Hungry? Here’s Some Food Porn

PlankPizzaFor years, I’ve been photographing people or objects at crime scenes, government press conferences, festivals, etc. so capturing plated items was initially quite the challenge. I learn by doing, and while the first few hundred images were mediocre at best, there’s been significant improvement. Here are some of the most favourite (iPhone) images from eating my way across Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Burlington, and Milton.

bsbanhmicoverThe Express - ravioliWundeba mousseCulaccino burgerSchillings apple strudelBru charcuterie boardDanish Pastry House spandaur.jpgEmmas mac and cheese.jpgPiazza Bistro gelato

Which food items do you think are the easiest and most difficult to capture?

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Top 5 Fries in Oakville

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A basket of fries should replace birthday cake, I firmly believe, regardless of whether you’re celebrating at a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Oakville, a fun bar along Brant St. in Burlington, or a classic diner in Milton. (Who needs National French Fry Day when you can ring in another year with spuds?) Turning the lights down low and inserting candles into a greasy potato-filled vessel would certainly bring tears of joy to my salt-loving self. Imagine a one-year-old baby with fat cheeks dunking its large head into a bowl of fresh cut shoestring fries instead of smearing yucky, artificial icing all over the place … think about it. Although I’m clearly stating the obvious, it’s with great excitement I bring you this list of top 5 fries in Oakville.

5. Tartan Fish & Chips

This cute little family-run shop on Kerr St. (in the Planet Organic plaza) has been pleasing diners for years. No wonder it’s full when we arrive. Fries (or chips) here are cut in-house then soaked and double-fried — that’s right, DOUBLE-fried. So consider my stomach officially happy/upset! Service is great and they also offer veggie spring rolls and crispy onion rings. Check it out!


4. The Gingerman

Essentially everything on the menu at the Gingerman is fantastic, including their fries. These hand-cut Yukon gold fries are sprinkled with sea salt. They just hit the spot to the point where I could finish a massive platter of them for a solid, carb-filled, fatty meal. (Hopefully the cranky old guy who runs my gym doesn’t read this … or it will probably be death by burpee). Chase the spuds with a glass of their hand-picked wine selection if you fancy vino, or be cool like me and order a whisky sour.


3. Just Braise

This casual dining option opened on May 3, 2017, and man, are they ever crushing it with their next-level sandwich – and fries – game! The fries, cut in-house, are pretty much perfect, arriving lightly salted, crispy, and piping hot. That’s what’s up! The menu at this gourmet shop combines classic braising techniques with unconventional flavours. It offers up six sandwich options, including top sellers such as BBQ Pulled Pork, Beef + Kimchi, and Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), which are finished on the flat top. There’s also poutine, fresh cut fries, and milkshakes. Items are made fresh to order. But all you need to try is the Beef + Kimchi sandwich. Alongside the obvious ingredients, it’s got spicy bap sauce, sweet soy, and fresh scallions. Served on a French bun (that’s ridiculously delicous, one bite in!), it’s a serious flavour party in my mouth. It arrives on a cute little stainless steel serving tray. The sandwich looks and tastes spectacular. You’ll find the resto in the Fortino’s plaza at Dundas St. W. and Neyagawa Blvd. — look near the Hasty Market.


2. Palermo Pub

Once a basket of these amazing fresh-cut fries arrived the wait for a table (which wound up being a seat at the bar since it was jammed) was utterly and completely worth it. This local pub, formerly known as Jimmy Heroes, is a hotspot for regulars looking for a place to unwind after a long day. For some, it’s a destination to try the fish topped with Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Kettle Cooked potato chips. For others, it’s a familiar place to play darts or drown one’s sorrows in a pint, followed by fries, then chased by another pint. Either way, head to Palermo and try some of the best fries in Oakville!


1. Ricarda’s

These fries arrive in a basket. They’re slender. Seasoned. I’m skeptical. Now, I’m a believer. Ricarda’s offers up everything from flatbreads (we love the Orbetello version, featuring prosciutto, figs, gorgonzola, walnuts, and brussels sprouts) to Sunday brunch, plus dinner and cocktails. There are plenty of vegetarian options, including custom salads. Carnivores will love the Lamb Burger with scamorza cheese, tomato aioli, caramelized onions, romaine, and some absolutely perfect shoestring fries. Or you can get the veggie burger with fries. Or just come for the fries. With its airy, brass-heavy interior and great service, Ricarda’s will no doubt satisfy locals who can never have enough fantastic Mediterranean eats … or those who just love them some skinny potatoes.


