Mayette’s (my first Filipino food)!

Those who know me know my love for Asian food is unbounded. I could eat it every day, esp. sushi, Korean and Vietnamese. So why have I never tried Filipino food? I don’t know!

My friend Liz had been singing the praises of her experiences with the cuisine on FB, and since I had heard how good Mayette’s is, 3331 Danforth Avenue, and Liz hadn’t found her way out there yet either, we decided to go and check it out together. Yes, it was kind of on the other side of the world (Victoria Park Station was the furthest east either of us have ever been) but you know what, the actual trip from Dundas West to VPS was only 27 minutes!! How is that too long to go somewhere new and great?

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Unfortunately I picked the worst day to go as it was POURING rain, I felt so bad about dragging Liz to the middle of nowhere in miserable weather, but not only was she a good sport as usual, it turned out to be a lovely meal with fantastic food, and I would argue that Mayette herself is the nicest restaurant owner in all of TO. Completely gracious, enormously friendly and just fun–you should go for her!, the fabulous food is just the icing on the cake.

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Mayette herself and Liz, love this photo!

I ordered the adobo calamari (below left), $9.95–Liz described it as Klingon food and it was, whole (really whole!) small squid turned purple with some combination of garlic, spices and sauce. I usually am a bit put off by whole bodies of something but one taste of this and it didn’t matter–possibly the best calamari I have ever had, spicy (she made it extra spicy for me!) and tomato-ey and amazing.

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Liz had the Palabok (above right), also $9.95–thick noodles with shrimp sauce and garnished with green onions, shrimp and crunchy pork rind. She said it was really good, with great flavours.

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Obviously we loved it!

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The Polish Festival in Roncy!

I went out first thing this morning to the Polish festival in order to give you the most time in which to come out to my hood and experience it for yourself. It is a bit drizzly this morning, but it is supposed to clear up by 4:00 and the weather looks good for tomorrow. So come and eat pierogies, cabbage rolls and potato pancakes, watch some traditional dancing and hear Polish folk music and a great polka band.

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Polish dancers on the main stage

Click on the links below to watch two short videos I took, first is some young children performing a Polish dance and the second is a Polka band playing right now!

Dance and Band

Of course there is also the usual street fair food; roasted corn, funnel cakes, poutine, and such…

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Lots of fun things for kids to do! Here are just a few…

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Friday: 10 Drama Series You Should Check Out

I thought on Fridays I would post about good or great stuff to watch on a Friday night or over the weekend. I’m always looking for a good movie, TV show or miniseries to dig into. You all know about Breaking Bad and Sherlock and, if not, where have you been hiding? but here are some you might not know about that I highly recommend. In no order:

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1. The Bridge (2011): I hear they have made an American version of this but you should watch this one. A Danish/Swedish co-pro, season 1 spans 10 episodes and I can’t say enough good things about it. Extremely well cast and acted, absolutely gorgeously shot (something you rarely see in series these days) and a riveting storyline. Also it’s funny in unexpected places and heartbreaking in others–what more can you ask? Hoping the second season will be on Netflix soon!

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2. Injustice (2011): This 5 part miniseries stars James Purefoy as a barrister who…well he…hmmm…you know what, I can’t tell you more than that you should watch it without spoiling it for you. Paced as a lot of British shows are, with forethought and intelligence, and not just a lot of the frenetic action North American TV tends towards; the characters have a chance to be developed and the story is compelling. Watch it.

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3. Hannibal (2103-): Not for the weak stomached (I have to look at the ceiling regularly) this is truly an original series. Mads Mikkelsen is so freaking creepy as the shark-eyed Hannibal–I mean that dude is skin-crawly! Trivia: I learned first person while at St. Lawrence Market that the show, which is shot here in Toronto, plunders the exotic meats counter at the Market for the “human” body parts that Hannibal serves to his dinner guests. It’s as imaginative as it is disturbing. Season 1 & 2 are on Netflix and 3 is coming in 2015. Watch after eating–not during!

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4. House of Cards (the original): The new House of Cards is excellent. The always awesome Kevin Spacey is terrific as a pleasingly drawling southern democrat with eyes on the Oval Office and the steely resolve to manipulate any situation that will get him there. Robin Wright as his wife is the more disturbing of the two, because her Lady Macbeth attitude is peppered with moments of personal vulnerability that in no way impede her icy ability to destroy the people around her. She’s scary! and both are infinitely watchable.

However! The original House of Cards trilogy was a BBC production in 1990 starring the wondrous Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart, a man ruthlessly conniving his way into 10 Downing St. His almost lizard-like, unblinking monologues into camera are breathtaking glimpses into the dark soul of a Machiavellian desire for power. I watched it many years ago and again last year. The filming, of course, is dated, but the performances are magnificent. It remains one of the best things I have ever seen on TV.

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5. Penny Dreadful (2014-): It sounds like a silly premise, bringing together Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, the Van Helsings, some vampires, a gunslinger, an Egyptologist,  various other spiritualists and townsfolk in Victorian London and wrapping them loosely around a core story of one man’s quest to find his daughter and save her soul–but it doesn’t come off as silly. It is graphic and gory but also visually powerful and incredibly atmospheric. It’s not great TV but it is very entertaining. Continue reading

Benedict and I: Celebrity-spotting at TIFF

tiff When I moved to TO I assumed I would see celebrities left and right. After all they make a ton of movies here, a lot of celebrities are from here, and there is TIFF and Broadway plays and big concerts that come through. Sadly, it just hasn’t happened–and I have to admit to being just a wee bit star-struck. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. If they wouldn’t come to me, I would go to them!

