Toronto – The End of a Chapter

What a wild couple of years it has been! Lots of fun, hard work, growth and education! This is the closing of a chapter in my life, and a new one being started.

I got to be in Toronto for a week in July and it just so happened to be during the pan am games. What a place!

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The municipal underground parking wasn’t too bad, only $6 per half hour… sarcasm doesn’t translate well through text. Anyway I found my way up a set of stairs out of the underground parking garage and popped up in the Nathan Phillips Square (NPS) where there was a PAN AM concert going on. This place was hopping! “What have I got myself into?!”, I thought.

I heard that the Eaton’s Center was one of those places that you should see if you’re in Toronto, so off I went through the park and down the road to find it! LOTS of stores in the three story high (1 or 2 underground) shopping center. When I finished checking out the variety of shop locations and had some great food court chinese food (it really wasn’t that bad), I exited the underground onto a street to continue my exploration. As I strolled around, I pulled out the touristy map that I grabbed from a tent at the NPS Pan Am festivities and saw a large yellow line that said “Yonge Street”. It looked like it looped around so I figured that I’ll just keep walking and end up back at NPS, right? A few steps later, on the sidewalk itself is written in metal “you’re on yonge street, the longest street in the world.” Well, the idea of ‘just loop around’ turned into a very bad idea at that moment.

While getting lost in Toronto (er…exploring), around the next corner, in fact, I was asked by some young folks with broken English as to where city hall was. I also was looking for city hall and told them “It’s this way… I think. Follow me!”. Off we went towards our shared destination. Turns out it was 5 kids on a university tour of Canada! Two from Brazil and three from Russia. Nice kids, I didn’t catch all their names but it was great to meet them. They spoke English really well and were well mannered. I should have given each of them my business card! Drats! In any case we ended up back at NPS, waved our farewells and I headed back to the car.

Sushi-Ya! This place was a hoot! Here’s a video of “speedy” (a sushi chef) serving up some beer with Saki shots and a blow torch!!

Seriously great sushi! Fun staff who put up with us and served us well. There were a couple loud & slightly rowdy businessman from Texas at the bar but the restaurant is laid out well enough that they didn’t disturb my dining experience. I would highly recommend you go to Sushi-Ya in Toronto/Mississauga. The outside doesn’t look all that pretty but the inside is nicely decorated and food is delicious!

I enjoyed a trip to the Ripley’s aquarium in downtown Toronto, there’s a lot to see there! If you walk slow enough you would be able to spend a whole day there enjoying the sights and sounds! Below image shows my blue man group audition. It went well although they said I didn’t have the right body type. I joke! This is a neat blue light shining down from above at the aquarium! In the background of this picture is a two story high HUGE fish tank, loaded with Kelp and sea life!

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In the background there is a two story high HUGE tank.

We had a great poutine at Smoke’s Poutinerie on Queensway also! There was a great gal working there who was going to school and this was her evening/weekend job. I hope she’ll forgive me, I can’t remember her name! She was awesome.

Smokes Poutinerie was full of any style of poutine toppings you could imagine! Country Chicken style poutine (chicken pot pie filling), Italian poutine (italian pizza toppings), hogtown (pulled pork, bacon and sausage) and a philly cheese steak poutine (I bet you can figure out what toppings were on this one). I don’t know if it was that we were closer to Quebec then on the west coast but the poutines were awesomer than I have had before!

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My American buddy having a poutine for his first time, he’s addicted now!

We were in the poutinerie for about 40 minutes, we crossed the street to where the car was parked, I stood by the passenger door and some other guy walked up, got into the car and started it up. That’s not our car! Our rental car was gone! There was another blue toyota (like the one we were driving) parked in our spot! Luckily some college student guy rambled something to us about a car getting towed away about five minutes earlier. WHAT?! Well, that started a fun trip! Hail a cab, jump in, drive for 25 minutes to the towing yard, find out there were three unpaid parking tickets on the rental car!! Unbelievable! Well, it all worked out ok in the end… although I haven’t formally heard how the rental return went. I’ll have to ask my visiting `murican friend as it was his rental.


Well, here I am again, I’ve returned to Toronto for my tours farewell week. One night we ate at Wahlbergers, another at The Medieval Times and one at the CN Tower.