Honourable mention:

English Bay

This little Maple Grove joint in the Sobeys plaza offers up two fish and chips varieties which are equally on point. The fries are fantastic and so is the service … consider yourself #blessed if you’re in the southeast end and can easily pick this up on your way home.

https://www.inhalton.com/top-5-fries-in-oakville

Top 5 Sandwiches in Burlington

barque_smokedbeefbrisket3

A boy once told me I make the best sandwiches he’s ever tasted. We were in Grade 8 … friends would come over to my house after school and I’d get to work, slicing kaiser buns and pulling out cold cuts and condiments by the armful. I even had a systematic (albeit, one-woman) assembly line on the kitchen counter. Chris J., if you’re reading this, my top-secret trick was slathering Miracle Whip between each slice of meat instead of just the bun. And, of course, a handful of Doritos (nacho cheese) on top always took a middle-school-calibre sandwich over the edge. While we’ve graduated to far more sophisticated eats, sometimes you just want a good old bread party. Here are our top 5 sandwiches in Burlington.

5. Lakeshore Coffee House

This long-running indie cafe is known for its array organic, free-trade coffee plus its medley of cheap sandwiches ($6.95). If you’re indecisive, bad news: you can also get hot sandwiches, a panini or a melt (open face, with more meat and cheese, Sue says!). All are made to order once you select an option or three. We kept it simple with a turkey sandwich, which came with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and alfalfa sprouts. It’s fresh, healthy, and a great option if you need a break from the deep fryer. You’ll find very friendly service, with staff eager to customize and answer questions, plus an array of seasonal drinks and classic bevvies. Given its absolutely amazing location near the corner of Brant St. and Lakeshore Rd., there’s limited seating.

What to order: Turkey


4. Lettuce Love Cafe

Delicious bites await at this tiny vegan/gluten-free eatery renowned for its menu. The Reuben Sandwich ($15.50) features marinated, grilled tempeh, sauerkraut, Daiya cheese, house-made Russian dressing, and quinoa bread. I’m not fond of tempeh but I have to admit it was surprisingly scrumptious. This eatery simultaneously helps you stay on track with your fitness goals and hits all numerous cravings. Speaking of which, we’ve got some more recos while you’re there. Try the Power Bowl, a nutritious dish made up of organic steamed quinoa, grilled sweet potatoes, black beans, braised kale, avocado, grilled portobello mushroom, brazil nut parmesan, and lemon tahini sauce. It was beyond delicious and full of so many complementary flavours. It was chased with an ice-cold chocolate smoothie comprised of almond milk, raw cacao powder, cacao butter, coconut oil, bananas, dates, cacao nibs, and sea salt. It wasn’t a sweet drink and I loved everything about it. If you’re forced to share, get the nachos … it’s a really big portion that’s going to fill you right up. Organic corn tortilla chips are topped with tempeh chilli, Daiya cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, sour cream, and a very generous serving of diced avocados. Delicious!

What to order: The Reuben


3. JC’s Hot Bagels

Who needs Montreal or New York City when there’s JC’s? Their bagels are baked fresh daily, and sold out, all the time, really … which is remarkable considering there’s a Tim’s next door. JC’s has been hitting that carb-craving since March 1996. Fair-trade coffee is served alongside options such as the Ham and Egg sandwich, and my favourite Everything Bagel with Smoked Salmon and Spinach Cream Cheese (finished off with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and sprouts). Bagels are also sold by the baker’s dozen (go on Wednesdays!) and include favourites such as cheddar and poppyseed. And we can’t talk about J.C.’s without mentioning their handmade cream cheese, which is also sold by the tub. The cookies by the cash register are also unbelievably scrumptious. Basically, wear stretchy pants when you go. You’ll find it in the Roseland Plaza on New St.

What to order: Bacon and Egg Sandwich


2. The Coop Wicked Chicken

There’s good chicken and there’s chicken that’s tasty as cluck (that wasn’t a typo). Brant St. is home to this fun, laidback resto … you may recognize the name from Hamilton’s original King St. W. location. Doors opened in March 2017 and locals are flocking to the place. Featuring lunch, dinner, and boozy weekend brunch, Coop Wicked Chicken offers fresh in-house food made with high-quality ingredients. Pulled sandwiches are popular … we went with the Smoky BBQ ($11.99). Shredded meat is doused in a tangy, tasty sauce and the coleslaw adds a nice crunch. Other offerings include Deep-Fried Deviled Eggs (fantastic!), Sriracha Honey Cauliflower (for the vegans in your life), Hardcore Pulled Chicken Poutine, and Chicken & Waffles topped with an egg — this was absolutely phenomenal. The atmosphere is unpretentious and fun. Service is great. If you’re a chicken when it comes to heat, consider yourself warned. This platter of Nashville Chicken Nachos is delicious and pretty spicy (and I grew up on hot foods … trust). There’s also a Mexi Beef or Veg option. The resto has added a digital vending machine for soft drinks (just like ones movie theatres use now) so you can get up and refill your own cups.

