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Friday, July 31, 2015

The top 10 soft serve ice cream in Toronto

Softserve TorontoSoft serve has been the star of the summer menus in Toronto - even rivaling our collective obsession for ice cream sandwiches. Supreme swirls and frosty peaks are suddenly everywhere and being given some major upgrades ranging from outrageous candy toppings, herbal infusions, and even some meaty decorations.

Here's a round-up of the top soft serve ice cream in Toronto.

AWYWI Soft Serve
That stands for "Any Way You Want It" and it's available at Tom's Dairy Freeze. Photo by @skinnyfiles

Soft serve TorontoTiramisu Soft Serve
Vanilla ice cream doused in amaretto espresso sauce, rolled in crushed amaretto and savoiardi cookies, and finished with a dusting of cocoa is just one example of the obscene cones served at Home of the Brave. Photo by @sweetjesus4life

Softserve TorontoSalted Maple Rosemary Soft Serve
Sausage house, Wvrst is serving up rosemary infused maple ice cream decorated with crispy fried bits of duck fat. Photo by @steph.eats

Softserve TorontoEarl Grey & Madagascar Vanilla Soft Serve
Tuesday through to Sunday is tea time at Roselle Desserts. @roselle_to

Softserve TorontoCereal Milk Soft Serve
Momofuku Milk Bar's signature creation comes decorated with sweet, crunchy cornflakes. Photo by @sasachowdown

Softserve TorontoMatcha Soft Serve
Soft swirls of green tea flavoured soft serve are a hit from Uncle Tetsu's Matcha Cafe.

Soft Serve TorontoTropical Orange Blast Soft Serve
Tastes like a creamsicle and available at the Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville.Photo by @t_volpe

Soft Serve TorontoChocolate Cheesecake Softserve
Just one of many outrageous creations from GTA-based food truck, Hollywood Cone.
Photo from Hollywood Cone facebook

Soft Serve TorontoSoft Serve Doughnut Sandwiches
Doughnuts? Soft serve? Ice cream sandwiches? This thing from Glory Hole Doughnuts is too cool for school.Photo by @to_finest

Softserve TorontoVegan Softserve
By comparison, Bunner's gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free soft serve seems seems quite tame, but really, it's still a thing of beauty! Photo by @blogto

What did I miss? Add your suggestions to the comments?

by Liora Ipsum via blogTO

Beer named after Toronto streets and neighbourhoods

toronto beerToronto breweries are using the old marketing trick of weaving relatable stories and iconography into their products. It's for this reason there are a number of local breweries named after Toronto neighbourhoods and streets. No matter which end of the city you're in, there's a brewery that will give you a taste of nostalgia with your brew.

Here's a round-up of Toronto breweries named after Toronto streets and neighbourhoods.

Tom Patterson of Junction Craft Brewing is a big history nerd, and founded his brewery to hearken back to pre-1997, when The Junction was a dry district. Their non-descript warehouse has an entire wall adorned with an old map of the neighbourhood - then called West Toronto. As a manufacturing community, the Junction relied heavily on the railroad, which the brewery uses as the basis for their branding.

One of the newest breweries on this list, High Park Brewery started selling beer at the Junction Night Market. As their Twitter states, the brewery consists of "4 hockey buddies from High Park committed to creating exceptional small batch Ontario craft beer using natural ingredients and traditional brewing methods." Stay tuned.

Liberty Village Brewing's beer is available at local bars or you can buy their 504 Pale Ale - named after the streetcar route - in tall cans at the LCBO. Though they have yet to brew in their namesake neighbourhood, you can catch up with their latest releases via their Twitter feed.

Sometimes known as Brewery in Progress on Twitter, Kensington Brewery has been under construction in its namesake neighbourhood for a while. In the meantime, their beer is available in many local bars, the LCBO and The Beer Store. Keep up with their progress on their Twitter.

