IMG_4921 (2) (1024x765)1) the sun sets … at 10PM in Edmonton

The sun sets late in Edmonton in the summer. The shot above was taken at the brand-spanking-new Marriott Renaissance Hotel at Edmonton International Airport … at 10:00PM.  Very cool. The hotel is built-in the W Hotel-style and I would certainly recommend it (meals aside, which still need a lot of attention).  After a little business with the University of Alberta, I was off to London to visit family and then met G back in Toronto for a journey out to Kingston to visit Scots-on-the-Rocks Ann. It’s been eons (3 years in fact) since we visited Ann and it was terrific to see her again.

IMG_4918 (2) (1024x765)2) the ‘library’ at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel

IMG_4917 (2) (1024x765)3) my room whilst there

IMG_4967 (2) (1024x613)4) me scoring 4 out of 5 sunk ships at the new Fort Henry Discovery Centre in Kingston

IMG_4973 (1024x765)5) Scot on the Rocks Ann snaps us

From London we VIA-oned our way back to Toronto to spend time catching up with friends we’ve not seen since moving West. We crashed, with thanks, at Lady Sarah and Lord Phil’s new home and were fortunate to join them for dinner at Canoe. We enjoyed an awesome meal at what is Toronto’s best Japanese restaurant, the outstanding Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto at the Japanese Culture Centre on Don Mills Road and spent an evening bbq-ing with friends at our place at Yonge/Eglinton. Two of these couples – Dr Rob/Maria and Karen/John now have children!

IMG_4989 (2) (1024x765)6) the staff at Canoe welcomed us back to Toronto

IMG_4980 (2) (1024x765)7) my awesome appetizer at Canoe – Juniper Pickled Mackerel
Gooseneck Barnacle Kippers, Immature Juniper Berries
Brined Cucumber & Crème Fraîche

IMG_4982 (2) (1024x765)8) my main was just as great – St-Canut Gaspor Pork
Local Asparagus, Creamed Cauliflower
Sauerkraut & Wild Leek Kimchi

IMG_4987 (2) (1024x765)9) and of course, the fabulous view … you could even see the mist rising off Niagara Falls on this evening

IMG_4992 (2) (1024x765)10) returning to Lady Sarah’s we cracked open these, followed by a bottle of red wine and a bottle of champagne, which, after a bottle of champagne, an awesome Argentinan red and bourbon sours at Canoe was probably not the wisest move … lesson learned

IMG_5009 (2) (756x1024)11) the next day we visited the Toronto Outdoor Art Show at City Hall but didn’t find anything of interest

IMG_5010 (2) (1024x765)12) over to Milk Bar at Momofoko at the Shangri-La we went as well … here with Blee peeking out of the bar

IMG_5015 (2) (1024x707)13) G on TTC watches the city go by

IMG_5017 (2) (1024x765)14) we stopped into Teuscher in Yorkville for champagne truffles

IMG_5035 (2) (765x1024)15) yes, Cousin Richard is on the Go Chuck hall of fame – read that sign and you’ll be awed by his accomplishment

IMG_5034 (2) (765x1024)16) Kwan (at Yonge / St Clair) is the newest dim sum place downtown – it’s excellent and makes the drive to Markham or Richmond Hill redundant

A highlight of our trip east was a visit to Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto at the Japanese Culture Centre.  Hashimoto’s is a family run business: Chef Masaki Hashimoto, wife Sachiko (who handles front of house) and son Kei (who guides us through the 8 picture perfect courses and the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony which concludes the dinner). Typically, they seat one table each night; yes one table. Guests are transported back to Japan in the 17th century when kaiseki dining was birthed. Essentially, kaiseki is the haute cuisine of Japan with a religious devotion to the freshest ingredients served in season. Conde Nast Traveller magazine last October asked whether or not Hashimoto’s was, in fact, the most extraordinary restaurant in the world (see here). You’ll have to be the judge of that yourself and all I can say is if you’re ever in Toronto; go! Dinner (which included meal & tea ceremony, a bottle of sake and a bottle of white wine, tax and tip) will run you about CAD$450/per person.

020 (2) (1024x384) 17) our table awaits us

013 (2) (576x1024)18) its pretty inside

228 (2) (768x1024)19) the entrance way

025 (2) (576x1024)20) Kei, our waiter, prepares our bottle of sake

IMG_5021 (2) (1024x765)21) yum!

031 (2) (1024x576)22) G orders a green matcha soda

042 (2) (754x1024)23) the sakizuke course

067 (2) (1024x683)24) the mukozuke course: porgy sashimi  

103 (2) (1024x576)25) the wine arrives; a lovely Chablis

084 (2) (1024x683)26) the futamono course: literally ‘lidded dish’ … this was a fabulous clear fish broth with daikon and a wee bit of fish

088 (2) (1024x683)27) the yakimono course; this was a Japanese freshwater fish flame broiled

002 (2) (1024x683)28) each box served to us was unique

144 (2) (1024x576)29) the gohan  course; rice with chicken and pickled vegetables

105 (2) (1024x576)30) our last course, or shiizakana

131 (2) (1024x576)31) this was a potpourri of items but the star was the waygu beef and the handmade daikon crane

118 (2) (1024x576)32) Chef Hashimoto won first place in Japan for his expertise in making these cranes

153 (2) (1024x576)33) the mizumono, or dessert course

IMG_5018 (2) (1024x765)34) Cousin Richard and moi

167 (2) (576x1024)35) Kei takes us to the tea room where G prepares to sit

183 (2) (1024x576)36) Blee watches sa Kei prepares the tea

224 (2) (1024x576)37) here is the matcha tea – very strong and bitter but yummy

225 (2) (576x1024)38) afterwards, Chef himself comes to visit and chat with us

We flew back to Vancouver in time for this year’s Gastown Grand Prix cycling race that takes place – literally – outside our condo. We invited Barb & Darrin over for the evening and enjoyed many a bottle of craft beer between wandering the streets of Gastown to watch the race.

IMG_5071 (2) (1024x765)39) the finish line on Water Street

IMG_5058 (2) (1024x765)40) the Lamborghini pace car (which actually ended up hitting one of the race volunteers!)

IMG_5063 (2) (1024x765)41) making the turn off Cordova … they are moving so fast they are but a blur to my iPhone

IMG_5043 (2) (1024x765)42) going under the bridge that links the condo to the garage

IMG_5051 (2) (1024x765)43) making the sharp turn off Cordova – we saw a crash here … thank goodness for the hay bales

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