August 28, 2007
Oakville: Day 2
[Salutations: I'm not in Canada anymore. This is part 2 of a yet to be determined multiple part series of entries about my previous week in the land of people who say "eh" a lot. (THEY REALLY DO; I HEARD IT.) This is also the second entry I've posted today, although you should know that the first one is rather boring and doesn't contain any information about food.]
Kat and I planned to made trips to Toronto from Wednesday to Saturday, designating Tuesday as "Oakville Day," which given Kat's choice may have been titled, "Check Out How Crappy My Town Is Day."
- It's so pretty!...wait, I was looking at a photo of a Hawaiian beach. This is not pretty.
Oakville isn't that bad. I mean, it's got more stuff than the town we went to high school in....which doesn't say much since our town was 99% houses, trees and squirrels, but it could've been worse. However, Oakville is a bitch to get around in without a car. As thankful as we were that the town had a public transportation system, it wasn't all that convenient for $2.50 per ride (with free transfers) on a schedule that would at most have two buses an hour (during the times we'd want to ride it, at least...which means after 10 AM). We walked to the closest mall, which took about 20 minutes. Yay exercise. We would need a lot of it considering all the food I would make us eat in the mall's food court.
- Fries straight from the heart of NEW YORK!
I'm always somewhat fascinated by the appropriation of places to specific foodstuffs outside of the area the food is from. Yes, so easily fascinated I am. When I spotted the taxi-reminiscent black and yellow sign of New York Fries I felt like I had to try it so I could compare it to...well, nothing since as far as I know New York City doesn't have a standard fry that evokes the essence of its grime-filled streets. And I had to get poutine, the Canadian (more specifically Quebecois) concoction of fries smothered in cheese nuggets (also known as curds, but I like to use the word "nugget" as much as possible, for it is a severely underused except in instances pertaining to processed chicken, which is too bad because IT IS SUCH AN AWESOME WORD) and gravy that one rarely finds in the US, for the true New York-In-Canada experience.
- It's so smothered
The poutine didn't make my tastebuds metaphorically dance with glee nor fill me with the disgust that one may expect while eating fried sticks of potato swimming in a glistening, thickened beef flavored sauce dotted with random chunks of white cheese, but it didn't taste bad. I mean, as long as you liked potato, gravy and cheese, you'll probably like poutine. I don't suspect this was the height of poutine heaven—I thought the gravy could've been saltier and the cheese didn't squeak—so more poutine samples may have to be taken in the future.
- Papa is part bunny rabbit.
To go with our fries Kat and I got Papa Burgers from A&W. Although there are A&Ws in the US, I had never seen one before. Up until Tuesday A&W was just a historic blip in my knowledge of the history of fast food, having started as a root beer stand in the early 1900s or something like that (I pretty much forgot everything I learned in school after I stopped going, unfortunately). I didn't know they actually still thrived and sold burgers. In Canadaaaa. (The Canadian chain is different from the American chain...just to make things more confusing. But it started in America. Hoorah.)
- Burger outtards and innards
I though the Papa Burger—consisting of two patties with pickles, chopped raw onion, mustard, cheese and some mayo-esque sauce stuffed into various meaty/bready crevices—was good for a fast food burger. Looking at In-N-Out as the best and McDonalds as the worst (I rarely eat fast food burgers so feel free to cast your own votes for Best and Worst. I'm quite sure that McDonald's sucks though; I always stuck to the "chicken"-based items growing up), A&W falls...um, somewhere in between. But in the upper half. I can't think of anything bad to say about the burger. Meat was moist enough, bun was fluffy and substantial, there was just enough onion to provide flavor and not make me feel like I was encapsulated in a cloud of onion stink all day, and the mustard added a slight touch of burning. Pleasant burning.
- Yogen Fruz cups
After walking around the mall for a while to work off maybe 0.01% of what we had just eaten, we got Yogen Fruz for dessert. Yogen Fruz and its neatly swirled customizable mashings of frozen fruit and plain frozen yogurt is one of my favorite memories from Taiwan. The last time I had eaten it was during my previous visit to Toronto in 2001 for a school band trip (which possibly the best thing about that trip since I hated band so very much and quit the next year). The six year abstinence period from Yogen Fruz wasn't by choice; there just isn't any Yogen Fruz in NYC that I know of, which is kind of surprising in this era of "Mass Pinkberry and Pinkberry-esque Business Proliferation" (like bunnies, really fertile bunnies).