Danforth Brewery is still very mysterious and not yet selling beer, but it has a current Twitter presence and a write-up and is apparently bottling beer, so it might be legit. Right now the public's main concern seems to be about the font of their logo - which is all we have for now.

Jeremy Coghill of Lansdowne Brewery became so fed up with Ontario's prohibitive liquor laws that he opened up his own brewpub. It's not brewing beer just yet but you can still have a meal and sample beer from other breweries for the time being.

Have you ever seen the Wizard Wolf in Bellwoods Park? Have you drank Wizard Wolf at Bellwoods Brewery? Both experiences are equally magical, and not far from one another. This makes it possible to drink Bellwoods in Bellwoods. Soon it will be possible to drink Bellwoods in a new location, which they are on the verge of building.

The only brewery in The Distillery since 2002, Mill St. Brewery helped establish Toronto's craft beer community consciousness. They've been using nearby Balzac's Coffee in their Coffee Porter for years, and were the first Canadian brewery to brew an organic beer. They have since expanded, though the brewpub on Tank House Lane will always be an impressive flagship.

Located in Toronto's Pioneer Village, the Black Creek Historic Brewery brews beer using the recipes, techniques, tools and equipment used in the 1860s. Back then there were over 155 breweries in Ontario, all operating with no electricity. Visit the brewery to enjoy the beer authentically - at "cellar temperature".

And there you have it. Still up for grabs: Beaches, Toronto Island, The6 (though you may have to ask Drake). Not sure if Parkdale Brewery, which has been posting photos since 2010, is under copyright, but they appear to be trollin'. Shoutout to Hogtown Brewers, the only brewery named after the entire city.

What did I miss? What are your ideas for Toronto-centric brews? Let us know in the comments.

Evelyn is interested in everything beer related, and sometimes writes about it on Beer Is God. Follow her on Twitter @ccprmaven.

by Evelyn Shaller-Auslander via blogTO

Unique Korean eats now available in Little Italy

Masheel Bistro TorontoThis just-opened Korean restaurant adds a bit more diversity to the dining scene in Little Italy. Go here to pair colourful cocktails with novel takes on beef ribs and Korean pork.

Read my profile of Masheel Bistro in the restaurants section.

by Liora Ipsum via blogTO

The top 5 alleyway patios in Toronto

patios torontoAlleyway patios will have you enjoying your dinner and drinks in the most urban environments. Some embrace the theme and sport graffiti-covered walls while others elevate the alleyway experience by adding string lights and trend-forward decor. Whether you're looking for an intimate date spot or a more casual watering hole, one of these should do the trick.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the top alleyway patios in Toronto.

Harlem's graffiti-clad alleyway is anything but an escape from the city. Diners are surrounded by brick walls coated with hand-painted murals, windows touting metal bars, and a few much-needed splashes of greenery. It may not be the best place to take your first date, but it is one of the coolest outdoor kick-back spots in the city to grab a drink.

The courtyard at Buca is hidden away from the hustle and bustle of King St. Featuring brightly coloured chairs and surrounded by exposed brick walls, this patio is the perfect hideaway for a bite to eat in the summer. Indulge in top notch, Jamie Oliver approved Italian fare.

Patria's courtyard is a contender for the best date spot in the area. The patio sets the mood with white lanterns overhead and glowing candles around its perimeter. Be prepared to doing some sharing as the menu is predominantly small plates.

The side patio at Smith is a great option for those looking for a more intimate experience. With room for less than twenty diners and ethereal string lighting, this outdoor eatery makes for a great date destination.

The Fifth Pub House
As far as alleyway eateries are concerned, The Fifth's is on the larger side, seating about 35. You'll find a menu chock full of elevated pub fare and enough greenery to offset the brick laden alley.

Did I miss any? Add your favourite alleyway patios to the comments.