Wahlbergers was timed nicely, as we had just been seated and a Toronto Blue Jays game was just over. The line up WAS HUGE in no time. Great food though, and I was substantially full after eating (and I was hungry before sitting down).

They had a great pencil picture of Donnie and Mark on the wall. If I knew who the artist was that drew these, I’d say to them, “draw me like one of your Wahlbergs!”

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My last day in Ontario was spent at Niagara Falls, what an impressive place in this world to see. There are 6 million cubic ft. of water pouring over the crest of the falls every minute, EVERY MINUTE!!!

The HornBlower was worth every penny! It’s mighty impressive to be that close to that much water. I put away the phone because I pretty sure the spray would destroy my phone with water damage (and i would have been right)! The amount “drizzle” coming from the water falls made it hard to keep your eyes open.

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Side note, makes sure you buy an adventure pass, it’s the best value for sure.

I’m bummed there wasn’t more about Nikola Tesla and was saddened to hear that the power generation station had been shut down in 1999 so you don’t get to see Mr. NIkola Tesla’s original AC Generators working. I hope they do up a museum in that building, it would be AMAZING I bet.

Going behind the falls and through the tunnels was ok, The two spots where you end up behind the falls wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be (might have been that I was already on the HornBlower in front of the falls though). The look out deck at the bottom of the falls (you enter this through the “behind the falls” experience) was really neat, I’ll give you that.

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The 4D movie experience was alright, kinda cool and at one point it really did feel like we were heading over the falls but you’re holding onto a railing so you know that your not moving…just your brain playing tricks on you.

Over all it was a great experience and I hope to one day bring the kids!

Dinner at the CN tower was kind of neat, the slow rotation was cool, I’d recommend going when there’s more day light, the nightline was cool, but the HUGE section of nothing over Lake Superior is boring in the dark… or frightening. It’s nothing but PURE darkness out there!

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This restaurant is always moving and rotates a full 360 degrees in 45 – 55 minutes.

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The CN Tower is SUPER tall (553 m [1814 ft]), and then standing on the glass floor is a MUST! The glass floor is 447 m (1,467 ft) high.

A buddy of mine and I jumped on the glass floor as well, freaked out some of the other tourists (ok, I was a little worried the first time we jumped as well).

We even got to see the Louis the 13th bottle of cognac! This hand blown crystal vessel with a 100 year old cognac in it! “It’s one century in a glass,” they say. This opaque black bottle retails for around $22,000 each! The bottle itself empty appears to be worth of upward of $8000 dollars.

Louis 13th Cognac

Along the lines of “rich taste”, I did get to have food grad gold flakes on my dessert. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hesitated to eat it. I mean, it’s GOLD! I learned that gold doesn’t have any flavor and is fairly soft in this thin flake state.2015-08-22 22.23.19

All in all, Toronto is a fun place. Glad I could spend a couple weeks here experiencing this central Canadian city!

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The Medieval Times, Toronto

What a great experience. You enter the castle (buy your tickets online ahead of time to get in quicker) and are ushered towards the main hall where you are given a coloured crown that represents you knight! Our knight this fine eve, was the red knight.

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After that you get a picture with the king, queen or princess (depending on which castle you are attending) and are forthwith motioned into the main court. This is where you can purchase a wide variety of souvenirs, trinkets, costumes and alcoholic beverages (non alcoholic slushes and juices as well). You can also look at the horses and other interesting medieval items and decorations (including a “not for the faint of heart” torture devices of that era.

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The show had a falconer with his falcon and the rest is filled with great horsemanship! The premise is this… knights representing the lands under the Kings rule have arrived for a display of prowess and chivalry, a tournament! Six knights to be exact, green, red/yellow, blue, yellow, black, and red. They all, both on and off of horseback, put on a magnificent show!

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Then a rider from the north came forth with a message and a “gift” from his king to our king (the king of the east and west)! We’re not sure if he’s bad or good but by the sound of the theme music he might be trouble!

In the end… well, I’m not going to spoil it for you! You need to come and enjoy a royal feast yourself!

The food served was a tomato soup, royal bread, half a baby dragon (roasted chicken) with a half of baked potato, half a cob of corn and a square butter tart to end. No cutlery and only one napkin! Quite medieval to say the least! 😉 I will warn you, do not expect any culinary art or impressiveness. It is the dark ages you know.

