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Southern Ontario Staycation Ideas for Summer 2013: Two Islands Weekend, Manitoulin Star Party, Canoeing the Grand River and more

In Entertainment on July 18, 2013 at 10:09 am

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Staycation doesn’t have to be bad word. Ontario is a beautiful province full of endless summer possibilities, and we’ve got a list to prove it!

Attend summer camp for grown-ups

Nothing evokes nostalgia quite like memories of summer camp. For those who have spent every summer fantasizing about camp, Two Islands Weekend is here to take you back. Branded as a “one-of-a-kind summer camp for adults,” Two Islands Weekend takes over Camp Timberlane in the 600-acre forest of the Haliburton Highlands for one weekend (September 6-8). The all-inclusive camp offers two nights in shared cabins, camp activities (canoeing, arts and crafts, yoga, field sports, capture the flag, camp-themed trivia night, etc.), camp fires (with s’mores, of course), camp-inspired meals prepared by Toronto chefs, and alcoholic beverages available at night. The $300 fee includes everything but your transportation and can be purchased online.

See a drive-in movie

Like summer camp, the drive-in also has that sentimental summer nostalgia thing going for it. I would hate to see drive-ins become extinct, so let’s all make a pact to go to at least one this summer, ok? Wear your sweats or PJs, stock up on endless amounts of snacks, and make the car your sanctuary for that night. Here’s a list of 20 active drive-ins in Southern Ontario.

Spend a weekend in Prince Edward County

Located about three hours east of Toronto, Prince Edward County is the perfect escape from city life. The area is sprawling with wineries, bed and breakfasts, farm markets, antique shops, and art galleries/workshops (The Globe called PEC “Ontario’s other arts hot spot”).

Spend a day on the Toronto Island

How cool is it that us Torontonians have an island to escape to?! Just a $7 ferry ride away, the Toronto Islands have everything you need for a perfect day trip: beaches, picnic areas, fire pits, snack bars, volleyball courts, and a seriously beautiful view of the skyline.

Stargaze at the Manitoulin Star Party

Toronto has a lot to offer, but there is one thing you will never find here: an unobstructed view of the stars. So, for those who would like to see the night sky in all its glory (and feel so very small), the Manitoulin Star Party is for you. Happening August 9-12, the Star Party is held at the Dark Sky Preserve at Gordon’s Park and offers 360 degree viewing, no light pollution, and the darkest skies in Ontario. The weekend includes a welcome wine and cheese reception, astronomy art show, guest speakers, guided public astronomy sessions, laser guided sky tours, nature interpretive centre, guided fossil walk, mini putt challenge, wind up campfire, and Saturday night pot luck supper. For sleeping, you have the option of the Stargazing Cabin, Dark Sky Preserve Bunkie, Camping Cabins, Tipi Tenting, or the Bed & Breakfast. Cost is $42 + tax per person per night.

Canoe on the Grand River

Located in Kitchener, the Grand River is the largest river in Southern Ontario and is known for its beautiful scenery – most notably, the Elora Gorge. Canoeing is the best way to explore the River and whether you’re a first-timer or expert, Canoeing the Grand offers several different trips and rental options. All trip prices include shuttle service, canoe for 2 or kayak for 1, and all gear. If you need more convincing, watch this promotional video set to the Jurassic Park theme song.

Visit the Thousand Islands

Easily one of the most beautiful places in Ontario and maybe even the world, Thousand Islands is made up of 1,864 islands on the New York-Southern Ontario border. You’ll probably want to spend at least a weekend here, because the possibilities are endless: pirates, cruises, ghost walks, art galleries, museums, scuba diving, trails, cottaging…you get the point.

Explore the Warsaw Caves

For those who don’t mind getting a little dirty, the Warsaw Caves (located just outside of Peterborough) are worth exploring. Made up of limestone bedrock, the seven caves were formed thousands of years ago during the last ice age when Ontario was covered in sheets of ice two to three kilometres thick. Referred to as an “underground jungle gym,” sturdy shoes, clothing you don’t mind getting dirty, and a flashlight or headlamp (available at the gatehouse) are essential. Have fun spelunking!

