Ilona Kauremszky

Correspondent

  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ilona Kauremszky is a correspondent who lives in Toronto and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. A syndicated travel columnist, Kauremszky is also a blogger and web producer of mycompass.ca. She has appeared as a travel expert on TV and radio for NPR, CBC News Now and Egyptian National Television, to name a few. Kauremszky recently received the Discover America Travel Writer Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association. A self-confessed travel scribe, Kauremszky admits she’s forever on the prowl for the next cool story. Follow her discoveries on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.

  • On June 28, 2013
  • On June 28, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky is now following Quia Querisma
  • On June 28, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the food truck scene like in Toronto?

    Butting heads beside the chi-chi restos is a wave of food trucks that have arrived on the scene. Need something yummy to eat but don’t have the time for sit-down full service?

    Food trucks could be your answer.

    Besides some of these meals on wheels have even entered sacred ground as their expertise i.e. fast delicious food on the fly is being requested at special events.

    Check out Gourmet Gringos, Toronto’s first gourmet Latin food truck. Last time I spotted this portable eatery they were dishing out tacos at an evening fashion soiree at the ROM. Krystian Catala co-owner uses influences from his dad’s Argentinian and mom’s Equador roots. “I’m a gringo,” he laughs, “I’m from here.”

    Spices are hand blended, meats are from the butcher. Beer battered mahi mahi fish tacos are amazing! He likes spicy. Don’t worry about seeing the line-ups either. Five to six kitchen staff are on the scene.

    And his executive chef (yes this meals on wheels has one) Arturo Gress Cardenas is no slouch. Trained in Barcelona, Spain at the Culinary institute Ambrosia, he cut his teeth working at two Michelin Star Restaurants as well as working alongside some of Toronto’s top chefs.

    Be sure to catch their Tweets @gourmetgringos to find out the truck’s location.

    Feisty Jack Mobile Food Company has found the answer to mundane fish and chips. Covered in a British flag with a honking huge open shark jaw, comes this food truck serving this traditional Brit mainstay the old fashioned way. Loads of fried spuds and beer batter dipped fish.

    While the canteen isn’t housed in a double decker reminiscent of old London town itself, the food truck with signage like “Keep calm” and the Tube’s logo “mind the gap” makes you think that hey these crisps and fish can’t be all that bad. Sarah Grundy, a Feisty server, says ‘they are the best fish and chips in town.”

    Hogtown Smoke – Nothing beats sampling slow cooked pork brisket or a pulled pork sandwich especially when in Toronto. After all we haven’t quite lost our ‘hogtown’ moniker but today it has come to mean something other than our once numerous slaughter houses. This truck’s got a fun seal in billowing smoke clouds but might get a redo soon. The neighborhood where you’re bound to meet up with them is in The Beaches in Toronto’s East End.

    It’s best to check on Facebook or Twitter for their latest locations.  One handy resource for the low down on Toronto’s latest chow down is @foodtrucksTO.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the craft beer scene like in Toronto?

    Is it any wonder this hockey town has seen a huge profusion of craft breweries lately?

    It looks like the big brands remain popular but now local microbreweries are adding even more suds to the landscape.

    Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District launches a summer series. For a limited time you can quaff back two new ales. The Mill Street Curious Parrot is a blonde ale inspired by the golden ales of Hawaii and the Don Valley Bench Estates Ale makes you think of a chardonnay-like beer made of course with no white grapes but boy is the herbal flavour refreshing and smooth. 

    The Indie Alehouse in the Junction has become a huge hit in this hood that for years was plagued as a dry spot in Toronto, a weird law dating back to our temperance days; i.e. no alcohol served on the premises but that thankfully has changed only recently.

    Bellwoods Brewery in Toronto’s newest hip hood on Ossington Avenue is a trendy brewpub catering to the city’s growing Brewster-philes. Expect a surprisingly long beer menu and be ready for some of the best ale in the city.  Try fun names like Wizard Wolf and Grizzly Beer.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best museums in Toronto?

    I find the best museums are not only those that have extensive rich collections but more importantly these days a cultural institution needs to engage its community.

    The Royal Ontario Museum manages to do both effortlessly.

    The other night I experienced a Friday Night Live at the ROM. Nearly the entire venue -- dinosaur bones and all --became a backdrop to a fashion party and the whole city was invited.

    Lots of bling-attired patrons, some in frilly dresses, while others donned their latest original creations came out. There was a music component too with an intimate jazz performance held in the fabled Glass Room.

    Projected twitter hashtags #FNLROM clung to the walls designed by Daniel Libeskind and DJ tunes echoed by the cocktail bars.

