Thursday, March 31, 2016
by via Toronto Networking Events
Now that the price of the UP Express has been cut, it's worth thinking about what kind of an alternative the service provides for commuters from the west side of Toronto. Needing to get downtown in hurry the other day after learning all about the new MOCA, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to hitch a ride on the UPX.
It took about four or five minutes to get from 213 Sterling Rd. to the Bloor UP station, which was nearly deserted when I arrived. Fortunately, you don't really need anyone around to facilitate boarding the train. PRESTO users tap-in as they head up to the platform, and those buying single fares can use a machine.
A one-way ticket from Bloor to Union is $5.30 if you don't have a PRESTO card (it drops to $4.71 if you do). If you're traveling two stops, the price is only marginally more at $5.65 (and $5.02 with PRESTO). That's really not too bad when compared to a cash fare on the TTC at $3.25, though it's every bit a luxury if you already own a Metropass.
The train arrived three minutes after I got to the station, during which time I had a brief conversation with a platform attendant who confirmed that ridership is way up since the fare slash. He estimated the increase at triple the number of riders, though this is, of course, merely anecdotal.
I was one of two people to board at Bloor on the 12:30 p.m. train, which contained only a handful of passengers. After waiting for about two minutes, we headed towards Union. My ticket was promptly checked as we departed, and from there I was left undisturbed.
Here's the best part of the ride from a commuter's perspective. It's super fast. From pushing off at Bloor to arrival at Union took almost exactly six minutes. I didn't even bother using the free WiFi because I was more interested in checking out the scenery.
The speed of the trip actually gives you new perspective on the city. It's amazing, for instance, how quickly you pass the Gladstone Hotel after having just left the Tower Automotive Building (like two minutes). This train moves a lot quiker than a subway.
Upon arrival at Union, I had to get to University and Queen. To take the TTC would've added cost to the trip, so I decided to walk. This took about seven minutes. All told that made the trip around 25 minutes, about the same or a hair faster than taking the TTC. Despite the speed of the train, the extra walking nixed any major time savings.
At the end of the work day, I was curious what the UP Express is like at rush hour, so I took it back to Bloor for another $5.30. I live near Bloor and Lansdowne, so it's only a short walk from the station.
The ease of travel and speed of the train was about the same, though I did end up waiting for about seven minutes for it to arrive at Union. That wasn't quite enough time to enjoy all that the lounge has to offer, but it's still a nice place to wait.
By the time we pushed off, the train's seats were full. Based on the lack of luggage the majority of passengers were carrying, I'd say that only a few of the riders were heading for a flight.
My total trip time home was about 35 minutes (given the extra wait for the train and walking distance). That's not too bad, but it's certainly longer than the TTC ride to and from my office. In other words, you pay a double premium (time and money) for use of the UP Express unless you live within five minutes of the stations on both ends.
So, what's the verdict? With its recently reduced fare, the UP Express is a viable transit option for commuters who live and work relatively close to a station, but unless there's a major delay, there's almost no reason to get off the subway to use the service.
If anyone would particularly benefit from the UPX as a commuter, it's those who live near Weston Station, as the price for a two-station trip is only marginally more than from one. For my part, I was impressed with the train ride, but given that it's not faster than my TTC commute, I'll likely not be riding the UP Express a whole lot.
Have you commuted on the UP Express? Share your thoughts in the comments.
by Derek Flack via blogTO
This destination for high-intensity, low-impact full body workouts recently opened in Toronto and has drawn people who are tired of traditional spinning classes. Similar to the SoulCycle model from the States, the 45 minute classes are as energetic as they come.
Read my review of Spokehaus in the fitness section.
by Lori Harito via blogTO
There's an entire world of dumplings waiting to be discovered in Toronto. From slippery steamed varieties to crispy deep-fried delicacies, here's a cross-cultural array of doughy pockets that are ready for you to devour.
Haitian snack bar Rhum Corner is the place to go to find these deep-fried malanga fritters, which come served with slaw and a tangy mayo.
Teardrop-shaped croquettes are big in Brazil and they're also a menu favourite at Parkdale's Mata Petisco Bar, which serves deep-fried minced chicken dumplings alongside malagueta pepper aioli.
Truffle gnudi at Rasa are pillows of perfection, especially when paired with walnut pesto and a medley of local mushrooms.
