Monday, January 23, 2012

Grand Electric, Parkdale

Late 2011, I took my parents to try this new spot in Parkdale. If you're on top of Toronto's food scene you've probably heard too much about it already, so mind this post I guess.
Started by former Black Hoofers, Colin and Ian, the spot's mantra is cheap mexican food, craft beer, brown liquor, and loud hip-hop. Now my parents aren't -- well you know "with it" these days -- I mean my dad doesn't even try. All that being said, this is the only place I've taken them to that they've both actually liked a lot (minus the loud music they told me). It might be because it was so affordable -- at least relative to most of the other places I've told them to try.
The crowd's demographic was insistently young -- 20 to 30s -- all hidden behind the building's cleanly blacked-out exterior. Loud hip-hop was no joke -- good stuff too. Lights were dim as any other Parkdale bar, and we arrived early into the night -- New Year's Eve that is -- so there was no line awaiting us, though we pretty much grabbed the last seats. We started out with the organic corn tortillas and guacamole -- which was as sublime as the all its acclaim suggested. Everything's made in house I should note, from scratch. This was probably my mom's favourite dish, and she actually loved the whole meal; she also apparently doesn't even like Mexican food.
We tried all the four tacos on the menu that night. The Baja fish tacos were great.
If you're into the whole deathly spicy deal, you might want to try the arbol chicken tacos. Although you should also note my tolerance for hot food is at about rock bottom.
The pork belly al Pastor tacos were my least favourite, but that's mostly because I have an irrational thing against pineapples mixed with savoury flavours. I mean, I know pineapples have a special relationship with pork belly and it's the thing you're supposed to put in these tacos, but they're just not my cup of tea.
My favourite of the night however were these beef cheek tacos. Sweet meat with fresh cut chili peppers, that's just my kind of taco.
I had the Grand Electric sour -- egg white, 1.5 oz vanilla bourbon, lemon, and agave -- and I loved it. Keep in mind, I don't drink all that often and Amy Pataki of The Star wasn't too fond of its lack of tartness, but I personally enjoyed it.
I really don't know what's not to love about this place -- 3 for $10 tacos, fantastic bourbon selection, craft beer and good music. The best spot for Mexican in Parkdale, I'm positive you'll love it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"A Christmas Carol" by The Soulpepper Theatre Company

Written by Charles Dickens. Adapted by Michael Shamata.

Last Monday, I had the opportunity to visit the lovely Distillery District to enjoy a little festive theatre production.
Soulpepper is one of Toronto's most critically acclaimed theatre companies, but more interestingly, one of their more experimental performance art collectives.
The good folks at Soupepper had prepared a stunning stage adaption of Charles Dickens' quaint Victorian ghost tale, "A Christmas Carol".
I went down with my family to the lovely Young Center for The Performing Arts early in the evening.
The reception foyer filled up rather quickly.
My parents had some warm beverages before the show, and the caffeine evidently made them even more excited than I already was at the moment.
An announcement was made five minutes prior to the show to usher the eager audience into the theatre.
As I mentioned earlier, Soulpepper has been known to take a fascinatingly experimental approach to contemporary theatre classics. This would immediately become evident as soon as one entered the strange rectangle stage, set right in the center of all the auditorium seats. They made a magnificent use of their stage technology and unique stage setting to put forth an intriguingly engaging show brimming with adaptative ingenuity.
stage copy
I don't want to ruin any of the magic in case any of you readers decide to attend their production next year, but the stage introduction was absolutely brilliant. The narrator took the stage in a charmingly mild manner, making casual reference to the "ghost light" quietly standing by itself in the center of the stage. Conversationally, he slowly made his way to an explanation of the ghost light's significance in the history of theatre. Before you knew it, all in one seamless motion, the ghost light dramatically vanished, the props made their way to the stage in one enormously dream-sequenced swirl, and the enthralling ghost tale of "A Christmas Carol" filled the room.
Everything about this show was so irresistibly enjoyable, from the gorgeous performing art center that hosts Soulpepper's productions, to Michael Shamata's ingenious adaptation for the stage, to the Distillery District itself, glimmering in all its Yuletide glory.
This is a truly unique Toronto experience no performance art-enthusiast should have to miss during Christmas.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

