Panzerotti Love in Parkdale

Let me cut right to the chase.

Parkdale’s Amico’s Pizza makes the best Panzerotti in the world.

It’s a bold claim, I know.  But when I cut open that bursting pocket of deep fried, gooey goodness, I feel it in my heart to be true.

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These massive panzerottis come with your choice of any 5 toppings, smothered in tomato or meat sauce.  They also come with that sensation of being so full you need to be airlifted out of the restaurant and delivered right to your bed.  All for only $9.50!

Amico’s Pizza, at 1648 Queen St. W has been serving up pies, pastas, panzerottis and other Italian dishes since the late 70’s.  It’s the quintessential family run, casual Italian restaurant.  Nothing fancy, just good food at a good price. They’ve even got black and white checkered table clothes, and serve complimentary baskets of good old-fashioned, buttery garlic bread.

It’s hard for me to order anything off the menu but the panzerotto, but the lasagna here has a pretty solid reputation for being totally delicious.  Last year, Now Magazine named Amico’s one of Toronto’s 10 best hidden gems, sharing that the staff from Parkdale’s ultra hip Chantecler head to Amicos after work for a plate of lasagna.

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Open until 4 AM, it’s a great spot for late night eats. They also have half price pizza on Wednesdays, and live music on Fridays.

Frank, the owner, is friendly and welcoming and happy to chat about other Parkdalian restaurants and business he champions and supports.

Many have come and go over the years, but I suspect Amico’s will continue to be a Parkdale staple for decades to come.

They do make the world’s best Panzerotti, after all.

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PARC Connects Peers in Parkdale

The Parkdale Activity Recreation Center is an integral pillar of this neighbourhood; it’s a place which provides support, community and the tools some people need to build a better life.

PARC has just unveiled a new peer outreach program which pairs Parkdalians confronting issues of mental health, addiction and homelessness with peer outreach workers who have lived through similar experiences.  These peer support workers bring a special compassion and empathy to the job, strengthened by their first-hand experience.  This makes it easier for them to gain the trust and friendship of their clients.  Peers help clients get to appointments, navigate the legal, social and healthcare systems, and lessen social isolation.

Ever felt like it was easier to talk about the tough stuff with someone who has been there too?  That’s because it is.  And that’s why I think this is an excellent new program and I’m excited to share it with you.

Meet two peer support workers, Eva and Terence.

 

Videos by: Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre

To find out more about the Peer Outreach Program, visit http://www.parc.on.ca

The Commodore

Last night we spent a cozy couple of hours at one of Parkdale’s newest restaurants, The Commodore.  This aptly named seafood-centric spot is tastefully nautical in design, with a beautiful curved wood bar and vaulted white ceilings.  You feel a bit like you’re hanging in the hull of a ship and it’s pretty cool.

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We had only popped in for a cocktail, but after glancing at the menu (mainly small sharing plates) and taking in our surroundings, we couldn’t resist a plate of oysters.  $3 Quebec and New Brunswick oysters were served with lemon and horseradish, and a shallot and ginger mignonette.  They were delicious.

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My husband had a pint of Beau’s.  I had my favourite, a Negroni, also on tap here.  The flavour was there but I didn’t find it quite stiff enough (it’s possible that could be attributed more to my exhausting day, and not the draught drink itself).  Later we shared a Boulevardier, which is like a Negroni, replacing the gin with bourbon or whiskey. It hit the spot.

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Overall the atmosphere was inviting, warm and unpretentious.  The music was good and our server was lovely.  We will definitely be back, and next time we’ll bring our appetites. Until then,  I can’t tell you about the seafood tower, or the swordfish crudo.  But I can confidently  recommend The Commodore if you’re looking for a good spot for a date, or somewhere cozy to have a cocktail and a snack with a friend.   Try one of the intimate corner seats by the entrance.   These street facing, bar-style spots are the perfect place to kick back and do one of my favourite things;  Parkdale people watch.  Do that with an oyster in one hand and a cocktail in the other and you can batten down the hatches for a swell time.

Sorry.  I had to.

 

 

 

Gloryhole’s Holiday Doughnuts

Gloryhole Doughnuts is a trendy, artisanal doughnut shop on Queen St. West between Sorauren and Roncesvalles.  Their frosted, glazed and filled delights have put Parkdale on the map, attracting people from all over the city.

I walk past this place almost every day and you can’t fathom the incredible will power it requires to resist walking through those doors every time I do.  If something is sweet, I want it.  If its sweet, and deep fried I HAVE TO HAVE IT.  So you can appreciate my struggle.

In honour of the holidays I decided to gift us both.    For me- a box of Gloryhole ‘s latest holiday flavoured doughnuts. For you- the inside scoop on just how good they are.

