toronto

Oliver & Bonacini: Canoe

So a couple years back when I had just moved to Toronto, and barely able to keep my bank account out of the red, we’d always joke about going to eat at Canoe. Only because with my negative bank account, I pretty much survived off of instant noodles so spending a weeks’ worth of food budget on a single meal at Canoe was never even a real option.

Four years later (OG has it been that long?!), I’m lucky enough to have a stable job, and have paid off my student debt. I can’t say I’ve given up instant noodles entirely (who am I kidding? It’s my go to hangover food), but I have increased my food budget ever so slightly. Even still, I’ve never been to canoe.

So one night, the bf called and told me to put on something nice, because he made reservations for us at Canoe for our anniversary. When he came to pick me up, there were dresses everywhere, and my grumpy butt sitting there frustrated that the 12 extra pounds I now carry around has somehow made almost every single dress I own to no longer fit. I’m convinced that somehow, everything I own has shrunk.. I mean.. with the humidity.. and the summer heat… that’s possible right? Right?

Anyways, I finally settled on a loose backless dress and off we went.

We started off with a half order of the canoe raw bar that included oysters, juicy prawns, smoked salmon, two different kinds of ceviche, plus poached lobster salad. OMG. SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. For $35 dollars, it was a great appetizer plate to share.

CanoeRawBar

To drink, we had a gin fizz (gin, lemon, sugar, egg white & soda), and a few glasses of red wine (Delaforce Touriga Nacional Douro Valley from Portugal). The bf was a little clueless about how to smell and taste the wine so our wonderful server gave us a mini lesson.

My entrée was mackerel and ridiculously buttery melt in your mouth lobster on top of buttered turnips, algonquin grits, and spinach. It was so rich and although it didn’t look like a lot of food, left me feeling quite satisfied.

me

The bf got alberta lamb which came in 3 different cuts. Also really yummy but didn’t even come close to how amazing my dish was.

Though the desserts looked delicious, I was too stuffed from the appetizer and entree so I decided to pass. To finish off the meal, our server brought over this little surprise. Look at how cute this is!
anniverary

The whole dinner was amazing. Our server was wonderful and gave us just the right amount of attention. He made wonderful recommendations and really added to the whole experience.

I’m now determined to save my pennies so I can splurge on nice meals like this more often!

Oliver & Bonacini: Canoe

So a couple years back when I had just moved to Toronto, and barely able to keep my bank account out of the red, we’d always joke about going to eat at Canoe. Only because with my negative bank account, I pretty much survived off of instant noodles so spending a weeks’ worth of food budget on a single meal at Canoe was never even a real option.

Four years later (OG has it been that long?!), I’m lucky enough to have a stable job, and have paid off my student debt. I can’t say I’ve given up instant noodles entirely (who am I kidding? It’s my go to hangover food), but I have increased my food budget ever so slightly. Even still, I’ve never been to canoe.

So one night, the bf called and told me to put on something nice, because he made reservations for us at Canoe for our anniversary. When he came to pick me up, there were dresses everywhere, and my grumpy butt sitting there frustrated that the 12 extra pounds I now carry around has somehow made almost every single dress I own to no longer fit. I’m convinced that somehow, everything I own has shrunk.. I mean.. with the humidity.. and the summer heat… that’s possible right? Right?

Anyways, I finally settled on a loose backless dress and off we went.

We started off with a half order of the canoe raw bar that included oysters, juicy prawns, smoked salmon, two different kinds of ceviche, plus poached lobster salad. OMG. SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. For $35 dollars, it was a great appetizer plate to share.

CanoeRawBar

To drink, we had a gin fizz (gin, lemon, sugar, egg white & soda), and a few glasses of red wine (Delaforce Touriga Nacional Douro Valley from Portugal). The bf was a little clueless about how to smell and taste the wine so our wonderful server gave us a mini lesson.

My entrée was mackerel and ridiculously buttery melt in your mouth lobster on top of buttered turnips, algonquin grits, and spinach. It was so rich and although it didn’t look like a lot of food, left me feeling quite satisfied.

me

The bf got alberta lamb which came in 3 different cuts. Also really yummy but didn’t even come close to how amazing my dish was.

