The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Toronto: Day 3, Part 2

Street corner

We waiting around the corner from the supermarket for my food-crazy flickr friend, Renée. And she appeared! So we could EAT MOOOOAAAR. (I know how to spell "more," but sometimes I say it like "moar." What's the difference? "Moar" sounds crazier, like a hybrid of "more" and "mraaaawh." It's also lolcat friendly. I'll admit that my general speech patterns don't give any indication that I'm a college graduate. I've slipped through the cracks. That's what I've been saying ever since I was accepted into college.)

Walnut Cake it has..tentacles
Walnut cakes a-plenty

Renée suggested I visit the walnut cake shop, Hodo Kwaja. Although I've seen walnut cakes before (little filled nuggety cakes that are shaped like walnuts and have walnut in them, like mini oobanyaki if that provides any point of reference) in Korean bakeries, I've never tried them. I've also never seen a whole machine set in the front of a bakery that churns them out (unfortunately, a machine that wasn't in use when I was there). Knowing that they must've been quite fresh, I bought a bag of six read bean-filled cakes for less than $2.

mm, walnut cakes! red bean filling

Mmm, nutty. And sweet. And bite-sized. I like. You could also get them custard-filled, but I usually go with red bean if it's a choice.

The Labyrinth
It's cute, whatever it is

We walked along Bloor Street on the way to Greektown on the east side of the city. Anne Marie and Kat requested to stop at a new comic store called Labyrinth where they happened to find some of their professors hanging out. I think that's like if I were to go to a specialized food store and run into some of my food studies professors. That probably wouldn't happen.

Greg's ice cream
Greg's Ice Cream

Renée directed us to Greg's Ice Cream. No matter how full of meat our bellies may have been, there's always room for dessert. A lot of ice cream/gelato was eaten during this trip. Oh yes. You'll hear more about that later.


Unfortunately the shop didn't have any of their signature roasted marshmallow flavor in the freezer. Crap. I tried the pistachio (not pistachio-y enough) and the blueberry (the blueberry flavor was too subtle) but somehow settled on coffee toffee, which was riddled with Skor bar-like chunks.

coffee ice cream with chunks of skor bar or something similar
Cup of ice cream

If you don't already know, I'm not a fan of coffee. Or tea. Or alcohol. Or anything bitter, mostly in liquid form. But coffee flavored ice cream is fine with me because it's sweet enough to counteract the bitter flavor of coffee that I never became accustomed to. (All-nighters and all around lack of sleep have never been powered by caffeine. ONLY INSANITY.) WIthout the toffee chunks I probably wouldn't have gotten this flavor; my love for toffee far exceeds my love for coffee ice cream. Overall I liked the ice cream, which was creamy and soft and had enough of that roasted coffee flavor to please me (which may not be saying much considering my tastes), but I don't think I've experienced the full potential of Greg's not having tried the marshmallow flavor. Poot.

Buildings...are tall

We kept walking. Past the ROM. Past the University of Toronto. Past the area where only super rich people can shop. (Renee said that there are times when people will parade their fancy expensive cars around the block in a pretentious manner, which sounds pretty weird but they're rich and can probably do whatever they want with their sacks of money.)

Nature trail!

As we neared the Prince Edward Viaduct we passed a not very official looking sign declaring a NATURE TRAIL in our midst. There was no obvious trails, but just a few small clearings in the forested area on the north of the road. Which looked pretty damn sketchy, more like where you would drag your victims to rot if you were a serial killer.

Or maybe it's a nice trail. I don't know.

past this bridge...

Renée explained to me that the sides of the bridge are lined with wires from top to bottom to prevent suicides. It helps deter people from killing themselves (or makes them find another way to do it) which in turn gets rid of the traffic and safety problems that would result from people falling onto the road below. Yaaaay.

Gyros, yahoo!

By the time we reached Messini, Renée's recommended gyro spot, we had walked pretty damn far, about three miles. Feet were sore, throats were parched, clothes were sticky with sweat, sleep was highly desired, and Kat looked like she was about to keel over. Anne Marie and Kat were still full from lunch, but I didn't walk all that way for nothing. I needed GYRO.

It has friiies!

I ordered the basic pork gyro, a soft, fluffy pita stuffed with tender shaven chunks of pork, onions, tomatoes, Tzatziki and crispy fries. The way all gyros ought to be. This was one of those rare instances where the Parisian form was actually larger (an edible bucket of salted meat and fries, pretty much), but I was glad that Messini's version wasn't too big because I couldn't even finish it. My stomach was still overly meated; the gyro would not fit in. I didn't mention it before, but I couldn't finish my small cup of Greg's ice cream either. Either my stomach is shrinking or I'm becoming more aware of my limits.

Holy crap, it's SQUID.

