Thoughts and Prayers

My beautiful city. Heartbroken. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of this terrible and violent act.

Bruce Christopher

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Oh bada boom, badda bing!

It feels like a lifetime ago when I rented a small white house just across the parking lot from the Oshawa Centre. I had gotten a job at East Side Mario’s as a server. I must have been in my early 20’s. I don’t think since that time have I ever gotten closer to people that I worked with. We were such a group and we were all coming of age. I decided to get out my video recorder and document our lives together. There was Jay (the groups designated cute guy. He reminded us of this lead singer from a popular band of the time), Paula (the crazy blonde because everyone needs a crazy blonde), Brenda (who didn’t actually work with us but was a friend of mine I brought into the circle as the perfect party companion), Aaron (the coolest and cutest fellow who had all the girl’s hearts a flutter, who also very sadly passed away recently), Grant who was the big boss with another intimidating dude name Sean, he was the owner. I did my best to make him laugh so he didn’t seem as scary.
It was the time of our lives, or at least it was for me. I never thought I’d get the job but my interview went off like a hitch! Grant, one of the managers I mentioned asked me what type of vegetable I’d like to be and I said a carrot. He asked me why and I calmly said it seems like a vegetable that could have a lot of fun. Well, I landed the job instantly and the next few years we worked and partied together it felt like every night. Enid, by the Barenaked Ladies was top of the charts along with The Tragically Hip and some early Sarah McLaughlin. The music just seemed so great back then.
All these people I mentioned and more came to mind today when I stopped into an East Side Mario’s near Eglinton and Victoria Park. The atmosphere and food has always been really great. I was craving that amazing house salad, the soup, and that warm garlic loaf. I sat in the booth and was transported back to a time in my life that was so expressive and awakening. Creating that documentary was one of the best times in my life. Believe it or not I still have it in my personal library. I pull it out once in a while and feast on the incredible memories. My server brought me back from my memories as he said hello and introduced himself. He was Connor. He was cute. I explained I just came in for the soup and salad combo and even though I had missed the serving time of that combo he smiled as if he knew I was reliving something that needed honouring and I was really happy he did. I watched everyone scooting around. I even heard one of their popular birthday songs I did so many nights on the clock! “It’s your birthday, where are you? We’re coming over to sing to you! East side Mario’s wishes you a happy day.” Etc., etc., etc. I can’t recall the rest but we all secretly hated doing it. Except for this guy named Darcy who always seemed game to lead the call for everyone. He was a funny guy. I think I annoyed the hell out of him if I remember correctly. Connor brought my soup, salad, and home loaf to me and again threw me another “I get it” smile. He may have been a bit clairvoyant. It was as great tasting as I remembered from years ago. The garlic loaf seemed smaller but that’s probably a good thing. I mean how many carbs does a mid-lifer need? Wow, did I just say that? It’s so true. I have to start embracing that fact if I want to avoid the pending mid life crisis which so far I think I’ve evaded. Connor was the best and really made my visit down memory lane worth every bite. I’ll be back. I always return home when I need to remember who I was so many moons ago! Oh bada boom, badda bing!

B.I.T.C

This blog is dedicated to every single amazing person I met and worked with at East Side Mario’s. There are so many I couldn’t name you all. I remember you all though. And to Aaron, one of the sweetest fellows I ever knew. I wish you didn’t have to go so soon.

edited by Mary Ellen Monk

Posted in Check it Out!, Hmmm Good, Restaurants, Try It! | Leave a comment

Badass B.I.T.C Beard #16

Its beard time!

I’ve been getting quite a bit of fan mail about my beard segment. The contest grows on. Those beards! Woof! I’ve got another hottie for you. I’m a bit of a fan myself. His Instagram is really great! You should check it out! @itsandrewstupid So without further delay here is Andrew!

Andrew is passionate about Interior Design. He’s worked in the industry for 8 years. One of his favourite travels places is Thailand, where he’s been 5 times. Andrew says he’ll retire there in the future. Sorry Folks, Andrew has been in love for 12 years with his future husband and they share a beautiful 11 year old Labrador Retriever named Rex together. Andrew has 5 tattoos and plans to get more in the future.

 

Visit my Instagram and vote for Andrew now! @bruceinthecity

B.I.T.C

edited by BWC

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Join Me on Instagram

Hey Brucesters!