Though the desserts looked delicious, I was too stuffed from the appetizer and entree so I decided to pass. To finish off the meal, our server brought over this little surprise. Look at how cute this is!
anniverary

The whole dinner was amazing. Our server was wonderful and gave us just the right amount of attention. He made wonderful recommendations and really added to the whole experience.

I’m now determined to save my pennies so I can splurge on nice meals like this more often!

Color me RAD!

Colour me RAD group TorontoA couple months ago when we first heard about Colour Me Rad, it only took 30 seconds of looking at photos on their website before I was sold on the idea. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a rainbow vomited all over them?! SO FUN! For those who have never heard of this before, it’s a 5K run where you have coloured starch thrown at you. Once you hit the finish line, everyone is given a colour bomb for the ultimate rainbow war finale. I had an eventful birthday party to go to Saturday night which left me a little less than 100% for the run on Sunday morning. After running/walking (mostly walking.. maybe even dragged a bit) there are a few tips for those who are thinking of doing it for the first time.

But first…. Let’s check out some awesome fun photos from the day!

Ngoc Nguyen at colour me rad

ngoc nguyen color me rad ngoc nguyen color me radColour me Rad boyssmallDSCF3422 ngoc nguyen color me rad

Tips and Tricks

  • Wear white if you want the colours to show up well. I saw a few runners wearing black and the coloured starch looked a little mucky and muted on the black. 
  • Try not to open your mouth too wide during the colour stations. The corn starch has a way of instantly drying out your mouth if you get too much in there. 
  • If you want to bring your phone or camera, keep it in some sort of clear bag. You will get starch on everything you have. I brought along my crappy 10 year old camera and kept it in a cellophane bag which works a little better than a zip lock bag as the material is typically clearer and firmer which gives less distortion when you’re taking a photo through the bag.
  • Don’t make plans for immediately after the race. You’ll likely want to go home and shower unless you plan on leaving a rainbow trail wherever you go for the rest of the day… 
  • If you’re driving there or getting a ride, bring plastic bags to sit on for the ride back unless you want to leave a nice print on the car seat.
  • If you cut the sleeves on a shirt, the piece that you cut off makes a great head band.
  • If you’re running on a sunny day, careful about where you put the “RAD” tattoo that they give you. I have a pretty sweet RAD tanline on my biceps now.. I’d HIGHLY recommend putting it right on your forehead… All the cool kids are doing it.
  • HAVE FUN!

Science Everywhere : Air Pressure

science everywhere be a science ninja experimentI’ve been helping out a wonderful friend of mine, Ernest Morgan with a project called Science Everywhere. The idea is to show how science is all around us by using everyday materials to demonstrate different science principles.

The first video that will soon be up on Youtube demonstrates how air pressure is all around us . Using every day items like duct tape, garbage bags, a shop vac, we showed how you can use air pressure to suction yourself up against a flat surface.

preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninjaThanks to Goorin Bros Hat shop who graciously let us use their store front window for this experiment. Here are a few teaser shots of the day. Check out Science Everywhere’s facebook page and Youtube for the videos and full explanations.
preparing for a science everywhere experiment #beascienceninja science everywhere air pressure experiment #beascienceninjaGoorin Brother's Hat shop

Tips and tricks

  • lay the garbage bags down and the ground and tape them together first
  • you will need a perfect seal all around the plastic bag in order for this to work. Pay close attention to the legs and neck area. 
  • never cover your face with the plastic bag! This is very important because if your face is covered when you suction out the air, YOU COULD DIE!
  • hold one hand over the vacuum hose to help control the suction. If you don’t do this, it will suck up the plastic bag
  • always have a buddy with you
  • if you are going to suction yourself to a window, make sure it will hold your weight!
  • it will get very hot under the plastic bags

IMG_6451 copy

We’ll be doing fun experiements across the city all summer. Follow us on twitter to find out when the next one happens so you can join in! @soundslikeknock @science__ninja

The Brownstone

I’m so guilty of wanting to go to any restaurant that has appeared on the food network. So when I first saw the Brownstone on Restaurant Takeover, I knew I had to go! Unfortunately, I must have ordered all the wrong dishes the first time because my visit a few months ago was just ok. The space was beautiful with it’s exposed brick wall, uncovered overhead piping, and raw wood style flooring and tables, but the food wasn’t great enough for me to return. However, Yashy, from Dishcrawl toronto convinced me to go back and try their brunch. Let’s just say, I’ve returned 5 times within a 2 month period.  



