Sunday, November 29, 2015

My First Toronto Marlies Game

For his 50th birthday my friend, Will, invited me and a few other friends out to a Toronto Marlies hockey game. They're the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL (American Hockey League) affiliate and play out of the Ricoh Coliseum on the C.N.E. grounds.

We met at the arena just before the game where Will gave us our tickets. He had bought front row seats for everyone along the glass in section 112 (near the end of the rink at the corner).

The seats gave us nose-to-nose views of the players while they were our end. But views were distorted by the glass when play was in the far end of the rink. Then we had to watch the video screen above centre ice to see the action.

Leafs top prospect William Nylander (#8 pick overall from the 2014 draft) was one of the players in action for the Marlies. In 16 games played this season he has 9 goals and 21 assists.

All the players are fast and highly skilled. You can really appreciate it watching close up. It's incredible to see.

Toronto opened the scoring against their rivals from Binghamton, the Senators, less than a minute in. I thought it was going to be a rout for us, but I was wrong. By the end of the period the Senators had mounted a comeback and led 2-1.

The second period was all Marlies. We scored 3 unanswered goals to take the lead at 4-2.

In the third both teams traded goals to keep it close. First the Senators scored to close the score to 4-3. Then the Marlies struck to restore their two goal lead, 5-3.

But, with less than a minute remaining, Binghamton scored after pulling their goalie. It was madness. Could we hold them off?

The answer is, yes. With time expiring we potted an empty-netter to win a nail biter, 6-4. How thrilling!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good-Bye A&W Man

After returning from the exercise room at my condo last Monday I found roommate #2 sitting on the sofa listening to classical music with puffy, red eyes.

He told me he had just returned from going to the bank machine at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton. While there he saw a note taped to the side of the building with a number of bouquets of flowers.

The note told of the recent passing of Mark Henderson, a fixture at that corner who stood passing out coupons for the local A&W restaurant. It was posted by the Toronto Running Club of which Mark was a member.

While neither of us knew Mark well, my roommate often took coupons from him because he thought it would help him earn more money. He had no intention of using them. Instead he brought them to work to hand out to customers who came in there.

He was struck by the briefness of life and how it could be snatched away at any time with little or no warning. It's especially true in light of recent tragic events in Paris, Beirut and Mali.

It was a shock to me as well, since I had only seen Mark the day before he passed away on my way to the library. Of course it was at the corner of Yonge and Eglinton. We were both walking across the street.

Mark, I hope you're in a better place.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Like Phil

First I liked Anthony Bourdain, now I like Phil Rosenthal. They're both foodies on TV. Bourdain is smart and sexy, Rosenthal, funny and charming.

I only recently discovered Phil Rosenthal of I'll Have What Phil's Having while watching PBS on WNED. I was immediately drawn to his affable demeanour, not to mention all the amazing food he was eating on the show (this one in Barcelona, Spain).

Like Bourdain on CNN's Parts Unknown, Rosenthal, travels the world trying incredible culinary delights. I think Parts Unknown is a bit more of a travel show in that not only do you get to see the food, but immerse yourself the places Bourdain visits. One of my favourite episodes was his visit to Tokyo.

I'll Have What Phil's Having is more light-hearted with more emphasis paid to the food. Rosenthal really enjoys the food he eats and openly shows it. I like that.

After watching the first episode I wondered who this Phil person was. I got my answer the next show which was filmed in Hollywood. He hobnobbed with his friends while enjoying the local cuisine - friends that included Martin Short, Norman Lear and Paul Reiser among others.

Phil Rosenthal is the creator of hit TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond. Now everything makes sense. His keen sense of humour and good-natured disposition. I love this guy.

If you get the chance, take in an episode. You won't regret it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tragedy in Paris

Again. It's happened again. This is the new normal. What a sorry state our world has settled into. Where hate and fear creep evermore into our daily lives. How sad it's turned to this.

Multiple attacks by ISIS on Friday left over 100 people dead and twice as many injured. The two major sites of assault were the Stade de France where an international soccer match was being played and the Bataclan, a concert hall in the centre of Paris.

After being denied entry into the stadium two or three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside. French President François Hollande who was watching inside was evacutated to safety.

Attendees of the death-metal concert at the Bataclan weren't so fortunate. Masked gunmen with AK-47s entered and fired indiscriminately into the crowd killing and injuring many. The death toll will rise. Not only here and now, but in the future... in future conflicts.

It's more than just disillusioned young men that create this chaos, but sociopaths who twist the minds of wayward youth looking for a strong father figure in their lives. They are willing to do whatever it takes to be looked upon favourably by someone, often with dire consequences.

This has nothing to do with religion, only greed and power. The power to control others and to gain profit from it. They are immoral and without honour.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Family Dinner at The Keg

I joined my family for dinner at The Keg on Leslie last Monday. We were celebrating three birthdays - my mom and dad's and nephew's. It was my first time at that location. Though I have to say, I can't remember where the other one was (that I went to before).

