Don’t Fret, Ladies, Your Lady Business Is Not Our Business: Mitch Wolfe Looks Back at the Body Culture War of 2015

I must confess: I have been an avid student of the female form for decades. And I know that writing about female body types is akin to gingerly tiptoeing through a veritable minefield. The thrilling Iraqi war film, Hurt Locker, comes to mind. When I last broached this subject in “You Don’t Need Jennifer Aniston’s Bod to be Great in Bed” I took considerable enemy fire. But I survived with my humor and dignity intact.

So, though I am reluctant to head back into another body culture war I’m afraid duty calls. I fully expect to take some flak. But neither do I want to die on this hill, or mound (mons pubis), as the case may be.

It seems the very revealing Sports Illustrated, Swimsuit Edition cover shot of Hannah Davis—standing confidently, her thumbs hooked into the sides of her bikini bottom—has provoked a heated international discussion. Talk is mostly centered on the exposure of a certain part of Ms. Davis’s body, which New York Times writer Jennifer Weiner has described as “that formerly unnoticed span of flesh between the top of one’s panties and the labia majora.” (I knew three years of high school Latin would finally come in handy.)

What has Weiner’s knickers in a knot is her fear that Ms. Davis’s perfectly tanned, toned, and hairless on-ramp to her labia will create a new dimension to women’s insecurities about their bodies. In her Sunday New York Times article, “Great! Another Thing to Hate about Ourselves”, Weiner argues women already have plenty to worry about: “stretch marks, eye bags, age spots, wrinkles, belly rolls, cellulite, and especially boobs that are too big, too small, too droopy, mismatched and asymmetrical.”

But now Weiner bemoans the fact that women will have to worry about their “lady place”. In other words, another body part that has to be pruned, policed, examined, and improved upon. All because of Hannah Davis’s Sports Illustrated shoot that has cropped up all over the internet, and your local corner store.

But speaking humbly on behalf of all mankind, I would like to tell Ms. Weiner that she is making a mons pubis out of a mole hill.

As I have stated in the past, we men don’t give two fracks about what you do with your lady business: Brazilian, half Brazilian, Mohawk, triangle, landing strip, or smooth and hairless as a baby’s behind. Toned. Not Toned. Even off-key. We don’t care. We just want to be invited to the dance. C’est tout. Secondly, women have more important things to worry about.

As Weiner astutely queried, “Do you think Eleanor Roosevelt worried about her undercarriage?”  Or Gloria Steinem or even Hillary Clinton, for that matter?

I agree with Jennifer Weiner, “Girls and women’s lives matters. Their safety, health and their rights matter.”

Hannah Davis’s perfect labia foyer, not so much.

Mitch Wolfe Reviews Daniel Boulud’s “Café Boulud” in the Toronto Four Seasons Hotel

Internationally-known French Chef Daniel Boulud re-launched his renovated Café Boulud at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. And this second act really builds and soars.

About seven months ago, Daniel (we are on a “connus juste par un prenon” basis) reopened his eponymous French bistro for us local epicureans.

This place is simply magnificent – in a very informal, comfy, stylish, subtly Parisian sophisticated way.

This modern French brasserie was conceived by the designer du jour, Swedish-born and London-based Martin Brudnizki. Café Boulud contains many of the same signature flourishes that are on display in Brudnizki’s other killer London restaurants, namely Annabel’s, Le Caprice, Dean Street Townhouse, Hix and of course, The Ivy.

cafe boulud- bar

Seductive lighting, comfortable seating in two-toned brown and green leather banquettes. A long, beautifully lit marble bar, usually populated with beautifully-coiffed and toned, TIFF-ready femme fatales.

(And their Bay Street banker dude escorts.)

Unique sensual and surprising artwork compliments and sets the scene. A drop dead gorgeous photo of the lovely Grace Kelly on one wall. A whimsical photo of a smiling Einstein on another wall. Fun and sexy and oh-so-smooth.

The service is warm and friendly, reflecting the very comfortable ambience.

At the entrance I was greeted not by just one captivating hostess, but by a team of three lovely women. My favourite, of course, is the lovely Wintana, who adroitly showed me to my table and in one seamless action, checked my trusty laptop, briefcase and my sturdy Burberry coat. (It was now the cool beginning of spring in the “6”, yo.)

