Tag Archives: Toronto

Sexy Cool: The Event

Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to hang out with the cool kids. Count yourself lucky because the iYellow Wine Club “Sexy Cool” event this Thursday, February 25 at 8pm is one of those times. If you’ve never heard of iYellow Wine Club, a Toronto -based social wine club with more than 5,000 members, or attended an iYellow event, you don’t know what you’re missing: socializing with the in-crowd, shaking what your momma gave you to the tunes of some of Toronto’s hippest DJs, noshing on seriously good apps, and, more importantly, sipping wine you can’t get anywhere else (no, not even at the LCBO).

Sexy Cool will feature more than 12 yummy (and seriously sexy) Australian wines, so if you’re feeling like you need to take a break from the frozen wasteland that is Toronto and take a quick trip to the Outback, Sexy Cool’s your gig. Head west to the hip Edward Day Gallery on Queen Street West at Shaw and experience a winegasm like none you’ve had in a while. Trust me — I’ve seen God and it’s in the form of an iYellow Wine Club event.

If you want to witness Angela Aiello single- handedly bringing sexy back, go here to buy your ticket…and be sure to say hi to me as my eyes roll into the back of my head from the sheer wine goodness! See y’all there.

Note: if you’re planning to drink (which I certainly hope you are), take transit, a cab, or find a designated driver. Period.

Update: within two hours of my post, Sexy Cool sold out. I don’t know that my wicked blog skills had anything to do with it, but I’m just sayin’ — SOLD OUT. ūüėČ

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Filed under Events, wine

Thank You For The Mammaries (Day 24)

Admit it — you¬†love breasts. We all love breasts, really. It’s possible that breasts¬†could¬†be called an American obsession and, in fact, I would venture to say that men everywhere take great lengths to recognize the hypnotic allure of a shapely breast. Big ones, small ones, fake ones, real ones, round ones, square er, semi-round ones — it’s all good stuff. For some women, breasts could easily qualify¬†as their¬†most enthusiastic component, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.¬†¬†

So what’s *not* to love about breasts? I’ll tell you what — that bitch known as breast cancer. Sure, we all love prostates and ovaries and skin and throats and brains and lungs and all those other body parts that contract cancer, too, but being a woman who doesn’t have, say, a prostate, I worry more about breast cancer than I do about any of the other varieties. Which means you get to hear about this subject today. You’re welcome! Not to mention, breast¬†cancer statistics1 are nothing short of grim. Consider these applicable to¬†the U.S. in 2008 alone:

–¬†250,230 new cases
Рa 1 in 8 incidence
Р40,480 women died from the disease. In one year. And people are pissed about the 4,3652 troops who have died in six and a half years in Afghanistan??
Рthe highest rate of cancer only after lung cancer

Thanksbeto the Twitter, I found out about¬†a little project going on¬†in Toronto called ProjectPink!. The idea, started by Darryl Koster of BusterRhinos Southern BBQ3 in Whitby, Ontario, was this: talk about how every woman should have a dash of pink in their hair at some¬†point in their life which then manifested into his agreement that he’d dye his hair pink if Torontonians purchased¬†1,500 BBQ sandwiches4¬†between now and December 18. Most importantly, though, 50 cents of every sandwich purchased would be donated to the Breast Cancert Society. Sweet! Some of the way cool Toronto bloggers and tweeters I follow — karmacake.ca and cakeordeath.ca5 — decided that if the number was met, they too would put pink in their hair, and so on and so forth, and, let’s just say that a little viral revolution was born. Of course, never one to be left out when it has to do with a mini-revolution, and because I have always, always, always wanted pink in my hair, I jumped on the bandwagon.

You may remember those research studies “they” do on kids where they put deliciously yummy candies on a table and tell the poor, drooling four year-old that if they can wait five minutes without eating the candy, they get them all, but if they can’t wait the allotted time, then they’re basically headed for a life of unhappiness and destruction? ūüėČ Well, I fall into the latter category. I have gotten much better as I’ve gotten older (ahem), but my OCD6 tends to kick in when I’m excited about something and I just simply cannot. wait.¬†Yes, I¬†have¬†zero patience and yes, I have negative 500 willpower. Your point?

