Saturday, October 3, 2009

Our Latest Trip to Toronto!

First - please enter my October giveaway! Good luck!

Last weekend we packed up the Little Prince, lunch and lots of bit and pieces and headed into the city for the day! We had big plans! Shopping for Bento box supplies, meeting one of my favourite chefs at a book festival, buying Autumn soaps and candles from Bath & Body Works and dinner with old friends of my in-laws. I am starting to wonder if I am cursed.

The day started well! There was very little traffic on the highway so we got to downtown Toronto in just over an hour. We parked at the Eaton Centre (our usual place to park), got the stroller loaded with toddler snacks and the Little Prince and did our shopping in the mall.

Bath & Body works is very new to Canada so being able to buy it here is so exciting! No more begging our American friends to bring our favourite soaps and lotions when they visit! No more writing lists hoping I don't forget anything! Now we just head into the city to the big store and I can shop to my heart's content! I was on a mission - I knew I had to have a pumpkin soap dispenser! Fortunately they had plenty in stock along with their seasonal soap, candles and air fresheners - apparently I have some sort of addiction to scents! I got everything I wanted! Success!

I knew there was a Sanrio store in the mall so we made our way there (Sanrio is the Japanese company that makes all the Hello Kitty items - we were looking for some Bento box supplies). When I say made our way, I really mean it! This mall is very big and has multiple levels. There are lots of stairs and escalators but with the stroller we need to use the elevators. Unfortunately the designers of the mall did not think anyone might need to get from the 4th floor to the 1st floor in any sort of timely fashion. One elevator only goes to the parking levels. One elevator only goes to the 1st floor. One elevator only goes to the 2nd and 3rd levels and so on! I think we took 3 elevators in the mall and one in The Gap to get to the bottom of the mall and to the Sanrio store which is about 500 square feet of pink!

Bliss! We looked around the store for the things I was looking for and finally I asked the man behind the counter if they had anything for Bento boxes (Japanese lunch boxes which are becoming a very popular way to take lunch to work etc - google Bento and you will see what I mean!). He didn't even know what I was talking about! I was standing in a store devoted to Japan's best known cultural icon and the man didn't even know what a Bento is! We left the store. Immediately.

I knew I wasn't going to survive much longer without a Pumpkin Spice Latte so everything came to a halt while I ran into Starbucks and (thank goodness!) emerged with 2 of the most delicious cups of coffee I have ever fact the Suburban Prince asked me to hold his for a minute and I ended up drinking it! My story will always be that I forgot I finished mine and was holding his! This was the very first time we had Pumpkin Spice Lattes since we live a long way from Starbucks. Sad, I know. I have decided I will be plotting my routes so I can stop at Starbucks from now on! Success! (Oh and we picked up some Godiva chocolates for the journey - we knew we would probably collapse without them!).

We starting heading towards the Word on the Street book festival. Toronto has so many near building and features. This is a moose decorated in front of the Italian Embassy. These moose statues are all over the city and different companies and organizations paint them!

We got to the book festival and I couldn't believe the crowd! This event takes place once a year and is on for only one day so everyone has to descend upon it at the same time. I read they estimated 20,000 people were there. It takes place in a park so it was just a mess. There is a path but people kept stopping to just stand front of anyone trying to get through the park...with strollers...and no choice but to use the path - can you tell this is a huge pet peeve of mine?!

We got to the booth we needed to be at to meet Laura Calder who is a chef and author of French Food at Home. I had been looking forward to getting my book signed for my collection so when we finally got to her booth I was thrilled! We made it through that crowd with time to spare and we were ready to find seats and get ready to hear her talk! The only problem is that she decided to go out of town instead. She wasn't there. We had travelled over 100kms by car, walked for 30 minutes, fought the crowd, brought the book and she wasn't there. Epic fail.

We were hungry and fed up so we found the closest way out and headed back to the street and decided to find somewhere to relax and eat lunch.

Since we always have a stroller with us we have learned long ago it is impossible to find a place to eat in Toronto. We used to go to a great restaurant called The City Grill in the Eaton Centre but they closed in the summer. They were always so great about the strollers and kids even though the restaurant is more of an grown up place. We were so sad they closed and have not been able to find another place we found as easy to take the Little Prince to.

