theatre in toronto: venus’ daughter

I wrote last week about getting to meet with the cast and the writer of Venus’ Daughter and last night I had the privilege of seeing the show. I did manage to avoid reading too much about the play before going to see the show, but for those of you who like to read the back of the book: Venus’ Daughter is a play about how women and their bodies are viewed and how we work so hard to cover it up, or change it to fit what we think everyone else wants to see.

The play is told from a number of perspectives, focusing on one woman’s story looking at her childhood and her ancestors and weaving them together to see how she became the woman she is today. I’m sure most women (and maybe even more men then we realized) would be able to relate to struggles Venus’ Daughter addresses. Most people have had at least a time in their life where they wish they could change something about themselves, they wear different clothes trying to hide or disguise something, they wear bras to make it look like they have more breast than they do or use make up to try to perfect a specific look.

This creative play was really remarkable and the talent was unbelievable. It has been a very long time since I’ve been on stage but I can always empathize with how difficult it is to put yourself out there and in this case, the writer is also standing on stage. I’ve said it before but I’m always blown away by the great talent we have in this city and it was great to see young and talented actors last night in this show. I can’t wait to see where their careers take them next, I know I will definitely want to see it.

Venus’ Daughter runs until February 28th, tickets range from $25-$35 with discounted tickets for students, seniors and arts workers.

 

dining out: indie ale house

Until last week, I had never been to indie ale house and every time I said that people said – what?! People know my love of beer and food and so it seemed like a natural fit and indeed it was.

They have a constant rotation of beer and a bottle shop in the front. You have to go to see what they have available on tap, the website isn’t really kept up to date. But for this post, I’ll stick to the food.

I had the mac and cheese, which was a natural choice for me, I’m a huge fan of mac and cheese. This one was a goat cheese and butternut squash, they have another brisket one.

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I was quite surprised by a number of things in the dish, pleasantly surprised I should say. The toast that came with it was huge and tasted like a grilled cheese which I realized is just taste of buttery bread. I also expected the sauce to be the butternut squash component but it there was actually chunks of butternut squash in it. It was so good, and looks small but was so filling I had some to take home.

img_20160205_214949.jpgMy friend got the margherita pizza and added prosciutto because as she said, if that’s an option you should always say yes. It was a decent thin crust pizza but I definitely preferred my mac and cheese.

I would recommend indie ale house if you haven’t been if you love good beer and great food, the kitchen does close before midnight so make note of that and like most good places in the city, be prepared for a wait.

Have you been to indie ale house? What did you get?

delicious brunch: maha’s

Normally when you think brunch in the city you think of waffles and eggs benny and long lines but not at Maha’s (although… there is still lines).

Maha’s is an Egyptian restaurant in Leslieville known for it’s brunch. It is very very tiny and very very popular so pack your patience as they don’t take reservations. I went with a group of bloggers, as part of Happy or Hungry’s Eat The World project. I was surprised that the most popular Egyptian restaurant in the city is known for it’s brunch and it’s delicious.

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We started with dokka, pita triangles with olive oil and nuts and sesame seeds. It was really good but a very small portion for the 5 of us but it was tasty.

Everyone at the table was getting lentil soup so I decided to try it, I’m not sure I’ve every really had lentil soup. It was creamy (but vegan so no real cream) and really flavourful. I would definitely get it again.

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It was pretty hearty but my main was on the smaller side so I was glad I got it. My main was a fried cauliflower sandwich. I love fried cauliflower because well… fried and this sandwich was perfect. I was expecting the sauce to be more like a tahini but it was actually more like a garlic mayo, which was fine by me.

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I would recommend Maha’s if you’re looking for a new brunch place but beware that you will have to wait, as the place is super tiny.

Have you tried Maha’s?  What did you think?

thirsty thursday: mocha marshmallow stout

Hope you’re all staying warm on this chilly Thursday. We can’t complain, it’s mid-Februrary and it was the first time I blasted my heat in the car.

This week’s thirsty thursday is definitely a fun one! Left Field Brewery is known for mixing it up once in a while and pairing up with other awesome local vendors and this new stout is no different. The mocha marshamallow stout is a collaboration with Sweet Jesus and you may have seen my social feeds showing off this beauty of a beer. Served with a toasted marshmallow, how can you not love it?

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Look at that marshmallow! I love it. all stouts should come with a marshmallow! The beer itself tasted more like mocha than marshmallow but it is a delicious stout, I definitely picked up a couple bottles for home.

And this weekend, the brewery is having a beer and chocolate tasting for anyone looking for some Valentine’s plans :)

upcoming show: venus’ daughter

I had the great fortune to sit down and chat with the stars of Venus’ Daughter, a play put on by Obsidian Theatre. You may remember Obsidian Theatre from last year when I saw The Mountaintop. The show opens on February 18th and runs until February 28th at the Theatre Centre on Queen West. I got to ask the actors about the upcoming show and their thoughts on the remarkable Toronto theatre scene.

First, I sat down with Akosua Amo-Adem, an actress from Toronto. She graduated from York University’s theatre program in 2009 and has been performing in the city since then. She first got involved with Obsidian Theatre when they were workshopping the play, working through different versions of the script. I love going to see shows without knowing too much about them, just like how I try to avoid the back of books. I asked what she loved most about Venus’ Daughter and she told me it’s magical, things are unexpected and out of no where and she hopes that the audience allows themselves to surrender to it all. We also chatted about how supportive the Toronto theatre community is and how there is something always happening. It’s really amazing how much is happening in the city all the time, the theatre scene in Toronto is more than just Fringe.

