Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Pasto's Grill, London, ON

I had supper this evening at Pasto's Grill (on Burtwistle Lane).

You can enter from outside.

It's attached to the Best Western Stoneridge Inn and there's an entrance through the hotel down the long hallway.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Toronto, ON (Overlea Blvd.)

I had lunch today at Swiss Chalet on Overlea Blvd.

I ordered what I usually order at Swiss Chalet ... a Half Chicken Dinner with mashed potatoes.  I hadn't ordered gravy and though Edith brought it, I passed on it and focused on the Chalet dipping sauce instead.  The meal was good.  The potatoes were tasty and not salty.  The chicken was a good size and moist.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Book ~ "The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton" (2010) Adrienne Shadd

From Goodreads ~ When the Lincoln Alexander Parkway was named, it was a triumph not only for this distinguished Canadian but for all African Canadians. "The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway" looks at the history of blacks in the Ancaster-Burlington-Hamilton area, their long struggle for justice and equality in education and opportunity, and their achievements, presented in a fascinating and meticulously researched historical narrative. 

Although popular wisdom suggests that blacks first came via the Underground Railroad, the possibility that slaves owned by early settlers were part of the initial community, then known as the "Head of the Lake," is explored. 

This book tells the history of African Canadians in Hamilton, Ontario, once known as Head of the Lake.  It starts in the 1700s with the first African Canadians arriving.  The last chapter provides the background of some prominent African Canadians who had made a difference.

There are eight chapters:
  1. The journey begins:  slavery and freedom at the Head of the Lake
  2. Routes to freedom
  3. On course:  settling in by the Bay
  4. Eyeing the summing, 1870 - 1900
  5. Gathering Speed:   Anatomy of a community
  6. At a crossroads:  the turn of a new century
  7. Roadblocks head:  the Reverend Holland years
  8. New pathways, old destinations:  contemporary fighters for social justice

This book is well-researched and provides details of many people, right down to family members, birth dates, where they came from and their backgrounds.  It starts by telling the story of slaves arriving in Hamilton, often escaping from the States via the Underground Railroad, wanting to make a new life for themselves and fighting for their rights, equality, education, etc. as free Canadians.

beautybox five - November 2016

My November beautybox five arrived today.

Beauty Box 5 is a subscription-based, beauty sampling service that delivers 5 deluxe samples and full-sized products right to your door every month.

Subscriptions are $12US a month or $99US for a year.  Shipping is free.

Here is what I received ...

Value = $46.27US

JOEY Don Mills, Toronto, ON

I had lunch today at JOEY Don Mills.

I ordered what I always order at a JOEY restaurant ... Rotisserie Chicken (minus the veggies).  I've had it there before and it was delicious.  Today it was just okay.  I have had this dish many times and today was the first time the gravy was served in a separate container, rather than being on the chicken and potatoes.  When I asked, I was told that sometimes it's in a container, sometimes it's on the chicken.  I would think from a brand perspective, it should be consistent across the restaurants and especially in one restaurant.  Plus the chicken was smaller than usual.

Click to add a blog post for Joey on Zomato

Saturday, 26 November 2016

"Come From Away", Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw Come From Away tonight.

On September 11, 2001, 38 planes with 6,579 passengers were stranded in a remote town in Newfoundland. The locals opened their hearts and homes, and hosted this international community of strangers for a week - spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances. When the world stopped, their stories moved us all.

It is at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street W until January 8 ... it heads to Broadway in February.

The theatre was closed for a few months for renovation.  The new seats were comfy.

The mural on the ceiling was restored and there was quite a discussion about the cupid on the right.

That's not what you think it is!  It's a quiver for his arrows.

The set was fairly minimal and they used it well.

On September 11, 2001, when terrorist planes were crashing into towers in New York, planes "from away" were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland.  Over night, with about 7,000 passengers, the town's population doubled in size.  The citizens of Gander opened their arms and hearts and did all they could for the "plane people".  This is their story from the viewpoints of a cop, Gander's only reporter, the mayor, a local SPCA employee, a teacher, an American Airlines pilot, a gay couple, a traveler from England, a woman whose son is a NY firefighter and more.

The acting was fabulous with the actors playing multiple roles, moving effortlessly back and forth with different accents, and it was obvious which role they were in.  There was singing and dancing.  It was funny and it was sad.  It was hard not to get caught up in it.  The generous nature of the Newfoundlanders came through.  The audience showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.  At the end, the band, which included a fiddler, an accordionist and a couple guitarists, played a song at the end.

