Last week, one of my friends and I decided to hit up Bar Isabel, a new restaurant and bar on College street just east of Ossington in Toronto. I’ve been hearing lot’s of great things about the place from my friend @jbsmith. Her boyfriend Josh is responsible for all the great drink creations there.
We arrived just around opening time (6pm) on a Wednesday and there was already people lining up to get in. Since we didn’t have time to stay for a full meal, we opted for some drinks and appetizers. What I really liked from the get-go, was everyone’s welcoming and friendly attitude. The place was nicely decorated. The wood and colored lights gave a very homy feel to the place. Only a few minutes after we sat down, Bar Isabel was already packed!
The menu was simple but very well divided. They had a big choice of starters then vegetables, meats, seafood, bar snacks, cheeses, cured meats and desserts. Being a vegetarian, I appreciated seeing a “vegetable”section. I know that next time I go, I will have a few different plates. Everything on the menu is also very reasonably priced. One of the things I loved most, were the slogans on their drink and food menus.
We each ordered some tasty drinks and for our appetizer, we opted for a selection of three cheeses from the chef for $16. Our really kind waiter asked us if we wanted bread with the plate and we said yes, not knowing that there would be a surprise in store for us on our bill. Being a pretty big cheese fan, I was expecting a decent cheese selection from the chef. The cheese we did get was good but pretty standard for a cheese platter, nothing too creative or different. The thing that made us really less stoked was to see we had gotten charged$4 for the bread the waiter had offered us. Now, usually if you’re going to offer a cheese platter on your menu, you’d want to offer some type of bread, cracker, jam, fruit, nuts, biscuit or something to go along with it without charging the customer but apparently not at Bar Isabel. Though the bread was really delicious, it’s absurd to think they’d charge a customer especially when ordering a cheese platter. That unfortunately left a bad taste in my mouth… though not enough to never return. I undoubtedly want to give this place a fair chance: get some more drinks, mains and desserts next time.
All in all, mixed feelings about my first experience at Bar Isabel. Maybe I just wasn’t lucky with the cheese so I definitely want to try a full meal next time because I’ve heard so many amazing things about them. Have you been to Bar Isabel? If so, how was your experience?
Yesterday was Day 4 of my cleanse and my 2nd day of juicing. I woke up feeling really hungry, my muscles aching and my head hurting but it totally makes sense when you’re just feeding your body with liquids I guess. I spent the whole day in training at work and I realized that I really wasn’t focused, I also had a hard time really concentrating. I felt like my brain wasn’t functioning 100% or as it should. That said, I continued with the juicing but started really doubting if this cleanse was really going to cut it for me.
So as I did the previous day, I started my day with another Detox juice, followed by the Vanilla Cashew Glow juice and then a Clean juice. I also drank a lot of water and even a hot tea. As the day went on, I was talking a lot to my boyfriend, who’s also doing the cleanse with me right now about how he was feeling, what kind of effects he was having, etc. Unlike me, he wasn’t feeling very hungry but he’s not someone who usually gets hungry. He eats because he loves to eat but he does get low blood sugar or irritated when he doesn’t eat or eat as much. Contrary to what he had initially expected, he was also starting to feel like his brain wasn’t functionning fully, he wasn’t feeling on top of his game and had a bad headache that he couldn’t shake off.
Throughout the cleanse and even before embarquing on it, I’ve read a lot about cleansing. I had read mostly positive things on individual blogs, bloggers that I follow, girls I had spoken to and some ok and not so positive things on newspaper websites, more health/nutrition/scientific sites. I know that everyone does it for different reasons. Like I’ve mentioned before, my main reasons were 1) just plain curiosity because so many people seem to be cleansing these days and 2) a personal challenge. In 4 days, I didn’t really lose any weight, I maybe lost 2 lbs but the reason why I think I didn’t lose any weight is because I didn’t have much to lose in the first place (if any at all!) and also because I have a pretty healthy lifestyle overall. I don’t really drink coffee, other than red wine here and there I don’t drink very much and try my best to eat fresh, homemade and organic fruits and vegetables as well good food in general.
My boyfriend who’s from France explained to me yesterday that cleansing is definitely not as popular there and hasn’t really taken like many other recent food trends such as the Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free craze we’ve been seeing in the last few years. People tend to think that people from France eat only pastries, bread and cheese and wine, a lot of them do, that’s a fact but they also eat a lot of fresh produce, meats and cheese from local farmers that they get from their city’s farmers market every week. A lot of my family lives in France and none of them are obese and all live to 80+ years and so does my boyfriend’s family. It’s apparent that cleansing is more of a American/Canadia phenomenon.