* Published on July 17, 2013 at She Does the City

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Bonnaroo 2013 Highlights

In Concert Reviews, Music on June 26, 2013 at 7:05 am
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Went to Bonnaroo and loved it. Here are some highlights.

  • Major props to the Wal-Mart in Manchester for making our pre-Bonnaroo shopping trip quick, easy, and fun. Being first-timers, we had heard that stopping here beforehand was a rite of passage—and it most definitely is. Upon entering, we were greeted by a giant “Welcome to Bonnaroo” banner and friendly staff decked out in tie-dye. Everything we needed—beer, snacks, baby wipes, bug spray, tie-dye shirts—was easily accessible and well-stocked, which made navigating the store a breeze.
  • The ladies of HAIM and Deap Vally are worth the hype. Both put on great shows.
  • I don’t think I stopped smiling during Father John Misty’s set.
  • Passion Pit’s Friday afternoon set was one big dance party under the sweltering Tennessee sun.
  • Wu-Tang Clan proved they Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit and their ASL interpreter was incredible.
  • I can now say that I’ve seen a Beatle live. Paul McCartney’s three-hour performance included songs from the Beatles and Wings era plus his own solo material and stories about Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon. There were two encores, fireworks, and 80,000 people singing along to “Hey Jude” so yes, it was epic.
  • I tried alligator for the first time and it was delicious!
  • When it’s so hot that you can barely move, you need beautiful music to lounge to. Local Natives and Solange were just that.
  • We met a guy from Alabama and he asked us to explain Canadian money and healthcare to him.
  • On Saturday night, I had to decide between R. Kelly and Billy Idol and that is just not fair. Ultimately, I went with Billy because seeing an ’80s icon perform on a farm in Tennessee was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. His costume changes included a leather jacket, a leather vest, a dress shirt, a suit jacket worn open, and no shirt at all.
  • Mac DeMarco’s show at Canadian Music Week in March was one of the craziest I’ve ever been to, so I knew seeing him perform at Bonnaroo was a must. His Sunday afternoon show was far more tame, but it wasn’t any less fun—it’s impossible not to have fun at a Mac DeMarco show.
  • Tame Impala probably should have performed on the main stage because their Sunday evening set was overflowing from The Other Tent. I had a prime spot near the front which meant that I was able to experience the band in all their psychedelic glory and high-five crowd surfers after they floated across the audience.
  • “It smells really good at Bonnaroo. I swear it smells like pot,” Tom Petty said during his closing set on Sunday night. Naturally, smoke filled the air during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

* Published on June 24, 2013 at She Does the City

In honour of Father’s Day, here are our favourite TV Dads

In Entertainment on June 26, 2013 at 6:56 am

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Many great men have graced our television screens to play the role of Dad. In honour of Father’s Day this weekend, here are our favourites.

Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), The O.C.

Sandy wasn’t just the rock of the Cohen family, he was the rock of the entire Orange County community. Just think of how much more drama there would have been if he wasn’t there to be the voice of reason and make bagels! Also, those eyebrows.

Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), Modern Family

A hard working, loveable suburbanite, Phil Dunphy is a perfect representation of modern dads. He’s a balance of masculinity and sensitivity, of authority and immaturity; and often comes across as awkward and goofy in his quest to be known as the “cool dad.” He’s forever a family man, though, and for that we love him.

Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), The Cosby Show

If you watched The Cosby Show growing up, you know that Cliff Huxtable was full of very important wisdom. Case in point: “No 14-year-old boy may wear a $95 jacket unless he’s on stage with his four brothers.” He also has a style of sweater named after him, and can bust a move like it’s nobody’s business—feats very few fathers can claim.

Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), Full House

I can only imagine how difficult it would be to raise three young girls on your own, so that makes Danny Tanner Super Dad. His obsession with cleanliness was adorable and admirable, as was his tendency to spoil his youngest daughter, Michelle. He also knew the importance of a good hug.

Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), Home Improvement

I like to think that there’s a little Tim Taylor in every dad: an obsession for tools, occasionally blowing stuff up, the general stubbornness…such dad things. But for everything he did wrong, the Tool Man did plenty of things right, like helping to raise three strapping young men. Being an adult and a parent isn’t easy, and Tim was always there to remind us of this.

* Published on June 12, 2013 at She Does the City

Tips for Eating Healthier this Summer

In Food on May 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

I’ve made great strides in eating healthier (and actually cooking!) since my time as a very broke university student. These days, my diet includes very little processed foods, primarily local/seasonal fruits and vegetables, and local/ethically-raised meat—a big step up from the frozen pizzas and take-out that I once relied so heavily on. Summer is my favourite season for cooking because its plentiful bounty and beautiful weather makes healthy eating much easier. (Also: BBQs. SO MANY BBQs.) So with that in mind, here are some tips on eating healthier during the warmer months.

Eat Local, Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

Good things grow in Ontario (or, really, wherever it is you call home)! And the best things grow in the summer. Asparagus, beans, sweet corn, broccoli, peppers, spinach, berries, peaches, and tomatoes are all plentiful during the warmer months—which means they’re also at their cheapest. With so many delicious fruits and vegetables available this time of year, there’s no excuse not to shop local. Check out the Foodland Ontario Availability Guide to find out what’s available and when in Ontario. When it comes to pesticides, the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Dirty Dozen List is a helpful guide on which fruits and vegetables should be bought organic and which are safe to buy conventional.

Start a Backyard or Balcony Garden

Eating locally is a cinch when local = your backyard or balcony! Not to mention the convenience of having a vegetable garden just outside your door. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, eggplant, and leafy greens are great plants for balconies and beginners. If you want to get creative with your garden, Apartment Therapy has some wonderful solutions.

Shop at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a great way to shop for local, seasonal fruits and vegetables—not to mention one of the best ways to spend an afternoon! It’s important to know where your food is coming from, and farmers’ markets allow you to meet and chat with the people who grow and harvest it. It’s also a great opportunity to find food that you may not be able to at your local grocery store. Check out Farmers’ Markets Ontario for a list of markets happening across the province.

Cut Back on Genetically Modified Foods

Do a quick Google search of genetically modified foods (re: Monsanto) and you’ll discover some disturbing facts about our food system. What’s even scarier is that GMOs don’t require labeling in Canada, making it difficult to know exactly what you’re consuming. When it comes to GMOs, corn (field corn, not sweet corn), canola, and soy are the biggest culprits, and while avoiding them seems like an impossible task, it’s a task worth attempting. Eliminating processed foods from your diet (or at least cutting back on them) and buying organic are good first steps to avoiding GMOs. Though you won’t find the words “genetically modified” listed in product ingredients, if you see corn, soy, or canola, it’s safe to assume that product contains GMOs. Make a habit of checking labels for these ingredients—you’ll be surprised at just how prevalent they are.

Eat Better Meat and Less of It

I’m of the mentality that if you eat meat, it’s a good idea to eat meat that is raised ethically and locally because it’s better for the animal, the environment, and you. I also understand that buying local, organic and/or ethically-raised meat is expensive and not everyone can do it. But if you’re committed to eating better meat, there are ways to do it without breaking the bank.

  • Eat less meat and more vegetables. If you’re willing to pay more for meat, cutting back on your consumption can help make up the cost. Try out vegetarian versions of your favourite meat dishes and chances are, you’ll enjoy it just as much as the original. Websites like The Kitchn and Bon Appetit are great resources for recipes.
  • Learn how to butcher a whole chicken at home. It’s not as difficult as you would think and it will save you so much money! There are many how-to videos available on YouTube and butcher shops like The Healthy Butcher offer seminars and classes on learning the craft. If you’re not into home butchery, most butchers will happily cut up a chicken into parts for you for the same price as a whole bird. You can then freeze the parts for meals throughout the week.
  • Try out new cuts. Eating snout to tail may not be for everyone, but oftentimes, lesser-known and less-desired cuts of meat are just as tasty as (and much cheaper than) popular ones. If you’re adventurous, beef heart, tongue, and cheek are worth trying, and are all surprisingly delicious when cooked properly. For the more conventional, try beef flat iron steak, skirt steak, and pork shoulder (pulled pork!).

