October 31, 2011

Monday, Scary Monday

On this All Hallows' Eve we joined our friends Patrick & Raymond for dinner at yummy Just Thai, and then headed onto three city blocks of  Church Street closed to traffic for the annual "Halloweek" Block Party.

Billed as the largest outdoor Hallowe'en party in Canada, the block party was filled with thousands of revellers, most of whom outfitted in costumes, from sexy to scary.

I snapped this picture of a giant and fearsome rat, who towered over everybody. We saw many fantastic outfits, featuring some great creativity and imagination. I can't recall the last time I had so much fun!

October 27, 2011

Art, Music, and Clubs, Oh My!

Thursday night kicked off our upcoming three days of culture madness, as we headed to the second floor of The Gladstone Hotel to take in the opening night of their annual upArt Contemporary Art Fair.

We went to see some friends of Mark's named Marc Ngui and Magda Wojtyra whose huge textile piece "Polytopia" was hung at the entrance to the exhibit.

Friday night we will be attending an art party at the Wellington Street Art Gallery, owned by our friend Patrick McNeil. He will be featuring the work of artist Imam Azhari, who uses both traditional and modern Trompe L'oeil techniques.

After the party we will be trekking up to The Press Club to watch our friend Dave perform with his band, Ravaged By Wolves, an experimental/punk/rock collective.

Saturday will feature a visit from longtime Kingston friend Rebecca and then we are off to the Toronto International Art Fair.  The fair will feature 109 fine art galleries from 13 countries and is the largest and most celebrated indoor visual art event in Canada.

October 24, 2011

Sunday Morning, You Look Fine

We started gorgeous Sunday with a very hearty egg, cheese, and veggie scramble, courtesy of my beloved. Then it was a two-streetcar ride up to the corner of Bloor St. West and Bathurst St. to start our tour.

Our first stop was Mark's favourite bookshop, the Annex location of Book City.  He was quickly drooling over their art section. We then discovered Theodore 1922, a high-end men's store that had us both drooling. The quality of the fabrics alone was stunning, and we were very impressed with the colours and styling.

We then strolled towards the "Magnificent Mile" section of Bloor Street and visited the lower end of the scale retailers, such as Club Monaco, Banana Republic, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, before continuing east into the Village.

By this time it was 4 pm so we had a quick bite to eat at the quaint and friendly Church St Diner before heading to a favourite clothing store, Out on the Street. The latter occupies three floors of a townhouse and has amazing deals on stylish men's clothing. We each found and bought handsome zipped cardigan sweater; mine is made by Penguin, while Mark's is made by Alexander Christian.

A streetcar dropped us off near our place and we settled down on the couch to rest our feet and enjoy a viewing of "Monsters vs. Aliens", a very fun animated movie!

October 23, 2011

Viva West Queen West!

After countless hours setting up our new apartment, we pledged that we would finally spend this weekend exploring the city, especially our neighbourhood to the north, West Queen West.

We met up with my dear friend Dana after work on Friday and had dinner at the Queen St location of Terroni, the stalwart home of  southern Italian cuisine. We finished the evening at so-hip-it-hurts The Gladstone Hotel.

On Saturday morning we met Mark's longtime friend Toni at Cafe Bernate, where we started our afternoon with the most delectable home style brunch. I enjoyed an asparagus and Swiss cheese scramble that was just perfect.  We can't wait to go back with our friends from out-of-town.

We then hit the galleries on Ossington Street, with our favourite being AWOL. Returning back to West Queen West, we were accosted by thousands of Zombies, gathering for the 9th annual Zombie Walk. Yes, you read that correctly. Literally thousands of people were fully decked out with some pretty awesome zombie makeup and costumes, both old and young alike.

After the galleries it was time to hit the design stores, including 70s kitsch bar store BYOB, pretentiously named but cool Industrial Storm,  organizers' heaven Neat, and our favourite, Style Garage.

We had to then part with Toni and rush back home to prepare dinner for our friends Patrick & Raymond, owners of the Wellington Street Art Gallery--where we shall be this coming week for their next show opening.

More adventures in the city to come!

October 14, 2011

The Streetcar Shuffle (and other news)

Day four of commuting by streetcar has allowed me to observe the peculiar ritual that I am naming the "streetcar shuffle". Basically you are supposed to enter the car from the front only, then either (1) stand along the perimeter facing toward the window or (2) if perimeter is full, enter car as quickly as possible and slowly move down the centre of your aisle. This shuffle usually happens over the course of a few stops so you can strategically situate yourself as close to the rear exit doors in anticipation of your intended stop. This may or may not work according to the volume of bodies packed in the car.

For the most part I have found my fellow city residents to be a friendly and civil lot. There have certainly been some interesting characters but overall I am pleasantly surprised. In fact, I have had far more "Hello", "Excuse Me", and general courtesies on a per capita basis than I would encounter in a typical day in Kingston (population 125,000)!! 
There is a West Elm in Liberty Village and we took a peruse and found a gorgeous bath mat for our en-suite bathroom. I had not heard of West Elm before. They are part of the Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn group of stores. We loved the store and we met the sweetest and most helpful staff member too.

Mark's long-time friends Toni and Dave suggested we meet at Bier Mrkt on Wednesday night to take advantage of Oktoberfest specials. This place has over 100 beers on the menu, and the limited-time-only Bavarian Pretzels were awesome.
As I was getting shaggy, I ventured this week to one of the great barber shops of Toronto, Aristotelis. I managed to get seated within 20 minutes and got an amazing and attentive cut from Tito, a Venezuelan who emigrated to Canada 31 years ago. 

Looking forward to having our first moved-in weekend. We are brunching with a friend on Saturday and then planning to head to IKEA on Sunday to get some bookshelves so we can put all our books in place. 

October 9, 2011

Reporting Live from Toronto

This marks my first posting as a resident of Toronto. I took the attached picture from our balcony. This is our actual view eastward from our condo apartment!

I keep pinching myself, as I can't believe that this is what I now wake up and see each morning as I make my morning coffee (thank the Maker my Bodum made the trip safely!).

We've spent the last couple of days buried in a sea of boxes, trying to make sense of the mess and putting our new apartment together. We finally crossed the magic line when it became home, helped immensely by Mark hanging our art work and photographs.

We did sneek out a couple of times, to get breakfast; first to the homey Liberty Village Market & Cafe on Friday and then to the hip School bakery and cafe on Saturday morning.  I also enjoyed a cappuccino at the gorgeous Liberty Village location of Balzac's.

The next couple of days we will take some much-needed rest, get some supplies, and start to explore the nearby fantastic neighbourhoods that make up West Queen West and King West Village.  

October 3, 2011

Farewell to Kingston

Mark and I enjoyed a farwell dinner at celebrated Kingston restaurant Chez Piggy, thanks to a generous gift certificate from my colleagues at Yonge House. We enjoyed a fantastic three-course table d'hote that featured a superb carved Muscovy Dusk.

Chez Piggy is one of those Kingston landmarks that we shall very much miss as well as its companion bakery, Pan Chancho.  We shall also be looking to somehow replace Classic Video, whose back collection of TV shows and movies is nothing short of amazing. Of course, I will also miss my beloved Queen's but I plan on being heavily involved with the Queen's  Toronto Alumni Branch.

Other things we will miss about Kingston are the Farmer's Market, the waterfront near the Kingston Yacht Club, and strolling along historic King Street.

I came to age in Kingston and, after 20 years, I am grateful for my time in the city and am looking forward to our new chapter and adventures in Toronto. Still, Kingston will always have a very special place in my heart.