Travel: 28 Hours in Toronto

What do you do when your friend (in Ottawa) texts you (in Waterloo) on a Monday, and asks what you’re doing on the weekend? First, you ask her if we’re going to Nashville (that’s a story for another day). When she laughs at you, you ask her what she has in mind, and she asks you if you’d be interested in a Toronto meet-up, you obviously say yes!

Heck ya!

Considering the couple of crazy weeks my friend Shannon and I have had recently, a girls reunion weekend in the city is just what we knew we needed to make us both feel more energized!

After we confirmed that we were both available for a weekend away, I quickly got to work, contacted a few people, and started planning some girly fun for us. Today, I’m sharing our itinerary, and in the days ahead, I’ll share some specific reviews of what we did/where we stayed/what we ate.

Please join me as I take you through a 28-hour stay in Toronto.

Saturday

9am – I left Waterloo quite early in the morning, as I find Toronto traffic and parking to be unpredictable. It only takes an hour (in theory) to get to the city, but I often give myself two hours to get to the heart of downtown. I put my TomTom to use, of course, as I like knowing about the alternate route options if I run into traffic.

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11am – As my friend Shannon and I were coming from opposite directions, we opted to meet at our first stop of the day – the Windsor Arms Spa. Yes! What a perfect spot to meet. Since I arrived a bit early, I was able to nibble on some cookies and drink a tea before our spa experience – the Salt Cave.

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11:30am – Shannon and I met with our spa hostess. She led us around the spa space and told us about the halotherapy treatment in the Salt Cave. We changed into our bathing suits, threw on our plush robes, and headed in the Salt Cave for 45 minutes of relaxation.

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We left the Cave feeling refreshed and calm.

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1:30pm (ish) – After showering and primping at the Windsor Arms Spa, we headed to La Soci√©t√© for lunch. I’ve read a bit about this restaurant, but I had never been. Since we dubbed this weekend a #weekendofluxury, we figured that La Soci√©t√© fit our itinerary. It is where celebrities go after all (we didn’t see any).

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We opted to share the eggs benedict (with a side of salmon) and the pain perdu (French toast) with Nutella. This way, we got to try a bit of everything. This is what happens when you travel with your BFFs, you get to share the goodness! We had a very friendly server at La Société who was quite attentive and helpful with recommendations.

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time unknown – after lunch, we wandered in and out of stores around Bloor/Yorkville. The area is a gem for people watching, and to see what’s what in fashion, design, and luxury. While I have just about everything I need in Waterloo, when I’m in Toronto, I always like to see what’s going on at Club Monaco and Anthropologie, so we made it a priority to check out these stores…along with the prettiest of pretty, Kate Spade (so pretty!).

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5pm (ish) – After a couple of hours of shopping, walking, taking ridiculous photos, and being so happy because of the amazing spring weather, we hopped back in the car, and headed to our hotel (TomTom was put to work again, naturally).

It was great to spend the morning/afternoon in the Bloor/Yorkville area, but I was looking forward to seeing another part of the city while we were in town. Although I grew up in the ‘burbs of the city, I haven’t spent extended periods of time downtown in a long while, and there’s just so much to see and do and discover!

We drove south to King/Church to The Omni King Edward Hotel (affectionately called the King Eddy), and after we parked (I must say that parking in the two areas was completely easy on this trip! Bonus!), we checked in. We were greeted by a friendly staff member (Hi D!), and we had a good chat about why/how I blog only about white things (it does amuse a lot of people, I must say).

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At this point in our day, Shannon and I were were so eager to just lie on the beds for a while since we had done so much walking in the afternoon. Our reactions when we saw our room were priceless. We basically danced around the spacious suite, then flopped ourselves down on the beds (more on The Omni King Edward Hotel later this week).

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time unknown – We were pleasantly surprised by a visit from an Omni King Edward staff member who arrived with scones and biscuits in tow (I wish this could happen every day!). It was just the type of snack we needed! We pulled our seats up to the table by the window and had a little bite to eat.

