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Keeping “Community” In My Personal Economy During COVID 19

My doorstep is a source of constant ding-donging, and parcel delivery.

Wth my son’s recent acquisition of a condo, he’s ordered the domestic accoutrements that he needs to make himself feel at home. My sweetie, the only one of us who is not deemed an essential worker, has been working from home, and enjoying the freedom of not having to go out to expose himself to the virus. He’s taken to ordering the cats’ wet food to be delivered, along with miscellaneous foofurah that will make him happy.

I admit that I do order from Amazon from time to time. I’m currently waiting for datura seed that I could not find at any of our local on-line offerings.

Mostly though, I’ve been trying to order from stores that I want to see open their doors again once this quarantine/shut-down/pandemic is over. Once a week I order from one of my favourite places.

I’ve placed a couple of orders with Wonderpens. Admittedly, I’ve never attended their location before. It was a thoughtful gift of fountain pen and fine writing paper notebook that hooked me.

 

It’s their Instagram feed @wonderpensstudioshop that keeps me interested and up to date with the products that they have available.  Their products provide me with quality stationary to that makes my writing feel more like an indulgence than work. From personal notes to novel outlines, I love using their high quality offerings.

When things call for something sophisticated for the palate, I turn faithfully to Hinterland Wine Company . Find them @hinterlandwine on Instagram.

hinterland.gif

 

‘Things’ these days, include A lazy Sunday lie in with brunch at the kitchen table, or binge watching old seasons of Game of Thrones. I always believe that you should have a bottle (or two of bubbles at the back of the fridge for occasions such as these. So why not indulge in something delicious and local?  Hinterland has been a favourite of mine since they opened. This week, it will be my treat to order a few more bottles to have on hand.

I first fell in love with their bubbles on a not-so-romantic getaway with a man whose company required copious amounts of alcohol just to keep me from pushing him out of the car…but I digress.  What kept me loyal and coming back to Hinterland for a visit was the charm of Vicki Samaras when she personally delivered a case of Les Etoiles, a few months later when I was single and able to enjoy their fine fare in the peace of good company.

Years later, when I took my sweetie to Hinterland in Prince Edward County, it was a giggly surprise to learn that Jonas Newman, Vicki’s husband and business partner, used to be his neighbour in Toronto. Small world. Delicious bubbles. What more could a gal ask for?

Pizza.

Another business that I enjoy ordering from appeals to a more base instinct; hunger.  Since I live in Markham, I don’t have much of an excuse any more to make it down to Terroni to pick up my very favourite pizza; The C’t mang.

c t mang

Admittedly, I’ve only ever ordered take out twice from Terroni. I prefer to sit in, mostly solo, and enjoy the pizza with a glass or two of wine from their delicious wine list.

But maybe a downtown road trip is due. After all, my favourite spot to hang out and drink craft beer happens to be Left Field Brewery. When they were open to the public, you could take in your own food to enjoy with their brew. Tucked in a sweet little spot in the east end of Toronto, it’s a cool place to hang out. In fact, last year for Mother’s Day, that’s where I took our twenty-something kiddos to hang out for a few hours.

left field.jpg

 

My personal favourite is their Bang Bang, a dry hopped sour.  The atmosphere is great for a casual meet up with friends, but barring that ,now that we live in the age of COVID, why not order some for delivery and hang out on your own back porch in the sunshine?

And speaking of back porches, the other local haunt that always cheers me up with it’s greenery and outstanding customer service is Kim’s Nature (Instagram @kims_nature). Curb-side pick up is available for your gardening needs. And really, who couldn’t use a little earth therapy? Seriously. Gardening, getting your hands damp in rich soil, and watching the lifecycle of a flower and vegetable garden are good for the soul.

 

I’m hoping that they open their outdoor garden centre this year if business conditions allow. Why? Because out of all of the places I’ve shopped in this neighbourhood, Kim’s nature have the heartiest plants and wonderful staff.

And I can’t forget my go-to take out when I’m hunkered down at my esssential workplace. It’s Abruzzo Pizza that my tummy begs for when it’s craving carbs and deliciousness. Located a short drive from work, It’s a family-owned business that has been around for just shy of 40 years. If it’s your first time ordering, get the Abruzzo Special. Get a party size, because you’ll want seconds and thirds.  Check them out on instagram at @abruzzo_pizza

Abruzzo

 

If you’re in the GTA, I hope that these suggestions inspire you to look into some of my favourite places and direct your spare cash to indulge in some of their treats.  If you’re not in the GTA, I hope that it inspires you to think locally and support your communities.

First and foremost though, especially for those of you who may not be lucky enough to still have a pay cheque coming in and are focussed on the necessesities, I hope you are well. I hope you have a strong, connected. loving community of support.

