Day 2 in Toronto started with my favorite thing, food. While I was researching what to eat in Toronto, the number one thing that kept popping up was the peameal bacon sandwich. I had read that the absolute best place to get this Toronto specialty was the Carousel Bakery in the St. Lawrence Market. While walking to the market, I was worried that there would be a huge line. It was 9am on a Friday, so I figured the line would be out the door.
When we got there, we found the bakery towards the front, on the right hand side. There were no lines, only a couple people waiting for baked goods. There were signs advertising their famous peameal sandwich. I got in the line on the left of the bakery, where the sandwiches were going out (the left was for baked goods). I ordered the peameal sandwich, and Derek ordered the chocolate croissant. I could have added an egg to my sandwich, but I wanted the original, the one everyone talks about. I had read a pro tip online to add the honey mustard sauce and did just that.
The sandwich was delicious. It was salty, and almost fatty tasting, but no fat. It was thick, and there was an abundance of meat between the two soft middle crusty buns. The honey mustard sauce was sweet, and calmed down the saltiness of the bacon. Derek asked me if it was like bacon at home. The answer is that it isn't at all. It's even different than the Canadian Bacon you get in the grocery stores in the States. It's consistency and taste is like a mix of British back bacon and a warm Sunday dinner ham. Do not go to Toronto without trying this sandwich. If you do, you are missing out. There croissant was also amazing. Derek loved the good quality dark chocolate that was drizzled over it.
After eating our breakfast at one of the little cafe tables near the bakery, Derek and I looked around at all the other little shops inside the market. There were tons of meats, cheeses, fruits, dips, etc. There were many samples to try, but I was way to stuffed to even consider eating anything else.
Our plan for the day was to hit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Derek's dream since he was a little boy was to go to the Hockey HOF, and it was the main reason we were in Toronto for the long weekend. Finding the building was easy. It was one block from our hotel. Navigating around inside was not so easy. You enter the upstairs of what looks like a mall complex. You have to go down a hallway, and down an escalator. When you get to the bottom of the escalator, you will be in a food court. turn around, towards the back of the escalator, and walk to the back where you will find the Hockey Hall of Fame. From the outside, it looks tiny. I was a little wary. The tickets to get in were cheap ($18) so I worried it wouldn't be what Derek thought it was.
I was wrong. The museum kept going on and on, overstuffed with memorabilia from greats such as Wayne Gretsky, Gordy Howe and Bobby Orr. We first looked through the NHL memorabilia. My favorite piece was Orr's skates from his famous trip, which were dipped in gold. Derek loved the goalie masks on the way in and the Bruins Championship ring. The Montreal Canadiens Forum locker room replica was also very cool. There were jerseys from all of the Canadiens greats hung up in lockers full of vintage hockey equipment like we were in there just before game time.
After, we went and looked through the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) wing. I loved seeing the different countries jerseys, and there was a huge amount of women's hockey memorabilia in this room. One of the coolest items was a t-shirt with pins from dozens of different countries. It was from a female Olympic hockey player, who traded pins with different hockey players while overseas.
We then got a chance to go into the Great Hall. This is the older part of the building, which is in a large dome, and houses all of the trophies. We both got to touch the Stanley Cup that lives in the Hall of Fame! We also got to see the original Lord Stanley's cup. It was in a vault with some of the original rings that were attached under to the cup. There were many other trophies in the Great Hall that we got to see, including the Selke and the Conn Smythe.
Finally, we checked out the college hockey wing. The most interesting parts of the wing were the modified hockey memorabilia for people with disabilities. There were artificial legs with skates belonging to an adult and a child next to the very first Sledge (Sled) Hockey sled. It was amazing to see how hockey has been adapted to assure all who want to can play!
This was also the interactive part of the HHOF. There was a simulation shooting game, and a simulation goalie game. Derek did the shooting game, and got to face Carey Price. He scored 3 goals on 8 shots! We also went into the broadcast room, and Derek got to sit behind the desk and read from a teleprompter.
We finished off our trip by looking at some of the hockey merchandise and collectibles. There were a ton of lunch boxes, bobble heads, cereal boxes, and a cool collection of ticket stubs, as well as old sports cards.
Though I myself am not a huge hockey fan, I found the museum really interesting. Derek, of course, was in heaven. We were able to go through the whole museum in 3 hours, while still taking time to see and read about all the memorabilia.
