Totally biased product review by me — Knorr Hot Curry Sauce Mix

knorr-hot-curry-sauce-mix

Don’t feel you have to ladle on the sauce like in the photo, you can never do it that precisely anyway unless your ladle has the little pouring spout thing that usually comes in the more expensive ladles

The Brits in Toronto crew love to cook. OK, it’s easy to head to the nearest curry house for a Ruby Murray, but it’s also good to buy the ingredients ourselves, get a sauce and hope for the best.

So we jumped in the motor and headed to one of our favourite British shops A Bit of Home to see what they had. After picking up some Monster Munch and Heinz Chunky Classic Ploughman’s Pickle, we spied Knorr Hot Curry Sauce Mix.

After a bit of cheeky banter with the owner, we paid for the goods, gave a hearty “Cheerio mate!” and off we jolly well popped back to the office.

Emeril Lagasse once told us, “Bam! When you make packet curry sauce, I recommend using less water than stated on the packet thus making a slightly thicker sauce. Bam!”

We had to agree, so took Emeril’s advice and made the sauce a little thicker. Good move.

Threw in some peppers, onions, chicken, tomatoes, minced garlic and ginger … simmered for 20 minutes … and Bob’s your uncle, chicken curry for lunch.

(There were also “mild” and “medium” choices for this product, but we went all out for the “hot” option.)

Have to say it was pretty delish actually. The flavour was great, not burn-your-laughing-gear heat but a nice kick to it. On the tissue scale, we only had to use one to blow our runny nose, so not too bad.

All in all, pleasantly surprised and we give Knorr Hot Curry Sauce Mix a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jaime Randle

jaime-randle

Read on to discover how this profile was nearly called Successful Brits in Montreal. So close …

As well as the “best pubs, curry, jobs and dental care,” we’re always on the lookout for Successful Brits in Toronto to highlight. It only took a Twitter chat of 14 words (count ’em) to snag Jaime Randle. That’s probably our record so far.

[Brian, get Paul to insert a second paragraph here before publishing this morning to beef up the word count a bit. And the printer needs some paper. Thanks mate.]

So let’s hear Jaime’s thoughts on his adopted city …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I moved to Toronto in 1999 after spending a few years in British Columbia. To be honest I was on my way to Montreal as I craved a European flavour/culture and had stopped-off in Toronto to stay with an English friend. I then decided to stay as the city made me feel most welcome.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

My first Toronto job was to start an animation studio. I had experience in production and had a deep love for art and animation.

After meeting a talented Canadian animator — and believing in my own abilities — it felt like the right time to start a company. Canada is a country of opportunities which has a clear affinity with the UK; I think that helped.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Toronto is the smallest “big city” you’ll ever go to … or at least that’s what I tell my friends in the UK. It has a population of a big city, but is unique in the feel of a smaller city. I think it’s the famous “neighbourhoods” that make the city so special.

The worst aspect has to be the transportation. It looks like Andy Byford is doing a great job in turning it around, but I’m amazed that the city hasn’t addressed the needs as the population has increased.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I am so busy with work and family that I regretfully admit I don’t make enough of an effort to meet other British people. It’s funny as every time I do meet other Brits, I always have a great time.

As far as places to meet up or get the British vibe, I’d say The Caledonian on College/Ossington is a great pub and Reliable Halibut & Chips in Leslieville is my go-to place for food.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

I think the biggest thing that struck me when moving to Canada was that, though we speak the same language, we are very different. It sounds obvious in retrospect but I think I came here thinking it would be an easy transition.

Torontonians are very friendly people but there are differences that one takes for granted when growing up in England.

For British people thinking of moving to Toronto, they will find a friendly city with plenty to do — its multiculturalism is fantastic and is maybe Toronto’s best attribute.

The city has changed quite a bit since I moved to Toronto; I think there is a new generation of Torontonians that are sophisticated and are aligning the city as a global leader.

My biggest tip would to make sure you return back home at least once a year. You will miss England but, given time, you will fall for Toronto’s charm.

That’s great, Jaime, cheers. If anyone wants to connect, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Let’s all help fellow Brit Iain find a job!

iain-greenshields

Brits are pretty good at engineering too you know! Got any leads for Iain?

Iain got in touch with us for some help and advice from fellow Brits in Toronto in finding work in engineering. Here’s his story:

“I would like to reach out to any fellow Brits who might have advice for me in my, so far unsuccessful, search for work.

“I am an experienced civil/structural engineer and I’m finding it extremely difficult to make any progress with employers in the GTA. It appears that the engineering job market is currently very competitive so companies are not even considering newcomers.

“My recent career experience is in heavy industrial sectors (oil, energy etc.) but I have a background in general infrastructure work with engineering consultancies. I also began my career as a designer/technologist so would be prepared to revert back to this if required. Essentially, I’ll do anything if given the chance.

“Please contact me for my resume … and hopefully some of your readers might have some advice.”

So, engineering community in Toronto, if you can help Iain in any way, shape or form, his e-mail is iain DOT greenshields AT gmail DOT COM or check out his LinkedIn profile.

Good luck, Iain!

British and Canadian citizenship? You get a break on new passport rules … until November 10

hand hold a isolated canadian passport

British and Canadian? You have a bit more time to get one of these now

Brits in Toronto recently mentioned that if you have dual British and Canadian citizenship, as of September 30, 2016, you will need a Canadian passport to be allowed to fly back into Canada. That seemed pretty tight and thankfully the higher-ups agreed.

