Sunday, 13 November 2011

Winter Magic

Dundas and Yonge intersection in Toronto

  Last Saturday, I went to the Winter Magic festival on Elm Street in downtown Toronto. The festival which celebrates the beginning of winter features food tastings from the local restaurants, ice carving, music, live entertainment and, of course, the famous winter magic ice bar that as the name implies is a bar made from solid ice. It began at 4 pm and continued until 10pm. The 360 photo above was taken at the corner of Dundas Street and Yonge Street which is one block south of elm street and is the closest 360 picture to Elm street that I could find. Although the area is built up as you can see from the picture, Elm Street has maintained its 19th century streetscape through some miracle of preservation and is an authentic backdrop to the faux Victorian ambience of the festival.

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   The video below gives you a reasonable impression of the festival which also has the title of ‘Ice, Wine and Dine.

  Barberian's Steakhouse has been open since 1959 and I`ve been an infrequent customer since I was young when Toronto had very few dining options in the days of the Sunday Blue Laws and the downtown was practically empty on the weekends or on nights. The city in those days was full of Irish Presbyterians who believed that sex might lead to dancing and was referred to as Belfast North by Ernest Hemingway during his tenure as columnist at the Toronto Star.

From the restaurant`s website:
Barberian's is host to numerous treasures that celebrate the skill and diversity of Canadian artists. There are excellent examples of works by the Group of Seven and their best-known contemporaries. It was the Group of Seven who established the bold, distinct style that characterized a new and truly Canadian landscape art in the first decades of the 20th century. Ontario scenes are predominant in our collection with works by A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Franz Johnston, A.J. Casson and many others, however all areas of Canada are represented. From "Mile 100", Haines Road, Yukon by Collier to a rare oil depicting "Peggy's Cove" by Nicholas Hornyansky. Among the artifacts and antiques are one of the original clocks made in Canada, a long case by I. Twiss, authentic coal oil lamps, Inuit carvings, pre-Confederation money including coins and currency issued by the Hudson's Bay Company and an extensive collection of firearms. These firearms include rifles used by the Hudson's Bay Company for the fur trade and guns used by both sides during the Riel rebellion and the War of 1812.

   I bought the pulled pork sandwich for $5 and it was really good - little spicy but not too much. A reasonable portion as well.

  Above and below are some examples of the 19th century streetscape on Elm Street which escaped most of the downtown renovation during the last hundred years. The building at the top is the home of the Arts and Letters club which was founded in 1908 for the encouragement of Literature, Architecture, Music, Painting and the Theatre arts. Some famous members of the club were the Group of Seven painters, the composers Ernest MacMillan and Healey Willan, and the Nobel prize winners Frederick Banting (Insulin discoverer) and John MacLeod. On Saturday, they were serving hot chocolate and having an art exhibit for some of their current members. Unfortunately I have run out of space for paintings in my home so I am cautious about purchasing more art.

  Another iconic building on Elm Street. Private club I believe.

   The opposite of the hot seat below and carved earlier in the evening. Young lovers would take turns sitting in it and photograph each other warmed by their passion in the dying autumn light.

Ice Sculpture
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.  - Ernest Hemingway from A Moveable Feast

Christmas carollers preparing to sing

   Sometimes I felt like I was in a Federico Fellini movie where fantasy and reality intermingle in a strange juxtaposition of images.

  The Ice Martini Lounge had a number of drinks of which most contained Vodka.
Ice Bar

   Some of the other restaurants which served food on the street were the Wolf & Firkin Pub (Bowl of chicken curry or 1/2 pound of wings), The Queen & Beaver Public House (Hot mulled apple cider & simnel cake), Duke of Somerset Pub (Mini-pulled pork sandwich  and Deep-fried mars bar), Oro restaurant (Sous vide venison loin with cauliflower puree, grainy mustard spaetzle, juniper jus, brussel sprouts, house cured bacon ) and the Donatello Restaurant( Eggplant roll with prosciutto and cheese or Tortellini in a rose sauce).

1 comment:

  1. C'est beau!!! "Belfast North" ... ;-)