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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The top 5 free events in Toronto: Feb 2-8 2015

free events torontoFree events in Toronto this week will have you braving the cold around town at the Progress performance festival and various Black History month events, plus a very sexy story telling slam and a cinema free-for-all. You can also stop by TIFF's "Bold, Black, Risk-Takers", an Evening Honouring "The Book of Negroes," for free on February 3, and Douglas Coupland's PWYC exhibit at MOCCA is on now.

Here's how to forget you just signed away 50% of your paycheque in Toronto this week.

1. Progress (February 4-15)

The Progress festival has a number of free shows this week, including Silent Dinner with Amanda Coogan and collaborators at the The Theatre Centre (Feb 7), Dance as Metaphor, Language and Lens at BMO Incubator (Feb 7), and Make. Make Public. at the Theatre Centre (Feb 8)

2. Tell Me Something Good 1 Year Anniversary and Podcast Launch (February 5, Gladstone)

Sexy storytelling slam Tell Me Something Good is celebrating their first anniversary and the launch of their new podcast just in time for Valentine's Day. All you need to do to tell a story at the event is write your name on a slip of paper. Hot.

3. Then & Now presents Kuumba (February 6-8, Harbourfront Centre)

The Harbourfront hosts this celebration of African and Caribbean heritage for Black History month where most events are free including a screening of Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, and Soca on Ice. Check out the line up on their website.

4. Black History Month Concert Series (February 7, Gladstone)

As part of Black History Month, the Gladstone will host free concerts each Saturday night at 9pm. This week features Young Stars de Montreal (Congo).

5. CineCycle Winter 2015 Toronto Open Screening (February 8, CineCycle)

No one will be turned away from this pay-what-you-can open screening at CineCycle on Spadina. Just watch the weirdo fun or bring your masterpieces or weirdo home movies (35mm, 16mm, 8mm, super 8 film, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Quicktime, AVI, whatever) and sign up by 7pm.

Also check out these regular free events

Elvis Mondays (Mondays, The Drake)

Toronto's longest running indie showcase, William New's free show has put thousands of bands on stage. It's at the Drake Underground every Monday.

Free Nights at the Horseshoe (Monday/Tuesday, The Horseshoe)

The Legendary Horseshoe has a storied history, and hosts free indie rock shows in the early week with Shoeless Mondays and Dave Bookman's Nu Music Night on Tuesdays.

Free Evening (Wednesday, AGO)

The Art Gallery of Ontario's free evening runs from 6-8:30pm. It can be a little crowded, but sometimes the people watching is as good as the art (sometimes).

CINSSU's Free Friday Films (Fridays)

Though the Innis Town Hall is still under construction, you can follow the Cinema Studies Student Union for reliable Friday night movies and solid picks at Isabel Bader Theatre and/or Alumni Hall 100.

Canadian Opera Company (Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre)

September through to early June, catch free classical shows at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts "most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30 p.m."

MOCCA (Tuesday - Sunday)

While nearly all art galleries in the city are free to enter, it's worth noting The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) is always PWYC.

Have a free event you'd like to plug? Submit it using this form.

Photo via Harbourfront Centre

by Aubrey Jax via blogTO

Will the LCBO ever stay open (really) late?

toronto lcboMost people in Ontario know what it's like to arrive at the LCBO at a perfectly reasonably hour only to find it dark and shuttered. For a corporation established to sell alcohol to the public, provincial liquor stores don't exactly seem keen to furnish consumers with the ability to buy their products.

Genevieve Tomney, a spokesperson for the LCBO, said in a statement that store opening hours reflect customer demand and the company's commitment to social responsibility, not provincial law. Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to open until midnight or beyond.

In Toronto, the latest any LCBO stays open on a regular basis is 11 p.m. These "late night" locations include 2625D Weston Rd. (Monday through Saturday) and King and Spadina (Friday and Saturday). Astonishingly for a city of almost 3 million people, it's impossible to buy a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine to take home after a late night at work or an evening movie, yet Mega Dice, Poker, and Wheel of Fortune lotto is available on OLG gaming machines until 1 or 2 a.m. at most corner stores.

According to the LCBO, Ontarians are happy with the status quo. "Overall LCBO customer satisfaction survey rates are consistently over 80 percent so we believe our existing hours are sufficient for the vast majority of our shoppers."