Yesteday, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced the implementation date would be postponed until November 10, 2016.

As the Toronto Star reports:

“‘In consultation with airline partners, we’re taking further steps to minimize any travel disruption,’ said McCallum. ‘We’re extending the leniency period and doing another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travellers to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada.'”

Full story here.

Totally biased product review by me — Loblaws Scotch egg

scotch-egg

Just a serving suggestion. No one would put tomato ketchup or Worcestershire Sauce on a Scotch egg, right?

We actually knew this fun fact about the origins of the Scotch egg — it was a question on University Challenge once — but just had to double-check it: “The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738.”

For those who don’t know, a Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and baked or deep-fried. Sounds delicious, right? We agree.

So we’ve been on a quest to find the best Scotch egg in Toronto. While wandering around Loblaws, we happened upon their Scotch egg in the prepared meals and deli section, nestled between the beet salad and kale and cashew mix. So we decided to give it a go.

First impressions — and a friend told us that size doesn’t matter — is the Loblaws Scotch egg is pretty small. We understand that the egg is the defining component, but feel there could have been a thicker layer of sausage meat wrapped around it.

Maybe we just remember the Scotch eggs when we were younger, enjoying them at sunny picnics with a glass of weak, warm Ribena … and they seemed much bigger back then.

The egg itself was OK but we would have liked more seasoning in the sausage meat. It was a tad bland. The bread crumbs didn’t do much for us either.

So, sorry Loblaws, but we are still on the hunt for the perfect Scotch egg and give yours a disappointing Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is coming to Toronto

sir-ranulph-fiennes

“Excuse me old chap, but did you spill my pint?”

Checked my CV the other day. Intermediate in Microsoft Excel, increased carpet fastener sales 25% year over year and able to multitask under pressure and to tight deadlines. Was pretty chuffed with myself.

But then I read Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ CV. Over US$23 million raised for charity. First to reach both Poles. First to cross the Antarctic Ocean and Arctic Ocean. First to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis. First hovercraft expedition up the longest river in the world. First unsupported crossing of the Antarctic continent. Climbed Mount Everest and The Eiger North Face. Completed Marathon des Sables aged 71. Awarded the OBE. Oh, and a former SAS soldier too.

I got my coat and called a taxi.

If that’s not a list of brilliant achievements then we don’t know what is. And guess what? He’s coming to Toronto on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 and you could be there to hear him talk.

“An Evening With Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE” is part of a series of inspirational speaker events linked to The Global Reach Challenge. Sponsored by TMF Group and KPMG, and with the aim of raising funds for Marie Curie UK, Sir Ranulph’s goal is to become the first person in the world to cross both polar ice caps and climb all of the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.

If that sounds like a great evening — and we think it does — you can find more details about the event or register to attend.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Sophie Keats

sophie-keats

Only Sophie knows why she has a faded transparent bird on her shoulder

Sophie only joined Twitter about five days ago, so we’re very happy to feature her today as a Successful Brit in Toronto and get her up to at least 127 followers.

(Little bit of a cheat = she now lives in Oakville but DID live in TORONTO and so we’re taking this one. Been a slow news summer.)

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

Well, I think that it sort of chose us as we recently moved back here for my husband’s job after ten years out of province in Nova Scotia.

My dad (who is a Canadian) wanted to move back home again after many years in England and so we left England as a family in the late ’80s.

Then after I completed university in Ottawa, I met and married my lovely Canadian husband in 2001. We now have a pre-teen!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

We moved back here two months ago. I am lucky as I am a freelance writer and a singer, so I can work from anywhere thanks to technology.

Moving back to Ontario, I am reminded that every province is quite different so getting used to how everything works again from driver’s licences to finding out which days are recycling blue box days and what to put in the little compost bins really does take time to get used to.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

I love the proximity of the lake and the beautiful water. The choice of beautiful parks to visit is quite amazing and the varied arts scene is so bubbly.

We have found as a family that the choice of wonderful sports and art activities for kids are really quite incredible with everything from rock climbing to sailing. The choice of higher educational options is also huge.

On weekends I really do love walking along the scenic lake paths and we found that in Oakville, outside of Toronto, there are some great bike paths.

I dislike the long traffic jams when we head downtown, but who doesn’t really?

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I have recently made friends with some fellow mums who are in fact British. We have as a family recently visited the new British shop that just opened last week on Lakeshore in Oakville; they seem to have all my favourite Marks and Sparks biscuits and Coleman’s mustard and Walkers crisps so far.

Recommended places? Not really sure, since our child has food allergies we do tend to eat at home a lot but there does seem to be a vast choice of really good places to eat here.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

You will be able to find quite a few British specialty shops here to stock up on your favourite sweets and even Walmart sells Jelly Babies and imported Dairy Milk.

As a starting point do check out the school rankings and those boundaries when choosing a school or place to live for you and your kids.

The summers seem quite hot here so staying hydrated and having some air conditioning is really helpful to cool you down.

For the long winters here you might want to invest in several pairs of good mittens that are waterproof and have removable liners. The same goes for a good pair of winter boots with removable liners.

If you need snow pants for your children — and you probably will if you plan to go outside in the winter — we have found, tried and liked over the years the ones at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Thanks Sophie … and here’s her website and blog if you want to hire her or find out the name of the British shop on Lakeshore in Oakville.