Coming this September!
Bruce in the City
Coming this September!
Bruce in the City
Hey, so summer is unofficially here! The weather has been brilliant in Toronto. The city is a buzz with festivities and culture events. Lots of stuff was or is happening. You can check local BIA’s for info on what’s going on in different parts of the city. Did you know that? I think it’s probably a very under used and under appreciated resource for people who live here as well as tourists. There’s Cabbage Town, Yorkville, and Greek Town on the Danforth. There’s Lawrence Village, China Town, Korean Town and Kensington Market. You can’t miss Little Italy when you visit Toronto, Roncesvalles, Leslieville. I featured places from most of those areas but still I’ve barely scratch the surface of this great city.
Today it’s all about the beach. The area I’m talking about is called The Beach but it’s known locally as The Beaches. It’s been a debate in the city for years. People who live in The Beach area call it the beach and everyone outside the beach always seem to say, “Let’s go to The Beaches” as if there’s more than one in that area… there’s not. It’s just one long beach strip but whatever you decide to call it, it’s an amazing area in the city. Lots of California style culture. It’s so chill there, except for the bitchy young people who always seem to abuse a good thing. Damn I just made myself sound like an old Bitchy Queen. Well if the crown fits?!? All metropolises are wonderful places but can be very stressful. Thank the gods Toronto has many spots around this concrete jungle to escape from the hustle and bustle. My partner and I love to head down to the beach and take a stroll along the boardwalk before heading up to one of our favourite ice cream parlours. It’s called Ed’s Real Scoop. Super yummy ice cream and fudge shop. They have a rainbow of gelato too. They have shops in Roncesvalles and Leslieville too! Although to be honest, I’ve never been to those ones. Project!?! Here’s a cute little blurb you will find on their website!
“Growing up in the 1950’s as one of 6 children, I was lucky to have a mother with great cooking skills, a very limited budget, and a sweet tooth(!) so that a huge array of baked goods, sweets, and ice cream were made at home as a way of entertaining the kids and saving money at the same time. I founded Ed’s Real Scoop with the aim of offering many of those homemade treats, especially my favourite – ice cream, to Toronto. We use only the highest quality ingredients we can find to make all our artisanal ice creams, gelati, frozen yogurts and other treats.”
It’s just that good. I can’t resist a family business. It inspires me. Without them the city would be box store after box store, with no culture at all. Explore your neighbourhood. Talk to the people in your neighbourhood. Their stories will help you escape to a simpler time. Stress will be a distant reality. Even for just a moment.
Ed’s Real Scoop
2224 Queen St. East
Edit: Mary Ellen Monk
Tech this! Tech that! App this! App that! Stream this! Stream that! Spotify! iTunes! Netflix!
It’s all so antisocial and non committal. It’s using someone else’s underwear. Rip it off some cyberspace and lose it all with a virus crash. Don’t misunderstand me I love all this on the spot, self gratifying, get where and when I want it, because god damn it, waiting is so last decade!
However, I gotta tell you there is still nothing like walking into a vinyl shop and cruising the record stand for the latest, or even sexier, the retro artist to spin on the crystal needle and chill. Hook me up with some vintage U2, Sarah McLachlan, Culture Club to start and then round me off with some Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind and Fire, and Electric Light Orchestra.
Pop Music has got it baby and I’m not just talking genre. The shop is called “Pop Music”. Clever, sleek, raw! The latest vinyl releases at your finger tips with all the classic retro jazz, rock, funk, and soul all in one manifesto of counter culture and popular culture! Vinyl is back with a vengeance and this fly shop is just what the doctor ordered. Records and Tees! You know I never thought I’d ever say that again on the day I bought my first CD. That soulless disc that stole the epic sound of music on vinyl. I don’t care who you are, nothing sounds as bad ass as The Doors on the turntable. Drop the needle with Joan Jett. Feel the revolution with Bob Marley and that unforgettable groove. The owner of this must visit shop is Derek. He’s into it. You can feel it as I overhear him talking weekly chart toppers and trade release on the hot or not music industry playlist with a patron. He’s got it all! He’s got it now! I still have my records that I bought when I was 12. Thriller! Olivia Newton John vol 2, Joshua Tree, Joe’s Garage! I knew it wasn’t over for that beautiful black lava. Chilled for our listening pleasure. Derek’s shop is the hub of the vinyl resurgence here in the city. New tees and records weekly and some pretty sweet collectables to fill your sack with goodness. I’ll be visiting Pop Music often to add to my already incredible collection of artists. The sound, the smell, the hiss of something so real you can almost reach out and touch it. Shop local. There’s nothing real about a download.