* Published on May 30, 2013 at She Does the City

The Killers take us back in time at the ACC

In Concert Reviews, Music on May 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

There are certain bands that came along at a very influential time in your life (your teenage years, most likely) that will forever hold a special place in your heart. The Killers are one of those bands for me.

I was 17-years-old when Hot Fuss came out and it changed everything for me. Up until that point, I was either listening to classic rock that my dad had introduced me to (the good) or emo (the bad). Then the Killers and their cohorts came along in a sort of indie revolution and I had all this new music to call my own. I can still remember driving with friends to the mall to buy Hot Fuss on CD and then blasting “All These Things That I’ve Done” as we drove home.

On Wednesday, the Killers played the Air Canada Centre in what was both a nod to their new album, Battle Born, and the songs that got them there – which meant that I got to relive 2004 in all its glory. The band opened the show (which had been rescheduled from a December date due to Brandon Flowers’ laryngitis) with “Mr. Brightside” and the house lights still on, bringing every person in the ACC to their feet. (Which meant it was nothing like their performance on The O.C. Remember this?) The rest of their hour-and-a-half show was played with the lights down (save for a few fireworks) and included songs from across all four of their albums plus covers of “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (one of the best I’ve heard), “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells, and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” by Bruce Cockburn.

The crowd favourites were the ones you would expect – “Smile Like You Mean It”, “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, and the encore of “When You Were Young” – but people were on their feet and singing along for every song. The band was obviously enjoying themselves and does arena rock well; Flowers as the charismatic frontman working the crowd while the rest of the band rocks out. Lines that resonated with me some eight years ago (“I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”) still do and when they’re accompanied by falling glitter, well, it’s a good night.

* Published on May 16, 2013 at She Does the City

We talk to Lovelife’s Lee Newell before the UK/NYC band plays Toronto

In Interview, Music on May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

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“Essentially, we’re a pop band. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a dirty word,” Lee Newell says through the phone from a parking lot somewhere in Boston. He is talking, of course, about his band Lovelife, who are currently touring across North America with Capital Cities and Gold Fields before joining The Neighbourhood.

Hailing from London, England, Newell and bandmate Ally Young (previously of Mirrors) moved to New York City last year to carve out a name for themselves. With their current tour in full swing and a recent appearance at SXSW, Lovelife is doing exactly that.

“We saved up what we had; the scraps from the sofa,” Newell says of the relocation. “It turned out to be the best thing we could have done.”

Lovelife chose NYC because of its vastness, but amidst the much-needed isolation, they also found new friends and a music scene much bigger than the one back home in the UK. “Everything is bigger in America,” Newell laughs. “The quality of the smaller up-and-coming bands is a lot better.”

Before forming Lovelife, Newell was a part of a somewhat up-and-coming band himself: Viva Brother, who received plenty of press both before and after their split in 2012. “It’s a natural thing; you shed your skin every so often,” he says of his evolution since then. Current bandmate Young was the catalyst for that evolution, for which he’s very grateful.

While Viva Brother was pure indie rock, Lovelife isn’t as easily defined. Synth-pop is what their music is commonly referred to as, but there’s certainly some R&B in there, too. Their lyrics often centre around failed relationships and a lack of love life—not unlike The Smiths who, along with ’90s pop music, Newell lists as influences. (He credits the latter—both “the really good songs and the horrible, horrible shit”—to growing up with Top 40-loving parents.) As for their musical process, Newell says that it varies song-to-song. The popular “Your New Beloved”, for example, was written in their Brooklyn apartment (while Hurricane Sandy was raging outside, no less) as a sort-of afternoon throwaway song.