Our waitress warned Renée that the calamari dish was large, but we didn't understand the magnitude of her warning until the plate of four squidgey bodies surrounded by tentacled blobs was placed before us. It was a crapload of squid. (A vessel-load of anything equates to a lot of anything, by the way. I haven't figured out what kind of vessel "crap" is, but it conjures up an image of "a lot" for some reason. English works in mysterious ways.) I didn't try it since I only like squid battered and fried and I had enough trouble eating my gyro, but I think Renée approved since she took the extras home.

Gee, what does this place sell?

We made an unplanned visit to Suckers since it was across the street. Can't say no to a shop full of caaandeh! I don't eat much candy (surprising perhaps considering how much I like sweet things), but I'm fascinated by all the stuff that people dare to invent and produce on a large scale because it's actually profitable.

Rubber chicken?

This rubber chicken, for instance? ...Why? Why not, I guess. Gummies shaped as normal food are kind of cute, but I've never looked at a rubber chicken and thought, "Man, this could only be awesomer if it were edible! Cos there ain't nothing I like better than something in the shape of dead poultry." Eh well, someone's buying it.


The strawberry steak is a little more interesting for the realistic packaging. Mm...strawberry steak. Steak that, according to the packaging, was made nearly a year ago. I'm not sure if I want to know how accurate that is.

oh god, color
And there's more!

I ended up buying a selection of random gummies by weight and a few chocolate bars (5th Avenue and a Smarties Explposions). Kat got some Turkish Delights due to her Narnia obsession, but was underwhelmed by the flowery jelly chunks. I was pretty disappointed the first time I had Turkish delight too. The name sounded so promising, but the real thing was just a cube of weird jelly that tasted like a something from the "rejected candies" pile. Not offensive, nor something I'd sell my family for. I'd be wary of anything with the word "delight" in it; the adjective must be making up for something that's missing. Like the "delight" part.

Solferino gelato!!
Dessert, part deux

We hopped on the subway to go downtown for gelato at Solferino, Renée's favorite gelateria. And she's pretty serious about her Toronto gelato.

before I put the crushed cones on top
Heavenly splodges of gelato

It could be hard to pick a flavor when faced with so many color piles of mind numbing...deliciousness...[shakes head out of reverie]...but I had no problem going with pistachio and fig. Renée approved the pistachio after her intense taste test and figs are one of my most favorite foods. The pistachio was better than average and full of little pistachio bits that reminded me of the first cup of gelato I had in Rome, but it didn't compare to some of the best pistachio gelatos I've had, the kind that coats your tongue in buttery, toasty nutty goodness. I think you have to eat it to know what I mean. Since Renée is going to Italy next month I'm sure she'll experience that kind of pistachio gelato experience soon.

pistachio and fig
It's the same cup

Solferino provides a bowl of crushed cones on their counter in case you want to add some crunch to your gelato. Free stuff? IT'S MIIINE. I prefer it without the cone bits, but you have to try it to find out.

blueberry and stuff
Renee's cup

Renée got a cup of blueberry and pistachio. Unlike Greg's blueberry ice cream, this blueberry was intensely flavored.

I didn't take individual photos of Anne Marie's or Kat's gelato cups since they were...eating them. I can only interrupt people's meals so many times. We agreed that Solferino was a place we'd go to again.

subway and GO station

Renée walked with us back to Union Station, which is also where the GO station is. It's funny to see the TTC logo above the GO logo; as LarryB said, it's the 20s put up against the 70s. I like the TTC logo, but the GO logo bothers me a bit. Reminds me of giant peas. Or something. I don't hate it—it's distinct and it pretty much looks like the word GO—but it's so...round and green. It also reminds me of frogs. Frogs and peas. That's what I think of. PEA FROGS.

As usual, I look insane.

Ah, you cannot escape the wrath of my silly photos. Renée and I struck our Asian poses with superfluous peace signs due to a funny story she told us earlier about how her sister always does the peace sign in photos. Like...seriously. Or not so seriously. It's something that must be stopped. When I throw the peace sign it's just to poke fun at Asians (I can do that, right?) but I'm afraid I've been doing it so many times that it's becoming a habit. My whole life is a joke! And a lame joke at that.

dear future husband
Sorry, I couldn't prepare you for this photo.

I took this photo to see what would happen if I used flash while taking a self portrait. The result: the best portrait of me evah! No. But it's amusing and quite possibly one of the better depictions of my character. I complied with Kat's request to cover up her face before uploading the photo to the Interwebs, by splodging a "DO NOT WANT" (a phrase that was uttered innumerable times over the week) over her squished face. This is probably the most awesome photo we will ever have together.

And that's the end of day 3. Just four more days to go! Damn.