Wintana 2

I am not the easiest of customers – I called in advance on short notice. And though the place was packed, the hostesses found me a lovely banquette for the Bleu plat special at 6pm. One friend was joining me at 6:30pm and another friend was joining us at 8:30pm. So we were graciously accommodated with an intimate banquette pour trois.

Then a team of waiters was at my beck and call.

Diet Coke with a chaser of sparkling water magically appeared.

The atmosphere was definitely electric and the dinner crowd was eclectic.

A few tables to my left was a striking blonde woman, a Kate Hudson-lookalike with an infectious laugh, and her attentive beau.

To my right, a quiet multi-generational Asian family, consisting of proud parents, beaming grandparents and unusually well-behaved two year old twins.

Next to me was a very youthful married couple, Paul and Candy, about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

And the food: sublime.

My friend and I shared the Beignets de Calamar (slightly beer battered calamari, subtly drenched in pickled hot pepper and spicy kaffir lime sauce). Wow. The various spices and flavours popped unexpectedly on the tongue.

cafe boulud calamari

I am a connoisseur of grilled calamari. This was the best in Toronto. Better than Terronis’ own signature grilled calamari.

I also had the Kale Grille and Romaine salade. It was marvellously presented – a tiny perfect mound of grilled kale, romaine, carrots, cumin, black olives, golden raisins and infused with spiced yogurt dressing. The secret was the beautifully grilled part and the spicy yogurt.

I eat a ton of kale on a weekly basis. Practically every day. Kale is normally rough. Not that tasteful. But this grilled kale with the spicy yogurt dressing and other ingredients was so delicious that I almost forgot that it was healthy for me.

cafe boulud grilled kale salad

My friend is a connoisseur of steak tartare. She had Café Boulud’s Parisian steak tartare – prime Angus beef, surrounded by crisp Romaine lettuce and drenched in pickled condiments and a light mustard egg dressing. This dish was elaborately prepared in front of us! My friend opined that this was the best steak tartare she had in Toronto in a very long time.

Our neighbours in the next table, the very youthful and fun couple, in their 70s, permitted me to photograph and taste their Quenelle de Brochet, a Lyon-style northern pike quenelle swimming in a heavenly Cognac lobster sauce.

Daniel, our chef, hails from the Lyon region of France. Pike quenelle or fish mousse dumpling, is a French culinary classic. Our very well-informed server explained that such a way of cooking and presentation was the traditional way around of removing the pike’s numerous primary and secondary bones. I did not know that.

cafe boulud- quennelles

Candy, my neighbour was totally taken by the quenelle. Its texture, its flavour and Cognac lobster sauce.

She found the dish intoxicating and surprisingly aphrodisiac.

I joked with Paul, her husband, that they were such a happy couple. It was as if they were on their fifth date, with romance very much in the air. I suggested to Paul that tonight he might get lucky.

Fortunately, Paul and Candy were good sports and laughed at my fish mousse-inspired musings.

Then quite unexpectedly, two more friends showed up for dinner. Unfortunately our table was for two and not for four. I told you that I was not a low-maintenance, undemanding customer.

Fortunately, the staff was extremely attentive to our plight and deftly moved, we party of four, to a lovely corner banquette.

Our two friends immediately ordered the Steak Frites, medium rare. A flat iron eight ounce steak, with sauce béarnaise, pommes frites and gem lettuce with shallot dressing.

Classic French bistro fare.

The steaks did not disappoint. They were great. And the golden, crispy, European style, frites, were irresistible.

The evening was topped off with the head bartender, Shannon, providing his signature drinks.

cafe boulud shannon

Shannon has an apparent “Masters in Mixology”. He also has a very professional deft touch. With both liquor and the Café’s thirsty patrons at his long marble bar.

He is a master of the Mai Tai. And a smash with his watermelon smash. The former – a unique blend of dark rum, orgeat, lime, bitters and mint. The latter – an oh-so-smooth grapefruit soaked vodka, with basil, watermelon and soda.

But then Shannon, saved the best for last. His “Led Zeppelin” really rocked the house: tequila, amaro nonino, aperol and a dash of lime. My friend said that this drink, as in Zeppelin’s classic “Stairway Way to Heaven” starts slow, builds and then hits you with a wild hard rock finish.

Here’s a YouTube link to that amazing song:

Much like Boulud’s bistro.

Boulud’s vision is for his restaurant to serve a seasonally changing menu rooted in French tradition, highlighting both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by his own family meals in Lyon.