What I’m getting at is this: my very favourite colour is pink.¬†You could say that I am somewhat of a pink fanatic;¬†my Twitter page is pink, my NaBloPoMo page is pink, my iPhone case is pink, I only use pink file folders at work and now, thanks to ProjectPink! my hair is now pink. No,¬†I am not channeling my inner Avril Lavigne¬†rocker girrl, despite the fact¬†that I live¬†in Ontario from whence she came. I like to think that I’m just taking this opportunity to promote¬†ProjectPink! in my own little way before December 18, as well as¬†fulfilling yet another item on¬†my lengthy Canadian bucket list. Of course, the pink hair¬†also¬†most certainly qualifies under¬†“Things that would never¬†have happened in Houston, Texas”. ūüėȬ†

I’ve gotten mixed reactions. I see people glancing at it like “does she have pink in her hair?” or, alternatively, probably thinking “talk about age-inappropriate!”. The cool, hip people I know¬†are like “omg, I lurve it so much!”. The uncool, non-hip people I know7 are like “hmmm, okay”. When I tell them it’s for breast cancer, they get it, but really, they don’t. It washes out in six to eight weeks anyway, but I honestly don’t care one iota — I love it and¬†every time someone asks me about it, I tell them it’s for ProjectPink!¬† If I can do a teeny, tiny part *and* have pink hair, then I’m one happy girl!

Now that this long post has come to an end, I can say in conclusion, fuck cancer and support ProjectPink!

P.S. You may have heard that the¬†United States Preventive Services Task Force recently suggested that women begin to wait until they’re 50 to receive a¬†mammogram. Well, my message to USPSTF is this:¬†you should get out of my¬†way because if you persist with these guidelines, you can assume that¬†I’ll¬†promptly¬†be putting on my killer 4-inch heels and coming after you —¬†so¬†watch out! Also,¬†you should know that I think about you when I touch myself.¬†ūüėČ

1 Source: breastcancer.org
2 As of 11/22/09 at 1:25pm EST. Source: antiwar.com
3 OMG. Southern BBQ in Canada?! Cornbread, sweet tea and baked beans? Yes, please!
4 By which I do not mean Canadian BBQ or “hamburgers”. I mean real BBQ sandwiches. You know, like brisket.
5 Does anyone else see the pattern here?
6 I don’t really have OCD, but I like to blame my impatientness on OCD¬†rather than the fact that I just simply have a lack of willpower. ūüė¶
7 You know who you are.

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Filed under do-gooder, Events, NaBloPoMo

Four Times The Fun! (Day 23)

Summers in Toronto¬†are filled with every kind of show, festival, art crawl, exhibit, and exhibition you can imagine. In fact, coming to Toronto in the summer is like hitting the motherlode of outdoor activity. Then, November comes — that¬†dreary, wet, gray month —¬†and everyone packs it in and goes a) home and b) inside.

This year, though, we¬†had an unusually cool Summer and,¬†naturally,¬†an unusually warm Fall.¬†I’m practically dying of heatstroke in my¬†now-that-it’s-fall-the-A/C-is-off-and-sweltering¬† condo, although the warmth means fewer days¬†I’m¬†required to wear my down feather coat in which I look fiercely¬†hot1. But I digress.¬†What does this have to do with Toronto’s activities? I don’t really know — my funny is out for a smoke break tonight, but my point is that I had an awesome weekend that can be summed up in four¬†short words: photography,¬†food, wine, and sex2. What could be better than that, you ask?¬†Well, for me, not much. Not much at all.¬†

The Royal Ontario Museum¬†has an¬†exhibit of Vanity Fair portraits and photographs from 1913-2008¬†which I could hardly wait to see.¬†Relentless in my own personal quest for documentation, not to mention a 14-year subscriber to the mag, meant that a trip to¬†brush up against¬†photos taken by¬†Annie Liebowitz, Edward Steichen, Helmut Newton, Nan Goldin, Cecil Beaton and Man Ray <swoon> was a requirement. And were there photographs! Indeed! Seeing the stars¬†in photos doesn’t really do it for me — I find them infinitely uninteresting.¬†The photo that sticks out in my mind¬†turned out to be a small portrait¬†of¬†¬†Claus von¬†B√ľlow, who¬†infamously posed for the Vanity Fair photos mere¬†days after he was accused of attempting to kill his wife, Sonny. Von B√ľlow was ultimately acquitted on all charges and Sonny lived in a permanent vegetative state for 28 years until her death.¬†The film “Reversal of Fortune” eventually told the story of the von B√ľlow family and is one that has always fascinated me.¬†Also, because, being a 14-year subscriber means that I’d already seen many of¬†the photos they exhibited, so I was kinda b-o-r-e-d3. A trip to Hemingways for drinks and appys followed and a lovely evening was had by all.