Hodo Kwaja
656 Bloor St. W, Toronto

386 Bloor St W, Toronto

Greg's Ice Cream
200 Bloor St W, Toronto

445 Danforth Avenue, Toronto

Suckers Candy Co
450 Danforth Avenue, Toronto

38 Wellington Street East, Toronto


Angeline / August 30, 2007 12:39 PM

Ahahahaha "The Area where Rich People shop", you must be talking about Yorkville. Did you know Yorkville used to be a huge hippy area in the 60s?

Yes, I was meeting a friend in Yorkville (across from the Gap) and I saw a big parade of Bentleys, Ferraris, and Lambourghinis, there was valet parking, and ice sculptures. I walked by, stopped to look at what's going on, and got a "please go away poor person" look. Good times. When my friend eventually showed up he said "Did you see all the cool cars? And then get a dirty look when you stopped to look at them?"

susannah / August 30, 2007 2:31 PM

great portrait =) thats awesome. though the strawberry gummy steak much more scary.

RS / August 30, 2007 3:11 PM

I was in Toronto a few weeks ago, it's one of my favorite places in Canada :) (I'm in Ottawa - good thing you didnt come here or you wouldve been bored to death). I went by Greektown too while I was there, and there was a festival the whole weekend called Taste of Danforth, which was basically streets and streets lined with food vendors and every greek food imaginable; you would've loved it :D

katie / August 30, 2007 3:18 PM

Oh ya! Hodo Kwaja was the place where I bought my first walnut cakes - YUM!!! They remind me of Timbits only better, and they're not deep-fried, they're steamed!!! What a bonus; that means I can eat moar for the same amount of calories, hehehe!!! Since then, I've also had walnut cakes with chestnut paste filling - that's realllly good too!

Thanks for posting about Solferino; will keep it in mind when I am around that area.

dana / August 30, 2007 5:02 PM

oh...I am STILL laughing. That picture of you is just toooooo funny. It's insanely funny. I will never get over it. Thank you dear Robyn for making a completely crappy day just that much funnier.

oh honey, your life is not a lame joke. You have a purpose on earth and that is to make us laugh, and you fulfill it wonderfully. That is more than I can say for my own lame self.

Bonnie / August 30, 2007 8:13 PM

Yaay now I get to know where to get good gelato and gyros in Toronto all thanks to your trip! XD I still haven't figured out how to pronounce gyro =/

Tina / August 30, 2007 10:35 PM

OMG. I want Solferino's gelato! Why can't NY's gelato be that heavenly (except for Otto's but that's a different story)? Especially the fact that we're still having warm weather here. :(

That gyro looks good too...I'm getting hungry.

roboppy / August 30, 2007 11:48 PM

Angeline: Damn, they really do that? And there are ICE SCULPTURES? Freakin' insane. I don't think there's anything like that in NYC.

Susannah: Looking back, maybe I should've bought the gummy steak...for experimental purposes.

RS: I think Renee went to the Taste of Danforth! Sounded pretty awesome from what she said. Waah.

Katie: I don't know what Timbits are! (googles)...oh, like Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts. :) Walnut cakes are definitely better than those, hehe.

B: I wanted to eat in Little Korea, but I wasn't disappointed by the Korean Grill House. Maybe...some other time. It looked like there were lots of tasty places there.

Dana: Glad you like the photo! :D I UNCRAPIFY THINGS!!! Stuffed animals do that for me. Yeah. (pets plush bear)

If I have a purpose, everyone else does too. (Dude I am lame in sooo many ways.) My to pet this plush bear. (pets plush bear)

Bonnie: I think it's pronounced like "euro" which is kinda confusing. I've said it like "jai roe" for most of my life. Probably looked dumb. I DON'T CARE! Both might be acceptable...

Tina: I AM PETTING THE BEAR HEHEHE thanks for the bear HEHEHE (pet pet)

Oh man, most places don't get near Otto. Strangely. So goood. Solferino's was nummy though.

joanh / August 31, 2007 12:19 AM

damn!!! there are fries in your gyro. hehe. i just ate a gyro today but yours looks much better.

how did you know?? i'm headed to Toronto next week.. so I will be taking notes on your all your Toronto posts. :)

Amy / August 31, 2007 3:11 AM

Damn, your trip to Toronto was like a trip to my childhood.

Don't be intimidated idiots in Yorkville, all nouveau rich snobs trying to prove something (much like the city itself). The old rich don't shop in Toronto, they fly to NY, London, Paris.
I have a love/hate relationship with the city. Love the city as it was, hate how it's trying to be New York Lite. I should really see a therapist to deal with it.

I went to school behind Messini. To this day I can still swear in greek. Easter was so cool, big giant chocolate eggs wrap in colourful foil, friends roasting whole sheep in their backyard. One Halloween we went trick or treating on the Danforth! Now it's all yuppified :( Booo.

Watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", it was film there. The travel agency is just a few store front down from Messini. Other goodies to try there, Souvlaki & Spanakopita.

La Paloma Gelateria is also very good, they are old timers on the Toronto Gelato scene. I think they have franchises now, but in the olden days it was worth the pain in ass drive (damn hard to get to by TTC) to the west end for their gelato. They make it in the back of the store on St. Clair West. I remember watching them bring out a fresh batch out...droolllllllllllllllll
FYI, the trail goes down to the Don Valley, I don't think there was ever a serial killer, but there used to be a harmless hermit who lived down there. The most dangerous thing about it is probably the broken stairs. But I wouldn't wander down at night.

Fredric Koeppel / August 31, 2007 10:42 AM

There's a restaurant/bar in Pittsburgh, a really old place in the food vendor district (yes, Pittsburgh has one of those) and they serve huge sandwiches of corned beef and pastrami and turkey, all that sort of thing. And I was there some years ago with some family (my son was at Carnegie-Mellon) and we all ordered these sandwiches and they come with fries. So the waiter brings the sandwiches, they're so big they look as if you can't even pick them up, on sheets of waxed paper, and she puts them on the table. And she is wearing, attached to her belt, a knife about the size of a machete, and she whips this giant blade out and WHACK!!!! WHACK!!!! she slices the sandwiches. It was terrifying. but the whole time we're wondering, where the hell are the fries? and when we managed to pick up the sandwiches (like with cranes), yes, you guessed it, the fries are INSIDE the sandwich.

Tina / August 31, 2007 12:30 PM

You're welcome (in regards to the bear)! Just take it easy on the petting before he'll get either bald or dirty (since he's practically snow white).

You must have the photo and the manatee together! Cute bear + Adorable manatee = SUPREME cuteness! I think the entire Interwebs would melt down because of the overload of cuteness.

Christina / August 31, 2007 12:57 PM

I think it's a good thing I like coffee for coffee and not for it's caffeine. It has little to no effect on me unless I haven't eaten, and when I drink coffee and haven't eaten I become really hungry. I guess that keeps me awake, but I'd rather eat.

I love gyros, the combination of the chewy bread, the meat, the tzatziki (I can't say the fries because I've never had that) is one amazing taste.

janet / August 31, 2007 1:21 PM

le sigh. I've always been curious about turkish delight. like would i give away my non existent siblings for this candy!

raor. you've been a-travellin' a lot. that is nice! i want to get outtaa herrrre. i'm jealous.

Bangsil / August 31, 2007 9:28 PM

So I see you tried the famous walnut cakes in Korean Town? Go Robyn!
I'm Korean! And I LOVE walnut cakes. They are one of my favorite food in the world. I love anything red-beanish! Since I don't live in Korea anymore, I can rarely eat those. But when I do, I just...go for them. One time I had 22 of those in 2 days. It was an awesome experience.

The gelatos look fantastic! Especially the ones from Solferino! I love Pistachio! But my favorite is Mint Chocolate! I always get mint chocolate. One time I got Tiramisu, which was full of coffee-alcoholy-tiramisu chunks. That was good, too^^

Anyways! I hope you have fun in Toronto!

roboppy / September 1, 2007 1:24 AM

joanh: I dunno why more places don't put fries in gyros. It just makes sense.

Eek, I better write some more entries before you go to Toronto!

Amy: Renee mentioned that the movie was filmed there!...forgot to look for pieces of the movie though. It's been a while since I've seen it.

I didn't get to go to La Paloma. :\ It was on the list, but I did, bucketloads of ice cream and gelato, so yeah.

BROKEN STAIRS! I knew there was something!

Fredric: OMG I want that sandwich. For the fries and the machete action.

Tina: I'm afraid he's going to turn the same color as Manatee. :[

I took a few photos! They shall be up sooon.

Christina: I don't think caffeine has any effect on me either. Not that I'd really know since I don't drink it...but the times I've drank it, I can't recall anything remarkable happening, like brain buzzing. I just there's liquid insiide meee.

Janet: Welll you should still try Turkish delight if you're curious about it! I don't think I've ever met anyone who was crazy about it though. :\

Yeah, I'm traveling a lot before I will be in JOB LOCKDOWN MODE... eep!

Bangsil: 22. Whoaa! Whoa. I can't beat that. Well, maybe if I ate nothing else. I lvoe red beany everything.

I used to love mint chocolate, but after eating ice cream with real mint in it I couldn't go back to the mint extract stuff. It tastes...totally different. Not bad, but no longer my fave. Doh. Once I made my own mint ice cream with real mint leaves and it tasted kinda vegetal, so I can understand if people don't like that flavor.

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