Posts in Category: Musings

Manhattan in December: Theatre, Culinary Delights, and Festive Markets

Running off to Manhattan in the first week of December is beginning to be a bit of a tradition. No matter how many times I go there I still run around in the same loop that I did when I was a teen. As soon as I landed of course I needed to flutter around and explore the city and its iconic landmarks and delicious food. I kicked off with a leisurely walk to Grand Central, over to Bryant Park and the Library, and along 5th, where the energy of the city is always at peak. Despite my getting older and less interested in crowds, the allure of Rockefeller Plaza always draws me in with its sparkling lights and iconic art installations (plus the new beam ride, have you heard?). The charming Bryant Park, with its winter transformation this time of year, adds a touch of festive magic instantly. And don’t even get me started on the Nintendo store. It’s my childhood.

The evening unfolded with dinner at Hawksmoor, a carnivore’s haven known for its impeccable steaks. The sizzling aroma of perfectly grilled cuts filled the air, setting the tone for a delicious start to our culinary journey. The cozy ambiance and attentive service at Hawksmoor left us in high spirits as we wrapped up the night. But damn, I forgot to try the marrow pie!!

Saturday morning commenced with an exclusive brunch at the Harvard Club, where refined indulgence set the stage for a day filled with sophistication and delight. The elegant atmosphere and exquisite fare provided the perfect prelude to the experiences that awaited us. That building, no joke, is spectacular. Harry Potter on steroids. Not a speck of dust in sight.

The day continued with a leisurely exploration of markets galore – Union Square Christmas Market, a bustling hub of holiday cheer and artisanal treasures. Strolling through the festive stalls, we found unique gifts, sipped on hot cocoa, and soaked in the magical atmosphere. Bryant Park market again, Grand Central holiday market, and Chelsea Market, complete with a Gingerbread House contest. Phew.

A delightful pre-theater dinner at Joseph Leonard followed, with the restaurant’s intimate ambiance and inventive American cuisine adding to the pleasure of the day. Satisfied and content, we made our way to the Lucille Lortel Theatre for a riveting performance of “Danny and The Deep Blue Sea,” brought to life by the talented duo of Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott.

Sunday unfolded with a leisurely stroll through the Bryant Park Christmas Market (again. why not), where the festive ambiance and handcrafted treasures continued to captivate. Our exploration extended to include the modern allure of Hudson Yards, whose architectural wonders and upscale retail scene provided a contemporary contrast.

To cap off our weekend retreat, Sunday dinner at Portale brought an exquisite conclusion to our culinary journey. The restaurant’s chic ambiance and innovative Italian cuisine provided the perfect ending to a weekend filled with good food, cultural experiences, and the festive spirit of Manhattan. As we bid farewell to the city, the memories of savory steaks, captivating theater, and the enchanting markets lingered, leaving us refreshed and eager for our next escape to the heart of Manhattan.

Riviera Reverie

La Renaissance

Coal Mine theatre, the best kept secret in Toronto for professional productions in an unassuming amateuresque space, has returned with the production of Yerma, a tragic play about a woman struggling to conceive and how it eventually destroys her. It was a sleek and sexy production with a starry, gorgeous cast, a smart set design and a strong score. It was nice to be back among the theatre lovers, people who tirelessly devote their time and energy and resources to supporting art and the conversation and discussion and normalisation it brings to subjects so difficult to broach that my own mother only peripherally mentioned her experience with it once. Several of my closest friends have been struggling with IVF and other solutions for years, I’ve been asked personally on one desperate occasion if I would consider being a surrogate, I’ve seen over time what the failure in these attempts can do to a person emotionally, financially and spiritually. The woman that I saw the play with shared with me that she herself was going through the same situation, and that next week could be her last chance. She didn’t have any more money, and at this point, she decided to give it one more go. Her eyes focussed in the distance on something I couldn’t see. “It’s a lot like gambling” she said to me. “Except that you can’t ever really break even. You have to win the whole jackpot or just walk away absolutely ruined”.

I felt grateful that I was still in a place in my life where people felt like they could open up to me about things so personal and so private. I promised her that I will be thinking about her come next week, and sending all the good juju out in the air, and gave her a hug as we parted.

On my way home, in a moment of absolute celestial poetry, I received a message from my close friend that he and his partner were expecting a baby. I love him dearly and have been grateful for his friendship for so many years. They will make the most wonderful parents, and when they told me casually that Auntie Sandy had to visit soon, I started crying and grinned like an absolute nutcase all the way home.

