Caplansky’s Deli Invades Yorkville

Oy Vey Zmir! You should have seen the blonde(ish), botoxed beauties in five-inch Jimmy Choo’s doing a double take as they wiggled their way the to the chichi second floor patio of Kasa Moto.

Zane Caplansky, Toronto’s King of Smoked Meat, has made the move from the mean streets of College Street to the rarefied environs of Yorkville. He is literally muscling into territory currently owned by such upscale eateries as Café Boulud, Buca, and McEwan’s Hazelton One. It is a real gutsy, chutzpah move, and I hope he is a big success. Caplansky’s will certainly add some sizzle, hustle, and schmaltz to Cumberland, whose restaurants have become somewhat tired and dated.

I, for one, am with the Zane Man. Note the new entrance to Caplansky’s Deli: it looks like a chic murder scene with the yellow construction taping in front. I betting Zane will kill at this location.

I am normally a Greek yogurt, blueberries for breakfast, and a light kale salad for lunch kind of guy. But for Caplansky’s? I will happily fall off the vegan lite wagon and go back to my Montreal-based Snowdon Deli roots.

I highly recommend Caplansky’s classic Chicken-Matzo Ball soup and Cabbage Borscht. (See photos, below.) The Matzo ball, swimming confidently in a flavourful chicken broth, is surprisingly light. The Cabbage Borscht recalls that made by my Toronto grandmother from a recipe from the old country (Russian/Lithuanian). There is real love cooked into that Cabbage Borscht, a great comfort food in both cold and hot weather.

The smoked meat sandwich is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest in Toronto: meaty, fatty, a bit spicy, and moist. I could inhale these suckers for hours. (Of course, this would quite literally be my Last Supper.) Note Caplansky’s also has a terrific pickle and mustard bar, from which you can choose a variety of sweet and sour pickles and both hot and regular mustards. I also recommend their Meat Knish, which is a very light, delicious, and meat-filled thin pastry. And the meat gravy? Yummy.

The classic Breast of Turkey sandwich, complete with crisp greens, is also an appetizing and healthy alternative—definitely worth a shot. Follow that with a heaping basket of addictive, thinly cut fries. By this time, I am afraid that I had completely gone off the reservation. But it was all worth it at Caplansky’s.

The Silver Fox (aka “The Lady in Red”) Rocks Sinai Health Foundation Gala

Recently, I attended with the Silver Fox (resplendent once again in her off-the-shoulder, long red number) a wonderful evening in support of brain health and rehabilitation at the Toronto Sinai Health system.

The location: the new Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in the Toronto Eaton Centre on Queen Street. Note the “Lady in Red” seemed to warm up to one of the Saks’ models in particular. She confessed to me that she preferred the strong, silent, discreet, and very buff type.

Duly noted.


Why Twice-Divorced New Yorker Trump Beat Cruz in the Conservative Evangelical State of Indiana

Indiana was supposed to be Ted Cruz’s fire wall. This was the state that was going to stop the Trump train in its tracks, well short of Trump securing a majority of the GOP delegates prior to the convention. A resounding victory in Indiana would have provided Cruz with the opportunity to beat Donald Trump in a contested GOP convention on the second or third ballot.

However, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of likely GOP voters in Indiana has Trump beating Cruz handily by 15 points — 49% to 34% — with Kasich coming in third with 13%. (As last night’s actual results in Indiana indicate, the polls were dead on. Trump won with 53% of the vote to Cruz’s 36% and Kasich at a mere 7%. So much for the Cruz/Kasich coalition, and Cruz’s “Hail Mary Pass” of selecting Carly Fiorina as his Vice Presidential running mate.)

But over 50% of the GOP electorate in Indiana are white evangelicals. These are Cruz’s peeps! And Cruz secured the endorsement of conservative GOP governor, Mike Pence, reputedly a hero of the religious right.

Where did Cruz go wrong?