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9pm (ish) – Earlier in the day, we had made a dinner reservation at one of our favourite restaurants – Terroni. It serves up delicious Italian fare, and since I could basically live on pizza and pasta for the rest of my life (hello carbs!), I was happy that Terroni had an open table for two for us. The Terroni Adelaide location was a three minute walk from our hotel, so it could not have been more convenient! It was the perfect spot for a lazy girls’ weekend! We walked over and spent the next couple of hours feasting.

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11pm – After dinner, we strolled back to The Omni King Edward Hotel, threw on our pjs (and hotel robes!), and watched some TV while we talked and laughed about all that we had experienced in the day.

midnight (ish) – We must have fallen asleep to the sounds of HGTV on the television at some point around midnight. Yes, yes, we’re very wild.

Sunday

7am – I really try to sleep in (especially on weekends), but I can’t! It’s ridiculously annoying. After a great sleep in a comfy bed with lots of comfy pillows, I woke up a tad annoyed at the fact that it was only 7am. I grabbed a few magazines and enjoyed reading them in the living space in our suite.

10am (ish) – After a lazy morning of chatter, an amusing photo shoot (to come later this week), magazine reading, and getting ready, we walked south toward St. Lawrence Market for breakfast. Again, I hadn’t realized how close the King Eddy is to so many great spots in the city. The St. Lawrence market area must have been only a six minute walk from the hotel, and Toronto’s flat iron building provides a perfect photo op. Easy! We chose to have breakfast at Hank’s because I had been there once before, and I had liked it (thanks for the intro to Hank’s, Sarah M.!) We enjoyed a classic breakfast, then set off on another adventure.

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noon (ish) – We had decided that our #weekendofluxury #WhiteCabanaTorontoReunion should include manicures, so we walked north to Queen West area (a pleasant 20 minute or so walk) as we were hoping to get into Civello salon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get last-minute appointments, but the staff member recommended a nail salon a couple blocks away, so we went there.

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2pm (ish) – With our bright shiny nails, we walked back to the car (which I had left in the parking lot by the King Eddy) in the sunshine, and laughed some more as we thought about all the adventures we have been on together in the last 10+ years.

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3pm (ish) – At this point, our fun weekend reunion came to an end. After dropping Shannon off at Union Station, I drove back to Waterloo. We returned to our homes (and to reality) after a fun and fulfilling reunion weekend!

That’s how my friend Shannon and I spent our 28 hours in Toronto last weekend. I have a few more updates to share about this trip, so stay tuned for more posts this week!

Many thanks to the Windsor Arms Spa and The Omni King Edward Hotel for helping me plan this trip.

Dining in London, Ontario: Braise

I’ve been to the restaurant Braise in London a few times already but the service on my last visit was exceptional so I thought it was about time I actually post about it.

The food, while it may be more pricey than other London restaurants, is delicious and so beautifully presented. The space is hip – the main dining room is dark but the room by the front window is full of white. On this last visit, this is where my friend and I sat.

Braise, photos by Jordana

If you’re looking for a special London dining experience, then you may want to consider a visit to Braise.

5 for 2011: The Third Check-Up

Back in January I created five goals for myself and I have since posted two check-ups (first, second). Now it’s time for the third update of my progress.

1. Wear more rings. Lately I’ve been sporting this double ring that my sister sent me. I just love it!

2. Embrace the cold weather. Well, luckily it’s June and I don’t have to deal with this goal for a few more months. I am so happy about this!

3. Host more parties. Hmmm…I’ve sort of failed with this one. In the last few months I have done quite a bit of traveling which has left me little time for party planning. But – I did manage to squeeze in one party last month – a champagne party! Talk about fun!

Addison collection, Pottery Barn

4. Try new recipes. Yes! I made pinwheel cookies (recipe from my vintage Joy of Cooking cookbook). Easy and delicious. I burned a batch but that’s okay. The other batch turned out fine. Here they are ready to go into the oven:

photo by Jordana

I also made Smitten Kitchen’s cheese straws (a big hit!) and What Katie Ate’s delicious tomato and goat cheese canap√©s.

