Traveling and Toronto
After two years of working in a full time job and living in an – in my opinion very nice – apartment, I felt the time had come to quit all of it and go traveling again. So, having canceled all the contracts and stored some boxes in a storage space in Barcelona, it is just me and my backpack here in Canada. It is the most amazing feeling to have this sense of freedom, to be able to go where you want to go, be inspired by new places, and meet new people every day. Of course, there are also things to get used to again; on the one hand you´re constantly surrounded by people in the hostels, but on the other hand solo travel has its lonely and stressful moments as well. And, there is no private kitchen to cook your meals. One day you might be in a hostel with awesome equipment and free herbs and spices, and the next day you can find yourself in a place with just one pan and a stove that doesn´t quite heat up. So not surprisingly, I always see a lot of people falling back to one-minute noodles and soup from a can. And there´s nothing wrong with that, once in a while. But since it is important to me to eat fresh and, more or less, healthy food, I did decide to start adding some hostel-proof recipes here. Because after all, going out for dinner every evening can be quite expensive, especially in a country like Canada (and let´s not even start about the price of a glass of wine).
So regarding my trip, after I left Barcelona I first flew to London and staid there for the night. Just in a hotel at the airport. With meat-pie, chips, and peas for dinner. Accompanied by a very popular – and in my opinion very stupid – reality show. After this evening of high-class culture I continued to Toronto the next morning. And honestly, after the flight it was nice to be in the hostel, quite a cozy place with a decent kitchen and a supermarket nearby. All I wanted at that moment was a big plate of pasta and a good sleep after. The first part worked out well. But when I was just in bed, I was woken up by the fire alarm. The dorm was on the 9th floor, and my roommates and I were wondering for a moment what was going on. Then we went down all the stairs and saw four large firefighter cars outside, and several firefighters with full equipment and big axes going into the hostel. Welcome to Canada! Fortunately, nothing was really wrong. I still don´t know why the alarm went off, but after half an hour of standing outside in the snow in my flipflops we could go back up again.
The days that followed I had plenty of time to discover the city. Toronto is actually nicer than I expected it to be. It is in a way very American, with a large business district and a lot of high-rise. Even though this makes for an impressive skyline when you go to Toronto Island, that is just in front of the city on lake Ontario, it is not my preferred style for a city. But then there are the areas like Chinatown and Korea town, where you can find amazing food. And Queen street west, where the houses are smaller and older and have some quirky boutiques and cafes. And of course the St Lawrence market, the pride of food-lovers from the city. It is a large market building with a combination of fresh food and restaurants, where I did have some good lunches. And like this I found some more nice areas in the city, and started to like Toronto.
Spicy bacon and tomato pasta
This is one of the dishes I make very often in hostels. The first reason is simple, I love pasta and this is a warming and hearty dish. Also, you don´t need many ingredients or tools. And finally, you can also make this when there is no olive oil, or other cooking oil, available and you don´t feel like buying oil for just one evening.
Ingredients (for two)
- 6 thick rashes of bacon
- A small onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A small dried chilli
- 6 large tomatoes
- 2 heaped teaspoons of oregano (if available, or otherwise other herbs)
- 200 to 300 grams of spaghetti
First of all, chop the bacon and the onion in small pieces. Mince the garlic, and also chop to tomatoes. Regarding the tomatoes, you can leave the skin on but it´s good to make sure the pieces are small so that you won´t notice this in the sauce.
Place a frying pan over medium fire and add the bacon. Let this heat up until the fat comes out of the bacon and it starts frying. Add the onion as well as a pinch of salt. If there is a lot of fat in the bacon, scoop the surplus of fat out of the pan. When the onion is soft and the bacon starts turning golden brown, add the garlic and crumble the dried chilli in. Fry this until you start to smell the garlic. Then add the tomatoes and oregano to the pan. If you happen to have some wine, you can add a bit as well. Leave the sauce on a low fire, and if possible cover the pan while the sauce is simmering away.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. When it boils, cook the spaghetti until it´s al dente. Taste the sauce that has been simmering all this time. Try if you need some extra salt, this really depends on the bacon that you used. When the spaghetti is ready, drain it and mix it through the sauce.
Enjoy, and hopefully you´ll have a good glass of wine and some nice people to talk to.