DSC08861-3Kōst | 80 Blue Jays Way | ★★★★ | $$$

The warm weather has finally arrived to Toronto, meaning all of the winter hermits (read: me) are crawling out of their hibernation dens, stretching their stiff limbs, and are ready to reconnect with old friends and explore the city’s gems once again.

Kōst is the BISHA Hotel’s 44th floor rooftop restaurant. The food is Baja-Mexican, and the space is absolutely beautiful. The hotel itself is still relatively new, having opened last September. In the warmer months, the doors to the patio open up to the pool and bar, offering unreal views of the city and the CN Tower. I can’t stress how valuable it is to begin your meal here while the sun is still shining so you get the full experience of the restaurant’s design and great location. Kōst is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Kōst has “sunset hour” every day from 4-7pm – buck a shuck and half-priced wine. Our reservation was at 6:30pm, so when our server came around and told us to act fast, we acted fast. Who can say no to dollar oysters and cheap wine!?

The interior design of this restaurant is every Cali-lover’s dream. Bright and airy, filled with light warm wood and punches of white, green, and blue. It’s the perfect aesthetic. The restaurant also opens up to a beautiful full-perimeter patio in the summer months, featuring the BISHA Hotel’s Instagram-famous pool and a bar. The Thompson Hotel has some stiff competition here.

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After the oysters, we started with the ahi tuna ceviche (very refreshing) and the littleneck clams (made with a mezcal broth). For our shared mains, we split the dry-aged ribeye (the truffle crema is to. die. for.), the ricotta agnolotti, and a side of broccolini. My only wish was for the agnolotti to come in a bigger portion. I could have eaten four plates of that alone.

For dessert, we shared the tres leche cake and the chocolate molten lava cake. As expected, the lava cake was extremely rich and decadent, but the tres leche cake was a masterpiece. I could have eaten a whole 16″x24″ pan of just that cake.

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Overall, we really enjoyed the food and the service was very friendly. We had so much catching up to do after not seeing each other for so long that our meal spanned 4 hours. It was a perfect night.

I absolutely can’t wait to come back soon in the warmer months – both for the food and the incredible views of the city.

Every month, my friends and I try a different restaurant in Toronto that we’ve never been to before in search of great food and delicious drinks. Have a recommendation for us to try? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, Yayoi Kusama

Last week, I had the chance to check out Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. These tickets had been hard to come by; my opportunity to attend was only thanks to a good friend at work. Otherwise, I was always 492,915th in the queue every time a new block of tickets were released online.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Kusama’s work and Torontonians have spent months eagerly awaiting the exhibit’s grand opening. I had only ever spied Kusama’s work from the lucky few who had visited The Broad in Los Angeles and shared their mystifying images of The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away on Instagram. More than anything, I wanted to know if standing in the middle of a dark room surrounded by what really seems like an infinite number of twinkling lights would be as magical a feeling as I’d imagined. (Spoiler alert: it was.)

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Our timed entry to the exhibit was late on a Friday afternoon, but you are guaranteed to wait 15 to 20 to 30 minutes in line for each infinity room, regardless of the time and day of week you went. Once inside, you’ll have 20-30 seconds. Most rooms only accept groups of 3 at a time (never just one person), so get ready for a single-rider-style line and to make new friends for about 30 seconds at each room.

This is my only criticism of the exhibit, which has absolutely nothing to do with the exhibit or the AGO, and has everything to do with the power of PR and buzz-worthy art. 30 seconds is not enough time to truly absorb a piece of work. I envy the AGO employees who have almost certainly snuck into the rooms after closing and spent more than a minute in each one.

My recommendation is to carve out at least 3 hours to experience the exhibit in full – this includes the infinity rooms and assorted art pieces hung on the walls throughout the experience. Plus, once you’re in, you’re in until closing. If there’s a room you really love and you’re not in a rush to leave, why not line up again to experience the room once more?

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Still, when you’re in good company, the waits never feel too arduous. And the exhibit provides small snippets to read and quotes to ponder over as you stand in line, learning about Kusama’s life, her inspirations, and her complicated relationship with sex (read: fear of). My friends and I were surprised by the amount of phallic imagery in Kusama’s work (granted, this was only a surprise because we hadn’t done much research prior to the trip). It did bring to the forefront that everybody’s relationship with sex is different. And we thought “tubers” was a funny word.