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Touro Brazillian BBQ

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My first time at a Brazilian BBQ. Our server told me that “the first time is the best time!”  He wasn’t kidding! It was a great experience. Here’s the low down… You come in and have a seat, there are a set of tongs at your place sitting so that you can grab the meat from the skewer as they cut it off for you. 2015-08-18 19.10.43

They bring out a small appetizer plate with some cheese bread, youka and then deep fried bananas.

There is a huge salad bar of sorts loaded with a wide variety of “starters”. From Chinese ginger chicken to tortilla chips, Greek salad to quinoa salads. Plenty to start with.

There are 12 meats that roam around the room (on giant skewers). The skewer bearer stops at your table and asks if you’d like a slice, yes pleas and just like that a slab of meat is deposited on your plate.

They had great sized cuts here, my plate was only bare once, and only for a few seconds! We tasted every singles at they offer. Great meal! When you finally flip you card from green (more meat please) to red (I can’t handle any more awesome!) they bring you a slice of grilled pineapple that has been covered with a cinnamon sugar dry rub. Fantastic conclusion!

Wacky Wings at Timmins

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Driving around in Timmins, there’s not a lot to see…and even less to do. BUT Wacky Wings seems to be a bit of an oasis. It’s a well kept up building with LOTS of decor to look at. Plenty of funny signs, like “employee incentive program: work or get fired” and “beer, helping make babies since 1912”.

This our second visit to this place because it’s THAT good! Tonight we will have Spicy Crab Dunkers with boneless wings to start. The wing flavours were Korean BBQ, Rickards Red Apple Butter Mesquite, medium blue cheese and sweet n’ spicy Thai & garlic Parmesan. The Eicjards Apple Butter Mesquite win as best wing flavour tonight.

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For dinner we ordered a loaded goat cheese and mushroom beef burger on a multigrain bun and a Mac daddy grilled cheese sandwich, both with a side of Garlic Parmesan fries.

Last time we were here, to start we had the bacon broccoli cheddar bites and a wing sampler. The wing flavours were Tequila lime, Dr. Pepper BBQ, Medium Blue Cheese and some Chipotle something or other. For main course, we had a drunken ring toss big foot dog and a maple bacon BBQ cheesy big foot dog (both were actually 12 inches of hotdog) saddled with a bacon cheddar poutine and a loaded poutine.

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Great grub, both times! Here’s my first review, on Yelp!

The food arrives, looks good…tastes great also! Go figure?! I was a little hesitant to order the multigrain bun but it really surprised me! This bun wasn’t hard and didn’t taste stale or “healthy”. You know what I mean right? That cardboard-y, “I-know-I’m-making-a-good-choice” style texture and taste.  The burger was juicy and spiced just right, good toppings.

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As with every awesome food review, gotta have a dessert. Tonight it’s the Sweet Campfire Sticks. They are “world-famous funnel cake rolled into ‘campfire stocks’, fried golden brown, tossed in our very own cinnamon-sugar mixture then drizzled with a creamy caramel sauce & served with whip cream for dipping. Our signature dessert! Great for sharing!”

And they weren’t kidding! It’s a great dessert!

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They also have an Arcade here! Wild fun, not cheap though. Gone are the days of 25 cent games, bring some cash and have fun. I’d recommend a minumum of $10 but $20 would be more enjoyable.

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All in all, a great feast here at Wacky Wings! Would highly reverend and will come again.

La Chaumiere in Timmins

This is a fun place. It’s orange and wood all over. They still have a pay phone at the front door even!

2015-08-11 17.27.31I had poutine bites as an appetizer and they were fantastic! It seemed to be a cheese curd coated in gravy then in a tater tot style deep fried coating! With gravy on the side for dipping! Be still my beating heart (from a heart attack of deliciousness)!

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For my meal I’m taking on the Big B Burger with a Quebec Poutine! My table mate is having the Big B Burger with spiral fries (similar to the pig tales from Lovey’s BBQ in Winnipeg). The burger is really good! Still juicy, not overdone or too dry. The poutine is good, but still doesn’t match the poutine I had in Thunder Bay, best gravy ever! Anyway…

For dessert we had a Poor man’s Pudding Cake (aka Pouding Chomeur) and a chocolate lava cake (with white chocolate inside). The Pouding Chomeur was a white cake covered with a yellow pudding and ice cream.

