My name is Bryan Pirolli, and I eat.
On a recent trip to Toronto for an academic conference, I didn’t plan too much time for cultural activities, but I did plan on racking up the calories. What I knew about Toronto I could put in a tweet. It’s in Canada and it’s a city. But a few quick Google searches revealed that I was in for more than I could chew – quite literally.
|The view from our Airbnb...not too shabby.|
An up and coming food scene in Canada’s largest city meant that I could stuff my face with something decidedly un-European for a week, and the possibilities were endless. I’m not complaining about the food in the UK or other European cities, but sometimes you want a change. In New York, I go for pizza with baked ziti on top. In Philadelphia, it’s a pork roll sandwich with yellow mustard on a kaiser roll. In San Francisco, it’s all about the Blue Bell ice cream. I like the weird local concoctions, and I was excited about the surprises Toronto held for me. Ignorance was going to lead to bliss in this case.
|Toronto is a great mix of old-meets-new, like in the Distillery District, where several food options abound...|
But where to start? My travel mates – my parents who drove up from Philadelphia – are not extremely picky eaters, and they left the planning to me. This was a wise, yet ultimately dangerous decision on their part. In between the miles of walking and sightseeing, it seemed like we stopped at every place that had something to sample.
My guide was a trusted one – Thrillist’s guide of 50 things to eat in Toronto before you die. I’m normally a fan of just winging it, but I had parents’ tummies to think about, so I needed to organize. Plus, I penned a similar article a few years ago about food in Paris, so I trusted the writer more than I normally would. Her list was spot on, thankfully.
|Yes, this is Toronto. Not quite how I imagined it. We were not beach-body-ready after all the eating...|
From the chicken and waffles with Buffalo cauliflower at Home of the Brave to the historic Senator Restaurant, I was throwing down Canadian dollars like they were peanuts at a carnival. High marks go to the fish tacos at Seven Lives and the ice cream sandwich from a stall at Adelaide Eats (see slideshow).
We entertained the notion of cultural outings as well. We visited the Ripley’s Aquarium, the trendy Distillery District, and the hipster-laden Kensington Market. We took public transportation a total of zero times, which meant we offset all of that eating by walking several miles a day. We all slept well each night as a result, and figured we wouldn’t have to worry about growing our waistlines because of the constant exercise. Unfortunately, we were all wrong, but it didn’t stop me from grabbing some maple chocolates at the airport to enjoy once at home.
|The CN Tower was my Northern Star the whole time in Toronto...|
I still have a few of the chocolate-covered harissa corn nuts and chocolate-covered wild cherries from Soma, a contemporary chocolate shop we found in the Distillery District. I’ll have to ration them carefully until I can get back across the ocean again to finish off the rest of that list – a traveler’s work is never finished.