The monolithic¬†Gourmet Food and Wine Expo rolled into Toronto this week, which usually¬†means two things: I’ll be tipsy the majority of the weekend and will¬†inevitably spill red wine on,and¬†ruin,¬†a perfectly good silk blouse. Good news, though — neither of those things happened this year! Yay me! Rather than going three nights in a row this year, I refrained and attended only on Saturday night to help my friend Angela Aiello¬†of iYellow Wine Group fame. Ange happened to be on a press trip to Chile (yes, she leads a tough life, doesn’t she?!) and therefore needed lots and lots of help to ensure that iYellow got the mad props it deserved during the show. Props, indeed! The show was packed — literally — and ended up selling out. I tasted quite a bit of good food (lobster! thai shrimp!), wine (madeira!¬†riesling! icewine!), olive oils (can’t remember the names!), but my favourite food/drinkstuff was a “mini ice cream cone”: think ice cream cone lined with a¬†hard chocolate shell, filled with a (very strong) french vanilla liqueur and topped with chocolate whipped cream. Zomg. It was sinful. The party itself was basically controlled chaos and you could¬†hardly move without stepping on the 4″ heel of the whorishly dressed well-dressed girl in front of you. In fact,¬†when I gracefully departed around 10pm, things were just getting into full swing.¬†The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo was a definite “see and be seen” scene. And one that should¬†*not* be missed.

That takes care of photography, food and wine. And now,¬†the sex.¬†(Warning: parental units, the squirmish,¬†and/or the +60 set, you may want to skip this part altogether) Ahem. The Everything To Do With Sex show is apparently as Canadian an institution as maple syrup, roaming moose and igloo-living. There may be shows like this¬†in the States, but shows like this in Houston, TX, there are¬†not.¬†Therefore, being the consummate Canadian tourist, I¬†felt like it was something I could not miss during my time in Toronto. ūüėČ Also, because what else does a Texas girl do on a Sunday in November?¬†

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I arrived, but was surprised to see *every* kind of person there — young, old, gay, straight, preppy, goth, fat, thin, tall, short. There were the¬†typical vendors¬†you’d expect to see at a show about being intimate, like masseuses, photographers, hair straighteners, body painters, tattoo artists4,¬† and the ubiquitous firefighter’s calendar (!!!). Then, of course, there werer¬†those unexpected vendors such as¬†Cowboys of the Caribbean,¬†Straptease, the Sexerciseme Ball, and Orgasmatron. I saw things that angelic¬†Texas girls like me¬†could¬†only imagine (and then some) including, but not limited to, penis-shaped ice cube trays,¬†chocolate-dipped penises5,¬†things¬†that vibrate in time with¬†songs on your iPod (incidentally called “iBod”), and other varied and assorted accoutrements, at which time I decided that the motto of the show should¬†be¬†“come one, come all6“!

Photography wasn’t allowed, although I can assure you that as soon as¬†the fashion show began,¬†cameras were whipped out¬†at breakneck speed. Always playing by the rules, I, of course, took only one photo inside (and only after I asked permission),¬†so¬†I have nothing to show you other than the chocolate-dipped privates. ūüėČ

Needless to say, my weekend was filled with food,¬†wine, friends, and debauchery. My prior¬†method of operation has always been “fear and loathing” of¬†November; after this weekend o’fun, however, it has officially changed to¬†“bring it on, baby”!¬†
 
 

 

 

1¬†By which I mean the Stay-Puf Marshmellow Girl. Yes, I know it’s an image you can’t get out of your heads, but¬†try to restrain yourselves,¬†gentlemen. ūüėČ
2 Not what you think!
3 But not from the company. Lisa, you rock as a ROM date!
4 Called the “Nude Buddha Tattoo Studio”, natch, and¬†where people were actually getting tattoos.¬†If I was planning to get a tattoo, I don’t think I’d wait for the portable booth set-up¬†at the Everything To Do With Sex show to get it.¬†But maybe that’s just me.
5 Made out of strawberries and bananas —¬†clever, if you ask me.
6 But is¬†actually “Admit it. You’re Curious”.