Erie Halloween

To celebrate Halloween in the best ol’ spooky way one knows how, you should do what I did and rent a cabin in the woods. By a lake! Preferably a deserted spot, where it is super grey, windy, and cold, and ideally raining non-stop, and there are lots and lots of windows devoid of any covering so that murderers can watch every move you make. Throw in a lighthouse in the distance, just close enough so that you always know there’s something out there on the water, but far enough that you can’t quite make out if it’s an asylum or what. And don’t forget a really deep basement where the stairs have no handrail, the lights are broken, there’s the constant sound of dripping water, and critters. Thanks, Lake Erie, for being perfect. Check.

Oh, and during the day go for walks to explore the area and realize that every business is shuttered and the population is 45. But no matter! You can ponder how old fossils are and how coral and sea slugs have left their marks for all of time in rock beds but if you were to, say, meet your untimely demise at the hands of a murderer in the woods, just as an example, you’re merely a speck in the fabric of time. Thanks Rock Point Provincial Park, for bringing perspective home. Check.

Oh, and when you get home be sure to watch movies that are slow and creepy and psychologically menacing so that everyone gets ridiculously scared and can’t sleep the whole night and insists that lights be left on the entire time it’s dark, thus allowing previously acknowledged murderers to see you EVEN MORE CLEARLY THAN BEFORE. BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO WINDOW COVERINGS. Thanks, Netflix’ Insidious and Night House. Check.

Then, buzzing from Reese’s Pieces and paranoia, try to sleep. Good luck. Happy Halloween.


With another awesome contract under my belt, working feverishly with the Apply Digital folks to build not one, not two, but three sites for their superstar client Moderna, I knew I had to step away from the computer and experience some beauty in real life to unwind and recharge. The goals – to get sunshine and heat (I had missed summer pretty much entirely), to give friends hugs (so much needed), and to see what travelling with a 70lb dog looks life (boarding a dog is way too expensive, the flight cost is infinitely cheaper).

I’ve been to California a handful of times now, and the geography of this state never fails to astound me. There’s just so much here, so much natural beauty. The oceans, the colours, the heat, the flora and the fauna is so different from home. The dryness, that desert earthy dustiness of it, and the smell of eucalyptus and cacti everywhere is wonderful. The state parks are out of this world. Each one is more beautiful than the last, and the people are just… well, they’re happy. And happiness makes you pleasant, and kind, and generous, and good to be around, and chatty and fun. So there’s that.

It’s also so insanely big, so filled with options and people and constant motion that it can be very overwhelming. You have to leave the ridiculous belief that you’ll see it all at the door – it’s just not possible. I saw a banner that read “California is for everyone” and it really is – whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever you do, you’ll find it here. You’ll find your tribe.

Flying with a dog was shockingly easy. All we needed to do was find a crate (in our case it needed to be hardshelled, big enough so that he could stand comfortably in it, yet small enough that the collective weight of crate and pup did not exceed 100lbs. Once that was sorted, the rest was just the tasks of purchasing a spot for him (~CAD$100), getting documentation from the vet that he was vaccinated and in good health (~CAD$40) and shlepping over to the airport, keeping fingers crossed that he wouldn’t start barking the second we left him at the oversize luggage area. He held it together like a champ, and when we collected him in LA – his cute little face searching the crowds for us and that frenzied tail wagging, still silent – we knew taking him with us was completely the right way to go. We were also super lucky that we found an AirBnb host who loved dogs and shared with us all kinds of tips about where to go and what to do, that his next door neighbour was the friendliest person ever (and a talented artist to boot!) and that LA in general seems to love dogs and didn’t really restrict his access anywhere. Because dining here is 95% outdoor, Remy was able to go with us everywhere, and friends offered to stay with him if we wanted a night on the town on our own. Plus, we stayed in an old part of Hollywood called Whitley Heights that was a hop and a skip from Runyon Canyon, where Remy could run off-leash to his hearts content.

