Monthly Archives: April 2014

Totally biased product review by me — Tasty Bite Bombay Potatoes

The plate, spoon, rice and green stuff are NOT included and are a serving suggestion only

The plate, spoon, rice and green stuff are NOT included and are a serving suggestion only

I love Toronto. I love curry. The two mix well. But one dish I find hard to source is Bombay Potatoes.

So, I jumped in my bright orange 2-litre Ford Capri with go-fast spoiler and racing wheels and roared off (within the legal speed limit) on the hunt for Bombay Potatoes I could cook in the Brits in Toronto office kitchenette.

I chanced upon Tasty Bites Bombay Potatoes so decided to give them a go.

The packet was heavy. It had some substance, which indicated there was a fair-sized portion contained in the yellow packaging. Being a greedy bugger, that’s always a plus point.

I just want to take a personal moment to thank Tasty Bite for their thoughtfulness. Not having a pair of scissors to hand, I was extremely relieved to see they had provided a handy notch cut out of the packet so it was easy to open. Thank you, Tasty Bite.

Thinking ahead, I was reluctant to use the microwave to cook them in the one minute it claims in case it dried them out. So I opted for the boil-in-the bag option which only takes five minutes.

Quick note: once you factor in the extra four minutes to get the water to a boil, and the 45 seconds to get them onto the plate, it actually takes around nine minutes and 45 seconds from start to finish.

Taste test: very good! The sauce was thicker than expected — which was a pleasant surprise — and they were quite filling as a side dish.

The actual pieces of potato were slightly smaller than expected, but still a good mouthful, especially when you combine the “potato to chickpea spoon ratio” as illustrated on the front of the packet.

Spicy? As always … not quite enough. BUT that is a personal choice and not a criticism. They had some bite and I was reaching for the tissue a few times to blow my nose. The flavour was very nice, and will be on my shopping list again.

We give Tasty Bites Bombay Potatoes a respectable Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.


Totally biased product review by me — Mackie’s of Scotland crispy bacon crisps

Sometimes, there just nothing like a packet of Scottish bacon-flavoured crisps to scratch that itch

Sometimes, there’s just nothing like a maroon packet of Scottish bacon-flavoured crisps to scratch that itch

The Brits in Toronto crew were a bit stumped for a snack the other day, so went wandering to Whole Foods. And what did we find? Scottish bacon-flavoured crisps! Hoots mon!

So before Scotland possibly becomes an independent country based on what happens this coming September 2014, let’s get in there quick and review these crisps …

First impressions were good. The bag had a good heft in our hand. Felt like it could hold its own in a bar fight with other bags of crisps. Good start.

Upon popping open the bag, another plus point: only one fifth of the bag was pure air. We had actually paid for a decent amount of crisps, instead of the half-full bag you sometimes see from other brands.

We dived in.

The crisps were — for want of a better word — crispy! A nice crunch to them. Three out of three so far. But …

Lack of flavour. Noooo! We were expecting a more intense, smokey flavour of bacon, but it left us a bit wanting. Mackie’s = please up the bacon ante.

We have to give them a Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars.

Sidenote: We also have a bag of the Aberdeen Angus steak-flavoured crisps to sample so will review those soon too.

So, what’s your point, Immigration Watch Canada?

Flyer distributed in Brampton by Immigration Watch Canada

Flyer distributed in Brampton by Immigration Watch Canada

CTV News reported the story of anti-immigration flyers being distributed in Brampton by an organization called Immigration Watch Canada.

From their website: “The destruction and senselessness  that naive Canadians (as well as those with sinister intentions) have created has caused many Canadians (especially those in Canada’s larger centres) to become very angry. These Canadians feel that this social engineering project has raised ‘Diversity’ to the level of a national goal. They feel this amounts to the country being ethnically cleansed and re-colonized.”

So, any Canadians reading this: do you feel that immigrants are re-colonizing and ethnically cleansing your country?

Would be interesting to hear the debate from both sides.