To date, the team at Café Boulud have far exceeded expectations. The full house every night is evidence that atmosphere, service and food are resonating with many of us hungry travellers.

Mitch Wolfe Meets One of His Comic Heroes – The Edgy Gilbert Gotfried at Frank’s Kitchen

This past week I dropped into the terrific Italian bistro in Little Italy, Frank’s Kitchen.

This is like a second home to me. The food is masterful. Part French Bistro, with Italian flair. The service- warm, attentive and informed. Frank Parhizgar, the co-owner/chef, performs his magic in the open kitchen in the back of this elegantly-appointed place. His lovely wife also co-owner, Shawn Cooper, runs the front of the house. With aplomb and silky smooth efficiency.

But who should be there sitting in a booth with his beautiful wife, Dara, but is Gilbert Gotfried! The iconic screeching voice of the parrot Iago, in the Disney film, “Aladdin”and the voice of the duck in the Aflac commercials. Gilbert was in town to host a show at Massey Hall. He was with family and friends at Franks.

To me Gilbert was very soft-spoken and modest. His work has always been edgy, outrageously funny and oftentimes very politically incorrect. That’s why I love this guy. He is not afraid to burn bridges and relationships for his comic art.

Gilbert and his wife had heard about Frank’s Kitchen from friends in L.A.. They were told that Frank’s is very well known for its uniquely plated fish dishes and its pasta is out of this world. They told me that the experience at

Frank’s well exceeded expectations. I concurred.

And Gilbert is not afraid to “tell as it is”, with his uniquely screeching and annoying, but very funny voice.

frank 5frank 8Frank Kitchenfranks 7gilbert godfrey

Mitch Wolfe Paints The Town Red + Real Live Models at Ruby Rouge Event

Pre-empting Valentine’s Day Sunday, the Oliver Blue group staged a terrific, sexy, edgy event at The Lodge on Toronto’s Queen Street West.

The unique event space was funky, arty, eclectic and a little weird – as was the crowd.

The room was filled with a diverse group of actresses, graphic designers, hipsters, fashion designers, writers and marketing/communications PR people, gorgeous women in drop dead black cocktail dresses, 5 inch heels and cool black and Asian dudes in expensive jeans, hoodies, ponytails and moi, in my dark Canali.

The organizers, Gigi, Helena and Alex added some off the wall spice with random hot lingerie models, kick ass dancers and two artist models in artistically painted panties.

melina 2

I was fortunate to meet a very stylish fashion blogger, writer and editor Melina, seen here on the left and her equally attractive friend Bethany, on my right, who is into public relations and event planning.

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My favourite model, was Britney, a really sweet girl, seen in the photo with me. Who let me Picasso her limbs.

Why is it a sacred Canadian Jewish tradition to eat Chinese food on Christmas?

The simple answer is that Chinese owners of Chinese restaurants are not typically Christian or Catholic.

For the longest time, their restaurants were the only ones open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, making them the perfect places for Jewish people to eat over the holidays.

Of course, today we Jews have so many more options on Christmas: Middle Eastern restos; Lebanese, Persian, Afghani, South Asian, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, just to name a few.

But an informal survey of fellow members of the tribe, throughout this great land of ours, indicates that Chinese food was still the go-to food this past Christmas.

This year I journeyed to Richmond Hill, about 45 minutes from Toronto, which is home to thriving suburban Jewish and Asian communities. I went to one of favorite Chinese restaurants, Choice of the Orient, that has owned and operated by the Wong family for over 28 years.

It’s not just a Christmas tradition, however. My mother (not the greatest cook at the best of times) used to take us out for traditional Chinese from Ruby Foos in Montreal every Sunday. I learned how to expertly eat with chopsticks around the same time I learned cursive writing.

One reason is that Chinese cooking does not contain any dairy, so there is no need to worry about mixing dairy with meat, which is against Jewish dietary law. So a cheeseburger is a big no-no.  Same goes for pepperoni pizzas.

That’s why there are Jewish restaurants or shops devoted almost solely to selling dairy products. United Bakeries in the Bathurst Lawrence Plaza comes to mind.  Growing up in Montreal in a Conservative/Orthodox lite household, we had separate plates and cutlery for milk and meat. On Passover, we even had third set of glass plates and special cutlery, exclusively for the Passover holiday.

(As a Reform Jew, living on my own, I’m not too fussed about of separation of milk and meat. I am afraid that Kosher ship has sailed.)