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Filed under Events, Toronto

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words (Day 21)

Photographs have always, always, always¬†been¬†a gigantic part of my life. Since getting my first pink round Le Clic when I was about 13, I have been a serious photo-taking shutterbug. Thumbing through¬†the stills in Life Magazine always fascinated me¬†and to this day, I love photos way more than video.¬†Photography exhibits are my absolute fave and I could easily¬†stare at a photograph all day —¬†taking in its¬†single moment in time;¬†the looks on faces, whether those¬†of shock or happiness or discovery;¬†and the natural and built environments. I’ve¬†passed by the¬†Toronto Archives¬†on many an occasion. I’d heard it was lovely, but was not at all prepared¬†for the bigosity of it! It’s an enormous space filled with huge range of documents and photographs documenting the city’s heritage. The best part is that you can either spend tons1 of time in the building proper or you can plop down on your sofa in your comfy pajamas like I am right now and surf the archives in the privacy of your own home!¬†There’s just nothing better than using all the tools in the nerd kingdom to make life easier. Le happy sigh.

I¬†had an interest in seeing photos from the area of Toronto in which I’ve lived for the last two and a half years, and there were a plethora of them available. It’s so cool to see how cities change and grow, and Toronto is no different. While you may not know the area, I hope you appreciate the photos as much as I have.

As an aside, I checked to see if the city of Houston had a similar archive, but was unable to find anything. Rather, they have an archive of only modern day photos, but that is definitely worth a look.

1 or “tonnes”, if you’re Canadian

 Spadina at Front Streets, ca 1960.

A TTC bus, ca 1935. Not much has changed. ūüôā

Looking east from the Fairmont Royal York hotel, ca 1930

Lake Ontario in the Beach, frozen. 1924.


Queen Street West at Spadina, ca 1935


Front at Peter Streets, 1926

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Filed under photos, Toronto

Do You See What I See? (Day 18)

Away from the light of day, there¬†exists¬†nearly an entire self-sustaining city. The tunnels, stations and people that¬†encompass the three1 subway lines of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)¬†are daily staples of the third most heavily-used urban transit system in North America2. It is also¬†now¬†officially3 the most expensive¬†and least government funded urban transit system in North America, as well. I, along with 1,499,999 of my fellow¬†TTC riders, could likely go on a diatribe that the¬†likes¬†of¬†even Herman Melville hasn’t seen, but I’ll spare you the¬†colour commentary and keep my nose planted firmly where it belongs, i.e., in my¬†Wordpress blog.

Political opinions aside,¬†beauty can be found in plenitude in subterranean Toronto. I am lucky enough to have a car5, so I don’t take the subway that often; certainly not daily and usually only when it snows, so I don’t run down animals or small children with my non-snow-driving-Texas-girl-self. However, I’ve seen my share of subway stations in Toronto and am always awed by some of the thought and cleverness that I see in the art underground. Also,¬†I’ve seen some very odd things down there and¬†clearly, when people are kept from sunlight day after day, weird things¬†happen. But I digress.

My goal is to see, and photograph, each and every subway station¬†before I leave Canada, so to that end, I’m posting a few snaps from some¬†of the stations I’ve seen to date. I hope you the whimsy as much as I do.

1 Yep. Only three. And I could literally walk between two of them in about 10 minutes.
2 Behind New York City Tranisty Authority and Mexico City Metro
3 As of November 17, when the fares were (yet again) increased thusly.
4 By which I mean “Dear TTC, stop hiking your fares and your ridership just may increase organically”.
5 Yet unlucky enough to have to pay the city of Toronto $60 annually just for the privilege of owning a car in a postal code that begins with an “M”.

Spadina Summer Under All Seasons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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Let’s Bowl, Let’s Bowl, Let’s Rock and Roll! (Day 17)

Today, I did something¬†I haven’t done in at least¬†15 years — I went bowling. I know it may be hard to believe that it’s been such a long time,¬†what with my youthful,¬†fresh faced good looks and all, but don’t be fooled; I shall be turning another year older in less than a month, and¬†I will now be able to say I’ve bowled with the help of computerized scorekeeping,¬†as opposed to¬†my prior bowling experience where¬†we kept score with rocks and chisels. Anyway.¬†

My team¬†went bowling as an exercise in futility¬†teambuilding, and teambuilding it was, as in “I’ll beat your azz¬†with my mad strike skills” or “If you don’t send me that deck1 post haste,¬†I’m going to whack you upside your head with this¬†giant ball”.¬† Speaking of bowling euphemisms, I¬†may or may not have committed a serious¬†freudian slip when I uttered¬†“man, I reeeally don’t want¬†to touch¬†these dirty balls2“. But that’s neither here nor there.

