Thursday, May 31, 2012

Les livres

Just practicing a little French in preparation for the fall trip..I am reading "Rick Steves Paris 2012" bien sur and was inspired after attending a Scent Society event on Monday at Alliance Francaise to take a class or perhaps a conversational French session in the summer...just to brush up. The meetup was conducted by Tracy Pepe who designs scented spaces...working with architects to evoke a mood and atmosphere..apparently this is a major trend and not one a lot of people know about - there is even a hotel in Chicago which scents its' lobby with a combination of suede/leather, vanilla and other seductive elements which encourage people to hang around..huh. Very cool. We got to smell a few of the essences she has prepared for her kit which will be release in the fall...

I am in the midst of reading a couple of great books - the first "22 Brittania Road" is set in 1946 in England it deals with the marriage and reunion of Janusz and Silvana - two Polish emigres who have come through the experience of World War II with their own secrets and scars. The second is "An Available Man" - a delightful novel about a 62 year old widower plunged into the dating world...I would love to read other novels by this author..

Visiting my dad at Sunnybrook yesterday and enjoying the lovely weather I was looking around at the veterans soaking up the sun and wondering what their stories were - I'm sure they led full and fascinating lives. I can see the dashing young men they were and the handsome older men they still are...I got to do a little swing dancing on a Jazz Safari last Friday - the Lithunanian Hall was one of the stops - Gordon Webster and his band from New York. How great it was to see all ages enjoying dancing - without attitude or posturing - just having fun - minus the teetering heels and bandage skirts not to mention the deafening music of our King Street club district. I'm sure it was a much cheaper evening for all involved and they actually got to dance...

Mr Bee tells me that at Dovercourt House on Saturday nights they have 3 levels of dance..whoa. It inspires me to take some dance lessons too..and still need to take some vocal lessons and get up my courage to sing at GNO....

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A visit to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I was anticipating this movie forever and it certainly lives up to my anticipation - what a great cast including Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and my role model for wise and beautiful women - Dame Judi Dench! In case you didn't know it's about seven expat Brits who decide for reasons financial, health and romantic to relocate to India with promises of a golden retirement at said hotel run by Sunny (
Dev Patel- the youngest son and most optimistic soul you could meet - he has his own issues with his stern and disapproving mother and his romance with the girl of his dreams who works at a call centre. Their stories are fascinating - lost love, marital woes, new careers - even the crotchety character of Maggie Smith grows to love her temporary abode...

It's a story of second chances, transformations, surprises and it's very uplifting...I'm sure you will be inspired and craving curry. It certainly is a breath of fresh air to have a happy movie and particularly one about wise individuals - and to enjoy the beauty of older actresses without scary surgery. Judi is particularly luminous.

Got hear some more great music yesterday at "Quotes" - Perry White was sitting in with the CJQ - fabulous! I don't get to hear him as soloist as often as I would like - more please! Next week is the great Bill McBirnie on flute!

Monday, May 14, 2012

More New York

Peace Food Cafe

Seems I left out some of the many places I visited and ate at...two of which were Wild Ginger down in the Lower East Side - great Asian fusion restaurant and the Peace Cafe - on Amsterdam on the Upper West Side - fabulous smoothies, quinoa porridge and baked goods among other items. Plus, let's not forget Franchia on Park and 35th - beautiful venue and delicious nibbles including dumplings and crepes, conveniently around the corner from Guest House Off Park - our other residence when we were staying in the Big Apple.
Wild Ginger

My friend Richard also introduced me to The Grey Dog which is a great little sandwich spot in Chelsea - ate a yummy tofu wrap there with mushroom and spinach and a mighty fine soy latte.

As per usual we made a pilgrimage to the storied Shopsin's on the Lower East Side - my meal was a sandwich with brussel sprouts, cheese and avocado on asparagus bread. You must check out this teeny tiny diner in the Essex Street market - for such a small place they have a very extensive menu...all printed on one have to get there earlyish as their hours are normally 9 a.m.- 2 p.m or 10 -2 on Sundays. You can look up all kinds of reviews etc. about rudeness and cleanliness - it's a slice of New York so whatevuh.

This is the "Bingo" was sooooo good. I fell off the vegan wagon for this sandwich...

