New Thing +9: Meat Rakes

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I love me some pulled pork, but I hate the actual pulling part. Luckily, I found these: meat rakes.

Aside from the obvious advantage of looking like stubby Wolverine claws, these suckers  shred through  meat with no effort at all.

And thanks to the new pulled pork recipe I used it ended in one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever made.

Big claws up on this one.

New Thing+ #8: Barchef

I’ve been meaning to visit Barchef for years now, and finally got a chance when my daughter was visiting her Grandmother for the week. It’s like spring break for parents. The first thing that hits you in this molecular gastronomy centric bar is the shear black of it. The entire bar seems to be lit … Continue reading

New Thing+ #7: Pub Trivia

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Back in high school I was part of the Reach For The Top trivia team. And no, I didn’t have much of a romantic life in high school, but damn if I couldn’t tell you what S.C.U.B.A. stood for in a second flat. Actually, I owe that one to an old episode of Family Ties.

Over the years I’ve OD’d on Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, You Don’t Know Jack and any other question and answer game that’s come my way.

So it’s surprising that in my adult life it’s taken me this long to attend a Pub Trivia night. This particular evening was a charity event for Kids Help Phone and I had a blast.

Teams were four people strong and my friends and I stood our ground pretty well for our first time out. We killed just about ever pop culture and entertainment question they threw at us. We knew our way around geography and science. History threw us a bit, but we recovered.

Then we hit sports and consequently rock bottom.

Had it not been for that one category we might have made it into the top three standings which brought prizes along with glory. As it was we ended up fourth place out of twenty-five teams.

And I don’t consider that too shabby at all.

New Thing+ #6: Use WiFi On A Plane

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This particular new thing probably won’t seem all that special to most people, but man did it just make my day when I stumbled upon wifi on my flight back from Jacksonville, Florida.

It’s not that I dislike flying all that much, but I really, really hate being bored for hours at a time. So when I noticed an off duty pilot surfing Amazon in the seat next to me I got excited.

A few clicks and dollars later and I was posting, surfing and IMing with my wife from thousands of feet above the earth.

Now if only Porter Airlines offered wifi in their planes they would officially be the greatest airline on earth.

New Thing+ #5: Jacksonville Florida

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Jacksonville, Florida: I hardly knew ye. And that’s ok.

A whirlwind business trip filled with layovers, bad airport food and little to no sleep left me rather dazed as I made my way through northern Florida.

The saving grace was the weather. I’ll never say a bad thing about sunny and 25° in February.

The thing that did put me off were the big box store complexes. Everything outside of the downtown city core seemed to made up of giant parking lots and retailers. The only thing that reminded me that I wasn’t in some Canadian suburb were the palm trees. And the distinct lack of snow.

But I might just be bitter because I didn’t have the time to use that hotel pool.

New Thing+ #4: Brooklyn Alley Pizza

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Being a bit of a foodie, I’ve always wanted to get into the underground food scene. Maybe score some unpasteurized cheese or an invite to a one night only pop-up restaurant. So it’s pretty cool that a friend of mine decided to start selling pizzas out of his backyard, wood-fire pizza oven.

Every Friday, Craig (unemployed Account Director and gourmand), fashions a different set of ingredients into a gourmet pizza experience for a mere $15. Using his Account Director skills or good, rather than evil, Brooklyn Alley Pizza was formed.

I am not exaggerating to say that our sausage, caramelized onion, mushroom and mozzarella creation was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. Even my kid loved her pepperoni version; especially the giant dough bubble that had formed at the edge of hers.

Watching Craig deftly position the food, heat check with his infrared thermometer, and reposition the dough makes you think he’s been doing this for years rather than weeks.

If you live in the east end you owe it to yourself to start try Brooklyn Alley Pizza. Follow them on Facebook and become one of the lucky 20 people each week that get take home one of these splendid pies.

And, in just about the whitest way possible, stick it to the man in the process.

New Thing+ #3: The Stonewall Inn

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I have to admit that there aren’t many downsides to flying to New York for an overnight work trip. Especially when I’ve only visited the city once before (and that was only for a fleeting evening stay).

I made sure to make the most of my time there and found myself walking all over the bottom half of Manhattan. It was around 9pm when I finally made it to The Stonewall Inn.

It’s one of those larger-than-life places that have existed in my imagination ever since learning of its existence. In this case it really lives up to that; it’s crazy tiny.

You’d think that the place that birthed the Gay Rights movement would be grande. But no, it’s just a quaint looking exterior with a pretty average gay bar inside. It’s dark, the service is slow and the bar rum is a travesty.

But as I sat there surrounded by men winding down after work, college kids chatting in the corner and the older crowd enjoying a beer at the bar, I realized how perfect it was.

Not a single one of them was afraid. Or ashamed.

New Thing+ #2: CN Tower EdgeWalk

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I desperately wanted to try the CN Tower EdgeWalk from the moment it was announced. However, the $175 price tag was a little rich for my blood at the time.

Luckily, my mother-in-law surprised me with tickets on my birthday earlier this year. So today I finally walked around the observation deck of the CN Tower, 356 meters above Toronto. In the rain, no less.

It is one of the most fantastic things I have ever done. And for a kid who used to always think twice about jumping off the diving board, I didn’t have a single problem up there.

I was a little trepidatious about the weather, but it was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t expect that I’d be at the same height of the rain clouds themselves. Watching them roll towards us and ultimately envelop us was an amazing feeling. Leaning out over the city I love and picking out each landmark with only a rope keeping me from plunging over the side was also pretty exhilarating to say the least.

Our guide, Allister was charming, funny and quite knowledgeable. He showed us the sights, got us hanging off the edge of the rails and recorded and photographed the entire event for posterity.

What a lucky son-of-a-bitch that guy is to get to go up there eight times a day.

New Thing+ #1: The Bandit Coffee Group Inc.

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It’s been 68 days since my last post.

That’s not to say that I haven’t done anything new since then, far from it.

I’ve met Olympians, held their medals, flown in a very small aircraft, met some folks from Giantbomb.com, become allergic to Aspirin, been promoted to Associate Creative Director, and eaten frogs legs for the first time.

So yeah, I’ve just been busy.

But what better way to get back into the swing of things than to try out a new espresso bar.

The Bandit Coffee Group Inc. is a beautiful little spot just down the street from my place. Why I haven’t been there before is beyond me.

The decor is clean, yet rustic and the afternoon light brings a real natural feel to the place. The long wooden table that takes up the majority of the space is perfectly suited for a nice hour of iPad surfing.

The barista, or possibly the owner, was very friendly and really seemed to know what he was doing. My cappuccino was delicious, smooth and creamy and made me wish I’d tried out a macchiato instead because I bet it would have been even better.

This resurgence of independent coffee shops in this end of town is really heartening. Especially since this particular one is within walking distance.

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365 New Things Complete

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What a year. What a crazy, crazy year.

When I actually sit back and reflect on everything I’ve done, every single new thing that I ate, read, drank, watched, shared, sang, played and experienced, well, it’s all a little exhausting. And awesome.

This year was never meant to be a “bucket list” of the things I want to do before I die, although a couple of those did get crossed off. This year was meant to break me out of routine, and it certainly did that.

So as I sit here on my 37th birthday, sipping an espresso, I have to wonder; what am I going to do with myself now?

I’ve had so many people say so many nice things about this blog that I don’t want to just give it up cold turkey.

So, welcome to 365+ New Things.  

I won’t be posting every day for the rest of my life, but whenever I try another crazy food, or attempt some death defying stunt I’ll be sure to post about it. 

Because, as I tell my daughter any chance I can, you should never stop trying new things.