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First up- Lemon Shortbread.  Big, bold lemon flavour with a  zesty glaze topped with crumbled, buttery shortbread.  It was tasty but lemon never wins me over.  If you’re a lemon lover however, than this one’s for you.

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A sweet vanilla glaze worked so well with a tart, gooey cranberry filling.  The candied orange was a nice touch.

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A hot chocolate infused pastry cream oozed out of this giant doughnut.  It was rich and decadent, topped with a toasted marshmallow.  I think it weighed five pounds.

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Eggnog doughnut for the the win! Thick, vanilla frosting on top… boozy, eggnoggy, spiced whipped cream in the center.  The crumbly goodness on top, you ask?  I can’t remember.  I was transfixed by the center. It was so fluffy and delicious.

For the record, I had some help eating these.  Except for the Eggnog one.  That one I devoured on my own no problem.  You’ve got to try it!

If you’re hosting or going to a holiday party this year, grab a box of Gloryhole doughnuts.  They never fail to impress.  Make sure you show up early, or place your order well in advance.

And do as I did.  Have an Eggnog doughnut all to yourself.

 

 

 

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Big Flavours in Little Tibet

Did you know Parkdale is also referred to as Little Tibet?  Tibetan immigrants have been settling in this part of the city since the 1970’s, and now over 5 000 Tibetans call Parkdale/Little Tibet home. Seldom do I walk around my neighbourhood without crossing paths with a  Tibetan Lama.

And seldom does a week go by I don’t  indulge in my favourite Tibetan dish, Mothuk, also known as Momo Soup.  I’ve fallen completely in love with this soul warming food.

Momos are Tibetan dumplings made from flour and stuffed with savoury ground meat.  They are served fried or steamed, accompanied by an assortment of spicy dipping sauces.

In a soup, the soft, chewy steamed dumplings are immersed  in an aromatic beef broth.  The result is the most warming, comforting bowl of soup you can imagine.

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Last week I got my fix at Himalayan Kitchen.  They make my favourite bowl of Mothuk.  I also tried, for the first time, traditional Butter Tea, the Tibetan national beverage.  It’s a black tea, blended with Himalayan salt, cream and butter (yak butter, if it’s truly authentic).  At first sip, I was a little shocked.  It tasted like melted, salted butter and that alone.   I almost felt guilty drinking it.  Later on, I read that when you’re trying Butter Tea for the first time, it’s better to think of it as a light soup, rather than a tea.

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I think I prefer a creamy Mango Lassi, but it’s easy to understand why rich Butter Tea is a welcome drink where the weather is cold and the air is thin.

This is a great video demonstrating how traditional butter tea is made.

 

Have you ever had Tibetan food?  Try it at one of my favourite spots in Little Tibet:

Himalayan Kitchen: 1524 Queen St. West (Have the Mothuk!)

Shangrila: 1600 Queen St. West (Have the crispy cauliflower!)

Om Restaurant: 1439 Queen St. West (Curry!)

 

 

 

 

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The Sorauren Farmers Market

Is there a Torontonian out there who doesn’t love a good farmers market? Markets bring a taste of the countryside us urban dwellers yearn for now and then.

The Sorauren Farmers Market is Parkdale’s market.  It’s organised by the West End Food Co-op and held year-round on Mondays from 3PM to 7PM at Sorauren Park.

While I love shopping at the market as much as the next gal, what I really look forward to is trying all the ready-to-eat goodies.   Most shoppers fill their totes; I fill my face.  I’m a sucker for the fresh, gooey cinnamon buns from Alli’s Fresh Baked, giant Honey Crisp apples, and gourmet popsicles, like the cucumber, lime and chile pop from Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops.

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Delicious delights by Alli’s Baked

 

Fellow Parkdalian, Jen, comes for the fresh spring roll wraps with beetroot slaw and sunflower sprouts from Earth + City.

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My last visit to the market was a few weeks back on the last day it was held outdoors.  My friends and I found a spot in the sun and soaked in those fleeting outdoor moments over hot pear and chai cider to the soundtrack of the live musician playing Bossa Nova.  Fall bliss!

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Over the winter, the market is held in the Fieldhouse at Sorauren Park.  If you find yourself in Parkdale on a Monday, drop by.  And bring your appetite!

 

 

 

Hump Day Burgers & Beers

Happy Wednesday folks!  Good things happen here in Parkdale on this day of the week.

Every Wednesday,  Parkdale’s Parts & Labour offer their P&L Burger and a pint of beer for just $18.

This isn’t just any burger.  It’s one of Toronto’s finest.  I urge you to get over here and find out for yourself.

But if you can’t make it and the mention of a burger has you craving one, here is Parts & Labour’s very own chef Matty Matheson to teach you exactly how to make one at home.