Tag Archives: festival

Supercrawl 2013

A couple weeks ago, I went to Supercrawl in Hamilton, a city about an hour away from Toronto.  Supercrawl was a two-day festival over Friday and Saturday, celebrating music, art, and culture. While I had heard about the emerging art scene in Hamilton, this was my first time experiencing it, and I was excited to explore Hamilton!

Each year, Supercrawl gets bigger and I can definitely see why. The biggest draw to Supercrawl for me initially is the music line-up. This year they had some big bands such as Passion Pit, Yo La Tengo and Said the Whale. But I fell in love with so much more.

Supercrawl took place along a blocked off James Street North, so there was no need to worry about cars except for one crossing. We spotted interesting art in strange places.

SupercrawlA functional merry go round made out of scrap metal.

Supercrawl-003Sculptures made out of packing tape

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There were so many cool vendors both on the street and vintage shops along James Street North.  

In particular, I found out about a very cute pop up vintage vendor, Dizzy Alice. Their selection of goods was so charming! I was also impressed at the quality. In my brief foray into vintage stores, I noticed things like broken zippers and frayed ends, which I understood was part of the hunt, but it was sometimes frustrating. So I was happy that I found a cute purse in good shape there. Not too adventurous, but I had been looking like something like this for a while.

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I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of their stall as it was freezing that Friday night we were there. This is Dizzy Alice’s write-up about Supercrawl. There were a couple items that I was eying that night. Now  I am kicking myself for not getting them. But I will definitely try to follow these girls around as their “shop” pops up in more places.

Part of the Supercrawl took place by Lake Ontario, as there was another stage by the water a bit further north than the rest of the event. This provided some serene views.

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Lastly, the music was fantastic. I was happy to see Young Galaxy play. It was also amazing to see the legends from the ’90s, Yo La Tengo, play. I wasn’t too ready for the ambient sounds live, but it was a good time. 

Then for the last musical act of the weekend, I somehow ended up literally front and centre for Passion Pit. That was a surreal experience in such a large (and younger) crowd. It was a lively show.

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This was a grand break from school and a lovely way to spend a fall-ish weekend.

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Celebrate Yonge

From the middle of August to mid-September, two car lanes out of four are closed on Yonge Street from Queen to Gerrard for the new Celebrate Yonge festival. Instead, there are a slew of spaces and activities oriented to pedestrians. I dropped by the festival last weekend.

There was outdoor seating and picnic tables. Restaurants along Yonge were able to use the extra car lane space as patios.

“The Oasis.”

Fancy a game of chess outside Zanzibar? Ha ha, I do love oversized chess pieces.

There was also a planter competition. The planters were partly used as barriers from the street.

Marvelous Parks Canada area.

I love the concept of public space in the downtown core. It was awesome just standing on the road, knowing that cars usually belonged there. I am not sure if this festival is intended to be a test for closing lanes on Yonge St. regularly or even on a permanent basis. If so, I have some notes or hopes for the future.

Firstly, it wasn’t entirely pleasant to sit so close to the cars. Yonge St. is a main road and full of concrete. Initially, I didn’t understand why they would close off Yonge St. in the first place. Then, I realized that for such a major thoroughfare in Toronto, it was good to have wider spaces for pedestrians as well. I think the key in the future will be vegetation to buffer the cars. Already, the planters helped. A change in paving would be helpful as well to demarcate the pedestrian and car areas.

Second, I wasn’t too comfortable sitting in those Muskoka chairs. I might have been sitting them incorrectly (not exactly a cottage girl) or maybe I am too short for them. I felt like I was falling out of the chair especially since the car lanes curve downwards into the gutter.

My other problem with the event was determining public spaces versus private space in terms of restaurant patios. I though it was great that restaurants could have patios with people who added to the street scene. But part of me was not so keen on the fact that people would have to pay to have access to the patios by eating at the restaurant.  On the other hand, there were some stretches of the closed car lanes where there really wasn’t much to see, whereas you could really see life on the patios. I think overall there was a balance between “private” and “public” space during the festival, but it was frustrating walking down a whole block of more private areas.

Finally, I am interested in traffic studies that should be coming out to see how the festival impacted car travel times.

On the topic of festivals, I revisited Buskerfest after walking down Yonge. Mad hops from the Chicago Ultimate Tumblers!

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Say Yeah, Say Oh Yeah (Toronto Buskerfest)

This weekend is Buskerfest in Toronto. Front Street is closed off from Yonge Street to Jarvis. Performers from all around the world come to Toronto to display their talents on stages along Front. There is a fair selection of food and great musical performers as well. Donations go towards supporting Epilepsy Toronto.

