The Toronto Underground Market - Nov 2011 Event

I first heard of the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) through a co-worker of mine.  Whilst trying to decide how many tickets to get for the October event over lunch, it sold out!  We regretted not jumping on it sooner and decided we need to regroup for their next event in November.  Over the course of the month, we gathered interest in our respective groups of friends, waiting anxiously for the tickets to go on sale and jumped on them as soon as we were aware.  Alas, the November event proved to be worth the wait as we lined up stall after stall and filled our tummies with yummy goodness.  We were a little wary of the weather as it was held at the Evergreen Brickworks, but the heat lamps and atmosphere proved it quite enjoyable.

Kel and I started out our TUM adventure by tasting the various samosas from Mama Nashi's Indian Gourmet Fare.  They offered three kinds: chicken, beef, and vegetarian.  They were de-lish and served their role well as our first course.

After savouring the samosas, we spotted the line for La Carnita.  They are famous for their fish tacos and the line was already mega long!  We decided at this point to divide and conquer; station Kel at the La Carnita line, where we went and hunted down other good eats and of course bring some back for him as well.

Flora and I ventured out and assessed what the other stalls had to offer and settled in at a line for grilled cheese.  Rather, Flora lined up for grilled cheese while I went and got sandwiches from Fidel Gastro. They offered two types of sandwiches; the "Havana Club", a beer pulled pork with ham, caramelized onions, havarti and chili aioli; and "La Senorita", mozzarella stuffed jalapeno, turkey chilli and radicchio slaw.  Of course, I picked up one of each and shared them with Flora and Kel.  The guys at Fidel Gastro created a fun atmosphere where they cried "OLE!" every chance they got.

It was good timing, too, because by the time I got back to Flora, we were next in line at Comida Del Pueblo for their awesome grilled cheese!  And yes, I say awesome because it was a jalapeno cornbread grilled cheese topped with guacamole and creme fresca!  This was definitely one of the highlights of the night.

After sharing the grilled cheese with Kel, I got us a beer from Hogtown Brewers.  Can't say it was the greatest, a little hoppy for our taste.  At this time, I met up with Flora and Norm again, and we decided to try the eats from Element.  While lining up, Keith came over with some cupcakes from Sullivan & Bleeker.  I couldn't resist and had their mint Aero cupcake.

At Element, Flora and Norm shared the pork and crab meat soup vermicelli, as well as the lobster yaki.  I just got the lobster yaki and brought it back to Kel, which was just as well since he was finally nearing the front of the La Carnita line!  We got two of each of their voltron fish tacos and their Mexican chorizo tacos.  The chorizo tacos delivered quite a kick!  We looked around for Flora to share this yummy goodness, but to no avail.  We ended up eating her share as well. :P

Later in the night, we ventured out to the Chimney courtyard to scope out their wood oven pizzas and found that they offered cedar smoked marshmallows, as well.  However, at a dollar a piece, we weren't quite sure.  At this time, it started raining and we headed back into the major venue.  Before the night was over, I had a hot cider with whiskey from Proof, which was quite yummy by the way, and the duck confit hash from Elle cuisine.  Can't say the duck was all that great as we found the meat quite dry, but all in all, it was a terrific night.

Staging Project

I apologize for the lack of blog posts last month, but October turned out to be quite busy!  I picked up a staging project for a town home the weekend before it was to list through a referral.  He assured me the timeline isn't usually this aggressive, but the client really wanted to list soon and have the open house by the next weekend!

So this is what happened:
  • I went to assess the place with Kel on Saturday morning.
  • Proceeded to acquire the things I had in mind for the project that same day.
  • Went back to the house on Sunday to further discuss with the client what we needed her to do.
  • Went in on Monday with all the things we needed and proceeded to stage her home.
  • The photographer came in Monday afternoon to take pictures of the finished product for the listing.
By Thursday, the house was on the market.  The real estate agent informed me he already had multiple showings that night, as well as on Friday.  The open house that weekend was also a success with more than twenty interested parties attending.  By Tuesday, a bidding war had begun and the place was sold later that night!  I couldn't believe how fast it all unfolded.  Although the agent had told me the week before that this was his plan and the ideal situation, I had doubts on whether it would actually happen.

Below is a glimpse of what the main floor looked like when we first went in to assess the place.  I apologize for the poor picture quality, as my mind was already spinning with ideas and for some reason I thought the agent had took the "before" pictures already.  This was actually taken on my phone and served as my personal reference for the project.

Since the client was still going to be living there while her home was up for sale, we decided to do what we can to minimize the impact the staging would have on her life.  Afterall, you never know how long these things would take.  Below is the main floor after we staged it.  If you take a closer look at the before and after, you'll see that we did a lot of rearranging of what she already had, plus a few accent pieces to bring it all out.

And here, is the bedroom after we rearranged a few things.  Bringing her recliner upstairs not only gave the main floor more room, but shows that her master bedroom is big enough to serve two functions.

We were all quite happy with how much the new layout was able to open up the main floor and the quick sale was a good measurement of that!  

Foodstock: Stop the Mega Quarry

Last month, Kel and I went with a few friends up north to the Foodstock event.  It was the first of its kind with the intention of this event being to raise awareness and money to stop an American company called Highland Companies from turning prime, fertile agricultural land into a limestone quarry spanning 2,300 acres.  It was dubbed as a "pay-what-you-can public food event" and was wildly successful.  A hundred chefs across the nation banded together to serve up local produce, setting up stalls out in an open field and throughout the forest to the public.  Thousands showed up despite the cold and rain in support of the movement.  It was definitely a different experience! We had a good laugh at supporters, both kids and adults, losing their boots in the muddy field, while lining up for the next food stall.  Looking back, I wish I had taken more pictures of all the great food we had, especially since Norm, Kel, and I all managed to forget to bring our own plates and used a lettuce leaf as a substitute.

Supporters at the event, both young and old.

Soup being served out of a giant pumpkin and onto a cabbage leaf to promote sustainability and reducing waste.

More shots of food stands as chefs and volunteers prep for the supporters.

An article on the event at blogTO with additional pictures found here.