Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My first collaboration with The Bay happened a few weeks ago.  Much like the retail store itself, Jeanne Beker is as Canadian as it gets.  If you were anything like me as a tween (ie. a dramatic homosexual) you lived for Sunday afternoons when FashionTelevision would air, hoping for a sneak-peek of something tawdry, like a peakaboo-titty on a European runway or, good Lord above, a men's swimwear show.  

Aside from hosting one of the most-respected fashion roundups on TV, Beker does all sorts of things from writing books to spear-heading magazines to launching her own clothing line.  

But she's quick to point out: She's not a designer, but rather, an editor.  Hence the name of her line, Edit, available only at The Bay.  She showed-off her Fall 2011 looks at a swank lunch in Toronto's east end at Boehmer, one of the newest restaurants on the Ossington strip.  All the editors and influential bloggers were invited to lunch and schmooze and ogle her wares.  

I've never seen so much dessert go untouched.  Fashion people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If you're Canadian, you know about The Bay.  (If your last name is Hudson, you tend to think of it more frequently than the average person.)  It's a department store, not unlike Macy's, but super old, having begun in the 1600s as a fur trading post. How utterly Canadian, I know.

For many of us, The Bay has always been a place your Grandma shopped or a store you'd cut through to get out of the mall. As a kid I remember thinking it was just so big!  Some locations were on multiple floors, for goodness sakes!  

As I get older, it's become a place I buy underwear and one I cut through to get out of the mall.  But as The Bay shifts its focus and takes on a more glamourous place in retail, it's also where I have my first-ever "contributor" role, in the new social pages of The B Insider (that's what she said).  It's a blog/online magazine/digital style file.  There will be swishy party photos as well as beauty and style advertorials (like this swoon-worthy Boys with Beards story) and much more.  I'm totally thrilled to be involved.  Get on board and follow their Twitter here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tonight I had the pleasure of shooting a very swish event in The Room at The Bay.  In recent years the retail giant has kicked it up a notch, with a major renovation to their Queen Street store and their reputation.  Bonnie Brooks (fabulous in feathers, below) has taken the brand to new heights, now rivaling the likes of Holt Renfrew and the great department stores of the world.  

Tonight that was plainly obvious as all the big names in fashion came out to celebrate.  On the very flashy (and pricey) 3rd floor (simply called The Room) blogger-wunderkind Tommy Ton showcased his beautiful photos of Vogue Japan editor-at-large Anna Dello Russo.  She's famous for her eccentric style and kooky behaviour and their collaboration doesn't disappoint.  

Before busting a move on the impromptu dancefloor (the fur traders never saw this coming) the photographer and his charming muse flitted about The Room, several costume-changes between them, thrilling even the most-jaded fashion people in town.  It was kind of magical.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Last night I made an impromptu (and belated) birthday dinner for my oldest friend.  Spaghetti cacio e pepe and my go-to pizza, of-late (potatoes, rapini, spicy sausage, onions, pine nuts, garlic, rosemary).  Carb-loading and reminiscing go hand-in-hand, don't they? 

When Sandi and I hang out these days (as is often the case with friendships struck-up during formative years) we immediately put on music from that era (last night: Fiona Apple) and sink, full-bore, into memory lane. It’s not a safe environment for our partners or people who weren’t there, peppered with laughing fits and much too specific to be comprehensible to them. It’s always best to batten the hatches and dive in, just us.

We met in 1995 when I was only 13 and she (a few critical months older) was a more-appropriate age for a first day of high school.  We found ourselves next to each other in music class, both playing the saxophone.  This was the start of several years in that classroom, a community so comfortable and familiar.  Like a real-life Google Reader, we filtered-out the general population of our high school to include only the handful of people we could tolerate.  In many ways, we started to etch out our "brand" before that wasn't even a thing.  Our cliques, our style, the character we played publically were crystalizing there in front of us.

And on that, we got to talking about blogging

A culture of egos and idols, any blogger worth their salt would admit to creating a persona and, also, getting caught up in those schilled at us daily. Checking-in with our virtual friends, inexplicably desperate to know what they did on the weekend, we trawl the internet for tidbits that inspire us or affirm our place in a community. Not unlike that high school music class, blogs allow us to narrow our focus to a slew of half-strangers who share our taste in food, music, lifestyle. Really, a good blog is like a transcribed reality show, our voyeuristic appetites satiated by photos of last night’s carefully choreographed dinner or a trip to Paris we may never take. Writers satisfy our need to devote ourselves and readers stroke our egos.  It's a fairly simple transaction, no?  The key is that we know there's some degree of controlled construction in every blog we read.  At least every good one. 

Our blogs are an outlet for those of us who always got off on entertaining people.  Let's face it, we're the same people we were as 4 year olds, and when I was a toddler I'd clown and goof and dance to make people laugh.  I'd show off how smart I was or how well I could line up my toys or colour within the lines.  "Mom!  Mom!  Watch me, Mom!  Mom!!"   

And, so it goes, we blog

Spaghetti cacio e pepe

200 grams of spaghetti
100 grams (4 ounces) of pecorino romano
3 tablespoons of butter
Freshly-ground pepper

Grate your cheese into a bowl.  Cook your pasta.  Moments before it's al dente, stir several tablespoons of cooking water into the grated cheese, creating a creamy paste.  Strain your pasta (reserving a cup or so of the starchy water) and toss it into a warm sautée pan.  Add the butter and melt it, coating the pasta.  Stir in the cheese and incorporate, creating a sauce which coats evenly.  Add a hearty whack of freshly-ground pepper.  Serve immediately. 

Serves: 2

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm not big on Asian flavours.  Peanut sauce, green curry. I don't like as much as sesame seeds on my bagel.  So, aside from the fact that Asian cuisine is nuanced and tricky (unlike the rural Canadian farm food I prefer to cook) I've never thought to go down the stir fry path.  

After making those delicious quinoa patties the other day, I got to thinking about what I could do with the big bag of grain in my cupboard.  It made me think of the food we order from our local Thai place.  Maybe quinoa instead of rice?  That might be tasty.  And so I tossed some fresh salmon, cut into one-inch pieces, with soya sauce and a bit of maple syrup.  I pan-fried a slew of chopped vegetables, just a little.  Asparagus, white onion, snow peas, some bell peppers, shiitaki mushrooms.  I cooked the quinoa and stirred the crisp vegetables in, lining a bowl, topping with the fish, all sweet and salty in their 20-minute marinade.  I served alongside some roasted asparagus.  Healthy, fresh, filling.  Certainly not as involved as any real Asian food, but tasty, nonetheless.