Archive for June, 2011

June 17, 2011

One man’s crusade to heal Canada’s health-care woes

When the NDP made getting more foreign-trained doctors practicing in Canada a part of their election platform, Jerry Green felt a sense of victory. Green has been advocating for federal and provincial governments to correct what he believes are injustices in the form of the onerous impediments foreign-trained doctors contend with in order to practice in Canada and the continued lack of accessible health care for many Canadians.

Green, a Torontonian who is a Canadian-trained doctor, has been fighting to get back his full medical licence for nearly 25 years. He says he lost the licence in 1987 “for prescribing vitamins instead of drugs” and years later, after many requests and battles, received an educational licence from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

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June 17, 2011

Toronto company thinks home-stay vacations are the future of travel

Edinburgh apartment

This Edinburgh apartment near the Royal Mile is listed for $123 per night on

Who says real estate is dead?

The home-stay phenomenon that started gaining traction a few years ago has exploded into an $85-billion industry. One of the players to watch in this space is Toronto-based, co-founded by Chairman Mark Skapinker and CEO Anthony Lipschitz.

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June 11, 2011

Cool Hand Luc makes ice cream a hot item on King West

Luc Essiambre of Cool Hand Luc in Toronto

Luc Essiambre brings great ice cream to King West with Cool Hand Luc, which opened on June 3.

Luc Essiambre is the latest entrepreneur to give King Street West a little scoop of happiness. Last week, he started serving up ice cream at Cool Hand Luc, a lower-level shop a block and a half east of Bathurst that adds some wholesomeness to this clubby neighbourhood.

He said he doesn’t drink alcohol, which meant that “at night the only people walking the streets were me and the homeless.” He opened Cool Hand Luc in the same building where he lives at 545 King West to give the area something different as well as a place everyone can enjoy.

And who doesn’t enjoy ice cream?

The grand opening on June 3 featured free tastings from his selection of premium ice cream, frozen yogourt and sorbet. Luc gets his ice cream from Bobcaygeon-based Kawartha Dairy, working with the distributor to deliver the flavours he wants. The ice creams are all-natural, gluten-free and come from fair trade ingredients, he said. The vegan-friendly sorbets come from a distributor in Montreal.

“I worked in the ice cream business for six years, so I know what flavours sell,” he said after handing over a cone topped with a scoop of Wolf Paws (vanilla ice cream with chocolate butter fudge and brownie pieces … yeah, it was yum — and it’ll sell).

Luc said he eventually will transition to making his own ice cream, but for now wanted to make sure he could get the best ice cream he could, which is why he went with Kawartha Dairy, a family-owned company that’s been around for 74 years.

At Cool Hand Luc, a single scoop with a cone is $3.50, a double scoop $6.14 and a triple scoop $7.44. A kiddie scoop comes in at about $2.50. The store’s open daily from 11 a.m. til late, which is probably around 9 p.m. or so. In winter, Luc will offer soups, as well as keep some bins of ice cream around.

These are just some of the roughly two-dozen choices at Cool Hand Luc (as listed by Kawartha Dairy on its website):

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June 10, 2011

WVRST is best on King Street

Aldo Lanzillotta at WVRST

Cheerful Aldo Lanzillotta has given Toronto a reason to smile with WVRST. (Julia Pelish photo)

You’re going to love this place.

On May 26, Aldo Lanzillotta opened the doors on WVRST, serving Toronto something new and refreshingly unpretentious. It’s about sausages and beer, and is done in the sort of inclusive atmosphere that defines the best of our city.

Long communal tables that encourage touching fill the 4,000-square-foot space at 609 King Street West, just east of Bathurst. A striking bright red wall is adorned with the restaurant’s name on one side of the room and on the other is a sleek bar that pours out 16 draft beers (Weihenstephan hefeweizen and Urthel IPA among them) and 15 bottles that include Dieu du Ciel’s Corne du Diable ($7) and Derniere Volonte ($7). Strings of tiny light bulbs hang from black wires overhead, a DJ spins a mix of funky tunes, and Aldo and his cheerful staff walk around making sure empties are cleared and the tables remain uncluttered. On the far end of the room is the starring attraction: Trays of plump sausages behind a case, presented the way you might expect to see them at a butcher’s shop.

These aren’t anything like you’d find at Loblaws, Whole Foods or even the St. Lawrence Market, though. Lanzillotta has created a line of wildly interesting and delicious combinations. The Duck sausage includes foie gras and maple flavours, the Bison has blueberry and maple, the Wild Boar features mushrooms and tea. There’s also Guinea Fowl, Pheasant, Rabbit, Venison and Kangaroo sausages. All of the game meats are $9. Vegetarian Bratwurst and Kielbasa are $7 each, and so are the three poultry choices (two types of Chicken and a superb Turkey/Chicken with chilies and cilantro). Six varieties of traditional sausages are just $6. (Check the menu for the full list.)

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June 8, 2011

5 reasons why the Bruins will beat the Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals

Stanley Cup 2011 finals After losing 8-1 in Game 3, the Canucks are in trouble in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Game 4 is going to be more physical and the pressure is building on Vancouver after another anemic performance. All of that means this series that seemed won on Saturday night could be lost. Here’s why.

1. The Legend of Tim Thomas. If Ben Affleck is going to make another movie about the tough Boston streets, he might want to cast the Bruins’ goalie in a lead role. Thomas is Southie wicked and lived up to his nickname, Tank, on Monday night when he bowled over Henrik Sedin about seven minutes into the third period. That hit got laughed away too quickly. What it does is reinforce the Canucks’ stereotype as a team with skilled players who can be pushed around while also elevating Thomas’s stature even more inside and out of the Bruins’ locker room.

