Travel and hotel life in Toronto

When I travel for more than two days I usually manage at some point to have access to a kitchen so that I can cook a bit wherever I am. Whether I rent a place with a kitchen or I do a kitchen take over at some friends’ place. I like to cook the local and seasonal products, and also to have homemade meals with just the right preparation and the right size. But sometimes this is not possible and I feel miserable! This trip to Toronto is one of these. I stay the whole week at a hotel without access to a kitchen… and without the time to shopping in a nice grocery store. My schedule was too busy for that and I only could shop at the 24-7 nearby grocery store with fruits coming from wherever it is… So I am craving for homemade fresh and local food. Of course I am a master of in-room food preparation. Before traveling I often search for the hotel nearby grocery stores or farmers markets, preferably the one with local products and arrange my schedule to have a chance to visit them. I always travel with a super good multipurpose Sicilian knife that can be used for anything from fruit peeling to bread cutting, and I often prepare food in my room. Indeed, the first thing I do when I arrive in a hotel is to get geared: I ask room service for a kettle, one or two plates and cutlery and it all usually comes with proper clothes to be used as kitchen clothes, but they never have good knifes.

As usual I did my homework and had a list of places to go visit upon arrival, but it was without counting that I arrived on Thanksgiving day and the many places I wanted to visit were almost all closed. So that dramatically limited my access to food resources. Not to add that Ontario may have a large variety of fruits and vegetables in the summer but when fall arrives, apples are pretty much the only local fruit available and the beautiful season of mushrooms and pumpkins requires a cooking range or some more elaborated equipment. Anyway… I managed to survive I guess…

Though my working program was quite intense with very little free time, I managed to have breakfast at a place I discovered last time I was in Toronto, where they have a delicious spice chai: Hot Black Coffee, and delicious muffins, with also plenty of vegan options, and to check out a place that everyone was talking about: Momofuku. I could see it Momofuku from the hotel elevator on my way to the pool every morning but didn’t know what it was (I first thought it was a daifuku place!!!). But it was on everyone’s mouth…

For those like me who don’t know, Momofuku is a branch restaurant of very popular NY chef Wang, that specializes in Asian fusion and in particular in noodles/ramen (kind of reminded me of the movie You’ll always be my maybe). The Toronto branch has a noodle bar and a high-end restaurant. I didn’t have time for the high-end. Knowing that I only had ramen once before with fish broth because I don’t like the pork-chicken… broth, I am not an expert in ramen, so eating some fusion ramen is not a blasphemy to an institution for me but I can understand that some purists may be shocked by some of the combinations proposed on the menu. I took some vegetarian noodles, with pumpkin (now or never!) and cheese. This was definitely an inventive combination! But not an uninteresting one… In any case, the restaurant itself was a very nice bright space quite enjoyable.

Now I’m heading back home to my kitchen and you can’t imagine how happy I am to have a long weekend to cook and bodyboard! The simple idea of making pancakes for breakfast while A. prepares his coffee rejoices me!

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