Pop Music Records and Tees
581 Gerrard Street East
Toronto Ontario Canada
Follow Instagram @POPMUSICTO
Editor Mary Ellen Monk
It’s the long weekend B.I.T.C’s! It’s time to get your BBQ fired up! If you’re in the Toronto area I found the baddest butcher in the city!!! Mark Michelin has been a member of Toronto’s St. James Town community located in the heart of Old Cabbagetown since 1971. He’s cool! He’s inked! He’s really a friendly, family guy and he has a passion for delivering a quality product. My visit to this butcher leaves me with some of the best cuts of meat this side of gay town. They carry naturally raised, antibiotic and synthetic growth hormone free meats which is bloody fantastic! I can’t understand why anyone would settle for less if their means allow. Just check out this list of goods (in no particular order) and tell me it’s not impressive!
Liberterre pork products
Claire Island organic salmon
Farm fresh poultry co-op chickens.
Just to highlight the staples. Mark prides himself on providing the highest quality cuts at some of the best prices in town. From Mark’s home-made specialty sausage to his amazing hand-smoked organic salmon. He offers Mediterranean couscous and Greek salad to mouth-watering sandwiches piled high with your choice of fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and condiments. It’s
just too much, in the most fulfilling way possible. It doesn’t end there! Oh no!! Mark’s regular menu includes home-stewed soups, fresh baked pastries and cookies, slow roasted ribs, Mark’s fantastic chicken schnitzel and much more.
Sounds incredible? Well that’s not all! His outstanding deli offers catering services to meet any need! Offering a beautifully glazed meatloaf to perfect pastrami sandwiches! As we feasted our eyes on the perfectly placed items I could literally feel my mouth watering as I stared at his raw meat. We chose some beautiful steak along with some wonderful deli items. It was so tender and juicy. I mean if you meat lovers aren’t lined up already then I don’t know, but that inked butcher has got me wanting his meat at least once a week!! You will too!
Monday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Check website for holiday hours
Editor Mary Ellen Monk
It feels like a lifetime ago when I rented a small white house just across the parking lot from the Oshawa Centre. I had gotten a job at East Side Mario’s as a server. I must have been in my early 20’s. I don’t think since that time have I ever gotten closer to people that I worked with. We were such a group and we were all coming of age. I decided to get out my video recorder and document our lives together. There was Jay (the groups designated cute guy. He reminded us of this lead singer from a popular band of the time), Paula (the crazy blonde because everyone needs a crazy blonde), Brenda (who didn’t actually work with us but was a friend of mine I brought into the circle as the perfect party companion), Aaron (the coolest and cutest fellow who had all the girl’s hearts a flutter, who also very sadly passed away recently), Grant who was the big boss with another intimidating dude name Sean, he was the owner. I did my best to make him laugh so he didn’t seem as scary.
It was the time of our lives, or at least it was for me. I never thought I’d get the job but my interview went off like a hitch! Grant, one of the managers I mentioned asked me what type of vegetable I’d like to be and I said a carrot. He asked me why and I calmly said it seems like a vegetable that could have a lot of fun. Well, I landed the job instantly and the next few years we worked and partied together it felt like every night. Enid, by the Barenaked Ladies was top of the charts along with The Tragically Hip and some early Sarah McLaughlin. The music just seemed so great back then.
