Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ballet sandwich please, and some sushi too

I got a mix of both the arts and science this weekend in addition to last weekend's performance of National Ballet, I went again this past weekend and also attended the Canadian International Auto Show as I got free tickets. This ballet was much more enjoyable - better choreography and music, at least to my liking. Also visited a friend who got a new husky puppy who was only 5 weeks old; she was so adorable and everyone stopped us to pet her. And I stuffed myself at a sushi buffet. :D

Saturday, February 25, 2006

skating stars and scandals

So the latest news is that Lloyd Eisler was having an affair with Kristy Swanson (actress) after they worked together for 3 months filming the show Skating With the Stars. And his wife was 8 months pregnant at the time too. I've never really liked him - he seemed so arrogant and now, just disgusting.

Anyway. On to other skating news. I saw Kurt Browning at his book signing. He wrote a children's book "A is for Axel." The line up to get a photo and autograph was super insane so off I went to get Brian Orser's autograph; he was promoting the Olympic gear. I don't think many people knew he was signing as his line was much shorter. He was very nice and posed for a photo with me. Perhaps it was the two of them who were skating outdoors in that rink...?

And then it was off to dinner at the Ninth Gate, a brand new Korean Bistro (open less than 2 weeks) where the girls dressed up like school girls, the decor (walls) were done with wooden framing and backlit in various colours, and the place smelled of a fresh coat of paint. Oh. The food was ok too but I'm not sure why it's been so hyped.

Next on the list: the National Ballet of Canada's performance of Jewels. It was broken into 3 acts - Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. I enjoyed the show but find that the ballet's a bit too classical; I almost prefer Ballet BC's modern take on dance but still it was good to see these dancers, including Sonia Rodriguez, Kurt Browning's wife.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

the view from up here

I noticed that they have set up an outdoor rink on King St. in front (or behind) one of the office towers. A co-worker came into my office to point out the sudden snow squall and then I looked below and saw two pairs skating. Lifts and death spirals even as the blowing snow came swirling down. I wondered who the skaters were since there were some double axels going on too!

It's also funny to see how two large screen tvs and bleachers have been set up in the concourse level and at lunch time there are crowds gathered to watch the latest Olympics! I must admit I haven't been following very closely apart from the fact that the women have brought home the majority of the medals!! Yay ladies! Go Canada!

A friend called me up at work asking what my plans were for the night. I told her the usual - that I'd be going home for dinner. She asked if I wanted to go to the WLAO's dinner. There were spare tickets. Free meal...at the Metropolitan? How could I turn it down? Ironically, today was the only day I wore a suit to work...I haven't since the weather had turned cold (i.e. not at all this year). So it worked out perfectly. Dinner included field greens and roast rib-eye rolls with yukon gold mash and dessert was a white chocolate bavarian mousse with red berry compote. Yum. Presentation as always was fantastic. They also ran a silent auction. My friend and I bid together for the Morton's Steakhouse and we won. I suggested that we go between her birthday and mine since we share the same month so I've got another good meal to look forward to!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Well it looks like we really didn't escape winter after all. There was a wicked lightning and thunderstorm on Thursday; came home after work and stayed inside. My balcony looked like it was frosted glass but it was really a coat of ice as rain came pelting down sideways. Ugh. I watched the sky light up with blue flashes and then tucked myself into my cozy bed.

Just yesterday I think was what TO. really can be like in the winters. I awoke at 7 am (as per usual even on a weekend) and looked outside to see the streets in a blanket of white and the sun just beginning to appear. By the time I DID get up, the sun had melted everything but forecasts called for a cold day of -12 and with windchill, -25. So it was a day of staying in...no way was I going to step out if I could help it! A friend braved the cold and came over to hang out. Was a very nice relaxing day. Today's going to be another cold one: -10 but with windchill, -20. Brrr...bring on spring! (But at least it's sunny!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

quebec city carnaval!

buried in snow
I've just returned from a weekend trip to Quebec City for its 52nd carnaval. The major shock upon arrival was the amount of snow on the ground and the cold. My friend who had just been there the previous week had warned me it was cold; I believed her but it was still a bone-chilling -19 the first day!!

hanging iciclesWeekend was fun, but again, too damn cold! My travel companion had to practically wear everything he owned in his suitcase! The other thing that I had not anticipated was the frozen sidewalks. It was literally an ice rink and I was super cautious carting around my huge ass camera although I still slipped on the last night. I couldn't believe how bad the sidewalks were. It had rained all week so everything was packed down and frozen. Salt was no good as it was just too cold. There was gravel but really, that was barely helping. I'm not sure they get the concept of shovelling the sidewalks...

st. hubert derbyThis is the biggest winter carnival in the world and as we were there on a Friday, we had the place to ourselves; ok, so not just us, but it wasn't too crowded. We went ice fishing(!) and I caught a fish that we donated to the Salvation Army, snow rafting down a huge hill, watched the kids go on the inner tubes, watched the horses race in a derby (like an obstacle course for dogs but on snow...amazing!), and took tons of pictures of the ice sculptures, ice palace, and snow sculptures (that were unfortunately falling apart due to the previous heavy rain).

half an addressOf course we walked around the town and looked at the shops and stopped by the Chateau Frontenac (as our little guest house was right around the corner behind there.) And being the true foodie that I am, we ate at some pretty decent places: Aux Anciens Canadiens where we had a steal of a meal - $14.95 for the prix fixe dinner. I sampled real Quebec meat pie caribou, deer, and wapiti and the famous maple syrup pie (super super sweet!) This deal of a meal (pricewise) was compensated by the next one. We wandered all over looking for a couple of restaurants but not locating them; street addresses are a little odd, including some that are half addresses!