Deep-fried pork dumplings make an excellent side to a piping hot bowl of ramen at Kinton. Although you can also find these Japanese dumplings at almost every other sushi bar and ramen house in town.
No dim sum experience would be complete without an order of these pleated shrimp dumplings. You'll find them streaming out of the kitchens in steamer baskets at places such as Kwan and Rol San.
Jamaican Fried Dumpling
The Real Jerk makes golden, deep-fried dumplings with flour, water, butter and milk and pairs them with ox tail gravy, for dipping purposes, of course.
Mother's Dumplings should be top of mind if you're seeking out a broad selection of Chinese dumplings. Among the many varieties, you'll find these boiled, then pan-fried little pockets packed with pork and dill or pork and bok choi.
Satisfy your cravings for Korean dumplings at Cho Sun Ok where bite-sized pockets of pork are available steamed or fried with a soy dipping sauce. Song Cooks' pork, zucchini and chive mandu are also noteworthy.
Find these Turkish dumplings on the menu at Anatolia. Here, they come filled with seasoned ground beef and are topped with garlicky yogurt, mint, clarified butter and a dash of paprika.
Fill up on Tibetan dumplings in Parkdale, a.k.a Little Tibet. Loga's Corner both steams and fries these doughy beef or veggie dumplings. When indulging, nibble off a corner to release some steam and then devour the rest in a few bites.
Georgian-style pouches of minced meat are standouts on the menu at the The Ossington Stop. Among a late night menu of sloppy sandwiches, these $2.50 pockets are a treasure if you're looking to snack on something comforting and cheap.
You can find ground meat and potato-filled Jewish soup dumplings swimming in soothing bowls of steaming chicken broth at the New Yorker Deli.
Cuban potato puffs stuffed with picadillo or a medley of mushrooms and vegetables are a menu favourite at Julie's Cuban.
Pravda Vodka Bar doles out these plump pillows stuffed with veal in a wild mushroom broth with sour cream and chives.
Dumplings filled with beef or potato and cottage cheese are among the traditional offerings at Hasting's Snack Bar. For adventurous riffs, head to the Saucy Pierogi where the rotating menu features pierogi stuffed with foodstuffs like kimchi, sauerkraut and mushrooms, jerk chicken and pulled pork.
A must-have when visiting dim sum parlours like Dim Sum King are these open-faced dumplings, which traditionally reveal a mix of pork and mushroom popping out of a thin wrapper.
The iconic Italian pasta is a standard at red sauce restaurants and are a common sight in supermarkets. Find an elevated offering at Cafe Bar Pasta where the hand-pinched pasta rings come filled with white truffle pecorino and are topped with silky pecorino broth.
Xiao Long Bao
These delicate soup dumpling are a dim sum staple. Find them at the eponymous Xiao Long Bao where favourites come packed with crab meat and pork.
Photos by Jesse Milns and Hector Vasquez.
by Liora Ipsum via blogTO
Spring hikes in Toronto must be chosen carefully. Trails are typically at their muddiest early in the season, which is no fun for anyone. The ideal spring hike is done on a path that drains well or features a hard enough surface that wet conditions won't make it un-passable. Throw in a good view, and you have a great way to spend an afternoon.
Here are 5 hikes that'll help you welcome spring in Toronto.
Sun Valley - 1.3 kilometres
This path loops around the lower section of Crothers Woods, but is far less challenging than some of the other ravine-based trails in the area. Here you'll feel like you've escaped the city entirely as the valley vegetation comes to life. Later in the season, head towards Redway Rd. and the various ridge trails. The trailhead is located at #1115 Bayview Avenue across from Nesbitt Dr.
Moore Park Ravine - 3 kilometres
This is an easy and wide mixed-use trail that follows Mud Creek from North Rosedale to the Don Valley. As the leaves fill in on the trees, a natural canopy envelops the path, which makes the it feel far more secluded than it really is. Heading southeast from the trailhead at Moore Ave., it's slightly downhill almost all the way to the Brick Works, where you can explore the old quarry.
High Park - West Ravine - 6 kilometres
There are short trails and hiking opportunities all over High Park, but its the ravine on the west side of the park that's the most rewarding. Here you you get away from the sports fields and playgrounds in favour of wooded paths that lead down to Grenadier Pond. If you're feeling energetic, you can continue south to explore Sunnyside. Enter the ravine off of West Rd. just south of the playground.