If you enjoy my ranting on my blog, you may enjoy my life in photos on my official Instagram! Sign up now @bruceinthecity I’d love to follow back! What can I say? I’m nosey!

 

See you there!

Bruce in the City

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British Baked

A note to my readers: This article was written prior to the store sustaining damage caused by the recent ice storm. This location is currently closed. I’m unsure when or if they will be reopening. I will try to keep you posted. I wish them all the best. B.I.T.C

What is going on? What happened to spring? I don’t get it. It was looking hopeful and then Mother Nature barfed all over us. It’s not right and it’s not ok! (to reference the late great Ms. Houston). I’m just pretending I’m somewhere else. As much as I love to stroll the streets of Toronto you can’t in this crap. Welcome to ice storm 2018.
I’m not a huge lover of the corporate shopping malls but you know even on a day like this they really are an acceptable alternative. It was with that in mind I decided to wander around Eglinton Square. It’s an old mall east of Don Mills. It was when wandering this retro furlong that I discovered a shop perfect for my great escape. In one second I was transported to England. A little bakery called Mrs. Bridges British Bakery. With all the buzz around the royals with that handsome ginger Prince Harry getting married, what better time to get my British on. I’m Scottish though I’ve never been. I don’t do much travelling outside of Canada so I personally appreciate these specialty shops. On a side note, I think it’s a shame that people don’t dress more in their cultural dress. Some cultures do and it’s pretty obvious, but when was the last time you saw someone rocking a kilt or Lederhosen! I get tired of the same old North American fashion confines, because they really are. What’s your background? Maybe sport some of your cultural attire once a month or something. Do we all have to look like an American Eagle assembly line?
Anyway, all this going through my mind as I meet this outgoing woman named Leona. She runs the shop with another woman I’ve not had the privilege of meeting yet. Leona and I started chatting about her goods. British baked goods, Scottish crackers, cheeses brought in from the UK. I love cheese. We chatted cheese and wine a bit and then she showed me a product I knew well. Mars. You know the chocolate bar, not the planet. She challenges me to a taste test. A Mars bar from the UK verses the North American equivalent. She said, “Open the package slowly and take in the aroma”. I’m like, “okay”. She said to come back and tell her what I thought. Okay, I took that bar home, I opened it and I smelled it and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Essence of cocoa and fresh caramel. I bit into it and tasted the creamy, milky, caramel, toasty essence. You think I’m joking? I dare you to try it. I triple dog dare you. The difference between the two mars bars was literally the difference between eating a well produced chocolate bar and salted wax. No comparison! Why are we being fed this crap. I went back to Leona to share with her my experience and I asked her, “What’s the difference?” First have you ever heard of wax filling? I hadn’t until my chat with her. That is just one major difference in the way the chocolate is made in Britain as oppose to the US or Canada. They use natural ingredients while we get fed filler and man made poison literally. An American Mars bar won’t kill you but it does taste like crap when you get the chance to eat the real thing. I was kind of miffed. Why are we being sold this wax filled low grade chocolate? It’s tosh really! I’d have to say that the Mars bar from the UK was the bees knees. Every bite was satisfying and you know what else I didn’t taste? SALT! Mars Bars made here taste like salt! It’s just absolutely minging! Her shop on the other hand was not and I’ll be back to grab myself some of that British cheese to go with the Scottish crackers and of course my Mars fix! One thing I won’t be doing is eating another one of those ghastly Mars bars made in North America. Just terrible! Check out this shop. It’s a trip.

B.I.T.C

edited by Mary Ellen Monk

A word from the editor:

Interesting to know because Wesley LOVES Mars bar. They are his favourite.
Good for you for venturing out at all today. I hibernated all day. Dave even took the boys to bowling by himself. I’m still fighting a nasty cold so I rewarded myself with a two hour nap while they were gone.

 

Posted in Check it Out!, Hmmm Good, Shops, Try It! | Leave a comment

Badass B.I.T.C Beard #15

Hey Brucesters!!

I hope you are enjoying the weekly and monthly Beard contest this year! It’s a lot of fun getting to know the fellows who submit their stuff for the Beard feature every Saturday. Before I announce this week’s Beard to you, I’d like to share some exciting events and prize info about the Badass B.I.T.C Beard contest! As you already know there are weekly beards chosen to be featured every Saturday on my blog, Instagram, and Facebook group and a monthly winner is chosen by your votes on my Instagram account based on their photo and bio posts.