- Peach and mango, oh yeah
Yogen Fruz is different (and in my opinion better) than the Pinkberry empire because instead of topping the frozen yogurt with fruit (in mostly measly quantities from my experience) the fruit is smashed into ever spoonful. They put your chosen fruits in The Mash-Bot (probably not the real name) with a block of frozen yogurt, let it mash through once, put the collected single-mashed result through the masher again and present you with doubly-smoothened frozen yogurt dotted with the crunchy frozen fragments of the original fruits before their cell walls were crushed.
- Close up
Yogen Fruz (or any other frozen yogurt) isn't something I'd be addicted to, but it's reliably tasty. It's a non-indulgent dessert (considering the other things I eat), not too sweet, and might have a serving of fruit in it. It has NATURALLY OCCURING VITAMINS. Instant win.
- Animation slaaaves!
Kat and I met up with Anne Marie to watch more cartoons and roam around the mostly empty school. We couldn't get into any of rooms so peering through the door's window was as close as I could get to one of the animation labs. Kat told me it only looks this dismal when empty and unadorned by students personal knick knacks. Students buy their own light table disc things (probably not the right term) to use with the desks, hence the giant holes in the desks. If we had been allowed in Kat could've animated me something. Dammit.
Later that night Kat and I spent about two and a half hours on one of Oakville's public buses. Obviously, it wasn't by choice; we accidentally boarded a bus of doom. Remember what I said about the buses not being the most reliable things? Kat and I definitely board the right bus...I think...but it skipped the stop we wanted to get off at and went straight to the GO station (kind of like the RER in Paris but totally separate from the Toronto metro system). When we got to the GO station we just assumed that the bus would repeat the same route.
But no. NO. That would be too simple. And that wouldn't have resulted in about a tenth of our day being taken up by a tour of downtown Oakville that nobody asked for. The bus magically changed routes while we were waiting at the station. Either the bus driver didn't know we were still on or she thought we meant to go on the new route. Or she was feeling grumpy and just didn't want to warn us of our impending night of doom. It took us a while to figure out we were on the wrong bus and to ask the bus driver where we were. Our original plan was to go to a supermarket and get something to make dinner with, but as soon as we got back to the GO station we went straight home.
Without any new groceries, Kat made do with what she already had in the kitchen: rice, Cream of Mushroom Soup and chicken breast. It may not win any awards for presentation or vibrant color, but I thought it was damn tasty. Growing up I loved eating New England clam chowder (if you're one of those people who hates chowder, don't tell me; I love the stuff) with rice and I recall one of my favorite school lunches from middle school in Taiwan being chicken cutlet drenched in a lemon pepper cream sauce over rice. (Just about everyone else I knew preferred chicken leg braised in a soy sauce-based sauce, something that I never grew fond of due to the layer of slippery, fatty, gag reflex-inducing skin covering the meat and my inability to eat things off the bone. This is the kind of preference that questions whether or not I have any Chinese blood.) I love creamy things and rice.
Actually, I mostly like rice. I guess i am Chinese after all.
CANADA! All the things I talked about are franchises, so they lurk somewhere in Canada. Just...go look for them or something.
Posted by roboppy at 2:17 AM
The fro yo (or should I call it yo fru?) looks good- better than the just-barely-healthy TCBY which is all I can get 'round here. I don't think it helps to pile on Oreos and Snickers chunks...
My vote for good fast food burgers from a national chain is Wendy's. I don't know how McD's can call theirs hamburgers, and every time I eat at BK I am burping their so called 'flame-broiled' flavor the rest of the day.
Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip, including the pain and remorse of not having a meal with me :P Next time I'll hitchhike to Toronto if that's what it takes.
As far as fast food burgers go, I will have to say I like A&W, or Harvey's. Since Harvey's tops your burgers in front of you, I basically ask for a small salad on top of my burger. Stick it to the man!
As for the 'eh' thing, I didn't notice my friends and I say 'eh' until I saw an American t.v. show making fun of Canadians.
Sweeet! I almost went to Sheridan for animation school, but then I realized my chances were drastically cut becasue I would be considered a foreigner...oops. Kat must be damn talented to go to school there. :) And yes, we animators watch waaaayyy too many cartoons in our free time (Avatar luuuvvv!).
You're right, NYF is definitely not the height of poutine. It's fast-food poutine; what you need is chipwagon or diner poutine.
If you're into chain restaurants as a Canadian experience, try Cora's. http://www.chezcora.com/ Not only are there cute cartoons, but you can get an omelette wrapped in a crêpe.
BTW, I'm moving to Toronto next week, so good timing on the fooding.