What to order: Smoky BBQ


1. Barque

Go for the brisket … leave having sampled everything because the ravenous carnivore in you will surface and the meat is *that* damn fantastic. Barque Smokehouse first opened in Toronto’s west-end Roncesvalles Village in 2011, heading further west to Burlington in summer 2017. Once you’re seated, you’re served popcorn and complimentary sparkling water. Don’t look at the menu. Just order the Smoked Beef Brisket with red cabbage slaw, fried onions, and horseradish mayo. Now, the popcorn. It’s amazing. You might sneeze or cough but you must keep snacking. (Turn the container upside down, RIGHT over your mouth, if no one is watching). The seats are so comfy, the vibe is fun and casual chic, and the meat speaks for itself. For the plant-based lovers in your life, the Chopped Kale Salad is downright lovely, with pickled cabbage, red onion, turnips, and heirloom carrots ribbons. Barque serves locally grown ingredients when possible. The menu also offers Southern Fried Chicken, Baby Back Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Smoked Wings. Service is awesome.

What to order: Smoked Beef Brisket

https://www.inhalton.com/top-5-sandwiches-in-burlington

Top 5 Fish and Chips in Burlington

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Burlington friends, fish and chips isn’t just a meal reserved for Fridays, is it? But since we’re on the topic, my dad and I have a Good Friday tradition of heading to a woefully mediocre spot for fish and chips. We always choose halibut. It’s consistently awful, yet we still return, I suppose, to laugh about how terrible the food is. The same lady serves us, and he never lets me pay. It’s kind of an inside joke … Or a silly father-daughter bond among two people who love to eat. Well, next year I’m thinking about bringing him to one of these spots to change the game. Here are the top 5 fish and chip restaurants in Burlington.

5. Emma’s Back Porch

Emma’s Fish N Chips dish features beer-battered haddock and tasty fresh cut fries. Tartar sauce is made in-house and this dish arrives piping hot. This cottage in south Burlington where Emma’s – formally known as the Estaminet Standard Hotel – opened in 1919 and famous people such as legendary musician Louis Armstrong and former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (aka Dief the Chief) dined here. It’s always packed.

Price for haddock: $16.75


4. Thistle Fish & Chips

If you’re not hungry when you enter Thistle, you will be in a matter of seconds. Friendly service awaits at this cute strip mall resto on Fairview where tartan dominates the decor. Battered fish – your choice of halibut or haddock – is crispy and the smell is intoxicating. Our halibut was ready in a matter of minutes. We came in close to closing and our young waitress was cheerful and happy to serve. The fries are downright delicious. Tartar sauce, though, is packaged.

Price for halibut: $15.25


3. The Judge & Jury

Law textbooks line the walls at this Walker’s Line British pub (making it an ideal watering hole for journalists and other temperamental scribes). An enormous piece of battered haddock arrives perfectly seasoned. It’s fresh, crispy (not soggy) and served piping hot. The fries are nice, too, although they’re frozen. Tartar sauce is made in-house, accompanied by a side of fresh slaw. This pub opened in 1998 and still feeds a steady stream of hungry Burlingtonians seven days a week.

Price for haddock: $13.99


2. Pluckers Wing & Crab Shack

The menu at this Aldershot resto reads haddock but the server says it’s cod. Either way, it’s thick, greasy and great, battered in amber beer and served with slaw. Their fresh cut fries are phenomenal and bring to mind that summer when I was 19, waiting tables at Swiss Chalet. Tartar sauce wasn’t served, so I dipped the fries in wing sauces made in-house. But really, who needs tartar sauce when your fish tastes superb on its own?

Price for cod: $12 or two pieces for $17


1. Wundeba Restaurant

Battered wild cod blows me away at this unassuming Guelph Line resto near Mount Nemo. The serving is huge! Then there’s the sauce. Made in-house, Wundeba’s tartar sauce tastes decadent. Served with delicious, crunchy slaw, cod is accompanied by a side of fresh cut fries which are simply incredible. Meals are prepared by a holistic nutritionist and owner, Philippe St-Cyr, whose philosophy is serving ‘food that loves you.’ Chase your cod with a glass of fresh-pressed juice (the fennel, apple, lime is to die for), a cold beer, or kombucha. You’ve got to try this place and find out why it’s got the best fish and chips in Burlington!

