebrate and showcase local farm-to-table flavours. Find trip suggestions here.
Read stories from bloggers who are discovering Ontario’s Southwest for themselves and get the latest details on the food and drink scene in Ontario’s Southwest at oswculinary.com. You can also find mouthwatering inspiration following the hashtags #OSWdigin and #OSWpouraway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
This Novellahood is my hood. Ossington is a strip of pure hipster madness, which has its ups and downs (the pretentiousness is real, but so are interesting bar concepts and cool boutiques), but if there’s one thing you can count on here, it’s that you’ll never experience a dull moment in this corner of the city. Spend a day, spend a night, and have a blasty-blast with the help of my personal guide to Dundas and Ossington!
As a connoisseur of mochas, I can attest that Sam James’ mocha is the absolute best in the whole wide city. The recipe (which I won’t disclose here) is so simple, but so genius. TRY IT. Hot or iced. Of course, everything else they make here is perfect, too, from the lattes to the conversation.
This diner has been here for so long I’m pretty sure it qualifies as a historic site. I love this place because it has that classic diner feel without being too gritty, the food is good and nicely priced, and they have MAD drink specials ($4 mimosas, all day, every day!). They’re also open 24 hours, so feel free to come here for a burger in the middle of a drunken night.
If any of my friends ever have a birthday, it is celebrated here. Why? Because Get Well is not only a bar, but it’s also an arcade and has an in-house North of Brooklyn Pizzeria. Most of the vintage arcade games are free to play, so you can challenge yourself to a game of Dig Dug with a drink in one hand and a slice of pepperoni pizza in the other.
Being inside this Canadiana shop feels like chanting Oh Canada and drinking maple syrup while riding a moose that’s wearing a Mountie uniform. Check it out if you want to bring home some cool, all-Canadian stuff.
‘Tis the season for play-watching, and this theatre has all your nostalgia planned out for the summer: buy your tickets to Rocket Man: The Music of Elton John, Always Abba, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Mary Poppins and other gems.
The shop window displays are always so cute, it’s nearly impossible not to step inside this tiny shop. They sell the perfect blend of girly-girl and hip, and the clothes never lack in both imagination and sophistication. Find your next wedding season dress here, or a punchy statement piece for your summer festival-going.
This is a Dundas and Ossington go-to. Even if you’re not a fan of beer, Bellwoods Brewery is always a good time. I personally love this place because on holidays, when the LCBO and Wine Rack are closed, Bellwoods is usually open, and my drinking plans are saved.
The Yorkville gem, nestled within the Four Seasons Hotel, is undergoing renovations spearheaded by renowned designer, Martin Brudnizki. The new interior will have a wrap-around bar and an intimate seating arrangement, that will have the utmost comfort and relaxed energy while encompassing the French inspired brasserie.
“There is something strong yet simple about mid-century design that creates harmony in an interior. We wanted to build on this balance with Café Boulud, to design a space that displays a modernist playfulness yet feels comfortably current,” said Brudnizki.
Along with Chef Daniel Boulud, the project is headed by Chef De Cuisine Sylvain Assié and together, the pair have collaborated on a menu inspired by Boulud’s Lyonnais roots filled with food for the soul, such as Quenelles de Brochet, tableside Handcut Tartares, Niçoise Salad and Escargots Persillade, as well as Boulud favourites such as Crispy Calamari and the Frenchie. The new café will also feature a rotisserie, with fine meats, fish and poultry, slowly turning over an open flame.
“The menu will be based on the way my family gathered for a meal in Lyon,” explained Boulud. “It will feature classic French dishes as well as a selection of unexpected items inspired by my curiosity and love for travel. There will be a real focus on generosity. We are really getting to the heart of the French culinary DNA.”
Café Boulud is set to open early September, just in time for the Toronto International Film Festival. To keep a close eye on the jaw-dropping renovations and for the official re-opening date, follow @CafeBouludTO #thenewboulud.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.