Firstly, Cruz fatally misread the Indiana electorate. In the last few weeks Cruz has been hammering Trump on the basis that Trump is soft on the religious liberty of the Christian right.  In other words, Trump is pro-gay, pro-same sex marriage, and pro-LGBTQ rights (especially the right of transgender people to use the washroom of their choice).

According to Cruz, all these above activities and practices are contrary to the strict Christian right religious principles. And further according to Cruz, Christian-oriented business owners should be not forced to serve gay people, same-sex couples, or those who identify as transgender.

Cruz failed to realize that although Indiana is a conservative state, neither the evangelicals nor the Tea Party types have significant influence over Indiana politics. The ideology of Indiana Republicans is more Main Street values, small business, and small conservative government, without the emphasis on social conservative values.

Secondly, the evangelical voters in Indiana appear to be choosing Trump over Cruz or Kasich on economic and national security issues, as the GOP evangelicals did in Mississippi where 84% of the GOP voters self-identified as evangelicals. In that primary, Trump won 48% to 39% of the evangelicals. (Trump also beat Cruz among evangelicals in South Carolina, by 33% to 27%)

Note even Indiana Governor Pence’s endorsement of Cruz appears lukewarm. In the same public announcement, Pence praised Trump. He stated, “I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C. And I’m also particularly grateful that Donald Trump has taken a strong stand for Hoosier jobs when we saw jobs in the Carrier company abruptly announce leaving Indiana not for another state but for Mexico.” He continued, “I’m grateful for his voice in the national debate.”

Frankly, that was one of the strongest, most thoughtful, and most genuine comments in favour of Trump by any government official during these primaries.

Thirdly, Cruz’s coalition gambit with Kasich, I believe, has also hurt the Cruz campaign in Indiana.

A recent poll concludes about 60% of the Indiana voters were opposed to the Cruz/Kasich coalition, in which Kasich was not to vigorously campaign in Indiana thus encouraging Kasich supporters to back Cruz. Except Kasich supporters are sticking with Kasich (note his 13% support in the WSJ/NBC poll).

I believe that Indiana voters are rejecting Cruz in part because this ridiculous failed coalition reeks of sleazy backroom politics, lacking in principles and integrity with the sole goal of stopping Trump and not advancing any policies of interest to Indiana voters.

Lastly, for those Trump critics who are still deluded into thinking that Trump is a buffoon and a joke, he is on the brink of pulling off an incredible political upset. He beat Cruz in the heart of socially conservative, evangelical Indiana by being his own guy and sticking to his very strong economic message in favour of hard-working and middle-income groups, while still supporting gender and sexual equality. Note Trump has specifically not pandered to the extreme right-wing social conservatives of the GOP.

Accordingly, unlike Romney before him, Trump will be able to pivot to the centre, without social conservative baggage and take on Hillary where she is weakest: on improving the economy for the working-class and middle-income groups.

Hillary, you should be scared. Be very scared of The Donald.

Friends of We Care Gala

Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to the annual Friends of We Care gala.

The event, held in the International Convention Centre near Pearson Airport, was co-hosted by Kevin Frankish of Breakfast TV fame and Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Toronto’s most famous Argonauts player and two-time coach. Over 900 Friends of We Care supporters attended this lavish and wild event. The theme was the Kentucky Derby, aka CAREtucky Derby.

Friends of We Care is a vast network of supporters, drawn from all facets of the foodservices industry: from suppliers and manufacturers to wholesalers, distributors, franchise owners, commercial service providers, and everyone in between. Friends of We Care is a wonderful charitable organization that raises funds for children who are physically and mentally challenged. Their goal is to send these children to Easter Seals summer camps across Canada, specifically designed to provide them with a very happy, rewarding, and transformational experience.

Many of the gala’s female participants were dressed in brightly coloured gowns and dresses, and were sporting wild and outlandish hats consistent with the horse-racing theme.

I humbly escorted the Silver Fox, pictured below, who wore a stunning, off-the-shoulder red dress, with a revealing split up one leg. (The girl’s got great gams.)