All these people I mentioned and more came to mind today when I stopped into an East Side Mario’s near Eglinton and Victoria Park. The atmosphere and food has always been really great. I was craving that amazing house salad, the soup, and that warm garlic loaf. I sat in the booth and was transported back to a time in my life that was so expressive and awakening. Creating that documentary was one of the best times in my life. Believe it or not I still have it in my personal library. I pull it out once in a while and feast on the incredible memories. My server brought me back from my memories as he said hello and introduced himself. He was Connor. He was cute. I explained I just came in for the soup and salad combo and even though I had missed the serving time of that combo he smiled as if he knew I was reliving something that needed honouring and I was really happy he did. I watched everyone scooting around. I even heard one of their popular birthday songs I did so many nights on the clock! “It’s your birthday, where are you? We’re coming over to sing to you! East side Mario’s wishes you a happy day.” Etc., etc., etc. I can’t recall the rest but we all secretly hated doing it. Except for this guy named Darcy who always seemed game to lead the call for everyone. He was a funny guy. I think I annoyed the hell out of him if I remember correctly. Connor brought my soup, salad, and home loaf to me and again threw me another “I get it” smile. He may have been a bit clairvoyant. It was as great tasting as I remembered from years ago. The garlic loaf seemed smaller but that’s probably a good thing. I mean how many carbs does a mid-lifer need? Wow, did I just say that? It’s so true. I have to start embracing that fact if I want to avoid the pending mid life crisis which so far I think I’ve evaded. Connor was the best and really made my visit down memory lane worth every bite. I’ll be back. I always return home when I need to remember who I was so many moons ago! Oh bada boom, badda bing!
This blog is dedicated to every single amazing person I met and worked with at East Side Mario’s. There are so many I couldn’t name you all. I remember you all though. And to Aaron, one of the sweetest fellows I ever knew. I wish you didn’t have to go so soon.
edited by Mary Ellen Monk
A note to my readers: This article was written prior to the store sustaining damage caused by the recent ice storm. This location is currently closed. I’m unsure when or if they will be reopening. I will try to keep you posted. I wish them all the best. B.I.T.C
What is going on? What happened to spring? I don’t get it. It was looking hopeful and then Mother Nature barfed all over us. It’s not right and it’s not ok! (to reference the late great Ms. Houston). I’m just pretending I’m somewhere else. As much as I love to stroll the streets of Toronto you can’t in this crap. Welcome to ice storm 2018.
I’m not a huge lover of the corporate shopping malls but you know even on a day like this they really are an acceptable alternative. It was with that in mind I decided to wander around Eglinton Square. It’s an old mall east of Don Mills. It was when wandering this retro furlong that I discovered a shop perfect for my great escape. In one second I was transported to England. A little bakery called Mrs. Bridges British Bakery. With all the buzz around the royals with that handsome ginger Prince Harry getting married, what better time to get my British on. I’m Scottish though I’ve never been. I don’t do much travelling outside of Canada so I personally appreciate these specialty shops. On a side note, I think it’s a shame that people don’t dress more in their cultural dress. Some cultures do and it’s pretty obvious, but when was the last time you saw someone rocking a kilt or Lederhosen! I get tired of the same old North American fashion confines, because they really are. What’s your background? Maybe sport some of your cultural attire once a month or something. Do we all have to look like an American Eagle assembly line?
