15 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Toronto

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15 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Toronto

View of Toronto from the ferry

View of Toronto from the ferry

Toronto, Canada's largest city with 2.8 million residents, is a super safe, bustling, multi-cultural urban hot spot with the third largest percentage of immigrants in the world (nearly 50% of the total population!), behind Miami and Dubai, which means you can find a plethora of restaurants; art, dining, music, film and cultural festivals; diverse neighborhoods and fun to last you throughout the year. 

Toronto Electric Bike Tour of the Don Valley Trail with Guide and Owner, Terrence Eta; Photo Credit: Toronto Bicycle Tours

Toronto Electric Bike Tour of the Don Valley Trail with Guide and Owner, Terrence Eta; Photo Credit: Toronto Bicycle Tours

Other fun facts: Viva Italia! Toronto has the largest population of Italians outside of Italy. The streetcar system is not only charming, but also it's the largest in the Western world regarding regular riders, number of cars and the track length. Toronto is a leader in the green movement with loads of parks, bike paths and environmental stewardship. 

Livin' on the edge with the CN Tower's EdgeWalk (photo credit: EdgeWalk)

Culinary Adventure Co—picnic with a lovely view of the Toronto skyline

Culinary Adventure Co—picnic with a lovely view of the Toronto skyline

Yoga Summer at Toronto Botanical Gardens with Janet Crocken

Yoga Summer at Toronto Botanical Gardens with Janet Crocken

Hearing, smelling and feeling nature in this lovely, private yoga spot

Hearing, smelling and feeling nature in this lovely, private yoga spot

Tout est Possible (the sky's the limit) in Toronto! 

Tout est Possible (the sky's the limit) in Toronto! 

Isn't she lovely?

Isn't she lovely?

 

 

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Shhhh! Chicago Magazine Secret Supper at Community Tavern

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Shhhh! Chicago Magazine Secret Supper at Community Tavern

All photos were taken by Megan Bearder Photography

While scrolling through a bunch of e-mails, one subject line really caught my eye: "EMBARGOED: Chicago Magazine Reveals October Secret Supper Venue". I'm a gal that loves surprises so I, of course, took the bait. I knew where the hush-hush event would be but I had to keep mum until registered guests received an e-mail, on the day of the event, alerting them to the name of one of Chicago's most sought-after restaurants. 

In April, the first Secret Supper event was held at Momotaro  and Salero hosted the second one in August. The hot spot for October: Community Tavern in Portage Park. Chicago Magazine featured Community Tavern  as one of Chicago's "Best New Restaurants" and in a food city like Chicago, that's really saying something. 

Executive Chef/Partner, Joey Beato and Chef de Cuisine Matt Saccaro created a unique five-course meal: Kusshi Oyster—tabasco, orange and chive; Foie Gras Torchon—peach and riesling jam, brioche and herbs de Provence; Lobster Boudin—shaved squash, pistachio, tarragon and sabayon; New York Strip—bordelaise, root vegetables and smoked sea salt and finally, Paris Brest—praline cream and candied almonds.

I was surprised to find out that a complete vegetarian five-course meal was prepared for me and, folks, it was delicious and way beyond the run-of-the-mill plated steamed vegetables that some restaurants pass off as a vegetarian alternative (the warm cauliflower shooter and the soft gnocchi were incredible). Yes, the chefs at Community Tavern are total pros. 

Glasses of Lot 28 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon and Lot 126 Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France graced the tables as well as two specialty cocktails: the Phall Collins made with Tito's Handmade Vodka, apple, vanilla, rosemary simple syrup, lemon juice and soda water and Some Sort of Secret made with Tito's Handmade Vodka, Cocchi vermouth, passion fruit puree, lime juice, palm sugar and, you guessed it, a secret ingredient that guests got to ponder and hashtag for a chance at a prize (#CMSecretSupper). 

90+ Cellars served as the event’s wine sponsor, Tito's Handmade Vodka served as the event’s liquor sponsor and ArchLight Cinemas sponsored the private VIP experience that included additional courses and a special talk from the chef. 

