Friday, 29 January 2010

Our Candidates’ Debate – Toronto Centre Byelection
Sunday from 2 to 4 pm
Cabbagetown Youth Centre, 2 Lancaster (behind the Parliament Beer Store)

This is your chance to hear the four candidates from the major parties speak about the issues facing Cabbagetown, Toronto and Ontario. Each candidate will give a short opening speech. Then it’s your turn - most of the meeting will be devoted to a question-and-answer forum. In addition, you’ll have a chance to say hello personally and to get copies of their literature for later consideration. Don’t miss it.
The three local residents’ associations and the BIA are joining forces to stage this election debate. Over the past five years, we’ve hosted these meetings in every election – federal, provincial and municipal. It’s a good service for our Cabbagetown community and a great way to bring our groups together.

Official voting information
In our constituency (Toronto Centre), the Ontario government has called this byelection to fill the vacancy created when George Smitherman resigned. You may recall that he left the Legislature to prepare for his separate campaign for Toronto’s mayoralty.
We’re now into the final phase of the byelection – the voting takes place next Thursday, February 4.
You may have all kinds of questions about voting – can I vote in advance, what if I don’t have my official voting card, what are the hours and places where I vote, etc. The answers can be found here:

A full slate
Eight people have put their names forward for our consideration. Four of them are from the “major” parties. In alphabetical order they are:

Cathy Crowe (NDP) -

Glen Murray (Liberal) -

Stefan Premdas (Green) -

Pam Taylor (PC) -

Four others are “independent” or smaller party candidates:
Raj Rama (independent) –
Wayne Simmons (Freedom Party) -
Heath Thomas (Ontario Libertarian) –
John Turmel (Independent) -

Congratulations as well for good thinking to both Cathy Crowe and Pamela Taylor who rented spaces on Parliament Street for their campaign offices. I’m told by local businesses that their supporters are welcome guests and good customers. Thanks.

Valentine’s preparations
Okay everybody, here’s a sneak preview. I know that all of us plan ahead diligently and get ready for these big days well in advance…
Simmons Flowers (540 Parliament) has an amazing variety of flowers and arrangements, including roses, in stock and they’ll be open on both Saturday and Sunday during the Valentine’s weekend. Plus – we’ve just tasted some of Emilio’s lovely new pastries from Sweet Creamery (521 Parliament) and they’re heavenly. You can now see Valentine menus at Cranberries (601 Parliament) and at PearTree (507 Parliament). At the House on Parliament (456 Parliament), they’re planning a special menu for the night and there’ll be plenty of other restaurants making their announcements soon.
This year, Valentine’s falls on a Sunday – so there’s a good excuse to expand it into a romantic weekend. Next week’s Newsletter will get into the real details. These tidbits are only the tip of the iceberg.

Fair Trade Jewellery
Ryan Taylor at Fair Trade Jewellery (523 Parliament) now has a documentary film called The Last Gold Rush – it’s posted on the internet. It tells how Ryan developed an ethical jewellery company whose business practices match his concerns for the earth’s environment.
Fair Trade Jewellery designs and creates custom jewellery and bridal and engagement jewellery. Ryan uses ethical and environmentally sensitive practices. By using gold and platinum from small artisanal mining communities in Colombia’s Choco rain forests, he promotes sustainable local economies. A significant percentage of the proceeds from his retail sales supports the infrastructure in these small communities. He uses only certified Canadian diamonds. For those on a budget, he can offer gold, platinum and palladium that are recycled from the world’s existing metal supplies, avoiding the need for further mining to produce the jewellery.
The documentary and a full description of Fair Trade’s approach are well covered on Ryan’s website.

We’re pleased that two of our local restaurants are part of this exciting mid-winter food festival. Their menus (plus lots of other information) are listed on their attractive web sites. If you’re planning on a Winterlicious expedition, visit their sites and plan your evening.
JAMCafe (195 Carlton):
Provence Delices (12 Amelia):

Cooking classes at Riverdale Farm
The Friends of Riverdale Farm have started their winter cooking classes featuring Nomad Chef Bashir Munye and Jeff O’Connell from St John’s Bakery. Five more evening classes are scheduled for Tuesday nights running from February 2 to March 2. For all the details, go to

