Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Anything Goes" at the Lower Ossington Theater

Tonight Teena and I saw Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the Lower Ossington Theater.

ALL ABOARD! One of the greatest musicals in theater history, Cole Porter’s first-class musical comedy is sailing into Toronto! When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love... proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. Peppering this timeless classic are some of musical theatre’s most memorable standards, including “Anything Goes.”

Like everything else we have seen at the Lower Ossington Theater, Anything Goes did not disappoint. Although it is a little dated, having been first performed in 1934, the play is still quite funny and enjoyable.

The performance is very lively and lots of fun, with lots of very familiar tunes like I Get a Kick out of You, You're the Top, and of course, Anything Goes, which was redone in 1967 by Harper's Bizarre.

The onstage version is definitely  more lively than Harper's Bizarre, but here it is as this is the way I heard it for the first time.

If you like musical comedies, it's definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Night With Jeremy Hotz and his International Man of Misery Tour

Tonight Teena and I were at the historic Massey Hall (best place in the city to see any concert) to see Jeremy Hotz and his International Man of Misery Tour.

Fighting his way across the frozen tundra and battling the evil elements, Jeremy Hotz will pit his wits against the harsh Canadian winter with his all-new stand-up show, Jeremy Hotz: International Man of Misery, from January 29 to February 28, 2016. The tour will have the lovably miserable comedian brave the cold once again to entertain audiences nationally from coast to coast, from Newfoundland to British Columbia. With the holidays just around the corner, these miserable show tickets make a great gift for your loved ones!

Hotz is Teena's and my favorite comedian and this is the second time we have seen him live. The first time was in 2008.

In an interview in a Toronto Star article, not yet posted online, Hotz said each show is different as he comes on with some planned material and the rest he relies on material from the past and puts them in when it feels good. At he end of his show he explains that every show is different as he can't memorize shit!

He worked the audience fabulously, and kept a dialogue going with a 14 year old kid in the first balcony. Sometimes, as he seems to be unscripted, his material will wander, but in a hilarious way. Nothing seems to fall flat in his show.

I've recorded his retrospective show from  the Comedy Network, watch him when ever he he on TV, but he is never as funny as he is when you see him live.

I laughed my ass off and had tears coming down. Teena and I would go see him again in a second!

This bit wasn't in our performance tonight but it this bit shows how he can work a crowd.

Another that was not in our show, (this one is from Sydney), but is hilarious!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Book Review - Leafs '65, The Lost Toronto Maple Leafs Photograghs

I was at the library a couple of weeks ago and saw Leafs '65, The Lost Toronto Maple Leafs Photographs sitting on a shelf and knew I had to have a read. In the 60s as a young boy I breathed, ate and slept hockey, hoping that one day, I would become a Toronto Maple Leaf. You guessed it, I didn't and, in fact, don't even watch hockey any more.

In 2006, Lewis Parker, an artist and illustrator, was disposing of some of his belongings from years before in preparation of a move. He and his friend Dennis Patchett were going through boxes, and anything that was deemed not worth saving was relegated to a roaring fire. As Lewis passed him box after box, Dennis would pitch them in the blaze, one after the other. Suddenly, he caught the words on a file folder: "Leafs 1965." Inside were photo negatives and contact sheets. "I think we should keep these," said Dennis.

In the fall of 1965, artist Lewis Parker received a call from Maclean's magazine for a possible gig: accompanying a reporter to Peterborough to cover the Toronto Maple Leafs's preseason training camp. Lewis would spend some time with the team, and shoot stills that would run alongside the magazine piece. Though it was a career departure, he agreed, and the result of his time spent with the Stanley Cup-winning team during the training camp before their last Cup win are within these pages: beautiful, visually arresting photography that captures the comraderie and purity of a time in hockey and Canadian history not seen since. With complete, unfettered access to the team -- many of the players from remote farms in the country, and none with agents -- and GM Punch Imlach, Lewis Parker's photos (which, once the piece was cancelled by Maclean's, were never used) reflect a wistful moment in time before the hockey league changed forever.

Accompanied by acclaimed writer Stephen Brunt's essay on the '65 training camp -- based on interviews with team members -- Leafs '65 is the ultimate tribute to the Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs, to a forgotten era of hockey, and to a moment in Canadian history that will resonate with any reader.

