Listening Recommendation Week 5: Gotta love that true-crime…

Listening Recommendation Week 5: Gotta love that true-crime…

My listening recommendation this week is another podcast, and another true-crime podcast at that. You just gotta love that true-crime. It’s so addictive! If you’ve finished the first season of Serial, I know that you have been left wanting more. Fear not, I have something for you, and this time you can satisfy your true-crime craving with a story that’s a bit closer to home.

Someone Knows Something Season 1, by CBC, is hosted, written and produced by the award-winning independent Canadian filmmaker, David Ridgen. Raised in Arnprior, Ontario, David Ridgen takes us back to his home town to open up a cold case from 1972. The case involves a five-year-old boy, named Adrien McNaughton, who vanished into thin air while fishing with his family in Eastern Ontario. An intensive search and investigation ensued, but no sign of Adrien, or what happened to him, was ever found. With a proven track record for solving cold cases, David Ridgen may be able to solve a case that has remained a mystery for over forty years.

With a Canadian focus, Someone Knows Something offers up a much more personal listening experience for Canadians. Listen to what David Ridgen has to say about this podcast and why he started it in the first place.

Happy listening!

What are you listening to? 

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Craft beer and my evening in the city…

Craft beer and my evening in the city…

As I have mentioned before, one of the hardest things about moving to Milton was leaving behind my Toronto girls and our adventures in the city.  I have found the way to deal with this challenge is to make a point of having a full night out in the city every once in a while, and to do it up right! That means good food, good drinks, and trying something new, all in the company of good friends.

Last Friday I did just that, attending The Art of Craft Beer at the Super Wonder Gallery in Toronto, in support of the not-for-profit organization, SKETCH. It was a wonderful evening of delicious food, beautiful artwork and amazing craft beer. Check out a full rendition of The Art of Craft Beer Event – My evening in the city on Storify.

Sawdust Brewing Co. Stand at The Art of Craft Beer and their artwork
The Sawdust City Brewing Co. station at The Art of Craft Beer
Often my adventures in the city involve Ontario Craft Beer in some fashion, but the craft beer movement is not limited to Toronto. Far from it! Check out this video on the big impact of Ontario craft breweries…

“What about Milton?” you ask. Oh, we’re on it! Check out Milton’s very own Orange Snail Brewers for your taste of local Milton craft beer and follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Who’s your favourite craft brewer? 

Listening Recommendation: Week 4 …Are you hungry yet?

Listening Recommendation: Week 4 …Are you hungry yet?

Since my last post was all about delicious food, I thought I would share a listening recommendation that literally made my mouth water.  That’s right, an audio-book that makes your mouth water! The Lost Recipe for  Happiness, by Barbara O’Neal, narrated by Bernadette Dunne, is a delectable story about a female chef, Elena, who finds herself with The Lost Recipe for Happiness on Libraries on the Gothe opportunity of a lifetime –the chance to run her own kitchen.

Of course, opportunities like these are often attended by a great deal of self-reflection and Elena is forced to face her past, while working hard to build herself a happy future. This story offers a bit of everything, with some romance, drama and action, accompanied by several traditional Mexican recipes, that when read aloud, will make you want to either cook or eat, or most likely both.

Barbara O’Neal does a fantastic job of character building, giving you the sense that you are meeting the new characters and getting to know them as Elena does. Likewise, Bernadette Dunne does a beautiful job narrating, giving the characters life as she uses tone and accents to give each one a unique voice. If you love food and love to cook, this is a book for you. Happy listening!

What are you listening to?

Food in the ‘burbs

Food in the ‘burbs

Okay, so I don’t know if I meet the full criteria of being labeled a “foodie,” but I would consider myself a great lover of all things food and drink.  I am passionate about what I choose to eat and I don’t like eating mediocre food. Living in Toronto, what I would consider a food Mecca, put me at the center of endless, amazing food possibilities. As for Milton, well it just kind of fell flat in comparison. That was until I gave it a chance.

