Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday morning canning

As the summer comes to a close our garden has been giving up its bounty each week. This morning Mr.T and I tackled the glut of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and green peppers. We boiled down the tomatoes to make passata, then canned that in mason jars in a canning production line. Then we dehydrated the chopped cherry tomatoes for canning later with olive oil. Each year we learn something new about canning and preserving. We then chopped up the green peppers for freezing. Then, Mr.T tackled the bushel of cucumbers he picked up yesterday at the farmer's market. He pickled them in a large mason jar, making hopefully some yummy pickles. A productive start to the day. 

Saturday Shopping

Yesterday after our trip to Kensington Mr.D and Mr.Z picked us up and whisked us off for an afternoon exploring the St.Jacob's Farmer's Market. The place is huge with a large outdoor market focused on fruits and veggies and then a couple of market buildings featuring meats, fish, and other local businesses. Although the day started out muggy and wet, by the time we reached St.Jacob's it was bright, sunny and hot. After walking around Mr.T and I had a couple of salmon sandwiches from a food truck selling a selection of fish sandwiches while Mr.D and Mr.Z had some sausages. After exploring everything we were all tired and made our way back to Toronto. Thinking about dinner Mr.Z suggested Tako Sushi a place that always had a good selection of sushi.

Making our way to the restaurant we discovered that Tako was out of business and replaced with a new sushi place Matsuda. Like a lot of new restaurants there was a lot of attention to style and design. The entrance was moved from the side to the front of the building facing out to Don Mills road. The entry consisted of lots of glass and a large Japanese drum. Behind this the actual restaurant was really dark with stone walls and lots of pinspot lighting. Along the back wall was the sushi bar with all the sushi chefs visible to the restaurant. There was selection of tables separated by short walls and a couple of teppanaki tables in separate rooms at the front of the restaurant. Before being seated we were asked if we were there for all you can eat, something that is being adopted by all sushi places across Toronto. Because none of us were that hungry we opted for the a la carte menu, but changed our minds when we saw the prices. The AYCE was priced at $ 28.00 dollars per person, with a la carte options priced seemingly to make the AYCE more attractive. So in the end we opted for the AYCE based solely on price. 

The service was at time abrupt and other times just plain rude. Unlike other AYCE places where you order dim sum style on a sheet of paper, this place wanted you to order from the menu through the wait staff. This meant as customers you were dependent on the server coming back to the table and taking your orders. This would be fine if the service was attentive. Sadly, too often we had to flag someone down who then made us feel like we were making their life difficult. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Sadly, in the end, the food was disappointing and not worth the high price.

AYCE restaurants are never known for the quality of their food and my expectations were low, but Matsuda disappointed even these low expectations. Too often the food that arrived bore no relation to how it was described in the menu. The standout misnomer, was a golden scallop that turned out to be a tiny pumpkin soufflĂ© with a small bay scallop hidden at the bottom of the ramekin. It was too say the least, odd. Another disappointment were the grilled Jumbo shrimps which turned out to be extra small shrimps. By the end of the meal we found ourselves, the absurdity of the place had us and the table beside us laughing at the place. There was nothing really to do but sit back and laugh at a place that will not last very long. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Last Taste of Summer?

While this summer has not been memorable for too much summery-like weather, we have for the past couple of days had hot, humid, balmy days. Maybe it is just Mother Nature's way of reminding us the summer is coming to an end. 

For the past couple of weeks we have been harvesting cherry tomatoes and roma tomatoes every day. We are also awash in green peppers and cayenne peppers. Adding the extra raised bed which gets more sun has meant a better crop. But sadly our beans, squash and zucchini didn't do as well. We ended up with a half dozen beans, squash and pumpkins and our sunflowers bloomed late with many heads lost to hungry squirrels. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jump, Jump...


Perchance to Dream...

Over at ActiveHistory is an article discussing yet again the need for a Museum for the City of Toronto. Written by Daniel Ross, PhD candidate in the Department of History at York University (my alma mater) and Jay Young, a postdoc at McGill, the article traces the history of the idea and a recent meeting of the Museum of Toronto project at St.Lawrence Market. Sadly, like a lot of great ideas in Toronto a City of Toronto Museum has never garnished any real political will or capital. Wouldn't it be nice to see a Museum somewhere in the city. As Ross and Young discuss the Canada Malting Towers at the foot of Bathurst Street was one option and it is an impressive site. All anyone has to do is to think of the grain towers in St.Jacobs and how they were turned into a shopping destination, for an example on how this site could be used. Sitting at the foot of Bathurst Street, the site is impressive in size and scale allowing not only for a museum but also shopping, artifact storage and a restaurant overlooking the city's waterfront. If only to dream. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The New Imperialism

With the execution of James Foley the media has been falling all over themselves to cover the story of ISIS, the Islamist group in Syria and Iraq. Reporting which emphasizes the violence of the group with florid language ignores the role of Western intervention as a force in the groups appeal. Groups like this do not arise out of a political vacuum. Like al-Qaeda before, the ideologies of such groups, including their violence are products of Western intervention and involvement. Although we may not like their message they seek their own vision of government. And we know that the difficulty of governing always occupies any power blunting their edge. It is time to leave cultures not our own and allow them to find their own way. 

Every time a Western power walks into a culture and a state that has a different tradition or political system, groups like ISIS will arise. They know that foreign powers will not stay and that battles only need to be fought to make Western powers leave. Calling them guerrillas or insurgents is not enough. We need to recognize our own role in fostering the growth of such organizations. Western involvement becomes the lightning rod for hatred and fear and allows such organizations to gain support from locals. Instead of responding because of fears of possible ideological contagion, it is time for Western powers to leave and allow local cultures to deal with these organizations, themselves. It is too easy to become involved in battles that are imperial in nature while cloaking ourselves in the ideology of paternalism and democracy. Instead we need to allow withdraw and allow cultures not our own to find their own path, no matter what that is. 

Had One!

Walks & Fairs

Yesterday after our morning trip to Kensington Mr.T and I made our way over to Yonge Street to check out the Buskerfest. This year it was held on Yonge Street with the festival closing down the street to traffic from College to Queen. This meant a nice long stretch of street with a few points of access for cars at major intersections. Sadly, there really wasn't that much buskering going on, with the street devoted more to food trucks and stalls selling assorted unrelated goods. It was nice to see the street closed and a fair like atmosphere. 

After we walked along Queen Street to Parliament where we caught the Carlton streetcar to head over to Little India for the Festival of South Asia. Because of the fair the streetcars were being diverted and at Broadview we had to transfer to a bus, and as usual everything was in disarray with lots of disgruntled TTC passengers. After much waiting we finally boarded a bus and made our way to the edge of another street festival where we had a really yummy lunch at MotiMahal an Indian fast food place with really delicious dhosas. We then explored the rest of the fair walking east on Gerard then north on Coxwell to Danforth. We the walked west on Danforth finally catching the subway at Broadview making our way home. Although it was a grey day it never rained making it a nice day for a long walk. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer in the City

Funny enough a couple of weeks ago when Mr.T and I were out for a walk we spotted someone similar. An older woman in a Wonder Woman bikini heading through the streets down to the harbour to have some fun on the beach. She looked just as incongruous.