Bluffer's Park - 5 kilometres
The trails that line the top of the Bluffs should be avoided in early spring as they are actually quite dangerous, but the lower trails that head east from Bluffer's Park are wonderful at this time of year. Early in the season, the Bluff's look incredibly stark, but as vegetation returns, the area fills with natural activity that's invigorating to witness. Start at the foot of Brimley Rd.
Wilket Creek Park to Edwards Gardens 6.4 kilometres
This is a majestic spring hike/walk in the ravine that travels alongside Leslie St. north of Eglinton. The trail itself is quite scenic with a number of bridges that cross the various tributaries of the Don, but Edwards Gardens is the real jewel here, especially at the end of April and into May when the places erupts with flowers and other plant life.
What did I miss? Add your favourite spring hikes in the comments.
Photo by Katrin Shumakov on Flickr.
by Derek Flack via blogTO
The Just For Cats Video Festival is returning to the TIFF Bell Lightbox on April 14 with a brand new roster of furry feline flicks to laugh, cringe and cry over.
Making this year even more special, Lil BUB will be in attendance. For those unaware of the famous feline's work, she's garnered more than one million Instagram followers, is the star of a storybook, sells a host of merch with her face on it, and even has her own LP (making her more successful than the average Torontonian.)
However, if you want to get within an inch of her, you'll have to ball out for VIP tickets (They're $100, while GA tickets run for $22.75). With purchase of said ticket, you'll get to meet, pet and take a photo with Lil BUB, receive a signed photo print and get reserved seating in the cinema. All proceeds of the VIP Tickets benefit CFHS and the TIFF Pocket Fund, so don't feel guilty about ponying up the cash.
Will you be getting tickets? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Lil BUB via Instagram
by Alice Prendergast via blogTO
Weekend events in Toronto will fill your schedule with concerts, beer fests and trips to pop-up shops. Good news: it looks like we've managed to ditch the sleet and snow for good now, so you probably won't have to put your winter jacket to use (though there may be a little rain).
For more events this weekend click on over to our events section.
Soundtrack Of The City (March 31-April 3)
Spring festival season kicks off today with the local-focused Soundtrack Of The City. 60-plus bands play over four days at several clubs on Queen St., all within walking distance of one another. It's a great way to discover new bands you may not have heard of: $25 gets you a wristband covering every show in the festival, or it's only $10 per concert.
Pusha T (April 2)
Pusha T is hitting the Danforth Music Hall this Friday to perform his latest and greatest. As with all highly anticipated concerts tickets sold out in a flash, so you'll have to turn to StubHub if you want to see him live.
Iron Maiden (April 3)
If pop hits aren't your jam, Iron Maiden is hitting the ACC for The Book of Souls World Tour. Expect a healthy dose of head-banging and thrashing. There are still a few tickets left, but you'll want to scoop them up ASAP.
Canadian Film Fest (March 30-April 2)
The Canadian Film Fest kicked off on Wednesday and is running up until Saturday evening. As per usual, the fest showcases a roster of features and shorts from homegrown rising cinematic talents. If you want to plan your weekend early, check out the schedule here.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival (March 30-April 2)
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival has taken over the TIFF Bell Lightbox and is showing films that "bring to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people". Check out all the festival details here.
FOOD & DRINK
Canada's First All Ladies Craft Beer Festival (April 1)
Canada's first female-centric craft beer festival is hitting the Evergreen Brick Works on April 1. The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies - who are known for putting on monthly bevies for broads in Toronto - is hosting the event and promising a night of bonfires, beats and plenty of booze.
Cameron's Cask Night (April 1)
If you want to get in on Cameron's Cask Night, you'll have to make the trek to Oakville - but for craft beer lovers, the journey is well worth it. The brewery is bringing in Wellington, Black Oak, Trafalgar and Orange Snail to share their brews and serving beverages from its own casks.
House of Vans (March 16-April 2)
Regardless of if your a skateboarding fanatic, live music lover or are just really into the Damn, Daniel phenomenon, you'll probably want to hit up the House of Vans. This weekend, catch Most Things Haven't Worked Out, a new film by Devin Guiney, or head to the closing concert this Saturday - Kool Keith, Tommy Kruise and Bambii will be playing.