We ended up going to a fantastic restaurant: Restaurant Initiale. What can I say but heavenly! Or illegal! One of the top rated restaurants for both service and food. Our silverware was changed at every course. We couldn't decide between the set menu ($57) or the grand menu ($89) so we went with the grand. Oh. My. God. The food - beautifully presented. Sinfully delicious. They started us off with two teasers not in the menu - one was a beef carpaccio. The menu...I could go on and on. But I will save you the details (unless someone wants to know - post a comment and I may post the menu!) All I can say is that dinner included foie gras (which alone was the cost of an entree - $27!) and Quebec lamb (regular dish at $45). divine pleasure I cannot say enough about this place! I would have gladly given up all those winterlicious meals to have a meal like this in Toronto! By the time we were done, it was 3 hours later and I was ready to pass out from the rich feast that I had consumed. I couldn't even believe that I had eaten it all! Enough calories for the next day, and probably enough cholesterol for the next year! They even gave us the menu rolled up and tucked into a silver (plastic) napkin ring as a keepsake. This is one meal (and trip) I will not soon forget!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

restaurant reviews: rants and raves

So I've finished eating my way through 3 restaurants in Toronto and I must say that only one really impressed me. For those who know me, I'm a real foodie so please excuse me while I list the items that I ate! The first meal was at Monte Cristo in the downtown core. I chose the place based purely on looks, but I should have known better. I had walked by during the summer and the white drapes drew me in. The dishes themselves were good; we had asparagus cream soup to start and then venison osso buco and finally, I chose the lemon brule tart (the other choice being sorbet.) The service was not too great - the waitress was artificially interested in us and I guess for the dining deals, they said gratuity was to be added automatically. Well, the girl charged me $3 for hot water and called it a 'tea'. Whmonte cristo interioren I questioned her, she said they charged for hot water! I think she was hoping to add tip to that. When she gave us the bill, she had handwritten in the tip, and not only that, but she charged MORE than 15% of the total bill (i.e. she tipped on the tax!) Hello? I will NOT be going back to this restaurant/lounge again.

On to restaurant no. 2: Crush Wine Bar. Wow. The service was great - waiters helped each other out, the atmosphere casual with brick walls, exposed pipes, and an open kitchen. I started off with a butternut squash soup and followed with an entree of duck confit with warm three bean salad and five spice consomme. Fantastic. I knew my next meal had duck as well so I was going to choose another main but the girl recommended this one and I'm glad I chose it! Dessert was a lovely chocolate brownie souffle, orange anglaise, and port poached cherries. The night was made that much more cosy with low lighting and snow falling heavily outside. I felt like I was on a holiday at a chalet!

The last restaurant for this round was Pangaea. I had heard it was a good restaurant...and it was, except it was again lacking in service. Once our waiter saw that we were not ordering wine, that was it. No checking on us at all to see how our meals were. The maitre d' was the one who came to clear our plates!! The meal itself was fairly good (duck again but not as good as Crush!) and the dessert was heavenly!! The appy I chose was foie gras (torchon, with mushroom salad, marmalade of onion, caraway melba toast), the main was duck confit (duck legs on apple & cinnamon braised cabbage, roasted duck and juniper reduction) and the dessert was sour lemon cake with caramel whipped cream, and crisp demerara baked meringue. To die for! Can't wait til Summerlicious. :)

Monday, February 06, 2006


For those who aren't familiar with this sport, capoeira is "An Afro-Brazilian dance form that incorporates self-defense maneuvers." I've seen various ways of pronounciation: cap-poo-WHERE-ah, kah-po-AE-rrrrah, cap-o-ERAM (or in my own way: capo-OW-ra due to the pain!). My godbrother has been doing this for a number of years now but they offer it at my gym so I've started taking it up for fun. I do enjoy it although it really is a workout and I've ended up sweating like crazy. I was sore for the last few days trying to recover from this, and also the mega hard pilates class that I had earlier last week. I suppose it was a matter of doing too much too quickly!

And just as we were all settling into almost spring-like conditions, winter has turned around and hit us full blast. Thank goodness the temperature was still warm so we ended up with a nasty rain and wind storm on the weekend instead of piles of snowdrifts. It's snowing a bit today and still mega-windy but I get to enjoy a day at home while I kill the last of my remaining holiday time from last year.

Family notes: my uncle Stephen has been in ICU in Vancouver the last few days. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

winterlicious weather

Some observations seem appropriate as it is Groundhog Day. We all know that Vacouver gets rain, and lots of it, but this January blew records - 283.6 mm, 1.8mm higher than the old record set in 1992. As the news reports:

Although Vancouver fell short of passing the record for consecutive days of rain earlier in January, it hit new highs in both the number of rainy days and the amount of precipitation that fell. There were only 2 days out of 31 in January when rain didn't fall at some point - more than any other month in the city's history. The last month that hit the former record of 27 days of rain was January 1964. In order to count as a day of rain, at least 0.2mm must fall at the airport, where samples are collected. The rainy spell has been all but continuous since December 19. [which was shortly before I went home for a holiday of rain!]

In the meantime, Toronto has had a pretty fabulous non-winter:

Throuth the first 29 days, the average temperature was zero, half a degree warmer than the record set in 2002...and if today's high is more than zero as forecast, January will have had 26 days in which temperatures were above freezing....It has been wet...Toronto had received 64.4 mm of rain, more than twice the average of 24.9mm, and 7.8cm of snow, a quarter of the long-term average of 31.1cm...

And the city's celebrating winter with its winterfest. That means dining out at restaurants on the cheap. I'll be heading to MonteCristo tomorrow after work for a meal with a couple of friends...will have to report back! (I've so far signed up for 3 dinners with an offer to do 2 more but don't you just think that would be overindulging...slightly?