Now that the beard series has reached into the year a little deeper, I wanted to announce The Badass B.I.T.C Beard Calendar!!!!!! Very exciting!!!! Every monthly winner will be featured in a brand new calendar for 2019!!! Amazing right?!?! The best part is a percentage of sales of the calendar will be donated to a local charity right here in Toronto (charity to be announced later in the year). An amazing photographer (to be announced) will capture all the winners to create a sexy all beard calendar for the beard lover in us all!!!! Stay tuned for that!

Now without further ado, here is our 15th weekly beard for 2018! This is Jason!!

I’m a self taught hip hop dancer. I’m a bartender. I’m a thrill seeker! I love to play billiards. Beer and whiskey are my drinks of choice!

Thanks Jason and good luck with the monthly contest! Get over to my Instagram and vote now! You can vote twice, once on Jason’s solo photo and once on his bio! @bruceinthecity

Good luck!

B.I.T.C

edited by Mary Ellen Monk

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Honestly Ed

If you follow my Instagram you will know I love wondering around my city. I have no real plan and I just walk. It’s a great way to get in some cardio and what better way to find a story but to walk into it. The past six months have been a pretty crazy time for me. I’m sure those of you who follow this blog closely know that I struggle with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Last September my doctor and I decided I needed a break. There were literally just too many fires going on in my life that I wasn’t able to function effectively in the 9 to 5. Along with my own life stresses, my family was reeling in the tragic accident that took my Fathers only brother and one of my favourite uncles. It was either break now or pay later. I bravely walked away from the career I had to take care of me. While I was getting the psychological attention I needed, one exercise remained a beacon of hope, my daily and weekly uncharted strolls around Toronto, mostly an event I would do alone. I struggled with whether during this time to suspend my blog, but it was really the therapy I needed. It kept me engaged. Otherwise my condition could have caused me to become a sort of recluse. So many people suffer from some form of mental illness and I can tell you from experience good solid friends are difficult to keep because let’s face it, who wants to have to deal with the drama when there are so many other tasks to get up to. I guess that’s the long way of saying I lost a few friends this past six months and so all I had was time to stroll around and see if I could get inspired connecting to the concrete jungle. It’s amazing how isolated you can feel standing on the four corners of a city that’s bustling with human activity. Truth is the towering architecture is the only true friend you can have on a mentally dark day. People can be quick to run in the other direction during one of my emotional breakdowns and people don’t want you to talk about it. Don’t write your personal stuff on your blog, people don’t give a shit. Sorry, however one thing I’ve learned in the last six months while dealing with my panic attacks is that everyone’s experience and story shared is the possibility of helping someone who feels isolated or alone. Maybe this experience called life is better served not being ashamed of our struggles. No ones life is perfect and anyone posing to convince of the contrary is doing no one any favours. I was thinking about this stuff when I strolled upon the space that was a big deal Toronto landmark, Honest Ed’s. I stood there just looking at the empty land. The memories gone. The importance of its own existence now completely gutted. If something so historically relevant fall so completely, then how can I expect the fragility of bruised friendships to stand the test of time? I have to be honest it was kind of sad looking at that empty space that will no doubt miss it’s droves of admirers. Will someone rescue me from the wrecking ball? Honestly Ed, you are and will forever be missed. I’ve returned to my much loved 9-5 this past week and it feels great. Who knows maybe tearing down those old walls makes room for even better and bigger adventure.

A poem by Bruce Christopher

BITC

edited by Mary Ellen Monk

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Badass B.I.T.C Beard #14

Time for our weekly Beard! Meet Will. Who by the way was featured a few weeks back. He’s a local photographer I blogged about. Now we celebrate him for his sexy beard!

Ive got a new tattoo on the go, making it my Eighth…. I’ve started to work on a documentary about Fentanyl, how it’s an epidemic affecting everyone. Aim to graduate by year end from George Brown. I’m a waterbaby so Im excited to see more sunshine, can’t wait till the heat comes to tan and swim. I’m from a small town north of here, named Tottenham. The home of the last steam engine strain in Canada.