What do you think? With a possible shake-up of the Beer Store in the works, would you like to see LCBO products made available later into the night?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Samantha Tan/blogTO Flickr pool.

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

A peek inside Toronto's traffic brain

toronto traffic centreEvery hour of the day, all year round, a team of technicians are watching over Toronto's urban highways from a top secret office complex in East York. 76 cameras located along the Don Valley Parkway, Gardiner, Allen, and Lake Shore Blvd. relay information back to the 60-screen Traffic Operations Centre, which is overseen by a private team of team of contractors hired by the city.

Their job is to dispatch EMS, direct recovery vehicles, and display messages on the digital gantries located along the highways. Don't worry, they're not allowed to issue tickets for traffic violations, but have no doubt--they see everything.

toronto traffic centreThe highway team share a building with the city staff responsible for setting the timing of Toronto's more than 2,300 sets of traffic lights.

toronto traffic centreToronto has a long history of computerized traffic operations. In 1964, the city became the first in the world to turn over control of some of its intersections to a computer.

toronto traffic centreToronto's first traffic computer--a UNIVAC 1107--was originally set up in the lobby of Old City Hall. It moved to police headquarters on Jarvis St. in 1969 and was finally decommissioned in the early 1980s. It's final location was an underground room near Yonge and Sheppard nicknamed "the Bunker."

toronto traffic centreThese photos, taken during the summer, show Toronto's highways moving well. During inclement weather or in the aftermath of an accident, the messages displayed on the overhead gantries and information relayed to EMS teams are of critical importance.

toronto traffic centreThe feed from the highway control centre's cameras is available online. TV stations often use the video from the cameras during traffic reports.

toronto traffic centreAccording to the city, the centre deals with about 12,000 traffic incidents and 700 emergency road closures every year. 869 loop detectors embedded in the road surface provide real-time traffic flow information.

toronto traffic centreIn future, the highway control centre plans to provide travel time information and install additional cameras on important arterial roads.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

by Chris Bateman via blogTO

The top 10 scones in Toronto

scones torontoScones in Toronto are less-closely linked to traditional British tea ceremonies than your local cafe or brunch spot, where you'll find them stocked alongside cookies and croissants or served next to your bacon and eggs. Whether sweet, savoury, ordered to go, or enjoyed with jams and cream, these baked goods are best enjoyed fresh (and, preferably, with a hot drink in the other hand).

Here are my picks for the top 10 scones in Toronto.

Baker & Scone

This bakery cafe on St. Clair is devoted chiefly to scones, and offers upwards of 40 flavours encompassing both sweet and savoury varieties, from chai spice to cheddar chive dill.

Kitten & The Bear

This storefront on Queen St. West specializes in jams, and offers buttery house-made buttermilk scones as a vessel to sample from the seasonal collection. The signature jam tasting experience includes scones and a choice of jam along with Devonshire clotted cream, and a cup of tea or coffee.

Andrea's Gerrard Street Bakery

This East Chinatown bakeshop stocks scones ($2.75 each) in assorted flavours. Look out for sweet options like blueberry lemon currant, and savoury versions like cheddar and chive.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Enjoy a basket of steaming red currant scones and buttermilk biscuits at this Liberty Village brunch destination. Order enough for a pair for $6, or for a table of six for $14; they're served warm with homemade preserves.

The Scullery

Find scones on the weekend brunch menu at this Cabbagetown cafe, where they're served up fresh with butter jam marmalade and Devon cream.


The vegan bakery in Bloorcourt offers an ever changing-selection of scones. Recent flavours have included a savoury version with rosemary, black olives and a hint of garlic, or raspberry lime with toasted coconut.

Wiseys Pies and Bakehouse

Kiwi-style meat pies might be the main event at this bakery in Leaside, but the scones are a real highlight among their other assorted offerings. Cheesy scones are among the house favourites, while seasonal selections like Saskatoon berry with white chocolate are delectable too.

Tori's Bakeshop

The vegan bakeshop in The Beaches is home to sweet scones, like one with blueberry and lemon, as savoury scones like roasted broccoli with daiya cheese, or mushroom, onion and thyme.