Anyway, all this going through my mind as I meet this outgoing woman named Leona. She runs the shop with another woman I’ve not had the privilege of meeting yet. Leona and I started chatting about her goods. British baked goods, Scottish crackers, cheeses brought in from the UK. I love cheese. We chatted cheese and wine a bit and then she showed me a product I knew well. Mars. You know the chocolate bar, not the planet. She challenges me to a taste test. A Mars bar from the UK verses the North American equivalent. She said, “Open the package slowly and take in the aroma”. I’m like, “okay”. She said to come back and tell her what I thought. Okay, I took that bar home, I opened it and I smelled it and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Essence of cocoa and fresh caramel. I bit into it and tasted the creamy, milky, caramel, toasty essence. You think I’m joking? I dare you to try it. I triple dog dare you. The difference between the two mars bars was literally the difference between eating a well produced chocolate bar and salted wax. No comparison! Why are we being fed this crap. I went back to Leona to share with her my experience and I asked her, “What’s the difference?” First have you ever heard of wax filling? I hadn’t until my chat with her. That is just one major difference in the way the chocolate is made in Britain as oppose to the US or Canada. They use natural ingredients while we get fed filler and man made poison literally. An American Mars bar won’t kill you but it does taste like crap when you get the chance to eat the real thing. I was kind of miffed. Why are we being sold this wax filled low grade chocolate? It’s tosh really! I’d have to say that the Mars bar from the UK was the bees knees. Every bite was satisfying and you know what else I didn’t taste? SALT! Mars Bars made here taste like salt! It’s just absolutely minging! Her shop on the other hand was not and I’ll be back to grab myself some of that British cheese to go with the Scottish crackers and of course my Mars fix! One thing I won’t be doing is eating another one of those ghastly Mars bars made in North America. Just terrible! Check out this shop. It’s a trip.
edited by Mary Ellen Monk
A word from the editor:
Interesting to know because Wesley LOVES Mars bar. They are his favourite.
Good for you for venturing out at all today. I hibernated all day. Dave even took the boys to bowling by himself. I’m still fighting a nasty cold so I rewarded myself with a two hour nap while they were gone.
Before I get started I want to welcome back my wonderful editor Mary Ellen. You were missed. I hope you had an amazing trip. I was creeping your posts and it looks like you had a blast and your family too! So, yes, welcome home.
Today’s blog, I have to admit, has become one of my favourites. I was at my therapist’s office on Friday (yes, I have a therapist. I think everyone should have one) and after my hour with her I felt like I needed to take a nice long walk and mull around the get together. Toronto is a great place to roam around. It was a little cool but I had my favourite Roots sweater on and so I was ready to walk. I took a few photos along the way of Dundas Square, this cool looking condo just off Queen Street with the CN Tower in the distance, and a few other pics that I posted on my Instagram @bruceinthecity. It’s so relaxing just site seeing like a guest in this old city. It was in the middle of this stroll that I passed by an interesting looking restaurant. I had wandered into Queen Street West and this part of the city seems to have a lot of fabric places and sewing shops. It seems to be where clothing designers go to get the fabric supplies they need.
A little further west I passed by La Pallette. Oh so French. I checked out their menu which was displayed on a lectern. I peeked in the window. It had a relaxed French bistro feel to it. Maybe it was the colours? Maybe the window dressing? The sprawl of black and white photographs that seemed to be floating along the east wall? The kitchen was right out there in the open with it’s heavy metalled accessories. It felt a bit “Alice in Wonderland” to me. The bearded fellow behind the bar invited me in and to sit where I like. I chose a window seat which I actually regretted because it didn’t allow for me to admire the decor very well. The bearded fellow approached me and enthusiastically shared how the menu worked and what were some highlights and then he asked me about a beverage. I chose a Pinot Grigio. When he returned I hadn’t yet decided. I didn’t want to have to think to be honest. I looked up at his impressive beard and I just said surprise me. He looked a little surprised but I guessed that wasn’t the first time he heard a statement like that. He asked me if I had any allergies or if I was squeamish. I said no, but I lied. I was a little squeamish. After he walked away I thought okay, go big or go home. I was enjoying my pinot as I rolled around how bad could it be? The place looked pretty harmless. What could he bring me that would make me squeamish? You