Note the Silver Fox tripping the light fantastic with Pinball.

It was a fabulous night for a terrific cause.

Trump crushes crazy Kasich-Cruz coalition

Donald Trump has just experienced his most super of Super Tuesdays. On Tuesday night, he crushed his opponents — the smarmy Cruz and the inept Kasich — by overwhelming margins in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

To date Trump has secured 988 pledged delegates. His magic number now is 249. (He needs 1237 delegates to win the Republican nomination).

Trump is expected to win handily in such upcoming states as New Jersey, West Virginia and California.

The very liberal CNN, clearly no supporter of Trump, believes he will lock up the nomination in California, well before the GOP convention.

In other words, there will be no contested GOP convention, where the establishment Republican forces, in cahoots with the once reviled Cruz, would have used sleazy back room tricks to frustrate the democratic wishes of millions of primary voters.

Most establishment political pundits at the Washington Post, New York Times, the Weekly Standard, CNN and Fox News have been saying ad nauseam that Trump will lose out to Cruz or some other establishment figure in a contested convention.

So what has changed in the last two weeks?

Well, Trump got his mojo back. He killed his opponents last Tuesday in his home state of New York, winning by healthy majorities throughout the state.

Then Trump took on the ridiculous attempt by Cruz and Kasich to gang up against him. Trump publicly lambasted his opponents for “colluding” together, a word that implies illegality. This was a typically over the top Trumpian attack, but effective nonetheless.

Trump also pointed out that such coalitions are terrible ideas both politically and optically. For liberal-oriented Kasich to jump in bed with extremely right wing Cruz, Trump insisted, demonstrates that neither man has any principles.

When reporters questioned Kasich about the coalition, Kasich tried lamely to pass off this major political development as “no big deal,” and just a way to conserve his resources.

Say what? By telling his liberal supporters in Indiana and in Los Angeles to support the viciously right wing Cruz? Has Kasich gone completely nuts?

Then Kasich backtracked and encouraged his supporters to vote for him in Indiana after all. That will split the anti-Trump vote and definitely ensure a Trump victory in the Hoosier state.

Months ago, my political instincts suggested Trump would take the GOP primaries. Now the hard and cold numbers  support this view.

Toronto’s Multi-Talented Jackie English- Goes Nearly Full Brazilian

Jackie English is one of Canada’s rare quadruple threats in the entertainment world. She is a brilliant actress, dancer, director (film, theatrical, tv, online) and writer. Jackie’s the one with the glasses..

But don’t let those correct teacher-like glasses fool you. With Jackie, there is definitely more than meets the eye.

I first caught her act as part of the ensemble of Playboy Bunnies, in the very entertaining 2014 Fringe musical, “Hugh and I”, a bio play about the iconic Hugh Hefner, starring Daniel Abrahamson, as seen through the eyes of these women.

In 2015, Jackie was the writer, director and star of another successful Toronto Fringe musical, “Becoming Burlesque”, where Jackie transformed herself from mousy backstage assistant, to a gorgeous and erotic Burlesque diva. See photo on right.

Among her many other accomplishments, Jackie was production manager of a recently filmed full length indie theatrical film. She has written and directed numerous short films. Her most recent film directing gig, was helming

and producing the popular short film, “Duty Calls”, starring the real life husband/ wife team of Sean Cullen and Deb McGrath.

Jackie has also penned a thoroughly engrossing full length screenplay that is beautifully written. Very timely and provocative. I am confident it will be produced, very successful- and Hollywood will definitely be calling to lure Jackie away to the west coast.

Until then, you could catch her act and her fine-feathered Brazilian dance friends, most Saturday nights in the Greater Toronto Area.    On that note, check out Barry Manilow’s “At The Copa” musical video.

jackie and mitchjackie english becoming burlesque

The Good, The Better and the Ugly of Prince’s Film, “Purple Rain”

On Saturday night, I was flying solo. I was about to head to the Four Seasons d/bar when

I noted on Bloor Street, that the local Bloor Street Hot Docs theatre was planning on showing Prince’s iconic

film. The 10pm show was fully sold out, but I had a shot at the later 12:45 am show. So I took it.