5. Learn more about London, Ontario. In the last little while I managed to get out to the East Village Coffeehouse for the first time (thanks Tonya for the introduction). What a lovely little spot. The food is yummy, the coffee is well-prepared and the music is perfect.

coffee with a twist, photo by Jordana

Other restaurants I’ve tried since my last update include Relish in Wortley Village and The Works on King. Both burger places and both delicious.

There are also lots of festivals in London during the summer so I’ve been trying to check them all out. Last weekend was the Car Free Festival, this week & weekend is London Fringe and soon SunFest is coming to town. Bring on the music!

There you have it – the third update of my goals.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Fredericton, NB: Food & Flowers

Did you know New Brunswick is the only constitutionally bilingual province in Canada? Oui, oui! Fredericton is the capital of the province and has a population of almost 86,000 (city centre).

bilingual street sign in Fredericton

The downtown core has a few good pubs¬† along with a couple of fine dining restaurants. After a few days of pub food at¬† Snooty Fox and Dolan’s, a friend and I went to The Blue Door which was a nice treat. I had the gorgonzola tenderloin (yummy!) and she had the yellow thai vegetable curry (which was full of creamy white goodness).

The Blue Door, Fredericton

vegetable curry at The Blue Door, Fredericton

Although I was surprised to learn that there was no Starbucks downtown, on the recommendation of several people, on one afternoon I stopped in at Jonnie Java Roasters & Espresso Bar (in the Paradise Imports store) for some freshly roasted coffee. Although people told me “it was the best coffee”, I was a little skeptical. I have a thing for coffee, you may remember (read more here, here and here). Well, to my surprise, it was amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I had two cups of coffee – an espresso and a cappuccino – along with a delicious oat cake made with love by a group of ladies down the road. The coffee – and the people I met at Jonnie Java – definitely made my day!

A heart just for me!

coffee + oat cake = a delicious snack

Flowers were in full bloom last week in Fredericton and the lilacs – both white and purple – really caught my attention. So pretty!

Read more about Fredericton at Tourism Fredericton.

Photos by Jordana.

Travel Guide: Denver

Some people have been asking me for more information about what I did in Denver so I thought I would compile a list of some Denver highlights just in case other White Cabana readers are heading that way.

1. Denver Art Museum : A great selection of American Indian art, very family friendly, and architecturally interesting.

2. Corner Bakery Cafe : The traditional Swiss oatmeal was a perfect breakfast for me and it reminded me of Switzerland. Truly.

3. The Market : A friendly, open-concept restaurant on Larimer. So much selection. I went with a capicola sandwich while I was there.

4. TAG:¬†Continental Social : ¬†Such a delightful little restaurant. Had a yummy meal during happy hour…a friend and I ordered the full menu and shared. Perfectly delightful!

5. Tattered Cover Book Store : I could have spent hours, if not days, here. So comfortable and warm. Not to mention Рa great selection of new and used books.

6. The Cruise Room Bar at the Oxford Hotel : Chatted with friendly bartenders at this Art Deco bar. Ordered the La La Cosmo. Delish!

7. Bookend Cafe in Boulder, Colorado : A friend and I stopped in here for a treat. Love the feel of this cozy cafe.

8. Cherry Creek Mall : I hate to admit that I spent some time indoors while I was in Denver but this mall was quite amusing. I had a fun time at Tiffany & Co., Anthropologie and Martin + Osa. And my made-by-me yogurt at Cherry on Top was delicious. Bus number 83L gets you there from the downtown Civic Center station in about 15 minutes.

9. Colorado Convention Center : All in white. So bright and airy. The blue bear is kind of cool too.

10. Cheesecake Factory : I know it’s a chain. But the cheesecake is oh. so. good. I enjoyed a piece of the original cheesecake with fresh strawberries on the side. Yum!