The trip also presented some challenges, mainly for gimpy ol’ me. My first several minutes in the Pacific came to a screeching halt as a stingray angrily speared the base of my right foot. Convinced that I had stepped on a piece of glass and the whole throbbing painful ordeal would only last a minute, I sat on the beach and waited for the pain to subside. When it instead exponentially increased and spread up towards my pelvis, I hobbled over to the nearest lifeguard station and begged for a vial of secret potion that would make all this go away (amputation at that point was also something that I wasn’t completely against). The secret potion came in the form of a foil bag of near-boiling tap water in which I was to essentially cook my foot. The relief was instant, and despite the pieces of stinger exoskeleton that were still lodged in my foot (and presumably would remain ad infinitum) that ordeal could be put behind me. Fuck you Pacific. I get it. You win.

Five days later, just as I was finally able to walk without thinking too much about the healing wound on my foot, a grown Dalmation (presumably in his absolute delight at running after a gorgeous intact Vizsla from a land to the North) forgot his surroundings and failed to maneuver around me as he ran full speed across Huntington Dog Beach. His body made full contact with my right knee, and I fell to the ground in miserable excruciating pain. It was like being hit in the leg with a golf club. As I do, I gave myself a minute for the pain of the impact to subside, convinced that deep breathing and comical wincing would make it all go away. Mostly, it did, but I couldn’t put weight on the leg. Given the direct impact it made sense to me that it should be painful for a while, but when the next morning my knee had swelled to triple its original size and I could put no weight on it without agony, I decided it was best to make sure that nothing was horribly wrong and went for some XRays at an Urgent Care Clinic. Spoiler alert – I survived, but it messed me up for a good two weeks, and those beautiful hikes in Runyon Canyon with Remy went out the window.

When I could walk again without crutches (and just after the US Open Surfing Championships), that’s when there was an oil spill across the California Coast that closed down the OC beaches. I won’t even pretend that this is a poor me moment – the whole thing was shocking for all Californians and pissed off everyone who loves their ocean, their wildlife, and their neighbourhoods. Cleanup efforts are continuing, and I was happy that we didn’t spend double the amount of money on accommodations to be close to the beach. On the flip side, if we had, we wouldn’t have been anywhere near an LAPD standoff a block from our place or a DTLA hostage situation near Central Market.

So I sit here, writing down what’s in my head, left to wonder what I really think of LA and if it’s somewhere I could be long term. I gravitated to San Francisco more but I straight up wouldn’t be able to afford it. John is much more in favour of LA.

Pros: California is incredibly beautiful and the heat and geography are absolutely intoxicating. Gawking at all the unique real estate would keep me busy for 10 years, the houses here are amazing. People you encounter in LA are warm and kind, creativity abounds, and for a kid like me who grew up obsessed with television and movies, everything under the sun is here – the Mattel headquarters. Jim Henson studios. Paramount, Fox, Warner Brothers, Snow White’s house, everywhere you look there is some landmark, some reference to some piece of your childhood that made a serious impact. The food scene is incredible, and on any given night you can find eats from any corner of the universe.

Cons: The sidewalks in the whole city are full of tents, with the homeless, addicts, young kids who ran away from home, and people who either can’t afford housing or simply cannot secure it living there. For someone who walks and does it more for pleasure than practicality, it sucks. You need a car for everything. Walking three blocks takes 10 years, and you’re dodging addicts, beggars and yellers.  And don’t dream of just hailing a cab either, that doesn’t exist in LA. You need to explicitly book a rideshare, and there’s so much demand that most of them decline your request, so you either stand on the sidewalk of the restaurant you just got out of for an hour and wait (and pay USD$70 for a ten minute ride) or you take a scooter, if you can find one. For real (on the plus side, when your rideshare does arrive, it could be a Tesla, as was the case with us. We got to zip around town like millionaires and the driver showed off just how much those cars can do).

I think my pros list is longer.

Family Foodie Fun

We’ve been missing London a lot, and really wanted to do something that would feel like we were back there. We got the chance to experience it in such a beautiful way, mostly thanks to our amazing friend and colleague Diana, who is the most awesome and generous person in the world. In fact one of my biggest regrets is that we didn’t jump at the opportunity to live there, but that’s a story for another time…

And so Family Day weekend was all about food. Afternoon Tea with teeny tiny sandwiches, scones and cakes and Beef Wellies (yes, plural… got a couple of little steaks instead of one giant one) where I got to freehand a lattice pattern with the pastry (who needs another cluttery gadget, come on) and confirm once again that the mustard layer is absolutely integral to the taste of the mushrooms and the entire dish. I went bonkers with the Madeleines – John got me a little Cuisinart Madeleine pan so I made the classic orange rind version with the hump and everything, and let me tell you, fresh out of the oven, they are just delightful. 