Note that like traditional Jewish cooking, Chinese food is typically prepared in the Cantonese culinary style known for overcooking vegetables, using a ton of garlic and onions, and balancing sweet flavors with sour ones.

Another strict Jewish dietary law prohibits eating any pork products or shellfish, like lobster. This fare is known in Yiddish as “trayf.”

In 1992, Gaye Tuchman and Harry Levine actually wrote an academic paper called “Safe Treyf,” which argued that Chinese food featured the sort of unkosher dishes you could take home to your mother (or at least eat in front of her.) That’s because the pork and shellfish is always either chopped and minced and served in the middle of innocuous vegetables all covered in a common sauce, or it is wrapped up in wontons and egg rolls—where you can’t see it.

For years growing up in Montreal, our family used to eat tons of Ruby Foos dry little spare ribs slathered in the very sweet tangy sauce. And it never dawned on me that I was eating forbidden pork.

And until my mother’s dying day, her favorite takeout was lobster Cantonese.

Historically, we Jews have been a persecuted folk. To date, to my limited knowledge, we Jews have not suffered from any Chinese pogroms. Hence we Jews do not naturally fear the Chinese. American writer Philip Roth had one of his most famous characters, Alexander Portnoy, say this in Portnoy’s Complaint:

“Yes, the only people in the world whom it seems to me the Jews are not afraid of are the Chinese. Because one, the way they speak English makes my father sound like Lord Chesterfield and two, to them we are not Jews but white and maybe even Anglo Saxon. No wonder they can’t intimidate us. To them we’re just some big-nosed variety of WASP.”

So for many Canadian Jews ( and I am sure, American Jews), eating Chinese food on Christmas has become an almost sacred Jewish ritual, if not quite on the same order of lighting the Chanukah candles. In many ways, it is a way for Canadian Jews to asserting their Jewishness on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Chez Nick on Greene Avenue- Westmount – One of the Best Diners in Canada

 

Whenever I go back to my roots, Westmount, Quebec ( I am a third generation bilingual Anglophone-Quebecois-“ caline de bine-eh!”), I always head back to Chez Nick, the best little diner in all of Canada.

Chez Nick was founded in 1920 by Nick Alevisatos. It was owned and operated by Nick until 1970. Then it was owned and managed by Nick’s son, Tom, until 1995, when it was sold to the current owner and operator, Rob Callard, a family friend and former dishwasher, waiter and manager of Chez Nick under quite extraordinary circumstances. More about Rob later on in this piece.

Chez Nick is considered the oldest diner/restaurant in Montreal that is still in its original location, 1377 Greene Avenue, in lower Westmount.

There are many good reasons why Chez Nick has survived and prospered all these years. Great food, reasonably priced. Very professional, personal and attentive service by long time knowledgeable staff. And a very friendly, family, neighborhood atmosphere.

But in addition, there are the personal touches that make this place such a singular and unique place. I lived in Westmount in the 60s and part of the early 70s. Just up the street on Mountain and Montrose. I recall with fondness as a young kid, on a Saturday, after shopping with my mom at the local grocery on Greene or buying shoes at Tony’s Shoes (now known as Chaussures Tony’s Shoes) on the Greene Avenue strip ( Tony’s is also still in business after 75 odd years, by the way), heading over to Nick’s for lunch for burgers and fries and chocolate milkshakes.

In those days, I had the honor of knowing Nick, or to us kids, “Uncle Nick”. Nick and the staff knew all the customers’ names, especially the regulars. And their children’s names. Nick always came over to our table and kibitzed with my mom and me. And always gave us extra fries and gravy- gratis. Okay, probably not the healthiest food choices in those days.

I also recall with fond nostalgia, a little later in life, as a high school student, trudging home on those bitterly cold winter afternoons from Westmount High, ( located further south on St. Catherine Street), stopping with my friends at Nick’s for fries and a hot chocolate. Prior to making that final heroic ascent up the Mountain. To my home. Three long vertical blocks away. If memory serves, I guess I was a bit of a drama queen in those days. And surprisingly, notwithstanding my addiction to Nick’s fries- not a chunky one at that.

For decades, Chez Nick was your archetypal deli/diner. Serving tons of eggs, mounds of bacon and large sides of home fries. For lunch- burgers and cheeseburgers and fries was usually the most popular order of the day. Nick’s was also known for its mouth-watering smoked meat sandwiches, with sour dill pickles and of course, its always fresh cut French fries with gravy.

