Summerlicious Lunch at Bier Market

Summerlicious has been on my list of things to do for the summer. A couple of old friends suggested lunch at Bier Market, a place I had heard about but never visited. I didn’t really know what to expect.

The restaurant itself has a very slight European feel with its patio tables and Belgian words on the menu. You can definitely tell it’s in Canada. The ambience is a little too dark for my taste, but very interesting use of space, colour and old bags of wheat and wood. The doors are out of the ordinary but nothing else really is. What is amazing is the number of different kinds of beer. They even have Kingfisher, an Indian beer I watch my dad drink when we visit relatives back home! I was introduced to what is now my favorite kind of beer: Früli. I had it in a cocktail but to be fair, the cocktail only had Früli, rum and lime so I think I can say it’s my favorite beer, haha. Other than that, Bier Market didn’t really impress me. Like most restaurants in Toronto, it is way overpriced for the quality of food served.

Check out more Summerlicious menus & restaurants here.

Strawberry Dak with Früli, rum and lime. Behind the rosy glass is a beer “sampler”, that features any six combinations of beer you would like for $20. It’s quite a lot of beer for one person, but seems fun nonetheless.

Wild Mushroom Soup: Everyone that ordered this expected a creamy mushroom puree sort of soup. However it was surprisingly delicious and flavourful. The little egg and chive souffle on top was an interesting little bonus. I saw some mushrooms I’ve never seen before, even in stores. Who knew mushroom broth could be so flavorful?

Braised Beef Baguette: I don’t eat beef but everyone who ordered this thought it was the blandest sandwich they had eaten. As described on the menu, it seemed like a juicy flavourful sandwich, which apparently it was not. However the balsamic vinaigrette it was served with did help to boost the flavor.

Smoked Chicken Flammekueche: A sort of crunchy, thin flatbread topped with smoked chicken, garlic and I believe it may have been Gruyère cheese and served with a wedge of lime. This may have been the best thing on the menu. Very flavourful, the cheese and chicken gave it a wonderful texture and it tasted sort of like a gourmet chicken salad sandwich.

Moule Hoegaarden: Mussels in a white hoegaarden sauce. I didn’t eat this but all I heard was that it really wasn’t all that special or out of the world. Not impressive.
I kind of inhaled the dessert before I could remember to take a picture of it, but I had an Austrian funnel cake topped with some sort of Mango-vanilla cream compote. It sounded a lot fancier than it was, it was simply Austrian funnel cakes, little pastries topped with a sort of fresh mango ice cream. It was delicious but not as exotic as I expected it to be.

The verdict? There are cheaper places that have more flavorful food. But fewer beers. Perhaps Bier Market must be visited to drink and not eat.


Toronto Zoo

What? Toronto Zoo
How much? $21 regular admission, $14 for seniors and $13 for children, free for toddlers and babies.
How do I get there? Take the green line to Kennedy station and take the 86A Scarborough bus to the Zoo. It takes a while, but you’ll get there, eventually.

The enclosed pavilions are a must-see. They’ve recreated the animals’ natural habitat, so it’s often hot and humid inside as well as smelly. Butterflies, exotic plants and streams make you feel like you’ve stepped into a forest. My favorite part are the free flight birds. This means that exotic-looking birds of paradise of all colours are flying around above your head while you look at the monkeys, tortoises, snakes and alligators in cages. It’s a pretty cool experience especially for a nature/animal lover!

My favorite part of the zoo: The Beaver Tail. A fried, flat piece of pastry topped with cinnamon sugar, cinnamon sugar and lemon, cinnamon sugar and apples or chocolate and candy. Deeeelish.

Art, Miscealleanous

Downtown Diaries: Distillery District

This is the best alliteration ever. It makes me so happy, four word alliteration, yay!

What? Distillery District, formerly Gooderham and Worts Distillery.
How do I get there? Take the subway to King St, take the streetcar going East (504) to Parliament, also known as St. Lawrence. Walk south on Parliament till Mill St and then walk east on Mill St, till you see the main entrance.
How much? As much as you want to spend! Entrance is free, food, wine, steaks and items you wish to purchase are not, but are in a high price range.

So, Distillery District. For anyone that’s into good beer, wine, steak, chocolate or art, this is the place for you! Formerly an actual distillery, this area housed the famous Gooderham and Worts, once the world’s largest distillery. Today, its cobbled streets and large Victorian industrial architecture house some of the best cafés, steakhouses and art galleries.