Price for cod: $14

https://www.inhalton.com/top-5-fish-and-chips-in-burlington

Top 5 Restaurants for Vegans in Oakville and Burlington

So my grandfather in Bombay never ate anything which came from an animal — it turns out he was all about that plant life eons before it became trendy (and Oakville and Burlington restos are clearly winning when it comes to the ‘forks over knives’ game!). The cranky old guy who runs my gym is vegan. So’s my brother, who’s significantly younger and throws down in the kitchen like a certified G. Our dad enjoys telling random people (including servers at restaurants) that two of his three children have taken after his father. Since I’m on that #gymlife and it’s in my bloodline, I’ve embraced eliminating meat and dairy – when possible – but still enjoy an Angus burger and fries on a cheat day. Does this technically make me a meat-eating vegetarian, or flexitarian? Who knows, and who cares! I’m not one for labels and just love great food … end rant. Here are the top 5 vegan places in Oakville and Burlington.

5. Boon Burger Cafe

Burlington & Oakville

The good folks at Boon Burger prove you don’t necessarily need meat to create a phenomenally satisfying meal. Their Cowboy burger is the topseller in Burlington and boy, it’s massive. Made from scratch, burgers are handmade, grilled, baked, and served on a whole wheat bun. The black bean patty comes with BBQsauce, “bacun,” lettuce, tomato, and it’s slathered in Bermuda sauce (which really should be called Vegan Big Mac sauce because it tastes gluttonous and McDonald’s has officially been replaced for all cheat meals going forward). This Canadian chain, or “world’s first vegan burger cafe,” has mastered selling plant-based junk food for the masses. Hot sauce and other (less important) condiments are already on the table, surrounded by a massive roll of brown paper towels. The environment is quirky and full of farm animals. Very friendly staff wear black T-shirts reading ‘boonivore’ on the back. After one bite of the Cowboy, I want one, along with everything on their menu. P.S. Another must-have? The oh-so-trendy Pulled Jackfruit Poutine — fries are baked, topped with yams and sprinked with sesame seeds.

Must-try: Cowboy Burger ($11)

Seating: Yes.


4. Vegebitez

Oakville

This 100 per cent vegan, gluten-free, peanut-free restaurant packs a serious flavour punch in the menu which “ain’t your mama’s rabbit food!” and is comprised of mains such as sandwiches, bowls, burgers and salads. My favourite lunch is the Mexicali Burger. The Ohana Bowl is also delicious, with teriyaki soy curls, pineapple, cremini mushrooms, edamame, cashews, and sesame seeds. Their menu is fun; with substitutes such as tempeh bacon, teriyaki tofu and smoked gouda “cheeze,” Vegebitez doesn’t sacrifice flavour in their healthy picks. For the occasional treat or cheat day, be sure to try their baked goods and milkshakes (we love the Amaretto flavour because alcohol). The resto, in a plaza on Neyagawa Blvd., is a happy place with lilac, turquoise, and pineapple motifs.

Must-try: MexiCali Burger ($16.95)

Seating: Limited.


3. Trish Juice

There’s beets, spinach, kale, and spectacular customer service in south Oakville. And it’s not pretentious or overpriced. Trish Juice opened in spring 2018 along Lakeshore Rd. W. (meaning there’s a good chance this cute resto might be near your home or work). It’s a great breakfast, lunch, or light dinner option, especially after a particularly punishing training session in the weight room. Or if your hands are full with a baby — the owner will stop what she’s doing to help a mom with a stroller get in and out the door. But back to the bevvies. I love me some fresh juice, and the beet juice, with carrot and lemon, didn’t disappoint. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather eat my calories than drink them but there’s one exception and it’s a real juice made right before my eyes, full of brightly hued fruit and vegetables, poured into a tall glass. Trish Juice is in the former K.B. Rugs spot. You’ll find hip, trendy items such as Avocado Toast, (we tried the Hummus Toast, topped with alfalfa sprouts — yum). This independently owned and operated juice bar will not only serve fresh juice, but also smoothies (including bowls), milkshakes, cocktails, salads, wraps, and quick health shots. Even better news? All menu items are under $15 — so it’s perfect for anyone looking for a healthy, affordable lunch. Exhibit A: Avocado Toast – served on rye bread – is $2.99. Exhibit B: Salads and wraps are $5.99. We dug right into the Maple Apple salad (it’s perfect for a sweltering summer day — ask for it without feta or dressing), with spinach, kale, chopped almonds and walnuts, granny smith apple, and a tangy maple dijon dressing. This is also the spot to visit if you want to hop on the turmeric bandwagon.