Prep is everything. Making the batter takes time and effort. Making the steaks and the druxelles takes time and effort. But taking it out of the fridge and popping it into the oven is nothing. Knowing now just how much I can do beforehand (92%) makes all the difference in the world, and now I see post-Covid dinner parties in a much less intimidating light…

Quarantine Quadragenarian

Want to know what I’ve been up to since April and why I have not kept the blog updated?

That about sums it up. Goodnight.

But seriously, there’s not that much to write about during a Canadian winter lockdown. I watch tv. I eat. I stare at my computer screen.

Instead of celebrating my 40th in the Maldives with a margarita, I celebrated it on Zoom. All day. I played Among Us with my kid brother and my sister-in-law on Zoom. I virtually ate German Chocolate Cake (which is American, FYI) with my folks on Zoom. I had a whole meal complete with sparklers and champagne on Zoom. I had a call with my Amsterdam buddies (who made me cry because clearly I am an emotional basketcase and miss them dearly) on Zoom. And you know what? Screw the Maldives, it was adorable.

Bennies and my Pet

Sometimes people amaze me. I randomly came across a blog post about 90 second keto English Muffins and had to try them out myself, because.. well… 90 SECOND ENGLISH MUFFINS!.. with a few adjustments of course based on what I actually had on hand. The result is something earth-shatteringly miraculous, and so this last week at my casa there have been many a Benny in my breakfast routine, as well as the usual wet kisses of my puppy Remy.

Life on the Inside

Some great news for those missing culture and camaraderie right now like a mother….

  • Jim Caruso’s Pajama Party is kind of the cutest thing I’ve seen. This happens every Monday night so I’ll be tuning in again.
  • The Citadel Dance Company will be showcasing their artists for a limited time every Tuesday at 2pm, showing past performances on their website for free
  • National Theatre Live is also streaming some amazing content for free. A show premieres every Thursday at 7pm London Time, and is available for a week thereafter for you to watch whenever you like.
  • The RA streaming parties are pretty exciting is you want to shake your booty like no one is watching. Because no one is, unless you’ve set up your webcam that way.
  • Smash is available on NBC and on Amazon, and it’s basically like living in New York and watching a Broadway production coming together, so there you go.
  • Heard of Art Passport? You can download this and literally tour galleries and exhibitions using this handy, and free, app or just go to the museum website directly, as many are offering free virtual tours during this time. Another option, of course, is to download the Google Arts and Culture app.
  • 54 Below will be streaming free content sporadically on their YouTube channel as well
  • If you love musicals and Andrew Lloyd Webber, check out this new YouTube channel.
  • If you can speak German, you may want to check out frequent streams at the Schaubuehne
  • Broadway HD has a 7-day free trial, and I have a deep love of Kevin Kline, so will be checking out Present Laughter
  • The Metropolitan Opera are running free nightly opera streams on their website.
  • Jackbox has some deals on free games that you can play remotely with people. You can download Drawful (which is basically Pictionary) for free, and use a free Zoom account to stream it to your friends. All that people need to be able to play are a laptop (so they can see the game screen which you, as the host, will control and share via Zoom) and their cell phones (to play along and record their answers).
  • If all else fails and you simply cannot stare at a screen any longer, rent a board game from BoardGames2GO

Rembrandt von Goobersplatz

I’d like to introduce you to Rembrandt, the sweetest little Vizsla pup who has been licking my face every morning and sleeping under my chair despite having a perfectly good and cozy little dog bed for his use. This little guy has more energy than I could have dreamed, and is sweeter and smarter than I ever expected puppies to be. If you’d like to see some of Remy’s adventures, we’ve set up an instagram page for him and will try to post regularly – mostly because it’s insane how quickly he is growing, and it’s important that we don’t blink and miss it all!

I’ve always been big on walks around the neighbourhood with a coffee in hand, and love how much green space there is in Toronto. Remy is a great reason to venture even further and stay out even longer. He doesn’t tire easily, and seems content after a quick nap to do it all over again. I may have finally met my energy match! Who needs sleep? Who needs tv time? Who needs clean pants? Not I, clearly. This guy is going to make the holiday season one to remember, that’s for sure (10 bucks says the Christmas tree is akimbo before the lights are even on properly).