Streetcar Developments Upper Beaches Tour

I had the opportunity to attend a tour of this lovely neighborhood called “The Upper Beaches" about two weeks ago. The neighborhood had an abundance of small and indie shops, and there was a sense of belonging to a community, as shop owners and locals knew one another. I joined a small group of bloggers, and we visited a couple of the shops in the neighborhood, where we got to meet and chat with the respective local business owners. We also traveled in style - in a limo.

The evening started with a visit to The Southwood Presentation Centre designed by Streetcar Developments; a Toronto-based real estate developer. The company designed a variety of contemporary urban homes, and The Southwood is one of their latest ones. The Southwood is a new "community tailored to urbanites, devoted east-enders and modern families located in the Upper Beaches." The neighborhood is great as it's easily accessible by TTC, and there are tons of shops, cafe, schools, and parks all within the vicinity of one another. At the end, we were all gifted with a fantastic picnic bag filled with everything needed for a perfect picnic. Streetcar Developments have definitely helped to shape the neighborhood's evolution, and helped to create a strong yet tight-knit community.

The second stop on our tour was to a lovely art gallery called Yellow House Gallery. It's a new art gallery in The Beaches area, and located in the heart of Kingston Road Village. The gallery aims to showcase a lot of local and regional artworks from emerging and established artists. It's owned and operated by Christina Kostoff, who is an alumna of the Art Institute of Chicago. We were lucky enough to visit on a day where some of her artworks were on display on the wall. Yellow House Gallery also hosts exhibitions, and special events such as artist talks, lectures, workshops and neighborhood gatherings. 

The Art of Cheese was our next stop; it's a cheese shop that opened its door in 2007. It's owned and operated by Bill Miller who is known around The Beaches area as "the grand fromage". Bill was full of energy, and was completely passionate when talking about the variety of cheeses that the store had to offer. The Art of Cheese specializes in Canadian cheeses, but they also carry European & international classics and specialty cheeses that are not found in the typical grocery stores. Bill was kind enough to prepared us with some samples of an Italian cheese called San de Oro, a raw cow's milk cheese made in the Grappa of North Eastern Italy. The wine selected to complement the cheese was a 2011 East Dell Estates Black Label Shiraz from Diamond Estates.

Next up was a visit to Collected Joy; a local shop "dedicated to the ongoing discovery and collection of beautiful things." The shop is filled with plenty of items that would make perfect gifts, such as small-batch and locally made quality gifts, jewelry, cards, stationery, pottery, and glassware. Owner, Sharon Smyl, left her corporate job as a marketing director, to open a shop filled with wonderful things that she personally loves, and wants to introduce to her customers. Many of the items found in the shop are also locally made and sourced. 

We were served homemade guacamole made with using La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde, which was made locally in Toronto.  It's super easy to make guacamole with the jar of this sauce, as all you need is 6-8 ripe avocados, freshly squeezed lime juice, pinch of salt, and a jar of La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde which is available at Collected Joy. Lastly, we quenched our thirst with ice tea made with Toronto-based Sloane Fine Teas. Thank you to Sharon for gifting us with a jar of "That's My Jam!" - marmalades are made by Maggie Fruitman in Riverdale.

We made a quick pit stop to The Stone Pizza; a local pizzeria that specializes in eight house-made pizzas with customizable toppings. They pride themselves on making everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients, as they don't even have a freezer on-site. We tried three of their pizzas; The Apple Jack, The Margherita, and The Me-Ted. 

The Apple Jack - vintage cheddar, caramelized onions, grilled apples, arugula and herbed oil
The Me-Ted - grilled sausage, smoked bacon, vintage cheddar, and tomato sauce
The Margherita - roma tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, Bononcini, and balsamic
We stopped by The Beech Tree for a quick dinner; it's a restaurant along Kingston Road offering traditional pub fare. Robert Maxwell, owner, quit his job as a former analyst, to open up his own restaurant after realizing his culinary dreams. Despite being a first-time restaurateur, he has succeeded in creating a warm space where people could enjoy "comforting and accessible food made with good ingredients and flair." The Beech Tree specializes in creating from-scratch dishes that are made with locally sourced ingredients, and providing customers with an exceptional dining experience. I liked that the menu incorporate inspirations from British, Italian, and French cuisines, but they do add a more Ontario-centric interpretations of these dishes.

London Calling - London dry gin, Pimms, St. Germain Elder flower liquour, lemon juice, garnished with a lemon twist, and rosemary, and House-infused hot pepper tequila margarita with fresh Ontario peach puree, salt/sugar rim
Gnocchi - The gnocchi is house-made traditionally with potato, tossed with a sweet corn puree, and garnished with marinated zucchini, feta, and a fennel bread crumble
Charcuterie Board - Everything on the charcuterie board was made in house; pork rillettes, the pork and walnut terrine, pork and herb terrine, the air-cured duck ham, chicken liver parfait, apricot chutney, and turmeric Dijon

Short Rib - 36 hour sous-vide short rib with deep-fried broccoli, sherry vinegar, and roasted king oyster mushroom, topped with a caper and raisin dressing
 Walking along the Glen Stewart was part of the plan, but it was too dangerous as it got dark pretty fast. However, if you're every around the area, definitely check out the Glen Stewart; a 11-hectare ravine with plants and bird life all around. 

We did get the chance to encounter Steve Sanna who owns Sanna's Farmacia Juice Bar. Sanna's Farmacia is an organic juice bar located on Queen St East that offers potions, elixirs, detox programs, power drinks, smoothies, and juices. All of the cold pressed juice available at the store are made using only organic ingredients to ensure that you're getting all of the right nutrients. To make his products more accessible to people, owner, Steve Sanna, also drives around on his mobile bike in the neighborhood.

I had a great time exploring the neighborhood of Upper Beaches, and definitely discovered some really nice gems. Many thanks to Streetcar Developments for being a great host, and Rock-It-Promotions for the opportunity.

Disclaimer: The food and products provided in this post were complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Sanna's Farmacia Juicebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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