Weekend Recap

It’s a rainy and humid Sunday night in Hamilton tonight. We are staying in watching American Gods tonight, sadly no GoT for us! I am keeping my fingers crossed we can keep away from spoilers until we have the chance to watch.

Friday I hit up a kickboxing class in Burlington. So. much. fun. It was my first class and I loved it! It’s an all female club and has a great friendly vibe. Friday night we made PF Chang’s lettuce wraps from Damn Delicious. We didn’t take any pictures, mainly because we inhaled them immediately.

Saturday morning we hit up the farmer’s market on Locke and went over to Finch. Cappuccino for Steven and tea latte for me. Their patio is so quiet, it doesn’t feel like you are on Locke Street at all. Charlie was definitely feeling the patio vibe.

For breakfast I had made overnight oats from Ambitious Kitchen and convinced Steven to try them as well. They were a hit…after he drowned them in granola and peanut butter lol.

That afternoon Steven hit up the Because Beer festival while I hung out with my favourite 18 month old to play in the park.Today was one of those lazy glorious summer Sundays. We woke up late and after walking Charlie, I headed out for a yoga class. I was craving Dundurn Market’s BLAT so badly, it was all I could think about during yoga. I felt guilty for being distracted until I picked up the sandwich and took a bite. Those BLATs are AWESOME. Steven and I split one (I regretted splitting it immediately) and brought it home to have with salads.

This afternoon we hit up Zee Float for our first floating session! I was really excited and it totally lived up to my expectations. Look out for a review later this week.

Now for some American Gods, fennel tea and hazelnut milk chocolate. Goal for this week is to clean out our pantry and closets so we do not pack and move unnecessary crap across the country. Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

Weekly Favourites

A glimpse of the best parts of my week!

Reading:

Money Diaries! Anyone else obsessed with this Refinery29 feature? I love seeing how other women handle their money! Let’s be honest though, most of us are reading it for the food.

Eating:
Garlic knots at Son of a Peach. Sooo good.

This AMAZING banana bread from Ambitious Kitchen. I don’t usually like banana bread very much, but this sold me. I used 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup spelt and it turned out great. Recipe here.

This delish vegan soft serve from Kelly’s. I cannot believe I am moving away from Kelly’s! Who will fulfill my Mile High Brownie needs! I have been moaning about this for days and Steven has zero sympathy. He does not understand my lactose intolerant needs.

Doing:
Getting rid of stuff in preparation for our move! At a friend’s party a few weeks ago someone suggested the Hamilton Recycling Kindness Facebook group. Great place to get rid of any clothing, pantry, freezer goods or furniture you don’t need anymore. I feel so much better about cleaning the place out knowing stuff is actually going to someone who can use it.

Have a great weekend!

Rapscallion Rogue Eatery- Review

Rapscallion

61 Young Street, Hamilton
http://www.rapscallionrestaurant.com
Parking: Street, Green P
Reservations: Recommended
Good for: Date night


Rapscallion has been on my list since they opened. I kept putting it off until I could get a large enough group to go that I could try everything possible on the menu. Now that we are getting closer to our move date though, I knew we needed to get there regardless of whether anyone could join us. Rapscallion is part of The Other Bird family. They also own Two Black Sheep, Black Sheep Snack Bar, The Mule and Burro. We got to take a quick look at their boutique hotel in Paris when we were there this weekend.

Let’s start with the vibe. It’s small plates and great for couples or a meet up with friends. It is pricey and the quality of the food reflects this. For two glasses of wine, 4 plates and dessert we came to around $100 before tip. It is also often booked up so if you want a more casual after dinner/after work drinks vibe then I would check out Two Black Sheep across the street. If you’re adventurous and have exceedingly well behaved children, you could bring them, but I would say leave them at home and book a babysitter.


In terms of atmosphere and decor, it’s a cozy place and you don’t realize you are right by a busy road. Decor is one area I did feel they could put a little work into. It doesn’t look like they have painted or updated the decor at all since they opened and I think cleaning up a couple of things would add a LOT to the atmosphere. That being said, later in the evening when it’s darker and their peak time of service that wear and tear may not be as visible. I LOVED their bathroom decor though, very cute.


On to the food! To start, I knew going in that this was rich European style gourmet food. That is not my favourite kind of food, I am more “let’s try the new Ethiopian place” or “OMG new vegan cafe!”. I can appreciate when a place does good food however and this visit was purely for my kind and patient husband who LOVES rich meats, cheeses and pastas. He quietly puts up with far too many visits to raw vegan cafes with me in the summer.

