Yum, yum: Yogurty’s froyo

It didn’t take us long for us to hustle down the street when we heard a new frozen yogurt shop had set up in our ‘hood! Today we give you the scoop on Yogurty’s, where you can get soft-serve, serve-yourself frozen yogurt, a.k.a. the latest and greatest place for a cool treat in the city. 

The cute shop at 652 Queen Street West.

The hook at Yogurty’s is that you get to serve yourself, choosing exactly what you want. Start with the yogurt from the soft-serve machines lining the walls. Choose from a variety of delicious flavours, including banana split, peanut butter, red velvet, vanilla and chocolate. There’s also a “twist” handle for a combination of two from one machine!

Anticipating a first taste of Yogurtys.

Next, stroll past the toppings bar and create the ultimate sundae from your childhood fantasies. Fixin’s include fresh fruit, nuts, candies, coconut, chocolate, cookies, cheesecake bits, sprinkles… all the usual suspects, plus many more.

This topping bar is dazzling.

Don’t get too excited by all the toppings: you’re paying by weight! Once you’ve finished, the lovely cashiers will weigh your customized creation and tell you exactly how much you owe.

Dessert by weight.

This delicious sundae (tart and red velvet yogurt, topped with strawberries, kiwi, peanuts & fresh coconut) cost around $5:

Red velvet + fresh fruit = love.

The verdict from the fourth floor? Love! Nearly all of us have made the pilgrimage down the street at least once. This treat isn’t too damaging for your waistline either: all the yogurts are non-fat or low-fat, with calorie counts starting around 35/cal per oz. Just watch your toppings (opt for fruit), and you’re good!

Our only complaint? It definitely takes a while. We stopped by on a (beautiful & sunny) Thursday afternoon, and there were about 6 people in line. To move each person through the line, making their selections and serving themselves takes some time. Not sure how that will work out in the middle of a heatwave in the summer, once the word spreads. Despite that, it’s a definite must-go and we think it’s worth the wait. The yogurt is delicious, store and toppings bar are clean, and the staff is friendly and helpful.

Getting a chocolate fix.
Not in our neighbourhood? Not a problem! According to their website, there are a ton of locations opening across Toronto, including Bathurst & Bloor, Bloor West Village, Liberty Village, The Beaches, and more. Make sure you stop by! Say hi to the rock-it promo staff when you inevitably bump into us indulging in an afternoon treat. 🙂

Find them on Twitter @yogurtys or Facebook here.


My ‘Hood: Lisa

Some of you may recall reading my original My ‘Hood post, when I wrote about the Fourth Floor’s neck of the woods. I moved recently, so now I’m sharing some of my favourite places around my new ‘hood: Dupont and Lansdowne.

My place is a short walk from the Corso Italia stretch of St. Clair West, and on weekends I like to hit up Tre Mari Bakery (1311 St. Clair Ave. W.). Family-run for more than 50 years, this bakery/grocery store makes amazing bread and pastries. I like to sit down inside with an espresso or cappuccino and a treat, and read the newspaper or people-watch as shoppers come and go. I usually end up leaving with bread, cheese and olives in tow.

Old school shot of Tre Mari Bakery.

When the weather is nice, I take a walk with my dogs to Earlscourt Park, a 36-acre park with soccer fields, a baseball diamond, a wading pool and an outdoor ice rink. Bordered by St. Clair West and Davenport to the north and south, and Caledonia and Lansdowne to the west and east, the park also has an outdoor track that I like to run on sometimes. Plus, La Paloma (1357 St. Clair Ave. W.) is steps away; hello gelato.

My walking pals, Angel and Roxy.

Speaking of my dogs… while not in my immediate neighbourhood, my new favourite dog groomer isn’t too far away on St. Clair West, just west of Bathurst at Pinewood Avenue. I recently discovered Woof and Shloof, an eco-friendly and cage-free grooming, daycare and dog training company. The owner, Jesse Sternberg, is great and answered all my questions with patience, and I felt good leaving my dogs in his care. My dogs look adorable after their haircuts and baths, and they had fun chillin’ with the other pooches while they waited for me to pick them up. I haven’t tried their daycare or training services yet, but I’m thinking of checking out both very soon.

I like to meet friends for dinner at Marcello’s Pizzeria  (1163 St. Clair Ave. W.). Try the Diavola pizza if you like spicy; it’s topped with tomato sauce, mozarella, hot soppresatta, hot peppers, onions and black olives. The pasta is great here too.

Marcello’s interior.

Keeping with the Latin flavour theme, I recently tried a new-ish Mexican resto, Guacamole Mexican Bistro (1216 St. Clair Ave. W.). Totally in love with their Pescado a la Veracruzana – tilapia filet cooked with tomatoes, olives, chiles, green pepper, capers, herbs and garlic. They also make amazing homemade complimentary tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa. Awesome food, great service, well-priced.

What are your favourite spots in this area? Tweet us @rockitpromo or comment below.