Yes, I have gotten very good at using the touchpad on my laptop.
Fast food.... With the exception of very few places, fast food is awful. McDonald's is horrid, BK... Of course, I haven't eaten at either for such a long time but I doubt they have improved much.
Ironically, some of the best fries I've ever had were at this incredible Mexican restaurant. The next time I went they changed them. Poor me.
I would say that Oakville isn't as bad as where I live, but I guess it's relative to the people living there. I'm sure someone here likes this hell hole. Or perhaps I just need to get out more.
Cartoons are to animators what food is to foodies. I don't think anyone leaves my presence without hearing something about food.
Glad to hear you're enjoying the Great White North. We don't really say "eh" that much, do we?
Be glad you did not visit during the period of time when Mc Donald's was offering poutine (also known as the dark ages). The gravy was the same colour as the golden arches. Mustard yellow. Ick.
Oakville is the hometown of my grandparents (AKA: the land of bored B) but I do love NYF. They shouldn't be eaten in poutine though due to inferior gravy. They need to be doused in salt and vineager. yummm
Ok, Oakville wasn't fabulous, but hey! At least you went to A&W and the fries with cheese curds and gravy- holy crap, that sounds awesome!
auntjone: I've never had a Wendy's burger! I think I've eaten there like...twice in my life. Or once. I don't know. I've seen em plenty of times, just never went in. I grew up on McDonald's...(sigh)
Angeline: Come to NYC! That'll make it easier for me to eat with you...uh..YEAH!
Ohh I passed Harvey's but decided not to try it. Cos...I was running low on funds (this was on the day before I left) and wasn't very hungry anyway. Oops. Next time!
The "eh" sticks out quite a lot. :) It's cute though.
Sera: I think Kat was destined for animation, although I won't know how good she is until I see her final animations! If only I could've gotten her to draw me an animated poofy...doh.
I never heard of Avatar until Kat told me! Eek.
Piccola: Damn, I needs me a diner. I WANT POOOOTTTEEEEN.
Oo, moving to Toronto! You'll have plenty to eat there. In case you were worried about that. (Probably not.) And you'll have COLORED MONEY!!
Christina: I had some awesome fries at a Peruvian restaurant once. Mmmm! I think some of my favorite fries were in...uh, gyros. Yes, good combo.
Valerie: Not everyone says "eh" but I think the people who do do use it a lot. Or more than I do, which is "not much at all."
Yellow gravy? Eeeuh!
B: Ah yes, the land of bored [anyone] sounds just about right. I guess it's good that Kat is usually busy with school and doesn't notice how boring it is there, hehe.
Yeah, the gravy was meh. So sad.
Sara: It was pretty awesome. And a combination I won't get to have again for a long time. :[
First time commenting on your blog (it's great by the way). Funny about your comment on Yogen Fruz, as it was only the other day I realized I have never seen one in the U.S. (7 years of living down here, I am obviously not very observant).
The realization of the absence of Yogen Fruz was due to my brother calling while eating a Pinkberry frozen thingee. What's the big whoop I asked? Why are people so obsessed with it? What's new about topping ON the frozen yogurt? Before Pinkberry, there was Tasty Delite, I didn't understand the hype of that either.
I remember a great many happy summer treats of Yogen Fruz. The one right next to the Dundas station in the Eaton center had the BIGGEST servings (though I don't think they were an official Yogen Fruz..they were damn good though).
Good Poutine is rare in Ontario, you really have to go to Quebec to get the real thing. But I think Harvey's makes a decent poutine. Harvey's burgers are also the best Canadian fast food burgers. Real flame grilled, you choose the toppings. Combine that with a custom combo...another college memory.
I survived university on chicken, rice and cream of mushroom. Add some broccoli and a dash of soya sauce to that...it's the perfect comfort food after classes on a freaken cold Canadian winter evening. For whatever reason, campbell's cream of mushroom is always the cheapest, and thus in the kitchen of most poor Canadian student.
Hey, if you took the train to Toronto, you passed through Buffalo, which is my home Amtrak station! sad, isn't it? I had a long-term long-distance relationship a few years ago, and we traveled by train to visit. and yes, 12 hours in those seats is... tiring. even though you aren't doing anything.
There is an A&W in Smithfield, RI - not very far from Warwick, where i live... then again, nothing in RI is very far, considering it's an overblown county.
Glad you had a nice time on your vacations.
I've visited your blog great many times but for some reason, it never occured to me to leave comments.
I must say your fooding is EXTRAORDINARY!