There are 17 people on my team, but only¬†three of¬†the female persuasion, so, of course, we had¬†some serious girl power to spread and representin’ to accomplish.¬†I’m happy to report that I, along with my fierce female colleagues,¬†scored some serious¬†pointage and bowled surprisingly well. We even¬†beat most of the boys (natch). Think perfectly straight lines down the lanes and and breaking 100.¬†In fact, it would probably be fair to say¬†that my bowling skills¬†brought¬†all the boys to the yard.

As an aside, I do¬†not recall bowling being quite so strenous. I’d guess that’s because I was just a wee tyke the last time I partook in the activity, but¬†I nearly threw¬†my back out today. Sadly,¬†I was¬†one of the youngest people in the joint3, too. So if you’ll excuse me,¬†I’m going to go cuddle my soaker tub along with¬†about twenty-two gallons4 of epsom salts. ūüėČ

1 I’ve been using the¬†word “deck” since¬†the wayback machine that was my first job out of university. The top of a ship, it does not mean, although I could not locate a single actual definition of the word “deck” in business, so I’ll define it for you: it means “powerpoint presentation”, as in “decks of cards”, or “decks of paper”, as it were.
2 I said it due to the pig flu going around. I did, damnit!
3 True story. There was a group of seniors next to us bowling the everliving daylights¬†out of the ball and I’m not joking when I tell you that they were at least 70. God bless ’em.
4 Or, for my Canadian friends, about 82.5 litres of epsom salt goodness.

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Filed under Events, Random

Toronto Gives Voice To Art (Day 16)

(Note: I have no idea why my font is both microscopic and¬†not the normal WordPress font; however, I am far too exhausted¬†to try and figure it out right now.¬†I *can* say that after a quick forum search, I was informed that you are unable to¬†modify fonts on the WordPress.com platform unless you have serious knowledge about CSS, which I do not. WTF?¬†Does that seem silly to anyone else but me?¬†It¬†seems like¬†pretty basic functionality in,¬†I don’t know, 2009.¬†Le sigh.)

You know how you can walk down the same street every single day and not notice something that’s been there forever? I try to be an “explorer in my own city”, which is really still very new to me, but I consider myself to¬†know my ‘hood pretty well. Very well, actually.¬†This week, though, I noticed something different on a lamppost across the street from my building. I noticed a hot pink sign, not necessarily because of what was on it, but because it was hot pink,¬†natch. When¬†I realized it wasn’t just¬†another flyerplastered on¬†a post¬†announcing the next rave at The Guvernment or¬†that male models are in serious need, but¬†something from the¬†city of Toronto about art, no less, I stopped to take a look.

The sign said simply “artbuzz” with a phone number and two other digits, and was near the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial (sign # 1-3). I’d walked by the very large structure before — it’s huge and not something you can miss;¬†not to mention, I’ve lived nearby for two and a half years and, being the consummate tourist I am, had to check it out. That was long ago, though, and¬†I’d never noticed any pink signs. So,¬†I did what anyone¬†would do and¬†phoned the number hoping upon hope that it wasn’t some kind of porn line or ruse to steal your credit card number. Alas, no! You get a lovely little tale about the work of art, how the idea was conceived and anecdoates from either the artist or art experts.¬†Don’t believe me? Try it! Call 416.338.3331 and punch in 1-3. Pure art goodness.

Artbuzz1 was commissioned¬†in 2002 by the¬†Cultural Services division of the city of Toronto as an¬†audio tour of the city’s¬†outdoor art. Why no one has notified me of this goodness prior to today is beyond me. I have¬†walked all over this city in the time I’ve been here and have¬†never, ever noticed any other pink signage, with the exception of said male model necessitation. Ahem.¬†The odd sign is still affixed around the downtown core, but apparently fifteen pieces were included with the project launch — including Montr√©al artist Gilbert Boyer’s curiously obscure granite plaques in the ground called “I Looked For Sarah Everywhere” in St. James Park at King and Church (sign #¬†2-1), as well as at the elevated wetlands in Sunnybrook Park (sign # 1-6). What this all means is that there¬†are fourteen other outdoor art pieces I’ve yet to see. Fourteen! For shame. It, of course, may or may not have something to do with the perpetual foot of snow on the ground six months a year, but that’s neither here nor there. Artbuzz is definitely one of Toronto’s (many) best-kept secrets.

