Archive | October, 2007

Halloween in the Neighbourhood

30 Oct

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Autumn colours at the local florist

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Victims of the Children of the Corn?

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All those years bandaged up and entombed… not so good for the eyesight…

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Three shows, one night…

16 Oct

Looking for an excuse to go out this coming Saturday, October 20? Here’s three.

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Marinda Lavut: Lua Sol Showcase, The Press Club, 850 Dundas Street West, 8 p.m., free.

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Greenbelt Collective with special friends: Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College Street, 8 p.m., cover.

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M.I.A., Kool Haus, 132 Queens Quay East, 9 p.m., $25.

Anyone got tips on how to be in three places at once?

High-End Window Shopping

12 Oct

I’ve never been too picky about furniture. Hand-me-downs, IKEA– when you’re a student and you’re moving again in eight months anyway, it doesn’t much matter. But I’ve just moved back in with my mother, who believes in choosing home furnishings for their quality and design, and I could be here a while. So it is that I started my search for a desk at The Art Shoppe, featuring “the finest furniture & home furnishings available from around the world” rather than at a garage sale down the street. The Art Shoppe, for those who have never been, is a sprawling location on at least three levels on Yonge St., south of Eglinton. I found a nice solid wood desk, actually in the children’s furniture section. It was plain, had tressles, was painted yellow, and I liked it. It was an Italian design on sale for $700. Steep, I thought. How wrong I was.

Perhaps a week later, after more window shopping around town, we picked up a copy of what was to become our Window Shopping Bible, Design Lines Toronto, Fall 2007 issue, which lays out all the go-to places for designer furniture in Toronto, organized by neighbourhood. I don’t know that we realized the calibre, and price range, of the vast majority of locales covered in this magazine. Once we started browsing, it didn’t seem to matter. We were going to furnish our space the way we liked. Money no object.

Since we were, at that time, in designer mode (or La La Land), we didn’t bat an eyelash before stopping in to Klaus by Nienkämper as we made our way across the King Street East stretch of high-end furniture stores. Klaus is a designer furniture showroom where, should you have the funds and interest, you can acquire your very own set of Daniel Liebskind chairs exactly like the ones on display at the new entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum. It was here I was almost convinced that designer furniture was for me. One look at this TAFEL Table Bench and I was intrigued.

Tafel Table Bench

When my mother and I sat down across from each other (not without some balance issues– it felt a little bit like being on a see-saw), I was hooked. I hadn’t been aware of the existence of a single piece of furniture that combined table, wall and seating, and I wouldn’t have thought I would have a use for a diner-like unit in my bedroom, but all of a sudden it seemed like the perfect piece.

Until I saw the price tag: approximately $10,000. So that was out. Continue reading

Of breakfasts, brunches, and petit déjeuners…

8 Oct

In Montreal one of my favourite things to do with friends on a Sunday morning—or any day or time, really—was to go for brunch. In undergrad, we got our breakfast fix at places like Oxford Café on Ste-Catherine, Place Milton in the McGill Ghetto, and Moe’s, a 24-hour diner near Concordia’s downtown campus. At Oxford there is a menu item called something like Elvis’ Breakfast which is french toast with bananas, peanut butter, and maple syrup. That’s my idea of delicious. (Maybe it’s just me and Elvis.) Place Milton and Moe’s are greasy spoons that serve cheap, tasty food, and still have their charm.

In grad school, my breakfast tastes got a little more refined. We’d have poached eggs served in avocado or mango at Senzala, morning glories and goat cheese & pear crêpes at El Dorado (‘the-place-across-from-L’Avenue’) or we’d beat L’Avenue‘s notorious lineup by brunching on a weekday. There and at La Grand-mère poule there are so many breakfast choices it takes half an hour to decide.

Since I’ve been back in Toronto, I’ve been enjoying trying out breakfasts around the city. Kilgour’s on Bloor has always been one of my preferred places for Eggs Benny; they serve one with roasted red pepper. Yum. I recently checked out Boom! Breakfast & Company in Little Italy. The fries are great and the service friendly.

Another new discovery is Aunties and Uncles, near College and Bathurst. The potato salad with just the right amount of dill is a nice twist—you wouldn’t think potato salad with breakfast, but in fact, it’s delicious.

Stroll down Dundas Street west of Bathurst on a Saturday morning and you can’t miss Saving Grace, rumoured to be one of Sarah Polley’s favourite breakfast joints. On a weekend, count on waiting at least twenty minutes for a table after marking your name on the sign up sheet at the entrance—it’s worth the wait. I’ve been there twice now: I had one of the day’s specials, a pumpkin frittata, the first time around and an old cheddar sandwich on raisin bread from the menu on the second visit (I was more impressed by the former, mainly because, despite the rave reviews, I felt like I could have easily made the sandwich at home). The Vietnamese iced coffee was very much to my liking (though my friend was disappointed—it was not as bitter as the coffees at her favourite pho places in Montreal and Toronto). Continue reading

At last, a desk.

5 Oct

Moving—or rather, truly settling in after a move—can be a lengthy process. At the end of August, I returned to Toronto from Montreal, after six years away. Soon after arriving back in the city for good, I moved to a new apartment. Fast forward five weeks and things are unpacked, but still strewn around rather messily. In the absence of proper storage, in the absence of a proper budget, it has taken this long for me to obtain among the most basic of furniture items: a desk. Without a desk, I didn’t feel I had the right physical (and therefore mental) space to get this blog underway.

It’s my first time living in Little Italy, and I’m not far from West Queen West. Walking around, going about running errands and getting back into touch with old friends (involving coffees, lunch dates and such), I’m constantly noticing the amazing spots Toronto has to offer. Being away for half a decade and touching down in a new part of town has made me excited about the city and eager to share my thoughts on the places I’m discovering for the first time or seeing with new eyes.

A lot of this observation and excitement went on in the first weeks back in the city. In the next couple of posts, I’ll look back on some of the places that caught my attention. I intend for this to then take shape as a running log of activities and locales—restaurants, shops, concert venues, and elsewhere—worthy of note.

I hope this blog will serve as a resource for visitors to Toronto and to people new in town, and as something of a diary of settling back into my hometown.