O Come All Ye With Strollers

This time of year, one of the biggest attractions in Toronto is the Distillery District’s Christmas Market. It’s everything you want it to be – food, alcohol, lights, carolers, Santa and a tree so massive you’ll seriously struggle to fit it in your camera’s viewfinder.

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I usually only go to the market once, but this year I ended up at the market on 3 different days.

Saturday December 6 – Christmas Tree Photoshoot

By the time we got there the actual Market was over (the festivities end at 9pm), but we had plenty of time to take 36 selfies with the Christmas tree.

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Even though most food stands were closed, we managed to squeeze into line for the last holiday grilled cheese sandwich – a savoury combo of turkey, brie and cranberry sauce.

Even after the market closes, there are several restaurants open for food and drinks like Cluny, Pure Spirits Oyster Bar, and El Catrin, which is where we ended up. Unfortunately the service was pretty poor, so while waiting long periods of time for our orders we entertained ourselves with the pretty mural on the wall.

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Sunday December 7 – Doomsday

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to the Christmas Market on a Sunday. It’s when all of suburbia drives in to Toronto, with strollers and all their extended family in tow.

Beware of parents with strollers. They may look warm and maternal but they WILL run over your foot if given the chance; here it’s every man and baby for himself.

In this monstrous crowd, we had no free will in choosing our destination. We passed signs of mulled wine and mulled beer (who knew that was a thing?) and stared longingly as we were swept away by the crowd. You don’t decide where you’re going. The crowd decides. One of my friends was wearing a striped, colourful toque, and this is the one and only reason I didn’t lose them in a sea of gray and black heads.

Fittingly, in the midst of this primal pandemonium, people viciously gnawed on giant turkey legs – it was something right out of the Flintstones.

The day’s highlights happened when we broke away from the crowds for this cheesy photo-op:

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And when we tasted a gourmet s’mores donut.

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Stuffed with marshmallow spread and covered with chocolate sauce, marshmallows and Skor bits. Delicious, even as I lost all feeling in my fingers while eating it.

Wednesday December 17- Chocolatey, Snowy Goodness

I headed to the Distillery after work with a bunch of my lovely co-workers. It started snowing right before we left, making our visit that much more picturesque – dare I say magical?

After years of failed attempts, it was on this day I finally made it to SOMA, known for its velvety, decadent hot chocolate. At first I was disappointed with the size of the cup:

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… but in reality it’s so rich that you don’t need much to satisfy your chocolate monster.

We fawned over the Christmas tree and lights, then tried to get into the Mill Street Brewery. Even on a Wednesday evening it was so busy we were told it would be a 2-hour wait. So we decided to leave the District altogether and go to Betty’s. There I got my first taste of Ass Ale. Yes, that is a real beer.

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(Note – they also have Honker’s Ale. I tried both, because I’m open-minded like that.)

The week of Christmas, there was a long line stretched around the corner just to GET INTO the Distillery District. This is simply ridiculous, and kind of the opposite of the cheery, festive feeling the Market is supposed to induce.

Key takeaways:

-Don’t go on Sundays
-Don’t go near Christmas
-Wear a rainbow hat

Well, this is officially my last post of 2014. I can’t thank you enough for reading along and coming on these little adventures with me. Here’s to all the fun stuff 2015 has in-store!

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