I followed my heart (and husband) in the Spring of 2017 and moved from London, UK to Toronto. Summer was on the horizon and I was met with faces of optimism and excitement. ‘Patio season is on its way; Summer in Toronto is the best!’. My new Canadian friends were correct. The Summer consisted of chilled rosé, brunches on rooftops and long evening walks ending with gelato. It was bliss.
As I waved goodbye to a wonderful season, the same faces reappeared with looks of empathy and apprehension. My first Winter was approaching, and I was told it would be fierce and unforgettable. Of course, my dear friends grossly underplayed the ugly truth. In a matter of weeks, my previously jam-packed social life was buried under a pile of snow. I decided to leave it there whilst I hibernated in my home with an electric blanket and copious amounts of Pinot Noir.
Fast forward one year, the bone-chilling months of last January and February remain a foggy memory in my mind (no pun intended). Whether I chose to forget them, or my brain cells were damaged due to the arctic conditions, I cannot say. All I knew was that this time, I would be prepared. I would regain control of my social life and sanity. To ensure this, I would need to find Toronto’s coziest corners to nestle in. So, I went on a search for the top three spots to host and shield me from the icy effects of Toronto’s freeze.
Le Gourmand – 152 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON, M5V 3S6
Steaming hot coffee and delicious baked goods are definite remedies for a frosty, bitter day. I stroll in to Le Gourmand with my oversized earmuffs and tuck myself in a corner with an extra frothy cappuccino and ham and brie filled croissant. The interior is simple and modest. My plan for the morning is to get lost in my current paperback and pretend I am in a suburban French café. My inner book worm is having a wonderful time; both the volume level and room temperature are perfect. The rich aromas of coffee and sweet smells of baking are soothing. I am out of my home and happy; I feel victorious. Anika versus Winter, Anika wins. Of course, a few moments later, reality knocks on the glass window in the form of torrential rain. Unscathed, I order one of the café’s famous chocolate chip cookies. It both distracts me from the horrific weather outside and refuels me for another hour of cozy book time. I continue to enjoy my time and more importantly, remain victorious.
The Oxley Public House – 121 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5R 1C4
Exposed brick, rustic leather seats and a vintage fireplace. It looks like the type of place that has a resident dog lurking around the corner, eager to come out and play. It is 3pm on a Sunday afternoon in January and I feel…warm. The menu boasts a list of British classics and it fills me with pride. Scotch eggs, fish and chips and a Sunday Roast. Surely, this place is a comfort food haven? I place an order of sausage rolls and chips with house ketchup. My husband orders a tea and together we sink into the sofa to discuss our plans for the week. I battle my oversized jacket, scarf and mittens and cluster them in to a pile to create my own pillow. I am clearly feeling very at home. The gentleman serving us is upbeat and his mood is infectious. We exchange weather remarks… how very British of us! As I bite into my flaky pastry and steal a sip of hot tea, I wonder: is it the reminder of home that’s making me feel comforted? Regardless, I feel as cozy as can be.
Snakes & Lattes – Various Locations
What is more comforting than monopoly, hot chocolate and Mac ‘n’ Cheese? Snakes and Lattes can provide all three and more, simultaneously. I arrive on a Thursday evening and my friend and I bicker about which games to play; there are more boardgames than we knew existed. We start with an intense game of battleship whilst sharing a triple decker grilled cheese and a bowl of chilli. The food is delicious and distracts us from the aggressive gaming situation. For several hours, we are consumed by tournaments of Connect 4 and Scrabble, blissfully unaware of the -28 degrees patiently waiting for us outside. When we finally face the cold, it seems that the combination of Irish Coffees and competitive heat has softened the blow of the dwindling temperatures. This place leaves you feeling warm, both inside and out.
I am happy to say my cozy finds in Toronto have allowed me to ‘chill’ this Winter. Thankfully, I mean that in the social way.
- Tall Grass Wild Rice Bread
- Rejoice! Rejoice! For National Hot Chocolate Day
- Winter Wonderland in Waterloo
- Talking Uncool Saturday Nights & The Best Way to Die with Curt Montgomery