I really enjoyed not only the pictures in the book but also Stephen Brunt's writing of that era of hockey. There are many serious and humorous stories about that training camp, the Leaf situation at the time. They had won the Stanley Cup three years in a row before losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the 1945-65 season. 4 games to 2. Punch Imlach said the leafs were only loaning out the Stanley Cup to the Canadiens for the season.

Imlach was a hard man to deal with. Not only was he the coach, but also the general manager in charge of signing the players. The book deals much with the negotiations between Punch, Bobby Baun (my all time favorite defenceman), and Carl Brewer.

One funny story that came out is a classic well-known one. Bobby Baun knew how to negotiate. Gordie Howe did not. Players never ever discussed salaries with each other so didn't know where the bar was set. The Detroit Red Wings manager, Jack Adams, always told Gordie Howe he was the highest paid player in the league and not to tell other players how much he made as "It would make the other players jealous." When Baun became a Red Wing in the 1968-69 season, Baun told Howe, who was making $45,000 a season at that time (before the big money contracts that came a few years later) that he was making $67,000, $22,000 more than Howe!That was probably the point where players decided to start sharing information and form a union.

The pictures are excellent, of course. It's fun to see candid shots of some of my favourite players but the two photos I enjoyed most don't even have a player in them. One is just a clutter of Leafs long johns hung up to dry. The other is of the hockey stick rake. Every stick was a CCM and not one had a curved blade.

It was a different era of hockey and this book does a great job of telling the story. It would be enjoyed by any hockey fan.

A Crunchy, Easy to Make Chickpea Snack

I'm trying to find healthier foods to snack on at night. I love crunchy foods such as tortilla chips and popcorn. When I was at the Pulse Feast last month, I came home with a jar of roasted chic peas. They were great so last night, I decided to make some myself.

The recipe calls for a minimum of items. Just some a tablespoon and a half of olive oil, a 540 ml (190oz) can of chick peas and salt or other spices to your liking.

Rinse well. This will dramatically decrease the "gassy" effect afterwards.

Lay them on a towel or paper towel and cover with another. Dry as much as possible.

Place in a bowl and pour the olive oil over them and mix. Roast in a 400F degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. When they come out, add the salt and spices. Let them cool a little and then dig in.

If I were to make them again, I would salt beforehand. Everything I read said to add the spice afterwards as if you do it before roasting, the spices can become bitter.

They came out excellent and I ate the whole bowl. Bad move as I am aiming for a low carb diet and although the can has 14 grams of fibre, it also has 72 grams of carbs. As a result, my glucose was up from it's usual low 9s to a 14.7.

They are delicious and healthy, though. Just not suited for a low carb diet.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Beer of the Week - Hennepin Farmhouse Saison

My first Canada Craft Club package came with a 750ml bottle of Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Brewery Omegang. I have written about this brewery before when I featured their Belgium Pale Ale.

Omegang is located in Cooperstown, NY, home of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. I've been there once. I didn't know it at the time but in the 1800s, the area surrounding Cooperstown was almost nothing but hop farms. Brewery Ommegang, founded by Belgian beer importers Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield in 1997, sits on land that was once a hop farm. Very appropriate.

So, how's the saison?

The Hennepin Farmhouse Saison weighs in at 7.7%, much heavier alcohol per volume (apv) than a usual saison. Originally, Belgium farmers would brew saisons for their farmhands to quench their thirst during harvest, using saison yeast and whatever else was around to add flavour. The alcohol was kept low, from three to four and a half percent, so the help wouldn't become drunk and lazy.

Even at 7.7% apv, there is no alcohol burn in this, which makes it a little dangerous as when drinking it, you don't realize how potent it is. The beer pours a light amber in colour with a white head, which stays for a long while. There is some noticeable spice in the aroma.

On my first sip, the spice comes through right away, followed by a bitter citrus that goes right through to the finish. This is a very nice saison, which I would buy on tap or in the bottle to take home.

I have been to Cooperstown once to see the Hall of Fame and have always wanted to go back. Now I have another reason to visit.

