Archive for March 21st, 2011

March 21, 2011

One night at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto

[My review for the Toronto Star on March 17, 2011 of the $6,000-a-night Ritz-Carlton Suite at 181 Wellington Street West in Toronto. Thanks to all the folks at the Ritz for making this happen.]

Like a lot of people, I wondered who would rent it.

At $6,000 a night, the Ritz-Carlton Suite at the luxury brand’s new Wellington Street location sounds outrageous and out of step with these times, when wounds of the recession remain fresh. The suite is intended for political dignitaries as well as business executives and celebrities who want to show off. So, when I was offered the opportunity to be the first person to spend a night in the suite, I first pondered what I would do with it, and then I thought of “Risky Business” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” the film’s signature song whose first few chords evoke musings of mischief behind closed doors.

I concluded that I should test the 2,500-square-foot space by using it for a party — one without Hollywood-inspired shenanigans. The suite has a full kitchen, dining room for eight and living room with a 50-inch LG HDTV. A handful of guests from different walks of life joined me.

The Ritz is exquisite, of course. Chef Tom Brodi, whose restaurant Toca (the name stands for Toronto, Canada) is on the second floor of the hotel, and his team prepared canapes that included bite-size bison tartar topped with a sunnyside-up quail’s egg and tasty portobello carpaccio with pinenuts, argula and parmesan.

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March 21, 2011

Only 2 Canadians left in 2011 March Madness as Sweet Sixteen nears

Arizona’s stunning victory over Texas on Sunday eliminated two of the most talented college basketball players to come out of Canada. Brampton’s Tristan Thompson, a potential first-round NBA draft pick one day, and guard Cory Joseph of Pickering saw their freshman season with the No. 4 Longhorns end dramatically when Derrick Williams converted a three-point play that gave the fifth-seeded Wildcats a 70-69 win and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Only two Canadians remain in the tournament: Marquette sophomore guard Junior Cadougan, a Toronto native who played his high school basketball in Georgia and Texas and was one of the top 75 recruits among the 2009-10 freshman class; and  Richmond small forward Francis-Cedric Martel, a 6-6 junior from Montreal who averages 4.7 points coming off the bench.

If either Cadougan or Martel becomes the first Canadian since Denham Brown (2003-04 UConn) to be part of a national championship team, then this tournament will go down as the most shocking in history. The Golden Eagles are an 11 seed who will face No. 2 North Carolina in the East Region while the 12th-seeded Spiders take on No. 1 Kansas in the Southwest. No double-digit seed has ever won the tournament.

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