We both started with two glasses of red wine. They have a great wine selection and although they don’t have a cocktail menu, they will make you any classic cocktail. We ordered 4 plates and dessert with the first to come out being the kimchi shrimp.

Kimchi Shrimp

This was my least favourite dish and we didn’t finish it. The shrimp was OK, kind of chewy and there was far too much kimchi. I can’t believe I am saying that since I love kimchi, but I don’t want to eat an entire bowl of it. It did have an interesting black bean sauce in it which I enjoyed, but I would give this dish a miss in the future.

Rabbit Gnocchi

Next was our absolute favourite, the rabbit gnocchi. This was so creamy with pillows of cloudy goodness. The sauce was perfectly balanced with sweetness and a savoury mustard. Everything was cooked to perfection. I normally don’t get gnocchi when we go out since it’s often chewy or tastes bland. This was exactly how gnocchi should taste. Definitely a hit. We couldn’t stop ourselves from eating the sauce dredges after we finished the gnocchi!

We finished up with the lemon asparagus and lamb dish. Both amazing. The asparagus was crisp, perfectly cooked and well seasoned. The lamb was served with potatoes, cheese and bacon bits in a creamy sauce.

Lamb Tartiflette & Lemon Tarragon Asparagus

We finished with their housemade chocolate bar which was topped with caramel and mango puree as well as bacon bits. I could have done without the mango puree and bacon bits, but this was also really wonderful. Rich and sweet without being overpowering or sickly sweet.


Overall, this was a great meal. The food was well cooked, the menu is clearly well thought out and the service was excellent. They were so patient with us as we decided on our menu and answered every silly question I had. I also really appreciated how attentive they were in terms of picking up plates, timing the dishes and ensuring we had enough water, wine, etc. I was really impressed. Plus they were playing great 90s-00s music while we there. Much booth dancing ensued. So if you (like me) have not yet checked out the Rapscallion you should definitely try it out.

Overall: Overall rating: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

Weekend Shenanigans

This weekend was so busy and fun, but I am definitely feeling the after effects today. I am so grateful to have the day off and to be able to rest and recover. Much napping to follow!

Friday night we hit up Rapscallion which was such a great experience. We are moving soon and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Hamilton without having tried Rapscallion! Review to come later this week.
 Saturday morning started with Pilates in the Park hosted by Studio Zee Pilates. In my late teens-early 20s, I switched from yoga to pilates briefly and practiced regularly for a few years. Then I started doing hot yoga and pilates kind of fell away. This was a great breezy class outside and wasn’t too difficult, but I was feeling it! Luckily the weather on Saturday was gorgeous and breezy. We were under a large tree and it was so peaceful and beatiful (except for when we were doing the hundreds).

Photo credit: Studio Zee Pilates I didn’t want to creep out my fellow pilates go-ers by taking photos, but this gives you the idea!

After the class, I wandered over to Locke Street to check out the farmer’s market. I scored these beautiful peonies and some free range eggs with the best orange-y yolks. There is nothing better than drippy yolks from fresh eggs!

After a quick stop at home to eat lunch, Steven and I went over to Gage Park to have a walk around. So. many. kids. Luckily it’s a big park so we had some scream free time lol. We finished our afternoon with some Donut Monster treats at Cannon. I did a terrible job of taking pictures this weekend, but did a great job of enjoying myself.

Photo credit: Donut Monster https://www.instagram.com/p/BWP1pkflBf0/?taken-by=donutmonsterhamilton&hl=en

Sunday morning we got up bright and early to head over to Paris (don’t get too excited kids, just Paris, ON) for a kayaking trip. It was SO much fun. I haven’t had a lot of experience kayaking so I signed us up for a half day of instructional lesson followed by a 4 hour kayaking tour. It was really helpful and I felt much more confident in navigating rougher waters. I really recommend this company we went with. They do guided tours as well and everyone was so friendly and helpful. I appreciated how patient they were especially by the end when I was exhausted and slowing down. 7 hours is a long time to paddle!

Photo Credit: Grand Experiences Adventures

 

I totally looked just as cool and confident as our Prime Minister while kayaking. Seriously can he calm down with all his mad outdoor skills?

After the trip we were starving, but didn’t want to eat too much since we were heading to my parents’ for my brother’s birthday dinner. My parents always make 3-4 times the amount of food necessary for any event and insist that you eat 3-4 times the amount of food you feel you need to compensate for this. We stopped at Carvalho Coffee a few doors down from the Grand Experiences office. So, I heard this used to be a Brown Dog and was awesome. This was the worst food I have eaten in a long time. That includes crappy train and airplane food. Even though we were starving we ended up not finishing and walking out. It was so gross.

