New Thing #356: Japanese Single Malt



I’ve been waiting to try this for quite some time, but I’ve never wanted to take such a finanacial chance on an unproven scotch. Then I found out that you could get this Japanese single malt in 180ml bottles. Sold.

The very idea of a Japanese single malt whisky (not Scotch, they’d string you up in Scotland if you said such a thing) is crazy. And what’s even crazier is that I really, really like it.

I usually tend to like my scotches on the Speyside of things; smooth, fruity and not too peaty. But this 10 year old Yoichi distilled by Nikka Whisky takes what I normally like from that region and adds just enough smokey peat to really really make it shine. It’s still crisp but has a distinctive weight to it as well. It’s the perfect balance for my palate.

I’m extremely impressed with this fine concotion. Now I know exactly what I’ll be bringing to the next installment of Scotch Night.


New Thing #355: Sparkling Sake



I’ve never particularly liked sake of any kind. I’ve also never had a particularly good quality one either, so that might have something to do with it. And I don’t think that quality moniker has really changed after drinking the Zipang Sparkling Sake that I picked up the other day. But damn it if I don’t like the stuff regardless.

The first thing that surprised me is how sweet it is. It isn’t sickly sweet, it more hovers around a riesling in my opinion. The carbonation might be what really sets this apart from the other sakes though. It really bring a light crispness to it that I wasn’t expecting. 

It comes in 250ml non-resealable bottles, suggesting they should be enjoyed like a bottle of beer. But I couldn’t see having more than one of these at a time without getting some serious rot gut.

That being said, it might make a fine thing to experiment with in cocktail making. To the internets!


New Thing #354: Read A Report Card As A Parent



This seems like a small new thing at first glance, but as a parent reading their kid’s first report card from the other side of things it’s huge. And I couldn’t be prouder.

My little girl brought home a glowing review from her JK teacher with nothing bad to report. On top of that, we found out that she does a bunch of things at school with a smile that we get a tantrum for at home. Kids, whatcha gonna do?

We had a little family moment around the dining room table going over her teacher’s notes and let Audrey choose a big weeked reward for a job well done. Now let’s see if she can keep this up for another fourteen years. Lord knows I couldn’t.

New Thing #353: Salad King



It seems almost blasphemous to have lived in this city as long as I have and never ventured through the doors of Salad King. Even though I didn’t make it to the original location before the building literally collapsed, I’m told that the hallowed food is still the same. And that’s a good thing because it lived up to, if not exceeded, all expectations. 

The golden shrimp curry was delicious, bursting with flavour, hearty (and best of all), affordable. I couldn’t brace myself for the 20 chili option on the heat scale, but I think I did ok with a respectable 7. 

The communal tables were a nice touch and the baskets built into the stools are a great option for storing your bags. The service was quick, the staff polite and the water plentiful. The latter is a very good thing when the chilies come into play.

Since it’s a mere jaunt from work on the TTC, this could easily become a new lunch date venue in the near future. 

All hail the Salad King!


New Thing #352: Mel Lastman Square



I’ll start by saying this: I don’t get up to North York very often. Actually I go there exactly twice a year unless I have a cavity.

That’s because my dentist is in the North York Centre, and although I’ve been going there for over a decade, I had no idea it was literally attached to Mel Lastman Square.

In my defense, I take the subway and I never really go outside when I’m getting for a cleaning. So when I was looking for something to do before leaving for my appointment I was surprised to see Mel Lastman Square show up on Google Maps.

All these years I’ve thought it was this huge place where people congregated to see bands, attend festivals and ring in the new year. But it’s tiny. Really, really tiny. I guess that’s fitting with its namesake and all, but it was surprising none the less.

All in all it’s an odd town square. The skating rink seems well maintained and they even have their own Zamboni. But the stage is minuscule, there’s a weird pagoda overlooking things and more stairs than places to stand.

It’s certainly an not what I was expecting in the heart of what amounts to a foreign city to me.

New Thing #351: Use a Mandoline


After years of denying that I needed one, I finally picked up a mandoline this afternoon. I’m just tired of slicing the required amount of potatoes for a batch of scalloped ones. Plus, it’s a total bitch getting them both thin and uniform enough to come out evenly cooked.

I grabbed a plastic OXO model which was a little more affordable than the metal varieties, but seeemd sturdy enough. Plus it has a nice dial to easily select your desired thickness.

After five minutes with a couple of pounds of spuds I don’t know how I could have ever lived without one.

I can’t wait to cook up some home made chips soon.


New Thing #350: Canary Melon



I’d never even heard of a canary melon before I saw one at the grocery store the other day.

I mostly stick to canteloupes and honeydews when it comes to my melon needs, but I think I’ll add this one to the list. It’s pretty much right in between them in taste.

And for once I tried a new fruit that was perfectly ripe when I cut into it. Take that internet commenters!

New Thing #349: olloclip



One of my co-workers brought in an olloclp iPhone lens to work today and let me play around with it.

I’d hear of the clip before but was skeptical of the need for extra lenses when the iPhone 4S’s camera is already so good. Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong about that. Very wrong.

This thing is amazing. The design is top notch. It’s not too big nor small and clips effortlessly into place over the phone. It has three different lenses: fish-eye, wide angle and my favourite, macro.

The level of detail that the macro lens gets you is amazing. It’s even more amazing when you realize that it came out of your phone. If there’s one downside, it’s that it doesn’t clip over an iPhone case. Luckily I don’t keep mine in one, so that isn’t an issue.

If anyone’s looking for a birthday gift for me I think you’ve found it.

New Thing #348: McCaf?? Cappuccino



This rash of fast food espresso based drink offerings has to stop. It’s not good people. 

It’s bad enought that Tim Hortons serves lattes and cappuccinos, but this McCafe business takes it to a whole other level.

It’s not like I was expecting much, especially after the completely non-discript Tim Horton’s latte I had a while back, but this thing was just terrible. It wasn’t hot enough, the milk tasted burnt, the beans tasted burnt, and I’m pretty sure it insulted my mother when I wasn’t looking.

I forced myself to take at least four sips of it before completely declaring it crap and that was hard enough.

I’m sure that with the proliferation of coffeeshops these days that your options will never be limited to McDonalds. Please avoid at all costs.

New Thing #347: King Edward Hotel Bar



I love hotel bars. There’s a certain anonymity to them that I really enjoy. There’s never any pretension to them since anyone who stays at the hotel could come down at any time in any state of dress. And you tend to meet interesting people if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

So tonight I finally made my way to the King Edward Hotel lobby bar. I know it’s strange that after all this time living in Toronto that I’ve never been there, but what are you going to do? I’m glad to say that it’s right up there with The Roof bar at the Hyatt, my favourite bar in the city by far.

Sure, it was mostly filled with old folk, but the bartenders really knew their stuff and mixed me up at fantastic martini. 

The decor was straight out of an English country manor even if the staff wasn’t. If I’m not mistaken I was served by a very fine Russian barkeep, which would account for the very fine martini I was served.

If you don’t mind the rather inflated prices that come with hotel lobby bars, I’d suggest checking this one out.



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