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TIFF is happening at the moment so celebrities abound. I don’t have the time or inclination to just hang out and see who I might see, I’m not star-struck for just anyone–I’m picky! I found a list of all the celebrities attending TIFF this year and read through a stellar (and lengthy!) list of actors. I paused briefly at Robert Downey Jr., but kept on going until I saw him. It could be no other. Benedict Cumberbatch.

 He was premiering his movie, “The Imitation Game” at 6pm at the Princess of Wales theatre last night. I might like a celebrity sighting, but I am not crazy, so I got there just before 5, a good-sized crowd had already gathered and I had a couple of rows ahead of me. I was on the sidewalk and had heels on but I still couldn’t see that well, so I thought maybe I had wasted my time but….

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He arrived about 10 minutes after 5 wearing a dark blue suit, glasses and with his natural hair colour (with an almost Tintin-like curl on top). He stayed out for the longest time–what a lovely thing to do for all the fans. He went up and down the line twice. First time I took photos, the second time I just looked at him. Yowza! Even better looking in person, the photos don’t remotely do him justice. His eyes are insanely blue and when he smiled at me…I mean the crowd…well there is something to be said for star power! That is one attractive man.

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I’m back! The blog resumes…

It has been a while since I stopped posting and some things have changed in my life. I’ve missed this blog but my original intention to post something every day about an experience I had in Toronto was a bit too onerous and overwhelming. So this is still going to be a blog about my Toronto, sometimes, but it is also going to be a blog about my interests and thoughts as well. Why not?

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That is actually how my brain works, so beware you don’t get skewered by a blue beam if you are passing me on the street!

If you enjoy what I write about, let me know! Happy to hear comments, answer questions or whatever! I’m going to cover a whole range of things so check back often and we’ll see how it goes…first real post in about 5 minutes!

Fossils in High Park

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If you are walking in High Park, don’t forget to check out the rocks. The park is loaded with fossils–mainly Crinoids (like above), but also coral and shells—-clam or oyster, I’m not sure! Check out what you can find just in the off-leash dog area in rocks along the sides of the path and also in the stairs. Click on any image to see detail.

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Mini-Post: Omi Sushi

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Recently found myself absolutely starving in Cabbagetown, it was 4:00pm and I hadn’t eaten since 9:00am. Right near the College Street stop where I was heading is Omi Sushi and the menu in the window offered a butterfish roll. I love butterfish but had only seen it as sashimi, so I was sold. It’s a nice enough looking restaurants and the staff was friendly.

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I got takeout, which may or may not be a fair way to judge a sushi restaurant?? but although the butterfish roll and avocado/cucumber roll were fine, there was very little spicy sauce on the spicy tuna, and these were the smallest sushi rolls I have ever seen. Don’t know if you can tell from the photo but they were so tiny!

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I pretty much expect when I order three rolls to have one to one and a half rolls left over for breakfast! Not so this time. They do seem to have some unusual items on the menu; Lobster Miso Soup, Flying Fish Egg Salad, a daily Fish Ceviche, a fish wrapped in sweet potato strings and deep fried–but after receiving such tiny portions for almost 20 bucks, I’m not sure if I would go back. If I do, I will let you know. If you have eaten here, let me know what you thought!

Rating: Turn left, walk right on Parliament, left on Gerrard St. E and eat at Qi Sushi about a 5 minute walk from Omi.

Christopher Stanton, actor

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The first time I met Christopher Stanton I had already seen him almost naked. Brand new to TO, I had gone to the opening night of a production of “The New Electric Ballroom” at the Taragon Theatre. Chris played Patsy, a shy, insecure fishmonger who, at one point, is stripped to his underwear and washed by another character center stage, making his vulnerability even more poignant.

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So imagine the audience’s astonishment when, moments later, clumsy Patsy is standing on a tabletop in a sparkling jacket, room darkened, the reflections of a spinning mirrored ball surrounding him, and the most delicious, crooning voice singing (and also physically gyrating to) an Elvis style song. It was a jaw dropping transformation which spoke volumes about Christopher’s talent.

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Both “The New Electric Ballroom” photos courtesy of costume designer Rosemarie Umetsu

I went back for closing night and although all the performances were excellent, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t waited through the whole play for that moment to arrive again. It was just as amazing and, well, crush creating, the second time.

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Perola’s Supermarket–foods from Latin America

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Perola’s, 247 Augusta Ave., may be tiny but it is chock full of all kinds of interesting items. If you like spicy foods as I do, this is a great resource, but there is so much more here. Easier to just show you!

I love chiles. I need to learn a lot more about all the different kinds of dried ones though! These are just a few of what they have. The first are ancho, then chipotle, pulla and cascabel.

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Fresh cactus leaves and a large box of…pasta? I should have asked!

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Sweets! Chocolate with almonds, creamed sweet potato with cocoa, guava and milk caramel rolls and an assortment of Mexican chocolates…

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