The New 52: Spicy salsa

Posted on Thursday, January, 23rd, 2014 at 9:32 am   (No comments)
Salsa dancing

Courtesy Rise Up Surf Tours

We run. We box. But we don’t really dance. Sure, A. will tolerate busting a move at the occasional DJ night at a bar, but our rhythm and step skills are kind of lacking.

So, we decided it was time to turn to the pros. But, unwilling to put our two left feet on display in a crowd, we signed up for a private salsa lesson at Rhythm and Motion Dance Studio. Why salsa? It’s something totally new, has a decent pace and is a rare enough skill that our friends would be impressed but totally unable to identify our missteps.

So, we steeled ourselves for an embarrassing hour with the hope that we’d avoid any serious injuries – at least beyond our pride.

Luckily, our instructor was super friendly and tolerated our mistakes as we stepped, spun and giggled. But, he managed to whip us into shape. By the end of the evening we were able to step to the eight-count beat. I learned to follow A’s lead, take a break step and, almost successfully, spin. We learned a whole sequence, and how to repeat it, and even made it through a full song without falling apart.

We kept honing our moves in our kitchen and, eventually, busted them out while on vacation in Nicaragua. We still need a lot of practice, but we’ll keep trying. While it was far out of our comfort zone, it ended up being a lot of fun – and something we’ll definitely do again!

Learn more about the New 52 and check out our full list of 2013 firsts here!

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The New 52: Run with the animals

Posted on Wednesday, January, 22nd, 2014 at 9:35 am   (No comments)

I’ve run very few 10K races. A. had never raced one, with Around the Bay and Midsummer Night’s Run being his first experiences lacing up with a chip. And, we love animals. So, the Zoo Run seemed like something we could run on a lark before tackling our marathon. In addition to being our first time running through the zoo, it ended up being another big first for us: Our first race in truly dismal weather. It was unseasonably cold and poured rain. We were drenched just waiting for the start, while I tried not to shiver!

We had been planning to run with friends, but injuries weren’t on their side, so our plan to corral together ended up meaning that instead of waiting with friends, we just had a lot of traffic to work through to get up to speed. It was a really good race registration lesson: choose the right corral or be mentally prepared to be stuck in a crowd.

Luckily, once the race actually started, things looked up. Way up. The rain slowed to a welcome drizzle, the crowds thinned out and, because we were already pretty soggy, mud and puddles didn’t matter at all! We splashed our way to the finish and were thrilled to put on our (actually really nice) race shirts once we were done. The dry clothes were very welcome as we waved hello to a few animals then headed off for a celebratory brunch.

Learn more about the New 52 and check out our full list of 2013 firsts here!

The New 52: Ghost hunting at Casa Loma

Posted on Tuesday, January, 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am   (No comments)

Normally for these New 52 posts, I try to come up with a headline that includes a pun or something a little silly. But for this entry, nothing seemed to compare to the simple truth: A. and I went ghost-hunting at Casa Loma. Which is exactly what it sounds like.

I’d never been inside Casa Loma, and neither of us had ever gone hunting for the paranormal. The tour was actually pretty incredible, because it happens after hours and you get a really good chance to explore all the rooms of the castle without having to worry about other tourists. We thought it was really cool to check out the rooms featured in X-Men!

The tour was a good mix of the castle’s history and its ghost stories. After a brief introduction, we were divided into groups and then started the guided portion of the tour. We learned about the tunnels under the castle – and their mysterious knocking sounds and horse whinnies – and checked out the stables and maintenance rooms before making our way into the main castle.

We had no run-ins with anything out of the ordinary, but we’ve got to admit that it’s a pretty creepy place after dark. It was a pretty extravagant property, and, having been vacant for a long period,  it’s really not that surprising that it has a lot of stories of strange lights and noises. Whether that’s supernatural – like Sir Henry Pellatt finally enjoying his property – or due to kids who used to break in is up to you to decide.

Learn more about the New 52 and check out our full list of 2013 firsts here!

The New 52: S’more of the Junction Night Market

Posted on Monday, January, 20th, 2014 at 9:09 am   (No comments)

Fresh food with a neighbourhood vibe? All in support of the Junction Farmers Market voucher program and  The Stop Community Food Centre? It’s pretty hard to resist the Junction Night Market.

We had gone to the more traditional Junction Farmers Market a few Saturday mornings, but hadn’t yet hit its nighttime offering, where cooked goods are sold for $5 a dish from some trendy vendors. On the night we attended that included Farmhouse Tavern, The Beet, El Perro Heffe, Cut the Cheese and Junction Craft Brewing.

We arrived at the old train platform just after opening and the place was already slammed – it would appear $5 beer is a pretty good selling point. We quickly scoped out what was on offer and I was able to rule out a few of the more meaty booths. To help fuel the decision making process, A. quickly grabbed us some delicious ceviche with watermelon, while I scooted into line for the dish I was most excited about: Mexican-inspired s’mores. It was a perfectly messy pile of avocado marshmallows, corn-based crackers and chili lime chocolate. Ooey, gooey magic. I still dream of that treat, and have in no way figured out how to replicate it at home. Someday, though, I’ll nail it!

A few tacos later and a quick pose for Snap Bloor West and we were ready to call it a night – but we’ll definitely be back when the next season starts.

Learn more about the New 52 and check out our full list of 2013 firsts here!

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The New 52: Eating all the things at the CNE

Posted on Friday, January, 17th, 2014 at 8:56 am   (No comments)

We’re suckers for trying new foods. It’s how we ended up taste-testing hakarl (fermented shark) in Iceland and what informs about 80 per cent of A.’s meal choice decisions when we’re travelling.

So, when the CNE rolls into town, it’s pretty hard to resist the tummy-ache inducing variety of special concoctions. I’m somewhat spared, as a pescatarian, from some of the stranger wares, like the s’mores weenie, the overstuffed boar poutine, the pizza cone, and the Krispy Kreme donut burger that A. and our friends sampled as we made our way through the crowded food hall. (The Cronut burger was already history by the time we visited. Which was likely for the best.)

What no one could resist, though, was Spread Nutellerie, which is supposed to be opening a real storefront after its success at the CNE. We all sampled the jalepeno Nutella poppers, and, while they were definitely interesting, they were also the menu choice I was most regretting while riding a roller coaster later in the day. The pita fingers doused in Nutella and peanut butter however, shown, was worth every single messy bite.

Other culinary highlights (lowlights?) included vegan tacos – which were legitimately delicious – and deep fried mac and cheese, while I’ll simply describe as a great “sometimes treat.”

Of course, we can’t forget the other CNE attractions – when we weren’t eating, we went on the aforementioned roller coaster without any disasters, scoped out the shopping and watched the Super Pets, which this year was a totally adorable western theme. (Who doesn’t love puppies?)

Learn more about the New 52 and check out our full list of 2013 firsts here!

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