Monday, September 14, 2009

Girl's Day in Kensington Market

Yesterday, Mom, Claudette and Bridgette drove to the big city from the wilds 45 minutes north. Our mission was to have lunch and check out some scarves that Mom has her eye on, specifically in Kensington Market at a spot called The Blue Banana. Kensington Market is the name of a wee, funky, eclectic neighbourhood, not a "market" in the sense of "farmer's market" or "flea market" as we might recognize it since it's not housed in one large building on only one day or over a weekend. Most of the shops, especially along Kensington Avenue, are on the ground floor of beautiful, old, brick townhouses. There are vintage clothing shops, an army surplus store, grocery/produce shops, cafes, a coupla gorgeous cheese shops, bakeries, and more. You get the idea: This ain't a high-end, cookie-cutter-style-mall area. There's even an after-hours tucked away somewhere in a basement - at least, there was ten years ago. (I'm not so much into after-hours haunts anymore. I like to get out of bed at 6am now, not be crawling home at that time.) Unfortunately, my favourite shop, Courage My Love, was closed when we were there. We had so much fun poking around in the shops that were open, especially in a vintage clothing store with a huge Hallowe'en costume section in the back.

Bridgette tried on a whole bunch of wigs for us (what a good sport!), but would only pose for photos in the cool ones. She refused to have her picture taken wearing the curly pink clown number.

I've decided that I'm in love with these glasses. Even though I don't need specs in my life (yet), I'm now jonesin to own a pair like these. My Mom will shudder at this: she wore a pair of 'pickle stabbers' growing up and hated them. If you want to imagine her in them, picture me with blonde hair and blue eyes minus the goofyglam pucker: poof! a vision of my Mom!

We came across a table with cheap-o shades so Claudette treated us all to a new pair. In honour of TIFF festivities, we felt we owed it to our city to pose for the paparazzi. Well, ok, the paparazzi = Mom.

By the time we made it to The Blue Banana we were starving. It turns out that The Blue Banana is a huge very cool store, but its cafe is a coffee-counter with pastries and fun but not very suitable for lunch. Bridgette would have been happy eating cake (especially in the Marie Antoinette wig, not photographed) but we wanted something more substantial. We ended up here:

Wanda's had pizza, quiche, sandwiches and, well, pie. I had an avocado sandwich, Claudette and Bridgette shared a brie sandwich, Mom had the quiche and we also had a few little coleslaw-type salads. And the pies! Wow! Mom and I shared a slice of wild blueberry and Bridgette had a vegan chocolate cupcake, which we all had to try.

I love this big table where you can stretch out with your morning news and enjoy your coffee. I also love how you can stand at it, like a bar.

We almost forgot to tour The Blue Banana, and by the time we got there, the girls were getting a little tired so we didn't stay and poke around for as long as we would have liked. We decided to cut our losses and plan for another day in Kensington, walked back to University (amongst those walking for a breast cancer cure) and hopped the 5 Avenue Road bus home.

Monday, September 07, 2009

No Love From the Digi

I had grand plans to give you a pictorial feast of all the cool stuff I've been doing in my spare time around the apartment: my sewing corner, my balcone, furniture painting projects, baking (with recipes), blahblahblah. But, for whatever reason, my little digi won't give up its photos via USB...I don't get it but that doesn't mean I won't. Eventually. This seems to be a recurring sentiment in my life lately. Instead, I'm going into my archives and showing you some cool shots from my last days b'Yerushalayim.

This is a shot of the front corner beside Qadosh's window looking out onto Shlomzion HaMalka. I love the old radio and the little lamp. It was the second thing I noticed the first time I went here with Adrienne on St. Sylvester's Day way back on December 31st. Our New Year's Eve is called St. Sylvester's Day in Israel, since they already have New Year = Rosh HaShanah.

The first thing I noticed - that anyone notices! - upon entering Qadosh is the bar/dessert cases. Um, I could wallow in their decadent baked-goods heaven forever. I would like to find a sweet (decadent, ambiance-filled, affordable) little cafe like this in Toronto, which I could both frequent and work in.

Down this little alley and to the left is Tmol Shilshom. This was also a favourite little spot with books, ambiance, and tastytasty food - like their all-you-can-eat gorgeous pre-Shabbat buffet brunch. I took one of their menus home with me one day (on the back of each is featured a different writer) and was very excited to have scooped one with Yehuda Amichai. One thing I really liked about Tmol's is that it is tucked away, like a great, happy secret that only the cool kids know.

You'll find this on Tmol Shilshom's home page: "There're places you never forget. There're landscapes and views you keep missing your whole life. Likewise there're coffee-shops you treasure and long to revisit." That's exactly how I feel about both Qadosh and Tmol Shilshom, which is why I'm returning to them again after already having mentioned them in this post from February. I think I'd really like to combine the vibe from both these places in the hopes of re-creating the wonderful times I shared there. We don't really have a cafe culture here, not like in Israel or in the European cities I've visited. It looks, though, that this is changing: I just found an article that Toronto Life magazine did back in February about the changing cafe culture in Toronto. I like standing corrected on such subjects. Hmm, I smell a series that I can bring you on a very regular basis. It smells like latte/kafe afouk/cafe con leche/cafe creme...and pastries. With Chocolate. And with photos, if the digi ever decides to love me again.