Here’s a quick backgrounder from the Government of Canada entitled “Facts in Canada’s Immigration History” for ready reference.

Canadian oath refusers take their battle to court

Not  a happy camper at all

Not a happy camper at all

So, the Brits in Toronto crew were shooting the breeze over some pie and mash on Queen St. West, and we chatted about  how lucky we were to live in a nice country like Canada, with all the benefits and privileges it affords us. Very lucky indeed!

Then we ran across this story of three longtime foreign residents fighting for the right to become Canadian citizens, but without having to swear allegiance to the British Queen. They’ve even gone to bloody court over it.

One 80-year-old-bloke, who came to Canada in 1964, describes himself as “a staunch Republican, adding that the oath would violate his conscience.”

Two others — from Jamaica and Israel — say “their religion forbids them from taking an oath to any personas.”

And the kicker: “The lawyer for the three says it’s not fair to ask new Canadians to make an oath they don’t believe in.”

Not fair? But it’s “fair” and in their “conscience” to choose to come to Canada and enjoy all the benefits it offers? And to be “forbidden by religion?”

Sorry — but when you choose to live in another country, you abide by its rules and legalities that you have chosen to leave behind in your former country. Simple as that.

These people are very misguided.

How to abuse Canadian Citizenship: Blame temporary foreign workers?

Blogger thinks we should be criticizing the system that creates bad working conditions for everyone

Blogger thinks we should be criticizing the system that creates bad working conditions for everyone

How to ABUSE Canadian Citizenship: Blame Temporary Foreign Workers for problems of a global Capitalist Economy

That headline above caught our roving eye today; pretty strong words.

Commenting on a story on CBC News (Saskatchewan) — Waitresses in Saskatchewan lose jobs to foreign workers — the blogger opens up her post by commenting:

“Once again, the media uses the wrong gaze to look at a program that does injustice to migrant workers and abuses their rights for their labour. Sandy Nelson’s story is just use as a place-mark for xenophobia and racism. We should be criticizing the system that creates bad working conditions for everyone – not look at individualized grief and blame all temporary foreign workers.”

Brits in Toronto did a little digging and, according to the Canadian Government’s website explaining the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, “Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to invest $11.0 million over two years and $3.5 million per year ongoing to strengthen the Labour Market Opinion process to ensure Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.”

Will be an interesting issue to watch. Thanks Melissa for the initial blog post that caught our attention.

After 40 years, Immigrant Settlement Program needs an overhaul

Time to change the system?

Time to change the system?

Interesting article in today’s Globe and Mail:

“Would-be immigrants to Canada continue to face a series of bureaucratic impediments that either delay their status or reduce the effectiveness of integration once they arrive here. Fixing these problems is long overdue.

“Last November, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander met with more than 400 people in Ottawa, mostly representatives of non-governmental organizations. These Service Provider Organizations contract with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to deliver settlement services to immigrants. He told them, ‘You tell us what we need to get it right.’

“In this spirit, there are several significant weaknesses in the system that need to be addressed.”

Full story.

St. George’s Day events in the Toronto area

"Take that, dragon!"

“Take that, dragon!”

It’s St. George’s Day on Wednesday, April 23 and the English everywhere will be raising a pint to the homeland. It’s not widely celebrated like St. Paddy’s Day is in Toronto, so here’s a few events we tracked down if you want to go out and do something.

St. George’s Day Pub Night

Organized by the St. George’s Society of Toronto, this event features fish and chips, curried chicken and raffle prizes.

Curries and Casks for Charity

Great-sounding event organized by fans of real ale. And it’s all for charity! Tickets.

St. George’s Day Party

This event is organized by The Franklin House about 30 minutes away in Streetsville. Goes on all day.

So, there you go. If you know of any more related events please add them to the comments section, e-mail or tweet us.


Canada welcomes record number of new Canadians/Express Entry

"Hi there friend! Is link bait and Google image search rankings good in Canada too?"

“Hi there little friend! Are link bait and Google image search rankings good in Canada too?”

