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Toronto

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events This September

There are always so many things to do in Toronto. Get out and enjoy some of the many great events and concerts taking place throughout the city this month!

Cirque du Soleil's Kurios is now under the big top in Toronto (photo: Martin Girard)

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios is now under the big top in Toronto (photo: Martin Girard)

ALL MONTH LONG  The distinctive blue and yellow tents have once again popped up at the Port Lands, and with them comes Cirque du Soleil, back in Toronto after a nearly two-year absence. This season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

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Montecito Gives Toronto Diners a Seat in the Spotlight

(photos: Steve Krug)

(photos: Steve Krug)

The Entertainment District—home, of course, to the Toronto International Film Festival—has gained even more celebrity cachet with the recent opening of Montecito, the brainchild of Toronto-born filmmaker Ivan Reitman and revered chef Jonathan Waxman, one of the pioneers of California cuisine. That cooking style’s elegant simplicity is the basis for the 280-seat restaurant’s daily menu (So-Cal is also cited in the decor, too, including two large screens that display the view from Reitman’s Montecito home), but farm-fresh Canadian ingredients are the stars of the show. Anticipate such spotlight-worthy dishes as New York strip steak with roasted beets, speckled trout with yellow beans and sauce gribiche, and Waxman’s signature roast chicken with salsa verde. And don’t forget to indulge in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man baked Alaska—an ode to Reitman’s Ghostbusters—before the curtain falls on your feast.  —Craig Moy

• Montecito, 299 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-0299; montecitorestaurant.ca
Map and reviews

This Year’s TIFF Offers Excitement On Screen and Off

Each September, Toronto goes entirely movie mad (not to mention star crazy) as TIFF calls “action” on the country’s biggest celebration of cinema. BY CRAIG MOY

TIFF-2014-Toronto-Header

I’ve always had a bit of a conflicted relationship with the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mainly: I’m not particularly fond of crowds, and TIFF definitely attracts an abundance of people, all clamouring to catch a glimpse of visiting celebrities and score tickets to the buzziest new movies. Then again, those movies are the upside for me, the other side of the coin. I love movies, and the festival has them in spades. This year’s lineup boasts more than 200 films, many of which are world or North American premieres, representing everything from awards-season prestige pictures to timely and compelling documentaries to debuts by emerging Canadian directors to insane though crowd-pleasing thrillers and action flicks.

[Check out some of our most-anticipated TIFF 2014 offerings in the gallery below.]

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Ontario Winery Profile: Strewn Winery

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Strewn-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

STREWN WINERY
Established in 1997
Owner: Joe Will, president and founding winemaker. Newman Smith, chairman.
Winemaker: Dr. Marc Bradshaw

How big is your winery?
Strewn is a smaller winery with 26 acres of grapes grown from the winery’s lakeshore and inland vineyards, along with those purchased from a handful of other growers.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We produce nine varietals. We produce age-worthy Bordeaux-style red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our refreshing white wines include Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. We produce Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. The portfolio also includes the more affordable TwoVines and Cottage Block brands, premium varietals and single vineyard Terroir selections, many available only at the winery.

What are your three most popular wines?
Two Vines Riesling-Gewurztraminer, Strewn Barrel Aged Chardonnay and Rogue’s Lot (a blend of Cab Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).

Tell us about the winery’s background.
Joe Will, founding winemaker has always had a passion for wine. While he working in other fields (journalism and public relations), he kept his passion for wine alive. In 1989 he had the opportunity to further pursue the business that stirred his soul. After working in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Joe headed to Australia’s Roseworthy College at the University of Adelaide. Upon returning home Joe signed on as the inaugural winemaker at Pillitteri Estates and five years later opened Strewn winery with industry veteran Newman Smith. The mandate of the winery is to make premium VQA wines from grapes grown in the Niagara Peninsula.

Does the winery offer tours?
We offer complimentary public tours daily at 11:30 a.m., which includes a vineyard walk (weather permitting) followed by a tasting. We also offer French-speaking tours available by appointment. Private tours are available for groups of 10 or more for minimum of $5. Customized tours available for groups. Prices vary.

Ontario Winery Profile Strewn Estate BottlesIs there a retail shop on the premises?
We have a retail boutique that stocks wine related merchandise that make lovely eccentric gifts for the winelover and foodie.

What other amenities are on site?
The Wine Country Cooking School located within Strewn is a unique culinary experience for recreational cooks. Terroir La Cachette is the restaurant at Strewn where chef Alain Levesque combines French Provençal style of cooking with the best local ingredients, bringing together the finest the region has to offer.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Contrary to popular belief, winemaking is a pretty un-romantic occupation! It’s exhausting, intense, involving crazy hours and insane temperatures, and is totally grubby work with black stained hands for many months of the year…but, like any forms of art, people embroiled in the production of wine are some of the most absolute super-charged passionate people you will ever encounter, and they wouldn’t have their job any other way.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
I feel that the wine consumer often overlooks serving temperature for most wines. Often white wines are served too cold – making them less aromatic and more acidic. Typically, more complex white wine, such as barrel-fermented Chardonnay should be served slightly warmer (10-13°C). Whereas, lighter-bodied and neutral white wines benefit from more of a chill (7-10°C). The common refrigerator is set to 4-5°C, so a good rule is to remove white wines from the fridge around 15-20 minutes prior to service.