Lovelife will be releasing their new EP Stateless next month which, as they’ve done with their previous EPs, is named after the place it was written – in this case, across several different states and continents over the past four months. (Their previous EP 4th Floor was written in their fourth floor apartment while El Regreso’s origin is in Brooklyn.)

“A platinum-selling, number one,” Newell jokes when I ask him what we can expect from the new EP. But with hype building and his band’s first full-length album on the horizon, he might not be far off.

Lovelife play the Virgin Mobile Mod Club next Monday, May 13 ($16 tickets are still available both online and at the door).

* Published on May 10, 2013 at She Does the City

5 Movies to Watch With Mom This Mother’s Day

In Arts, Life Stories on May 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

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For some serious mother-daughter bonding time this Mother’s Day, throw on one (or all five) of these movies!

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
This is hands-down my favourite mother-daughter movie! Ellen Burstyn and Sandra Bullock star as mother and daughter (respectively) who learn to overcome years of tension and distance with the help of Vivi Walker’s (Burstyn) eccentric childhood friends, the Ya-Yas. The movie is a bit of a tearjerker at times, and will definitely make you appreciate your mom so much more after watching it. (Bonus: it’s set in the beautiful bayou of Louisiana and features lovely southern accents.)

Stepmom
I watched this movie religiously during my tween years (and just realized that I haven’t watched it years so I’m totally digging it out this weekend). It tells the story of divorced couple Jackie and Luke Harrison (Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris) who are struggling to provide their children with a sense of normalcy following this big change. Jackie and the kids must also deal with Luke’s new, younger fashion photographer girlfriend Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Jackie’s terminal lymphoma. Amidst all the sadness, the family is able to bond and find peace with one another before Jackie’s death.

Little Women
I’m partial to the 1994 version but the 1933, 1949, and 1978 versions are all just as good. Like in Stepmom, Susan Sarandon plays the mother, so I think we can all agree that she’s one of the best on-screen moms ever. Based on the Louisa May Alcott novel of the same name, the film tells the story of the March sisters—Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst)—growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War. With their father away fighting, the girls must rely on their mother for guidance as they deal with the struggles of becoming women.

Where The Heart Is
I love, love, love this movie. I can’t explain why, but I do. The movie starts with a pregnant, 17-year-old Novalee Nation being abandoned at Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma by her boyfriend. For six weeks, she secretly lives in the store before giving birth to her daughter Americus. While in the hospital, she befriends nurse Lexie Coop (Ashley Judd)—a single mother with four children by three different men—whose struggles are also chronicled throughout the movie. Novalee moves in with Sister Husband (Stockard Channing), a woman she previously met at Wal-Mart who becomes a sort of mother figure for her (her own mother abandoned her as a child). The movie ends with Novalee finding love and returning to the same Oklahoma Wal-Mart to get married.

Terms of Endearment
This movie may be from 1983, but it’s just as a relevant now as it was then. It covers 30 years of the mother-daughter relationship between Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma Greenway (Debra Winger) which, naturally, isn’t all smooth sailing. Aurora finds herself falling for ex-astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) while her free-spirited daughter struggles with a rocky marriage, an affair, and terminal cancer. Make sure you have lots of tissues on hand.

* Published on May 7, 2013 at She Does the City

Understanding the Effects of Victim Blaming and Cyber Bullying through Rehtaeh Parsons’ Death

In Life Stories, Opinion on April 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm
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Illustration by Meags Fitzgerald

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life-support following a failed suicide attempt. Depression led Rehtaeh to take her own life, but what led to her depression is heartbreaking and disturbing.

Facebook memorial page set up by her mother states that in November 2011, Rehtaeh was allegedly raped by four young boys while drinking at a friend’s house. One of the boys took a photo of her rape, which then went viral and spread throughout her school and community of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Rehtaeh was labelled a “slut”, shunned by friends, and harassed to the point of having to move out of Dartmouth to Halifax. She struggled with depression and checked herself into a hospital for six weeks after she began experiencing suicidal thoughts. Her rape was investigated by police but they concluded that there was not enough evidence to lay charges. (The case has since been reopened.)

