Last week, my husband, Evan, and I packed our suitcases and drove off into the sunset. Well, not quite. But almost. This year we decided to take advantage of having Good Friday off by taking the whole week off.

The decision to take time off was easy. Deciding where to go was a bit more challenging. After much discussion, we settled on a plan. Here’s a recap of our trip and some of the yummy food we ate along the way:

We left Friday evening after work for our first stop: the Detroit area to visit my family. My mom had just celebrated her birthday and mine was right around the corner. We were also celebrating an early Easter, or “Feaster,” as we dubbed it. (Fake + Easter = Feaster.) Mom knows how I like my birthday cake: COVERED in frosting! Judging from this picture, I’d say she succeeded yet again! If you ever need a great cake in the Detroit area, check out Mannino’s Bakery in Sterling Heights.

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The past couple of years my birthday has been very close to Easter. This is Mannino’s “Easter Basket” cake. It’s amazing!

After three fun-filled days with family, we hit the road again and headed to Niagara Falls for an overnight. Mom packed us lunch – turkey sandwiches, chips, cashews, and birthday cake for the road, complete with napkins, paper plates, forks and moist hand wipes. Isn’t she great?

We visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Since we visited during the off season, we were able to book a hotel room with a view of the Falls. It was beautiful, but the cold weather returned during our visit. More snow anyone? We didn’t let it spoil our fun though!

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We splurged for dinner our only night in Niagara Falls – steaks at Ruth’s Chris. I ordered my favorite, Filet Au Poivre. Evan and I shared the Harvest Salad, Onion Soup Au Gratin, and Sweet Potato Casserole. My steak was cooked perfectly. We were so full that we had to skip dessert!

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After one last visit to the Falls in the morning, off we headed to Toronto for a long-overdue trip to see Evan’s cousin, Molly. She was an excellent tour guide, taking us to many of her favorite places…

On our first night, we walked around Queens West and posted up at a great little bar called Squirly’s for a couple of beers. Once our bellies were bursting with hops and barley, we walked (in the snow!) to an amazing Pho restaurant, Pho Tien Thanh. This was my first time eating at a Pho restaurant, and since I was a little nervous about what to get, I went with an old favorite – Vegetable Pad Thai. Evan and Molly both got enormous steaming bowls of Pho, which quickly disappeared.

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Can you see the fresh basil and delectable pieces of tofu? Just seeing this picture is making my mouth water again!

The next day, the impossible happened…we woke up with empty stomachs. Molly drove us to a fabulous little kitsch diner called  Aunties & Uncles for brunch. The small space was decorated with wonderful retro furniture, toys, signs, and books, but more importantly, the food was to die for. I got the Breakfast Pocket – eggs, cheese, caramelized onions, peameal bacon, and tomato smothered in dijon and aioli, served on focaccia with a side of potato salad. Potato salad for brunch you ask? What can I say? It just sounded good…and it was.

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After stuffing ourselves, we headed over to Kensington Market, home to all kinds of great stores: food and coffee shops, restaurants, bars, resale clothing shops, and lots more. I found a skirt for Zumba (and no, there will NOT be pictures, lol). No matter which street we looked down, there were more shops to explore!

Feeling the need to walk off even more calories, we then headed downtown to St. Lawrence Market. This was essentially an indoor farmers market with many delicious food stands – meat, seafood, cheese, produce, bulk grains and beans, and bakeries. We found some great treats to enjoy later.

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Look at all of those olives! I was in HEAVEN.

 

 

 

 

 

 
We headed home to freshen up and trade Molly’s car for public transportation so that we could thoroughly enjoy the Distillery District. A bus, two trains and a streetcar later, we had arrived. The streets were paved with bricks and the original buildings still stand. Today, many of them have been converted into restaurants, bars, workspaces, and boutique shops. We dashed into Soma Chocolatemaker to grab some dessert for later, making it just 5 minutes before they closed – phew! Then we settled in at Mill Street Brewery for a few hours of drinks and nachos. We each enjoyed a flight of four homebrews before settling on our favorites for the duration. Mine was their Tankhouse Ale.

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Once we arrived back home, it was officially my birthday. Another year for the books!

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I obviously didn’t need more cake, so we indulged in some amazing chocolates instead! We shared the following truffles: 8 year aged Balsamic Vinegar, Douglas Fir, Espresso Crisp, and Meyer Lemon & Australian Ginger.

After a long, restful sleep, Molly fed us an amazing butternut squash, smoked cheddar, fresh sage quiche for breakfast. There were probably some other ingredients in there, but those are the ones that stick in my mind. We then went to High Park for a short hike with Molly’s dog, Mica. It was the warmest day yet and the perfect way to build up our appetites!

I’ve never gone out for dumplings before. Molly took us to Chinatown for dinner with a couple of her friends at a famous dumpling restaurant – Mother’s Dumplings. You can get them boiled, steamed or fried. We ordered a ton and shared everything. There was so much food on our table… But when we were finally finished, barely a crumb remained! Everything we ordered was incredible: steamed melon, tofu, and noodle dumplings; wonton soup; spiced peanuts; steamed bak choi, mushroom, and tofu dumplings; seaweed salad; steamed shrimp, egg, and chives dumplings; a green onion pancake; and fried pork and bak choi dumplings. Unfortunately, it disappeared too quickly to capture a photo! You’ll just have to go check it out for yourself.

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As the end of our trip drew near, it was time to eat up the treats we bought at St. Lawrence Market. Molly put together an incredible breakfast spread for us on our final morning, consisting of toast, sliced hard-boiled eggs, tomato, apple, avocado, a bowl of assorted olives, and P’tit Basque cheese (a French sheep’s milk cheese…one of Evan’s favorites). With our tummies full, it was time to leave Toronto and make our way back toward home.

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We stopped in Detroit for one final night. It was a fun mixture of visiting with my sister and her husband and going out to dinner with our dear friends, Laura and Bill.

I feel  like all we did on vacation is eat! There are some great places that we chowed down at that I didn’t share here, but you may want to check out:

Shield’s Pizza – Troy, MI. My favorite pizza joint at home.
Ferro Bar Café – Toronto. Excellent rustic, wood-oven pizzas.
Sagebrush Cantina – Lake Orion, MI. Mexican…yum!
Col’s Place – Madison Heights, MI. Best gyro with homemade chicken strips!

Thank you for sharing our journey! More recipes to come soon…