It is definitely a sheer combination of craziness+ardour+love of food!
I'm glad you had a taste of some stuff in Canada ( I live in Canada btw).
As always your pictures look great. To say the truth, you make the food so much tastier than they actually are!
A&W's Teen Burger is the best fast food burger for my money...because it comes with BACON!! Everybody loves bacon, right?
New York Fries' poutine is alright....one of the best franchise chains for it! It is sad that you didn't have a chance to go to a scummy diner/chip van(!) and have some. I'm a Canadian, in Ottawa (so I'm basically right next to Quebec, the birthplace of gravy coated cheese 'n taters) and there are sweet diners with sweet sweet poutine ALL OVER the place. It's the best you can manage in Ontario, methinks. Just if you were ever wondering "WHERE IS THE BEST POUTINE THAT IS NOT IN QUEBEC? I NEED.", haha.
Some other Canadians will probably fight me about that last paragraph, but that is ok!
I love your blog. I read it while I'm eating some variation of the uni-student supper, usually. The pictures make me happy.
Robyn I love your blog! Sure you've prolly heard this n times where n is large, but I love your blog above all other food blogs because you posted a pic of animation desks amongst all the food!
I'm a (food-obsessed) animation slave at CalArts in Valencia, CA. Those lucky Canadians probably get better food than we do (they sure get cleaner animation desks!) cos the gastronomic heights of Valencia is like... In-N-Out Burgers or something. But then again food isn't a priority for most animators. We eat things like fries dipped in Wendy's Chocolate Frosty for dinner.
And I've always wanted to try poutine. It looks appropriately fatty and junky... good animator food. Your photos make me happy when I slave away on my animation. Keep the innards coming.
Amy: Thanks for de-lurking! Always nice for people to come out so I DON'T FEEL SO VERY LONELY, BURNING WITH LONELINESS I AM!
Yeah, what's the big whoop? Sigh. We need to inject Yogen Fruz into the blood of the American peeps.
Maybe I'll go to Quebec someday...not just for poutine, but it'd be nice to get some of that. And damn, I gotta go to Harvey's next time!
I crave rice + creamy soup. .__.
Karen: 12 hours without doing anything would totally suck. THANK GOD FOR LAPTOPS!
Bangsil: Oo, more delurking, thanks! I'd rather make food look better than it tastes than worse. Hooray for my camera!
Katrina: Actually...I'm not a big fan of bacon. .__. But I know I'm an anomaly. Bacon is the thing even vegetarians dream of every so often. I like PORK, but bacon...eh...
Man, I needs me some good poutine. Just need to travel...fartherrr... :[
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me that you did not travel to Toronto to sample the fast food???? New York fries (yuck) is not in any shape or form a proper example of a really good poutine, or a average one at that. My Lord girl...I'll be reading you other articles to see if you actually hit any of the good spots.
This is one slightly annoyed CANADIAN...
lilartist: I usually thank people for coming to my site, but I don't get the feeling you read much of it. So...I'm not sure why you even want to continue reading it if it displeases you so much.
I went to Toronto to visit a friend, not to eat food (fast or not).
There's an A&W at Newark Airport. They also sell fried cheese curds (which you could call fried cheese nuggets).
HomesickTexan: Oooh, I'll keep that in mind. I don't ever get the munchies at the airport. -__- But I'll be there...uh, on Monday! Ooh.
Oakville doesn't suck. I live there. by the looks of your pictures you came to a bad area at a back time. try staying near Bronte harbour next time.
Connor: It was more Kat's opinion that Oakville sucked than mine...I mean, she lives there, not me! We didn't check out the nicer part, admittedly. A bit restricted by where she lived and not having a car.
Hey, I am actually from Oakville but originally from Quebec and I was wondering what would come up when I write oakville in google and i saw this webpage. I gotta tell you New York Fries poutine is ok until you taste the real poutine from Quebec. Trust me if you really wanna know what a real poutine tastes like, go to a little fries shack in quebec and you'll be amazed of how good it actually is!
Oakville is a wonderful town. I lived there and the downtown area is atractive. The malls whilst not huge are ok and the dining once you step away from fast food is good. Bronte Harbour and Oakville Harbour are both nice to visit. Oakville is a town that is great for families, dont expect clubs and flash bars to hang out in.
You should try the fast food here in England, now thats rubbish. I miss those simple things like Tim Hortons, Wendys and KFC crispy (they dont do that in the UK !!!!)
I miss Swiss Chalet and Harvey's. Oakville's downtown and harbours are great!
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