What’s upsetting about Rehtaeh’s story (besides the fact that no one has been charged with her rape) is that victim blaming and bullying denied her recovery from such a traumatic experience. What’s worse is that it came at the hands of her attackers, peers, and so-called friends – not unlike the recent Stuebenville, Ohio rape case. The 16-year-old victim in that case had photos and videos of her appearing to be unconscious at a party posted online, and was blamed for how much alcohol she consumed on the night of the rape. While each case has had a different outcome, both raise important questions about the way society views rape and sexual assault, and the impact of cyber bullying.

Let’s first get one thing straight: rape is never, ever the victim’s fault. No one asks nor deserves to be raped and attaching the word “slut” to an attack encourages such beliefs. When these beliefs manifest themselves in the form of cyber bullying, they become dangerous.

There was no such thing as cyber bullying when I was growing up, and I’m thankful for that. Being without the internet made homework a hassle, but those who were bullied or teased at school were allowed some sort of peace from it all when the school day ended. If you’re a teen today, chances are you’ve experienced cyber bullying in some form, be it victim, bully, or observer. As Rehtaeh’s case shows, text messages, pictures, Facebook comments, and tweets can have just as much impact as – if not more than – physical bullying. All it takes is a click to destroy someone’s life. And while not every case of cyber bullying leads to suicide, some do, and that’s some too many.

It may be impossible to put an end to cyber bullying, but it’s not impossible to change people’s – specifically youth’s – approach to it. Let’s first recognize that cyber bullying can be a crime, particularly when it involves distributing compromising photos of a person or causing someone to feel threatened. It’s also important to understand that what you post on the internet is forever, living on in the form of screen grabs and retweets. Do you really want hurtful and embarrassing things you wrote about someone to pop up when, say, a future employer happens to Google you? No, you don’t. Not to mention the lasting impact what you post will have on the person it’s directed towards.

No lives should be lost because of victim blaming or cyber bullying but, as Rehtaeh has shown us, sadly, some are. If there’s one thing we can learn from her death, it’s that words can hurt just as much as sticks and stones.

* Published on April 15, 2013 at She Does the City

Relaunched osteria Little Anthony’s does Italian food right

In Food, Nightlife on April 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

If I could only eat one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, Italian might be the one. And if there’s one place that knows Italian cuisine, it’s Little Anthony’s (121 Richmond St. W.).

On Wednesday, media foodies were invited to Little Anthony’s to taste menu items created by new executive chef Garth Legree (formerly of Splendido and, most recently, The County General) and chat with owner Andreas Antoniou (who also owns upscale Greek seafood restaurant Estiatorio Volos across the street). Antoniou and Legree are focused on bringing LA’s back to the basics of Italian cuisine and serving quality dishes and ingredients, with all pastas made fresh in-house.

The night included 10 dishes divided into three courses; the canapés paired with a Milano Sunrise (LA’s signature, summery cocktail of vermouth, campari, soda, and grapefruit juice) while the starters and mains were each paired with an Italian wine from general manager Matt Roulston’s well-curated list.

I was impressed with the presentation and flavour of each dish, but my favourites were Pan Seared Scallop with grilled radicchio, marjoram and garlic vinaigrette, and smoked bacon; Filetto di Branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) with white beans, lemon al burro, P.E.I. mussels, braised fennel, and orange; and Flat Iron Steak with potato gnocchi, roasted mushrooms, thyme, and peppercorn sauce. (Flat iron also happens to be my favourite steak and if you haven’t tried it, please do so. It’s tender, flavourful, and very delicious.) Oh, and the tiramisu? So. Good.

If you’re looking for affordable Italian food done right, LA’s is your place!

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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

 * Published on April 12, 2013 at She Does the City

She Does The City Does Canadian Music Week 2013

In Concert Reviews, Music on March 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm
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Mac Demarco at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Here are our top picks from Canadian Music Week 2013, which included discovering new talent, finally seeing old favourites, and catching a glimpse of one notable Montreal artist’s nether regions.