My parents made up for it though with a huge BBQ dinner complete with steaks, sausages, chicken and a million salad and carb sides. By the time Steven and I went to bed last night, we were exhausted, but it was so much fun! Hope everyone else had a great weekend!

Weekly Favourites

Here are some of my favourite things in life this week

Lazy summer night (!) at Bayfront Park

Reading:

1) These 2 great articles by Lindy West:
‘Gwyneth glows like a radioactive swan’ – my day at the Goop festival
Save Free Speech From Trolls
In this political climate, Lindy West gets writing about difficult topics just right. She hits all the important points with respect and sensitivity, but with enough lightness that you do not want to hide under your bed for the next 10 years

2) The Universe has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
Yep, it’s definitely hippie woo woo and I love it. If you are a fellow Law of Attraction believer or just want to raise your energy level, this is a great read. I don’t agree with everything she says, but I like to take what serves me and leave the rest.

Eating:
1) This awesome indoor picnic charcuterie board with my favourite husband
2) So. Many. Smoothies. Hello heat wave. Thank God for Green Bar.
3) At Rapscallion tonight! So OK maybe not a favourite yet, because for some reason I actually have never been before! I know it will be awesome though.

Doing:
1) Loving the awesome cardio workouts for spin and elliptical (my geriatric knees can’t handle running anymore) on Aaptiv. Not sponsored (I wish lol), they are just awesome.
2) My fav silent Follow the Yogi class at Moksha.
3) Prettiest walk around Bayfront & Pier 4 Park after dinner. Hamilton, you are so pretty.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Green Bar Hamilton- Review

Green Bar
236 James St North, Hamilton
greenbarhamilton.com
Style: Casual quick food cafe
Reservations: No
Parking: Street

I love food. Usually when I say that, people think I mean that I am a food snob and will only eat fresh rich gourmet pastas, perfectly cooked meats in special reduction sauces or epic meat and cheese boards. I am a food snob, but more about the ingredients. I like whole foods and actually tasting the fruit and vegetables so they need to be good quality. Growing up my parents always had a garden which supplemented our spring, summer and fall meals. This combined with the fact that my mom is a self proclaimed health nut (she would add, before it was cool) means that I love trying out new smoothie bars, vegan cafes and “healthy food” spots. I have been so excited to see the rise of the “healthy” organic and locally sourced food movement.

All of this is to say that it is no surprise that I have frequented Green Bar (previously Green Smoothie Bar) fairly often since they opened. They are a self described vegan cafe that specializes in smoothies, quick vegan meals (think salads, grain bowls) and delicious desserts. I have sent Steven out in the middle of a brewing snowstorm to go get me a chocolate turtle cheesecake bar. I may or may not have eaten mine and his when he got back (#sorrynotsorry). It is actually one of my greatest regrets that I did not get to try their Canada Day vegan poutine.

Photo credit: Green Bar Hamilton https://www.instagram.com/p/BWCyPvtB3T-/

The atmosphere of the restaurant is like a quick grab and go cafe. There is seating, but it’s a casual place and most people are running in (like literally on a run and stop by) to grab a smoothie or quick bite. There are some great sit down meals like their Mac & Cheez which is so creamy and delicious without the typical weightiness of regular mac & cheese. They do brunch on the weekends and usually have a full display of grab & go chia puddings, kombucha, desserts and salads/grain bowls.

Photo credit: Green Bar Hamilton https://www.instagram.com/p/BV96gZhB45E/?taken-by=greenbarhamilton

The service is very friendly and I have never had a bad experience. No matter how many ridiculous questions you ask, the ladies are so patient and wonderful. They are also fairly quick given that all the smoothies are made to order.

In terms of the quality of the food, definitely always a hit. They have a limited food menu, but I have yet to try something that I did not enjoy there. That means regardless of what you get, it’s flavoured well and the ingredients are fresh. Nothing worse than going to a vegan or plant based restaurant without fresh ingredients. If you are in the mood for something fresh and healthy this summer, I think Green Bar is a must do in the city.

Overall: Overall rating: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Ambience: 3/5 (They have a great atmosphere, but the bathroom could use a few decor touches to decrease the sketch/darkness level in there.)

Long Weekend Recap

I hope everyone enjoyed the Canada Day long weekend! The weather held up fairly well despite that unfortunate rain patch on Saturday afternoon. Even with that (really not so) minor downpour, by the time we got to Bayfront Park the sky had cleared. It was a bit squishy and muddy on the grass, but I was glad we went out for the celebration. We had a great time sitting by the water, sampling the food trucks and watching some of the buskers. Steven hit up Dirty South for a Big Pig and I had my annual Canada Day Willy Dog. The entire time I was at Mac, I never had a Willy Dog even though the stand was there all year long. So many wasted opportunities!

Due to my old man sleeping habits and the fact that Charlie was home by himself, we didn’t stay for the fireworks. I could certainly hear them from our apartment though! Thank goodness for earplugs. See aforementioned old man habits.

Sunday morning we started the day at The French. It was pretty empty with the holiday weekend so my reservations were unnecessary. As the child of free rolling Punjabi immigrants who cannot grasp the concept of “reservations” or “planning for dinner” resulting in having to eat at sketch places at even sketchier times, not having reservations gives me serious anxiety. Back to The French, I was disappointed by the inattentive service and some soggy cold fries I got with my meal. I would have sent them back, but we couldn’t get the attention of any of the four very free servers.

The atmosphere was still really beautiful and the rest of the food was done fairly well. I just wish they weren’t so inconsistent.

Sunday night we continued our “watch-movies-the-entire-world-except-Ash-has-seen” spree. We watched The Matrix Reloaded. So, the original Matrix is an amazing movie. I felt like there was just so much rich plot to go off of, even if the second one wasn’t great, it would still be very good. As the rest of the world already found out years ago, that is not the case. Anyway, I won’t go on about it since everyone except me has already had this discussion many years before and said everything there is to say.

Monday morning we headed over to Climber’s Rock for a top rope climbing session. The gym was totally empty in the morning and we made the most of it. I love when the gym is quiet and you can choose any route you want. I also appreciated the lack of young people hanging off the bouldering and crashing down. Everyone there is so lovely regardless of age, but the bouldering gives me a heart attack. My old man sensibilities cannot handle it.

The rest of the day consisted of errands with a run to Mustard Seed and refuelling at Green Bar.

Homemade pizzas for dinner to round out our holiday weekend! We have been renting an interim apartment that I am NOT fond of and I wanted to get out of our dark dining area. We set up a pizza picnic in the living room and locked Charlie in the bedroom with a puzzle toy to keep him occupied. He has to investigate literally everything.

We ended the day with a lovely walk through Dundurn Castle. Such a great way to finish the long weekend. Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend and the short work week ahead!

Weekly Fitness + Food Review

This has been a busy week! I am finally out of my not wanting to cook rut and ready to get back in the kitchen. The crazy hot temperatures have not been helping, but I did a lot of recipe searching to get me feeling inspired again. I generally try to get 4-5 workouts in a week. I walk anywhere from 6-10 km most days and try to end my day with some foam rolling and gentle yoga stretches. Since I tend to be fairly active in my daily life, I find I need to be careful about getting in rest and varying the intensity of my workouts. I learned that the hard way (hello nagging shoulder and knee issues).

Monday: This was my SoulCycle day! Still can’t stop raving about how much fun that was. Definitely plan to go back again this summer.

Photo credit: https://www.soul-cycle.com/studios/king

Tuesday: Took Charlie on an extra long walk and did some restorative yoga at home.

Wednesday:  Went on a hike with Steven and Charlie. Charlie was very happy about this. The hike was about 7 km and we incorporated the Main Loop which is always a nice addition. We ran into a group of preschoolers and some very patient adult handlers who managed to wrangle them into semi submission. Charlie isn’t great with really young kids as I find they tend to grab out at him since he looks very cute and fluffy. He has been skittish since we rescued him and takes a while to feel comfortable with new people so we got ahead of this group as fast as we could. It’s hard to pass a group of wild 3-4 year olds!

Thursday: Again took Charlie on an extra long walk and did some restorative yoga.

Friday: 6:30 a.m. Follow the Yogi class at Moksha. I LOVE these classes. They really start my morning off on a great note. I enjoy the energy of a group practice, but don’t always love hearing the teachers go on in the morning. These silent classes are totally my jam.

This weekend we are planning on doing some more long walks and I will probably hit up a yoga class or two!

Breakfasts: Still sticking to my usual boring oatmeal. I don’t think I will ever tire of my stovetop oatmeal.