As it turns out, Milton is full of fabulous local joints, serving up very tasty bites AND at a suburban discount. Don’t get me wrong, we are still a bit limited (especially after 10 P.M.), but for the most part there is enough to keep me talking about my last great meal.

Here are 6 of my favourite places to eat in Milton: 

Mama Mila’sMama Mila’s is a café in the plaza at Thompson and Derry. It is a simple, yet adorable, family-run café, offering up a variety of homemade sandwiches, soups and pierogies, on top of regular café fare. While the pierogies are delicious, it is their sandwiches that keep me coming back – the South Western to be exact. It is a true South Western, loaded with black beans, corn, red peppers, green onion, lettuce and cheddar cheese, all wrapped in a crepe thin egg, with shaved ham and served on a perfectly soft, yet crusty bun.  Try this with a side of their dill seasoned Borscht (beet soup) for a great lunch.

Mama Mila's Cafe

Fresh AddictsLocated in the James Snow Pkwy and Main St. plaza, Fresh Addicts is a juice and salad bar with a flair for making healthy food choices taste great. While this is a Cold Pressed Juicepricier option for take-out in Milton, it is definitely a good choice and worth every penny to treat your body right.  With a variety of options for any meal of the day, Fresh Addicts makes salads, smoothies, wraps and bowls to order; all of which are made with wholesome, fresh and organic produce. You can also get your “juice on” here, as they offer a wide selection of cold pressed juices to get that necessary boost of vitamins into your diet. My go-to meal is the Sante Fe salad, which is made with romaine lettuce (I swap it Fresh Cold Pressed Juicefor the spring mix), avocado, tomato, core black beans, cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips. I get it with a side of pesto salad dressing and add an egg for protein. All salads and bowls are priced by weight, so you can add as much or as little as you like and they have a variety of seed options like hemp and flax to further boost the nutritional factor. Shout out to Cousin Chelsea for introducing me to this healthy place and the Sante Fe salad!

For more information on Fresh Addicts and a virtual tour of their restaurant, check out The Joyce of Cooking blog and the post Freshly Addicted to Milton’s Healthy Restaurant: Fresh Addicts.

The Ivy Arms Their chicken wings to be exact! To be honest, I haven’t tried much else at The Ivy Arms, because their wings are just so darn tasty. They are huge jumbo wings, breaded (or not), fried up and tossed in your choice of sauce or dry dusted in Cajun, lemon or salt and pepper.  With the Sargent Farms retail store just across the street, you know they have to be fresh, and they are cheap Sunday through Thursday at 65 cents a wing (with the purchase of a beverage).  The Ivy Arms, or “The Ivy” as it’s called by locals, is a true Irish style pub, located on Main St. in downtown Milton.  Pub food dominates the menu, and they have a wide variety of beers on tap as well as daily specials. I love the laidback, cozy vibe there, and they have a large patio overlooking Main St. for those warm summer days.

Oshima Sushi All-You-Can-Eat  Like many sushi lovers, I was very skeptical of the whole all-you-can-eat sushi movement, so when I moved to Milton and all you could eat was “all-you-can-eat sushi,” I was rather unimpressed.* Toronto has some fantastic sushi joints and I had developed some rather high standards, so you will be surprised to know that I’ve been converted. Our go to spot is Oshima Sushi on Main Street. I say we because you should really do all-you-can-eat sushi with a group of people. Our friends Ryan and Adina usually help us out with that, and after a great deal of practice, we have finally mastered a routine to get the most out of our visits. If you Google search Oshima, you may notice they don’t have the best rating. That is likely due to the service being on the slow side, but I guarantee you it is worth the wait. Oshima is a fairly busy spot, so I am certain the fish is fresh, and they have some pretty awesome choices that rock my food world. I recommend the Fantastic Roll, which is topped with grilled red snapper, the grilled salmon sushi (you’re noticing a trend here) and the white tuna sashimi.