    This summer’s ROM blockbuster is Mesopotomia: Inventing Our World, a richly sourced exhibition showcasing rare artifacts on loan from the British Museum among others which are all under one roof for the first time.

    You’ll see a multimedia show that recreates Babylon in all its glory too, what a vision to behold.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best kids activities in Toronto?

    On hot days when the temperature soars, there’s nothing like a trip to the Ontario Science Centre. This beacon of fun nestled in the lush Don Valley ravine is rife with activities.

    Right now kids can marvel at a fabulous IMAX documentary titled Flight of the Butterflies, the true story of Dr. Fred Urquhart’s lifelong dream to trace the migratory routes of these fragile flying insects.  Spoiler Alert: he did.

    But the other nice surprise captured in this movie is to learn how this Toronto native as a youngster used to spend long summer days lying in the grass watching his beloved monarchs. It's a stunning inspiring film that could foster future Fred Urquharts.

    Techno-crazy kids should also get a kick out of the new exhibit Game On 2.0, a whacky trip down memory lane that explores gaming history from the first coin operated pinball game to Xbox and Pacman and more.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the best thing to bring home from Cairo?

    I still can’t get over the symbolism behind a simple papyrus flower.

    And there’s nothing easier to ship home than a painting of an Ancient Egyptian scene on some papyrus paper.

    Outside the Great Pyramids of Giza along Pyramid Street or Al Ahram there are several papyrus paper shops.

    The one I visited is the government-approved Merit Papyrus Shop.

    The exterior seems unassuming but once inside the store take a closer look at the intricate framed paintings many of which are reproductions of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

    Watch a free demonstration chronicling the history of papyrus papermaking and discover the strong connection the Ancient Egyptians had toward the revered papyrus. They saw it as a holy plant.

    The radiating flower represented the sun’s rays and was used in perfume making and the stem was used in most everything else.

    For me it was the word ‘papyri’ which means baby’s skin that had me hooked. How delicate, strong yet fragile it is. The other wonderful discovery is the papyrus stem. When cut the triangular shape looks like the Egyptian Pyramids.

    Watch this demonstration to learn more about the Egyptian history behind the elusive papyrus.

  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best places to see a play in Toronto?

    Whether it’s mainstream or edgy avant-garde plays you’re after, Toronto’s theatre scene has got such a wide portfolio, no wonder Broadway hits come here to test the productions before heading south.

    We can thank one local theatre family for that. The Mirvish family helmed by Ed and later his son David resurrected old stages like the Royal Alexandra and new builds like the Princess of Wales to bring big productions here.

    Watch the acclaimed Broadway musical hit, The Book of Mormon return next year to the Princess of Wales Theatre.

    The Toronto Fringe Festival (July 3-14) is a collection of fringe productions performed in unique spaces like a pawn shop and a laundromat. It’s definitely a festival to consider if you want to mingle with the city’s artsy hipsters.

    And if you want to avoid staying cooped up inside during a hot night, then consider heading to Toronto’s High Park to watch Shakespeare in High Park performed by the Canadian Stage Company.  The Bard’s words lift off the page under a sea of stars there. Truly divine!!
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best places to see a play in Toronto?

    Whether it’s mainstream or edgy avant-garde plays you’re after, Toronto’s theatre scene has got such a wide portfolio, no wonder Broadway hits come here to test the productions before heading south.

    We can thank one local theatre family for that. The Mirvish family helmed by Ed and later his son David resurrected old stages like the Royal Alexandra and new builds like the Princess of Wales to bring big productions here.

    Watch the acclaimed Broadway musical hit, The Book of Mormon return next year to the Princess of Wales Theatre.

    The Toronto Fringe Festival (July 3-14) is a collection of fringe productions performed in unique spaces like a pawn shop and a laundromat. It’s definitely a festival to consider if you want to mingle with the city’s artsy hipsters.

    And if you want to avoid staying cooped up inside during a hot night, then consider heading to Toronto’s High Park to watch Shakespeare in The Park performed by the Canadian Stage Company.  The Bard’s words lift off the page under a sea of stars there. Truly divine!!
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What restaurants have the best views in Toronto?

    Toronto’s been building vertically a lot these days. Chances are pretty good you’ll spot a building crane erecting another highrise condominium.

    And among the restaurants with fabulous city views, the pickings are excellent too.

    The revolving restaurant atop the CN Tower will guarantee a fabulous panorama vista. Aptly dubbed The 360 the resto is helmed by Executive Chef Peter George who serves up a vibrant market fresh menu in what used to be revered as the world’s tallest tower up until a few years ago. 