Lunches: Some highlights from this week include this delicious bowl at Fresh and this kick-ass smoothie from Green bar. I never think smoothies will keep me full, but this one did a great job.

Dinners: We hit up Tabule on Monday while we were in Toronto, but otherwise managed to eat home the rest of the week. Yay for sticking to my meal plan!

Desserts: It’s ice cream season for sure. We started out the week at Ed’s Real Scoop on Queen St East and then rounded it out with a visit to Paninis & Ice Cream out in the east end. It was our first time there, but Steven is already talking about what to order next time!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! Have an amazing long weekend!

SoulCycle Review- King Street

435 King Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 1K4
647.559.5040
soulking@soul-cycle.com

Photo credit: https://www.soul-cycle.com/studios/king

Confession time. I am a fitness class junkie. Mention a new fitness trend or class and I will frantically Google my way into finding a class near me. Some trends stick like the hot yoga I have regularly practiced for 7 years now while others have faded like the barre classes that gave me terrible neck and shoulder pain. One trend I have loved is spin class. Sadly, there are not great options for spin classes in Hamilton. Perhaps this is for the best because when my friend invited me for a date at the King Street SoulCycle, she warned that classes are $30 a pop. Luckily, the drive to Toronto is a fairly strong deterrent to regular attendance.

We decided to head over for a 12:15 class which was being taught by Jenna G. The studio is pretty centrally located at King & Spadina, but parking options are a bit limited if you are coming in from out of town. I was worried about being a newbie, but turns out a large portion of the class was made of new riders. There was a staff member standing at the door handing out paperwork for new students. It’s a fairly large space for a Toronto studio and has a wall of lockers with combination free for use. The women’s change room is just past the studio and fully equipped with towels and toiletries. Be warned though, those showers fill up fast!

Photo credit: http://notable.ca/soulcycle-coming-to-toronto-to-offer-a-unique-spin-on-fitness/

As for the class itself, it. was. AMAZING! I spent the entire class on a high and it just flew by. The instructor had a great energy and great music. Let me take a moment now to call out the spin classes at World Gym Hamilton (previously Phoenix) that play 70s rock music and crappy house music for their classes. The music is so terrible at those classes that I just started doing solo classes with my Aaptiv app. Music makes an enormous difference to the energy, speed and enjoyment of a spin class. I am not sure how typical my class was to most SoulCycle classes, although I intend to find out on return visits. I loved the resistance dial on the bikes. A lot of spin bikes have crazy resistance with a single turn, so I liked the flexibility their bikes offered with the resistance building fairly slowly on each turn. We did some hills, sprint intervals and a weight segment on the bike. I had to do that part without the weights since I messed my shoulder up from barre.

If you enjoy group fitness classes or high energy cardio heavy classes, I highly recommend checking them out.

Weekend Recap

This weekend was a lot slower paced than last week, but it felt so good to relax at home. On Friday night we went to visit our friends for dinner and their adorable 18 month old daughter. We brought all the fixings for a taco bar and they provided desserts from Sweetness Bakery. We had a lot of fun catching up and I was having so much fun with their little one that I forgot to take any pictures!

Saturday morning we headed out early for a hike in Dundas Valley. We included the Headwaters trail and ended up doing about 10.5 km. It was perfect weather for a hike. Charlie LOVES hiking. I was listening to an MFM episode earlier this week and they mentioned how there is no valid reason to be in the forest because dogs don’t care where they are walking.

Sage advice from myfavoritemurdershirts.com

 

Although I agree about the solo forest visitor caution, dogs absolutely care about where they are being walked. Charlie cannot contain his excitement when we are out on a trail. He always overexerts himself in the beginning and then starts to slow down around the 2 hour mark. This hike was about 2.5 hours and by the end of it he was totally pooped.

Charlie very clearly NOT staying out of the forest.

Dead to the world after 2.5 hours of pulling on the leash, running into nettles and barking at horses.

We debated hitting up Green Smoothie Bar for lunch, but laziness took over so we decided to make smoothies at home instead. Saturday night we went to our friend’s house for a going away party. They are moving to Vancouver and we are excited for them, but sad to see them go.

Sunday morning I headed over for a lovely SSU class with Sonya at Moksha. It was perfect after a pretty intense exercise week. The rest of the day we hung out around the house and went for a few walks with Charlie. We ended the night watching Terminator 2! When Steven found out I hadn’t watched it, he insisted this needed to be remedied ASAP. The movie was a huge hit of nostalgia. Remember when Leonardo DiCaprio had a fringe?

All in all a great weekend!