*To clarify, Milton does in fact have a regular Sushi restaurant called Sushi-Ya which is known to be quite good; however, the price comparison for the quantity of food is significant, causing most of our friends to want to go with All-You-Can-Eat instead.

Cheesecake with a candle.
The complimentary pistachio, vanilla and bourbon cheesecake from Pasqualino.

Pasqualino If it’s something a little fancier you are after, Pasqualino is your best bet. Located on Main St. in downtown Milton, Pasqualino is a beautifully designed, family owned Italian restaurant. Recently renovated, this restaurant has a truly elegant ambiance. Add in delicious, high quality food and amazing service, and you’ll find yourself making plans to come back before you even leave. Check out my Google Review of the restaurant after a fabulous dining experience there last January.

La Rose Specialty Foods & Fine Italian Bakery  Another family owned business, La Rose is an amazing place for all things food. Located in the plaza at Bronte and Anne Blvd., they

Mixed Olives
La Rose Mixed Olives

carry groceries, specialty goods, a to-die-for hot table, baked goods, bread and so much more, including a well-stocked and cared for garden center during the summer months.
n top of this, I find La Rose to be incredibly well priced and I visit for many reasons. If I am having a party, I’ll stop in to grab some specialty cheeses, meats and olives from their fabulous olive bar. Try the Sicilian Butter Olives (aka Castelvetrano olives); they are not
your typical olive and they literally melt in your mouth. If I want to make homemade pizza, I will pick up a bag of pre-made dough at La Rose, along with their quality mozzarella and any other toppings we want to add.  Another reason to go to La Rose is their hot table – think fine dining Italian food, to go. If they happen to have their chicken bacon lasagna, I highly recommend it.

There are several other great food places in and around Milton, and I am sure there many more I have yet to try.  When I have a particularly good meal somewhere, I will be sure to report back. Stay tuned food lovers!

Do you have a favourite food spot in the GTA? I’d love some recommendations!

Listening recommendation: Week 3

Listening recommendation: Week 3

I will keep my listening recommendation for this week short and sweet. I am recommending one of the most popular and recognized podcasts out there: This American Life. If you are not familiar with this podcast but it rings a bell, you are likely remembering my Week 1: Listening recommendation, the podcast Serial. The creators of This American Life created Serial, giving Serial increased popularity in the podcast world. It’s a bit ironic that I actually learned about This American Life from Serial.

What I like about This American Life is that they cover a variety of topics and places through storytelling. Each episode has a theme and despite the name of the podcast, they really do cover anything and everything, from places near and far across the globe. Being an Anthropology major, I love it! Produced weekly, they are on episode 602 as I am writing this, and have been producing episodes since 1995. Needless to say, there’s a lot of listening material here.

To get you started, here are three of my favourite episodes so far:

Podcast Episode 560: Abdi and the Golden Ticket

Episode 587: The Perils of Intimacy

Episode 594: My Summer Self

Some episodes will make you laugh, some will make you smile and some will even make you cry, while others will make you mad, but I guarantee you will learn something new and gain a different perspective than you had before. Enjoy!

Listening recommendation: Week 2

Listening recommendation: Week 2

What are you listening to? Here is my weekly listening recommendation…

For my second weekly listening recommendation, I am suggesting an audio book I listened to last fall. I enjoyed this book so much that, although I would primarily listen to it while running, I found myself also listening to it while sipping on a glass of wine on a Friday night and even before bed.

The book is called Before the Poison by Peter Robinson, presented by HarperAudio (HarperCollins Publishers) and performed by Susan Lyons and Toby Lennet Moore.  The story begins in present day, with the move of a successful Hollywood film music composer, back to England after the death of his wife. Moving back to his hometown in Yorkshire, the main character Chris finds himself in an old isolated house that he bought sight unseen. The house proves to be more than he bargained for when Chris finds out that a Book Cover of Before the Poisonprevious owner had died there sixty years ago and his wife was convicted and hanged for his murder.  As Chris gets pulled into the mystery and learns more about the characters that were a part of this event, we the listener find out about the life of a battlefield nurse in World War II and the serious implications that it had.