Thanks Will!! Vote for Will on my Instagram @bruceinthecity you can click like on his solo pic and his bio. This entitles you to two votes for your favourite beard!

B.I.T.C

edited by BWC

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Wine with Erik “Soooo Ontario”

Hey guys!

So This month I decided to do 3 Canadian wines, and more specifically, Ontario wines. I recently finished taking my Canadian Wine Scholar course and fell in love with Canadian wines all over again. I have always loved Canadian wines, I mean it’s what made me want to get into the wine industry. But getting to experience all these wines and really look into our history was just fantastic. So I have decided to pick a red, a white, and a sparkling of what are some really great examples of what Ontario has to offer. So let’s go into it.

Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Brute – $29.95
This is one of my favorite sparklings. This wine has aromas of citrus, melon, apple, and some bready toasty notes. On the palate, the wine is dry with a light body and crisp mouth-watering acidity, the bubbles are also very delicate. Enjoy this bubbly with a roast turkey, a citrus salad or on its own in the sun!

Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Riesling 2016 – $27.20
This Riesling is from the Twenty Mile Bench and it is sooooo fantastic! I consider this one of the best examples of what Canada has to offer. The winery is also known as Stratus. This wine has a bright nose with aromas of apple, citrus, petrol, and minerality. On the palate, this wine is dry, with refreshing acidity to make you pucker a little. This body is light and has a pretty decent finish. I highly recommend giving this wine a try despite the price. Pair it with pad thai, grilled salmon with lemon, or again enjoy it on it’s own! It really is fantastic!

Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2016 – $24.95
Baco Noir is a very interesting grape that I have not found much outside of Canada and this is a great example of what Canada is doing with it. I never really appreciated Baco Noir all that much until I tried this one and decided since I’m keeping it Canadian themed, I should choose a red that we are really doing different things with. On the nose, this wine has darker aromas of coconut, blackberry, cassis, cherry, vanilla, and chocolate. On the palate, this wine is dry, with lower tannins and good acidity with an overall medium body for easy drinking.

Erik F for Bruce in the City

Editor: Mary Ellen Monk

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Journey with Germani “Holy Guacamole”

Hello BITC readers!

Congratulations, we have made it to Spring! I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some holiday time/time off work. I was able to take some great Spring walks with my furry little brother (my mother’s dog and I don’t have human siblings) this weekend.

Spring is finally here and along with it, wonderful seasonal produce:

Apricots
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados
Carrots
Leeks
Mangoes
Peas
Pineapples
Rhubarb
Spinach
It’s a great time of year to enjoy these fresh fruits and veggies!

I’m especially crazy about avocados right now. But that wasn’t always the case.

In the spirit of my non-traditional family, when I went home to visit, my mother requested tacos.

For a large portion of my childhood, holidays and special occasions spent with my mother just included the two of us. Instead of making a more labour intensive meal, my mom opted to keep things fun and light. One of our best Christmas Eves was spent enjoying tacos and watching scary movies (The Ring, Poltergeist).

Our taco dinner this year was pretty standard. Hard shell tacos with beef, veggies, salsa and cheese. But I thought I would try something a bit different.

Over the last couple of years I’ve learned that I love avocados and guacamole. I was a bit wary at first but over time it has become a favourite ingredient.

So, when my mother suggested tacos, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make guacamole for the first time. Especially because my mother hasn’t ever tried guacamole. Ever.

She’s a super taster and a selective eater. I thought if I could make guacamole that she would try and maybe enjoy, mission accomplished.

With that goal in mind, I stumbled upon a very simple but very yummy version:

I took two ripe avocados, half a lime, a jalapeno, and salt.

I minced the jalapeno into very small pieces, removing most of the seeds. This takes most of the heat away, but you still get the jalapeno flavour.

In a small bowl, mix the jalapeno with the avocado and the juice squeezed from the lime. I was aiming to not make the guac too soft, so I just mixed them enough with a fork for even dispersal of the jalapeno.

Salt to taste, I used a couple of pinches.

And success! My mother actually tasted it and went back for seconds!

I think this is a great way to introduce someone to avocados/guacamole. And it’s a really quick side dish to make if you’re having friends and family over

What are some of your favourite Spring foods?

Cheers to almost-patio season and catching some sunshine!

-Sarah

Edited by Mary Ellen Monk

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