Wahlburgers Grand Opening in Toronto

Delicious food paired with a fun, vibrant atmosphere -- that’s the charm of the cleverly named Wahlburgers, a burger joint owned by the Wahlberg brothers. That’s right -- actor Mark Wahlberg, actor and New Kids on the Block singer Donnie Wahlberg, and their chef brother Paul are behind the family operated franchise where great burgers meets sports bar diner.

On Saturday, Wahlburgers officially launched their first Canadian location at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto with a grand opening. Complete with a green carpet (their signature colour), the event drew in throngs of screaming fans that had lined up for hours outside the restaurant. Unfortunately, Mark had to cancel last minute due to work commitments, but Paul and Donnie were on hand to greet the fans and media, along with Donnie’s blushing new bride, Jenny McCarthy.

I had the pleasure of meeting Donnie and Jenny at the private party afterwards, where the down-to-earth couple mingled and posed for pictures with guests. Sneaking in hugs and kisses every chance they got, they were oozing sweet newlywed bliss.
I had been salivating over the anticipation of their burgers all day, and luckily for me they did not disappoint. Bursting with simple yet big flavours, Wahlburgers are synonymous with comfort and succulence -- just what a good burger should be. My favourite is Marky Mark’s creation, a Thanksgiving burger filled with ground turkey, stuffing, butternut squash, mayo, and an orange cranberry sauce. Its sweet and savoury combination makes it an instant winner. Another much loved item on their menu are their sweet potato tots that are deep-fried to perfection and highly addicting. My tastebuds are happy to know that poutine is also in the works.

With a successful location in Hingham, Massachusetts and more Canadian openings at Pearson airport, Ottawa and Waterloo next year, Wahlburgers is proving to be more than just a famous name with handsome faces attached. It’s a true burger joint that will have fans and foodies coming back for more.  


Afternoon Tea at the Tea Room Gunners Barracks


As you can tell from these past experiences here and here, I have a penchant for the luxurious ritual that is afternoon tea. Sipping loose leaf tea, indulging in dainty and delightful food, all the while dolled up in your most prim and proper attire -- everything about afternoon tea squeals, well, me. When I first arrived in Sydney, I went for afternoon tea with my cousin -- the perfect celebratory welcoming into the city.  

Housed in a beautiful historical building, the Tea Room at Gunners Barracks offers a traditional afternoon tea served in oh-so-pretty vintage china (another weakness of mine). We sat on the terrace, chatting and munching away for hours, the spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour sparkling in the background.

The menu features the usual teatime fares: finger sandwiches, mini cakes, sweet and savoury pastries -- all delectable and beautifully made. But for me, the shining star was arguably my favourite part of afternoon tea: warm, buttery scones. Wonderfully golden brown on the outside, soft and crumbly on the inside -- smeared with a nice layer of clotted cream and raspberry jam and I was in heaven. The British would approve, and it definitely won this Canadian girl over.


Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens

Everywhere you look, beauty surrounds us. Sometimes it’s so strikingly palpable; other times it can touch us in a subtle, more subdued way. The beauty of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney boasts a balance of the two -- its stunning splendour leaves you in awe, from the vast oasis of the lush greenery to the intimate details, colours and textures of the flowers and plants. Situated at the edge of Sydney Harbour, the gardens are home to an impressive collection of plants from Australia and overseas. 

I walked around the garden for hours, taking in the natural beauty at every turn and breathing in the fresh garden air. I’ve never seen such stunning and exotic plants, nor experienced a more relaxing and serene stroll. I ventured all the way up the hill, overlooking the incredible views of the harbour -- the perfect way to cap off the day.