Must-try: Beet juice.

Seating: Limited.


2. Bahn Thai

Burlington & Oakville

This long-running Burlington favourite on Fairview has been pleasing diners for about 17 years (and 10 years in Oakville’s Towne Square). Thai cuisine is my absolute favourite (after Indian, of course) with its liberal use of staple ingredients such as peanuts, basil, coconut, coriander, tamarind, and lime. Popular appetizers include Thai Spring Rolls and the foolproof Mango Salad. But I’m super hungry so it’s all about the mains: Green Curry with tofu, and Pad Thai — it comes with egg, chicken and shrimp but they’ll omit those for you. The signature dish features noodles topped with fresh, generous pieces of cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, and crinkle-cut carrots. For dessert, you’ve got to try the sticky rice with mango — it’s downright sinful. The Fried Tofu and Taro are on my ‘to-eat list’ for next time (and there will most def be a next time!). Service is fantastic.

Must-try: Green Curry ($13.95).

Seating: Yes.


1. Lettuce Love Cafe

Burlington

Delicious bites await at this tiny vegan/gluten-free eatery renowned for its menu. I had the Power Bowl, a nutritious dish made up of organic steamed quinoa, grilled sweet potatoes, black beans, braised kale, avocado, grilled portobello mushroom, brazil nut parmesan, and lemon tahini sauce. It was beyond delicious and full of so many complementary flavours. It was chased with an ice-cold chocolate smoothie comprised of almond milk, raw cacao powder, cacao butter, coconut oil, bananas, dates, cacao nibs, and sea salt. It wasn’t a sweet drink and I loved everything about it. This eatery simultaneously helps you stay on track with your fitness goals and hits numerous cravings. And most of all, it’s incredibly tasty. Where else can you find a win-win-win?

Must-try: Power Bowl ($16).

Seating: Limited.


BONUS

Dar Nabati

Oakville

Come for the Eggless Egg Sandwich and leave with dessert — a plant-based resto has opened along Lakeshore Rd. E. — so tell all the vegans, raw food enthusiasts, and Paleo/Crossfitters in your life. If you’re looking for a place to grab cheap eats in downtown Oakville, this is your next stop. Dar Nabati opened April 27 and is offering up a variety of light options. One of the very best items on the menu: Baked Egyptian Falafel ($5.95). They’re made with fava beans and served hot, without a hint of dryness, and drizzled with tahini. (And I certainly don’t miss the upset stomach which accompanies traditionally fried falafel). The Eggless Egg Sandwich ($8.25) is delicious, garnished with scallions and dill. You should try it.

Must-try: Eggless Egg Sandwich ($8.25) & Baked Egyptian Falafel ($5.95)

Seating: Limited.

https://www.inhalton.com/top-5-restaurants-for-vegans-in-oakville-and-burlington

What I Learned From Quitting My Job With Nothing Lined Up

Call it the ultimate opportunity to reinvent yourself and build new bridges … all you have to do is quit your job.

Ready to hand in the resignation letter yet?

Much has changed since leaving a full-time, permanent gig in daily news.

I’ve been knocked down too many times to count.

Still, I didn’t wind up walking away from journalism and remain in the biz (and you don’t have to be a journalist to relate to the joy/terror of not knowing what to do next when the world is yours to conquer).

In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned from being a risk-taker.

