Last week Buddies in Badtimes hosted a media preview for Director Alistair Newton’s Of A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical. It was a beautiful sunny Thursday late evening so I served up a cocktail for James and I to enjoy before running down the street for the much anticipated final show of the Buddies season.
Mr. Newton has been working on this project for some time now. Last summer during the Pride Festival I made certain to visit his Monstrous Ball. Through this club party he was able to showcase elements of the show which allowed me to piece together its final transformation and big final reveal on stage.
The cabaret was packed and a buzz with excitement as guests enjoyed pre-theatre refreshers. Shortly before 8pm critics and the who’s who in Toronto’s theatre scene spilled into the space. Just as the lights dimmed the audience roared, hooted and hollered. A lively bunch.
I mulled about the show during the performance, chit chatted about it afterwards and took two days to let the content rest with me before pulling up my chair and tapping my fingertips across my keyboard. Alistair has done an excellent job at using Lady Gaga as a subject for the discussion of fame and its impact on celebrity, fandom and borrowed influence. The show is by no means a Mamma Mia style ABBA musical, rather it offers up a darker take on the creatures which live within her realm of power and projection.
Inspired by an essay Lady Gaga wrote while studying at NYU, Of A Monstrous Child chronicles an encounter between one of her obsessed fans (played by Lil Monster, Tyson James) and performance legend Leigh Bowery (Broadway star Bruce Dow). The iconic Bowery gives a crash course in the history of queer performance, trotting out a virtual who’s who of artists, academics and celebrities whose work has been appropriated by our Mother Monster.
Highlights of the show include stunning set design (a coffin filled with roses and a stoic podium), witty narrative (those insufferable hipsters) and a stand out emotional performance delivered by Kyle Travis Young. Throughout the show we encounter Madonna, Bjork, Yoko Ono, Boy George, Elton John, Andy Warhol and Marina Abramovic. A whimsical and humorous look at the pop stars and underground art world icons which have helped create the personality we now refer to as Gaga.
I’ve always been enamoured with those who make daring choices. While I’ve had my own phases which included absolutely oddball haircuts and questionable wardrobe decisions I wouldn’t place myself in a category of avante garde. While Lady Gaga’s fame is an excellent study for the wild, wacky and queer, Alistair’s show made me think about those today who are taking the most risks and inspiring us to take chances.
I’ve been eyeing London’s Daniel Lismore for some time now. One look at his Vine or Instagram showcases a wild and wonderful world of performance art that lives and breathes wherever he goes. He is often referenced in the UK as London’s most outrageous dresser, club kid, man about town and fashion runway commentator. I suppose having the courage and empowerment to dress however you feel is perhaps the most freeing and liberating experience we can hope for. Fashion thrills and the Fame Game.
On a cold winters late afternoon I met Marian Staresinic for for a hot bowl of ramen at Kenzo. After lunch we popped by my apartment as I wanted to share a sweet sip. We chit chatted about social media, the blog world, Toronto’s restaurant scene and our love for good food and drink.
I popped open a bottle (alright it was a screw cap…) of 20 Bee’s Late Harvest Vidal which is produced in Ontario’s Niagara region just outside of the town of Virgil. Their 2009 vintage won the Bronze at the Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards and is known for offering the best value in the late harvest category. This sweet nectar showcases aromas of pear, peach pie, honey, lemon sherbert, buckwheat honey and spice. Medium in sweetness and light acidity for balance.
I had been meaning to have Michelle Jobin over for a sip filled chat for some time. She popped over one afternoon in the middle of January to chat PR, television, food, drink and our fine city of Toronto. I met Michelle via twitter a few years ago as we both share a passion for Toronto’s dining scene. You may recognize her as Global Toronto’s Weather Girl so be sure to follow her on twitter for up to the minute announcements on approaching blizzards and the best new sushi spot in the city. An interesting dichotomy!
You won’t believe it but I actually bought this bottle of Weingut Stadt Krems when I first moved to Toronto three years ago. It has been sitting on my shelf for some time waiting for a perfect opportunity to pop. I chilled the bottle on the balcony all morning, Canadians and their ingenious winter freezing techniques!
Our bottle of Veltliner Lossterrassen is produced in Kremstal Austria. With a whiff we notice an impactful nose featuring apple, passion fruit, cinnamon, ginger and white flowers. Dry, round and mouth filling texture upfront with a focused acidity.