1 I scoured the intertubes trying to locate a website for artbuzz and I can assure you after an exhaustive search that one does not exist.

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Filed under Art stuff, Toronto

Shabu Shabu, Swish Swish (Day 9)

I pSwish by Han 016ersonally never heard the sound — the onomatopoeically-named “swish swish” sound that the thinly sliced pieces of fresh, red ribeye steak are supposed to make when they’re stirred in their fragrant broth. The broth I’d just made. At the table. In my brass hot pot on the portable gas-burning stove. Awesome.1

My first time eating Korean food was an event in and of itself. It was a UYE, which, for those of you out there who are not in the know2, UYE is Yelp code for “Unofficial Yelp Event”. What this means is that a bunch of cool Toronto foodie-types (usually the Elites such as yours truly) get together at non-Yelp sanctioned events and basically eat and imbibe until our little hearts (and stomachs) are content. When I saw that the event was Korean, I nearly blew out my keyboard RSVP’ing so furiously.

Swish by Han is a tapas-style Korean fusion restaurant that recently opened in the turning-swanky lower Toronto financial district. JamesJT over at Compendium Daily did a most excellent roundup of the resto. I’m sure you’re thinking “oh, hell naw, she did not just link us through to another site”, but fret not —¬†his photos of Swish by Han are fierce, not to mention he has a scan of le menu which allows you to see Korean fusion in action for yourself. It’ll just happen this once — promise!

The interior of Swish by Han was pleasantly pleasing. Large, rustic wooden tables line one side of the space with tables just opposite;

Swish by Han 006

Jellyfish!

¬†contemporary art from friends and family members hanging throughout; an almost out-of-place chandelier at the rear; and my personal favourite, tons3 of candles burning. Most importantly, the washroom was hip,¬†large, and clean, and since y’all¬†know how much I appreciate a good washroom, I’ll add simply that it may not be the cushiest washroom, but it has plenty o’space to do whatever you need to do. ūüėČ

Let’s get to the good stuff — the food. Food I consumed included:

  • Jellyfish — no longer being a jellyfish virgin, I can say that it’s actually quite tasty. It was vinegary and tart, and delicious!
  • Pork dumplings — not overly greasy, but with an excellent flavour
  • Purple yam fries — wrapped in Korean newspaper,¬†presented in a glass vase, and served with a spicy house-made mayo. Killer.
  • Kimchee — I finally had kimchi!!¬†It wasn’t what I expected, but it was good. I expected more of a warm cabbage instead of a cold pickled cabbage in a red sauce. I’ll definitely try¬†it again, though.
  • Shabu Shabu, Swish Swish — the reason to go. We shared three different swishes: beef, seafood, and vegetarian. A brass pot is brought out to you with a portable gas-burning stove. You are then brought a plate of perfectly-sliced beef and another plate of various vegetables. The pot is turned on to boil, you add the herbs and vegetables to flavour the water, and once it’s boiling, you add your beef and “swish” it around for just a few minutes until it’s cooked!¬†It was served with a sweet and sour sauce that was good, although my dinner partners informed me that you are usually given a sesame soy-type sauce with Korean food as well. Of course, what did I know.¬† Once you are finished with your dish, you are allowed to choose from either rice or noodles; your leftover broth is used to cook either starch and you finish off the Shabu Shabu this way.
  • Soju — a very strong drink made in South Korea.¬†Traditional soju was distilled from fermented grains, a¬†method that was prohibited during the rice Swish by Han 005shortages that began¬†in 1965 and lasting more than three decades. Instead, they began using ethanol (yes, the same ethanol that we use to fuel our cars) to dilute the soju. Although the ban has been lifted, cheap soju is apparently still made this way. Its alcohol content is between 20-45%. Swish by Han’s soju was served in flavours including ginger, which is what we had. It’s traditionally shared by the table and served in shot glasses. I had a very tiny sip and practically grew a patch of hair on my chest. Pretty!

The service was excellent! Granted, we were there early on a Tuesday night, so they weren’t packed, but our server was patient and attentive with our large group.