Nick’s was the local “go to” place for meats and processed meats.

But in the 70s, the times, “they were a changin”. In 1970, Nick had given over the reins to his son, Tom. The infamous French language first Bill 101 came into being. And many English-speaking bankers, insurance execs, business people fled Westmount for Toronto, western Canada and the States. Taking their families. And their business. Times were tough for Nick’s and many English-speaking establishments on the Greene Avenue strip.

“For Sale”/”A Vendre” signs popped up like dandelions on every Westmount street.

Nick’s had to become Chez Nick and adapt or die.

And to its credit, Chez Nick, hunkered down. Worked doubly hard to retain its remaining English-speaking clientele.

Every day, my parents thought about picking up and moving to Toronto, Chicago, New York and Palm Beach. Great opportunities beckoned for my dad, who in those days, was well-known and respected as a very caring and compassionate obstetrician and gynecologist. But like many families, they stayed the course. Stayed in Westmount and sought comfort with their friends at neighborhood diners like Chez Nick.

In order to survive, Nick’s also reached out more aggressively to local businesses in the area and to the new immigrants to Westmount, – the upwardly mobile Jews, Greeks, Italians and the newly empowered French-speaking professionals, business people and government folk, who began rapidly occupying the stately Westmount manses.

What saved Chez Nick, was Tom deciding to go outside the family and choose a successor, Rob Callard, who had cut his teeth at the diner as a dishwasher, bus boy, then a hustling waiter during his university days, at Concordia University down the street.

Rob told me that he paid his way through “Uni” by busing and waiting tables at Chez Nick.

For Rob’s part, he viewed Tom as a mentor and a surrogate father. And Rob felt that he was treated like family.

Post Concordia, Rob, became a food manager at Montreal’s most prestigious golf club, The Royal Montreal.

Obviously, Rob’s work ethic and all-around good character, had left an impression with Tom. Because in the late 80s, the always astute Tom reached out to Rob and made him an offer that Rob could not refuse.

Tom convinced Rob to come back as manager for five years with an option to buy the restaurant at the end of the term. And to help Tom upgrade, revamp and modernize Chez Nick.

When Rob asked Tom, why he chose Rob to take over Nick’s, Tom replied that he remembered one summer when as a university student, Rob worked six weeks straight washing dishes with an arm in a cast as a result of a broken writst. And according to Tom, “ any person who could do that, has what it takes to run a restaurant.”

What a great story!

As Rob told me, he had little money in those days. But as a result of his experience as a waiter and then manager, he knew that Chez Nick, though a relatively small and contained business, was a viable business. So one week before the results of the 1995 Quebec referendum, Rob invested his life savings as a deposit and exercised his option to purchase Chez Nick.

Now that took some mighty big steel balls. A “Yes” vote for Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada and become independent, could have had disastrous economic and financial consequences for Quebec and for Canada. And clearly for Quebec businesses, both large and small.

Rob believed then, that people would still have to eat. Regardless.

Fortunately, for Canada, for Quebec, and for Rob and Chez Nick, the pro-Canada federalist “No” forces triumphed. But barely. Thanks to the “ethnics and money” in Quebec.

To Rob’s credit, he realized that for Chez Nick to survive and prosper into the twenty-first century, it had to revamp its menu while still retaining the diner’s character and charm. And become more healthy and bistro-like

A menu rich in salty, fatty, eggs and bacon, artery–clogging, burgers, fries, meats and processed meats, though very tasty and delicious did not have the same appeal to the new generation of young, active, family-oriented, and health-conscious Westmounters.

Also it was not to Rob and Chez Nick’s long term interests to unnecessarily shorten the lives of his long-term customers by serving them exclusively salty/fatty, but very tasty and plentiful food. LOL.