  1. When you’re forced to find an income stream, you just might find a few. The key is to give yourself time to generate revenue. Be realistic.
  2. People will not understand why you left without having a new job. Don’t explain a thing. That is all.
  3. Nothing is more frustrating than well-intentioned friends and family sending you job postings. Be gracious and keep grindin’.
  4. Your reputation follows you … everywhere. You’re very much a brand. Behave accordingly.
  5. It’s OK to create something and walk away from it. I started a hyperlocal news site out of sheer frustration and curiosity. People paid attention to a very tiny project and it’s led to multiple job offers, two of which I’ve accepted (simultaneously).
  6. Keep moving. Physically (join a gym, pronto — it’s an excellent place to network and/or learn about yourself when you fall onto your face), emotionally, spiritually. It’s all connected.
  7. Savings will save your sanity. Having money in the bank is what afforded me the chance to do this crazy thing called “up and leave your job without a new start date at another company.” It’s an enormous gamble to walk away from a steady paycheque … having a little financial padding will help you sleep.
  8.  Say yes to meetings. But don’t be afraid to end the chat if you realize it’s not going to result in a positive outcome. (I once accepted a meeting with a man who’d interviewed me for a position a year prior. As soon as I sat down, he began rambling before heading into a sales pitch for a new biz he was starting. I was out of there shortly after. In hindsight, I could’ve asked for an agenda before taking the meeting).
  9. Be selective about who you give your phone number to. I’ve had too many people say “I know a journalist who works for _________. Maybe they can help you.” The reality is, they probably can’t. Get out there and meet people who don’t work in your field (or the one you’ve left behind).
  10. Be proud of yourself for taking the plunge. Maybe it worked out, perhaps it was a disaster (like me on roller skates). Either way, you did it. Most people wouldn’t have.

 

Top 5 Fall Appetizers in Oakville

Fall appetizers at a great Oakville restaurant are kind of like foreplay … They’re warm, smell intoxicatingly good, and give you a sample of what’s in store for the main act (uhhh hopefully my mom isn’t reading this!). We’re all about autumn and its cozy sweaters and comfort foods (favourites, such as pumpkin, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, any and all root vegetables) and reading socks. While you’ll have to remove the socks and get off the couch to try’em (or most of them, anyway), you’ll be glad you left the house on a cold November day. Here are our favourite fall appetizers in town.

5. Tavolo

What to Order: Zucchini Bruschetta ($10)

It’s not nearly as good as the hand-stretched pizza bread but I’ve got a love jones for savoury snacks and this Zucchini Bruschetta is right up my alley. It has diced yellow and green zucchini, red onion, goat cheese, and fresh basil on a toasted garlic crostini. Yum! Tavolo, known for its perfectly perfect margherita pizza and fried calamari, also has a divine dessert offering: house-made doughnuts. They’re tossed in sugar and served atop Nutella and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. While I’ve never been a doughnut person (except at The Ex each summer, because Tiny Tom Donuts are a national treasure!), these will convert the saltiest salt enthusiast.


4. Seasons

What to Order: Butternut Squash Soup

This hearty, delicious craft soup will warm you up in a matter of seconds. The bowl of butternut squash goodness is vegan and tastes divine, paving the way for a perfectly satisfying dining experience. Seasons has been a bank, the Town Clerk’s office, and the police station. But now it’s a fabulous fine dining option where you’ll find excellent food, drink, and service. Seasons has been running for about two decades and it’s no secret that it practically owns Restaurant Row. (Bru and Corks are also run by the same owners). The building dates back to the late 1800s when it housed the Anderson Bank. The food, though, is incredibly 2017. The White Lasagna, however, isn’t dairy-free, and you certainly won’t want to give up such luxuries after devouring this dish featuring turkey ragout, spinach, mozzarella, and fresh ricotta. It’s wonderfully creamy and had me stealing bites from my colleague Chrissy’s plate (which I realize isn’t appropriate at such an establishment but when you write about food there are no rules, OK?!). It’ll taste oh-so-good on a chilly autumn day. The warm salad also hit the proverbial spot, as did the carrot-pineapple cake, made in-house. It had a distinctly autumn/pumpkin kind of vibe and I think you should share a slice with your people. The person typing the most at our table got the least amount of cake …


3. Bamboo Legend

What to Order: Taro Fries ($7)

The name was familiar and it’s because I’ve been in this Third Line plaza many times. Start with the Taro Fries — they’re downright amazing, served with a homemade sweet and sour sauce (but I really loved them plain). The Bamboo Legend Pad Thai is their best-seller and for good reason. There’s chicken, mixed vegetables, rice noodles, and of course, peanuts. It’s a good thing I don’t work at the new Oakville Hospital because this would be my de facto takeout spot for dinner. Service is excellent.


2. Bru Restaurant

What to Order: Rosemary Flatbread ($14)

If you’re looking for a bonafide hipster hot spot in Oakville, Bru is your go-to resto. The downtown joint – which recently moved – hits every mark when it comes to on-trend dining: a rustic interior, an enviable craft beer selection (the best of its kind in the town, in fact) and a menu full of modern pub fare (some of which is gluten-free and vegan-friendly). Plus, they’re proud of the fact there’s no Wi-Fi (go ahead and act like it’s 1995 … talk to each other, the sign urges). Nestled along ‘restaurant row’, Bru supports more than 15 Ontario breweries and offers a variety of on-tap and bottled brews. As far as food goes, the diverse menu is satisfying and unique. If you’re in the mood for something tangy and light, try the flatbread, featuring roasted butternut squash, whipped ricotta cream, onion jam, and fine herbs. (I legit ate the whole platter).