Only once in the past 39 years has a team come back from 0-2 down in a Stanley Cup Finals series to win it all (Pittsburgh did it in 2009 vs. Detroit). Like Affleck’s “The Town,” the Bruins are poised to pull a heist and it’s thanks to the guy in the mask.

When he’s off, Thomas looks like a blind man trying to barbecue. When he’s on, he’s the most entertaining thing the NHL has going for it. In Game 3, he tracked the puck like a cat does prey and gobbled up all but one of Vancouver’s 41 shots in the stunning 8-1 win that turned this series around.

After Aaron Rome’s illegal hit sent the Bruins’ Nathan Horton to the hospital, Boston failed on a five-minute power play and the Canucks had the chance to seize the momentum — and the title. Instead, Thomas stonewalled them and the Bruins’ bevy of goals in the second and third periods had to have shaken more than Roberto Luongo’s respect for his coach and teammates.

The Canucks have turtled before — losing 7-2 and 5-0 to the Blackhawks in the first round of this year’s playoffs after taking a 3-0 series lead — and are dealing with the adversity off this latest shellacking. Expect Vancouver to come out with cross-ice passes to get Thomas moving from side to side and for Alexandre Burrows to cause havoc in front of the net. The Canucks aren’t likely to get Thomas off his game, though. As with any hot goalie, they have to hope he gets out of the zone he’s in.

2. Alexander Edler Exposed. You find a weak spot and you hammer at it. The Bruins found that in the sloppy, jittery play of Edler, who was minus-4 on the night in Game 3. Worse for the Canucks, with Aaron Rome suspended and the injured Dan Hamhuis probably out for Game 4 and possibly longer, Edler is going to have to play more minutes. You can be sure the Bruins will forecheck him hard, hoping to cause turnovers, and to be ready to pounce when he pinches again.

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June 7, 2011

The Story of ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt

Detail of Klimt The Kiss at the Belvedere Palace Museum in Vienna

Detail of "The Kiss" at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. (Julia Pelish photo)

[A trip to Vienna was delightful for a lot of reasons, not least of which was the surprise opportunity to speak with the curator of the museum that houses one of the world’s great works of art, “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. Here’s a story on that experience, as published by the Toronto Star on June 6, 2011.]

VIENNA — Unlike the Mona Lisa, which disappoints when you confront it and the crowds gathered around the salle in the Louvre that holds it, “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt surpasses expectations. For one thing, it’s not nearly as celebrated a painting, so public fascination isn’t high to begin with. More importantly, though, it does what a great piece of art is supposed to do: Hold your gaze, make you admire its aesthetic qualities while trying to discern what’s beyond its superficial aspects.

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June 6, 2011

What a great day in Toronto!

Woodbine Beach Park volleyball

Keep your eye on the ball.

It may have been the easiest round of applause Johnny Rawls has ever earned. The long-time Mississippi bluesman threw his hands in the air halfway through his set at the Waterfront Blues Festival and asked the crowd to give it up for Sunday.

It was hands down the finest morning, afternoon and night of weather Toronto has seen all year and we were all delighted to respond to Rawls’ plea. He got palms clapping and voices cheering and feet hopping when he shouted, “Let’s hear it for today! What a great, great day!”

Rawls grooved through a terrific set beneath the bandshell while a few hundred of us blues fans gathered at Woodbine Park to take in the third and final day of free concerts in this year’s festival. Fun-loving and cheerful, Rawls and his songs — which included several tunes from his acclaimed “Red Cadillac” CD — were perfect for the sunshine. He turned the stage over to the explosive Teeny Turner, who closed out the festivities to more cheers.

The crowds were even larger down at Woodbine Beach Park, where a volleyball tournament drew loads of teams and the 27 Celsius temps (no wind, no rain, no joke) got plenty of others out onto the sand.

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June 5, 2011

Sam Roberts collides with success at Massey Hall

At one moment Saturday night, Sam Roberts paused to tell his audience he wasn’t quite sure how he ended up headlining at Massey Hall. For those who’ve followed his career, the answer’s easy. Oftentimes, hard work is what separates musicians who make it to prominence and those who miss out. Roberts earned his milestone two-show stint with lots of effort along the way and hard work is going to get him more big nights ahead.

To see how far the rocker from Montreal has come since the independently released “The Inhuman Condition” in 2001, you just have to attend one of his concerts. From “Brother Down” to “Them Kids,” Roberts in the past decade has churned out memorable song after memorable song, and the casual fan may not quite realize how prodigious he’s been until he pulls out his hits one by one, enough to fill a setlist (or playlist at 102.7 FM).

His delivery is likewise relentless. Roberts rarely took a breather on stage and looked fresh enough at the end of the show to go another hour or two. While his voice may sound a bit like Tom Cochrane and he and his band have a touch of The Police and The Kinks in them, Roberts is clearly cut from the Bruce Springsteen school of workyourbuttofftilyoudrop.

Highlights included “Brother Down,” of course, and a slow, bluesy version of “Hard Road.” Best of all for Roberts is how seamlessly the songs from the newly released “Collider” fit in with the rest of set. Opener “Streets Of Heaven (Promises, Promises),” the danceable “Graveyard Shift” and the first single “I Feel You” all pleased the fans, many of whom were shaking and singing from start to finish.

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