Foodie Paradise

Aug 13, 2013 by

The famous (at least, in my mind) cheese wall!

The famous (at least, in my mind) cheese wall!

          Frustrated by my personally enforced restrictions, on Sunday, there was seemingly nothing amusing to do without overriding my usual spending budget (not an option) or indulging in unhealthy foods (also not cool – even though I was feverishly craving food truck eats and every chocolate and peanut butter concoction imaginable). Unbelievably bitter at both my bank account and my health standards, I persistently Googled in pursuit of epic ideas to no feasible results. This wasn’t surprising, with all of my searches being variations of “food events Toronto” and “chocolate peanut butter Toronto,” neither of which I honestly expected to yield free nor healthy findings.

          Determined not to let poordom and wellness hold up my Sunday, I began thinking more creatively. After all, I’m living The Happiness Experiment. I refused to accept that there was nothing to entertain me that appeased my financial and health guidelines. I’m a champ at uncovering awesome things to do on a tight budget. I’ve also successfully survived on healthy food substitutes without feeling deprived for over three years. I didn’t need extravagance; I just wanted to have some fun. I could totes rock Sunday.

          With my stomach quickly shrinking to the size of a pea, I definitely wanted to do something food related, and I wanted to do it for $10 or less. Restaurants were out. Patios were out. Events were out. (I could barely afford event cover. Never mind the food upon entering.) Then, it dawned on me: the grocery store – an array of foods at eat-at-home prices. Not just any grocery store, though, oh no: Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens! Once before, I had walked into this food lover’s dream. I had by chance parked there during a marketing program, a year and a half ago. I remember taking the escalator through what felt like the clouds of heaven, as I looked up in amazement at the sights before me: exorbitant selections of food with sections specifically dedicated to specialty cupcakes, macarons, breads, salads, nuts, etc, etc, etc. I was in absolute awe. I promised myself that I’d go back one day, when I didn’t have to rush off to manage a brand execution. While some may find the idea of going to Loblaws for fun laughably boring, I assure you, it was not.

          A foodie’s paradise, this store houses a high-soaring cheese wall. A cheese wall, friends! Yes, an entire wall of cheese! Regular shoppers of Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens likely found my shrieks of excitement at the site of smoked cheddar, French brie, and German walnut cheeses incredibly strange and annoying. (Sucks to be them!) I felt like Cinderella at the Prince’s ball – astonished by the unfathomable pleasures of the rich. I was blown away by the idea of people shopping there regularly. I dread grocery shopping, but if I could afford to shop there, I would do it everyday! This place was magical. Amongst the whimsical array of pastel coloured cookies, the whipped icings upon cakes, and the maple infused breads, I chose to spend my time acquainting myself with the worldly cheeses that sat elegantly on display behind glass. Invited to taste any cheese that I wanted, I took advantage. The girl slicing delicate slivers before me was as excited as I was, allowing me to sample seven plus different kinds, suggesting her favourites. French brie with truffle? Melt me! I’ve dreamed of getting on a plane for truffle-filled brie, not knowing that it existed outside of France. It does, friends, it really does.

Cheese picnic, featuring (from left to right) French brie with truffle, Yorkshire Wensleydale with cranberries, and Applewood smoked cheddar

Cheese picnic, featuring (from left to right) French brie with truffle, Yorkshire Wensleydale with cranberries, and Applewood smoked cheddar

          Falling apart over the different flavours, Olivia and I selected our top three: French brie with truffle (obviously), Applewood smoked cheddar (phenomenal), and Yorkshire Wensleydale with cranberries (tastes like Christmas). Combined with a loaf of bread, we paid just under $20 total or $10 each, keeping me within budget. We took our warm, freshly baked bread and cheese treasures to a patch of grass on the side of a road for an incredible cheese picnic, proving that it takes little more than determination to turn simplicity into adventure on the cheap.

          On the topic of transforming a little into a lot, check out 5 Steps to Living on a Twenty for creative solutions to nightlife by the broke. I literally laughed out loud reading it, making my roommate pause what she was doing to ask what I was doing. Coming from a happy chick with a busy social calendar living on a $75-per-two-weeks spending budget, the poor person’s version of something can be infinitely cooler than its rich-bitch counterpart. Everyone has stories of doing life up big. Can everyone say that they’ve searched for nickels between couch cushions at the mall (true story) or that they’ve (spoiler alert!) profited from the thirst of underage drinkers? Those, my friends, are memories.

Happiness Tip: Keep it simple.

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