The forth and final 2015 Secret Supper event will be held on Nov. 9 but you'll have to wait to find out where! 

Click HERE for more details on how to get in on the action! 





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 Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet

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Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet

The sun was shining and the tunes were pumping on today's eighth annual food and drink celebration, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet , a three day event at Millennium Park, produced by the Illinois Restaurant Association along with title sponsor Bon Appétit magazine and presenting sponsor Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois. From Noon—6:00 p.m., culinary tourists dined on some of the best bites that Chicago has to offer while also tasting premium wine and spirits. Guests enjoyed live cooking demonstrations, tastings and book signings as well. This was truly an epicurean adventure, highlighting more than 190 of Chicago's all-star restaurants and chefs as well as hundreds of vintners, spirit makers and breweries from around the globe. 

We come every year and every year it gets better and better.
— said an event participant in the Bon Appétit tent.

Notable event participants were:

·      Sam Toia, President & CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association

·      Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief, Bon Appetit

·      Andrew Knowlton, Restaurant and Drinks Editor, Bon Appetit

·      Natalia Cardenas, Regional Director of Mixology, Southern Wine & Spirits 

·      Serafin Alvarado, Master Sommelier, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois

·      Celebrity Chefs Rick Bayless, Emeril Lagasse, April Bloomfield, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Art Smith, Lorena Garcia, Jose Garces, Sara Moulton and others.



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DuPage Habitat for Humanity: Women Build

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DuPage Habitat for Humanity: Women Build

The last time I held a power tool was probably 17 years ago when I volunteered for 10 months with Americorps NCCC, the residential, traveling, domestic Peace Corps. Today brought me way back to those good ol' days of hanging dry wall, alongside enthusiastic do-gooders, helping folks in need. As part of the Women Build event with Dupage Habitat for Humanity, I helped a family that is eager to make a house their home,  just in time for the holidays. 

Chicago's own Jim Belushi volunteered on a past Women Build event—that's his John Hancock on the photo board.

Many might think that Habitat for Humanity gives homes away for free to low-income or struggling families—this is not the case. Dupage Habitat for Humanity builds and sells homes to families at no profit, with no interest on a 30-year mortgage, often using donated materials and supplies, volunteers and extra funds to offset costs. Habitat for Humanity turns dreams into reality by making homes affordable and accessible. And, a lot goes into the decision to work with a prospective family: homes are earned on the basis of need, ability to re-pay a mortgage and 250 hours of sweat equity labor per adult about to live in the home. 

Jack teaches volunteers how to use tools and equipment, getting the crew ready to build. 

Mario Tricoci was on site, giving chair massages, eye treatments and beauty advice. All volunteers also walked away with gift bags and coupons (thank you for the shampoo & conditioner!). I was super impressed by their dedication to their craft—a couple of them showed up to the construction site in high heels!  

Each participating builder raised $250 or more to help fund the cost of building materials and Women Build t-shirts—this is on top of working a full day in the home; these volunteers and team leaders went far and beyond to make today successful and productive.

Today's community build event timeline looked like this:

8 a.m.—9 a.m.: Pampering stations, networking, coffee and donuts—provided by the Breakfast Sponsor, Dunkin’ Donuts 

9 a.m.—12 p.m.: Yoga warm-up, led by Corie Rectenwald, followed by building

12—1 p.m. : Lunch, provided by the Lunch Sponsor, Chick-fil-A and short program; Janice M. Mowen, associate representative of Thrivent Financial, provided raffle gifts and a motivating "thank you" speech, followed by building

3 pm: Cleanup

Women Build was an opportunity for women to not only wield a power tool and learn something new but also it was a chance for women to uplift a community, be advocates for affordable housing and share in the delight of working alongside the actual couple that would benefit from a warm home for their family. 

Best part: volunteers of every skill level are welcome—Dupage Habitat for Humanity will train and educate all participants. Interested? Sign up! 

