Cool Ads: Brave Transit Wrap

It’s very rare that an advertising campaign grabs my attention, but I had to stop to take a picture of this. It’s a promotional transit wrap for the upcoming Disney-Pixar movie Brave. It’s not surprising, Disney is one of the  most creative companies on the planet. This transit wrap is a fun and well executed way to promote the movie while people are waiting for the TTC or walking down the street. It’s very detailed and stands out in a cluttered media environment. Great job Disney!

Adventures in Toronto- One of a Kind Show

Yesterday I ventured into Toronto to visit my family for our annual Christmas get together. Afterwords, I hit up the One of A Kind show with my friend Steph. It’s the first time I have ever gone, and it was a great event. It’s held each year at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. It’ a massive show with hundreds of vendors to purchase and sample from. While there were lots of cool products to buy, the food was my favourite part. The sampling being worth the $14 admission price alone. We tried fruitcake, sauces, dips, different flavoured vinegar, chocolate, lobster paste and many other delectable creations. While it was enough to keep us going for the afternoon, we were ready for dinner after a few hours.

Pickled Fiddleheads
Really cool rock lamp

My friend Steph recommended we head to this place on Queen West called Parts & Labour. The main dining area has 8 long tables where  you can sit with strangers and enjoy your dinner. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that, and was pretty cool. As long as you don’t mind strangers staring at your food while you eat. I ordered a Maudite, one of the many varieties of Unibroue that I happen to love from my time working at Le Cellier in EPCOT. The brand was one of the featured Canadian beers we had. I’ve never seen them on tap, so this was a nice surprise. This beer has a great legend, as do all of their varieties.

“Maudite (damned) was the first strong beer to be retailed in Quebec. The word “Maudite” refers here to the Legend of “Chasse-Galerie” a tribute to the early lumberjacks of Nouvelle-France. The legend tells of eight daring woodsmen who, during winter, yearned to be home for the Holidays. They conjured up the Devil and all of them pledged their soul in return for flying them in their canoe to their village. As they sailed across the moonlit sky, one of them managed to free himself from the pledge by invoking the name of God, which caused the flying canoe to come crashing down to earth.”

I chose the 10 oz. strip loin for dinner, accompanied by bone marrow butter, roasted cremini mushrooms, hand cut fries, demi glace. It was the most tender and delicious steak I’ve had in a long time! Perfectly salted, with the delicious demi glace that I am in love with. The atmosphere was really cool at this place, you can even sit at a table in the kitchen if you make a reservation. That way you can see all the action going on. While tempting, I’ve spent enough time in kitchens for this option to be very unappealing. It’s just not magical to sit in the  kitchen when you’ve been a server.

The most epic steak I've ever tasted!
Steph at Parts & Labour

Lastly we headed to the Gladstone Hotel, a place that’s so hip they don’t say it’s hip anymore. The place was packed with the usual mix of Toronto urbanites, plus a group of about 30 people dressed as Santa. I’m assuming a Christmas Party? Getting drinks took a while, no big deal as it was Saturday night. What can one expect? My issue was the attitude the bartender gave me as I handed my VISA over to her to pay. She asked if I wanted to start a tab, and I said no. Thinking that after waiting 20 minutes to get a drink, I didn’t want to stand around until Sunday afternoon to get my card back. She got all huffy and as she passed me the terminal, informed me that there’s a $50 minimum, and that this time she’d do it as a favour. Next time, don’t do me any favours. Lose the attitude and maybe put up a sign so I don’t break any unwritten payment rules. This situation just reaffirmed why I don’t like Toronto, but whatever. No one died right! As it was karaoke night, we were right in the middle of a train wreck of entertainment. As expected, the budding superstars were terrible and that’s okay. I’m not a fan of seeing people who can actually sing do karaoke. The highlight of the night was a tone-deaf woman who sang “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. It was terrible, embarrassing and watching her made me cringe. Now that’s a good karaoke singer!

Steph & Brad at The Gladstone

Niagara Falls Adventures

Over the weekend I got to take a quick trip to Niagara Falls with my friend Steph. She works for ISX, which is an educational tour company that does trips to French Canada, Chicago, New York City and other fun places. I was invited along as a complimentary buddy, and had a blast. Not only did I get to see Steph’s tour guide persona, I checked off a few things from my list of to-do’s in the Niagara Falls area. Our first stop was Konzelmann Estate Winery for a tour and tasting. I’ve never been there, and love wine so it was exciting to try a different place. The highlight was a peach wine they had, very fruit forward and tasty. Also had a 13.5% alcohol volume, tasty!

Next up we went to Niagara on the Lake for lunch then headed to The Falls. I was lucky enough to get a complimentary ticket for Maid of the Mist, something I have never experienced in all my trips to The Falls. Needless to say I got wet, but not nearly as much as I expected. I must mention this attraction is run like a well oiled machine. They have it set up so they can move large groups of people in and out quickly, thereby minimising wait times and maximizing profits. I also made friends as I usually do in random places. A nice couple that go to U of T for their medical degrees. I’m normally fine with doing things alone, but its nice to have people to talk to when your out doing things by yourself. They also had the usual assortment of tacky souvenirs at the end as they usher you through the giftshop. Just like Disney. I love it!

Lastly I had some free time so headed around the tackiness of Clifton Hill and people watched while the rain poured down. I checked out the Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, which was a hugh disappointment. Refer to the blog below for details.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London

File this under the best news I’ve heard all day. In Spring 2012, Warner Brothers is opening a tour of the actual movie sets from the making of the 8 Harry Potter films. While this tour is on the Warner Brothers lot in London, they have built two sound stages to house the sets from the film to allow visitors to get the complete experience without tying up the rest of the working studio. Can’t wait to hear more details about this. In the meantime, take a look at the teaser video below and a screenshot of the main site.