Pan Am Games: Eat, Play, Stay
With the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games coming to the Greater Toronto Area this week and bringing with it almost 8,000 athletes, sports fans the world over will focus their gaze on Canada’s biggest city.
Even if you’re not into sports, we’ve got plenty of games you can play. Fortunately, when it comes to hosting, Toronto has hotels that offer up more than just a place to lay your head.
For easy access to the Gardiner Expressway and the QEW to Hamilton venues; University/Spadina subway line to University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre venues; Yonge line to Ryerson University venues, streetcars to Exhibition Place venues; quick taxi ride to Billy Bishop (island) Toronto City Airport.
As we were going to press, Starwood Toronto hotels, The Westin Harbour Castle and the Sheraton Centre Toronto announced joining as proud supporters of the Games. So what does this mean? Well, if you want to rub shoulders with Pan American Sports Organization dignitaries, the Americas Paralympic committee members and see what it’s like to be in the hot bed of a press centre during a world-class sporting event, then these are the two hotels to head to. Besides, the CAA/AAA Four Diamond ranked Westin Harbour Castle now has the Food Network celeb chef Corbin Tomaszeksi at the helm of all of its food offerings, including a very chic, private dining chef’s table. Yum. www.westinharbourcastletoronto.com; www.sheratontoronto.com
Location: In walkable King West Village, near Bathurst and King Streets
Eat: Multi-culti flourish in a nod to the city’s tapestry of nationalities (see recipe below) at The Thomson Diner or Parisian flair at Colette Grand Café.
Play: Cocktails in the Lobby Bar, dancing in the Wildfire Nightclub, a brand-new disco on the lower floors or book the private screening room for a movie
Don’t miss: the Rooftop Lounge, for a 360-degree view of the big city’s bright lights, Lake Ontario and that famous needle in the sky, the CN Tower. The rooftop also features a pool – we’d call that taking a dip with a view (Forbes and CNN have ranked it as must-do in Toronto, too). 416-640-7778; www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/thompson-toronto
Recipe: The Thompson Diner’s Thai Cucumber Chia Salad
60 ml white wine vinegar
40 ml rice wine vinegar
250 ml canola oil
InterContinental Toronto Centre
Location: On Front Street, within walking distance of Union Station, the city’s main transit station and where the new express train will arrive from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
Eat: Azure Restaurant and Bar, featuring Canadian flavours created by chef de cuisine Grace Di Fede (recipe below). To honour the games and their athletes, the restaurant will also be serving up smoothies.
(For the recipe, go to www.everythingzoomer.com/intercontinental-smoothie).
Play: A 10-minute walk to dozens of TV screens at Real Sports Bar & Grill; a tunnel through a tank of tropical fish – and sharks! – at Ripley’s Aquarium; or a beer tasting at Steam Whistle Brewing in Roundhouse Park.
Don’t Miss: Close to the city’s main pro sports and concert venues, such as the Air Canada Centre, the Rogers Centre (for Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Argos action) and a quick cab or streetcar to BMO Field (FC soccer) and Exhibition Stadium (Pan Am rugby matches). 416-597-1400; www.torontocentre.intercontinental.com
Recipe: Ontario Organic Rainbow Trout
With lemongrass & ginger quinoa, arugula and blood orange cream sauce
Blood Orange Cream Sauce
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup white wine
2 cups blood orange frozen fruit purée,
2 cups whipping cream
Salt and pepper
In saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter; sauté shallots and garlic till translucent.
Deglaze with white wine and reduced by half. Add blood orange purée; bring to a boil and reduce by half. Blend in cream and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Purée with hand blender; strain and season to taste.
Recipe: Lemongrass Ginger Quinoa Pilaf
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
4 cloves garlic
½ piece peeled whole ginger
½ carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
For walking access the Varsity Centre events; walk or public transit to Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre events.
Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
Location: On Gerrard Street, a five-minute walk from Yonge-Dundas Square, with its Toronto Eaton Centre shopping, Cineplex Cinemas and Ryerson University.
Play – with the family: This member of the Langham Hospitality Group features the only indoor water slide in the city, perfect for multi-gen families; the main restaurant (Market Garden is elevated cafeteria marché-style dining, so everyone eats what they like.
Don’t Miss: The mixologist’s homemade Bloody Caesar has been touted as the best in the city. And for the wee ones, the Pan Am Games Corner in the Market Garden, where there’ll be competing countries-themed, colourful cupcakes to suit every palate. chelsea.eatonhotels.com
Location: In Yorkville on Bay Street, one of Toronto’s classic shopping and dining districts.
Play – and Eat: The hotel’s dbar features Monday Charcuterie Night, where you can nosh with the locals on a charcuterie board and a glass of wine for $35.
Don’t Miss: Anything. It’s the only hotel in Canada to earn both Forbes 5 stars Travel Guide Five Star rating and AAA 5 Diamond ratings.
Uptown and North
Easy access to Toronto Pearson International Airport and York University venues; highway to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus events and beyond in the east: Ajax, Oshawa; highway access to the west: Hamilton, Welland; and north, where you can catch equestrian events in Caledon.