Next had I the chance to speak to Meghan Swaby, who is not only performing in the show but she wrote Venus’ Daughter. Also from Toronto, she graduated from Windsor University in 2007. She came back to the city and joined b. current, which she considers her “training ground” – where she made great connections and found great mentors within the Toronto theatre community. Her first show was a one woman show called Hysteria and it was the moment that she found she could tell stories and that people wanted to hear them (you know that feeling, when people actually acknowledge your work, it’s really exciting!). She loves the agency that writing gives her, as an actor, you’re told the material that exists and you have to fit within it but if you can write, then you can create whatever you’d like. She began writing Venus’ Daughter about 3 years ago and it was in the summer that she decided that she actually wanted to perform in it. She loves opportunity to have the perspective of both the writer and actor, something people don’t normally get to experience.

And finally, I spoke with Kaleb Alexander, an actor from Toronto as well. All the cast members knew each other before coming together to work on Venus’ Daughter but it wasn’t actually how they all came together on this show, which just shows me that the theatre community is just like all other industries, everyone knows everyone. When asked what excited most about Venus’ Daughter, it was the opportunity to explore the black female form. People’s identities are shaped by so many factors and he is interested in how the play explores where strength comes from, as well as a person’s insecurities. He was also interested in how we compare to people of the past, how all experiences can be difficult but in so many different ways and how people are able to get through all the difficult things they have to endure. Speaking with Kaleb, I got even more excited about the play, I knew there was three actors so I assumed that there were three characters within the show, but in fact, he alone is playing 7 different characters, ranging from a ditzy child to a couple of doctors. Although it’s been a while (a long while) since I’ve been on stage, I can imagine how difficult it would be to be able to pay 7 distinct characters within one show.

I’m so glad Obsidian Theatre gave me the opportunity to speak to the cast prior to the show, it got me even more excited about the play. I promise to share with you more details about the play once I’ve seen it but in the meantime, tickets can be purchased through The Theatre Centre’s box office.

thirsty thursday: apothic red

I tried apothic red earlier in the week, without knowing what it was but it was certainly delicious. I was glad that when I looked it up, it was under $20 (which wasn’t always a rule for thirsty thursday, but it should be so it is now!).

I really enjoyed it, it was smooth but quite rich. When I looked up the description, I saw that it has hints of blueberries, raspberries, vanilla and cocoa, some of my favourite things. I think this would be a great wine for staying cozy in the winter (which I think is starting to fade, it’s staying light until 5:30pm now!).

Apothic Red

If you’re looking for this Californian blend, you can pick it up at the LCBO for $16.15. Have you tried the apothic red? What did you think?

eat: bannock

So, I finally went to Bannock this past Saturday. If you’re not familiar, it is a “casual” restaurant from O&B that’s basically in The Bay Queen Street. I knew I was in good hands when I arrived and saw my favourite baco noir and my “favourite” beer (that’s in quotes because I could never choose a favourite) beer on the menu.

It was a chilly winter night so I decided to try the “Arcadian Court Chicken Pot Pie”. It came with mashed potatoes, which are my weakness. Chicken Pot Pie isn’t something I’d normall order while I’m out, I’m always afraid that I’m going to be disappointed but this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a restaurant in a while.

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I wish I took a photo of that crust popped open so you could see the goodness within! My boyfriend had the turkey burger, which he said was really good.  I couldn’t try it because it was all covered in avocado and I didn’t want to be itchy all night (weird allergy). Although, his burger didn’t really come with a side, just a few chips but we were both pretty full and didn’t have dessert so I guess it’s all good.

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It wasn’t the priciest dinner but I put casual in quotes earlier because it definitely wasn’t cheap. The two mains and a drink each with tax and tip came to around $70 but it is definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in a while and in that neighbourhood, probably ever (although I’ve never been to Chase).

Have you been to Bannock? What did you think?

read this: the nightingale

I feel like it’s been too long since I’ve read fiction that I absolutely loved and could not put down. That was me with The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. No matter how short the free time I had was, I had to keep reading.

The book follows two sisters during World War II in France. The sisters lead different lives, one with a family and the other much younger, determined to make a difference in the war.  I love books that are told from different points of view, this book starts with an elderly lady (one of the sisters) thinking back to her life in France and gives the story from the point of view of both of the sisters during the wars.

This incredibly well written book is definitely worth reading, particularly if you love historical fiction. It is an interesting perspective as not many books about the war are told from the point of view of women.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? What should I put on my list?

thirsty thursday: kapow!

Happy Thursday! Sorry the blog has been a little quiet lately, 2016 has been a whirlwind! This week’s beer is from Rainhard, like the thirsty thursday from two week’s ago – Nosbeeratu.

Kapow! is a “west coast inspired” IPA. I don’t usually love IPAs because they’re too hoppy but this one is great! It does have a bit of a bite to it but it is so refreshing. It is very popular though so if you see it in stock, make sure you grab some!

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nosbeeratu (on the left) and kapow! (on the right)

The great news is though, kapow! will soon be available in at the LCBO so it’ll be much easier to get your hands on!

Have you been to Rainhard? What did you think?

thirsty thursday: nosbeeratu

Happy Thursday. We’ve done it! Almost, we’re almost at Friday on the first full week in what feels like forever.

This week’s thirsty thursday is from a brewery I’ve mentioned in the past, Rainhard Brewing, one of the newest breweries in the Junction area. I went to Rainhard on Saturday to sample (a couple) of their beers and this was one of my favourites.

Nosbeeratu is currently only available on tap in the bottle shop and is a black IPA. I usually find IPAs too hoppy, but I really like this one. It has a great aftertaste and packs a bit of a punch at 6%.

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I’ll be heading back to Rainhard this weekend because they’re getting chacuterie boards! Beer + chacuterie? Yes, please! They’ll be available for sale whenever the tap room is open. Who doesn’t love a good snack while drinking their craft?

Have you been to Rainhard yet? Which one is your favourite?