Tag Archives: Toronto

TIFF 2012

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday.  Toronto is a fun glammed up version of itself during the world’s largest and most important film festival, what with the celebs crawling the streets and your favourite haunts.  Walk through Yorkville and everyone is in a big hat and dark sunglasses, famous or not, people want to be taken as such.  It’s kind of a riot and a harmless sort of fun.

This year there are lots of films worth checking out, many likely to be on Oscar-watch.  Here though is a list of some interesting Asian cinema making its North American debut at this year’s fest.

Gala Presentation
Thermae Romae

Based on Mari Yamazaki’s critically acclaimed manga series, Thermae Romae is a time-travelling comedy that has done gang-busters at the box office in Japan.  A lot of irreverent and absurd fun, it needs to be seen to be believed given the plot:  Lucius a thermae architect from ancient Rome is propelled into a modern-day Tokyo bathhouse where he is inspired by the many innovations in “modern bathing culture” and can’t wait to implement some of these ideas back in ancient Rome.  Director Hideki Takeushi has tackled a classic fish-out-water story, one that addresses class, imperialism and creative thought, in one unique and entertaining film.

In Conversation with… Jackie Chan

What can’t Jackie Chan do?  As an actor, director, martial artist,  writer, comedian, stunts choreographer, recording star (yes, really!), philanthropist and entrepreneur, his list of accomplishments is mind-boggling.  I suppose he did start his career at age 8, but still…

With one special presentation on September 9 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Chan will be on-hand to discuss his impressive career as well give those lucky enough to score a ticket a preview of his forthcoming project Chinese Zodiac.

Contempory World Cinema

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is known as the Japanese master of suspense.  His latest endeavour, Penance, designed to be screened as a multi-part television miniseries or theatrical feature event, is a 4.5 hour, 5 chapter meditation on the nature of guilt as a mother seeks answers and revenge to the brutal murder of her young daughter killed during a day at elementary school. It’s billed as “a disquieting fresco of disturbed minds and wounded souls, Penance is a quiet masterpiece of mounting intensity” and not to be missed.

Comrade Kim Goes Flying

An inspirational tale about a young coal miner who dreams of becoming an acrobat, Comrade Kim Goes Flying is also important because it represents the first Western-financed fiction feature made entirely in North Korea. The festival programmer promises that “this charming film wears its heavy historical mantle with grace, weaving a lovely, light-hearted tale whose themes — overcoming adversity, and realizing the dream of a lifetime—upend our assumptions of a largely cloistered culture”.  Certainly an interesting look into a culture we rarely see.

Do you plan on making it to any screenings at TIFF this year?  What’s on your list?

All images courtesy of TIFF.net.  Visit the official TIFF website for ticket availability.

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Food Fest: Toronto Underground Market

It’s Foodie Tuesday

A little less than a year ago, just after writing my first post for this blog, I was standing in line at the pop-up (now permanent) resto La Carnita. To pass the time, I started chatting with the woman in front of me and she mentioned that she worked for the Toronto Underground Market.

The Toronto Underground Market(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had heard about the first event, held at the Evergreen Brick Works, which allowed guests to sample tasty treats created by both amateur cooks and chefs without established restaurants. Given Ontario’s Draconian food-service laws, I was impressed with this daring venture and was pleased to hear that it would be a monthly happening. And I planned to go. Really, I did.

Evergreen Brickworks plays host to the market

(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

But it never happened. Either I was out of town when TUM came around or I would miss getting tickets (which sell out at lightning speed). Fortunately, I got my chance a few weeks ago, just shy of its one year anniversary. It was an amazing experience but I do think that the organizers will have to change the name at some point; so many people attend that I’m not sure “underground” is applicable anymore!

Project Food Fight's Roast Pork(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

It’s no wonder that the crowds gather, with succulent dishes like the roast pork sandwich prepared by Project Food Fight. I loved the sandwich but would have been just as happy with a slab of this delicious pig.

homemade mozzarella(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had hardly finished my first morsel when I was stopped in my tracks by an enormous bowl of fresh, home-made mozzarella. I didn’t care what it came with, I wanted some.

Meatball sandwich by Little Tomato Catering(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

While the cheese looked good, I was blown away by the final product: a masterpiece of a meatball sandwich by Little Tomato Catering. Laced with a lovely, bright pesto and accompanied by crunchy julienned zucchini, this one was a winner.

pineapple baaus by Grub(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

While there was a wide range of dishes offered by the thirty-odd food vendors, my unofficial theme seemed to be several variations of pork on a bun. The most exotic by far was the pineapple baaus by Grub: braised and then grilled pork belly served on a pineapple bun with arugula and spicy pineapple salsa. Yum!

