One Day in Food, Spring in Toronto Edition

This post is about an intentionally “all about food” day I enjoyed during this lovely spring in Toronto.

To set the stage…

  • Date: Friday, May 22, 2015
  • Favourite Non-Food Place Visited Today: Philosopher’s Walk
  • Hours at Work: 3
  • Soundtrack: Hold Back the River by James Bay, Cheerleader (the remix) by OMI, and a ukulele playing coworker

Fika: Jump Starting the Day

I kicked off the day with a visit to Fika (28 Kensington Avenue). It was my first time there and I really appreciated the atmosphere. It’s Swedish inspired but like the opposite of visiting Ikea. Something between the layout, staff, decor, and menu produces a sense of tranquility that feels unique, in Toronto, to Fika. So much so, that instead of risking disturbing others inside of Fika by taking photos, I waited until I left with a (Condé Nast Traveler lauded) Fika iced coffee. My suggestion to first time visitors is to not settle into sitting in the front of the house area immediately – explore the fun backyard patio, communal work table, or traffic-facing front patio.

Afternoon Snacks: The Best Part of Any Work Day

  1. Chocolate candy-coated popcorn and creamy piri piri popcorn from the Toronto Popcorn Company (147 Baldwin Street): Both flavours were really good! The chocolate made we wonder why the flavour is not more widely available and the creamy piri piri is my new favourite flavour of popcorn. The creamy piri piri is indeed creamy (this surprised me even though it’s in the name) and it has just the right mix of spices.
  2. Needlessly/amusingly complicated bottle of plum flavoured Ramune: It really did smell like plum and there is a list of six instructions to read before opening the bottle, which is all the amusement I need for one afternoon at work.
  3. Cupcake: I actually didn’t have a chance to have this on Friday so I brought it home for the weekend. The cake portion was good, perhaps the icing portion would have been better fresh.

Pai: Loud in a Good Way

“Say that again” – that’s my key request when having Friday night dinner at Pai (18 Duncan Street) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Pai is lively, friendly, and the food is oh so good.

Kekou Gelato: Season Three Will Be Awesome

Kekou Gelato House (13 Baldwin Street) opened for 2015 on May 20th so this was my first visit this year. I’ve enjoyed every visit I’ve ever made to Kekou – there’s always another uniquely-Kekou flavour to try, the staff is pleasant and patient, and sitting outside Kekou on a warm(ish) day with gelato while chatting with a friend is just a great way to spend time. On this day I went with my go-to flavour, Vietnamese coffee, and the spicy salted pineapple, and I can’t wait to make my way through every flavour before the end of “gelato season”.

Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake: Worth the Wait in the Right Conditions

Lining up for a cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake (598 Bay Street) is part of popular culture in Toronto this year. I’ve tried it before – I like it because I like cake and it’s the-right-degree-different than any other cake I’ve had. I’m describing it as a light (some people would use the word “undercooked”) combination of a custard and sponge cake (and nothing like a layered sponge cake with custard), which is basically my way of saying you need to try it for yourself!

Is the cake itself worth the hour long average wait: No.

However, this cake and this shop is not designed for grab-and-go! People in line should give the staff a break! These cakes are meant to be sold fresh from the oven so even if there was never a trendy lineup, they would likely stagger the baking times. As it is, they are selling as many cakes as possible during their business hours (which increased from 11am-11pm to 7am-11pm on May 20th). There are three 12-cake ovens and each batch of 12 takes about 45 minutes to bake – it is literally impossible for them to produce more than 36 cakes every 45 minutes!

So this is my line-up advice: If you’re otherwise going to sit with a friend at a place like a coffee shop, you don’t mind standing, and the weather is pleasant, why not line up together for cheesecake? You still get to hang out, you still have access to WiFi (the store has their WiFi password posted on their wall), and after an hour or so you’ll have cake. I arrived around 9:45pm, staff counted and cut-off the line around 9:50pm, and I purchased the forth-last cake of the night at 10:55pm. Lining up really is part of the fun.

My day in food ends here. Looking back there’s not one thing I would change!

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