know when I review places, I like to be inspired. Either by the impeccable customer service or the food. Since my background deals in customer service that tends to be what affects me the greatest. But this day I just wanted to be orally satisfied beyond measure. Bring me something that would take me out of my body and spin me across the universe of flavours and savourings. I think it may have been his girth of beard that had me feeling so wide open to something perfectly new. He returned with plate in hand, placed it in front of me and began to explain the contents. It sounded like a bunch of pretty words from a bearded baritone and I was certain he said horse. Then he smiled and walked away. Did I hear him correctly? The plate looked wonderful. A lovely salad, side of fresh bread, thin fries lightly seasoned and the vinaigrette dressing was lovely. Little kisses of mustard on the plate and an egg yolk sitting on top of a lovely round of what appeared to be the “piece de resistance”, but oh my god, did he say horse? I’m certain he did. I did say surprise me, didn’t I? Okay, well I had to go for it. I wanted a brand new experience and this friendly man just put his best meat forward for me to try. I had to put it in my mouth. There was just no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I had to put it in my mouth. I’m adventurous. I can do this. I want to do it. I asked for it. I took my fork and took some yolk that burst over the top of this signature dish. I overheard reactions to him by other patrons. He’s a genius! He’s the best! He knows just what his customer needs! One woman pleaded with him to bring her back to life with the perfect drink. He did. It was called Hail Satan, some espresso based alcohol beverage! That seemed to give this woman that meg Ryan moment from When Harry Met Sally, I kid you not. This guy, whom the patrons called David, was like a local celebrity and as I placed that piece of meat into my mouth I knew I was experiencing something extraordinary. It was mouth watering and gentle as it kissed my tongue. My mind was having a moral struggle but my mouth said, “Oh yes, give me more of that outstanding piece of meat”. I found myself mixing the flavours going between the mustards and the leaf of the perfect salad and complimented by perfect thinly cut fries. The experience he gave me honestly inspired me to continue writing and to be even more brave in the future when I visit the restaurants in this amazing city and maybe once again dare to say, “surprise me”.
6 kisses out of 5
Edited by Mary Ellen Monk
A note from Mary Ellen
I’m much more nervous than you about food. I would have heard horse and there would have been no way that it was going in my mouth. Dave on the other hand would have tried it. The man is a food connoisseur and will try anything once.
Good for you for being brave though!
Dang! Spring like weather arrived in Toronto for a couple of days this week and I started feeling inspired enough to get out of bed. Then the snow came. Did I mention how much I hate February?
All through February, John and I have been dealing with that flu, which literally lasts a month, that has been kicking the crap out of North America. I’m sorry, but that has government conspiracy written all over it.
Last Sunday, we went to Medieval Times for a crash and burn nightmare I’ll be sharing next Sunday. Anyway, feeling utterly beaten up by that experience, I decided we needed to treat ourselves to a quiet dinner for two; however, when John responded, “Sounds like an idea”, I knew he was really saying, “No thanks!”. After 13 years I have learned to read my guy and his responses like a book!
So, midweek, since John and I had appointments scheduled, I decided to take full advantage of the trip to see our Doctor to revisit the dinner for two possibility.
John likes having his blood work done as much as I like February and was so traumatized he demanded a treat – like any tough guy would!! Since I was wanting to go out for something to eat we agreed to make it Fran’s – for my brave little soldier – NAH!!!! for me!!! Hook, line and sinker!
OMG, we love Fran’s! It’s been around for years and is such an important treasure at College and Yonge.
Who needs 5 foot by 5 foot condos for $500 000.00 for all those lovely foreign investors to buy up just to turnover profit when instead you can have Fran’s! It is such an amazingly cool place to hang out in. It still has that Art Deco look about it. I love the marque with all its glittery wonder, like something from old New York vaudeville days.
It’s just a small chain found only in Toronto. The flagship location was opened in 1940 by G. Francis “Fran” Deck at 21 St Clair Avenue West but sadly closed in 2001. For the classical music buffs, the St. Clair Ave. Location was a regular establishment for pianist Glenn Gould.
Getting back to our meals, John had a strawberry milk shake and I chose chocolate (which is way better than strawberry in my opinion!!!). He also had the steak and eggs and I did my fav scrabbled with all the trimmings.