Beer of the Week Stats

Beers Profiled 302
Breweries 269
Countries 45

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My January 2016 Beer of the Month Delivery

My Beer of the Month package arrived today.

It's the perfect gift for any beer lover! Each month we'll deliver 12 full-sized bottles of hard-to-find, specialty microbrews from award-winning breweries. Each shipment will include up to four different varieties of premium, hand-crafted beer carefully selected by our experts and brewed in limited quantities by master brewers. We sample hundreds of microbrewed beers every year and only the best-of-the-best become selections of the Beer of the Month Club.

This month The Frosted Mug newsletter has not only the description of the beers in the package and a beer fact, this month was on the invention of beer caps but also contained a recipe for Beer Beef Stew (I would leave out the turnip though. I hate turnip).

In this month's pack, I received 4 bottles of Nickel Brook's Half Bastard Stout, 4 cans of Collective Arts, Stash Straight Up Ale and 4 bottles of Morena Classica Pilsner that came all the way from Italy's Bira Morena Brewery.

Looking forward to cracking some this weekend.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Easy Crock Pot Chicken Stew

I am not a fan of stews but Teena loves them.

As she has been away for a week, I thought I would surprise her with a chicken stew. I found this recipe on Cooking for Two. It looked quite easy to whip up and I found that I had it all prepared in about half an hour.

You'll need:

3 skinless boneless chicken breast about 1 kg  or a little over 2 lbs
2 large shallots or 1 large onion
4 carrots, or half of a 240 gram (12 0z) bag of baby carrots
2 celery stalks
5 potatoes,
250 ml (1 cup) frozen corn (not pictured)
900 ml of chicken broth
1 tsp dry thyme or to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
250 ml (1 cup) frozen peas (not pictured)

  • Pour the chicken stock into the crock pot.
  • Cut the potatoes into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes and add to pot.
  • Dice the shallots or onion and add to pot. Cut baby carrots in half or regular carrots into 2.5 cm (1inch) slices and dice the celery. Add both to pot.
  • Add frozen corn.
  • Cut the chicken into 2.5 cm (1 Inch) cubes. Add to pot.
  • Add thyme and ground pepper
  • Set on low for 8 hours

Add the peas a half hour before serving.

Ready to serve!

I am staying away from carbs so I boiled some lentils and poured the contents, minus the potatoes, over them. The picture at the top of this post is Teena's dish with the potatoes.

It turned out delicious. Teena had two helpings, always a compliment! I am taking some over lentils to work tomorrow and Teena is having some tomorrow and freezing the rest. She wants me to make this again.

Of course, I will!

Beer of the Week - Cauld Reekie by Stewart Brewing

Tomorrow is Robbie Burns Day, a day that celebrates Scottish poet Robert Burns, on his birthday. So instead of eating Haggis, a dish I've had before and surprisingly liked, I thought instead I would have a Scottish beer.

Stewart Brewing, from Edinburgh, Scotland, has starting shipping its beers to Canada and today I am trying their Cauld Reekie Stout.

The brewery was opened in 2004 by husband and wife, Steve and Jo Stewart, who ran it on their own. The company has since grown and now has 25 employees and an ample beer list. They concentrate mostly on cask ales also known as real ales, which is the core of their business. I'm glad, though, that they do bottle as now I can try a beer from far away.

The name is quite interesting. It is a play on an old nickname that Edinburgh has which is auld reekie,(old smokie due to the smoke from all the coal fires in the city), the nickname for Edinburgh many years before. Cauld Reekie was first released in 2008 and won European Gold in 2014 and took Silver in the stout category at the 2015 World Beer Awards.

So how does it taste?

The Cauld Reekie pours black with a dark brown head. Lots of coffee and some chocolate leap from the aroma. This is a strong tasting stout, with a bit of an edge to it. Coffee comes through strong when I sip followed by a little bitter hops at the end. The layers do not stop in the finish. Instead, between sips, there is a very surprising, pleasant chocolate taste that lingers on.

I'm glad that I picked up two 500 ml bottles. It's a stout that I would have again.

Beer of the Week Stats 

Beers Profiled 301
Breweries 269
Countries 45

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bar Hop BrewCo

After seeing the play Gaslight, I headed over to the new Bar Hop on Peter Street. I have been to the original Bar Hop on King Street but have not been here until tonight. Teena and I went once to try it but at that time the place opened at 5pm. They have since changed that.