"No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in. ... I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things".
- Ernest Hemingway -

Then he added, "Blessed Virgin, pray for the death of this fish. Wonderful though he is."
Abstractionism is a powerful thing. I once remember, as a child, visiting an art gallery for a school field trip. The tour guide was a rather tedious middle-aged lady, and I eventually found myself fooling around with some friends instead of paying her any attention. Taking a moment from her less than engaging droning, she called me out in frustration. She said, hey you! what does the red represent in this painting. I responded with something to the effect of "danger?" In a terse and condescending fashion, she immediately shot down my proposition and scolded me for not paying attention. I can safely blame her, and many others like her, for ruining my interest in art early on in my life.
Why an artist would ever want to limit the meaning of their art is beyond me. Some of the greatest artists that have graced the earth have been staunch believers in abstractionism, as am I. They provide their audience the freedom to interpret their work in their own personal way. From Luis Bunuel to Kanye West, they place no definite meanings to their work. Their work may mean one thing to them, but I am beyond grateful that they understand their work can mean a myriad of things to others.
This is the way I approached The Old Man and the Sea. Looking into the mind of this old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, was a fascinating experience. I can only be thankful to Hemingway for making the statement above and not choosing to limit the scope of what his contemporary novella symbolized. It makes art a lot more accessible, and thankfully a lot more relatable.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Soma Chocolate

Soma. Yes, the word sounds oddly familiar. I don't know if this is actually the intended case, but I swear it was named after the heavenly pleasurable drug from Huxley's "Brave New World" because it is incredibly addicting.
Situated in Toronto's lovely little Distillery District, Soma is an artisan chocolate factory, boutique, and cafe all in one.
They import some of the most sought after Organic Fair Trade cocoa beans from around the world, and create their very own chocolate in house with the help of traditional and antiquated processes.
They offer everything from unique little chocolate snacks, traditional baked goods, gelato, beverages, and a variety of other little delicious treats.
It is seriously some of the best chocolate I have ever tasted. It's dark, rich, aromatic, and smooth. Absolutely divine stuff. Haha.
You must definitely make your way down there if you're in the Distillery District. You will not regret it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Broadway Street

Broadway is one of SoHo's busiest shopping streets. These were some of the first things I experienced when I reached SoHo. I just wanted to quickly drop a few photos to visually share it with you.
As soon as I turned onto Broadway, I was so surprised to see a sneaker shop right off the bat. Haha, I'm not sure why. It made me kinda excited. LOL.
I also don't know why I decided to go in here. Haha, it was kinda boring, but they have a lot of shoes I guess along with some urban streetwear labels. It has this boring mall vibe too it though.
This is the Muji space. I really loved it. They really used the gorgeous high ceilings and huge glass store front to their advantage. The afternoon sun streaming in, laying out shadowy sun spots all over the smooth wood flooring; that's the type of thing I remember when people mention New York.
The space has this simple, neat, and spacious feel to it. Plus cool house furnishings, accessories, stationary, and affordable clothing basics. I really love Muji.
So that was kinda what hit me in the face as soon as I stepped off the Canal Subway Station in SoHo.
Anyways, I know I've really been slacking on the posts. I'll try to get more of my New York photos on here next week. I sincerely hope you're all enjoying your summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Opening Ceremony NYC

Definitely one of the most famed retail experiences in New York City. The story of how this space came to be is absolutely fascinating. Spike Jonze made a video for Vice TV a while ago about it.
Anyways as you walk through the front door, you'll realize it's quite a large space with a small little upstairs section with a bunch of books, magazines, and music selections. There are a lot of accessories and new arrivals on the main floor.
Downstairs has a large space filled with clearance stock. A bunch of awesome stuff on sale. I bought a T by Alexander Wang hoodie for $68. It was the last one left.
The staff is either aloof and leaves you alone, or just pleasantly helpful. I still like Toronto's service a little more though, haha. I spent more time in this store than any other in SoHo. Haha, I really loved it all.
The store front is being refaced, basically like the rest of SoHo. Anyways, this is an obvious stop if you're in NYC!
And I really must mention that a visit to this New York will bring some of your favourite blogs to life. One example being Ms. Rumi Neely's Fashion Toast blog. Isn't that cool, haha.