After work, we headed to the movie theatre to watch Elysium and on the way there and back we read more than a handful of articles (here’s an example: http://archives-lepost.huffingtonpost.fr/article/2010/11/05/2293630_la-detox-ou-l-intox.html) on cleansing, juicing, the effects on your body, etc. After 4 full days of cleansing, without any cheating at all and after much discussion, my boyfriend and I decided to stop our cleansing adventure. We both felt that we had reached our goal – that the process had made us think a lot about nutrition, what we put in our bodies, what kind of lifestyle we live, etc. That said, we both didn’t stop and immediately pigged out on a ton of food, instead, we celebrated with a nice homemade salad, guacamole and organice brown rice cracker.
We still have a bunch of juices left over because we initially had planned to do 3 days of juicing instead of 2 and also because I only ended up drinking 4 bottles a day instead of 6. So what we’ve decided to do is keep drinking those bottles as a healthy snack in between meals for the next couple of days. We’re easing back into food with raw meals and I think overall we’ll just be even more careful than we used to be with the food we eat. That said, it’s a lot harder to find a good farmers market close by or buy only organic/local/sustainable produce without dishing out a fortune here in Toronto as compared to California. We’ve made a pact to be more conscious of the food we eat and make even better choices but to also keep enjoying food in general! We’re both big foodies and both take pleasure in treating ourselves to good meals!
For those wondering, even though we did the more DIY cleanse, it was still pretty pricey. We bought over 100$ of raw food groceries at Whole Foods plus over $50 of fruits and vegetables for our 2 days of raw food cleanse plus we each paid over $200 for our juices. At $9.99 a juice bottle x 6 bottles a day, you’re looking at over $60 + a day of juices. That said, we wanted to do the full experience and wanted to do it the right way so we went all out and made sure we had everything we needed.
All in all, it was an interesting experience. Though I’m not sure I would do an actual “cleanse” again, I would definitely consider drinking these types of juices more regularly as snacks or if ever I’m on the go. I also think it’s a good exercise for people to go a week or so without alcohol or coffee, it can never hurt. It’s always a good thing to also re-evaluate your eating habits, your lifestyle, etc. As someone who travels a lot and as a vegetarian, it’s often hard to find healthy food options on the road, but this experience has taught me that maybe I should just bring some lunches if I can, or get some raw bars or juices and keep those with me while I travel. I have keep eating lot’s of fruit and veggies, eat organic and local if available and keep being active. Also, take pleasure in eating good food & most importantly ENJOY LIFE!!
PS. I know that everyone who’s cleansed before has had a different experience. I was not paid or did not receive any discounts for writing this blog during my juicing experience. It’s an adventure my boyfriend and I decided to take together independently. Everyone has different views on detoxing, juicing, raw food, etc. These were simply my own taken from my own personal experience! 🙂
So yesterday was Day 2 of my cleanse – another day of raw foods. I was feeling ok after breakfast but as the day went on my stomach really started hurting and I was feeling really hungry. Though I’ve only been eating raw food for over a day, my taste buds were already telling me that they were over all of these raw snacks, the seasoning and whatever I was eating. Props to people who do these cleanses often or who only have raw diets. I don’t think I could ever do it! Even questioning ever doing a cleanse again…
After work, Offner and I took a trip to Whole Foods to buy all of our juices for the next three days. Unfortunately, a lot of their juices were out of stock. Though the juice brand Live recommends drinking 5 different types of juices a day, two of them were sold out. So we made due with what they had and also got ourselves a ton of raw food items for our last supper 😉
MEAL 1 –
Freshly pressed unpasteurized orange juice
Peanut Butter Lärabar
MEAL 2 –
Homemade salad with sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, hemp seeds,
Grapes, strawberries and shakaroons
MEAL 3 –
Live raw lasagna italiano, Live raw kale caraway bread and fresh pesto
Live raw organic walnut brownie, pineapple and an orange
I was feeling really anxious yesterday at the thought of starting the juice cleanse. Here’s hoping not too many food pictures pop up on my twitter and instagram feed in the next few days. Though I’m really motivated, I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle three days of juicing… To be continued!