They have an extensive draft and bottle list. Two pages of drafts!

Specials are on the board.

I found it interesting that they had a barrel section behind the bar rather than having more seats. It does add to the ambiance.

Last night I had Cassoulet for the first time at 3 Brewers. I loved it. They had it here too and wow! how fabulous is this!

There were HUGE pieces of Duck Confit in this. HUGE pieces. The whole dish was fantastic and I will never have any other dish on the menu.

I loved the place and will be back again. Krista was behind the bar. When I'm alone, I love sitting at the bar and she looked after me very well. Excellent service! You have to try it.

Interestingly, there was a bottle of Gooderhams and Worts whiskey on the shelf. I thought they went out of business years ago but Krista said it seems to be resurrected in London, Ontario.

"Gaslight" at the Ed Mirvish Theater

Teena is away and does not like period piece plays, well except for the Phantom of the Opera. Gaslight is a period piece and Teena did not want to go so I went this afternoon while she is visiting her sister in Halifax.

Gaslight is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theater, a historic 95 year old theater that I absolutely  love.

“Suddenly, I’m beginning not to trust my memory at all.”

As the ghostly living room gaslight flickers and the floorboards creak around her, Bella Manningham becomes convinced that she is losing her mind, as her mother did before her. With her husband away on business, she loses all sense of reality. Does the terror exist in her imagination or are dark secrets living in her home? The surprise arrival of a retired detective leads to a shocking discovery that will shake her respectable Victorian marriage to its core. A powerful psychological drama.

Patrick Hamilton’s classic mystery thriller premiered in London in 1938 and immediately became an international success. In 1944, it was adapted into an iconic film starring Ingrid Bergman. Since then, the play has become a staple of theatre companies in Britain. This brand new production will be mounted in the U.K. before travelling across the Atlantic to the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Northern Irish actress Flora Montgomery will star as Bella Manningham alongside Game of Thrones stars Owen Teale and Ian McElhinney. Owen Teale and Ian McElhinney are two acclaimed stage actors who have also found great success on screen. Most recently they have been two of the stars of the international phenomenon, Game of Thrones, which has revolutionized television and created legions of fans that have made the series among the most popular of all time.

Wow, what a drama! So good that the term "gaslighting" is still used today as a term to describe controlled abusive manipulation. The Star wrote a great article on this term.

The play is excellent. At the start, we get to see how Mr. Manningham controls his wife, Bella, and how she starts to doubt her own sanity. Then when Mr. Manningham leaves for a night out, Inspector Rough, played by Ian McElhinney, comes on the scene. The rest I will not spoil for you.

Folra Montgomery and Owen Teale are excellent as Mr. and Mrs. Manningham, but it is Ian McElhinney who steals the show. His character brings in a bit of humour, just enough to break the tension, then bring the tension back again.

This 1938 play still stands up today and I would recommend going to see it.

Teena, you just missed out on an excellent piece of theater!

A New Fun Monthly Craft Beer Delivery

When I arrived home last night, I found a notice that I had a package waiting for me at the post office. I went up today to pick it up figuring it was my Beer of the Month delivery.

I was wrong!

It was beer all right but one from a new and different company called Canada Craft Club. Teena bought me a year's subscription.  

We did all the work so you don't have to. We've scoured the planet and found true gems especially for our members — delivered direct to your home or office every month.

Our packs are delivered in discreet packaging (so no one swipes your brews) and prices include shipping. You can trust that every single beer has been hand-selected for your pack by Canada Craft Club’s experienced tasters and experts, some of whom sit on tasting panels in prestigious worldwide brewing competitions. What this really means is that we tasted, tested and rated every single beer before giving them our stingy stamp of approval for our treasured members. We try to shake it up for you, and fill your pack with beers you might not have had or can’t get anywhere else.

This month's package is very exciting. I received a 650ml bottle of The Immortal IPA from Elysian Brewing Company (gotta love the name of that beer) and a 750ml bottle of Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Brewery Omegang. An information card came with each.

Great surprise! I'm so looking forward to trying them. Thanks, Teena!