Over time, Rob gradually incorporated more healthy, fresh, made to order food on the menu. A review of today’s menu indicates that a whole page is devoted just to about 18 different salads. All served exclusively with 100% canola and olive oil. The most popular and exclusively vegetarian salads being Fresh Fruit salad and cottage cheese, Bruschetta and greens, Caprese salad, Metcalfe salad, Greek salad, Bennett Farm salad, Grains on Greens and Portobello Mushroom salad.

http://www.cheznick.ca/#!salads/c1w2p

As to the sandwiches, in addition, to Nick’s traditional staples of Swiss burgers, Montreal smoked meat, Reubens and chicken souvlaki sandwiches, Rob has successfully introduced such alternatively delicious and healthy fare as Boccachina and basil, Portobello, Protein and Pesto, and Nick’s signature sandwich, the Mount Pleasant; containing brie cheese, a sliced Granny Smith apple, tomato and alfalfa on black Russian bread served with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Recently I dropped into Chez Nick for Sunday Brunch. The place was packed. With truly a very interesting eclectic crowd of: long time regulars from the nearby luxury apartment buildings and Westmount Square ( some who looked vaguely familiar); young yuppie families, with several children in strollers and high chairs, all laughing and enjoying themselves; two or three hipster couples, ( who just looked they had rolled out of the sack after a night of partying and whatever); and a few students nursing their coffees as they texted on their iPhones, tapped away on their iPads. Or Tindered each other.

This Sunday, I eschewed the Grains and Greens salad for my favorite Greek Yogurt/fruit/granola/almonds, with a dash of honey Nick’s special. Washed down with bottomless cups of freshly-brewed heavenly coffee, that put all the competition- Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons and McDonalds, to shame.

I noted that Rob, the owner, greeted all the loyal customers, by name. Just like Uncle Nick.

It was great to be home again.

Kudos to Rob Callard for revitalizing this great Westmount and Montreal establishment. May this great institution survive another productive 100 years.

(note photos Rob Callard, the owner, and I, and current Chez Nick, the diner/bistro)

chez nick 2chez nick 5chez nick 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Libertad Martinez – One of Toronto’s Top Condo Specialists

By far and away, one of the best condo specialists in all of the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area) is Chestnut Park’s condo real estate agent and consultant, Libertad Martinez.

What separates Ms. Martinez from the thousands of real estate agents who ply their trade in and around the GTA, is her vast, comprehensive and intimate knowledge of all the major and minor condo builders in Toronto and their existing and projected projects.

Ms. Martinez speaks fluent Spanish, French and of course, English. I was introduced to Ms. Martinez, through mutual Latin American clients, who were seriously considering investing in the still buoyant Toronto condominium market.

I had been retained to advise on financing the purchase of several different condo units throughout Toronto, mainly for investment purposes, by these foreign investors.

Ms. Martinez impressed me and our mutual clients with her encyclopedic knowledge of all the key players, from the high profile Menkes, Tridel and Minto folk, to the more boutique and lesser known specialized condo builders in town.

Ms. Martinez, through her vast network of builders, brokers, marketing and communications consultants, possessed an incredible data base of not only existing projects but projected projects. Ranging from the western fringes of Etobicoke on the Lakeshore, north to Woodbridge and Richmond Hill and as far east as the Beaches and Scarborough.

I have been assisting in financing residential projects for years, but Ms. Martinez clearly had a better handle on all the major up and coming projects, even some of the very cool, boutique infill projects on hip Ossington, Parkdale the rapidly gentrifying Lesleyville and the laid back beachy Beaches.

Though the mantra in real estate is “location, location, location”, Ms. Martinez’ personal credo is, “service, service, service”.

I was also struck by Ms Marinez’ attention to detail. Because when buying a condo unit, especially one that is being constructed from plans, the devil is definitely in the details.

I highly recommend that a buyer of a new condo unit, especially a pre construction condo, should retain some one like Ms. Mritinez to help you navigate through some potentially dangerous waters, to mix some metaphors.

Purchasing or investing in the constant rising Toronto condo market, is not for the unwary or the faint-hearted.

But Ms. Marrtinez ,whose knowledge of the industry combined with her years of experience, and attention to detail (a rare triple threat) will make such a buying/investing experience- more understandable, safer and potentially very rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch Wolfe: Merchant Banker/Consultant/Writer- Getting Down+Busy with the Drizzy at Bloke on King

alex+morgan

What am I doing with very attractive, ambitious, young career-oriented business women outside the Ritz Bar?

Would you believe this is a business meeting and I have been retained to provide some experienced business advice.

Well, that is my story. And I am sticking to it.

But first I must provide a little back story.

I describe myself, as above, as a merchant banker/consultant/writer.

As a merchant banker, I am basically an intermediary, between financial institutions or private finance companies that want to lend and private companies that want to borrow funds to expand their business, buy equipment or buy other companies. I also act as an intermediary between American and Canadian private equity groups that wish to buy Canadian companies and private Canadian companies that are looking for investors and/or ultimate exit strategies.

