Some Stones Unturned

Knitting, Biking and Some Sober Second Thoughts

Archive for the tag “tea”

Adventures with Sherlock Holmes and the Toronto Tea Festival

At the start of this year, I found out that the Toronto Public Library is renovating the usual location of its quite extensive Arthur Conan Doyle collection and has put a number of the pieces on exhibit at the Toronto Reference Library. I was a pretty big Holmes fan as a kid and even made the trek out to Reichenbach when I was in Switzerland.

Holmes and I chilling in Meiringen

Holmes and I ponder how to show this picture but maintain some anonymity

I have started critiques of several of the recent adaptations and homages for this blog only for them to turn into an absurdly long, disorganized mess. So Adventures with Sherlock Holmes seemed like a great opportunity to explore more Holmesian goodness. In particular, this past Saturday the library was scheduled to show Murder by Decree and tour the exhibit afterward.

I went to a local blog to see if I could find more details for the event, particularly whether tickets were needed, and I found out that Saturday was also the Toronto Tea Festival. How could I not have known? I was torn between two of my great loves. But as fate would have it, the Tea Festival was also happening at the Toronto Reference Library. So I hurriedly packed a bag and headed out earlier than planned in the hopes of getting as much tea festivizing in as possible before the movie.

And, well, I might have gotten a little distracted by the tea. It was fairly busy, but not bad by Toronto Festival standards (You could still move, for example). Although I often had to wait a while to get to the tables, I certainly managed to make it around the exhibit hall in a reasonable time, stopping for a few samples:

tea sample cups

I don’t live right downtown, but I get around enough that I was surprised there were so many great vendors I wasn’t aware of. Really this is my own fault for sticking with David’s Tea because they are in my ‘hood (with the occasional House of Tea side trip), but I guess they are sort of the “big chain” now, which seems so strange because I remember when they opened and I think they only had a few other locations in Toronto and Montreal and now they’re all over. Anyway, here are a few highlights from the festival. Read more…

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Tidings of Joy!

I feel fantastic. At the risk of seeming like a terrible jerk to those of you who aren’t quite there yet, I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. I got a couple of things at the end of November, but most of it I got last weekend. I had a list, made a plan about where to go and went out for about five hours last Saturday determined to get it all, no matter how busy it was or how long I had to stand in line. And actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I didn’t make the rookie mistake of going to any Toronto malls. And I set out as early as I dared based on opening hours to try to get the downtown stuff in the morning. My plan was a walking route that took me down to Bloor and back, which is about 7.5 miles, so it was like my (very low-intensity) exercise and Christmas shopping all in one.  Multi-tasking!

The longest wait was actually in line for lunch at Tim Horton’s where, amongst many other problems in the comedy of errors I seemed to have entered, a bagel caught fire in the toaster. I don’t mean the bagel was a little burnt. I mean there were flames inside the thing for a good minute and the whole cash area filled with smoke. So they turned down the speed, but not enough and burned the next bagel they put in. Twice.

Fortunately I don’t have too many people to buy for. I’ve gradually convinced old high school friends we probably don’t know each other well enough to do gifts (at least not meaningful gifts that aren’t junky or conspicuous-consumption-type things) and work people are fortunately not that into Secret Santa, so it’s just immediate family and while they’re getting tougher to buy for, they also seem happy with anything I’ve come up with. But I did find the perfect birthday card (that is to say an incredibly inappropriate and curse-filled card) for a good undergrad friend, so I picked that up intending to send it by regular mail. Remember like in ancient times when you put stamps on stuff and had to leave your house and physically drop it in a box? Ugh. Two extra minutes worth of effort there. But anyway, I messaged her for her address (remember when you didn’t have Facebook and had to keep addresses and phone numbers all carefully up-to-date in a little book?), but felt compelled to warn her that it wasn’t anything big and not to get too excited. And then I started thinking that maybe there was something small I could make that would fit in an envelope.

Read more…

Florida Trip: Culture Shock and Ice Tea Plea

I’m planning to split my Florida posts in two to keep them from being long: one on food (this one) and one about things that happened that were not food-related. Priorities.

