Monday, March 31, 2014

Café Avellaneda

I've found my favourite coffee spot in Mexico City - Café Avellaneda, in Coyoacán.  Small, simple, with staff that know their coffee, and some interesting surprises, like cold press coffee! Yep, your coffee starts brewing in cold water some 12 hours before you'll taste it.  Very different taste, and with a bit of rice milk and some ice cubes it was, quite frankly, perfect.  

the Ashes of the Master

I've seen butōka Gustavo Thomas perform by fjords, old churches and flowery meadows; I've seen him perform inspired by Scandinavian folklore, Oscar Wilde and the Lebanese civil war. Yet yesterday night's Butoh performance of "Las Cenizas del Maestro" (the Ashes of the Master) was unlike anything else I had seen him do.  His movements, his voice, his inspiration, the intimacy... Working along with a video artist, a clarinet player and a viola player - all of whom transported us with their überpersonal and subtle interpretations - he gave us access to an emotional performance about those whose ashes envelop our past and texture our steps...      

PS.  I rewatched the performance again tonight (30/03/2014).  And I'm darn lucky I did.  I perceived more, I felt more and, since it is an improvisation, I actually saw more. Acknowledging my status of complete ignoramus in art matters, I nevertheless want to say that this was one beautiful, deep, moving performance for me.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jacarandas and the Alameda Central

I just love these beautiful purple jacaranda trees.  Here: Mexico City's Alameda Central park.

Spring and Coyoacán

Coyoacán, a historic area of Mexico City, and splashes of purple from numerous jacarandas and bougainvilleas in full spring bloom in a gorgeous, sunny, warm day.

Friday, March 28, 2014

sunny gelid spring

March 26th.  A primer on enjoying a Canadian spring day in Toronto with plenty of sunshine and a temperature of -12 ºC (10 ºF) with a windchill of -24º C (-11 ºF).

Step 1.  Avail yourself of the following: boots, winter jacket, gloves, touque (winter hat), camera. Head to the harbour front, enjoy the colourful kayaks at the frozen marina, appreciate the delightful sarcasm of a sand beach and bright yellow parasols with snow patches nearby, envy sun-bathing ducks, and admire the beautiful tundra swans with their elegant black beaks and legs. [Yes, locking yourself home and binge-watching series would seem a more rational choice, but unseasonable cold seems to trigger irrational responses in some...]

Step 2.   Catch a cute ferry to the Toronto Islands and note the resilient civility of the inhabitants of said islands who, after their toughest winter in years, still find the time to leave friendly and grateful messages to the ferry operators in the form of a communal greeting card.  [Frankly, by this moment, not finding almost suicidal or homicidal messages at this winter's length and strength is a sign of almost absurd sturdiness, or maybe signs of the onset of some dreadful mental condition?] 

Step 3.   Is there ice? snow?  Appreciate the strange forms leaves, plants, branches and the like create on a ground that has frozen and unfrozen countless times.  Embrace a snow-cased spring.  Like those buds, you too shall emerge victorious.  [Or it could be that you won't, like the dead duck I saw floating upside down by the frozen water, but let's not go there...]

Step 4.  This should cheer you up.  Bright blue skies.  The second oldest lighthouse in Canada at Gibraltar Point.  Dashes of colour thanks to red bushes.  No sarcastic comment needed here.  It's really pretty.

Step 5.  It's really nice out here in the islands.  Really do take a moment to appreciate the colours, the skies, the scenery, and Toronto's landmark, the CN Tower.  No, really, do enjoy this.

Step 6.  Head to the northern shore of the island.  Like an archaeological dig, see how layer after layer of snow and freezing rain have temporarily transformed the shoreline.  A stark reminder of a crazy winter.  But crazy is good too.  We remember crazy.  We don't remember meh.  You might not see such a brutal winter in many years.  [Fingers crossed, nailed together so they won't uncross, chopped off and put in a safe, just in case].  

Cheers to Canadian spring!  [Or not]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cardinal Rule

Yesterday I discovered this amazing place in Parkdale thanks to a dear friend.  Rarely do I find myself having a hard time choosing because there are too many delicious looking vegan dishes.   And did I mention the nice staff?  I'll sure be coming back here a few more times to try as many of the as I can! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Espresso macchiato with soy in a basement with a window to the snow and a colourful old wooden house across.   A collection of things that will only live in my memory in a few months, a soupçon of a light nostalgia to come.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Toronto's St. Patrick's Day parade

Frankly, this is one of my least favourite parades in this city.  Maybe the weather doesn't let the people party as they would like (last year it was rainy, this year the windchill was -23 ºC).  But it was still nice to see contingents from the different counties, like Cavan (An Cabhán), Donegal (Dún na nGall), Armagh (Ard Mhacha) and Derry (Doire), and I always root for my Irish buddies, so Happy St. Patrick's Day! Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

tons of vegan burgers!

Good vegan burgers in Toronto?  Super easy.  Choice?  Little, usually just one vegan option in most menus.  

Enter the Yellow Griffon Pub.  First, choose patty (where they have the vegan option).  Then, choose from THIRTY FIVE different ways to have it (making sure you ask for no cheese).  Lastly, enjoy.  

(of course, a pint of Guinness doesn't hurt)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

the cold after the storm

It may be -17°C with a windchill of -33°C, but at least it's super sunny and the skies are as blue as they can get.

from spring to winter in a day

Yesterday, we enjoyed sunny weather with temperatures of up to 12 degrees.  That is - heaven.  Today, we're enjoying a snow storm with a windchill of -19 °C.  Life in the Great White North.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Musical Smörgåsbord

One of the reasons I love Toronto is its diversity.  Which happens to show in its music too.  Between Sunday and Friday I was lucky to attend three, completely different, great events:

Sunday, at Magpie Taproom, a taste of local and up-and-coming talent with An Amateur, The Morals, Ah! la lettre! and Clara Engel, organized by Artistic Anarchy (don't you love the name?)

Friday, Israeli Jazz at The Rex!

And yesterday night, a Tribe Called Red at The Hoxton, for a mash-up of club, electronica and pow wow music by First Nations people.

Is that great or what?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

NSFW mocha?

Sunday we had one good laugh at a Dark Horse barista's botched design.  When we asked him "What is this???" (we were not going to miss that opportunity, right?), the deeply embarrassed guy explained that the soy milk foam didn't settle as he thought.  Priceless.   Also note the "I love u" carved on the wood to the left of the cup - that was pure coincidence, but ads to the hilarity of it all.  

Monday, March 03, 2014

Mini donuts for the soul

Mini donuts at cozy Little Nicky's Coffee. Great food for the soul in a grey, cold winter day of pondering good-byes.