As a consultant, I focus on small business owners who are looking to expand or sell their business. And entrepreneurs who retain me to assist them in buying businesses or starting businesses from scratch.

The latter situation applies to Morgan on the left and Alex on the right. See photo.

These two women are successful marketing, sales and communications types, employed in current companies.

But they have dreams. And together they are exploring owning and running their own online business.

What I love about being a consultant is every client and every file is different. And the hours are not limited to 9am to 5pm. In fact, since my clients have other jobs, my biz meetings are often in the after hours.

And occasionally, 9pm to 5 am. Say what?

In the case of Morgan and Alex, they are considering going after the 20-40 year old downtown urban market: in terms of lifestyles of the ambitious, young and professional- the fashions, the foods, the restos, bars, the fitness clubs, and the dance clubs.

Whereas in real estate, the mantra is, “location, location, location’.

My advice to young and budding entrepreneurs, thinking of investing in or starting a new business, is “research, research, research”.

And there is no substitute to getting your hands dirty and actually going out into the field. Or in this case, getting down low and dancing to Drizzy in the “6”.

So Morgan, Alex and me- Ubered, Mohammed, a local driver. And we hit some local hot spots in the “6” (Toronto) ie Eveleigh, Brassaii and The Citizen.

Mohammed turned out to be a very funny and charming fellow. And a real good sport in chauffeuring us around from club to club, as if we were major ballers. It was so sick.

(Note to self, possible lifestyle show starring the same Mohammed, “Rolling with Mohammed”, the story of a hustling Muslim Uber driver and his wacky fares. Jamie B. of Frantic Films, is sure to pull the trigger on a 13 webisode secretly sponsored by Uber- Ka-Ching ).

Fast forward to the highlight of the evening. Actually the early morning.

So after hanging out at the above three clubs, Mohammed pulled up to our last stop, The Bloke on King.

The crowd at Bloke- not exactly regulars at the very Waspy White Rosedale Toronto Lawn tennis club.

First Morgan and Alex were carded by a mean black burly tackle for the Hamilton Tigercats.

Since we were the only white folks in the line, we were clearly a very visible minority. And the carding- racial profiling- Obvi.

Also these very clean cut, sweet young women from the burbs looked like they just came from their high school prom.

The black bouncer as a joke asked for my ID together with passport and my Old Age pension. The guy was clearly-jokes.

You know that this was not the Ritz, as two other bouncers proceeded to pat us down for hidden knives, shivs, and automatic AK47 shotguns.

Fortunately, that night, I was not packing.

Once inside Bloke, as suspected, the crowd consisted of predominantly sidewalk hostesses, accompanied by their doting personal managers.

Whatever. We were there to dance to Drizzy ( Drake).

Inevitably in these situations, two good-looking white women and an older white man attract some unwanted attention.

Several black men challenged me as to my raison d’etre. “Why are you, here, White Boy?”

The two women, Morgan and Alex suggested that since I was clearly an older white dude, I should pretend that I was one of the owners of the building.

Morgan suggested to some inquiring black folk, that I was Drake’s white producer.

All of a sudden I was surrounded by many tough-looking black Super dads. Looking for that special Drake magic.

I simply stated to the growing thong of ballers,  that I was neither an owner nor a producer, but I was just some average joe, who had come to dance hip hop.

That response, for some reason, met with increasing hilarity, apparently at my expense.

Collectively, the crowd, questioned my manhood and my ability to dance.

“Hey, white boy, get off the dance floor. You can’t dance”!

Instead, I pulled Morgan and Alex on the on the dance floor and we proceeded to bust some moves. R+B, Stevie Wonder circa 1970. As a perfect threesome.

The black chicks were clearly aghast to see some white dude, moving in perfect harmony. Getting busy with the Drizzy.

Next I was joined by some twerking triplets and we grinded in rhythm , Dirty Dancing, Swayze style.

By this time, I had made my bones and bona fides.

Common consensus among the male and female bangers, that I was pretty fly for a white guy.

I am not sure what Morgan and Alex learned from this experience. It was strictly- ghetto.

But I learned that Morgan and Alex clearly had drive and commitment, to humor me til 4 am.

And that the Drake has a massive influence. All the participants, last night, knew all the words to all of Drake’s lyrics and quoted Drake like he was a modern day Shakespeare.