Thursday: PS I Love You, Wildlife, The Darcys at The Great Hall 

The sickness gods decided that this would be a great week for me to have a cold, but what they didn’t know is that CMW trumps colds every time. So after nursing my stuffy nose with soup and tea, I made my way to The Great Hall to catch PS I Love You, Wildlife, and not-so-secret-guests The Darcys.

I’ve been a fan of Kingston noise rock duo PS I Love You for a while now but had yet to see them live until Thursday night. Needless to say, they made my first time a memorable one; performing at a level that made it so I could literally feel their music moving through my body. I will always be a sucker for guitar shredding and Saulnier did things to his that made my (and the rest of the crowd’s) jaw drop.

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Wildlife at The Great Hall
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Toronto’s Wildlife have a very dedicated Toronto following and the venue filled up exponentially when they took the stage. I’d been dying to hear their song “Born To Ruin” live ever since it was released back in January and, as expected, it had the crowd fist pumping and singing along with the band.

Capping off the night were Toronto band The Darcys, who people quickly figured out were the special guests of the night. (Fun fact: while I was in Marfa, Texas this past September, a local told me that one of The Darcys’ dads had been in town the week before I was and he was really cool and convinced her to come visit Toronto.) I’ve always been impressed with the band’s stage presence and was a little bummed that their set was a short one. More Darcys! Always!

Friday: Kopecky Family Band at The Dakota Tavern

I’ve been waiting for Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band to play Toronto ever since I did a Q&A with them back in 2011 and it finally happened last Friday. The Dakota provided the perfect backdrop for the band’s feel-good folk music, which included several songs off of their new (very good) debut album Kids Raising Kids.

M for Montreal (M for Mac DeMarco!) at Sneaky Dee’s

Walking into Sneaky Dee’s for the M for Montreal showcase, I was greeted with the smell of poutine and sweat. Montreal, meet Sneaky Dees! Pre-Mac DeMarco highlights included the very danceable, synth-heavy We Are Wolves from Montreal, and Grounders—a Toronto band who make music that should be a part of your 2013 summer soundtrack. This was, of course, the calm before the beautiful storm that is Mac DeMarco.

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Mac DeMarco at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Upstairs was packed to the brim with people trying to catch a glimpse of the quirky 22-year-old Montreal-based artist who, in true Canadian form, was clad in denim on denim on denim. (In contrast, his bass player Pierce McGary was dressed very James Franco in Spring Breakers—cornrows and all.) It’s impossible not to bop along to DeMarco‘s brand of smooth, catchy rock ‘n’ roll, and songs like “Freaking Out The Neighborhood” and “Ode To Viceroy” had the crowd doing just that…plus moshing and crowd surfing. Even DeMarco got in on the crowd surfing, bringing his girlfriend Kiki along for a makeout sesh towards the end of his set. Things got even crazier when lit cigarettes began popping up throughout the crowd and DeMarco’s friend was escorted out of the venue after passing off several to DeMarco during his performance. Other notable moments include a cover of Weezer’s “The Sweater Song” and DeMarco giving us a glimpse of his, er, man parts. I have never been to a show like this before and probably never will again. #MACDEMARCO4LIFE.

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Grounders at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Saturday: Savages & Suuns at Lee’s Palace

No CMW is complete for me without checking out a show at Lee’s and Saturday was the perfect night to do so with London’s (England, that is) buzzworthy Savages and Montreal’s Suuns performing.

Savages‘ music is dark and wonderful, and lead singer Jehnny Beth’s live performance is so badass and intense that it’s kind of scary. (She’s the kind of woman I would never mess with.) The crowd was very much into their set, which made for an awesome show.

Like Savages, Suuns have also garnered plenty of buzz with their psychedelia-meets-experimental-meets-post-punk sound being compared to the likes of Clinic, My Bloody Valentine, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Their set was soothing and beautiful; a perfect end to a chaotic week.

* Published on March 25, 2013 at She Does the City