Cover photo by Paul Downey, used under Creative Commons license

Leaving St. Lawrence Market

Almost ten years to the day after moving into this condo building, I’m moving out. I have a new place a few minutes east of here, in a cool new neighbourhood. I’m (almost) all packed and ready to go.

I’ve lived in two different units in this building, but I was one of the original occupants and this place definitely feels like home. Ten years is far longer than I’ve spent in any other building, apart from the family farm as a child.

But it’s time. Time for a different (smaller!) place, time to explore a new neighbourhood, and most of all: time for a change. Like our grandfather always said, a change is as good as a rest…and believe me, I could use the rest. It’s been a pretty ridiculous and stressful April.

In between packing and work and whatever else, I’ve been saying goodbye to my favourite things about the neighbourhood. The parks, the weird little alleys. The market, obviously, though I’ll be back in upcoming weekends. Fahrenheit, where I learned to love coffee. Triple A, still my favourite bbq in the city — thankfully, there’s another one near my new place. C’est What, one of my original craft beer experiences and source of so much comfort food. Batch, which took over a seemingly-cursed location but looks healthy. XO Bisous, my every-morning stop and home to the best pastries and nicest ladies ever.

Now, I’ll move to a neighbourhood with its own excellent restaurants and brewpubs and cafes and stuff. I can’t wait. I loved St. Lawrence Market, but I think I’ve done all it has to offer. It’s time for some change. It’s time for a new home.

I sure will miss this view though:


Cover photo by Paul Downey, used under Creative Commons license


This past weekend was a rare treat: a brother visit. Brother #2 arrived Friday night and left Monday morning. In between we had dinner at Duggan’s and breakfast at Hank’s, visited St. Lawrence Market, enjoyed the lone spring-like day so far this year by visiting the Distillery district, watched some funny movies, had a long and sumptuous dinner at Fieramosca followed by ill-advised Trappist ales at Smokeless Joe, played a little Call of Duty: Black Ops and were generally lazy the rest of the time.

Happily this won’t be the only brother visit of the year. We’re visiting my family’s farm in July since brother #1 will be visiting from Australia, and then in the fall we’ll be visiting Australia for three weeks ourselves. Beaucoup de familial bonding, as they say.

It's like spaghetti, except it's more square than round

What a goddamn enjoyable day. No one stellar thing to trump all others, just a collection of goodness. Examples:

  • Eating rosemary/olive bread and cloth-bound cheddar and pineapple for breakfast, which sounds disgusting but was awesome.
  • Getting some work done. (Okay, so this isn’t particularly fun, but it feels good to get it out of the way and not have to go to the office.)
  • Listening to the new Elbow album, which is excellent, and the new PJ Harvey, which I hated at first but now cannot shake from my head.
  • Lunch at La Bettola di Terroni which, despite being right around the corner from us, we’d never tried. It was fantastic. I had the braised beef agnolotti in a sage brown butter sauce; Nellie had the chitarra pasta in a lemon cream sauce with sausage & truffles. We also helped the couple sitting next to us, in town from North Carolina, to find a place to spend the day (the Distillery District) and eat dinner (Origin).
  • Gathering supplies at a less-crowded-than-normal St. Lawrence Market, as well as two bottles of Flat Rock (Riesling, Pinot Noir) for this weekend’s meals.
  • Espresso. For which I have apparently developed a taste (need?).
  • Submitting 2010 taxes avec healthy return.
  • Running 4.5km and feeling pretty good doing it.
  • Eating a fairly tasty meal from Golden Thai (after we found out the even-closer Thai place, Ivory Thailand, had been replaced by a French bistro some 3 hours earlier) along with the afore-mentioned Riesling.
  • Watching many episodes of Sons of Anarchy (imdb).
  • Admiring the supermoon.
  • Booking a kick-ass campsite for this fall’s excursion.

Things I learned this weekend

  • Nellie’s vacations are always bittersweet for me. As an introvert I love the alone time, but I always miss her too.
  • Two years after I saw Once for the first time, I watched it again. Still just as amazing. The scene in the music store where he teaches her “Falling Slowly” gave me chills, just like it did the first time.
  • The city of Toronto is holding a design contest for a revamped north building at St. Lawrence Market. Good. I love the farmer’s market on Saturdays, but that building is both hideous and a logistical nightmare.
  • Eighteen pound cats do not enjoy falling into bathtubs full of water. They enjoy it even less when their owner takes too long drying them off because he’s nearly strained a rib muscle from laughing.
  • The Santa Claus parade seems ridiculously out of place when it’s foggy and 14 degrees. Oh, and fucking November.
  • That said, I’m excited that Swiss Chalet has the festive special up and running already.
  • There are few three-word sentences in moviedom as cool as “Gregor fucked us.”
  • If I ever own a house I’m going to make my living room into a replica of Cumbrae’s, complete with butchers and bags — bags, people — of pulled pork.
  • My team was teh suck last night (except for Carey Price) and hasn’t been very good at all this year.