Brunch entrees will run you between 10 and 15 dollars. Fairly competitive for the quality and location. I had the grilled chicken and portobello topped with a poached egg. The side salad with nice and light and the chicken was lightly seasoned with just enough flavour. The whole meal was very satisfying and left me feeling ready to tackle the day.


We’ve also tried the salmone affunicato con frittele which is crispy potato topped with smoked salmon, mascarpone cheese, red onions and capers. The presentation of all their dishes was fantastic and since I’m living only a stone’s throw away, they will definitely see my smiling face on many more Sundays to come.

If you’re working in the area, you should definitely pop by in the summer during happy hour (4pm-6pm) to enjoy some half price appetizers on their great patio.

 

The Brownstone Bistro and Bar

603 Yonge St.,
Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z5.

Telephone: 416-920-6288

FABARNAK

umbrellas at fabarnak

FABARNAK menu

FABARNAK restaurant located in the Church and Wellesley Village is a 519 Church Street Community Centre initiative that not only serves delicious food, but is focused on doing social good. They strive to help people with employment barriers through their training and employment program. They offer people who have faced some kind of employment barrier the opportunity to receive training and job experience that will help them gain future employment or help them transition to school. Some of their participants have included trans youth undergoing a gender transition, newcomers to Canada with limited Canadian work experience and young people in recovery from addiction.
Their menu items are creative and unique and over 60% of their ingredients are sourced locally. Though the menu was small, every single item had personality and sounded delicious. We started with some Crispy Ricotta Gnocchi which was a perfect sharing dish.

Crispy Ricotta Gnocchi by FABARNAK
Next up with some crispy KFQuail. Nice and crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside dipped in some spicy ketchup. Delicious!
KFQuail from FABARNAK
We also had the Lambchetta which if you’re on a diet, the amount of fat on this dish may not be your cup of tea. It was tender and full of flavour but not a dish I could complete on my own. I’d definitely recommend ordering one for the table so everyone can try a small piece.
Lambchetta from FABARNAK

Overall, the experience was wonderful. Great service and amazing food means I will definitely be returning!

FABARNAK

519 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9

Monday to Saturday 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Daily take-out and cafe service | Weekday Lunch (11:00AM-3:30PM)
Friday Dinner (5:30PM-9:00PM) | Saturday Brunch (9:00AM-4:30PM)

For more information about the Employment and Training Program, contact:

Matthew Cutler, Director of Development and Community Engagement
416-355-6798 | MCutler@The519.org

 

Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario

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As the winter is finally passing and the warmth of summer is within reach, I wanted to share with my Toronto friends a wonderful volunteering opportunity that really changed my life. A few summers ago, when I was in the middle of so many life changes that left me a little bit lost, I knew it was time to make some changes in my life. I needed to stop thinking about just myself and I knew that if I started looking at how my life could help others, that I would eventually find my way again. I remembered my friend Julian had mentioned that the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario was in need of volunteers so after work I dropped by their little office to see what I could do. This sailing club provides people living with a disability the opportunity to learn about and enjoy sailing.

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I volunteered as a sailing companion and was able to learn how to sail, spend my summer surrounded by water, and hang out with some of the best company I’ve ever had. I met more inspirational and positive people that summer than I have in my whole life. They showed me that you can overcome any obstacle with the right mind set. One particularly amazing person that I met was Joseph Chessari who had both of his legs severed above the knee, a year earlier in a work place accident. You would have never known from speaking to him that the accident had been so recent. There was never any traces of anger or bitterness. Just appreciation for the life that he still had, and the determination that he was going to do everything that anyone else could do. And he really does! He now runs, swims, rock climbs, paddle boards and pretty much is just an awesome rock star! Visit his site walkingwithnewlegs.com and learn more about his story and his initiatives to support and encourage other amputees.
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It was also at this club that I met a boy who’s genuine desire to help others, and unmeasurable understanding and empathy, still continues to push me to achieve more from my life. He truly is the best person I’ve ever met and I’m so lucky that he lets me be a part of his life. I promise you that while you volunteer here, you’ll meet at least one person that changes your life. You’ll be constantly surrounded by amazing stories, strong people, and open minds. I really couldn’t imagine a better way to have spent my first summer in Toronto and highly encourage you to get involved.

