Friday, 2 December 2011

Foodie Friday - Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws

I know, it’s only a grocery store,
But I like it, like it, yes I do.

As someone who has never owned a car, I appreciate all my friends who have schlepped me all across hell’s half acre on a multitude of this fool’s errands. Doing the big grocery shop was always a big deal because getting someone to take you there, wait around while you scan the aisles for exotic things like brown sugar or tinned soup that’s not expired, and then take you home - well, people can only be so patient, right?
Because going to the big grocery stores for the big hauls have been such special occasions for me, I think I have imagined that grocery stores are huge, brightly lit pleasure palaces and that going to pick up laundry soap and 30-packs of toilet paper is akin to visiting Disneyland. With slightly shorter line-ups.
When Loblaws announced that they were opening up a new mega store in the vacated Maple Leaf Gardens here in Toronto, I was thrilled, to say the least. Even though it will take me 40 minutes by public transportation just to get there, I will still go. Like a cow to a salt lick. Like a middle aged housewife to a place where she can spend a crap load of cash and feel that it’s legitimate. Just like that.
So I’m on my way there and imagine my delighted surprise when I run into our good friend Ryan, who you are all getting to know so well despite his protestations to me to respect his privacy.  We decided to venture in together and see what all the totally excellent super amazing fuss is about.

There was a line up to get in. 

And police. Yep. 

Remember Ross from a couple blogs ago? The guy who owns Bulldog cafe? Well he was, like, practically first in line when the store opened and got his receipt signed by Loblaws CEO, guru and Spokesmodel, Galen Weston Jr.  Not sure what Ross bought. Probably a green pepper and some frozen pizzas. They have those things there. 

photo from 

Well, he might have got those things.
Inside, you will find yourself in a vast cave, almost like a former hockey arena, full of edibles and cookables, drinkables and why-the-hell-is-this-in-here-it’s-a-grocery-store.

It’s well laid out, brightly lit without being fluorescently oppressive, and there are three kinds of everything.

The pretty carts don't have crud on them yet.

There were all sorts of opening day deals. I got premium brand peanut butter for the dogs that was half the price of the no-name. Imagine our dogs’ delight!
I also got my favourite evening time tea.

Bargains! For now.

There is a wall of cheese 

Wall o' cheese.

Cheese. It keeps you from pooping.

And rows upon rows of cupcakes which look amazing, but Ryan tells me that they really aren't worth the calories. All that glitters, eh, Ryan?

Tempting, but not really all that.

There is a smashing deli.

Why wouldn't you want to have lunch in a grocery store.

It's so not like Walmart here.

And all the other things one would expect at a fancy pants grocery store.
Red velvet cake ice cream? That's Ryan's arm. He's checking out the calorie content and slowly putting the container back. He's smarter than me.

Bon bon-bons.

Row of carbie delights.

I can live by bread alone.

Apparently you can get food here. And judging by the conversation by the microwave, you can get a date, too. "So, what are you doing after work.... wanna grab a drink, talk, you know?"

There is a huge slab of chocolate that you can buy pieces of. They just hack it off for you.

photo from

Hell you can even get fried bean balls.
I forgot to wear makeup so I added it using my computer. It looks pretty natural, I think.
I know. How awesome is that.
There’s a Liquor Store and a Joe Fresh shop upstairs.
I tried on this hat while my hair was still wet. No one cared.

There are a few tips of the hat to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who once skated through the organic section and got into fist fights in Aisle 6.

Maple Leafs logo made out of chairs.

Where you pay for your stuff what you buy here.

Ya. It’s pretty swanky, so you should probably go.

And down the street they’re opening a Bulk Barn. Nir-freakin-vana!
I’m moving downtown again. Just to be closer to that Loblaws. 

There's something that tells me that a store this shiny, this huge, this fabulous - well, it must be hiding an evil underbelly somewhere. And that when I find it, I'm going to want to buy three pounds of evil underbelly and roast it with rosemary and olive oil.

The heart wants what the heart wants.


  1. I love grocery stores but I prefer whole foods. I even drive out to the one in oakville sometimes. You should road trip with me sometime. I will wait - quite willingly - while you peruse. I also like your artistry with after the fact makeup. I am sending you all my photos to "fix". I'm especially glad I'm not the only one awake so early. Xo

  2. I would totally love to go to Whole Foods with you. I just need to sell a kidney first, and then I'll be ready.
    I'm very happy to touch of a photo for you, although you're so pretty you don't need any of that nonsense!


  3. They call Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck", don't they?

  4. Yes, but it's for food so I can spend Brian's whole paycheque there and it's.... it's really ok.

  5. I remember being a young lad from the Prairies and visiting my grandmother in Oshawa and she'd take me to Loblaws. Who knew this whole other world existed outside of Lakeland Dairies, Nutty Club, and Buns Master? The name even sounded foreign and exotic...Law-Blahs.

    Well, the opening of MLG has certainly renewed in me that sense of wonder and excitement. Thank you, Ellen, for capturing the delight of this shopping experience and for contributing your voice to the food porn zeitgeist.

    p.s. I really was thrilled we ran into each other. Total kismet.

  6. we had Loblaws here decades ago, and it was never like this! wow. And I thought our Wegmans was fancy. not even close.

  7. thank you for making me miss toronto even more.
    damn you...


  8. Come back, Jules. Galen Weston says you must.

  9. Last time I was in that place I watched André the Giant wrestle Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.. Wow great childhood memeory with my Grandpa.

  10. You are a one-woman tourist bureau for Toronto. Quite a store.

    I was a bit surprised to learn you don't drive a car. What's up with that?

  11. I'm still in awe of the wall of cheese. When I make it up there, I'm never going to leave.


  12. Holy crap!!! That is one fine fine super fine store!! What about the parking?