1. Paradiso

What to Order: Crab Cakes ($15)

These Crab Cakes are beyond amazing. They’re the best I’ve ever had. They remind me of people who still wear summer dresses in December — holding onto what’s left of the heat while incorporating a few fall-or-winter-items into your #ootd. These handmade cakes feature roasted red pepper-chili aioli and jalapeno-zucchini relish. I could lick the plate clean. They’re unbelievably satisfying. Service is flawless. This downtown resto has been impressing Oakville diners for 20 years (there’s also a Burlington location on Pine St.). If you haven’t been, you’ve gotta make a reservation and get your crab cake on!

Top 5 Places to Get the Best Fall Foods in Halton

P is for pumpkin and if you, like me, belong to October’s Very Own cool club of Libras (my colleagues, Ashley and Khaled, are also OVO babies!), you’ll appreciate my enthusiasm for all things autumn/fall in Oakville, Burlington, Milton, and Halton Hills. October is the best month of the year for obvious reasons: Thanksgiving, turkey, Halloween, candy, orange leaves, burgundy leggings/fall fashion, Ontario Public Library Week, wool scarves, and pumpkin-flavoured errrthang. For these reasons and many more, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the best seasonal treats, bevvies, and eats we’ve come across through our very intensive research across Halton. (We eat at all of our meetings so that you don’t have to!) Here are our top 5 picks for the best fall foods in Halton!

5. Andrews Scenic Acres Farm & Wine

Item: Pumpkin Ice Cream and Pumpkin Wine

Milton

Five words/two things: Pumpkin ice cream and wine. This is a must on your Autumn in Halton Bucket List. Andrews’ one-of-a-kind pumpkin wine is as unique as it gets. (You won’t believe the number and variety of pumpkins available at Andrews Scenic Acres. You can pick-your-own pumpkins in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours, including large jack-o’-lanterns, pie pumpkins, miniature, warty white, green and grey pumpkins. Be amazed while you gaze at acres and acres of pumpkins and search for your perfect pick! While you’re at it, check out some other great local farms, too!)


4. Kelly’s Bake Shoppe

Item: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Burlington

It’s a nutrient-dense beverage that’ll satisfy those cray-cray PSL cravings when you’re supposed to be eating clean. Just make your way to Brant St. … Guilt-free ingredients – which happen to be vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free – are the premise behind the offerings at this charming little shoppe by the mom-and-daughter duo who opened Kindfood, now named Lettuce Love (where they still serve a few dessert options). The PSL is made with real pumpkin puree, and a choice of soy or coconut milk (I did a 3:1 blend to get some of the fatty creaminess but save on the caloric expenditure). It’s the furthest thing from a generic coffee chain drink — instead of being sickly sweet with trash-can ingredients, it’s filling, satisfying, and has just a hint of autumn naughtiness. Yummers!


3. sweetbites bake shoppe

Item: Pumpkin Spice Caramel Latte

Oakville

Cupcakes (and custom cakes) are all the rage at this tiny little shoppe in downtown Oakville, where everything is made in-house. They’ve been going strong since Kathy Tang opened up in 2012. Seasonal flavours include Pumpkin Spice Caramel Latte and Glazed Cinnamon Roll Twist … if those don’t have you drooling, you’ll be craving sugar soon enough. Items here have fun names, such as Love Your Lemons, Berry Cheesy, Pucker up Pinkie (lemon raspberry buttercream), Cool, Dark & Yummy (mint chocolate), Rasta Raspberry, and Spike’m Up S’more. Baked goodies are made with whole ingredients, such as butter, cream, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and Callebaut chocolate. One bite in, you can taste the difference. I really liked the chocolate cookies, which aren’t too sweet and taste homemade. But I really loved a chocolate-coconut-oats concoction (is it technically a macaroon? I’m not certain but I can tell you that I could eat a dozen in no time!) Single cupcakes go for $3.25 ($2.25 for mini). They also do tasty energy bites and breakfast cookies ($2.95 each), and a ginger molasses cookie sandwich with maple buttercream ($4.75). As if those weren’t enough to blow your weekly meal plan (and/or get yelled at by a cranky old guy at the gym because your abs better resemble a marshmallow, he says) they make cake pops, too! Just don’t blame us when your trainer punishes you with a wicked superset of push-ups and pull-ups, OK? Side note: The shop is peanut-free.


