canada rocks

Target loves Canada, but does Canada love Target?

Canada loves Target?

Ever since Target announced they were going to enter the Canadian marketplace, Canadians have been worried that it would be a different, diluted experience. We’ve come to expect this when our favourite stores come here from the United States. The product mix is different, the prices are higher and overall most brands just aren’t as good. Continue reading

Bannock: What Le Cellier at Disney could be

Yesterday, my friend Steph took me out to lunch at a brilliant gem in the heart of downtown Toronto called Bannock. Right on the corner of Queen St. and Bay St., it’s in a former corner of the Bay store. The first thing I mentioned when I saw the menu was that this is what Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavilion at EPCOT should be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Le Cellier. It’s just that now the whole “Disney Parks” thing has taken over, it’s lost much of the authenticity it once had due to corporate homogenization. Bannock on the other hand is pure authentic Canadian food & drink. We’re talking Chinook Salmon, PEI Mussels, Alberta Beef, Butter Tarts & Canadian Wines. I mean they garnish their Caesar with maple glazed bacon! You don’t get more Canadian than that.

Bannock Menu

Described as “part grab-and-go café, part coffee shop, and part dine-in restaurant. The architecture reflects the menu – eclectic and approachably Canadian – featuring antique pine and hemlock reclaimed from one of the Queen’s wharfs that sat under the waters of Lake Ontario at York Street for over a hundred years. Bannock’s honest approach to food is rooted in familiar, wholesome ingredients that are reflective of Canada’s rich regional and cultural diversity, delivered in an innovative and playful way. Everyday classics are revitalized as the Chefs pay homage to traditional Canadian comfort foods, putting our cultural favourites front and centre. Bannock breads are integrated throughout the entire menu including sweet breakfast bannocks, artisan sandwiches and pizzas. Bannock garnishes are also added to soups, salads and main courses.”

Bannock Bread Basket
Bannock Caesar

We started with the Bannock bread basket, which has a garlic-goat cheese spread at the bottom to dip the artisan breads into. Very tasty and not too overwhelming in size. I had the Bannock Caesar made with vodka, sherry, clamato, salsa and a candied bacon garnish. Steph had the HBC, which was a concoction named after the Hudson’s Bay Company made with vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, peach puree and fresh lime. For her main, she had the Mac & Cheese, which she said was fantastic and much too big to finish. I had the Free Run Turkey Burger with heirloom tomatoes. It was garnished with a dill mayo, onion ring and avacodo spread. While a bit too salty at times, overall delicious.We also shared sweet potato fries with dill mayo. Also delicious.

Mac & Cheese
Turkey Burger

While the decor may be a bit too city-chic for the Disney crowd, the food on the menu would definitely please. This menu was inspired by Canada in every aspect. Maybe Le Cellier can learn a thing or two about how to showcase authentic Canadian food in a fine-dining setting. Overall a fantastic experience that I will be sure to visit again. What do you think of Le Cellier compared to real Canadian cuisine? Leave a comment and let me know! Also, check out Yelp for reviews on the rest of the menu.

Wine List



Skating like a Pro

Worst quality photo ever, thanks Blackberry!

When I was a kid, I skated a lot, but lost interest around age 13 or 14. Fast forward to 2005, I was in Chicago and they had an outdoor rink and free skate rentals. Hockey skates that is. I was a little apprehensive, never having even tried on a pair of hockey skates (that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say I have a photo of myself as the Pumpkin from Cinderella somewhere that has never seen the light of day!) Getting on the ice was a bit rough. This was the only time I had skated in over 13 years. Being out of practise for such a long time was a little scary, but I knew that I must still have some skill. I spend a lot of time rollerblading in the warmer months, so I knew I could at least keep my balance. I got to the arena, laced up my skates and hit the ice. It was a little scary, seeing that the 5-year-olds zipping around the ice looked like seasoned pros. I was a little intimidated, mainly because I assumed I would fall flat on my ass the second I hit the ice. I’m glad to say I was wrong. Once I hit the ice, I also looked like a seasoned pro as I whipped around that arena. The lesson: Quiet your inner critic. If you think you can’t do it, your setting yourself up for failure. Give  yourself the benefit of the doubt that you can do the things you set your mind to. Also, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve done something, you can always jump back in if you have the right attitude. Thanks to taking this small chance, I may actually enjoy winter a little bit more this year!  Have you ever tried a hobby or sport again after many years of not being involved? What was the outcome?

