It’s always a little dubious when a favourite indie restaurant decides to expand with a second dining room — a bit like when a film studio announces a sequel to a great stand alone movie. Did the world really need a Grease 2? How about The Return of Jafar? So it was with a bit of trepidation that I went to visit Hoof Raw Bar, a fish-focused offshoot of Toronto’s beloved charcuterie shrine, the Black Hoof. (True, there’s already the Hoof Cocktail Bar across the road, but as it doesn’t have a full dinner menu, I’m thinking of that more like a prequel — a genre that has it own weird baggage and expectations.) Anyway, here’s my comparison of the Black Hoof and Hoof Raw Bar.
The first time I went to the Black Hoof two summers ago, it was a Thursday night and the room was so packed that my friend and I had to wait for an hour to get seats at the bar. We didn’t start eating until well after nine, but even then, more and more people were arriving at the door. There was never an empty chair, and the room was roaring with diners raving about the beef tongue sandwich and pork carnitas tacos.
Zosia Mamet plays Shoshanna and Jemima Kirke plays Jessa on HBO’s Girls
On The Crackcident — episode seven of Lena Dunham’s Girls — Marnie, Hannah, Jessa and Shoshanna go to a warehouse party in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Jessa hopes that it will be the “best party ever” (which is why she stole her outfit from a Lady Gaga backup dancer), but between the four of them, they manage to make the night seem more like a bad after school special. And, like all after school specials, there are serious life lessons to be learned. Here are the key takeaways.
Lesson 1: Your ex-boyfriend doesn’t want to say hi. Why? Because if you are like Marnie, you look like a crusty “school teacher,” or worse, “one of those Real Housewives”: a high-strung, self-centered priss wearing a too-tight cocktail dress and and a tart, desperate look that says “you miss my face, right?” And, if your ex is like Charlie, he won’t miss your face. He’s too smart, and has already moved on with a lithe young thing like Aubrey, who twirls around him like a stripper on a pole. Strangely, Marnie can’t understand how Charlie could get over their sexless, emotionally void relationship so quickly. But let’s be honest, after being with someone so frigid, he would probably sprint toward a flying monkey with a bad case of ticks.
Milstein Hall at Cornell University. Image from dezeen.com. Photography is by Philippe Ruault
Last week, on my way down to New York City, I stopped at Cornell University to see their new Architecture, Art and Planning building, Milstein Hall. The OMA-designed facility looks like a Mies van der Rohe-style box propped up on a concrete ant hill, floating not incongruously between the kind of Victorian and Georgian structures one imagines at an Ivy League school. Some of the design is quite subtle — part of the exterior is clad in elegantly stripped Turkish marble — while some of it is showy and loud — a giant, 50-foot cantilever reaches over University Ave., almost-but-not-quite touching the 150-year-old Foundry Building across the road. I wasn’t sure if this latter gesture was an act of aggression — like a bully announcing its presence to a meek, helpless victim — or one of kindness, like an outstretched hand between a young spunky kid and an old, fair lady. This ambivalence basically describes my reaction.
What I liked: The building is porous. As people walk or bike by, there are interesting opportunities to look into spaces that are normally much more cloistered in a school: a lecture hall that has windows on three sides, or a submerged auditorium/crit space with large clerestories. Continue reading →
I’m not sure why eating cooked blood seems so gross. Is it really any different than a meal of muscle and fat? Especially when that muscle and fat is grilled rare. Or how does it compare to a microwaved, store-bought hot dog, which is like ingesting running shoes and ground chicken beaks. But blood reminds people of scraped knees and crusty scabs and eating it seems a bit vampire/Silence of the Lambs. That is until you try it, as I did the other night.
Even though we’re only six episodes in, there have been some noticeable trends on Lena Dunham’s Girls — gross guys, cupcakes, more gross guys. But on the latest episode — The Return — there was evidence of the most alarming trend by far: surprising someone with a little butt play. Here’s what I mean:
Hannah travels home to Lansing, Michigan to celebrate her parents’ wedding anniversary. But instead of spending time with her family, she meets a young man with farm boy good looks and wavy blond hair — Eric — who is a huge improvement from her previous boyfriend Adam, the jobless, brainless, shirtless wonder.
This past week when I was in NYC, I tasted what is probably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. My hometown of Toronto has been having a pizza boom for the past few years, with places like Libretto and Queen Margherita serving excellent, Neapolitan-style thin crusts from wood burning ovens. But, I have to admit, the Montanara Starita at Manhattan’s Don Antonio by Starita is superior. The toppings are simple: tangy-salty-sweet tomato sauce, fresh basil, and smoked buffalo mozzarella. Most of the time, I could honestly take or leave buffalo mozzarella — it’s good but I don’t understand why people drool over it. The smoked cheese here, though, really makes the dish. It’s still light and milky, but has a rich, deep flavour like a good piece of bacon. And the crust is flash fried before it’s baked, making the dough airier and the edges crispier than I’ve ever had before.
Artist Margaret Sutherland claims she was making a satirical political statement with her now-famous painting, Emperor Haute Couture, which depicts Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper completely naked. I have to admit that I’m transfixed by the piece, but I’m not sure what statement it’s making. I can see how the work echoes Manet’s Olympia, which would suggest that Harper is a prostitute. But is that fair? He seems more like an aggressive pimp to me, whoring out Canada’s natural resources and smacking around his bitchescabinet ministers. In my opinion, the painting is best taken at face value: Harper is an exhibitionist with a weight problem, a small penis and a habit for Tim Hortons. None of that may be true, but it’s funny none the less.
Emperor Haute Couture is currently hanging in a library in Kingston, Ontario, and is for sale for $5,000. Who would buy it? I’m guessing a gay guy with a daddy issues and a taste for irony.
Over the Victoria Day long weekend, my boyfriend and I are driving down to New York City. We’ve gone every year for the last four, and each time we visit we discover new reasons to love the city. In 2011, for example, we rented road bikes and toured around Manhattan, then crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge, checked out Prospect Park and went down to Coney Island. It took us a whole day and we were exhausted by the time we hit the Atlantic, but it was great. We were both impressed by the miles of dedicated bike lanes that made cycling feel so much safer than in our home town of Toronto.
We might bike around again, but I think this trip is going to be more arts and culture focused. Here’s what we’re thinking of seeing.
While contemplating reforms to Canada’s Employment Insurance plan, finance minister Jim Flaherty — who makes $235,000 a year — remarked this week that “There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job.”
I beg to differ. Here’s three positions I would say no to:
Minister Bev Oda, Professional Orange Juice Sipper
1. Orange Juice Connoisseur: Sorry Bev Oda, but if I wanted to have millions of people mock, deride and resent me for my extravagance, I would sooner be a Kardashian or the star of a Real Housewives franchise (then at least I would have honestly earned the privilege).
On the fifth episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls (Hard Being Easy) everyone got what they wanted (well, except for Shoshanna – she’s still a virgin). Here’s what I mean:
Hannah got some material for her memoir
True, her rumply, roly-poly boss shot her down, depriving her of a good workplace sexual harassment story. But at least Adam Sackler (who, by the way, almost looks not gross wearing safety glasses) sexploited her in a new and humiliating way — dumping her than asking her to watch him jerk off. In the memoir, I’m assuming this episode will come before the chapters where Hannah checks herself into cupcake rehab then becomes a lesbian.