Photo of Harlem by Jesse Milns.

by Alice Prendergast via blogTO

Toronto's newest espresso bar offers a taste of Japan

neo coffee barThis newly opened coffee shop isn't just serving up espresso. The line-up of edibles features trusty standbys like fresh baked cookies, muffins, and sandwiches, along with the house specialties; Japanese-style roll cakes and cream puffs.

Read my profile of Neo Coffee Bar in the cafe section.

by Liora Ipsum via blogTO

Inside the offices of a Toronto advertising agency

toronto advertising agencyGrip Limited is an advertising agency best known for "The Movie Out Here" for Kokanee. Located at 179 John Street just north of Queen, the office, which is best known for "The Big Orange Slide" is home to almost 200 art directors, video producers, and other creative professionals who work on creating video, print, and digital ads for brands like Honda, Acura, Bell Canada, and Pizza Hut amongst others.

Now in its 13th year, Grip started as a collection of eight creative partners in February 2002, working out of a makeshift space just above the Firkin south of Queen. Initially, the agency worked exclusively for Labatt producing advertising for television, radio, and traditional print mediums.

Over the years, they have expanded to offer advertising across all media as well as web and application development services.

toronto advertising agencyThe Grip Limited headquarters occupy three floors with the signature orange slide and bleachers connecting the fifth and sixth floors. Johnson Chou, the designer behind the popular Red Bull office, was the mastermind behind the space and had casually floated the idea of a slide as a light-hearted, very literal element to connect the initial two floors of the office together.

The partners fell in love with the idea and it stuck. Many years later, clients and employees are still fascinated by the colour, size, and unexpected speed of the skid-marked OG slide that can launch you into a camera crew if you're not careful.

toronto advertising agencyThe agency first started out as a fairly traditional TV commercial production house where most accounts had budgets or several tens of thousands of dollars and timelines of several months to produce the work. Back then, Grip used to contract work out depending on the account's specific need.

toronto advertising agencyNowadays, with online media and content, more and more of Grip's clients are coming in with much smaller budgets and timelines. In an effort to be quicker and efficient with client money, the office has several editing suites and sound booths and most of the staff are permanent in-house team members.

toronto advertising agencyThe company prides itself in being a privately-owned agency that has the ability to produce work much more quicker than their competitors, and attributes their success to tight-knit collaboration and small, nimble work teams.

Agencies often have all-hands meetings that take place in the largest board room in the office, and since the teams are usually really large and the largest board room can only accommodate so many people, these meetings tend to be rushed and a little too cozy.

toronto advertising agencyIn stark contrast, Grip's all-hands meetings, guest lectures, and staff events are a common and rather enjoyable occurrence. Staff members gather around the bleachers and seats across all three floors. Equipped with four very large, very mobile television screens, presentations are a breeze and easily visible to everyone at the company.

As is evident from the quirky decor, personalized employee spaces, and the multitude of pets around the office, work culture and employee happiness is of utmost importance at Grip.

toronto advertising agencyEvery Thursday, the office gets together over beer and snacks to listen to a guest speaker from outside the industry. Karen Sampogna, head of Human Resources at the company is the mastermind behind the logistics of office culture.

One of her favourite speakers was famed Canadian war-journalist, Louie Palu, who spoke about his time in Afghanistan and the importance of being true to the story instead of getting involved in the politics.

toronto advertising agencyA significant part of the three floor plates are dedicated to common areas like meeting rooms and eating areas. The rest of the space is a mix of open work spaces, board rooms, and editing and recording studios.

toronto advertising agencyDuring our visit, part of the seventh floor is under construction to make room for yet another editing suite, while another part of the floor is being converted into a photography studio.

The office architecture makes use of a lot of steel and furniture in tones of grey, and uses the Grip orange as an accent colour on certain walls, rotating logo signs, and communal desks.

toronto advertising agencyPhotos by Jimmy Lu.

What offices would you like to see featured on the site? Send suggestions to editors [at] blogto [dotcom].

by Huda Idrees via blogTO