I love the city. Exclamation Point. The skyscrapers, busy sidewalks, welcoming restaurants, and bright lights fill me with excitement. The city is an smorgasbord of contagious energy brimming with inspiration. I love nothing more than exploring the city and sitting on a warm patio in the summer sunshine, watching an endless parade of people walk by. Each with their own destination in mind. Each with their own story.
I’ve lived in the suburbs my entire life but for some reason, it is the city that feels like home. Toronto has no expectations of you and welcomes you as you are. It doesn’t care if you’ve washed your hair that day or where you work. All it asks is that you embrace it. That you take your ripped jeans and oversized glasses and find someone to enjoy it with. All it asks is that while you learn from its beauty and history you also leave your mark. Create something, write a blog post, make a painting of your favourite landmark, share a moment with a stranger, use it wisely.
Toronto holds no judgement and neither do the residents. Everyone is too preoccupied with enjoying their own life that they don’t bother themselves with passing judgement on anyone who crosses their path. This is what I find most refreshing; small towns are great for gossip and unnecessary comparisons. Toronto has no time for that. It only has time for love.
This of course, is just one view of the six. There are loads of people who haven’t had great experiences in or with Toronto. It’s easy for someone who is only there a few times a month to relish in its magic but I truly think that even if I lived in the city I wouldn’t tire of it, I wouldn’t feel jaded. There are so many inspirational business owners, girl bosses, writers, and bloggers in the city to look up to. There are so many alleyways yet to be discovered and restaurants to be tried that a lifetime in the city wouldn’t be enough.
“I love to walk a city, whether I’ve been there once
or a hundred time before.
It’s amazing what sort of inspiration you’ll find
when you steal a second glance.”
~ Erin Hiemstra, Lifestyle Blogger, Apartment 34
Open your eyes. If you walk too quickly you just might miss it but once you see it, it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else on that side of College Street. Thick wooden panels frame a gorgeous wooden door illuminated red by the signature Isabel scrawl.
When you walk into the restaurant your eyes need a few minutes to adjust before the warmth of the venue washes over you. Authentic Spanish tiles bring the floor to life, rustic mirrors covering the length of the restaurant make the room feel bigger, the dimly lit space and candles on each table create an oasis for every guest. If you find yourself looking up you’ll notice an array of different light fixtures, adding even more character to an already charismatic space.
Thanks to my current position as Customer Service Coordinator at an importer of Spanish cured meat and specialty items, I’ve become pretty well-versed in the world of Spanish tapas. So while other couples Googled their way through the menu, I comfortably and casually ordered the Lomo Iberico, Chips & Boquerones, the Jamon Tasting (featuring the Trevelez and Iberico de Bellota), the Half Octopus, Jamon Croquetas, Manchego Cheese, and the Bread. I was stumped by a few items and was thoroughly impressed by the staff’s product knowledge and their ability to help us navigate our way through a pretty amazing tapas meal. Our waitress ensured that she would bring out the dishes that went best together until we made our way through the entire order.
What I’m noticing about Spanish tapas is the need for quality ingredients. Since the dishes are small and simple, there has to be enough flavour to bring the dish to life. Everything from the bread to the olive oil to the thinly sliced pieces of Lomo Iberico had its own distinct flavour. A memorable flavour that tickled the palate and ignited the taste buds.
So I guess the ultimate question is, would I go back? Would you go back to a place with great food, a warm atmosphere, and wonderful service? Exactly. I would love to go with a group of people next time, I love the idea of having a few drinks and chatting as we share a few dishes on a warm Toronto evening.