My favorite place in the Distillery District is Soma Chocolaterie. They do justice to chocolate. They have gelato, hot chocolate, cold chocolate drinks and a wide range of chocolate bars, truffles, cakes and cookies. I ordered a Mayan Hot Chocolate– something I’ve been wanting to try BEFORE I knew of Soma, since I watched the movie Chocolat. It’s a hot chocolate beverage, like your regular hot chocolate with a spicy kick. It begins with a sweet, chocolatey taste on your tongue and proceeds to a hot, spicy, tingly after taste in your throat. I was kind of nursing a sore throat that day so it worked perfectly for me. There was so much chocolate around me, I felt that just trying one of these amazing items wasn’t enough. So I bought a pricey, $7 bar of “Old School Chocolate”. It is basically roasted cocoa nibs with raw cane sugar. It smells like heaven but the taste is acquired– it is a little bitter, almost sour at some point and sweet with a crumbly texture. I loved it!

I’ve also heard quite a bit about the Boiler House, a great place to get a good steak and some beer and perhaps wine and whiskey. I’ve never been but I will as soon as my financial situation allows me to!

Here’s a little virtual, photographic tour of the Distillery District..

Art, Miscealleanous

Downtown Diaries: Royal Ontario Museum

Museums are always fun. To me, at least. I love history, I love culture, I love weird stuff; I go crazy in museums. If you like museums too, this is a must-see.

What: The Royal Ontario Museum
How do I get there: Take the subway to St. George station, leave from the Bedford exit and walk to Bloor. It’s the building that looks like an explosion (credit for that gem: Jessica Kissun).
How much? Regular admission price at the ROM is $22. However, if you don’t feel like paying that much, they have half-price Friday nights– you pay only half if you arrive after 4:30pm. University and College students pay nothing on Tuesdays– just bring in your student ID and photo ID.

The ROM is open everyday from 10:00- 5:30, except for Fridays. On Fridays, it is open till 9:30.

This is what the building looks like.  This part of the building was funded by Michael Lee Chin and is called the Michael Lee Chin Crystal.

The ceiling to the right of the main foyer. It says “That all men may know his work”. I guess the women will never know!

A Greek statue of some sort. This is one of the things I love about the ROM. You know how a lot of museums do not allow you touch their items? The ROM doesn’t either, but they recreate some of the items so you can get a more tactile experience!

This happy looking man is about five times larger than you. Find him in the Chinese/South East Asian part of the ROM.

Smiling Buddha. The swastika on the front makes me wonder if this is an Indian version of the Buddha? I’m not sure I’ve seen the swastika used widely in South East Asian Buddhism.

Quartz, I think. I’m not too good with rocks. I kinda just go “oooo pretty” and forget the name. Pretty sure the collection includes a meteor of some sort.

Giant Totem poles: I read that totem poles were supposedly used to mark large Inuit houses. I guess they marked the ancestry and the tribe and all that important stuff.

Fun Fact: Polar bears have black skin. They’re also the world’s most dangerous bears. My favorite!

Eye of the tiger!

The biggest flower in the world, the rafflesia– a plaster remake. The bright petals and disgusting smell coming from the flower has the function of attracting insects that it eats. Yum!

This sharp lookin’ fella is a marine creature. Pretty teeth, huh?

A dinosaur baby! This poor guy hatched only about a million/billion years after he was supposed to!

This is only about 0.5% of what the ROM has to offer. If you love museums, this is the place for you. If you don’t like museums or have no particular feelings about one, it is a good way to spend your summer indoors away from the burning heat while gaining an educational experience. I believe history and culture must be experienced by all, so I would suggest going on the free/half-price days!

No, they did not pay me to write this.


Leather Huts & Glass Buildings

My hometown, Dubai, has little history that survives, that is tangible and can be seen on a daily basis. That’s why Toronto’s juxtaposition of historical buildings with buildings such as these always amazes me. I’m always astounded by the fact that our civilization has come so far that we went from building huts from twigs, mud and animal skins (which to me is a lot of work anyway) to sky scrapers and glass monsters like this. I’m not sure we’re heading the right way though.

I recently saw a set of digitally created images of what New York City looked like before the settlers came. It made me think– what would the world be like if we all just stay put in our own countries? Would it be better? Which countries would be in power then? Would there even be a power struggle among countries? I’m a weird kid, these are the things I think of when I see buildings.


Best Pizza IMHO

Hoops is a little sports’ bar right by my university campus where students go to drink, watch sports and partake in their Tuesday & Thursday night half-off wings’ special. It’s a good deal, really, about $7 in total for a pound of wings, fries and a coke.

They have this item on their menu, a “Mediterranean” pizza. Best pizza I’ve tasted in all my time in North America. Thin, crispy crust, topped with onions, red peppers, large green sheets of thinner-than-paper spinach and dotted with creamy, salty feta cheese. There is also a good possibility that it would fall under the category of “healthy pizza”.