After the HHOF, we decided to check out downtown area. We were told that it was like a mini Times Square. When we got there, it did look like a very small scaled times square. Though neat, Derek and I were not as excited about this part of town. So, we walked through, not staying long. We had trouble looking for the large Toronto sign, which is an art piece in the city, on display until the fall. A kind local noticed us looking at our map, and gave us easy directions for the sign. The people in Toronto are so incredibly friendly. they want you to genuinely enjoy their city.
The Toronto sign was near the City Hall. It was beautiful. White block letters with the inside of the letters painted different colors, it doesn't sound like much, but it was gorgeous. It was also set behind a large pool of water with fountains, so it was a really pretty setting. We snapped a couple pictures.
Next, we started our walk to Kensington Market, which is known for being the more hipster area of Toronto. We first decided to stop at a bar that we had heard about from our waitress at Mill Street. We were thirsty and wanted a drink. The bar was called Queen Street Warehouse. It had a very hipster vibe, with wooden beams across the ceiling, and a racks of antlers hanging from above. Derek ordered a Goose Island IPA, and I ordered a sangria. Both were refreshing.
We continued our walk towards Kensington, walking through Chinatown. Chinatown in Toronto was much different than Boston's Chinatown. It is more modern, and less touristy looking. It was also on a huge main road, instead of being hidden between side streets. We took a left out of Chinatown, and found the Kensington Market area. This area was much smaller than I thought, but did have a lot of little restaurants and bars in a small area. The whole area had a very laid back vibe. There were people riding bikes, and sitting out on the patios enjoying drinks.
We found a little restaurant called Templeton's. I ordered a Pimm's cup, a drink that I drank in Europe and loved, but hadn't had since then. Derek ordered a beer. The drinks were delicious. It was a very hot day, so the cold drinks cooled us down. For lunch, we split edamame with a chilly salt, and I ordered Avocado Spring rolls (which were vegan) while Derek ordered fries. The food was really good. I have never seen Avocado spring rolls on a menu before, but I really liked them. Because they were vegan, I didn't even have to take a lactaid pill! They also had sun dried tomato, onion, and cilantro in them.
After lunch, we walked a little more around the market, finding creative graffiti and a garden car. We stopped at an allergen friendly bakery I found online where everything was dairy free. It was called Bunner's and was full of cupcakes, brownies and croissants. I was so hot that I wanted ice cream. I hadn't had soft serve ice cream since being dairy free, so I got a twist on a cone. Derek got a cinnamon roll with the most delicious icing on it.
We decided to head back towards the hotel area and hit up a couple of bars. Our first stop was Flynn's of Temple Bar on King Street. I ordered another Pimm's cup, excited to see them on every drink menu. Derek got an Alexander Keith's IPA. We enjoyed our drinks out on the patio, sipping while the sun started to go down a little and it started to cool.
Our second stop was the Bar Hop. There were tons of beers on tap. I got a strawberry cider. It was crisp, delicious, and I liked it more than the strawberry beer I had the night before. Derek got Maker's 46 Whisky. We liked the interior of the bar and the really cool, chill vibe the place put off. It was very busy. It was after work hours at this point, but it was way busier than any other bar in the area. This was also one of the bars our waitress from Mill Street told us to go to.
We were getting hungry and wanted dinner. We made plans to go to the Real Sports Bar for dinner while we watched the NHL draft. However, after walking all the way there, we couldn't get in, as there was a private draft party going on for season ticket holders of the Maple Leafs.
We walked around and found a place to grab dinner called the Loose Moose. We don't recommend getting dinner here. There is a lot of good food in Toronto, and this isn't one of them. If we had Wifi, we would have been able to look and see the reviews. The drinks were good, we both got beers. the interior was beautiful, there was a lot of vintage sports memorabilia and decor. So I was a little let down when the food (chicken wings and fries) were underwhelming.
We weren't quite done for the evening, so we walked around looking for another bar to go to. We went looking for the vodka bar, but when we got there, it was empty. So, we walked until we found a modern looking bar called Batch. They brewed their own beer, and the interior of the bar was stylish, cream walls and exposed brick. The bar looked really industrial, and we were surprised it wasn't more busy this time of night on a Saturday (10pm). I ordered the Black Lagoon, which was Captain Morgan's spiced rum with ginger-lime, fresh lime and soda, and Derek ordered an Old Fashioned.
After drinking our night cap, we decided to walk back towards the hotel and hit the sheets. We had a busy second day in Toronto, and we were sad that we only had one day left.