April Fools: An Evening of Comedy at Massey Hall Hosted by Gilbert Gottfried (April 1)
After you've spent the day playing practical jokes on your coworkers and friends, head to Massy Hall for an evening of lols. Gilbert Gottfried is hosting a comedy show featuring Nikki Payne, Zabrina Chevannes, Jeff Elliott, Darren Frost, Mayce Galoni, Matt O'Brien and Richard Ryder.
Pillow Fight Toronto 2016 (April 2)
You may want to schedule laundry day before April 2, because the massive annual pillow fight hits Nathan Phillips Square this Saturday. More than 2.4 thousand people have RSVP'd so you can bet on quite the showdown - bring your finest cotton-filled weapon and prepare yourself for a battle royale.
The Toronto Storytelling Festival (April 1-10)
This weekend you can catch storytelling events at Glad Day Bookshop, Innis College, Dufferin St. Clair Library, Bata Shoe Museum and more for the annual Toronto Storytelling Festival. There's also a kickoff party at The Centre for Social Innovation Annex on Saturday, if you want to get a little boozy.
NSYNC vs BACKSTREET : A Dance Party (April 2)
Backstreet's back, alright - and NYSNC is coming along for the ride. Unfortunately, neither boy band will be at Studio Bar in the flesh, but you'll get to dance to all your favourite pop songs with a host of other fangirls and fanboys. Remember to brush up on the groups' most memorable choreography.
P.O.P Pop-Up Shop (April 1-3)
At the beginning of April the P.O.P Pop-Up Shop will take over a spot in Mirvish Village, selling a bevy of paintings, jewellery, bags, soaps, candles and more. If you want to party while you shop, head there on April 1st for the opening night bash.
La Playa Pop-Up Shop (April 1-30)
La Playa Pop-Up Shop will help you prepare for the impending days of beach bumming and rooftop tanning. Melmira is bringing high-end designer beachwear pieces from its home at Yonge and Lawrence to 12 Ossington Avenue for a month-long pop-up running seven days a week. Expect to find labels like Cool Change and Josa at 40% off.
The Bespoke Pop-Up Shop (April 2-3)
Head to Love & Greed on the first weekend of April to up your menswear game. While the store is already known to stock some pretty stellar duds, it's about to get even more fashionable. Toronto-based designer Tre Paul will be hosting a Bespoke Pop-Up Shop for one weekend only, so save your dollars.
Ice Cream Pop-Up Shop (April 3)
In the market for some brand new bling? OCADU Material Art and Design students are hosting an event showcasing their jewelry and textile creations. In keeping with the iced-out theme, there will also be vegan ice cream making and tasting activities.
Old Book and Paper Show (April 3)
Hit up Artscape Wychwood Barns this Sunday to check out (and/or purchase) old paper, ephemera and vintage books. You'll be able to get your hands on vintage concert and movie posters, photography, brochures, sewing patterns, postcards, prints, maps, magazines and more.
With contributions by Matt Forsythe. Photo by Jesse Milns.
by Alice Prendergast via blogTO
by via Toronto Networking Events
Nanashake, a 100% dairy-free ice cream parlour has moved into 4750 Yonge Street (just south of Sheppard), so summer just got a lot sweeter for Toronto's dairy-free community.
While a few parlours in the city have coconut and/or soy based options up for grabs, this joint relies solely on bananas for its soft-serve treats. Flavours include original, chocolate, strawberry, spiced date, rosey pistachio, coffee, and mint chocolate. It also sells "Nana Pops" which resemble paletas.
Now you can save the bucks you'd spend on a Vitamix or Yonanas machine for festival tickets.
Will you be trying Nanashake? let us know in the comments.
Photo by Nanashake on Instagram.
by Alice Prendergast via blogTO
How are you planning to watch the Toronto Blue Jays dominate this year? With the Jays home opener scheduled for April 8, you'll be happy to note that you can catch their entire 162 game season online thanks to a new streaming service from Sportsnet.
Sportsnet NOW launches tomorrow, April 1. Like Netflix (or Shomi, I guess) for Canadian sports fans, it's a direct-to-consumer service, meaning you don't need a Rogers cable or mobile plan to access it.
For $24.99 per month, it's includes content from Sportsnet's six channels, all of which will be available online and on your smartphone or tablet.
This is especially useful for cord-cutters who already rely on various streaming services instead of traditional cable plans.
Photo by Henry Chan via the blogTO Flickr pool.
by Amy Grief via blogTO