It is one of the best plays/musicals I've seen and given a chance, I'll go see it again.

Roxy on King, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Roxy on King (on King Street W at Duncan Street).  It just opened in August.

There are lots of pool tables
We sat up on the level with the tables

Friday, 25 November 2016

Book ~ "The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping" (2013) Charles MacPherson

From GoodreadsIn a clear straightforward style, Charles MacPherson lays out the essentials of entertaining and household management in this beautifully illustrated style, etiquette and entertainment guide.

For anyone who rents or owns - be it a small urban condo or a lavish country estate, "The Butler Speaks" includes everything you need to know to simplify, organize and care for your home. 

It also offers modern advice on personal style and etiquette - how to receive guests; present your business card; make polite dinner conversation - and advice on entertaining at home - how to make a cheese plate; hold your cutlery; set a table - all with the flair, charm and unpretentious grace of the butler.

I read an article in the Toronto Star this week in which Charles MacPherson was interviewed and answered some questions about the dos and don'ts of restaurant behavior.  The article mentioned that he had written a book called The Butler Speaks and I thought it would be interesting (and it was).

The book has five parts:
  1. The tradition of service - includes the history of the tradition of service along with a listing and hierarchy of jobs in an Edwardian household, staff greeting line, and proper conduct as per the French Jesuits in 1595
  2. The butler speaks - includes the different types of butlers, how a butler should behave, how to shake hands, how and when to offer a business card, and the difference between high tea and afternoon tea
  3. The etiquette of entertaining - includes how to host a dinner party, table settings, silver pieces and china, how to carve, where to put your napkin and cheese plates
  4. Table manners for the 21st century - includes the 12 golden rule for dining as per Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1825, dress codes, how to use a knife and fork, and how to eat hard-to-eat foods
  5. The art of good housekeeping - includes how to make a bed, fold a shirt, polish silver, how to clean various rooms, how to make a bed, how to iron a shirt (don't put creases in the sleeves!) and which hangers to use

There are sections at the end with a glossary, food and wine pairings and a reading list.

I liked this book.  In the first chapter, I learned about the hierarchy of the various jobs years ago (sounds like hard work!).  There were lots of interesting tips in the other chapters.  It sounds like the author knows his stuff.

Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville, Montreal, QC

The company I work for is based in Quebec and we had a work function yesterday.  I spent last night at the Hilton Garden Inn on Sherbrooke Street W.

Here was my room ...

The bed was comfy

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Book ~ "Mad Love" (2016) Nick Spalding

From Goodreads ~ Can two people who have never met make a marriage work? Popular dating site Sociality thinks so and is marrying London lad Adam to California girl Jessica to prove it.

What better way to show that your ‘love algorithms’ work than to put two complete strangers together in an expensive publicity stunt? But as livewire Jess and lazybones Adam quickly discover, just because a computer says you’re the perfect match, it doesn’t make it so! 

 Two million Sociality subscribers and the media are following the happy couple’s progress and they have to make a go of it or they’ll lose everything, look like idiots and destroy Sociality’s reputation. But can the mismatched pair, who seem to be constantly at each other’s throats, put their differences aside and work their way into each other’s hearts?

On a lark, strangers Adam and Jessica complete a profile on the dating site, Sociality ... Adam did his passing time while sitting on the toilet and Jessica did hers with a buzz on from some wine.  Needless to say, neither was completely honest in their answers.  They are paired as compatible and the prize is a fabulous wedding, a posh apartment for a year and some cash.  They both go ahead with it for their own reasons.

As they live together, they discover the white lies each had told and that their personalities clash and it eventually blows up into a tense situation.  If they back out, though, they lose the apartment and the money so both have to suck it up ... especially since Cassie, the owner of Sociality, is doing all she can to make it look like the two are deliriously happy and in love.

This is the third book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style ... it was funny and sarcastic.  It is written in first person perspective, alternating between Adam and Jessica (the chapters are labeled so you know whose voice it is), plus blog and newspaper posts.  The author is English and the story takes place in London so some of the references aren't common to North Americans.  As a head's up, there is a lot of swearing and some adult activity.

