On June 1st I'll be taking my kids for some camp fun at one of Toronto's most exclusive venues, The Balmy Beach Club. What they don't know is that camp plays an integral part in our family history... in fact, it's the only reason they even exist!
My wife Ali and I met as camp counselors in Wisconsin many moons ago. I think the first night we met was when my friend Zev and I were playing some songs together. He was playing guitar tunes and I was belting out the lyrics. At one point he started playing one of my favourite tunes at the time "She Talks To Angels" by the Black Crowes. I noticed a cute girl sitting on her friend's lap watching me. Apparently she had noticed me too. The next night as I was walking through camp the same pretty face walked out of the dining hall as I walked past. We started walking and talking.. and well I guess the rest is history.
So it's no surprise that I have a predisposed fondness for camp, but in addition to finding my soul mate there, there is so much to love! The bonfires, the s'mores (OMG the s'mores), hiking, canoeing, fishing, good friends, late nights, early mornings and memories to last a life time. The Great Camp Adventure Open House will be bringing a little taste of that to the city. We're going to walk, play, sing and cheer to get into the spirit of The Great Camp Adventure benefiting the SickKids Foundation!
A fun-filled day starting with 'counselors' who will help kick things off by leading everyone through a 5km challenge-by-choice walk through the beautiful Beach neighbourhood. Open to kids (and adults) of all ages, the Open House promises to be a day full of fun and laughs with special guests, snacks and music. Along the walk, at the 2.5km mark, ‘campsites’ will be set up with activities and games.
Those that register at the Open House for The Great Camp Adventure will get a custom wood cookie with a limited edition lanyard and t-shirt. The Open House is being held to help raise awareness of The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure which will take place on September 28, 2013 in downtown Toronto. Designed for all ages the event is a challenge-by-choice adventure walk (up to 20KM) with a camp theme to raise funds for SickKids. Participants are welcome to walk as far as they wish, stopping along the way at various ‘campsites’ to make crafts, have a snack, play a game, join a sing-along and more
A fun day for a very worthwhile cause, I hope you'll come out and join us as our family has some camp fun in the city.
WHEN: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Last year my wife Ali and I had the opportunity to visit Ireland on a culinary-themed trip. One of our stops was at the Gort Na Nain farm where Ultan and Lucy hosted us at their B&B. Our dinner that night was something to behold: dish after delicious dish of vegetarian food cooked right there on their farm. As conversation turned to my own food writing and cooking, Ultan was confounded as to why I didn't have a vegetable garden of my own at home. I had no good answer. And so, on that October evening I promised Ultan that this year I'd finally get off my butt and plant a garden.
Fortunately, I have boards and brackets from my kids' skating rink that I build each year. So coming up with a frame was really simple. I decided on a modest 4x8' garden for this year, with hopes to expand it next year.
A trip to a nearby gardening centre and I was on my way home with 23 bags of soil, and 4 bags of compost..... A lot of schlepping later a garden was born.
I decided to plant vegetables I knew we would eat regularly. The lady at the garden centre had wisely told me there's not much sense in growing things you don't eat.
So far, so good. I covered my garden during the recent frost, and nothing has died yet. So there's hope.
When visiting Dunedin, Florida it isn't difficult to quickly ascertain why the Blue Jays call it their Spring Training home or why Canadians flock to this sunny city on Florida's west coast every year. It's hard to argue with a locale that can have you playing golf on a PGA course in the morning, then visiting with a nearby movie star (Winter the dolphin) before catching a ball game in the afternoon. However, the best kept secret in the Grapefruit League circuit is Dunedin's culinary scene. From steakhouses, to Thai restaurants and Irish pubs, the selection of restaurants in Dunedin seems to defy logic. So many delicious choices in a city whose population just crests 35,000 people. Nestled just north of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, Dunedin certainly holds its own when it comes to the area's food scene. While fine dining is available, there are also a number of excellent hole-in-the-wall foodie stops not to be missed. Spring Training is certainly the height of the tourism season, but the mild weather and fabulous food scene make this an excellent destination at any time of the year. While many people first visit for the baseball, they'll often return home talking about the good eats.
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium
While snow is generally still on the ground in Toronto, Spring Training launches in Dunedin under the Florida sunshine for six weeks every year. The Toronto Blue Jays have long called Dunedin their spring home, and beyond March and April their minor league affiliate the Dunedin Blue Jays continue to run the base paths at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
As would be expected, Main Street carves itself through Dunedin with a quaint stretch filled with mom-and-pop restaurants and souvenir shops along the "downtown" core. Across from picturesque Pioneer Park visitors and residents have been stopping in at Casa Tina's for authentic, fresh Mexican food for over twenty years. The busy, eclectic Mexican decor is worth visiting for alone. Packed with religious and cultural symbolism there is barely an inch of space that isn't vying for the eyes' attention. However it's the food at Casa Tina that really steals the show. All made fresh to order, the wait can be a little longer than some may be accustomed to but it is well worth it. Delicious sauces and salsas adorn every dish, and the menu is vast and varied offering seafood, vegetarian or meat options throughout.
For Canadian visitors who are much more accustomed to a Tex-Mex take on Mexican food, Casa Tina's is a culinary delight. Friendly servers are happy to help those overwhelmed by the menu while supplying endless bowls of homemade chips and salsa. Weekend brunch brings with it a whole other selection of house specialties. Definitely worthy of multiple visits!