I’m not a big foodie, although I’m better than when I was younger about trying new things (went to Dim Sum yesterday and agreed to eat rice with fish in it. It was okay I guess. Still too fishy for my taste). I’ve travelled a bit, so I expect to eat weird things or else go searching for stuff to mimic what I’m used to, especially when trying to save money. But the weird thing about going to the States is how everything appears to be like home, but when you bite into it is almost always slightly different. Stealth new foods.

1. The Great Yogurt Experiment

I’ve found it difficult to take yogurt seriously ever since Sarah Haskins pointed out the craziness of the ads. I still eat it occasionally, but my Mom and sister are serious yogurt-eaters and have it every day for breakfast. And since my parents had arrived a couple of weeks earlier, my Mom had been searching for the best yogurt. According to her, they all tasted cornstarch-y or weird and according to my Dad, she had basically bought a new type of yogurt every time they went grocery shopping to try to find one she like. For fellow Canadian yogurt fans, she finally seemed pretty happy with Liberté Mediterranean, which apparently is very different from the Liberté Greek, which you should supposedly not get, because it is cornstarch-y. I thought Greece was in the Mediterranean, but my geography skills are pretty weak.

2. Raisin Bran

My breakfast is typically Raisin Bran and I thought it was less sweet, but my Dad thought it was sweeter, so we couldn’t put our finger on exactly what’s going on there, but it is definitely something sweetness-related and don’t think we won’t pin it down eventually America! (I actually usually buy the cheap-o Selection brand at home, so that might be why we find there’s a difference).

3. Things they sell at Walmart

  • Pez dispensers with 8 different Lord of the Rings characters for $10
  • M&Ms in a ridiculously huge array of sizes from a set of fun packs to basically a pillowcase
  • Dulce de Leche Cheerios. Whaaaa? I thought the whole point of Cheerios was that they’re NOT sugary, although I guess we do have Honey Nut flavour. Someone told me they are coming out with peanut butter Cheerios up here. Why? Why ruin the simplicity of the Cheerio? It is perfect as is.
  • Souvenir Naples shirt for $10. Not food, but they do sell them at Walmart. Ever since our Cessna pilot in Hawaii recommended stopping at Walmart to pick up souvenirs, my sister and I have checked it out and they often do have a few things in tourist-y areas.

4. Gelato

This wasn’t that different. A+ job on the lemon gelato Florida! If you’re not sure what flavour to get at a gelato place, check out the lemon and be surprised by the perfect sweet/tart balance. And it’s so light and refreshing when it’s hot out.

Lemon gelato

Gelato in Naples! What? Oh no no. Naples, Florida. Where did you think I meant?

5. Tea

The southern part of the States doesn’t really do hot tea. There are no teapots. Not in the rental place where my parents were house-sitting. Not at Walmart (or even Super-Walmart, according to my parents, which is just acres and acres of what you would think is everything you can imagine), not at Target and not at Publix. All kinds of other trivial things (fancy refills for an automatic handsoap dispenser, for example), but no teapot.

My Mom brought five kinds of tea with her when they drove down, which seemed like overkill when she told me, but now seems incredibly wise.

But all this has really buried the lede for what I wanted to say, what really must be said. Canada: We need to make unsweetened ice tea a thing. Florida does unsweetened ice tea, and at first it takes you by surprise, but once you get used to it and realize you can sweeten it yourself to whatever degree you like, it’s hard to come back to our restrictive system. If you believe in freedom, help me in my campaign to let me sweeten my own ice tea.

Bring it up at your local restaurants, put it on a t-shirt, write your MP. Okay, some of those actions may be a little extreme, but we neeeeed to make this happen. Last summer David’s Tea had a promotion where you buy their re-fillable mug and then all summer you got their iced Tea-of-the-Day for $1. It was fantastic, but it ended with the summer weather.

I also took to making my own ice tea, which I sweetened a little, but it still tasted like tea. Highly recommended: North African Mint, Luscious Watermelon (only available in summer :() and your standard Orange Pekoe from Tetley or whoevs also comes out pretty great.

If people really love the sweet drink most restaurants serve now, we could keep it but rename it. Unsweetened ice tea. Let’s make this happen yesterday. A message from the People for the Selling of Ice Tea that Tastes like Tea.

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