Circle & Squares

You don't have to travel to Markham to enjoy flakey baked scones from this bakeshop. It's more than likely that an independent cafe near you (Super-Jet, Dark Horse and Green Beanery - to name a few) stocks an assortment of scones brought in fresh daily.

Manic Coffee

The College Street cafe does all its own baking in-house, meaning that their dense, delicious cranberry studded scones are served fresh from the oven each day.

What did I miss? Add your favourite scones in the comments section.

Photo of Baker & Scone by Jesse Milns

by Liora Ipsum via blogTO

The top 5 stores to buy Dutch products in Toronto

dutch torontoDutch food in Toronto is relatively tough to find - it's spread out over a number of small specialty stores. The city's few Dutch cafes, delis and restaurants have closed over the years, leaving few opportunities for expats to find their old favourites - and for newcomers to try Dutch specialties.

Yes, the Dutch are better known for their cycling culture, soccer team, national flower and those cafes in Amsterdam than they are for their cuisine - but, then again, we also invented

flavoured sprinkles that go on toast
, and if you know where to look in Toronto, you'll be able to dig up the snacks of your Dutch dreams.

Here are my picks for the top stores to buy Dutch products in Toronto.

Dutch Dreams

The towering ice cream cones at this St. Clair and Vaughan parlour put them on the map - but they live up to the name with their reliable selection of Dutch treats, including a slew of different flavours of hagelslag, and a baked, ice cream-topped dutch baby pancake (aka pannekoek) on the menu.

Niemeyer Imports

For some, this Richmond Hill store might be a trek - so take the opportunity to stock way, way up on their selection of Droste chocolates, Dutch cheeses, Rusk bread, and drop licorice.

Holland Store

In addition to wooden shoes, windmill trinkets, and Oranje soccer jerseys, this little shop on Weston Rd. stocks dry goods, candy and deli essentials like cheeses and cold cuts (including, apparently, horse meat).


This cafe and deli on Main St. leans more toward German and Austrian food than Dutch, but Holland still gets some representation in the form of stroopwafel, Dutch chocolate products, speculaas, and some Indonesian items.

Gardenview Convenience

It's a pretty bog-standard convenience store, but Gardenview gets onto this list for sheer convenience. If you're downtown and hankering for some stroopwafel, you should be able to find some - imported direct from Holland - on their shelves.



It's not a shop or a restaurant, but the Dutch dining series, formerly based at the Ossington, still happens every few weeks around Toronto, with recent pop-ups at the Depanneur and the Cloak and Dagger. Their brunch-time events present a smorgasbord of Dutch snacks and dishes, including poffertjes, bitterballen, and boerenkool.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite sources for Dutch products in the comments.

Photo of Dutch Dreams.

by Natalia Manzocco via blogTO

Hot Wheels

Ronnie B's Southern Kitchen closes after four months

ronnie bs torontoRobbie B's Southern Kitchen has been shuttered after just four short months of slinging Cajun, Southern and Creole cuisine in Cabbagetown. According to a tip sent in by a reader, the restaurant shut down in recent weeks, ostensibly due to problems with frozen water pipes - but a notice of rent non-payment now posted on the door appears to suggest otherwise.

The restaurant opened in September with a menu that positioned down-south classics like blackened catfish and po'boys alongside mac 'n' cheese spring rolls and unpretentious cocktails. (Lamentably, this is the second Toronto spot featuring a mac 'n' cheese-filled food item to hit the deadpool this week.)

The family-run spot had big plans, including live music and a "wall of fame" for everyone who tried each one of their seven signature drinks - and even pulled in a few celeb diners, including Craig Kielburger and Ed Robertson - but it seems it sadly wasn't enough to keep the joint afloat. Today, we pour out a Kahlua mudslide in their honour.

by Natalia Manzocco via blogTO

Get in the Game Symposium

Begins: 28 February 2015 at 8:00 AM Ends: 28 February 2015 at 4:00 PM Where: 3 Concorde Gate Organized by: Softball Ontario

by via Toronto Networking Events

Winterlicious has begun! Check out the ten most popular menus so far!

Winterlicious has begun! Check out the ten most popular menus so far!

Most Popular Menus of Winterlicious 2015

Here\'s the list of most popular Winterlicious 2015 menus according to our readers.

by torontodotcom via torontodotcom's Facebook Wall