I decided to pack a lunch for all of us since it was a nice day and a picnic sounded like fun! In the pink box is fresh veggies and tuna mixed with Maille grainy mustard and a little bit of Thommy mayonnaise. In the orange box is hummus and crackers, extra tomatoes and some little dark chocolate balls. In the green box is almonds, La Vache Qui Rit cheese, BabyBelle Swiss cheese, chocolate cookies, pickles and olives. We had some Tropicana orange juice to wash it all down with. I packed spreaders and little forks along with napkins in an insulated backpack. The 'table cloth' is a changing pad I got as a part of a set. Don't panic! When you are pregnant every company in the world sends you diaper bags with changing pads...I just took one that had never been used and it makes a great little cover so you don't need to put your foods on what could be an unhygienic table or bench.

We enjoyed our lunch in a peaceful courtyard and when we finished we packed everything up again and started walking to Chinatown.

I was told about a Japanese grocery store that sells supplies for Bento boxes (yes I am still looking for them!) so I googled the address and got the map and went with a determined heart!

This photo is about half of the Pocky they had that day! Pocky is a Japanese snack make of a stick a bit like a pretzel which is dipped in chocolate. You can get all different flavours and some are even dipped in almonds and coconut!

They didn't have the Bento supplies I wanted but I did have a great conversation with the man who runs the shop. He was telling me what all of the candies, cookies and cakes are and that his grandmother doesn't want him to eat too many sweets so he has to pretend he doesn't know what they ALL taste like!

These are Pretz and they are made by the same company that makes Pocky. These ones are maple flavour and the man who runs the store told me they are made in Japan but only available in Canada! Yes, because Canadians must have everything in maple flavour!

We left the Japanese grocery store and when we saw the time we realised we needed to get back to the car so we could get to our friends' apartment. By the time we got to the Eaton Centre we were both hot, grimy and well, sweaty! We both wore heavy clothes since it was supposed to be cool and rainy all day so when the day turned out to be warm and muggy we were in no state to meet friends and go for dinner! Fortunately we were at a mall.

We ran into The Bay (a department store) and we each bought lighter shirts, had the sales clerks cut the tags off and dashed to the car to get the Little Prince changed and ready to go! By this point we were exhausted! We had travelled so far and walked so much we could've slept in the car right there in the parking lot!

But we didn't. We went to visit our dear family friends, had a drink with them and went to the restaurant in their building. They live right on the lake and they have a terrific view! Dinner was yummy, the Little Prince was his usual charming self and we were glad to end this frustrating day on a happy note.

Unfortunately, the next day my mother in law called to tell us the male half of the couple we had dinner with had collapsed on his daily walk and had been rushed to the hospital. Fortunately this happened right in front of a hotel I know has a doorman so he would've been helped immediately. He is fine but he did have a pacemaker put in (I almost typed 'installed') so he had to stay in the hospital for a few days but he is home now and on the mend.

Hopefully our next trip into the city will be a lot easier!

Have a fabulous day!


Jemma Ruby said...

I love Eaton Center. We used to go up to Toronto a lot from Pittsburgh and I have fond memories of that place and running there and hanging out at the mall when it was FREEEZING outside! I love the compartmentalized bento box. They have something similar in China too and the first time I had one with a big honking chicken foot in it I had to do a real head job on myself to think pleasant thoughts to keep myself eating whilst all my colleagues chompped away at a chicken foot. True story- it is apparently a good snack in China, but I just could not go through with trying it. (I know that has nothing to do with Japanese food but the bento box thing brought back memories!!! )

Confessions Of A Domestic Goddess said...

Sounds like you guys had a busy and productive day!

Princess Freckles said...

I've only been to Toronto once, but I loved it! We've also visited Quebec and Montreal. I loved both cities, especially Quebec because its so European. And I've obviously visited Windsor often, as well as the Sault and Sarniac (sp?). Have you ever been to Grand Bend Ontario? Such a fun town!

I'm so sorry you weren't able to get all the things you set out to buy. What a shame about the book signing! At least you can enjoy all your goos smelling soaps and lotions!

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

What a busy day!! Now -- you must tell me what Godiva chockies I should buy; I just found out that I can buy them in Halifax!!

New England Girl said...

What a busy/fun day! :) Aren't the pumpkin spice lattes just wonderful? I adore them SO much... I am always so sad when they disappear. It's such a long wait until they reappear again. But! I am glad you got your first, and a bit a of your husband's. :)

preppyLittlelady said...

Ohmgee! Love your bentos, I'm obsessed with bentos