Chelsea Lives: Toronto

It’s time for something a little bit new!

I’ve always enjoyed posting photos of my random travels on this blog. Since they are usually food focused, it hasn’t felt too far away from my point of view. But I thought up this silly little name for these sorts of posts and couldn’t resist (Chelsea Lives! Hah, get it–like Chelsea Bakes! But not baking, ’cause I’m living my life! I didn’t need to explain it, did I? Ah, well–what would this blog be without a healthy dose of my characteristic rambling). Also, I have been wanting for a while to create my own guide to Milwaukee, so that is in the pipeline too–and is how I came up with “Chelsea Lives” in the first place.

So, it’ll take me a bit of time to do my city justice, and in the meantime, I’m applying the moniker to a few of the places I have been lucky enough to travel to this summer!

First up is Toronto! A trip six years in the making. I went on my birthday to visit one of my very best friends (that’s us above), who had devised five days filled with everything that I love: desserts, coffee, beaches, super cool people, and her (cue the “aww”‘s). This post will, naturally, focus on the edibles. Observe…

COFFEE! There were two spots that were my favorite coffe-wise: the first is not the one that is pictured above. It’s Ezra’s Pound, which remains the best coffee I have EVER had outside of Italy and certainly the best iced coffee. Mainly because it’s an iced americano, not straight-out iced coffee, and they use coffee ice cubes. I literally have thought about that iced coffee every day since that trip. And I was in Toronto over a month ago now. Sigh.

The place in the two pictures above, though, is also quite good: Little Nicky’s! A totally adorable, retro little spot with great decor and pretty darn good coffee. The pastries are not bad, but what’s really awesome (and, I believe, what they’re known for) are the freshly made mini-doughnuts, pictured above. They pop out into this pretty ceramic holder at the end of this old time-y doughnut making machine. How can you go wrong at a place with fresh hot cinnamon doughnuts in a little paper cone?

For my birthday, we had a long, leisurely lunch at one of my new favorite tea spots in the whole world: Red Tea Box! The savory food was so-so, but the tea and desserts were INCREDIBLE. Above is the white peach jasmine tea and lavender lemonade.

We had the strawberry bento box for dessert. You guys, I cannot even begin to tell you what was in this treasure trove of tiny, strawberry inspired miniature treats, but I will try… strawberry bon bons, strawberry lemon cake, strawberry almond cake, chocolate strawberry ganache tart, roasted strawberry shortcake, strawberry lavender mascarpone tart… And those are just the ones I can remember. I have never had more fun eating a dessert in my life!

We had dinner at Terroni–a painfully, gloriously hip Italian restaurant that was right up my alley (they played a techno remix of a teach yourself Italian tape in the restrooms–I mean, washrooms). Here are the fried zucchini flowers… crispy and delicious.

Back home after dinner, we had (tiny miniature) birthday cakes! (Naturally we’d taken two to go from Red Tea Box for later celebrations.) The pink is white chocolate rose and the other is lavender honeycomb. They were quite yummy. This reminds me that I need to procure some honeycomb to bake with.

Side note: This is where my friend went to college… it’s Hogwarts. Basically.

After we went to the beach one morning, we stopped at Frangipane Bakery for a take-away box of cookies: molasses cookie, lavender shortbread, lemon shortbread, sour cherry tart, and a pecan tart. The sour cherry tart and the lavender shortbread were my favorites.

On the last day, before I had to leave to fly home, we went to an amazing vegan restaurant, Live, for brunch. Seriously, when vegan food is done right, it is sooo good. I was full the rest of the day and I couldn’t even finish this dish! Here is their gluten-free waffle with maple cashew cream, berry jam, coconut whipped cream, and lemon sugar. I still can’t believe there was no dairy at all in that gorgeous plate. Plus the salad dressing was to-die-for good–I’ll be attempting to recreate that one for years, I’m sure. Also, not pictured is the mango lassi cardamom smoothie. Mmm.

After a lounge on the grounds of Spadina House, I headed back to the Midwest. There aren’t enough words that could thank my best friend for such an incredible birthday trip. I’ll just say this: I am so lucky to have you in my life. Thank goodness ArtCat brought us together. Now go drink some water!