My first time eating (sort-of) Korean was seriously good. And of course, I’ll become a shabu shabu prophet to all those whom I feel need a little spice in their life. Not to mention, it’s just fun to say to¬†shabu shabu, swish swish. It’s¬†some serious rhymoflavin’, n√≥n?

1 I think I use this word far, far too much. I will try to use it less. Try, being the operative word, naturally.
2 By which I mean totally uncool.
3 Or “tonnes” if you’re Canadian.

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Gettin’ Busy (Day 3)

Confession: I’m a washroom1 sort of girl, by which I mean¬†that I enjoy lounging around in my soaker tub filled with seasonally-scented bubbles while reading and, preferably, while sipping a large glass of Cab Sauv. This also¬†means that I’m a sucker for wicked cool bathrooms at wicked cool restaurants because I live a very exciting life.¬†Anyway. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend:¬†washrooms¬†today seem to be quite conducive to, let’s say, gettin’ busy. Not that I’m a girl who would ever frequent a bathroom to get busy,¬†but a girl can¬†still make certain observations, n√≥n?¬†As such, I thought I’d take you on a little tour of¬†the discriminating Toronto¬†washrooms¬†bringin’ sexy back.

DeluxToronto International Film Festival 08 010
Walk down a narrow, winding staircase covered in glossy black paint and¬†bump smack dam into two √ľber-private washrooms. The aesthetically pleasing¬†sink fixtures seem to make for a good handle to grab onto, if you’re so inclined.

Spice Route
These washrooms are so big, they could be condos in Tokyo. Red light encourages trouble-making. One wall is a one-way window, looking out onto a garden. You never know who might see you. Or who you might want to see you.

Milestone’s at Toronto Life Square
Admittedly the oddest of the four, Barbie (but mostly Ken) dolls in acrylic boxes stare down at you as you wash your hands, or, say, as you straighten your smudged red lipstick aprés makeout session in the black tiled, and very darkly lit, stalls.

Grace
The Tiffany blue settee just outside the charmingly precious washrooms is a good spot to meet up. The light switch is about shoulder height which offers easy access for your elbow. Ahem.

 

1The Canadian way of saying restroom

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The Great Harbord Street Pumpkin Festival (Day 2)

Harbord Street Pumpkin Festival 125What do you get when you cross a crisp, Fall night, more than 400 elaborately carved pumpkins, and closed-off Toronto streets lined with table after table? Why, you get the second annual Great Harbord Street Pumpkin Festival, of course!

Held the day after Halloween, residents of Harbord Village brought¬†their carved pumpkins, found¬†an empty spot, and graced the tables with their gourds. At dusk, the pumpkins were¬†lit, the street was¬†closed and was aglow. Literally.¬†A silent auction was¬†held at the Art Gallery, local restaurants featured pumpkin-flavoured items on their menu, a bagpiper played, and at the conHarbord Street Pumpkin Festival 152clusion of the night, the pumpkins were¬†collected for composting. Even in the midst of a sea of orange, Torontonians still managed to stay green. ūüôā

I walked down the street in awe.¬†The night was clear and cool, and the plentifully fallen leaves filled the streets.¬†The smell of hot chocolate and spiced cider filled the air. Parents¬†strolled down the street holding hands;¬†kids sprinted down the street screaming with excitement and¬†practically burned off their fingertips¬†from getting too much of an “up close and personal” pumpkin view.¬†I didn’t blame them. There were¬†pumpkins with Canadian themes,¬†warts,¬†wrapped like ninjas,¬†with squash for noses, question marks, Inukshuk,¬†a centipede-looking pumpkin made up of eight gourds, and, a somewhat humourous H1N1 pumpkin paired with a devil. I am quite sure that by “devil”, they meant “the media”.¬†Ahem. DT Bistro had the most amazing pumpkins I’d ever seen — they looked as thought they’d somehow been flecked and¬†there were literally hoardes of people gawking at them.¬†Or maybe that was just me. Anyway. As I walked, I¬†had¬†flashbacks to the scene in “You’ve Got Mail” where Tom Hanks entertains his niece and nephew at what I thought was the¬†Fall carnival of all Fall carnivals. There wasn’t Harbord Street Pumpkin Festival 011exactly apple bobbing (thanks, H1N1!) or face painting at the Harbord Street Festival, but¬†there was plenty of happiness, leaves,¬†spooktacularness, and¬†witty,¬†amothereffinmazing pumpkins.

Check out the full set of serious pumpkin goodness here.

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