With the advent of state-of-the-art heating and insulation systems, room temperature has increased. In turn, red wines are often served slightly too warm. Serving a red wine too warm makes them seem flabby and less fresh. Lighter reds are refreshing when served between 10-13°C and medium-bodied red wines are appropriately served between 13-16°C. Serving bigger, bolder and more tannic red wines too chilled will make them more astringent and bitter, so serving slightly below room temperature at 16-18°C is recommended. Placing most red wines in the fridge 15-20 minutes prior to service will benefit the wine and the consumer. Of course, if you like your wine warmer or colder, you should not forsake what you enjoy—after all, you paid for it and you are consuming it!

• Strewn Winery, 1339 Lakeshore Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1229
• strewnwinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @strewnwinery

 

Heel Boy Adds a Distillery District Store

Heel-Boy-Distillery

Heel Boy has earned a reputation for its wide range of fun, funky and fashionable footwear—footwear that’s now available at the store’s new Distillery District location. The exposed-brick heritage space has been gussied up with a goose feather chandelier from local purveyor Trianon, but even more pizzazz comes from the products themselves: more than 100 shoe brands for men and women, including pumps and stilettos from Vince Camuto and Franco Sarto, wingtips from Ted Baker and Kenneth Cole, loafers from Sperry and Maison Scotch, sneakers from New Balance and Lacoste, flip flops from Havaianas and Reef, and boots from Ugg, Sorel and Hunter. Handbags, totes wallets and watches from the likes of Rudsak, One Fated Knight, Nice Things, Matt & Nat and Aunts & Uncles complement the retail experience. Open daily.  —Linda Luong

• Heel Boy, 49 Tank House Ln., 416-363-2794; heelboy.com
Map and reviews

More Bangles for Your Buck by Alex and Ani

Alex-and-Ani-Bangles

Layering bracelets is currently one of the hottest trends in fashion. It’s also one of the most accessible: anyone can pull off the look, whether it’s with cuffs, bangles or hoops adorned with charms. All of these are produced by American label Alex and Ani, whose goods are now available in Canada at shop-in-shops at select locations of The Bay. The brand’s sustainable, handcrafted accessories are intended to be mixed and matched so they’re significant to the wearer. Some bracelets (prices range from $28 to $78) serve as talismans of protection, power or intention, while others may reflect a personal interest in golf, football or sailing, or relay information such as one’s zodiac symbol or birthstone.  —Linda Luong

• Alex and Ani, The Bay, 176 Yonge St., 416-861-9111; alexandani.com
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The AGO Collects Alex Colville’s Iconic Canadian Paintings

 

Alex Colville's To Prince Edward Island (© A.C. Fine Art Inc.)

Alex Colville’s To Prince Edward Island (© A.C. Fine Art Inc.)

AUGUST 23 TO JANUARY 4  After the output of the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson and Emily Carr, the works of Alex Colville are arguably Canada’s most recognizable. But where The Group depicted the country’s wild expanses, the late Nova Scotia-based painter captured figures and objects in scenes that, despite their seeming ordinariness, are characterized by an atmosphere of latent unease. The Art Gallery of Ontario is currently displaying more than 100 of Colville’s distinctive pieces. Composed with a draughtsman’s deft eye for detail and proportion and a storyteller’s sense of tension, the archetypal images are accompanied by thematically associated works by the likes of Wes Anderson, Alice Munro, Stanley Kubrick and Sarah Polley—as well as contributions from writer Ann-Marie MacDonald, electronic music Tim Hecker, cartoonist David Collier and others, created specifically for the exhibition—that make plain Colville’s significant impact on contemporary culture.  —Craig Moy

Gallery photos by Craig Moy

• Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648; ago.net
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Ontario Winery Profile: Viewpointe Estate Winery

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

VIEWPOINTE ESTATE WINERY
Established in 2000
Owner: John, Steve and Jean Fancsy

How big is your winery?
We are a boutique winery producing between 7,000 and 8,000 cases of wine each year.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
More than 15.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-BottlesWhat are your three most popular wines?
Auxerrois, Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet blend.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family-owned and -operated winery. As the Fancsy family diverged from the automotive industry in the late 1990’s, we wanted to fulfill a vision of a destination winery in the developing Lake Erie North Shore appellation. Family ties are strong here; the family had property in the area and spent summers at a family cottage on the lake near the winery. There is a passion for wine.