Like most Prince fans, I was caught up with the sadness and tragedy of his sudden death and I wanted to share the experience of watching Prince, at his peak, at his most Purpleness, in his well-known film, “Purple Rain”.

With fellow true believers.

You had to be a really hard-core Prince fan to wait in the friggin cold outside the Bloor Street theatre for about one hour to cop one of the 700 seats in that old theatre. I am such a crazy, irrational fan.

So here is my take on the film and the whole scene. Experienced through a purple haze of nostalgia, sadness, and heavy weed, man, that the majority of the fans were smoking and had been smoking prior to the show. One theatregoer, in line, shared with me, “It looks like this whole place is full of people, young and old, “fully ripped”. She then offered me “one toke over the line”. Purely medicinal, I was assured. I declined, but appreciated the offer.

I suddenly realized I was in Justin Trudeau territory. Oy Vay!

The Good: the extreme, unshakeable loyalty to Prince, and love of Prince, the artist, the man and above all, his music- by his fans. I was standing in line for an hour talking to all sorts of Prince fans- aging 60ish rockers, 50ish Italian suburban types having made the long trek down from Woodbridge, hipster college dudes in hoodie, baseball caps and requisite beard, hot yuppie Annex couple, a whipsmart 40 something black woman, Lina and her multi-ethnic friend, Riva.

Lina has been following Prince for years. She had been to multiple concerts. Had most of his records and CDs. She could sing out all his top hits. She said that Prince’s lyrics and music got her through some tough times in high school, in college and in life. Most of my fellow Prince lovers shared those same heartfelt sentiments. She was a true believer as were most fans in the cold that night.

The Better: The penultimate moment of “Purple Rain”, loosely based on Prince’s life, is of course at the end of the film. Prince has gone through all kinds of shite with his family. His father, in the film, a songwriter and pianist, frustrated by his life and his failed dreams, was physically abusive to Prince’s mom and to Prince himself. (In real life Prince’s father, a songwriter and pianist had separated from his own mother at an early age and Prince was shuttled between two homes for years)

Prince, in turn upset by his girlfriend, Apollonia, joining a rival girl group, hits her ( shades of his abusive father) and thoroughly alienates her. Prince also alienates his own band and refuses to consider their own material for the band.

After his father’s attempted suicide, Prince seeks redemption, he adapts his band members’ work. Hence the song Purple Rain, whose lyrics deal astutely and sensitively with his father, Apollonia and his band mates.

See the full lyrics below.

This song and the whole score won the Academy Award for best original score, that year. And rightfully so.

It is powerful. It is moving. It is timeless. And its lyrics resonate. This song became Prince’s signature song in most of his future concerts.

The Ugly: my major beef with the actual film is the writing is boring, predictable and derivative.

Prince was a brilliant composer, singer, musician, and performer, but his screen acting is mediocre and weak.

And Apollonia’s acting is worse. The love and sex scenes between these two are cringe worthy.

The chemistry between them is non-existent. Their love and lust- unbelievable.

Prince was a unique genre-bending and gender-bending phenomenon. More Michael Jackson, then Action Jackson.

His slight 5’2” frame did not lend itself to leading man/romantic/lover status. Perhaps that is just me.

Lina, a die-hard Prince fan, admitted much the same. The music was memorable in the film, “Purple Rain”, but the rest, including Prince’s acting, was lame. She astutely observed the film was produced to promote and support the music.

Bang on.

I don’t mean to purple rain on Prince’s eulogy parade. But Prince should be remembered for his great music and his amazing talent. His actual film career-not so much.

Purple Rain

(written and performed by Prince and his band, Revolution)

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Bathing in the purple rain

I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It’s such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you
Underneath the purple rain

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
If you know what I’m singing about up here
C’mon, raise your hand

Purple rain, purple rain

I only want to see you

In the purple rain.