Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Caroline vs. New York City

View from the Hudson, February 2011

Hi everyone, more exciting news - I just booked a trip to New York City at the beginning of August!  A very good friend of mine is interning at the Frick Collection for the summer, and I've been trying to figure out a way to get down there for a visit.  The first weekend in August is a long weekend in Canada, and most of my friends will be out of town for Osheaga that weekend, so when I found out Porter was having a seat sale I jumped on it.  (A word to the wise, book as soon as you can.  My round trip ticket went from $288 yesterday to $314 today.  Sale ends on the 29th, go go go!)

I am SO excited to go back to New York.  I was there for Reading Week about a year and a half ago with my family, so I can't wait to visit in the summer and with a friend my own age and see the city with a different set of eyes.  Any suggestions for doing New York on the cheap?  Let a girl know!

xx, C.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Caroline vs. Heatwave

It's been ridiculously hot in Toronto lately, so I've been doing everything I can to keep cool - difficult to do when I live and have class in buildings without air conditioning.  One thing I really like to do is see movies.  It can be a bit of an expensive habit, but if you know where to find deals or collect points you don't have to totally break the bank.


I saw Moonrise Kingdom a couple weeks ago.  I've always been kind of ambivalent about Wes Anderson - not that I don't think he's a great director, but that his movies have never really been among my favourites.  My boyfriend, on the other hand, is really into Anderson and wanted me to see Moonrise Kingdom with him, so I agreed.  And I ended up really liking it!  I'm a hopeless romantic, and I thought Suzy and Sam's love story was so cute and innocent, with a hint of tragedy in the way it links into Captain Sharp and Laura Bishop's relationship.  I also grew up with a father who is very into scouting, so that whole angle of the film reminded me of my dad (hi Daddy!), who I think would enjoy some of the quirks of the camp scenes.


Just before the weekend I was talked into seeing Rock of Ages by some friends of mine.  The idea of Tom Cruise being in this movie kind of turned me off it, but I'd bailed on my friend the previous two nights so I felt like I owed her a date.  By no means were we expecting this to be a good movie; we just wanted to go enjoy some classic rock.  Not only were a lot of the songs done very well, but the movie was also hilarious.  It wasn't a great film, per se, but we laughed.  A lot.  I don't want to spoil anything, but my favourite moments include Catherine Zeta-Jones' first musical appearance as Pactricia Whitmore, uptight wife of the newly elected mayor of Los Angeles, as well as the dynamic between Russel Brand's and Alec Baldwin's characters, Lonny and Dennis, owners of the Bourbon Room.  There are some hilarious plot twists, awesome music, and a great cast (I still hold my reservations about anything Tom Cruise appears in, but he worked the alcoholic/drug addict/sex addict/asshole rockstar thing pretty well) - definitely a good movie to see with friends.

Both movies are still in theatres - cinemaclock.com is a great way to cross reference times and theatres to find what best suits you, and discounts are awesome if you can find them - Tuesdays at Cineplex are always $4.99, and I know the Bloor Street Diner (in the Manulife Centre, Bay & Bloor, Toronto) offers a dinner and a movie package.

What movies have you seen lately?

xx, C.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Caroline vs. Toronto Street Style

Perfecto Mag No.5 - #streetstyle #toronto #girls from PERFECTO MAG on Vimeo.

I love people watching, and this video shows exactly why Toronto is such a great place to do it.  Everyone has their own individual style, and looks amazing to boot.

xx, C.

Video by Perfecto Mag, via Naughty Mess.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Caroline vs. London

Hello everyone!  I've got some very exciting news, today I booked a trip to London for the end of August!  My boyfriend is moving there for grad school, so I'm going to fly over with him, help him get settled and then fly back to Toronto just in time to start the last year of my undergrad.  So Caroline vs. The City is going international!

I've been to London a few times before, but only for short periods of time, and never on my own.  I'm so excited to go back and spend a full ten days nerding out at all the museums and historic sites.  For now the game plan is to eat out as little as possible since we're both poor students and London is notoriously expensive, but is there anywhere we should definitely try?  I'm a big fan of cafés for a mid-afternoon snack, and I will of course have to eat fish and chips at least once.  What about shopping or places to stay?  Any tips are greatly appreciated :)

I hope you all had lovely weekends.

xx, C.

Image Source: Alice Tait

Friday, 8 June 2012

Caroline vs. "Hamlet," The Ballet

Last night I went with a friend of mine to see the National Ballet of Canada's production of Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Before yesterday, the only ballet I'd ever seen was Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker - albeit almost ever year since I could sit up straight, and by several different companies.  I've also never read Hamlet - of course I knew major themes, characters and quotations, but my knowledge of the details was lacking.  So when my friend got us orchestra level tickets through Dance Break for a mere $30, I was excited to broaden my horizons to include this dramatic tragedy.

Piotr Stanczyk as Hamlet
What really struck me was the use of the orchestra.  The first five or so minutes were completely silent, forcing the audience to focus on the movement of Hamlet, danced last night by Piotr Stanczyk.  I found it very uncomfortable, not in a negative way, but in an intriguing tell-me-more kind of way; it also helped cement the tone of the performance right from the start.  For the duration of the show, when the orchestra wasn't silent, I noticed a lot of brass, percussion and lower strings, which all helped portray the darkness of the story.  There was a lot of digital sound too, almost like feedback, which brought a more modern spin to the sound.