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This is definitely one of those small “mom and pop” owned businesses. Apparently it’s been around for sixty some odd years and has had a few different owners. Luckily the great taste has stuck around. It’s for sure worth a visit!

ThunderBay In General

I really liked it here. I mean, this place has all kinds of neat art & culture and family things to do! I think what I REALLY like though, is the architecture. There’s TONS of castle like (medieval style turrets) buildings, and dozens upon dozens of brick buildings and houses. Class and style from a forgotten time! Speaking of stonework, there are impressive churches all over the place! Large cathedrals, everywhere.
They also have a pastry called “the Persian” which is a specially made cinnamon donut topped with heaps of magical raspberry icing! Not regular icing mind you but a special Tbay recipe, I think! These delectable donuts seem to be only in Thunder Bay.

That’s why I love it here. Here’s some pics:


I like Thunder Bay! It’s a great little town. I didn’t realize how cool it was until I was there. It’s much smaller than I thought as well. The city of Tbay is about 200kms from the next town. It’s almost like Canada looked at that spot on the map and said, “we need to have something on the map there, it looks empty. Is there something there?” And BAM! Thunder Bay made it on the map!


By the sounds of it, this place was a landing spot for many folks from far away lands with nothing but a suitcase on their way to make a new life for themselves and their families here in Canada.
The town moves at its own pace. The traffic lights are LONG and the business hours are “most likely open from x to y”.

The Winnipeg trip 

Bonfire Bistro – pizza and the like

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A large wood fire oven is one of the first things you see here!! It’s a warm 630-ish degrees in that oven but it sure does a good job of making yummy pizza! It’s  smaller place, was pretty full when we came in, there were three of us this evening and so we moseyed up to the bar.

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We had the Serrano and Pear Pizza (Serrano ham, fresh pear, Stilton blue and mozzarella cheese with Cilantro on spicy La Bomba sauce)! We also had an Italian Sausage pizza (Italian Sausage, caramelized onions, marinated artichokes roasted red peppers, fresh basil and Carlo’s tomato sauce, topped with Mozzarella). And finally I had the “today’s pizza” which was a wild one! It had Mustard and tarragon marinated Rabbit, smoked bacon, roasted artichoke, currants, mozzarella all on a roasted garlic & carrot sauce finished with spiced walnuts! Hows that for a bunch of strange toppings to have on a pizza! It was surprisingly fantastic! The flavors mingled really well, I was concerned about hte currants and artichoke mostly, but it was a delicious pizza none the less.

To finish up the evening one of the fellas had bananas fontaine while I had a scoop of Black sesame ice cream! Not at all seedy (no sesame seeds anywhere) and it didn’t taste at all like toasted sesame. I expected it to taste a little like the seeds from a burger bun. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted more sweet than anything else. I will look for this ice cream again somewhere else!

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LOVEY’S BBQ – smokehouse

Great grub! Smells fantastic! Roger the owner was in the store as we ate. He tells me the name Loveys comes from his high school sweetheart! They’ve been married for 41 years now.  He clearly loves this job as he took a moment to talk about his staff (including his daughter) and what he puts into the place himself.

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We got the beef brisket terminator burger (a mammoth of a burger) and a two meat BBQ dinner. I had the farmer sausage and beef brisket. We also “pigged out” with some electric honey wings and burnt ends.  Don’t be fooled, the burnt ends aren’t burnt, they’re just cubed brisket.

2015-07-16 19.54.46The restaurant walls are covered in signed photos of Roger with various BBQ masters from famous Dave to Myron of BBQ masters! There are also a various news articles about then place posted.

The pig tail fries are great! They’re like a thin deep fried corkscrew of potato. Kind of reminds me of potato chips but fries flavour.

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This place has got some great sauces and a great small town feel. They don’t spend a dime on advertising but hope that we’d spread the word about its great taste!  So here it is!! Stop in and enjoy some BBQ goodness from Loveys!

WestJet greatness!

I need to take a moment and brag up Westjet. They are seriously worth a post on my blog!

My career has taken me through a very busy travel schedule this year. So much so, that I’ve taken over a dozen flights with multiple carriers. They are always courteous and patient when loading people who may require more attention and time. They also put up with mighty cranky passengers with great finesse and tolerance.