Kolch by Hogtown Brewers(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

All this eating was thirsty work. Several local libations were on offer, including a delightfully hoppy kölsch by Hogtown Brewers. It is the new kid on the (beer) block but if you come across it, give it a try. I doubt that you will be disappointed.

Swine Shrine root-beer glazed ribs(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Luckily I had my beer to keep me company while I waited in my longest line of the night, the one for the Swine Shrine. I was originally enticed by the slabs of root beer-glazed ribs but when I got to the front of the line I discovered that they were offering a trifecta of pork: the ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, and a candied bacon butter tart. I simply couldn’t choose, so I got them all!

Swine Shrine bacon butter tart(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I think bacon has become a little over-played in the dessert world but not with these tarts. Swine Shrine’s butter tart wasn’t as gooey as I usually prefer (though I was grateful for this when I didn’t end up with the contents on my shirt) but it was damn tasty, with a flawlessly flaky crust. And the salty bacon balanced out the sugary sweetness perfectly.

Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

What is a summer night without a popsicle? Especially when it’s a grapefruit, lime, and ginger popsicle from Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops. These frosty treats really pack a punch with their fresh fruit flavours.

SmashCake Desserts(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had already eaten way too much when I came across this little disc of decadence: a frozen peanut butter cheesecake cookie sandwich from SmashCake Desserts. The one thing this mouthful of a title doesn’t mention is the luscious chocolate ganache spread on the cookies. As delicious as it was, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I forced myself to waddle home without sampling any more of the treats on offer. But you can bet that I will be back to enjoy more underground delights in the future.

TUM’s anniversary event will be held at the Evergreen Brick Works on September 30. Tickets are $10 and will be available through its website starting September 14.

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Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 2012

TOAE via BlogToimage via blogto

It’s that time of year again; the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is taking over Nathan Phillips Square this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For those of you who haven’t been to the show before it is one of the largest outdoor art shows in Canada, and the calibre of artists it draws is always impressive. The focus of the show is painting, drawing and photography, but today I’ll be showcasing some of the talented artists working in textiles, ceramics, metal, printmaking and more who will be at the show this year. If you’re not in Toronto, or can’t attend the show, all of the artists featured have websites where you can view more of their work.

Ceramic art by Chihi Tokitaimage via Chiho Tokita

The ceramic artists at the Toronto Art Exhibition are always stellar and this year is no exception. Whether you’re a collector or just looking for decorative or functional pieces for your home there is no shortage of beautiful work on display. Chiho Tokita is one of my favourites; her attention to form and proportion is impeccable.

Oil Can Woodfired by Chiho TokitaOil Can, Woodfired

Chiho Tokita

In her artist statement she says that, “It is about letting form and clay speak for itself. I have always had an appreciation for utilitarian objects and the tradition of craft.  Some of the objects in my work are functional.  Some are reminiscent of functional forms but unmoored from utility.” This wood-fired Oil Can is a perfect example of how her work strives to find the balance between utility and form.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou by Lucky JacksonThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou by Lucky Jackson

Lucky Jackson is one dedicated stitcher, she creates a piece of textile art a day, often using vintage textiles and freehand embroidery. Pop culture is her main source of inspiration and in her pieces you will find everyone from Bill Murray to Iggy Pop.

DAy 253 by Lucky JacksonDay 253 by Lucky Jackson

Her eclectic selection of fabrics and the playfulness of her work make her one of my favourites at the show. You can follow her embroidery project on her blog 365 Lucky Days and purchase art and embroidery patterns through her shop.

Landscape by Jesse BrommLandscape by Jesse Bromm

Of the glass artists at the show this year I am most looking forward to stopping by Jesse Bromm’s booth. His glassworks are always throught-provoking and beautiful. His landscapes feature idyllic park scenes but lurking underneath the surface is something much darker.

Landscape III by Jesse BrommLandscape III by Jesse Bromm

I’m excited to see what he will be working on this year. Jesse graduated from Sheridan College’s Craft and Design Program and he is currently an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre.

Chemical Structures by Jacob RolfeChemical Structures by Jacob Rolfe

Jacob Rolfe (aka The Floating World) makes wonderfully imaginative screenprints. Printmaking can sometimes get a bad rap in the fine art world where the one-of-a-kind original is praised above all else, but the fantastic artists at this years show that are working with screenprints, linocuts, lithographs, and woodcuts show true artistry in their mediums.

Death Tale by Jacob RolfeDeath Tale by Jacob Rolfe

In much of Rolfe’s work there is a story hidden somewhere in the cartoon characters and psychedelic environments, and part of the fun is trying to decipher what his prints are about.

You can find all of these (and many other) great artists this weekend at the show. Hope to see you there!

Happy Friday Everyone!