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Queen’s Quay Disabled Sailing Program

283B Queen’s Quay West (Toronto’s harbourfront area)

Open from May to September.
Days: Wednesday – Sunday
Hours: 11 AM – 7 PM
Sail sessions: 12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM
Racing: Wednesday – 6 PM

*MEDIA*

My photo was used in a feature article in 24 hours!
disabled sailing association of Ontario in 24 hours

Volunteering at Santa Claus Fund – Toronto Star

100% of your donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box

presents2

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to take for granted how fortunate some of us are. Volunteering to deliver presents for the Santa Claus fund gave me the opportunity to slow down and remember the importance of giving and helping others. I remember the joy of getting a brand new toy on Christmas day and to be able to give that to a child who may not otherwise receive a gift was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up.

 

The Santa Claus Fund organized by the Toronto Star aims to give a little bit of holiday cheer to underprivileged children. One point that I wanted to emphasize is that when you donate, 100% of the donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box (this includes a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hats, books, toys and candies). The Toronto Star generously covers all administrative costs.

 

Santa sets up distribution centers all over the GTA and volunteer elves assemble to help distribute. We headed to the firehall nice and early at 8:30am last Saturday to pick up the gift boxes. To make delivery a little easier, the presents are sorted by neighbourhoods. We quickly filled up the car with as many presents as we could. We ended up fitting about 20 presents into the car so that meant we had about 14 houses to visit (some families has multiple presents because they had multiple kids). It was a wonderful experience and I’d highly encourage participating or donating to the cause. I know I will definitely be signing up again next year!

 

If you’re interested in participating, here are a few things that I learned from my experience.

 

1. Write down the addresses of the homes BEFORE putting the presents into the car and make sure you put similar streets together.  This will help you map out an efficient route and not have you doubling back to a neighbourhood because a box was hidden at the back of your trunk.

 

2. Dress warm and wear comfortable shoes. Since you select gifts in the same neighbourhood, they will often by separated by a block or two. Be prepared to walk a lot and wait outside of people’s houses. Since you will be carrying the presents, make sure you wear gloves.  I unfortunately learned how quickly your fingers can get really cold.

 

presents

3. Don’t get discouraged by the number of families that aren’t home. Many parents work shifts and may be at work or are sleeping. Many also have weekend jobs or may just be out running errands. Out of our 14 houses, we had about 6 that were undeliverable. These presents are returned back to the distribution centre where the families can go pick it up themselves or someone else might try to redeliver at a later date.

 

4. Make sure you aren’t in a rush. Packing up the car, visiting 14 houses, and returning back to the distribution centre took about 3 hours.

 

5. I opted to deliver to mostly houses but if you have young children with you (I highly encouraged teaching young ones the act of giving and helping others), it might be easier to pick recipients in the same apartment building. This will allow you to visit many families houses in a shorter period of time. You will also end up staying a little bit warmer.

 

6. Having a cell phone really helped as many of the presents also listed a contact number for the family. Some families may not open the door for a stranger, or you might not know the buzzer code to get into the apartment building. I found that it helped to give them a call to let them know that you were either waiting in the lobby, or that you were on your way.

 

7. Never judge a book by the cover. You may think that from looking at the outside of someone’s home, or from the neighbourhood that they live in, that they may not need any assistance but you never really know someone’s situation. Remember, you didn’t volunteer to judge. Santa picked them for a reason.

 

 

You can visit the Santa Claus Fund page on the Toronto Star if you would like some more information about this wonderful initiative.

 

*UPDATE*

My blog post was featured in the Toronto Star!

Ngoc Nguyen in the Toronto Star