    Business suits gather at Canoe. Located in the heart of the Financial District, the restaurant overlooks Lake Ontario with lively views of the harbor and the cluster of Toronto Islands.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best outdoor activities in Toronto?

    Let the summer begin. Think because you’re in the city outdoor activities don’t exist? Think again.

    Cycling is cool.
    The city has created a web of bike lanes with more on the books. It’s a fabulous way to visit all the neighborhood pockets. For rentals check with Bixi Toronto.

    Canoeing is wild.
    I totally enjoy hopping inside a retro Voyageur canoe (it’s wider and deeper than the regular ones) and paddling out to the Toronto Islands. See Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre for rentals.

    Another great nautical route is kayaking or canoeing by the glass calm Humber River. A local outfitter Toronto Adventures is available under the Old Mill Station by the river and has a nice selection of crayon-colored floating vessels. I love the cherry red kayaks – they pop out at you and can be seen for miles.

    The whole experience feels like you have entered a scene from the African Queen. Lots of vegetation on both sides, slow moving water, the Humber River is gorgeous!!
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Should visitors rent a car in Toronto?

    No.

    Who needs the hassle? Besides the city’s been suffering from a major grid lock problem for years. The TTC which is the city’s transit commission has a slogan “Take the TTC, it’s the better way.”

    Car rental just means extra charges, driving on heavily congested roads, parking headaches, not to mention facing the city’s ticket-happy parking violation officers who seem to creep up the moment your parking meter expires.

    Toronto’s main downtown attractions are also easily reachable by foot or by public transit. The city also introduced a bike sharing program called Bixi which lets you rent a bike for whatever length of time is needed. Once you’re done cycling, park the Bixi at any of the downtown Bixi bike racks. Check the map and routes on their website.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best neighborhoods in Toronto?

    Summer’s a blast in Toronto especially when you hone in on the neighborhood scene as so many serve up unique attractions or have cool restaurants opening or just a fabulous urban vibe.

    My favorite stroll for high-end shopping is Bloor-Yorkville. Not only is this the spot for exquisite Chanel, Tiffany and Hermes finds but the restaurant scene has also seen some fabulous executive chefs strut their stuff.

    For that cottage feel where you swear you can still hear the old front screen door spring open, the Beaches is the place to mellow by the sandy shoreline and kick back some pints with old friends along the main hub of Queen Street East. Home to Kew-Balmy Beach and the Kew Gardens Pavilion, one of the hottest anticipated events is the upcoming Beaches International Jazz Festival, celebrating 25 years.

    When I feel like exploring the artsy community and feel ultra trendy, I head to West Queen West. This stretch includes terrific contemporary art galleries and has funky clubs and hotels under one roof like The Drake plus plenty of eclectic shops and coffee shops.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the best thing to bring home from Cairo?

    I still can’t get over the symbolism behind a simple papyrus flower.

    And there’s nothing easier to ship home than a painting of an Ancient Egyptian scene on some papyrus paper.

    Outside the Great Pyramids of Giza along Pyramid Street or Al Ahram there are several papyrus paper shops.

    The one I visited is the government-approved Merit Papyrus Shop.

    The exterior seems unassuming but once inside the store take a closer look at the intricate framed paintings many of which are reproductions of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

    Watch a free demonstration chronicling the history of papyrus papermaking and discover the strong connection the Ancient Egyptians had toward the revered papyrus. They saw it as a holy plant.

    The radiating flower represented the sun’s rays and was used in perfume making and the stem was used in most everything else.

    For me it was the word ‘papyri’ which means baby’s skin that had me hooked. How delicate, strong yet fragile it is. The other wonderful discovery is the papyrus stem. When cut the triangular shape looks like the Egyptian Pyramids.

    Watch this demonstration to learn more about the Egyptian history behind the elusive papyrus.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Where is the best shopping in Cairo?

    Don’t let the smooth talking souk vendors let you go home with stuff you didn’t plan to buy.

    But often it’s from those coy one-on-one exchanges where you’ll depart with the most illustrious scarves, pendants, and alabaster scarabs.

    I find the Khan El Khalili Souk in Cairo perfect for this. Start by the al-Hussein Mosque in Khan el-Khalil teeming with inseparable Cairo moments.

    The coffee houses opposite the mosque are a perfect place to soak in this action too. There might be a woman dressed in a gold threaded galabeya applying henna tattoos on a young tourist’s arm.

    Now get ready to work your way past the pyramid stacks of pita bread and dancing children playing in the dusty street to enter the warren of narrow alleys rife with vendors.
    In the souk you can find anything your heart desires and everything is for sale.

    Be prepared for some major league bartering.The willful exchange just might get you some neat souvenirs.