I was also entranced by the choreography and the strength of the dancers.  Other than Hamlet himself, I was very impressed with resident badass Claudius (Keiichi Hirano), beautiful Gertrude (Lise-Marie Jourdain) and an utterly amazing Ophelia (Sonia Rodriguez).  The movement of all the dancers was visually appealing and modern, and a lot of it was very slow.  The dancers made it look easy, but my muscles hurt just thinking about the strength of their abs.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Robert Stephen/Jonathan Renna/Skylar Campbell and Christopher Stalzer/Dylan Tedaldi, respectively) were the comic relief, and though they also proved their athleticism, a lot of their choreography was of the lewd variety - lots of hilarious, over-exaggerated pelvic thrusting.  The interaction with the set was also very well done; just one large, nondescript and static piece was able to portray different locations without pulling focus from the dancers.

Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stanczyk as Ophelia and Hamlet
As someone who didn't know the full story of Hamlet, I found myself unable to put many pieces of the first act together, and I became fairly confused by the intermission, when I had to re-read the synopsis.  Act II, however, was much more engaging, starting off with a party at court, which involved lots of dancers and orchestral accompaniment.  Though I did find the second half of the performance easier to follow, because there were constantly so many dancers onstage I wasn't sure where to focus my attention.

All in all, I'm very glad I saw this ballet.  I have a better understanding of the story of Hamlet, and finally have a second ballet under my belt.  The performance was very dark and challenging to the audience, but wonderfully put together and well received.

Hamlet has a short run at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - a mere ten days, of which seven have already passed.  Remaining performances are tonight (June 8) at 7:30pm, Saturday (June 9) at 7:30pm and Sunday (June 10) at 2:00pm.  If you are between the ages of 16 and 29, sign up for Dance Break to get discounted tickets for performances by the National Ballet.

A ballet by Kevin O'Day after William Shakespeare
Choreography: Kevin O'Day
Staged by: Rolando D'Alesio
Music: John King
Set and Costume Design: Tatyana van Walsum
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Dramaturgy: Vivien Arnold
Répétiteurs: Lindsay Fischer and Mandy-Jayne Richardson
Conductor: David Briskin

Photographs from the National Ballet of Canada website.

xx, C.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Caroline vs. Banner

So today, thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and photoshop skills far exceeding mine, I have a new and aesthetically pleasing banner!  I've had the privilege of visiting all (and living in four!) of the cities represented, save Dubai, home of the Burj Khalifa (pictured on the far right), to which a visit will sadly have to wait.  I'm very much a city creature, and love discovering what they have on offer, which was part of the inspiration for this blog.  On the right hand side of the page, I've also included links to my other internet time sucks.

In other blog news, posts to come will include DIYs, thoughts on movies/books/editorials/etc., more kitchen adventures, and travel editions to keep this from being totally Toronto-centric.

I hope this hump day is finding you well!

xx, C.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Caroline vs. La Société

First page of the menu
Last week a very good friend of mine celebrated her 22nd birthday at La Société, a relatively new bistro on Bloor St., just east of Avenue Rd.  She was the only one of our group of seven who had been there before, but we all live in the area and the restaurant had been on all of our to-go-to lists.

The first thing I noticed, aside from the stunning 1920s style decor, was the service.  Since we were a large group there initially wasn't enough space on the patio and we were led inside, which none of us minded because it was relatively quiet and was done up with dark glossy wood, brass railings and a stained glass ceiling.  As soon as we sat down, the maitre d' came over to see how we were doing and asked if we would like to move outside if a table opened up.  Within five minutes some tables had been rearranged and we were escorted back outside, much to our delight - the weather had been stickily hot all day but by dinner it was that perfect summer evening temperature.

The menu was a perfect size, enough that there was excellent choice, but not so much that deciding what to eat took too long.  Though food prices were slightly above the standard university girl's budget, the kitchen produced delicious food in portions of a satisfying size.  There was also the option of a prix fixe (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $36, which two of our party had and were very satisfied with.  Drinks-wise, there was a lengthy wine menu that we poured over and eventually decided on two good bottles, one red and one white.  Prices were elevated, as they are in most restaurants, but they ranged from an affordable $30ish to a lavish $100+.

Then came the food.

I found my dinner to be fabulous.  For an appetizer I had a green salad with apples, pecans and a honey vinaigrette, my entrée was macaroni and cheese made with gruyère, cheddar and truffle oil that I shared with a friend of mine, and dessert was a white chocolate crème brûlée topped with fresh raspberries.  My wine of choice was a 2007 Alsatian Riesling.  All of it was AMAZING.

Fresh berries and shaved white chocolate with dessert
Wine à la Instagram
Complications arose with the bill because we'd all shared different things with different people, but our waiter was very, very patient and didn't seem to be distressed during the almost 40 minutes it took us to figure out all the math (a subject in which not many of us were gifted).  We finally left the restaurant about three hours after arriving, our wallets emptier but our tummies and spirits very satisfied.
Birthday Girl
It was a pleasure to eat at La Société, and I will certainly return.  I've heard good things about their midday meals, and since I'm a girl who loves brunching I know I'll try it eventually.  The restaurant, located on the street-facing side of the second floor of an apartment/office/shopping complex, also has an outdoor bar at street level.  It gets lots of sunshine during the day and has heaters for chilly nights, and would be perfect for anything ranging from a mid-morning coffee to after-work drinks.

There are loads of good restaurants in the Bloor-Yorkville area, but what I think made La Société different was the ambience.  Next time I go back I'll try to take some better photos, but for now enjoy these ones from Instagram and my point and shoot.  If you go sometime, let me know what you think!

xx, C.