 

 

 

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Classic Style – Keep it Classic

but you said
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.” ~Jane Austen~

What I’ve recently recognized about the world that we live in is that it lacks imagination. For all of the nouveau trends in food and dress, ‘retro’ is a rather civilized way of making lack of imagination seem trendy.

Style is an easy example. Ankel length, full length, wide leg, narrow leg, graphic prings, stripes, florals…it’s all been done before.  Other than (thank God) changes in more practical fabric, it’s really not that different.

And then there’s food. One of my pet peeves. At a summer luncheon, I was served a house-named caesar salad. It boasted a poached egg atop a large disk of crispy parmesean which required explanation and directions with regard to how to actually eat the damn thing.

Let me be clear. This was NOT a caesar salad. The taste was similar, but it was not a caesar. It was delicious and did not disappoint my senses. The establishment could have at least given this wonderful creation the credit it deserved and called it something unique. As for the waldorf salad in a current epicurian rag-mag, it is not a waldorf salad. A waldorf salad has a specific dressing, walnuts, apples and lettuce. Eggs and cheese and pecans do not a fucking waldorf salad make. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, at least come up with an original  name!!!

My ultimate annoyance is the caesar. Gimme some voddy and clamato. Rim it with celery seed and plop in a celery stick.

When messing with the classic caesar came into vogue over a decade ago, I was sitting at Fran’s in Toronto waiting for my date. We were headed to a Bonnie Raitt concert at old Massey Hall, and I was hungry. A great drink to order prior to a meal (when you’re freaking starving) is a caesar. It’s ok to have a cocktail while you’re waiting, but not so much a meal, and a caesar is pretty much an appetizer in a glass.

So I ordered my caesar and people watched. Enter the spicy bean. Like I said, I was hungry. So, I chomped down on the offending bean and almost died choking. I downed my glass of water, my caesar, and had to order another just to stop from choking again. Please no bean this time. Celery if you have it.

Please, do not garnish my classic cocktails with pretensious garnish that need to be groomed, pampered, handled with cutlery or introduced and explained.

Cocktail bars and great restaurants need not rely on old names for new, delicious concoctions. They need to get creative.  Don’t sell me either caesar unless it’s true. Do tempt me with new concoctions with new names. Imagination is sexy darling, dreadful surprises are not.

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Why Your Terrible Breakfast Offends Me

"Let them eat cake." ~Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution~
“Let them eat cake.”
~Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution~

Not you, dish-rag of a girl behind the counter, nor you, 65ish waitress with the second-hand Target sweater and hair clip.

Nope, you two have my respect. You’ve earned it. Over and over, you’ve earned it. Day in, and day out, you’ve earned it.

Say what you like about what money can’t buy, it can buy a whole lot of peace of mind and privilege. That’s why it’s so coveted, and so hoarded by those who have it. If it was as worthless as all the popular memes want us to believe, people would be way, way, way more generous.

Why your terrible breakfast offends me is because YOU are likely a greedy-money-hording employer from hell. I’m guessing, but it’s an educated guess.

More than once favourite restaurants have changed hands, and I believe that one of my favourite breakfast spots, Artisano’s may have also changed ownership, or perhaps the management has just dumped the concept of customer service? I’m not sure. I am sure that I will not be going back, nor recommending it based on my own personal experience.

Any time front-line staff don’t produce excellent products or customer service, it’s likely because they don’t have the tools or energy to do it. After all, who likes to feel second-best after a long day at work? When I say tools, in this case I mean decent food to use and enough staff. When I say energy, I mean; the staff likely get treated and paid like hell.

Yah, a bad breakfast is a first world problem, but it’s the symptom of a larger problem. First of all, if you’re raising kids, and working, you likely have to stop somewhere to eat at least once or even twice a week, simply because the demands of work and the demands of trying to have your kids get ahead mean you have no time and a whole whack of  extra blood pressure. Why? Simply put; the Have’s now have more, and the Have-Nots have even less. And yet we’re not protesting in Canadian streets. This both intrigues and frightens me.

ewwwSo, when I get a chance to actually enjoy a meal, and I’m paying YOU for it, I’d like it to be well-cooked, fresh and hot. That’s the least someone should expect. Your burned bacon and rubbery-older-than-dirt sausage and cold as hell eggs suck. No salt or pepper. Clearly those are extravagances.  Besides, when the food is burned, old and cold, salt and pepper are really just putting lipstick on the pig aren’t they darlings?  And if you’re looking at the photo, that’s not pepper, it’s grit from the grill. Ewww.

Staff to bring you those things after you ask? Can’t be bothered. Breakfast is a completely indulgent meal to enjoy on a Sunday morning; with hot coffee and a newspaper, there are few things that make me happier.

I do not blame the all too commonly underpaid staff who are working their buns off to pay the bills. I do blame employers who skimp, penny-pinch and do so at the cost of the health of employees and customers.  This is why your terrible breakfast offends me. This is why I will not be back.