Photo Credit: Dupage Habitat for Humanity

Photo Credit: Dupage Habitat for Humanity 







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An Epicurean Adventure: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago's SIXTEEN

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An Epicurean Adventure: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago's SIXTEEN

I met my date at 6:00 p.m. on the sixteenth floor to dine at Sixteen, a Michelin two-star, Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant, located in the Trump International Hotel & Tower. The jaw-dropping panoramic views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the Wrigley Clock Tower were so stunning that I felt like I was looking at a green screen. 

Executive Chef Thomas Lents and Pastry Chef Aya Fukai created a thoughtful and imaginative twelve-course Vegetarian Tasting Menu that was like nothing I've ever experienced: Tomato Gelee, Avocado, Quinoa, Sorrel; Variations of English Pea; Fresh Pressed Corn, Summer Squash and Citronelle; Grilled Gem Lettuce in its own Juice, Charred Bread; Barley Porridge, Mustard Greens and Juice; Haricot Vert Almondine and Caper Espuma; Baby Fennel, Artichoke, Green Chickpea and Lemon Sabayon; Truffled Leek and Pommes Puree; Grilled Tofu, Confit Eggplant and Garlic Root; Earl Grey Tea Granite, African Blue Basil and Cherry Consomme; Matcha Genoise, Ricotta Cream and Raspberry Milk Jelly; and finally, Mint and Goat Cheese, Compressed Watermelon, Domaine de Canton Tapioca and Brown Butter Streusel. 

Food in Progress: Assessing an American Food Revolution began the night with a vintage seed box, filled with unique creations like turnips in edible dirt, that served as the menu. We went on an adventure to the garden, the farm, the sea, the ranch and finally—the grand finale— the field. Each course and wine pairing began with a story from our knowledgeable and passionate host. We traveled to France, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Japan and even California on this gastronomical journey—a dinner that lasted over five hours but felt like one. It was a summer night of great conversation, beautiful food presentations and indelible wines.  

Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.
— Thomas Jefferson




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Pooches on Parade: Alfresco Fashion Show

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Pooches on Parade: Alfresco Fashion Show

In celebration of National Dog DayThe Talbott Hotel  rolled out the red carpet for dogs dressed in fashions from Tails in the City and collars from Vanderpump Pets. Chicago's NBC 5 entertainment reporter, LeeAnn Trotter emceed the event on Mercadito Kitchen's alfresco patio and she gave special attention to the stars of the night: two adorable, adoptable puppies from PAWS Chicago. This Gold Coast fashion show was right up The Talbott Hotel's alley, a property this is not just dog-friendly but dog-pro. American gentlemen, Winston and Benny, the two famous Boston Terriers that are the face of the hotel, took time out of their busy schedules to make an appearance on the runway. It was a night of wags to riches.

 

Best part: This event benefited PAWS Chicago


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Dîner en Blanc

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Dîner en Blanc

Last night, Chicago street corners were full of mini parties dressed all in white, waiting to find out the secret location to Dîner en Blanc - Chicago, which ended up being held at the Federal Plaza on 50 W. Adams Street. Francois Pasquier created this elegant global dinner party over 27 years ago in Paris with a handful of friends that dressed in white so that they could find each other—now Paris' Dîner en Blanc draws 15,000 people each year. Held in more than 50 cities in more than 20 countries all over the world, people gather and break bread, dance and enjoy a beautiful alfresco evening with new friends. 

The rules are simple: 

-You must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the waiting list

-The table setting and attire is white only and elegant; men sit on one side, women on the other

-Diners must bring their own table, chairs, picnic basket with quality food items and proper china, stemware and flatware (no plastic)

Dîner en Blanc - Chicago had some amazing partners and supporters: Paramount Events hosted a fabulous media lounge, complete with canapés, wine and bubbles. Lighting sparklers and socializing on their white couch, at the Federal Plaza, was remarkable. Celebrity Cruises was the official Modern Luxury Vacation Partner and they created a Grass is Greener photo op with a model inside a grass dress with flowers and sweets. Canard-Duchêne wins for best champagne and Fotio helped capture the night. 









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