Recently, I was on my way to Calgary and as I entered the plane I asked to look in to the cockpit. The attendant at that time asked me if I’d like to stay for a moment and observe. It’s for “children of all ages and sizes!”

Well, being the big kid that I am, I was super excited and took advantage of the moment!

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A special shout out to Glen and Damian the pilots and for Patrick the attendant who knocked the safety announcement outta the park!!

Thanks WestJet for making my day!

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Tomlin T-Bay

Tonight I go to Tomlin. There’s something about these taster plates places here in Thunder Bay, the Sovereign Room, Uptown Cut and now here at Tomlin.

Their washrooms are pretty good. Three individual water closets to choose from. High quality paper towels to dry off with! Be responsible, take only one!

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The main entrance, from the street. The dining room area in the back, the wine closet, and the view behind the bar.

I’ve ordered Squid Ink Gnocchi! Old school Italian tappa dyed black with squid ink. Wild! I’ll appetizer that with a cured meat board.

The meat board arrives, the server gives me the low down. It’s kind of loud so I hear the following words; deep fried head cheese, in house made mustard, a meat with peaches & bourbon, beer sausage, homemade bread, gerkins and one of the meats has walnuts in it!

Super tasty meats. The bread is stellar also!

Tom, the bartender tonight looks after me well. He’s filled my water a couple times already with out me asking! Always a good sign. 🙂

Here’s the squid ink gnocchi. Sure is dark… Smells great in an oregano, garlic and tomato base with buttered breadcrumbs on top. Surprisingly enough (and maybe it’s a good thing) squid ink doesn’t seem to have any flavour.

The sauce has a little bit of kick to it but it’s not overpowering. The garlic chunks are pretty big though. I would have liked them smaller. Still quite good though.

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Fun fact, I got a rogue macaroni noodle in with my gnocchi. Not sure what that means…did I win my meal? Turns out I did! The chef (clearly a high class guy who doesn’t take any guff) wasn’t ok charging for the gnocchi due to this noodle. In all honesty, that really impressed me!

I’d come again, for sure!

The Sovereign Room

Next foodie stop in T-Bay, The Sovereign Room!! Thunderous lightening flashes, this place is packed!!  I got the second to last table. It’s hopping and it’s already 8pm here!

This place has spiral staircase as you enter and a turntable just around the corner, hip beats happen here I imagine!! The washroom is downstairs, underneath that spiral staircase. Not child friendly though.

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I order water, as always, and in at my table comes a wine bottle, of water!! Great idea! Good reuse of bottles. The bottle stays at my table for my personal use the whole meal as well. Abby, my server, looks after me well tonight, she arrives at just the right times to clear my plates and refill my glass.

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There’s a duck poutine that I have to try apparently, so I’m on board for that. I asked my server and she informs me it’s a big bowl rather than an appetizer size dish. 

My poutine arrives, first bite is… exactly what the best poutine in Canada must taste like!!  It’s what all Americans must try when a Canadian friend says, “you’ve never had a poutine!?!? You gotta try one!” Seriously good! Great job representing a Canadian icon/classic. 

It’s covered in Thunder Oak Gouda curds with shredded duck and drenched in an SOV gravy!! I’m assuming SOV stands for sovereign. It is some great gravy!

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I’ve also ordered a pound of the chipotle Apple BBQ chicken wings. If they’re half as good as this poutine, they’ll be fantastic! It comes with a cucumber salad and house made ‘ranch, it says. 

This place has some fancy sounding pizzas, like prosciutto and fig, pancetta and goat cheese or mushroom and asparagus. Not kids flavours but they can do it if you ask of course!

I finish my water and the wings arrive! They smell great and the steam indicated fresh & hot! 

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The cucumber salad turned out to be more of an onion salad. The ranch was ok but should be classified more as a creamy wing dip because (other than colour) it doesn’t remind me of ranch. 

The Chipotle Apple BBQ is waaaay more sweet than I was expecting. It’s more of a BBQ Apple BBQ and maybe a tinge of chipotle sauce. Although there is some nice spice to it though, because I can still feel it after my table has been cleared off. 

They don’t do dessert here!! I guess I better go to the Naxos for their sizzling Apple pie!

All in all, a good experience! Next time I’ll do a pizza!