I look forward to reading other books by this author.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Book ~ "The Legacy" (2016) Gary Gusick

From Goodreads ~ When the governor of Mississippi requests her help, Yankee transplant Darla Cavannah can hardly say no - even if the timing couldn’t be worse. She and her dreamy husband, Dr. Stephen Nicoletti, have just been approved to adopt a baby girl in China and getting wrapped up in a high-profile homicide will almost certainly complicate, if not derail, all their plans. But as Governor Wilson Burnett relays the details of the case, Darla feels deep sympathy - and blinding outrage at a promising life cut short.

On the campus of prestigious Ole Miss, a young African American student has been found killed just hours after her initiation into a previously segregated sorority. The murder would be shocking under any circumstances but this student is Caitlin Burnett - the white governor’s adopted daughter.

With public outrage building and media coverage intensifying, Darla’s partner, Rita Gibbons, proves invaluable. Her deep roots in the community - or “trailer trash cred” - helps considerably as the crime-solving pair sift fact from fiction. If this murder was racially motivated, why does the most damning evidence appear to have been staged? As the trail leads from Caitlin’s fellow Delta Betas to radical white supremacists and her father’s political enemies, the detectives close in on the disturbing truth - and a devious manipulator pulling all the strings.

Darla is an officer whose specialty is hate crimes.  She and her husband are hoping to adopt a baby soon and she plans on retiring so she can stay at home and raise the child.  She gets a call from the governor of Mississippi that his daughter, who was African American and adopted, was murdered and found hanging from a tree and he asks her to find out what happen.  Everyone assumes a white supremacist group was behind it and as Darla and her partner, Rita, start to investigate, they wonder if it isn't too convenient and obvious.

This is the third book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I liked the writing style and thought it was well-paced.  It's written in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action is.  It was an interesting read especially if you are a fan of Delta blues music (like B.B. King).  The language at times is for a mature reader.

It is the third and latest in the Darla Cavannah series, a Philadelphian transplant in Mississippi, but it works as a stand alone.  You don't have to read the first two (I have) to know what's going on as there's enough background given.

I'm enjoying this series.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Book ~ "Officer Elvis" (2015) Gary Gusick

From Goodreads ~ After performing at a local old-folks home, off-duty police officer and part-time Elvis impersonator, Tommy Reylander, smoothes out his pompadour, climbs into his pink Caddy, and gets all shook up - fatally so, when a bomb explodes. Whether he was killed for his police work or bad singing is a mystery that detective Darla Cavannah is determined to solve.

Though it’s been several years since Darla (reluctantly) partnered up with Tommy, she convinces her boss to let her lead the murder investigation. As the new regional director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Shelby Mitchell can think of better uses for his star detective’s time but not even the most hardened good ole boy can resist Darla’s smart, savvy persuasions. 

She soon embarks on a roller coaster ride through the world of Elvis tribute artists while tracking down one of the most bizarre serial killers in the history of the Magnolia State. Aiding her pursuit of the killer is recently reprimanded officer Rita Gibbons, fresh from the trailer park and described by Shelby as “half a licorice stick short in the manners department.” But Rita’s plenty smart, even when this case takes their suspicious minds in an entirely unexpected direction.

Tommy was a police officer and part-time Elvis impersonator tribute artist.  After playing a gig at a seniors' home, he gets in his caddy, which promptly blows up.  Darla, his former partner, takes the lead on the murder investigation, which leads her to talk with a former drug dealer who now saves catfish, the owner of a strip bar, a poker-addicted lawyer and Tommy's girlfriend, Cill (she was "Priscilla" in his act).  She eventually makes a link to other Elvis tribute artists as she tries to solve this murder.

This is the second book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I liked the writing style and thought it was well-paced.  It's written in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action is.  It's an easy fun read ... you'll especially appreciate it if you are an Elvis fan.  The language at times is for a mature reader.

It is the second in the Darla Cavannah series, a Philadelphian transplant in Mississippi, but it works as a stand alone.  You don't have to read the first one (I read it in 2013) to know what's going on as there's enough background given and this book happens a couple years later.

I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Trinity Common, Toronto, ON

Gord, Mary, Malcolm and I had supper this evening at Trinity Common in Kensington Market.

Gord ordered a Passionfruit Salad and Ceviche Tacos.  He said the Passionfruit Salad was delicious ... worth going back for.  He said the Ceviche Tacos were just okay and wouldn't get them again.