Visual diary: Koreatown/Annex/Little Italy

This is our sublet. We’re in the basement apartment, which isn’t as dreary as it sounds. Cute house, isn’t it? The whole neighborhood is like that.

Sketch of Toronto house

One of the great things about this apartment is that it’s bounded by several interesting neighborhoods: Koreatown to the north, The Annex (bordering the university) to the east, Little Italy to the south. The day after we moved in, we went out for lunch and ended up walking a big 6.7km loop around the area. I made a map of where we went and what we did. Start from the house and go counter-clockwise according to the arrows. Scroll down for photos and more details.

Map of my day out

No scanner + cloudy day = grey image. Sigh.

1. David’s Tea. This is a Canadian chain with a few locations in NY. Most of their teas are loose-leaf, but I found “Forever Nuts” in a teabag six-pack. It tastes fine and smells like delicious dessert.

2. We only had one apartment key, so while I was selecting tea, Erik went to the hardware store and had it duplicated (the host said this was fine).

X: I vetoed Korean food for lunch, which ruled out probably 75% of the restaurants on that stretch of Bloor. We’d had greasy-spoon Korean comfort food the night before and some of the oil had spilled out of the takeout container; I didn’t feel up to facing any more sesame oil at the moment.

X: I vetoed tacos too. I have to be in the mood for tacos. I can be very picky when I reach a certain level of hungry indecision. Erik finally said I got three vetoes and that was it.

X: anna Saini recommended an Indian restaurant so we headed there, but when we arrived they were closed for lunch.

3. We ended up in Little Italy and surrounded by Portuguese bakeries. They all looked wonderful, but we wanted lunch before dessert. “Hang on,” I said after we walked by one called Golden Wheat. “I have a feeling this one serves sandwiches.” We went in, but I didn’t see anyone having lunch, so I turned around to leave. “No, look,” Erik said, pointing to a menu board hanging behind the counter. Sandwiches!!

Grilled ham and cheese

Dessert

4. Bank. We’re trying to use mostly cash while we travel, rather than racking up international-transaction fees on the credit cards. I don’t know if this is the best option, but it’s what we’re doing for now.

5. When I showed interest in shopping, Erik and I parted ways; he went to run errands, I ended up in Organic Metal Gallery looking at lovely, interesting locally made jewelry. I had been wanting to buy an inexpensive ring to replace the antique engagement ring I lost five years ago — to serve as a “trainer” to help me learn not to lose rings! I found one made by Toronto artist Tamiema McBride. I really like its shape and the way it feels.

Tamiema McBride ring

Funny-shaped ring

6. Toronto seems to have a good number of independent bookshops, but unfortunately I can’t really buy books while we’re traveling (unless I’m prepared to ship them back home, or resell them before leaving). Still, Balfour Books caught my eye with its inviting, eclectic shelves and fabulous Scrabble-tile signage.

Fiction section at Balfour Books

Fiction

7. There was a nattily-dressed young guy browsing the shelves, and since it was a small shop and both he and I kept moving around, I kept bumping into him. I happened to leave at the same time he did, and I was afraid he’d think I was following him — luckily he turned right so I immediately went left (which was the direction I wanted to go anyway). There I discovered a scrumptious shop called Lilliput Hats, whose window proclaimed, “No one ever regretted buying quality.” True… but fancy hats and minimal world-travel packing do not go together. Alas. There was an amazing wide-brimmed brown winter hat with a beret instead of a normal hat crown; it looked like a giant cake and was surprisingly flattering. And there were such gorgeous fascinators.

X: At this point I wanted a drink and some writing time, but I knew that if I went home I’d just end up on Facebook for the rest of the day. I decided to check out Sam James Coffee Bar, but when I poked my head in there were only a few seats and they all seemed to be occupied by hipster boys with their faces turned toward the street (like this!). There were three or four of them and they all had the most exquisite hair; I thought instantly of Beau Brummell and his friends sitting in the bow window of White’s club, being seen and checking out the passersby.

8. Instead, I went to Linuxcaffe, where I had a Numi tea (hello Oakland!) and found a stack of burned CDs on the counter, offering the latest version of Ubuntu, free for the taking.