Thursday, March 31, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I try to stay away for stretches here and there, so they don’t get tired of me hanging around, but the place exerts some sort of magnetic pull. Owing to my recent travels, it has indeed been a while, but a shortly upcoming visit is written in stone on my Google calendar!
When I describe the Diamond to friends, I often use the phrase “wonderland of beauty.” Truly everything is beautiful here: the staff, the filament bulbs, the stag's head chandelier, the exposed brick walls, the view of Maple Tree Square from the windows (especially when it snows!), the craft cocktails, and even the exquisite vintage glassware. Happily, it's an old-timey and warm type of beauty that was obviously not conceived in a Toronto boardroom, unlike the contrived corporate esthetic of certain other places. It’s just so easy to lose yourself here, and I’m always eager to show it off to someone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of an evening at the Diamond.
I’ve never been here for an actual dinner, since the Asian fusion concept is more small plates than anything, and the drinks are so strong that it’s unwise to go on an empty stomach. That being said, what I’ve nibbled on while lingering over cocktails has always been wonderful: olives, nuts, gyoza, subs, and panna cotta. The drink prices run high ($10-12), but we're not talking watered down rum and cokes. The booze forward cocktails are nonetheless so eminently drinkable that it took E making us journalists at our own New Year's Eve pre-party for us to realize just why we often end up unexpectedly blitzed at the Diamond.
A small selection of beer is available, but as I once unwittingly asked someone who turned out to be Mark Brand, "How can you drink something like that in a place like this?" PBR has its charms, I'm sure, but I remain immune to them.
The service is such that I felt like a regular on my very first visit, and by this point, I actually feel among friends. Impeccably dressed, attractive, sociable, and skilled friends who make consistently incredible cocktails from memory, (I'm talking to you, Donnelly Pub Group), and don’t tease me (much) when I’ve had a few too many. What more could a single girl ask for?
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It was a jam packed week, but we managed to spend some time relaxing in our gigantic hotel suite. Thanks for the mysterious upgrade, Salisbury Hotel!
I didn't avoid shopping entirely, but A&E held me back from doing any serious damage at Century 21. I did spend a glorious sunny morning checking out Park Slope in Brooklyn, picking up some sweet vintage deals (hello $35 Frye boots!) at Beacon's Closet, and a handknit scarf at Flirt.
Of course, we ate a wonderfully diverse array of cuisines, including Venetian at Osteria Laguna, wine and cheese at the Drunken Horse, and Persian at Persepolis. Modern American cuisine was well represented by The Red Cat, Stonehome, and 508, and those onion rings at the Heights Cafe can't be beat.
We added a few things (like MoMA) to our original itinerary, but most notable was riding our rental bikes through Central Park and Harlem, which was one of the highlights of my life. I still haven't made it to the Tenement Museum, but perhaps the third time will be the charm!
Our raison d'being there was for E to compete in her fifth straight American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. She made us very proud by placing 34th overall (out of 680!!!), and sweeping the foreign division handily.
All in all, a truly memorable vacation with two of my very favourite people in the entire world.
Monday, March 14, 2011
We've got big plans, including the Museum of Sex, the Museum of Natural History, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and That Championship Season, for starters. Then there's what may well be the pièce de résistance of our visit: the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the partying that is sure to ensue.
With the support of my non-shopping friends, I will try to resist the lure of Century 21. The plan is to spend all the money I would have spent shopping at eateries like Eataly and The Red Rooster, and, in my case anyway, copious numbers of black and whites. I'll let you know how it goes!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The other night, we braved a pitcher of the Champagne sangria, which wasn't as boozy as I feared (hoped?), but was nonetheless delicious. Guacamole with corn and the best chips I've had anywhere kicked off our meal. I opted for the tuna tacos, which I've had before. I don't remember the tortillas being so big last time, and they were folded in quarters with the tuna on top, which was sort of awkward to eat. If a die-hard bread lover like me thinks there's a bit too much of the accompanying carb in a dish, it probably means there's room to cut back. The tuna was as perfect as ever. My dining companion's nicely flavoured ropa vieja had a great texture and arrived in an ample portion size. The chocolate cheesecake was a wonderful finish to an all-around great meal. The website says the restaurant is inspired by the "faded glory of Old Havana," and as far as I can tell, they nailed it, atmosphere-wise. It was easy to pretend we were someplace much warmer than drizzly Vancouver, if only for a few glorious hours.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Sadly the picture I've included is not of me, but look how happy she is! Coach Allison Tai (also not pictured) is wonderful. I was sort of worried about being yelled at, but it's not that kind of bootcamp. She is very knowledgeable and encouraging, and in unbelieveable shape after giving birth scant months (weeks?) ago. Very impressive indeed.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tonight promises to be one of those perfect East Van evenings…dinner at El Pulgarcito and Hey Rosetta! at the Rio Theatre. E and I are big fans of El Pulgarcito, after having eaten there many a time. It’s not much to look at, but the food is delicious and plentiful. I usually get the chicken enchiladas with salsa verde, while E prefers the same dish with less spicy mole sauce. Try the pupusas; you won’t regret it! I’m also madly in love with their horchata, which is available in either the Mexican and Salvadoran styles, both equally creamy and excellent as hangover cures. It’s a two person show, but the service is always cheerful and prompt. I spent some time "studying" in Mexico during university, and this is the type of place that comes as close to an authentic experience as you can get this far north. The prices ($7 or $8 for a main with all the fixings) are also reminiscent of Mexico, which is much appreciated.
I’ve never been to a concert in a movie theatre before, and I am definitely excited to see how it’s done. I’ve read that Hey Rosetta! is one of Canada’s most underrated indie bands, particularly in terms of pure musicianship, but we must be on top of things here, because both their Vancouver shows are sold out!