One of the cutest things about Toronto in the summertime is the overflowing parks all over the city. People get together on blankets set down in the grass and talk, play games, and chase after their children. Large sprawls of land that were filled with ice and decay only months before are suddenly bursting with colour and life, and sometimes the more popular parks get so busy that it’s hard to find a spot to sit down yourself! Though it’s not officially summer yet (only a few more days), I couldn’t help but get a little over excited to spend time outdoors, and that’s why this week I’m taking you on a picnic in High Park!
High Park is Toronto’s largest park, and though it doesn’t have a ton of fancy facilities or attractions, it’s a pretty special place. With 399 acres of land, High Park has gardens, forests with trails, an outdoor pool, a massive pond, and one of the biggest dog parks around. For city dwellers who seldom get to escape the concrete and bustle of Toronto life, High Park is truly paradise waiting just a streetcar ride away.
People go to the park for all sorts of reasons, but personally, I’m all about the picnics. I love coming up with a cute, compact meal and packing it all up in a wicker basket to eat outside in the sunshine. This time around, I whipped up some vegan tofuna sandwiches (recipe can be found on my blog here), and a delicious strawberry rose rhubarb soda (scroll down for the recipe!) I finished the lunch off with some fresh strawberries, and a delicious fruit and granola chocolate bar that I got at the Mast Brothers factory in Brooklyn.
With everything packed up in my picnic basket and ready to go, I headed for the park. I’m usually not a big fan of red (I’m more of a pink girl), but picnics just works with red, and one way or another, all of my picnic supplies ended up being of the rosy variety. With this colour palette already pre-determined, I picked out a flirty daisy print skirt with pearl buttons, and a white lacy bralette by For Love and Lemons, and paired them with a Fieldguided tote and a red glittery Ban.do heart hair pin. Alongside my minty blue hair, my ensemble felt a little bit all-American, like a 4th of July picnic in June!
After my dog Honey and I had agreed on a spot to settle, we unfurled the blanket and spent the afternoon snacking and lazing about in the sunshine. The park was relatively quiet, and there was definitely some magic swirling around in the warm air. It was so nice to turn something simple and necessary like lunch time into a fun adventure; why not give it a try yourself this weekend?
Strawberry Rose Rhubarb Syrup for Soda
1 cup chopped rhubarb 3/4 cup chopped strawberries 1/2 cup cane sugar (plus a little extra) 1/2 cup water A few drops of rosewater or rose syrup (to taste)
Chop up the strawberries and rhubarb and toss them with some cane sugar (until coated) in a heavy bottomed pot. Leave to sit for about 20 minutes while you prepare your other picnic snacks, then add water, the rest of the sugar, and place the pot on the stove at medium-high heat.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat slightly and cook for about 15 minutes (until rhubarb is very soft). Remove the syrup from the stove and either strain it to remove the fruit pulp, or leave them in (I kept some pulp in the syrup, then used the rest as jam the next morning on my toast with a pinch of lemon juice, and it was delightful!)
Once the syrup has cooled slightly, add your rose. I used a few drops of rosewater from Whole Foods, but BYOB (just down the road from Bicyclette) has a selection of Rose Syrups that would also work nicely if pure rosewater is hard to come by.
Once you’re happy with the rosiness of your delicious new syrup, enjoy it in sparkling water (as I did), or on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and even baked brie!
‘Take Me Out’ is a new blog series collaboration between Toronto blogger Alyssa, of Random Acts of Pastel and Bicyclette, where she takes her favourite Bicyclette pieces on adventures throughout the city, and brings you along!
[photos: Brianne Burnell]