Does the winery offer tours?
Yes. Tours can be booked by appointment. The cost of a tour is $7 and includes tastings of 4 wines. Tastings are complimentary for small groups, and range from $3 to $5 depending on the size of a larger group. Please phone the winery for further details regarding pricing.

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes, and a tasting bar.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-TastingWhat other amenities are on site?
There is a fully equipped teaching kitchen—with a view no less! Viewpointe offers cooking classes throughout the year. There’s also an event space on the second floor of the “retail” building with a panoramic view of Lake Erie for weddings and many other events. We have a huge outdoor patio, where meals are served from May to October. There is a large elegant tent over part of the patio; large enough for events including wedding ceremonies. Lunches and special dinners are also scheduled on weekends and on special evenings during the winter season. The tasting bar/retail area offers seating for indoor dining as well as a panoramic view of the patio and lake. There is also an event space at cellar level, which can be utilized to host meetings, lectures and presentations. This room is connected to our barrel room, which is part of the tour agenda. Two of the winery buildings sit back from one of our vineyards. Many great photo opportunities can be had at events including the lake, sunsets, the vineyards, the barrel room and the grounds and buildings. Viewpointe also hosts and participates in seasonal events and activities

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Of course, first we would suggest a visit to the winery to drink up all of the factors to getting the most from your glass and bottle. Knowing the story, experiencing personally, and comfortably learning and deciding which wine is right for you can greatly enhance your wine experiences.

• Viewpointe Estate Winery, 151 County Rd. 50 E., Harrow, 519-738-0690
viewpointewinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @viewpointewines

Moses Znaimer Shares His Passion at the MZTV Museum of Television

Moses-Znaimer-MZTV-Museum-of-Television

If you’ve lived in Toronto at any point over the last 40 or so years, you’ve probably heard the name Moses Znaimer. After all, he transformed local television by creating Citytv, was a co-founder of MuchMusic, and even today is highly visible as the CEO of multifaceted entertainment company ZoomerMedia. Broadcasting is Znaimer’s lifeblood; it’s no surprise that over the years he’s channeled that interest into amassing the world’s largest private collection of vintage television sets. A mogul’s tribute to the medium that made him, the recently re-launched MZTV Museum boasts a panoply of rare—and rather striking—receivers and related artifacts, including a mechanical 1930 Baird Televisor, a translucent RCA TRK-12 Phantom Teleceiver and even the original Speaker’s Corner booth. In all, it’s a treasure trove not just for so-called couch potatoes, but history buffs and design junkies, too. —Craig Moy

• MZTV Museum of Television, 64 Jefferson Ave., 416-599-7339; mztv.com
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Vancouver’s Oak + Fort Sets Up Shop in Toronto

Oak-and-Fort

Connoisseurs of classic minimalist apparel have new reason to make their way uptown: Vancouver-based boutique Oak + Fort has set up at the Shops at Don Mills. Already beloved by West Coasters—as well as actress Blake Lively—the label is synonymous with loose, flowing separates in neutral colours such as ivory, beige, soft pink, dove grey and black. The crisp space with its racks of perfectly hung clothes gives off a pricey air, but don’t let that fool you: it’s actually quite affordable, with many items under $100. A small selection of accessories is available, too, including gold and silver jewellery, as well as scarves, shoes and handbags. Open daily.  —Linda Luong

• Oak + Fort, Shops at Don Mills, 1090 Don Mills Rd., 647-341-9199; oakandfort.com
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Harbourfront Centre Celebrates 40 Years of Visual Arts

Ying-Yueh Chuang's Flower Series (details) is on display at Harbourfront Centre

Ying-Yueh Chuang’s Flower Series (details) is on display at Harbourfront Centre

JUNE 21 TO SEPTEMBER 21  Among many things, Harbourfront Centre is well known for its support of Canadian artists: multiple simultaneous exhibitions, produced seasonally at its Bill Boyle Artport, showcase works by emerging and established practitioners in every conceivable medium. The venue has pulled out all the stops to mark its 40th anniversary, with seven diverse shows exploring the legacy of art and craft and the ways by which creativity acts as a bridge between cultures. Approaching the former theme are displays such as “Instigators,” which features artists whose association with Harbourfront Centre traces back to its early years, while “A Bridge Not Far: China” highlights work by Canadians who have participated in artists’ residencies in the Middle Kingdom.  —Craig Moy

• Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000; harbourfrontcentre.com
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You Are Here: Eat, Explore and Relax Along the Harbourfront

HTO Park

HTO Park

1  Inspired by J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, the Toronto Music Garden is a classical green space in both theme and execution: six meticulously tended “movements” are lush with trees, tall grasses and colourful perennials. The garden hosts chamber music performances on Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer. 479 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000; harbourfrontcentre.com

2  Watch the boats (and planes) go by beneath a large yellow parasol at HTO Park. The sand-strewn site overlooking Toronto’s inner harbour lends a relaxed, beachy vibe to what was once a fairly nondescript stretch of lakeside real estate. 339 Queens Quay W.

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