City Living: Toronto facts

We live and learn – some days more than others. Today we uncover some facts about our fair city of Toronto and tell you a few things we’re pretty sure you didn’t know.
  • Who makes them? Poppies in Canada used to be manufactured by disabled veterans in Vetcraft shops but today are made by Toronto-based company Dominion Regalia Ltd.
  • The nickname “Hogtown” comes from Toronto’s historical roots as a huge pork processor, most notably with the William Davies Company. He died after being butted by a goat.

    Image courtesy of blogTO. 
    • Yonge Street is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world, stretching 1,896 kilometres from the lakeshore in Toronto, north to Rainy River, Ontario, near the Minnesota border.

    • Toronto has more than 8,000 restaurants and 35,000 hotel rooms. 

    • The Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto (AKA Caribana) parade is the largest single-day parade and largest Caribbean festival in North America.

      • Toronto is known to be haunted! The top five haunted buildings are:
      1. Old City Hall 
      2. The Royal York Hotel  
      3. Keg Mansion  
      4. The Guild Inn
      5. The Old Don Jail  
      • One of the University of Toronto’s most successful Second World War inventions came from the botany department: they substituted kapok (a sort of cotton tree found in Central and South America) in life jackets with the fibrous parts of milkweed, making them less expensive and faster to produce. Troops nicknamed life jackets “Mae West’s” for their resemblance to her voluptuous figure.
      • Most people know Yorkville used to be hippie central, but did you know that it was a burial ground before that? Those who couldn’t afford a church burial would head underground here. The remains were removed in the late 1800s, but some continue to turn up in construction projects.

      Leave us a comment and let us know if you have any interesting facts about our city to add to this list.

        City Living: Mixology 101 at BYOB Cocktail Emporium

        We love a good cocktail. We’re not talking Cosmopolitan’s either – we mean real, get-that-cranberry-juice-away-from-me cocktails. So when we heard that BYOB Cocktail Emporium (972 Queen St. W.) would be hosting a Mixology 101 class featuring the four standards – The Old Fashioned, The Manhattan, The Martini and The Daiquiri – we eagerly signed up.

        Led by master mixologist Trevor Burnett, we learned the ins and outs of the cocktail, from its inception, to prohibition, to its many (often inferior) modern-day imitations (we’re looking at you, Appletini).

        Mixology 101 is not the place to be shy. Burnett called on participants, awarding each helper with a piece of cocktail paraphernalia. You’d think putting a bunch of things in a glass and stirring would be easy, but there really is an art to the construction of a cocktail. Read on to learn how you can become your own favourite bartender.

        Making a good Old Fashioned requires patience and orange Angostura bitters.

        The Old Fashioned
        • Fill glass with ice.
        • Soak one sugar cube in 12 drops of orange bitters.
        • Muddle cube.
        • Squeeze orange zest (from the peel – not the white stuff) into the glass and let drop.
        • Add 1.5 oz. of bourbon.
        • Add 1.5 oz. of soda water.
        • Give the drink a slow stir. Don’t “bruise the spirits”.
        • Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

        The original Manhattan was made with bourbon, but was switched to rye during Prohibition when Canadian Club was smuggled into the US (seen Boardwalk Empire yet?).

        The Manhattan
        • Chill glass until cold to the touch.
        • Fill a Yarai glass (or something similar) with ice.
        • Add a 1 oz. of both sweet and dry vermouth and stir.
        • Add 2 oz. of bourbon and stir.
        • Add cherry juice or liqueur and stir.
        • Strain into chilled glass and garnish with a cherry.

        The secret to a perfect martini is in the stirring – don’t shake so hard! Be gentle. And if you like your martini dry, try coating your ice in vermouth and then straining before adding vodka or gin.

        The Martini
        • Pack your shaker ¾ full with ice.
        • Pour dry vermouth into the ice and stir.
        • Drain vermouth and keep the ice in the shaker.
        • Add 2 oz. vodka and stir.
        • Strain into martini glass and add lemon zest or olive.

        The daiquiri was a hit with the class, thanks to Burnett’s homemade strawberry syrup. We’ll never be satisfied with the slushy version again.

        The Daiquiri
        • Fill shaker with ice.
        • Add 2 oz. white Rum.
        • Add ¾ oz. fresh lime juice.
        • Add ¼ oz. simple or flavoured syrup.
        • Shake and strain into glass.
        Of course, it’s always important to use proper glassware when serving cocktails – presentation counts. BYOB has a great selection of curated vintage glassware along with everything you need to create these cocktails at home.

        Owner Kristen Voisey said the next Mixology class will take place early in the new year with plans for some specialized classes as well (Tiki drinks, please!). Participants pay $45 and can expect to get hands-on training and samples of each drink.  For more information about BYOB (including hours) and updates on Mixology classes, check out their Facebook page

        Happy gnome.

        Bottoms up!

