Garage Sale-ing in Swansea Village

What? A favourite pastime of Canadians of all backgrounds living in cities: the garage sale. Yes folks, get ready for dozens of miscellaneous baskets filled with useless trinkets you hoard in your basement until you yourself host a garage sale. North Americans aren’t always given the opportunity to haggle, but when it comes to garage sales you better get your bargaining on or you’ll wind up with a bed spread that you paid for half over the depreciation value.

Where? Swansea village, just below Bloor West and beside High Park. A community full of white people anxious to turn their front lawn into a gypsy market. Roam the streets off Windermere and Runnymede on a Saturday morning and you’ll find dozens, lining the sidewalks with electronics from 1950 and crime mystery novels.

When? Some unreasonable hour in the morning, usually during the summer months and on weekends.

Who? To be completely honest, I was visiting my Grandma who I am certain was a wealthy salesperson in a previous life. Give this woman a marker and random house junk, then watch as the magic of selling things that could have been donated to Goodwill anyways lands you tens of dollars after an eight hour day. We all love it when Grandma holds garage sales because she also feeds us hot dogs and wine. This is one person who takes selling household items seriously, and has it down to a very fine art. We love you too, Grandma.
Desmandre! Mark Yan at La Revolucion

Who? Singer/Singwriter Mark Yan and friends performing on the back stage at La Revolucion bar.

Where? 2848 Dundas Street West - just east of Keele Street and in the heart of the Junction - a place known for superior local bars and eats.

What? This place fits perfectly into the junction scene - an unassuming appearance and laid back vibe that only complimented the melodic selections from Mark Yan and company. Yan kept an audience attentive by offering many acts throughout the night and sharing the stage with talent from across Toronto. While you're enjoying the tunes you can also indulge in the delicious Mexican food options served late into the night, including mountains of nachos, taquitas and fresh guacamole. La Rev is also one of the few bars in Toronto that serves a Mexican beer called ‘Tecate’ that is a great pair with the filling dishes.   

Recommendations? I had the ‘El Burro’ and would definitely re-order. The wrap wasn’t small, but it wasn’t the size of a freakin’ body pillow like other places. It comes with your choice of beef, chicken or veggies (I had the herbivorian special) and is nicely seared for an optimal seal and crisp. I’d also recommend the Enchiladas. For you drink-only visitors, try the margaritas. I could have eaten a bowl of the rim all by itself. Is that gross?

Go Again? I can and I will. Mark Yan is a regular host at the bar and is sure to put on a great show. Not to mention the Junction is a great place to bar hop in general and La Revolucion is a must en route. A mere three days before Cinco de Mayo and I got my fill of Mexican food and hospitality…But, as the good folks at La Rev would remind you, it’s never too late to celebrate.

Ain't Yo Mama's Pancakes at the Caledon Family Restaurant

What: The Caledon Family Restaurant, previously known as ‘Flapjack’s’, but recently changed after the original owners sold it. Google Maps doesn’t even know this, and I am told the name change was about the only thing that was made different here – same staff, food and service that has attracted people for years.

Where: On Highway 10, about 45mins North of Toronto and close to the terminus of Highway 410. Literally in the middle of a farm. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: this isn't even in Toronto, to which my response is simple - close that blithering trap of yours and fill it with food at The Caledon Family Restaurant. You’ll see why I wrote about it.
Ohhhhhhhhh sweet sweet God. 
Eats: Three words: All. Day. Breakfast. We had Eggs Florentine, a Spanish Omelette and the ‘Breakfast Special’, complete with home fries and pancakes to cure our hangovers. The portions were generous and they even gave us an extra pancake after the kitchen ‘accidentally’ made more than the order. This was a very good thing, as we found out.

Best Parts: Holy Gods of the batter kingdom unite; these pancakes are off the chain. Easily the best flapjacks I've eaten, and I’m not a huge fan of them.  The homemade mix is buttery, light and fluffy beyond my wildest dreams. Combined with their homemade strawberry jam compote, I think I died and went to a very delicious world of country breakfast foods. The rest of the meal was also rather appetizing – rich hollandaise topped poached, runny eggs, fried potatoes and perfectly brewed coffee. 

What really added a tone of goodness, though, was the atmosphere. This place reminded me of the mismatched breakfast spots in middle-of-nowhere locations along the Trans-Canada Highway, despite its close proximity to Toronto. Genuine country hospitality presents itself in the friendly service, oak furniture and tacky wall decorations. I was taken back to rural Canada and the places I miss when in the city.

Go Again? Absolutely, but I probably won’t get to because I don’t own a car. The only drawback of The Caledon Family Restaurant is it’s inaccessibility to commuters, but a getaway to the Greater Toronto Area’s wilder places would make a perfect excuse to stop here. For nature lovers, the restaurant is close to great conservation areas and parks worth exploring like the Cheltenham Badlands, Mono Cliffs and Forks of the Credit. You can even visit after a night of camping illegally, which is totally not what I was doing.  Regardless, this place has garnered a reputation well beyond Caledon and has even been featured on You Gotta Eat Here. Next time you're cruising rural GTA, make sure you stop by The Caledeon Family Restaurant.  

Reppin' Everywhere I Go

Kardinal Official correctly sums up a city surging with life in every corner. From my hometown roots in Scarborough to the West end in Mimico, on the shores of the great Lake Ontario and North to York, there’s no question the young and vibrant City of Toronto is a great place. Growing up in the burbs’ gave me an appreciation for the multi-cultured enclaves that create multiple identities. Five years at York University schooled me in hard knocks and even harder parties. Now, as I move into a loft off Landsdowne and Bloor (apparently aka ‘Blandsdowne’), I’m on the pulse of Hogtown more than ever.

For the next year I’ll be submersed into and writing about a city that, despite the years I’ve lived in it, never ceases to surprise me. I’ll post shorts on venues, events and people that interest me while exploring the many layers of Canada’s largest metropolitan centre. This one’s for you, Toronto. Let your pride show. 

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