Riots at The Epicure Shop
Patty Junior has reported that there was a definite rush to her store last weekend (473 Parliament). No wonder – she has two killer promotions going on at the same time.
For high rollers and gamblers, it’s the last weekend of Epicure’s annual free coffee contest. Just buy a bag of your favourite Reunion Island beans. If your selection weighs exactly one pound (454 grams), you get another bag free. Her coffee challenge has been underway for two weeks and two people have already won.
Her second big push is free chocolate. Chocolate Clare is back this weekend with Brandy Truffles. They’re rich and creamy and Clare says that they’re a perfect match with your Reunion Coffee.
Cheese lovers will also be happy to know that Italian Buffalo Mozzarella is back in stock.
And Patty has developed her own secret recipe for grilled chicken breasts. They’re great for dinner. At the store, she’ll heat them for you and make sandwiches and chicken Caesar salads.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Music at The Cobourg
Every week as a regular feature, we list the Sunday night jazz events at The Cobourg (533 Parliament). But that little listing can miss the excitement that often happens during these evenings.
Here’s how John Jay sums up his experiences there during January, “It’s been a fascinating month musically…Julie Dorion sang to a packed house with Will Kidman and Gentleman Reg. John Alcorn and his trio started Sunday night jazz this year followed by Perry White and his trio. Last Sunday Holly Cole dropped by late in the evening and sang with the band. A great surprise and a real treat for those hanging in there late…”
That’s why we’ve always said that The Cobourg has beautiful music in a beautiful room. On Sunday, Perry White, Neil Swainson and Rob Piltch are back again. Don’t miss them.

Working at Winchester
The Donvale Cabbagetown Residents Association is working on a new project for the corner at Winchester and Parliament. They really have earned our thanks for their effort.
Thanks, in part, because this site was the focus of a lot of controversy last summer. Now the DVCRA has broken through those arguments and they’re launching a process that potentially can end up with a very positive change for the area. And they’re doing it in a way that brings people in Cabbagetown together, instead of pushing us apart.
Thanks as well because this project contains a lot of pleasant ideas for this corner – trees, a few small garden areas, decorative paving, fencing and bike racks. The designs aren’t finalized. When they are, they’ve promised to send them along so we can publish them in our Newsletter.
As you can see from this photo, the corner needs improvements.

Mexican Fiesta at Stonegrill
There’s another treat happening at Winchester – this time at the Stonegrill (51B Winchester). They’re hosting a Mexican fiesta to fight the January blues. For $40, you can enjoy a three-course dinner and margaritas prepared by their lovely bartenders. Appetizers, main entrees and desserts are all on the menu. Call Mukul or Dobby at (416) 9676-6565 for reservations.

Fundraiser for Haiti Relief
Big Mamma’s Boy (554 Parliament) is hosting a fundraiser on Tuesday, January 26 from 7 to 10 pm to raise funds for relief efforts in Haiti through the Canadian Red Cross. It’s a serious cause but, true to form, Heather Mackenzie is making sure that it’s also a great evening.
It’s a variety show hosted by Deb Pearce from Proud FM complete with comedians, an auction sale and lots of door prizes. Renee Marshall from Salon Bijou (211 Carlton) is giving away a haircut. The Marriott Hotels are offering overnight stays at their hotels in Yorkville and the Eaton Centre. The big auction prize is a twenty-week acting course for a young person under eighteen, offered by the John Robert Powers talent agency. There are plenty of other prizes to be won as well.
The evening is sponsored by Big Mamma’s Boy, Proud FM and Great Lakes Brewery. It’s an imaginative effort – congratulations to everyone who’s helping to put it together.

Wow – free chocolates
We knew it would happen eventually. Patty at The Epicure Shop (473 Parliament) is giving away free chocolates on Saturday. It’s a sampling of treats from Chocolate Clare and this event is the launching pad for this new business. There’s a website where you can see the different kinds of chocolate that Clare’s making: If those pictures are typical of the goodies that’ll be offered on Saturday, then there’ll be a lineup of choco-addicts waiting for a freeby. Clare, by the way, grew up on Spruce Street here in Cabbagetown and although she’s migrated east to the Danforth, her family is still here. No wonder Patty likes this project.

Sale at the 509 DanceWear
Elisabeth tells us that the Dance Wear store in the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre (509 Parliament) is holding a Winter sale. Everything in the store is reduced by 25 to 75% off. The window display features white tutus and white SIGG bottles with CCDT logos. In the store, there’s classical and modern dance wear, yoga clothing and ballroom shoes and clothing. Plus lots of books, CDs and DVDs. The sale runs until January 31.

Candidates debate
Save some time on Sunday afternoon, January 31 to be a part of our Toronto Centre by-election Candidates Debate. It’s happening at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre (2 Lancaster). Whenever elections have happened here over the past five years, your three local residents groups have joined the BIA to host these events and we’ve really learned how to do it. Four candidates will be there: Cathy Crowe (NDP), Glen Murray (Liberal), Stefan Premdas (Green) and Pamela Taylor (PC). For a refreshing look at the by-election in its earliest stages, read some comments by the Toronto Star’s Queens Park correspondent Jim Coyle:

Election workers needed
Eric Morse, the Returning Officer for Toronto Centre for this by-election (he’s the impartial referee), is looking for people who want to help out during the campaign and on election day itself. Payment varies for each job. If you want more info, call 1-866-566-9766 and ask for “Recruiting”.