Buskerfest is one of my favourite festivals in Toronto. Firstly, all the acts feature amazing and sometimes dangerous stunts or some good old-fashioned entertainment. I love just slowly walking along Front Street and seeing all the different performers and the spontaneity of the performances. It is not an odd sight to see someone on stilts sauntering on the street. And yet, there is a very down-to-earth environment. You can tell the performers just love what they do.

Next, it’s awesome that the festival closes off Front Street from cars for a good stretch of road. Front Street is wide enough so you don’t feel claustrophobic even though there are a lot of people. Last year 1M people came during the four days!

While I will always be fond of the Silver Elvis, the Copper Cowgirl, new this year, was very endearing.

 Dream State Circus from Australia. Fire!

I also enjoyed seeing Scott Jackson, a Canadian beatboxer.

My friend and I split this funnel cake. Mmm, deep-fried batter, strawberries and ice cream.

The crowd around St. Lawrence Market during the day.

Buskerfest finishes up tomorrow for another year. There is a Grand Finale is at 6:30 pm.

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HK Eats: Sweet Treats

Since these treats are so small, I’ve decided to roll these write-ups into one. Ha ha, alright, first up we have Roll. Roll was my first foray into contemporary HK bakeries and restaurants. Who needs social media when you can advertise to hundreds of people in Central? I usually avoid pamphlets people hand out in the street. However, a bright pink pamphlet with a photo of a cake caught my eye so I grabbed a pamphlet. Turned out it was for a new branch of bakery in Central.

Roll sells a selection of pastries and baked goods including macarons, brownies and cookies as well as frozen yogurt. It of courses sells, as its name suggests, swiss rolls which come in regular and mini size.

Move over, cupcakes and macarons, there are new mini treats in town! A swiss roll is a sheet of cake with a layer of cream rolled up. This cake likely came from the British, and HK bakeries soon popularised it.  It’s common to find swiss rolls in HK western-style bakeries.

The staff were very friendly and patient while I decided on what kind of cake to get. I chose the mini black sesame roll. This was a black sesame sheet cake made with charcoal powder with a layer of black sesame paste spread on top and a layer of whipped cream, all rolled up. There was an intense black sesame flavour. The sesame paste was quite sweet, but it mostly balanced out the less sweet cake.

This seems like a dangerous place for me because I want to try all the different flavours, particularly chestnut, green tea and mango. They are only HK $10 each (~CDN $1.40).

Roll recently opened a new location at G/F, No 40, Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong.

For a more traditional HK treat, I went to Tai Cheong, a bakery famous for its egg tarts. This is partly because Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, once said it was the best egg tart in Hong Kong.

When I passed by the bakery after work, someone had just bought the last two. I waited a couple more minutes and a fresh batch came out! I had to get one. The woman gave me a knowing smile when I ordered.

The egg tart used a shortbread pastry as opposed to a flaky crust. I generally prefer flaky crusts, but this shortbread crust truly made the egg tart. It had a hint of salt which was the perfect contrast to the sweet custard. The crust was baked perfectly all throughout and was still crispy. The custard was smooth and slightly jiggly and just glorious. My favourite part was still the crust though.

The egg tarts in Toronto can’t compare to Tai Cheong’s. These were fresh out of the oven and there was no weird metallic after taste. Of course I won’t say no if you give me an egg tart back home 😉

Tai Cheong is located at G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong.

Finally, last week as I was going home a vendor at the corner of D’Aguilar and Wellington Street convinced me to try one of the last few of these treats for the day. I had been eyeying this little vendor for weeks, but I was too nervous just to point to anything and try it. I still didn’t know what this was when I bought it, but I felt more comfortable buying at the end of the day.

Well, I should have tried this “stall” earlier because was this was delightful! This had a chewy and herbal-tasting exterior with a ground peanut and sugar paste filling. It was extremely sticky and hard to peel off the bamboo at the bottom, but a fun treat to eat.

So, what exactly is “this”? It took a surprising amount of effort to find out. My parents could read the sign but didn’t know what it was. My grandmother enlightened us all. This is called “gai ji gwor” which translates literally to “chicken purple fruit.”

This dessert is made from the leaves of a vine called “Gai Zi” which translates to “chicken poop,” due to the apparently similar aroma! The leaves are ground and mixed with flour and water to make a dough. For the gai ji gwor filling was added and then steamed.

In order not to turn people off, the vendor wrote “purple,” a homophone of “poop” in Cantonese. According to my grandmother, this is usually only sold during the period of Tuen Ng Tsit (Dragon Boat Festival), so I was lucky I caught this.

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