        Media, Darling: Mackay Taggart

        Mackay Taggart lives for early mornings, if for no other reason than the excessive napping they permit.  After getting his start as a high school radio intern and part-time traffic reporter, Taggart headed east to attend university.   
        After four years in Halifax, Taggart graduated with a Political Science and International Development Studies degree from Dalhousie University. He returned to Toronto as the evening and weekend talk show producer at NEWSTALK 1010 CFRB
        In 2008, Taggart took a year-long hiatus from Canadian radio to work in Sierra Leone with the NGO Journalists for Human Rights.  Upon his return from Africa, Taggart rejoined the team at NEWSTALK 1010 to co-produce Moore in the Mornings with John Moore and serve as the Assistant Program Director.  
        In the spring of this year, Taggart left radio to help produce The Morning Show with Liza Fromer, which debuted on Global this fall. The Morning Show airs weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. 

        Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
        The short answer: Yes. I’ve always been a news junkie and always wanted to be a part of the action. The beauty of working in news media is that you feel like you work in whatever field is dominating the headlines that day – politics, finance, sports, entertainment – it’s always changing.  I studied political science in university and used to think that I might want to work in diplomacy…little did I know, working with TV talent often requires more diplomacy than any other type of career.

        Where would you like to be five years from now?
        I’d like to still be working in a capacity where I get to be creative and inventive in my role. I love working in Toronto media, though I’ve often thought of one day going abroad and seeing another part of the world through a journalistic lens. 

        Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
        Reach out to people. You’d be amazed how easy it is to get access to some of the top people in the field simply by picking up the phone and asking people to lunch. If your objective is simply to pick someone’s brain, you’ll rarely encounter resistance. The key to having a successful career in media is being smart, being curious and being engaged. All the other skills will fall into place. 

        What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
        Tough question! There are a lot. I tend to get great local ideas from talk radio.  I pick up the magazine Monocle for the production value and the aesthetics. I find online news aggregators like The Daily Beast really helpful, and I rarely let a Sunday go by without watching 60 Minutes and downloading the latest podcast of the public radio program This American Life

        Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
        I had the chance to interview a lot of Canadian athletes while covering the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  Their passion, enthusiasm and dedication was inspiring.  You’re going to have to get a couple beers in me if you want to hear about the worst!

        Best advice you’ve ever been given?
        Work hard and play hard.

        What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
        Know the show/outlet you’re pitching. Don’t simply go on the website, consume the product and pitch accordingly. Be short, be direct and don’t be afraid to follow up.  

        Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
        There have been many – usually involving last minute requests and great executions on the part of publicists.  Most recently, I remember we had a high-profile guest bail at 9 p.m. from the next day’s The Morning Show. I happened to be out at an event when I got the last minute email stating the cancellation. A couple of minutes later, as luck would have it, I ran into Michelle Lewis of Fleishman-Hillard. I began venting about our drop out and within 15 minutes, she had two or three great back-up guests standing by. Not sure if I mentioned it to the rest of our production team, but she was definitely the one who saved the show that day.

        I hate?
        Hearing my alarm go off at 2:15 a.m. every weekday (worst part of working in morning television).

        I love?
        Fresh powder on a ski day.

        A bio on former Pan-Am CEO Juan Trippe – a fascinating look into a business icon, but I’ll be honest: I was inspired by watching the cheesy TV series. 

        Best place on earth?
        Lamu Island, off the coast of Kenya.

        Dinner guest?
        Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes.

        My dad is pretty awesome.

        Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
        Drink Owl.

        Pool or ocean?

        Voicemail or email?

        A visit from…Michelle Jobin

        We were thrilled when our friend Michelle Jobin stopped by to tell us all about the new Lomography store that’s opened up across from our office. We’d heard a little bit about this old-school style of photography, but didn’t know all the details. Good thing Christmas is coming – we’re putting this cool camera on our list.

        Analogue Love

        We’ve reached the point where the latest gadget (iPhone 4, Kinect for Xbox 360) causes endless lineups and a total sales feeding frenzy. Must have the latest and greatest digital device. Why bother looking back on the seemingly clumsy ways of the past, right?  

        Thanks to Lomography, you won’t want to count old-school out yet. This Austrian-based company offers series of film (gasp!) cameras that make snapping pics incredibly fun and innately creative. It’s a cult camera culture that promotes ideas such as “Take your camera everywhere you go”, “Don’t think”, and “Don’t worry about any rules”.  It’s a warm and fuzzy approach to photography, perhaps, but also a very empowering one.

        So prepare yourself for a little analogue love, Toronto.

        That’s because into this tech-friendly climate in a particularly tech-lovin’ city, Lomography has decided to boldly go back to the future and open a Toronto Gallery Store at 536 Queen Street West. Its grand opening event on November 4 was packed with photography enthusiasts and the just-plain-curious, eager to see the first Canadian Lomo outpost.

        Snacking on gourmet poutine and smoked meat sammies, guests browsed the slick space that brings some much-needed style to Queen and Bathurst. With 100-plus products on hand, Lomography helps amateurs and pros alike put the emotion back in the experience of taking pictures. The emphasis is on casual, snapshot photography, not perfection. Essentially, a very democratic way of looking at art.

        The shop is not just a place to pick up a great camera like the Fisheye2, Diana F+, or Holga and film. They offer great workshops to take the mystery out of Lomography and get the community connected. An extra plus – watch out for on-site picture development coming early in 2011.