My obsession with cheese is well documented on the internet, in my everyday speech and late night snacking tendencies. Over the last three years I have nibbled my way through much fromage and have profiled almost 100 cheeses to date which can be found under Cheese Love.
I was recently thrilled to have the opportunity to join some of Toronto’s top Food Media at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a special event showcasing the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winners. Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix celebrates the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk. In 2011 while I didn’t have a chance to attend the event as I had to work (that horrible 9-5 thing) I was sent a few samples and showcased my favourites in a Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Beer Tasting.
Shortly after 11am we gathered in the Bell Blue Room where we would spend two hours sampling through the years tops Canadian cheeses. Pursuing the menu I was happy to see some “familiar faces” as well as a few new cheeses I was obviously eager to sample and add to my repertoire.
Cheeses were offered up in three courses staring with soft and fresh, moving on to medium and slightly aged and finishing with robust blues and ancient cheddars. I sipped my way through several glasses of white wine (a perfect pallet cleanser) while nibbling on baguette and crisp grapes. My stand out favourites were the Ricotta from Ontario, Bleu d’Élizabeth from Quebec and Grizzly Gouda from Alberta. I would like to point out that before the humble ricotta was announced as best cheese in Canada (to some shock and awe from the crowd) I had returned to the table three times to scoop up the good stuff. I joked that I hoped the Ricotta won because it was so insanely addictive and delicious. Reminds me of the tale of David and Goliath, a lowly ricotta beating out the giants that have been carefully crafted and aged for years. The judges must have agreed with me as I let out a yelp when the Ricotta was announced Grand Champion. Goes to show that the finest cheese in our nation doesn’t have to be complicated or complex but truly showcase the terroir and fresh cream of our cattle.
This Years Winners:
GRAND CHAMPION and Fresh Cheese
Quality Cheese Inc.’s Ricotta, ON
Fresh Cheese with Grilling Properties
Queso Fresco Cheese, Latin Foods Inc., AB
Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind
Le Noble, Fromagerie Domaine Féodal inc., QC
Tre Stelle Feta Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
Washed or Mixed Rind Cheese
Le Mamirolle, Fromagerie Éco-Délices, QC
Gunn’s Hill Five Brothers, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
Swiss Type Cheese
Louis D’or 18 months, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
Bleu d’Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC￼￼
Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-Particulate Flavourings
Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PEI
Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids and Flavourings
Raclette de Compton au poivre, Fromagerie La Station, QC
Mild Cheddar (Aged 3 Months)
L’Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar, Fromagerie L’Ancêtre, QC
Medium Cheddar (Aged 4 to 9 Months)
Medium Cheddar, Maple Dale Cheese, ON
Old Cheddar (Aged from 9 months to a Year)
Cheddar 1 year, Fromagerie Perron, QC
Aged Cheddar (More than 1 year up to 3 years)
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PEI
Aged Cheddar (More than 3 Years)
5 Year Aged Cheddar, The Black River Cheese Company Ltd., ON
Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
Bleu d’Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
After flipping through Toronto Life’s recent “Top Ten Best New Restaurants 2013″ list I had my heart set on visiting Kingyo Izakaya sooner than later. So when my good friend Cody Alain offered to treat me to a birthday dinner I immediately thought to suggest the spot as it’s a stones throw from his apartment in Cabbagetown.
We arrived shortly after 6pm and were greeted by the classic always smiling vocal choir, an izakaya rowdy welcome. On the way to our table I offered a courteous bow and smiled at the bar which played Japanese manga cartoons. We ordered two pints: an Asahi and Sapporo to start. Neon strobe lights shot out from Japanese pin ball machines which decorate the dinning room. Further exploration of the space showcases the good humour of the restaurants owner. The mens bathroom door features an encased Transformer and interior offers framed Japanese porno as ornamental appreciation.
Highlights of our meal included a perfectly pickled platter of tsukemono, garlic tuna tataki with ponzu jelly, and a rich pork tantan ramen. I’ll have to come back to focus my energies on their sushi, grilled meat and hot bowl offerings. Kingyo is a perfect place to spend a few hours losing yourself in Tokyo daydreams.
Tsukemono Pickles Assortment
kimuchi tomato, osaka style kimuchi cucumber, onion
Spicy Soft Shell Crab Sui Choy Salad
snap peas, dried okra, salty kelp
Garlic Tuna Tataki and Ponzu Jelly
seared albacore tuna, ponzu jelly
Famous “O-Sho Restaurant” Karaage with Magic Powder
The Legendary Chicken Wings by “Kinchan”
Pork Tantan Ramen
#452 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.