2010 Opening Ceremonies

Last night I had the pleasure to watch the last half of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies with some great friends here in Orlando. It gave me some time to reflect on how lucky we are to live in such an amazing country. It sucks that I couldn’t be at home, but being here at Disney is the place I would prefer to be if any other than home during this time. As Canadians working in another country, it gives us a chance to be proud and show off our pride. At home we don’t wave our flags and wear Canadian flag gear or chant out anthem (other than Canada Day). But living in the U.S. gives us a chance to band together to show how proud we are to live in the greatest country in the world. Singing “O Canada” at every chance we get (and twice a day if you dine at Le Cellier) and sharing our culture with people visiting around the world. Last night gave me a feeling inside that you can’t bottle. One that makes me tingle with exhilaration about being Canadian. My favourite part was the word slam posted below. If you missed it, read it and watch it on YouTube. It will make you even more proud to be Canadian. No longer will a ten-year-old beer commercial help us define our country!

When defining Canada

you might list some statistics

you might mention our tallest building

or biggest lake

you might shake a tree in the fall

and call a red leaf Canada

you might rattle off some celebrities

might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie

might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few

Barenaked Ladies

or that we made these crazy things

like zippers

electric cars

and washing machines

when defining Canada

it seems the world’s anthem has been

” been there done that”

and maybe that’s where we used to be at

it’s true

we’ve done and we’ve been

we’ve seen

all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine

and turned into theme parks

but when defining Canada

don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories

about the one that got away

we do more than sit around and say “eh?”

and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One

who inspired little number nines

and little number ninety-nines

but we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines

off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes

and some say what defines us

is something as simple as please and thank you

and as for you’re welcome

well we say that too

but we are more

than genteel or civilized

we are an idea in the process

of being realized

we are young

we are cultures strung together

then woven into a tapestry

and the design

is what makes us more

than the sum total of our history

we are an experiment going right for a change

with influences that range from a to zed

and yes we say zed instead of zee

we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy

we dream so big that there are those

who would call our ambition an industry

because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow

we do more than grow wheat and brew beer

we are vineyards of good year after good year

we reforest what we clear

because we believe in generations beyond our own

knowing now that so many of us

have grown past what used to be

we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have

when they say things like “someday”

someday we’ll be great

someday we’ll be this

or that

someday we’ll be at a point

when someday was yesterday

and all of our aspirations will pay the way

for those who on that day

look towards tomorrow

and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set

and we will get interest on our inspiration

because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks

more than backpacks and hiking trails

we are hammers and nails building bridges

towards those who are willing to walk across

we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss

we are not the see-through gloss or glamour

of those who clamour for the failings of others

we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers

uncles and nephews aunts and nieces

we are cousins

we are found missing puzzle pieces

we are families with room at the table for newcomers

we are more than summers and winters

more than on and off seasons

we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay

because we are more than what we say or do

we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are

we are students

students who study the studiousness of studying

so we know what as well as why

we don’t have all the answers

but we try

and the effort is what makes us more

we don’t all know what it is in life we’re looking for

so keep exploring

go far and wide

or go inside but go deep

go deep

as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss

and suddenly there was this location scout

trying to figure some way out

to get inside you

because you’ve been through hell and high water

and you went deep

keep exploring

because we are more

than a laundry list of things to do and places to see

we are more than hills to ski

or countryside ponds to skate

we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait

we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes

a country that is all the ways you choose to live

a land that can give you variety

because we are choices

we are millions upon millions of voices shouting

” keep exploring… we are more”

we are the surprise the world has in store for you

it’s true

Canada is the “what” in “what’s new?”

so don’t say “been there done that”

unless you’ve sat on the sidewalk

while chalk artists draw still lifes

on the concrete of a kid in the street

beatboxing to Neil Young for fun

don’t say you’ve been there done that

unless you’ve been here doing it

let this country be your first-aid kit

for all the times you get sick of the same old same old

let us be the story told to your friends

and when that story ends

leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back

next time pack for all the things

you didn’t pack for the first time

but don’t let your luggage define your travels

each life unravels differently

and experiences are what make up

the colours of our tapestry

we are the true north

strong and free

and what’s more

is that we didn’t just say it