They’re down
Frankly, Doug Fisher was disappointed with his own efforts for Christmas in 2009. Droopy wreaths on the lamp posts. (Groan). But they’re down – thanks to our friends Doug Hurlbut and Michael Boyle who took care of the job.
But Christmas 2010 has already started. We’re proud to announce that four imaginative people have agreed to attack the problem and they’re holding their first meeting imminently. Chris Kiraly (from Blink, Blink), Mary Spence-Thomas (Branch Out), Lucy De Luca (justbecuz) and Patty Junior (Epicure Shop) have decided to make our area shine next December. Stand back, Santa!
If you want to send us your ideas, please contact: The more, the merrier.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Attention Gamblers’ Anonymous
Patty Junior at The Epicure Shop (473 Parliament) is again launching her annual Coffee Contest. Just go into the store and fill up a bag of coffee. If it weighs exactly one pound (454 grams), then it’s free. Yes – it’s possible to do this. We speak from experience. Patty’s selection of Reunion Island coffees makes the contest worthwhile, even if you end up with 453 or 455 grams.
Epicure devotees know that Patty’s Breakfast Sandwiches are a real deal as well. She’s added another one to her menu – her Original Festival Sandwich, full of peameal bacon and grilled onions on a bun, $4.99. Previously, it was only available at Festival time but now it’s a regular, year-round offering. While you’re there, ask about Maple Farmer’s bacon and peameal bacon – both with no added preservatives.

Mi Casa has a sale
Lighting, furniture and art are among the lines being offered at incredible discounts (from 40 to 70% off). There are lamps from $40 and a glass and chrome Corbu dinette set for $399. Mi Casa provides free delivery for customers in the neighbourhood. 238 Carlton.

Congratulations are due
To the Stonegrill (51B Winchester). Writing in his blog, Engaging Service, Samad Shirazie has lavished considerable praise on Cabbagetown’s Stonegrill. Check it out here:

To Omi (243 Carlton). Two nice awards have arrived. In NOW Magazine’s Best of Toronto 2009, Omi has won the Best Sushi category. Well-deserved recognition. Omi is also a recommended restaurant in Toronto Life’s 2010 Eating & Drinking Guide.

Winterlicious is back
And two of our restaurants are taking part in this popular citywide food festival. It started on January14 and will run through mid-February. Reservations are definitely recommended.
JAMCafe (195 Carlton) has a $25 special three-course dinner on offer. The menu includes soup or your choice of an appetizer, four entrĂ©e choices and three dessert selections. Look for ‘licious items like muscovy duck breast salad, elk osso bucco, pan seared salmon and chocolate torte. For the full menu, click here: JAM opens at 6 pm and is closed on Mondays. (416) 921-1255.
Provence Delices (12 Amelia) has a $20 lunch and $35 dinner. There are vegetarian selections on both menus. Elie’s fine touches are obvious. You can see the Winterlicious menu and the recommended wine pairings at (416) 924-9901.

Save this date
On Sunday January 31 from 2 to 4 pm, four Cabbagetown groups are again sponsoring an all-candidates’ election debate. This is your chance to meet and size up the people who want your vote in the provincial by-election in our area. Our thanks to the Cabbagetown Youth Centre for agreeing to host the event at 2 Lancaster, behind the Parliament Street Beer Store.
There will be speeches, a question-and-answer session and a supply of brochures so you’ll come away knowing each candidate’s ideas, background and abilities.
The vote takes place on Thursday February 4 – just days after our event.

New hours
Yeti Law (215 Carlton) now has extended hours to 8 pm on Wednesday evenings to provide more convenient times for people who want to see her after work. Yeti’s practice is focusing on forward planning with wills and estate planning, power of attorney and real estate. New clients are welcome. Visit her website at Normal daily hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

JAMCafe hosts another wine tasting
Wines from Les Clos Jordannes are featured at JAM’s next tasting. Seven wines from two vintages are paired with Av Atikian’s hors d’oeuvres. Meet the winemaker. Friday, January 22, 6 to 8 pm, $45 per person. Reservations are recommended – these tastings sell out! (416) 921-1255. 195 Carlton.

