Tag Archives: Canada

Ghosts of Christmas Markets Present

Distillery Xmas Market - Gooderham & Worts sign

This past weekend, we checked out the Christmas Market at the Distillery District… twice!

I’ve been craving a German Weihnachtsmarkt since we were in Germany in 2006. For a brief time, I was incredibly jealous of Vancouver for getting one this year. A couple of days later, I found out about the one here in Toronto, in the Distillery District.

Distillery Xmas Market - lights
Lots of lights and huts

Initially, I was hung up on the things I remembered of the German markets – things that were missing from ours (like real Glühwein, served in keepsake mugs). Once I got over that, I was able to relax and enjoy the environment and the spirit. The thing about this kind of Christmas market is that it seems to be missing much of the tackiness of the season that we normally can’t seem to escape. Something about the little wooden huts, the smell of the food and the sound of caroling is kind of relaxing and enjoyable – even when you’re standing out in the cold.

We went on Friday night, and then again on Saturday afternoon.

Distillery Xmas Market - Goodies
A very large gingerbread house, and some Xmas cupcakes.

There was fun to be had by all ages. Friday night, we definitely saw more adults milling about the beer garden, sampling some yummy Glenfiddich, Amarula and Weihenstephaner beer. Saturday afternoon was definitely for the kids, with some live reindeer, pretty ladies dressed as angels, and other family fun (in addition to the beer garden).

There was a variety of food available – mostly decadent treats, of course! The Sweet Escape even made a child-sized (real) gingerbread house. There was a sign to not touch, but I’m pretty sure there was a bite out of the side! I swear it wasn’t from me! The lineup for Soma was out the door and down the street (ridiculous!) on Saturday.

There were stollen, fruit cake, pfeffernüsse, marzipan pigs and all sorts of holiday baked goods. But that wasn’t what I was there for…

Distillery Xmas Market - Sausages and Beer
Sausages and Beer! (No, the sausages aren’t both mine)

Yup, I went in search of sausages. Initially, I was hoping to find some Thuringer sausages like we had in Frankfurt. Instead, we found some tasty Oktoberfest sausages. They hit the spot. Too bad they ran out of Sauerkraut on the Saturday!

Distillery Xmas Market - Raclette Fries
Distillery Xmas Market – Raclette Fries

One of the stalls was serving freshly melted Raclette cheese on top of French fries. You could smell it before you could see it – the cheese had a wee bit of stink to it, in a good way. It was gooey and tasty, just as expected.

Distillery Xmas Market - Raclette Making
Raclette Making

The guy making them had a pretty neat rig, too. There was a heating contraption that fit two blocks of cheese. They would melt the top layer of cheese, and he would scrape the melty goodness onto the fries. Pretty sweet! He was also serving up some choucroute (French for Sauerkraut, but no doubt prepared in its own way). I kinda wanted some cheese and coucroute on my fries, but I think that would have been an expensive box of fries!

In all, I think this was a valiant attempt at having a not-so-tacky Christmas event. If this can happen every year, I’m sure it can only get better.

Next week, a peek at the Ghosts of (my) Christmas Markets Past…

Until then, take a look at some other cities’ markets!

My Friend Guu

Guu Izakaya - room

Recently, we visited Guu Izakaya restaurant in Toronto.

It opened a while ago, and I’d walk by and wonder what it was. To be honest, I could not for the life of me read the name on the sign (it’s in a handwritten font, so pretty hard to read). I didn’t know what an Izakaya was, either, until some girl friends that had been to Japan explained it to me.

Izakaya is kind of like a Japanese pub, where you eat small plates (kind of like mezze or tapas) and drink.

This place is pretty popular, with a line out the door most nights. On the night that we went, the line wasn’t too bad so we decided to try it out.

They yell stuff at you when you walk in the door. I have no idea what they’re saying, but they say it with a smile so I think it’s something nice.

Guu Izakaya - Food Collage

From top left: Gindara (black cod), Ikamaru (grilled squid), seafood ceviche, Maguro Tataki (seared tuna), Salmon Natto Yukke (salmon sashimi with seven friends), Kakimayo (grilled oysters with spinach, mayo and cheese).

There were many many fun sounding dishes, so we picked some, ordered beer and enjoyed ourselves. Our favourite ones are pictured above.

I finally had the opportunity to try Shochu (Japanese vodka). The one I chose was made from sweet potato, and had a really earthy flavour – not unlike a cross between vodka and scotch. My subsequent trial of Shochu was completely different, but that’s a different tale…

I don’t recommend getting the trio of coloured, flavoured sake shots. It was cute, but a little too gimmicky. I should have known better.

Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves. The energy in the room is incredible, and the food was really tasty. We tried to go back, but there was a 2-hour wait… hm, better luck next time!

Guu Izakaya - beer

Enjoying my drink. Good to see they passed inspection.

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!

Betelgeuse beer

Betelgeuse may be a star, or a movie dead guy, but now it’s also a great new beer from Mill St!

Mill St. Brewery is a craft brewery that has been around for over 100 years, giving Toronto a great assortment of fun beers. This summer, they’ve released three special brews:

  • Lemon Tea – a refreshing beer with a mix of lemon, Earl Grey and Orange Pekoe flavours.
  • Schleimhammer Roggenbier – not sure how to describe this one… heh… a little sweet, but not super thick… red?
  • Betelgeuse – a Belgian style Trippel, strong and sweet


A still from the movie Beetlejuice.

My favourite of the three has to be the Betelgeuse. I’ll start by saying that I’m no beer expert – I’m slowly going through different kinds of beer to see what I like and what I don’t like. So far, my favourite styles seem to be German & Belgian Wheat Beers (Wits, Heffeweizens, etc.) and Belgian Trappist beers.

The Mill St. Betelgeuse was a great addition to their roster, even if it is but a limited release. It’s a little sweeter than most people like in a beer, but it has such a nice round flavour that makes it a great beer to sip after dinner. This kind of beer is especially great on a cool evening… not exactly refreshing for summer.

If you’re looking for something more refreshing, you might want to try the Lemon Tea beer. If you like wheat beers, this one will fit alongside many of them. It offers a nice combination of citrusy flavours, along with a subtle tea aftertaste.

All three of the Mill St. seasonal brews can be found at various LCBO locations in Toronto. I’m not sure if they’re available outside of Toronto – let me know if you find it!!