So, two items of relevance crossed the 24/7-manned Brits in Toronto desk recently. Linked below for your reading pleasure.

Canada welcomes record number of new Canadians

“So far in 2014, Canada has welcomed more than 75,900 new citizens; the highest intake of new Canadians in almost four years. Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world with 85 per cent of eligible permanent residents becoming citizens. As a result, potential migrants have identified Canada as a viable place to migrate to, and since 2006, the CIC has received a steady increase in citizenship applications from around the world.”

Full story here.

Canada’s new immigration model will be called “Express Entry”

“Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced recently that Canada’s new recruitment model for economic immigration will be called ‘Express Entry.’ This new model is set to launch in January 2015.

“‘Express Entry promises to be a game-changer for Canadian immigration and Canada’s economy,’ said Minister Alexander. ‘It will revolutionize the way we attract skilled immigrants, and get them working here faster.'”

Full story here.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Robin Brown

The name's Brown. Robin Brown

The name’s Brown. Robin Brown

Brits are a modest lot. Even though we’re the funniest, make the best tea and once owned the world, we’re still very modest.

Robin Brown is modest. His tweet accepting our invitation to be the next featured Successful Brit in Toronto attests to that. He moved to Toronto in 2003 and is now Environics’ Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Cultural Markets (the SVPCICM for short).

He is also the co-author of Migration Nation about Canada’s multicultural markets. Here’s the trailer.

Apart from plugging his book to a worldwide audience of information-hungry British immigrants with money to burn who read Brits in Toronto, we also had some questions for him …

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 had moved from the U.K. to Asia when I was in my mid-twenties and I ended up living there 10 years, meeting my wife and starting a family. The company I was working for was acquired by a global company and I approached them for a new role. I guess I shouldn’t say this here but I asked if there were any positions in the U.S. — but there weren’t. There was the position managing the Toronto office.

So you could say I did not choose Toronto. It chose me. And I am very glad it did. I love living here.

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

I was fortunate. I had a job here and came here on a work permit. I have acted as a mentor for newcomers seeking employment on behalf of Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)’s Mentoring for Change program and I am well aware of the challenges and the infamous “Canadian experience.” I believe it is often another way of saying, “I’m not really sure about you.”

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

I love Toronto. It’s a cliché but I love the diversity. My wife is Chinese and we agree that this is probably the best city in the world to raise our kids where they can feel entirely comfortable and be so connected to their twin identities. I like the values, the fact that basically if you’re nice and behave yourself you can do and be what you want. I think it is very respectful.

Also, I live near the waterfront and sometimes when I walk my dog on the beach I stop and wonder at how fortunate I am to live in a place like this.

The worst? Well you’re asking me on a day when it snowed in April so there’s that. I arrived in February and I remember in my early days eating lunch alone, sitting in a food court with my winter coat on, the floor grey with slushy footprints and thinking, “What have I done?”

And restaurants giving me a cup of lukewarm water with a tea bag on the side.

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?

Not really. I was coming here from Asia so I’d already been away from home for 10 years. My neighbourhood (the Beaches) is very British. Places to meet? Not many. I remember a British colleague of mine complaining that if England won the World Cup (big if) we’d have nowhere like Little Italy to congregate and celebrate. The largest concentration of Brits I have come across would be Scallywags pub during any international rugby or football match.

A very active networking organization for ex-pats from all countries is InterNations.

Finally, I never fail to hear a British accent when I go to Cinamon Indian Bistro and I would advise any Brits nearby to go there. You may not meet anyone but they’ve got great food.

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

They’ve probably heard it already but my advice to those newcomers seeking employment is to network like crazy. Personal connection is important here. And while it is important to reach out beyond your community, do not be afraid to leverage connections with your fellow immigrants from the U.K. or wherever you are from.

Most of us here in Toronto are immigrants and I am always impressed with how willing people are to help those who have newly arrived if they can.

Fantastic — thank you Robin. Curries, pubs, lukewarm tea and a budget-conscious trailer for your book … this Successful Brits in Toronto post had it all!