Summer, Sun, Music, Food: Whet Your Tastebuds for Tasty Thursdays at Nathan Phillips Square!

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Toronto may not be queen in the world’s palace of eats and it’s nearly impossible to clearly define what Toronto’s cuisine truly encompasses.  However, I think the foodscape in this city is so fun and so full of opportunities for exploration, and the events that are put on throughout the year allow so many of us to enjoy food in all its shapes and forms.  This Thursday on July 14th marks yet another summer fest of food at Nathan Phillips Square with Tasty Thursdays!  Nathan Phillips Square hosts two summer foodie events, one being the Fresh Wednesdays farmers’ market and the second being Tasty Thursdays, an outdoor bounty of food offerings from restaurants and eateries across the city.  From 11am-2pm, these vendors offer everything from Thai to Caribbean and Jamaican, Tex Mex, Indian, and South American, with all food prices coming in at $7 or less.  Even though I’m a bit crestfallen that the maximum used to be $5, I’m hoping that whatever rings in at $7 this summer will be well worth it.  Prices aren’t flat rates so to speak, so you can purchase a lunch meal for $5, a snack for $2, or an appetizer for $3. 

I went to Tasty Thursdays several times last summer and I tried a bunch of different things!  I remember eating noodles, blackened shrimp, ceviche, and my favourite, a Peruvian chicken and rice meal!  I was in love with the rice especially and I’d be so happy if they brought it back again this summer.  If you’re a foodie like me (or, you know, if you’re just hungry), and if you haven’t been before, check it out this Thursday and every Thursday until September 1st.  Great food with music to enjoy out in the summer sun.  Here’s a sneak peek with some photos I took of the food last year!

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Nathan Phillips Square is located at 100 Queen St. West at the intersection of Queen and Bay St.  Tasty Thursdays takes place every Thursday from 11am-2pm from July 14th-September 1st, 2011.  All food items are $7 or less.  For more information on which restaurants and vendors are participating this summer, click here.

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Having a “Food Baby” at Spring Rolls

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There is actually a rather funny story behind the title of this post and thinking back to how the phrase “food baby” originated still makes me laugh *chuckles*.  Besides finding my sweetheart, Richard, if grad school has been good for anything, it’s been making friends, meeting new people, and trying new food up the wazoo!  Slurping and eating lentil soup and falafel balls in the cold on a picket line, enjoying Indian food, and losing my pad thai virginity for the first time at the grad conference I organized last year.  And yes, if you’re wondering, it was quite orgasmic.  

For our keynote and conference after-party back in March, our team ordered a ton of delicious food from Spring Rolls, including mango salad, chicken fried rice, vegetable fried rice, vegetarian noodles, and the ever popular vegetarian pad thai.  I had never eaten pad thai before and was absolutely delighted to finally try it and Spring Rolls pad thai did not disappoint in the least.  It was so good my friend ate 3 plates of it and said he was going to have a food baby because of it.  HAHAHA! 😀

Spring Rolls is a lovely restaurant located in Toronto, Mississauga ,and now, Waterloo, that serves a fusion of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai flavours.  The very first time I went was back in September of 2009, so not too long ago, really.  Since then, I’ve been back a number of times just because I love the atmosphere of each distinct location (I’ve been to 4 of the 10 locations thus far) and the food is delicious.  The price range for a typical main dish is around $9-$15 give or take, and there are plenty of vegetarian options throughout the menu with a specific section in the menu dedicated to vegetarian dishes only.  I have yet to try their dim sum brunch menu, but rest assured, I will get around to it.  Especially after seeing their mango sticky rice in the restaurant storefront window.  I’m so there!      

Tango Mango Chicken & Tiger Shrimps with Rice

Now, I’m no ignorant sucker.  Born and raised Chinese-Canadian I have had my fair share of Chinese food and authentic Chinese take-out and I am well-aware that there are plenty of dishes that I can enjoy for half the price (and sometimes for even a third of the price), such as Cantonese Chow Mein (gong-dong chow mein) and my classic favourite, Black Bean Beef Ho Fun (pft, I can’t even begin to figure out how to type the Chinese out in English for this one!  It’s a bit too complicated to try and spell out, sorry peeps!). 

The point is, everyone dines out at sit-down places for different reasons, whether it’s to try something you wouldn’t normally cook for yourself at home, or because there’s a place out there that makes a classic that damn good.  And when you’re Chinese like I am, it’s all the more reason to eat outside the box when you go to a place that serves Chinese food, enjoying the creative interpretation of a classic dish or staple that is still able to retain some of that traditionality in it.  And so I did!  I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find a Chinese take-out place that will serve me shrimp and pineapple fried rice in half a hollowed out pineapple with a beautful sheet of egg over top, sprinkled with shredded dried pork:

And the pad thai?  REALLY GOOD.  The kind of yummy that makes you want to stick another chopstick-ful in your mouth even before you’ve finished chewing your last.  And yes, the kind of yummy that makes you feel like you’re going to have a food baby after you’ve inhaled it.  Down below is the House famous pad thai tossed with tomato sauce, tamarind, coriander, parsley, lime juice, and roasted crushed peanuts, and served with chicken, shrimp, and tofu.

I love that I get to share these pictures with you guys because they’re fresh and colourful, and that’s what eating is all about to me.  Especially during the holidays, it should fill you up with warmth and happiness and good memories.  I can’t believe Christmas is in a week and I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for nearly 3 weeks now.  It’s gone by in a blur and I hope everyone has enjoyed the blog so far because I’ve had the best time writing and posting in it.  Eat what you like and like what you eat.  And be careful of those food babies.

Thank you to my sweetie Richard for this pretty lily pad shot!

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Spring Rolls has 10 locations in Toronto, Mississauga, and their newest in Waterloo.  Click here for a listing of all locations.