I neglected to mention a wonderful concert at Dizzy's Club at Jazz at Lincoln Centre where we enjoyed a truly cosmopolitan view as the lights came on in the city plus the incredible talents of the Juilliard students with special guest - legendary Basie alumni Frank Wess. It seemed only natural to have a drink called the "Yardbird" - citrusy cocktail.

If you're in the Park Avenue neighbourhood check out the elegant Kitano Hotel - we enjoyed Toshiko Akiyoshi's trio and visited with Lew Tabackin - a frequent and early guest at the Yardbird many moons ago. The Kitano has revamped their jazz lounge and it's a serene and lovely experience.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New York State of Mind

Still...and I'm back in Toronto - what an amazing trip - mainly thanks to my travelling companions...I realize when I got through customs...I could have bought more stuff - although I did buy two watches at the Newark Airport - $10 bucks each. The woman seated next to me on Porter had a great iPhone case with the New York Subway system it at a street fair on Broadway - probably the same one Patti and I went to in the much shopping so little time....and jazz.

That's Randy Brecker's "Pop" band at the Blue Note...

Yesterday was a gorgeous day so my friend Richard and new friend Daniela ventured over to Central Park with many other New Yorkers to enjoy the sunshine, fly a kite, play ball and in our case enjoy a picnic of delectables from Zabar' Zabar's - conveniently located near the Riverside Towers..a little too conveniently. I bought some of their famous mustard which I must admit is scrumptious..and numerous coffees and a couple of knishes...well, when in New York...

To the left is me and my dearest friend Richard who shows me so much of New York when I go with him...and he hates having his photo do I...

Below is his sister Helen - pianist and choir accompanist extraordinaire who was there for a choir competition...we managed to squeeze in some fab shopping at Century 21, Shoegasm, a delicious meal at Pure Food and Wine in celebration of our big seeing "Anything Goes" a true Broadway musical complete with gorgeous costumes, tap dancing, Cole Porter tunes and Joel Grey.

Another great production you must see - "One Man, Two Guvnors"..a transplant from London, in the tradition of Commedia Dell'Arte "One Servant, Two Masters" by Carlo Goldoni - if I got that right...updated to 1963 England complete with a skiffle band, "The Craze" which entertains not only during the show but before and at intermission...I laughed so hard I was almost in tears. 7 Tony nominations...enough some great lines uttered by the character of Stanley - upper class twit extraordinaire "Well...wrap my balls in bacon and send em to the nurse" and "First names are for girls and Norweigians"...among others.  Amazing cast!

Other amusements: Roy Hargrove and his smoking quintet plus special guests at the Village Vanguard and Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow and Joey Baron at Birdland where we also caught the legendary Heath Brothers.

There is an incredible wealth of talent in New York as evidence by a trio and quartet of jazz musicians enjoyed while wandering through Central Park. 

Artwise, I finally got to the MoMa and was entranced and moved by seeing "Starry Night" and the mind blowing Cindy Sherman exhibit. We also ventured out to Randall Island to catch "Frieze New York" an international art exhibition reached by a ferry ride.

And food, food food...the most delicious Tofu Florentine at Cafe Blossom on the Upper West Side, delicious noshing at the Peace Cafe, juices to go at Organic Avenue, yummy dinner at Candle Cafe West...I am already a little sad to be I know why Richard books his next trip as his last one is finishing.

We also went to check out a shop owned by Dani's first cousin "Zachary's Smile" - which has lots of wonderful colourful clothing and accessories - I bought a beautiful blue and pink paisley scarf and this flowy purple sheath. I also bought 3 pairs of shoes while in New York - one pair at Moo Shoes - Jambu - super comfortable, one pair of greeen stretchy Mary Janes at Medici's - only $20 and a pair of iridescent grey Dansko's at Shoegasm...Dani found 4 pairs of great shoes there - one sexy red pair of pumps, another black pair of wedge heels, some sweet retro green heels and a pair of sparkly Tom's flats.

Yet another great shopping experience in NY are the many craft and street fairs which pop up - like the Columbus Craft Fair and a couple on Broadway - I bought a lovely pin and some soap at Columbus and a great necklace and earring set at a table in front of Zabar's - made from magazine papers...the city is designed for shopping and women.

I loved Riverside Towers - nice clean cheap rooms, great staff, quiet - by Riverside Park, close to Zabars and all the great restaurants and shops on Broadway and Amsterdam, near Central Park, museums, galleries and the red line subway - the #1 train.

Can't wait to go back!!