I believed Drake was the key to unlock what these young men and women needed, wanted and desired.

To be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Lumas Art Gallery on Yorkville – Totally Luminous

There is a new and innovative player in the flourishing Toronto art scene. The Germans have invaded.

They have come to liberate art from its stuffy, classic confines.

And I predict the closed clubby Toronto art world, may never be the same again.

This Lumas Art Gallery, in Toronto’s Yorkville, is the Lumas Group’s only second Canadian location.

( its first Canadian beach head originally located in Vancouver. Hey, Toronah, we’re number two!)

Lumas is part of a 40+ art gallery empire, based in Berlin. Lumas has about 19 galleries in various German cities.

It has also planted its flag in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Milan, Budapest, New York and Moscow. All without firing a shot.

“Das Art”, Fraulein.

Its motto is “The Liberation of Art”. Hmmm. Very interesting.

Presumably liberating art from stuffy government-controlled galleries and museums.

And literally and figuratively going digital and taking art online.

The works of Damien Hurst, Dieter Blum, Eva Navarro, and my fave- Beomsik Won- just a click or app away on your smartphone.

The works of art in all the Luminous galleries are predominantly photography-based. As well as digital art. And variations on those themes and mediums.

This particular Yorkville gallery is being managed and curated by its director, the very knowledgeable and engaging  Claire Kyle. Toronto’s answer to “Sex in the City’s”, arty Charlotte.

See photo attached with amateur art aficionado, moi.

In a nod to local artist, photographer and actor, Patrick Adams (Mike, the pseudo Harvard Law grad on the tv series, “Suits”), Lumas Yorkville is currently hosting an exhibition of Adams’ work.

See photo of his Toronto skyline.

I was particularly drawn to the classic and contemporary Vogue collection. “Kate Moss in the Lauderette”, for me, particularly visually arresting- and with which I totally identify.

My local laudromat, around the corner, from my home- is also always populated by super models in their colorful bikini underwear.

Check out this very striking gallery. A great, welcome and potential disruptive force in Toronto’s oh so predictable and complacent art world.

lumas 1lumas 4lumas claire kyle director of lumas- toronto

Monday: A Magical Night at Kasa Moto – Charlotte’s Feast

Monday night on the Yorkville strip is usually quite quiet. Some would say funereal. This past Monday was no exception. But for your intrepid downtown night traveler, moi, my night at Kasa was magical and forever memorable.

Instead of crying in my miso soup, I embraced the almost vacant upstairs patio bar. And engaged with the always helpful and kind staff. This evening, because Kasa was slow due to a crucial Blue Jays/Yankees series, the return of the school year and post TIFF fatigue, I approached the strikingly beautiful and very talented operations manager, Charlotte, see photo on left.

And I suggested that she arrange my entire Japanese meal. I put myself completely in her very soft and capable hands. And I challenged Charlotte to surprise me with her personal selection. And did the talented Charlotte deliver!!!

The meal arranged by Charlotte was spectacular. And served to me by favorite bartender, the incomparable Ace.

Here are photos of the exquisite and artistically prepared and presented portions. Each small and delicate dish a delightful surprise. I savored with amazement each bite of sushi on far left and hamachi on far right

I am no foodie. I don’t possess a sophisticated palate. But even I could taste the subtle perfection of Kasa’s signature cerviche-   Hamachi/salmon, raw cut and mixed with root vegetables, mixed in a sublime yuzu/aoli miso/soy.

Both earthy and other worldly in one bite.

And the spicy tuna crispy rice. OMG to die for! Tuna mixed with a surprising shock of jalapenos, on a slightly fried rice base, and softly brushed with a teriyaki and spicy aoli glaze.

The soy butter fried rice with the juicy waygu ground beef, and the broccoli tempura- dipped and caressed in a spicy tentsuyu sauce (chillies/soy/mirin/dashi broth). Both simple, comfort and complex in each bite.

Charlotte begged me and pleaded with me, this one time, not to destroy her perfect meal with my usual Diet Coke chaser. She suggested I try one of her favourite sake wines – a slim bottle of Kikusui Junmai Ginjo – a very polished brand. Sweet sweet Charlotte even promised to share a drink with me. A real first for me.

What man could resist such a once-in-a-lifetime offer. From such a charming and irresistible woman. Not this cowboy!

charlotteCharlotte's feast 1Charlotte's feast 2Charlotte's feast 3Charlotte's feast 4 ace