2. Seasons

Item: Butternut Squash Soup

Oakville

This hearty, delicious craft soup will warm you up in a matter of seconds. The bowl of butternut squash goodness is vegan and tastes divine, paving the way for a perfectly satisfying dining experience. Seasons has been a bank, the Town Clerk’s office, and the police station. But now it’s a fabulous fine dining option where you’ll find excellent food, drink, and service. Seasons has been running for about two decades and it’s no secret that it practically owns Restaurant Row. (Bru, Maluca, and Corks are also run by the same owners). The building dates back to the late 1800s when it housed the Anderson Bank. The food, though, is incredibly 2017. The White Lasagna, however, isn’t dairy-free, and you certainly won’t want to give up such luxuries after devouring this dish featuring turkey ragout, spinach, mozzarella, and fresh ricotta. It’s wonderfully creamy and had me stealing bites from my colleague Chrissy’s plate (which I realize isn’t appropriate at such an establishment but when you write about food there are no rules, OK?!). It’ll taste oh-so-good on a chilly autumn day. The warm salad also hit the proverbial spot, as did the carrot-pineapple cake, made in-house. It had a distinctly autumn/pumpkin kind of vibe and I think you should share a slice with your people. The person typing the most at our table got the least amount of cake …


1. Kerr Street Cafe

Item: Autumn Grains

Oakville

They plate their meals beautifully and even offer bike racks out front. Kerr Street Cafe and sister company Brothers’ Coffee Roasters (their Notorious espresso blend is fire!) are known for being on point. They’ve recently altered their menus for the season, and I must admit i’m all about the Autumn Grains ($17). It’s a beautiful bowl featuring golden beet hummus, black rice, roasted acorn squash, heirloom cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes, radish, pomegranate, za’atar spice, and spiced walnut. The dish is hearty-yet-light, and incredibly tasty. (There’s an option to add pickled shrimp for $7, however, the original dish is vegan and gluten-free). While you’re there, check out their famous all-day breakfast, which includes French Toast (with sesame brioche, toasted coconut, blueberry mascarpone, and almond butter), Coconut Chia Pudding, and Wildflower Honey Pancakes (with rosemary custard, local fruit compote, brulee banana, bee pollen, creme fraiche, and pollen). Lunch offers up Frites, Fish Tacos, and an Open Faced Meatball Sandwich using house-made pork patties and toasted sourdough.This Kerr Village staple, featuring a cafe and restaurant, has such a relaxing atmosphere (with plenty of natural light) it’s second only to a day at the spa. Or a day trip to New York City, because it feels like I’m at a posh cafe near Columbia University. The resto began serving dinner and the latest menu features a Farmhouse Platter with cheese, fresh figs, prosciutto, rosemary crackers, warm salted potatoes, and beet-dyed eggs. What made us even happier were the pistachios … bon appetit!

Cheer and happiness at the lighthouse

There were tassels and pom poms, but no cheerleaders.

A kaleidoscope of yarn bombed the Port Credit lighthouse bridge Wednesday evening.

“We thought it’ll be a colourful way to celebrate Busker Fest in Port Credit and all the things that we love,” said Cheryl Price.

She’s part of a knitting group at the nearby public library.

“They give us cheer and happiness when we see colours,” Price added.

Yarn bombing is a form of graffiti – often traced to a Houston, Texas woman or the Netherlands – celebrating the history of fibre as decoration. Anything from military tankers to bike racks to trash cans are game.

Price said volunteers have been recruited for the installation; inspired by an experiment of sorts last year.

“A group of us met and we actually yarn bombed the bench at the library,” said Susan, who didn’t give her last name. “Mysteriously, our yarn bombing project disappeared.”

They started thinking ahead to 2015, partnering with the Port Credit Business Association and others in the community to create items for display.

Passersby stopped to snap photos or mount a knitted object.

Interlaced or standing alone, each piece has a story.

“There’s a sweater that hasn’t been finished, right? So maybe somebody passed away or they haven’t gotten on to finish their project,” said Price.

Other knitted items include dish cloths and a baby’s blanket.

“Another great friend of mine did this kite over here,” Price said, motioning.

From burlap to cotton-spandex to wool, “it’s just using yarn and fibre in creative ways.”

Busker Fest runs from August 21 to 23. Visit the Port Credit Yarn Bombers for more information.