Fran’s was the place I chose way back when I first met John to drag him out for breakfast. The occasion was Pride and I had been partying with friends all night long, seriously, all night! And at about five in the morning we decided to throw rocks at my new boyfriend’s apartment window. I failed to remember it was a work day for him but he reluctantly dragged himself out of bed and chose to come out and dine or lose me forever. I have no doubt after thirteen years he may from time to time think “What if I had stayed in bed” Well to that I say “Shut up and eat with me!” And I’m so glad he did!
5 kisses out of 5
Guest Editor: John P. Sigerson
The city is a big old place and it can certainly feel like that from time to time, but then something fabulous happens. You run into an old pal from high school days.
We never spoke a lot in high school. We kind of ran with different social groups.
I was a glee kid and he was one of the intellectuals. He was always very nice when we spoke but high school is a funny place and those social groups can really get in the way of some possible great friendships. It was brilliant when we reconnected recently and got to talk about the good old days (or not) and all the mess that was high school. We both agreed it was a lot of grin and bear it. As we chatted he started telling me about something he had found a passion in and I just have to tell you all about.
John started his business called Lil’ Bear Bakery in November 2016.
It all started after baking about 1200 cookies at Christmas time each year and giving them out to his friends, family, and coworkers.
Then John started having people asking if they could order cookies to give out at Christmas.Then amazingly he started receiving cake orders. This was a scary venture to start since he pretty much self taught himself how to do
things. John had never ever worked with fondant before and he felt he was limited with his different icing tips.
He decided to take a few courses at George Brown College. Since then John made birthday cakes for his family and extended family and friends but he is not just limited to cakes and cookies, he makes pies or whatever the order request is.
John got especially excited when telling me about his first request to do his first wedding cake for a gay couple. He has very competitive pricing, wisely to help those that have a very tight budget. This is a side job and stress reliever for John which, we agreed is very much how I see my blog. He doesn’t have a website yet but he is planning on getting on that sooner than later. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, just look for John Hunking @ Lil’ Bear Bakery! You decide for yourself but these treats look brilliant. It certainly was fabulous bumping into you John and I wish you all the success in the world! Mention this article to John and get 10% off on your order until Feb 4th! First order only.
Lil’ Bear Bakery
5 kisses out of 5
Mary Ellen Monk
A word from the editor:
find people are often nicer after high school. Everyone has given up on “fitting in” and they are just living the best possible life they can.
It’s Christmas Eve in the city and around the world. A lot of hustle and bustle today. Then the quiet of one of the most significant nights on the planet. The year is closing in and family and friends gather to take a moment to forget the crazy of world politics and of wars and disease. We’ve hopefully done our very best to right these things throughout the year with marches, charities and hope. It’s not always easy to be light and festive with all that is the world today but it has always been this way. The good, the bad, and the ugly all forgiven on the night of nights. My blog isn’t that significant really in the whole scheme of things. I know this, but if for just one moment I can help my readers forget that nasty boss or that illness that won’t give up or maybe you are finding yourself alone. Maybe my antics can take you out of your plight for but a moment. That’s really what this is all about for me. I love to promote good people, good companies and, oh yeah, let’s not forget those outstanding beards!
The popularity of my Beard contest has taken me aback! Look at who made it into the Badass B.I.T.C Beard hall of Fame this week! Sean Harraher was introduced to show business at the age of 4 in 1986. His mother brought him to an audition his sister was attending because she could not find a babysitter in time. He was noticed in the waiting room and was cast in a National Colgate commercial alongside his sister that ran for 5 years. Sean was raised in Oakville Ontario Canada. He graduated with a B.A in Humanities from York University in 2006. Throughout his time in university and upon graduating Sean acted in many commercials as both a hockey player and a football player. He has performed improv with TrailerVision in Toronto. Sean’s television credits include a small recurring role as “Constable Worsely” on Murdoch Mysteries. He is an avid Toronto Maple Leafs and Hamilton Tiger Cats fan and enjoys long walks on the beach.
Congrats dude you are now enter in the Badass B.I.T.C Beard of the Week year end prize!
Mary Ellen Monk