This story has lots of twists and turns. More than just the story itself, I truly enjoyed the performances of Susan Lyons and Toby Lennet Moore. If you love a good mystery with a bit of historical fiction, you will definitely enjoy this book as well!

You can find the audio book on Libraries on the Go, as part of the Southern Ontario Library Service (and I am sure others) or you can purchase it online. Happy listening!

The charms of the farm…

The charms of the farm…

Okay, so aside from the commute, moving to Milton really wasn’t that bad. I know what you are thinking; I mentioned several challenges in my Hello Milton… post.  One of those challenges was the farm. When I moved to Milton, not only did I move from downtown Toronto to the suburbs, but I also moved from an apartment into a farmhouse.  What I shared with you in that earlier post did not shed the most positive light on farmhouse living; and let’s be serious, I don’t want you going around thinking that it was all ceramic chickens and ‘Home is where your boots dry’ signs. So, here are some of the charms of the farm.

A space of our own.  One of the best things about the farmhouse was not the house itself, but the land around it. Our home was situated on 75 acres of beautiful and wonderful open space. Now that is something you won’t find in Toronto! With Taylor being a landscaper, our house was surrounded by plush gardens and a big open deck that wrapped around two sides of the house. From there our yard stretched out, what felt like forever. I have fond memories of bonfires, golf (Taylor had installed a mini golf course he called Par 3 out front), every lawn game you can think of, and the best part … endless parking (our own, much cheaper version, of the Green P).

Peace and quiet. One of the first things I noticed about the farmhouse was the absolute silence that came with nighttime. There were no city noises like traffic, honking, sirens, drunk people yelling at each other, street fights…I could go on.  Instead, it felt like any noise was sucked up by the expanse of space and any sounds that did reach our ears were the comforting sounds of nature.  On the other hand, if we were the noisy ones, that was okay – we had no neighbors to disturb.

The wildlife.  After a peaceful night’s sleep at the farm, waking up to birds chirping was not uncommon. If the sun was shining they were singing. There were several types of birds from doves to blue jays, chickadees, cardinals, one majestic blue heron that had claimed the pond as his home, and many more. One spring we had a dove build its nest outside of our bedroom window. Back in the city this probably would have been considered a nuisance, but at the farm it offered a A mother dove with her two babiesfirsthand viewing of the Discovery Channel. We watched as the mama bird produced two perfect eggs, nestled on top of them to warm and protect them, and got to see the babies after they hatched. I was mesmerized the first time I got to witness their dinner time and excited to see the babies develop into little teenage birds, ready to fly the coup.

Rustic charm. The farmhouse itself was really quite beautiful. It had original natural hardwood throughout the house, exposed wooden beams, a wood burning Wood burning stove at farmhouse.stove and a hidden back entrance up to the master bedroom, which used to be the servants’ quarters. Despite being cold in the winter the house actually gave off a
very comfortable, homey feel that I genuinely miss.

You can grow your own veggies! My favourite thing about farmhouse living was the option to grow my own vegetables. Taylor, being the green thumb he is, was all for it and we have kept a garden on the property since my first summer in Milton.

There is nothing like the satisfaction of making a meal filled with organic veggies that you have grown yourself and picked fresh. In the fall I love to have my Toronto girlfriends out to Milton for “the harvest,” when they get to pick some of their own favourite veggies from the garden and we make a big feast out of what we’ve picked.
Vegges from our first gardenWe have had some failures and some successes with the garden, and every year we learn something new. I will never forget the first time I went out to the garden to find green onion shoots poking their heads out of the ground. We have had great success with tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, kale, Swiss chard, onions, zucchini, spaghetti squash, raspberries, hot peppers and lots of fresh herbs. We are still working on our wish list of garlic, potatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and corn.  Got any tips? We’re all ears…..or not.

More on becoming a Milton-foodie in my next post.