Online flyers
Check out the right hand column on this Newsletter and you’ll see a link called Cabbagetown Online Flyers. This link gives you access to three regular weekly catalogues – each one updated and full of special offers - from Home Hardware, Luciano’s No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart. We’ll keep this link permanently on our Newsletter so you can conveniently plan your shopping at these stores. For a sample, check it out here:

Lennie’s Health Service Centre
Speaking of flyers, Carole Buss has her January flyer available now in store (489 Parliament). It lists the “Health First” line of vitamins and protein powders. Pick up a copy at the front counter and watch for updates each month.

Six spots are available at 205 Carlton Street. You can access them easily off the lane. For details, inspections and arrangements, call Allen at (416) 995-3399.

Friday, 8 January 2010

It’s a New Year
We’ve had some solemn moments over the past year and now it’s time to pull them all together here.
Of course, we’re talking about T shirts and flags. These may be common sights here at home but to thrilled onlookers around the world, they’re prized souvenirs. And this Newsletter is the place where you’ll find every juicy detail about this hot trend.

For high spots, who can beat Christopher Dew on top of Africa’s Mt Kilamanjaro?

And then there’s Pompeii in Italy,

the south of France,
the Rockie Mountains
and the Gatineau.

In Melbourne Australia, a man and his dog are slaves to coordinated outfits.
Of course, for straightforward glamour and fashion glitz, there’s the Cabbagetown parade.
But, to be brutally honest about it, if the guy in the middle ever expects to be mayor, he’d better upgrade to a proper Tee shirt.

Our tribute to the year’s fashion triumphs must include our “thanks” to the women who started it all –

Yes, the Tee shirts are the design creation of Chris Kiraly (middle) from Blink Blink who wore hers to a winetasting in the Okanagan.

and Lindsey Reidt who slaved away in the BIA office for the summer of 2007.

And no review would be complete without heartfelt thanks to Brenda who cheerfully models our latest designs.
But this ain’t the end of it. At the moment, schemes are afoot to flaunt our flag and strut our stuff in Peru and Argentina. We have a flag that we hope to see flying soon in Norway and we know of another dedicated traveller and fashion hound in Australia. Stay tuned in 2010 for these late-breaking news stories.

On a much more serious note
We continue to mourn the loss of three great friends of Cabbagetown, three people who each made a huge contribution to our lives.
Peggy Kurtin was a driving force toward the preservation of Cabbagetown’s heritage character. If we are, as we claim, one of the largest enclaves of Victorian architecture in North America, then a great deal of the credit for saving and maintaining this character belongs to her.
Barrie Cheval worked for the City of Toronto. She was widely recognized for her personal strength and her commitment to a better City. And she was an outstanding neighbour, a resident of Cabbagetown’s Alpha Avenue.
Carl Orbach was a pioneer in the business community on Parliament Street. His enthusiasm and energy turned every chore into a fun-filled adventure. The first Board meeting for our BIA was held at his house and he stayed active until his death, thirty five years later.
We’ll miss them all and we’ll enjoy their gifts every day as we go about our lives here in Cabbagetown.

The Epicure Shop

It’s January and we’re staying home. So Patty wants to lure us out of our cosy living rooms and into Epicure (473 Parliament). She’s having a sale. Not bad. Specifically, she featuring German cookies and small stollen – buy one, get one free. And her Baba Ghanou and Humus are on sale – buy one and get another, the same size, free.

More Wine at JAMCafe
Wines from Les Clos Jordannes are being featured at JAM’s next tasting evening. Seven wines from two vintages are being paired with Av Atikian’s hors d’oeuvres. Meet the wine maker. Friday, January 22, 6 to 8 pm, $45 per person. Reservations are recommended – these tastings sell out! (416) 921-1255. 195 Carlton Street.

Bargains at Number 9
Number 9 Studios (222 Gerrard St E) have several January specials on offer. Book your time in their professional recording facilities and save 10% off the regular price. All CD and DVD duplication runs are now 15% off the book rate. If you need assistance with graphics or web design, video editing or DVD authoring, prices on all creative services are reduced by 10%. Check them out at

Crime Report
Not really. It's a safety report – just a quick vignette.
On Tuesday, I was walking home with my latest purchase from the LCBO tucked under my arm. Suddenly, a man (who frankly looked a bit down on his luck) tapped my shoulder, excused himself for startling me and handed me a can of beer. It had fallen out of my bag.
He just walked off without a word. I was too surprised to react. I should have told him, of course, “finders keepers” and thanked him for his honesty.

Robbie Burns at The Ben Wicks
Robbie Burns Day at the Ben Wicks (424 Parliament) features an iPod selection of unforgettable Scottish tunes. No haggis. Apparently, their 2010 supply has been stranded in Scotland by the snowstorms currently ravaging the continent.
During the Cabbagetown Festival, bagpipers stop at the Wicks for a concert and a quick drink. This is an irresistible photo – apart from its Scottish references, it has nothing else to do with this topic.