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Momofuku Toronto, Can’t Hardly Stand the Wait

momofuku's famous pork buns

Momofuku famous pork buns.  Image via Momofuku for 2

At 33 Michelin-starred chef David Chang runs an impressive food empire Stateside.  In New York City his Momofuku restaurants include the Noodle Bar, Ssäm Bar, Ko, and Má Pêche as well as 5 Milk Bars in the city and 1 in Montauk, NY (Milk Bar is the bakery-inspired dessert branch of the Momofuku restaurant group).  His style is inventive, blending Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian and French cuisine with dazzling effect.

Momfuku's David Changimage via Food Gal

And the disgustingly young, cute-but-still-badass celebrity chef, called one of the best chef’s in the world by Anthony Bourdain, is opening a grand location in Toronto this August (!!!!). Located next to Shangri-La Toronto, a new construction luxury hotel/condo residence at Richmond and University Ave, fans here are already in a lather.   The mysterious Momofuku Toronto location is taking party bookings for the Toronto International Film Festival, when the chef himself will be in town.

So far details of what exactly is in store for the Toronto location are few and far between.  What we do know is that the Toronto Momofuku project is Chang’s biggest to date.  The space is three stories with the potential for a concept resto on each floor.  One interview suggested the main floor would a version of the Noodle Bar.

Momofuku Fried Chickenimage by Nick Solares via New York Serious Eats

this comes with your fried chickenFried Chicken is served with a range of sauces and vegetables with the idea being you create a wrap using bibb lettuce as the wrapper. Image by Kathryn Yu via New York Serious Eats

Whatever it ends up being, Chef Chang does promise that while his famous pork belly buns and fried chicken will be on the menu, though he says he won’t simply be cloning one his New York establishments.  But really would that be so bad?  Because check this out:

If you’ve got no plans to be in NYC this summer and can’t wait till Toronto’s grand opening, you can always pick up the Momofuku cookbook and try your own hand at masterfully done Asian fusion.

david chang and peter meehan's Momofuku Cookbookavailable via Amazon

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Toronto’s Craft Beer Brewery: Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods bottle

Stop messing around with Anheuser-Busch or Molson, and start imbibing something that does right by your taste buds. The beer is beautiful at Bellwoods Brewery, the new craft brewery located at 124 Ossington at Argyle. Since recently opening in early April, Bellwoods has been serving up well crafted suds to local patrons who are starved for a brew that, well, tastes interesting.

Bellwoods Brewery interior

Meeting at Amsterdam Brewery, owners Mike Clarke and Luke Pestl had a shared vision of what would make a great brewery, including combining academics with creativity and passion. This formula seems to be working since they just won gold for Strong Porter (Baltic) at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards for goodness sake.

Inside the breweryImage via Bellwoods Brewery

Currently there are 8 beers on tap, sometimes including a guest tap rotation. If you want to start off with something refreshing try their newest tap, the wine-barrel aged Biere de Garde ($7.50), likely to soothe your thirstiness . Move on to the award winning Lost River Baltic Porter ($8.50); this beer at 7.7% has a deep roasted caramel flavour that pairs well with a red meat or sweet dessert. Try a glass of the Lost River with an order of duck hearts or something off the BBQ. Finish the evening off with the Witchshark ($8.50), a double IPA that tastes like fresh pine and citrus fruits. This beer is pretty hoppy with a solid bitter finish and at 9%, it’s a big beer with lots of flavour. If you’re like me, completely unable to make any decision, 4oz glasses are available at $3 each – try’em all!

bellwoods patio

Torontonians will be happy to know that Bellwoods’ white picket fence patio is now open for the hot city nights. The patio is offset from the sidewalk which lends itself to a sense of intimacy while still allowing for prime people watching. Having once been home to an old autoshop, the front of Bellwoods is a garage door that opens to reveal the bar, a cozy seating area, and a mezzanine level that overlooks the actual brewery.

Brewing takes place during the day, but the entire infrastructure is in full view from the main floor behind glass walls or from above in the mezzanine.

tap at bellwoods brewery

While a prime spot for adult-type thirst quenching, don’t expect to eat big dinner-sized portions of food. The menu is not representative of the average pub food, but Bellwoods isn’t striving to be average. Mostly snack-sized and delicious, the food has been the creative work of Chef Guy Rawlings. However, as of June 18, Rob Julen (formerly Brockton General and Marron Bistro) has taken over creative control. Guests chefs will be appearing every now and then for special events including one in late July.

Expect to wait in a short line. Bellwoods doesn’t take reservations and don’t expect to be able to order shots of Jager:the brewery sticks to beers (yes, that means no wine either) and in my opinion that’s a good thing. For hours and location:



twitter.com: bellwoodsbeer

Photo credit John Gallagher/Deirdre D unless noted otherwise

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