I was surprised at how busy it was. After all, it was a weekday evening. And a Monday at that. It's not like there was a line up to get in. But it was pretty full when we arrived at 7:30 p.m.

The atmosphere is nice. A little on the dark side which is romantic if you're a couple. Not so much of a big deal if you're eating with your mom and dad and nephews though.

We had a variety of selections to eat. And, like many Asians, we shared them. My mother had the Sesame Tuna - Seared rare on a bed of fresh cabbage slaw topped with a soy and sesame dressing. It was almost like eating sashimi. I have to say, I enjoyed it.

My father had the Black Cod - Served on a fresh chilled quinoa salad and steamed asparagus, topped with tomato cucumber salsa. It was good too. My sister and I had the Top Sirloin. I ordered it medium. In retrospect I should have had it medium-rare. My eldest nephew had the Filet Mignon, a great choice. The youngest had something from the kids' menu.

Since we were celebrating three birthdays, the waiter threw in three desserts on the house. That was nice. He served us a Brownie Sundae - A chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream; Billy Miner Pie - Mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds; and his homemade Crème Brûlée - Topped with a caramelized sugar crust (he's also a chef there).

Of the desserts I liked the ice cream cake and Crème Brûlée the best. Of the entrées it would have to be the Tuna and Filet Mignon. Delish.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dinner at Bamiyan Kabob

After watching James Bond - Spectre at Fairview Mall, my friends and I drove up to Markham to grab dinner at Bamiyan Kabob on Highway 7 and East Beaver Creek. I've had take out from there before, but it was awhile ago. So I had a hankering for it again.

I have to say, Saturday night is one of the worst times to go. Not because the restaurant itself was overly crowded, but just the area in general. There are a lot of restaurants there and the place is packed worse than a mall on Boxing Day. Along with many other vehicles we spent a lot of time circling the lot looking for a space to park. It was pretty crazy.

Bamiyan is a decent-sized place. There are quite a few tables to sit at so seating isn't a problem. You order your food and they give you a number. When it's ready they yell out your number and you go back up to the counter and grab it.

Between the three of us we ordered the Choppan Kabob - Lamb chops mildly marinated in different spices, $12.99; Half Chicken Kabob - Half chicken marinated in seasoning, $11.99; Tikka Kabob - Chunks of beef tenderloin marinated in our seasoning, $8.99; and Kabilee Rice - Brown basmati rice topped with raisins, carrots and almonds, $4.99. The first two meals included rice, salad and naan.

I have to say, all the food was good. Though, I particularly liked the chicken and Kabilee rice. It's different from most rice I've had the chance to have in the past. The raisins and carrots add a certain sweetness to it. It's a nice variation.

I'd definitely go back in the future. But probably not on a Friday or Saturday night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Yonge Sushi

I went to Yonge Sushi with Lawrence on Saturday. It's just over 3 kilometres from my place up Yonge in between Lawrence and York Mills. A 40-minute walk.

Though I've driven it many, many times, it was the first time I've walked that stretch. There are actually a lot of nice restaurants and other establishments in the area. I had no idea.

I picked this particular all-you-can-eat restaurant because it's a little less expensive than Echo Sushi which is much closer to me. Yonge Sushi is $21.99 for dinner while Echo is $24.99 (including a $2.00 surcharge for Friday-Sundays & holidays).

Yonge Sushi isn't very big. They have, perhaps, seating for 40. As usual, I got there earlier than Lawrence. He's coming from Etobicoke though. But I walked. So it should have evened out.

Like last time I ordered ahead of time. I wanted to order a selection of rolls, sushi and sashimi that would look nice for photos. Lawrence usually orders a hodge-podge of things that aren't particularly aesthetically pleasing.

The servers were nice. Quite attentive until it got busier. Then they were running from table to table taking and filling orders.

The food was good. Normally you can't go wrong with raw fish. My first order consisted of the usual salmon and tuna sashimi; salmon, tuna, egg, shrimp and eel sushi; and a caterpillar and rainbow roll. It was followed by more of the same with a different selection of rolls thrown in for good measure.

The dessert selection was limited at ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream. One flavour they had that not many places have is ginger. I believe I've only gone to one other Japanese restaurant with ginger flavoured ice cream. So, of course, I ordered a scoop of that along with red bean.

A nice surprise was the fact they give you a 10% discount if you pay cash. So our bill was around $20 each plus tax and tip ($26.00). Not bad. Not bad at all.

Note: I went back to here for lunch on a Friday. It's a dollar more Friday through Sunday at $14.99. And there's no 10% cash discount at lunchtime for some reason. The lunch menu is much smaller with way less selection. For these reasons I'd only suggest going for dinner if you're looking for a good deal.