That apt description

Ever since it last October we’ve enjoyed the restaurant at the corner of Front & Jarvis called That Corner Spot. After our first visit I blogged about the good beer (all local: Amsterdam & Mill Street), good food (good breakfast, excellent veggie burger), good produce (all procured from St. Lawrence Market across the screet) and good music. In the last month or so, though, it’s really taken a turn. Granted, it’s probably a turn for the more profitable — there are far more people in there now than before — but it’s also a turn for the generic. Gone is the small, local-focused menu; there’s now page after page of food available. The local beers, though still available, are now relegated to a small, mis-printed subsection of the menu. The simple tables, arty decor and interesting music have been replaced with generic tablecloths, Audrey Hepburn prints and light jazz. It hasn’t become a bad place; it’s just become every other place and lost what made it interesting. Like I said, it probably means they’ll survive a little longer, but I won’t be going back.

I always thought the generic name seemed out of place for a cool spot like that. Now I guess it fits perfectly.

Bonne journée

Well, that was a good day. After the kind of work week(s) we’ve had it was nice to take a day to enjoy the sunshine, eat some good food, drink some good wine, get some stuff done and generally just coast through a day.

We were up relatively early, picked up some staples at St. Lawrence Market, grabbed (at Natalie MacLean’s recommendation) a 2007 Tricyclo Cab blend from Chile, warmed our insides at Hank’s, did some errands, had lunch at The Corner Place, got groceries, got my hair cut, threw out some junk, and then relaxed a bit before the evening got underway.

As if that weren’t enough, today was beautiful…sunny, almost warm and the first bright blue sky of the year. Doesn’t feel like spring yet, but it’s close. Desperately, lip-smackingly close. Tomorrow: 9° and sunny. Bring it.


Good start to the day: went out on a beautiful winter morning to pick up bagels at St-Urbain, pretzels from the north market and a nice warm drink from Hank’s. The cold and the early hour made for a pretty pleasant Front Street too: not many impromptu cocktail parties or aggressive stroller-pushers to contend with on the sidewalks this morning.

I’m really happy to be out from under this cold, so it feels good to have an active, productive day planned. I didn’t even mind staying late(ish) at work last night…it felt good to be functional and not hell ass balls congested. Nellie finally seems to have turned the corner on her cold as well. She’s taking advantage of a lazy Saturday to sleep it out.

Right, I’m off. More errands to run and lovely February day to enjoy.

This had better not be some terrible Stephen King movie

Weird fog bank rolling into Toronto off of Lake Ontario in the middle of a bright, sunny day

That shot you see up there is of a weird fog bank rolling (very slowly) off of Lake Ontario, in the middle of a bright, warm, sunny day. You can see that it’s virtually covered the Toronto Islands. It stretches to the east up to the Scarborough bluffs; not sure how far westward down the lake it goes. Weird.

Anyway, it’s been another sweet day. I got a lot done this morning while Nellie slept. Hunger finally got the best of us and we tried a new neighbourhood place for the lunch: That Corner Spot at Front & Jarvis. It’s the fourth or fifth tenant in that location since we moved in, but we really hope it sticks. They have good beer (Amsterdam, Mill Street, KLB and others), good food (my veggie burger was excellent, Nellie’s breakfast was good and and they even got her eggs right…that never happens), good ingredients (everything’s purchased from St. Lawrence Market across the street) and good music (I heard Mogwai, The New Pornographers and Death Cab For Cutie among others). Oh, and a large sunny patio ideal for either people-watching or people-ignoring.

[UPDATE: we just heard a foghorn. That doesn’t happen on many days when there’s a blue sky.]

2 days, 4 Dickinsons

It’s been just over 36 hours since some members of my family arrived: my dad, my brother and my nephew. Since they got here yesterday morning we’ve had some breakfast at Sunset Grill, walked around Toronto a bit, played some crib (while my brother & nephew went to the CN Tower), watched some Planet Earth, had dinner at The Keg, shopped at St. Lawrence Market, had breakfast at Over Easy, visited the ROM, relaxed (while my brother & nephew swam in their hotel’s pool), ordered some Pizza and went to a Raptors game (while Nellie bought herself a Nikon D-60).

The question now is whether they’ll be able to fly out tomorrow evening because of this storm.

[tags]sunset grill, cn tower, planet earth, the keg, st. lawrence market, over easy, ROM, raptors, nikon D-60[/tags]

"I am Shiva, the god of death."

Quite an abnormal Saturday so far: Nellie was a) up before me, and b) up before 7AM. While I slept for another half hour she was off picking up breakfast & dinner from St. Lawrence Market and returning the movie we watched last night. We wanted to see Michael Clayton (imdb | rotten tomatoes) before the Oscars tomorrow night as it was only best picture nominee we hadn’t yet watched. It was very good, and shied away from convention just enough to be interesting but not weird, but I wouldn’t call it great. It wasn’t on the same scale as, say, There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men, but it’s definitely better than Atonement (which was described perfectly by Johanna Schneller in today’s Globe: “I’m not a big fan of Atonement. To me it’s like a local news anchor, handsome but hollow.”) and more typically-Oscar, so it’s hard to argue that it shouldn’t be on the list.

Still, all in all, what a list of best picture nominees. Atonement wasn’t awful by any stretch, it just didn’t wow me; in any other year it’d probably be a strong nominee. In that same Globe article when Elizabeth Renzetti lists a few recent best picture nominees — “Fatal Attraction, Working Girl, The Prince of Tides, in the name of all that’s holy” — you realize just how good a year for movies 2007 was.

[tags]michael clayton, st. lawrence market, academy awards, oscars[/tags]