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Phalli’s Field, Yayoi Kusama

My favourite rooms were definitely the dark cosmic ones, which literally transport you into space and onto a different plane. I could feel my soul expanding beyond the reaches of the room and into the deep depths of the mirrors. The real sense of endlessness was freeing.

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Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, Yayoi Kusama

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Life (Repetitive Vision), Yayoi Kusama

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Love Forever, Yayoi Kusama

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Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots, Yayoi Kusama

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Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots, Yayoi Kusama

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At the end, you’ll have a chance to make your own mark on an infinity room. Each guest is given a sheet of polka dot stickers and you have free reign to stick them anywhere you’d like. You can even sit on the dotted furniture. As someone who’s always compelled to touch things in museums, this room really tickled my fancy.

DSC08832-2The Obliteration Room, Yayoi Kusama

Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit is on at the AGO until May 27th, 2018. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, it’s worth the fantasmic pop art stimulation to the senses.

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I started the year with the intention to bloom. And while this evidently didn’t take place here on the website (where I’ve neglected to post anything since February, oops), a lot has happened elsewhere in life that has made me pretty proud of my 2017 achievements.

I’ve had an incredibly busy year, and oftentimes that has meant being so busy I’ve had to consistently work at the office late into the evening and sometimes on the weekend. For the last few months, I haven’t been home long enough or been awake enough when I was there to cook myself a proper meal (hello, long list of Ritual take-out order receipts). But, oh, did I mention that “home” is now a condo downtown where I live on my own? Yep, the big move finally happened. A lot of decorating work still needs to be done, but I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Oh, and another thing… just a few months into the new year, I was promoted at work. And I have a wonderful team and an amazing boss who supports and champions me every day. I’ve also been working on a super cool project that’s launching soon. To top it all off, I still love what I do. The long hours are worth it.

Speaking of things I love to do, it was a big year when it comes to my passion for acting. I went out for my first real audition, which was a huge achievement, since I’ve been putting it off for years. That audition landed me a web series role. In September, because I have incredibly generous friends, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with Toronto talent when I attended my first TIFF parties. All that led to one of my biggest accomplishments from this year: I wrote my first short film script and I plan on bringing it to life in the coming months.

Beyond that, I’ve made new friendships this year (shout out to my #LakeOfBabes squad), received the great news that two of my best friends got engaged (separately, not to each other – I’m overjoyed and terrified at the same time; when did we grow up?), went to New York twice, and flew all the way to Asia to visit Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong (where I ate everything in sight and got to spend quality time with family I never get to see).

I wanted 2017 to be about growing into the efforts I had sown in 2016, to see them flourish and to work towards being my best self. This is a journey that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully complete, but I think I made great headway this year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

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Last week, I stopped by the Everyday Allergen-Free kitchen (i.e. Amanda’s condo) to help review another cookbook. Like the last time I had been invited over to do this, I was looking forward to trying a few new dishes and collecting a little inspiration for my own cooking. I’m not a big recipe person (except when it comes to baking), so I often eat the same short list of things cooked and assembled in the easiest way possible. I’m lucky I have friends like Amanda to remind myself that cooking can be fun.

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We prepared three dishes together from Meike Peters’ Eat In My Kitchen – read on about our Tuesday night cooking adventure over on Everyday Allergen-Free. As for the little nuggets of inspiration I drew from the evening? I discovered that I really enjoy cooked fennel, and rediscovered that oranges are delicious. Yum.

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Amanda at Everyday Allergen-Free

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The most exciting part of the new year is declaring my annual mantra. It sets the stage for the next twelve months and gives me something to check back in with when I’m faced with a decision or having a hard time. I’ve always felt that this has been more helpful than creating a laundry list of resolutions. New Year’s resolutions have become meaningless and easy to forget. A mantra, simple and straightforward, gives me purpose.

I’ve been on vacation for the last ten days, spending most of my time eating, sleeping, Netflixing, and regenerating. I was having an incredibly stressful time leading up to the holidays, so the time off has been an absolute godsend. I can feel that my body and my mind have been healing, preparing to be stronger and ready to take on new challenges. This invigorating feeling made my new mantra clear.

2017’s going to be my year to bloom.

I’ve sown many seeds this past year – in my career, in my personal life, in my creative passions. They were borne of the dedication and hard work I urged myself to give. But now that I’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to build, to grow, to nurture, and to soak up life’s beauty so that I may embody it.

The next twelve months will be about flourishing, evolving, and expanding into the full potential each opportunity has. It’ll be about becoming my best self, and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys.