Alexa Clark, Editor/Publisher
Adding spice to her life on Augusta in Kensington Market.
What is your most favourite place in the city? My favourite place in the city is Kensington Market. I spent a summer living across the street from Courage My Love, in what is now another retro clothing store, and it was just the start of a long love affair with the market.
What is it that you like about this location? Everything from Courage My Love to The Rice Bar, from the funky Portuguese hardware store to Moonbean Coffee. I love it in the summer when the smells of cooking, hot asphalt, fresh fruit, fish and chiles could easily throw you into sensual overload, if you weren’t already reeling from the visual stimulation of graffiti colours, hippy-chick fashions side-by-each with punk piercings, grannies and grungers wandering side-by-side past the Roachorama. I love it in the winter when the neighbourhood becomes a magical conglomeration of hidden gems all waiting for you to deek in and get your ingredients, snacks and treats. Not to mention the most fantastic, not to be missed, participatory festival in the city – Festival of Lights on December 21st when the entire market becomes a seething mass of people all banging their drums and lighting the way through the longest night of the year.
Where is the best place to eat in the city? Oh boy – this is a hard one for me to answer. How about my current favourite place to eat in the city. That would be Baldwin Street – the section between Mc Caul and Beverly I’m always surprised at the people who don’t already know about this block and a half of wonderfully densely packed restaurants. It’s a great area to bring visitors or new Torontonians. Patios both on the street and hidden in back; restaurants include a Mexican fiesta room, a couple of excellent Indian spots, fine dining, a cheap but oh-so- tasty Chinese bakery, Japanese, Italian, French… really anything you want, you can probably find here.
What do you like about living in Toronto? I like the diversity. In fact, I love the diversity. What that means to me is that there is always something new to experience, learn and taste, someone new to meet, talk to and explore with.
What do you hate about living in Toronto? The pollution, the stress to maintain a certain type of lifestyle, the cost of having a place to live which means way too many people in this city simply don’t have one. It’s heartbreaking to see what those stressors do to people at all economic levels and their ability to get through their day with grace, compassion and humour.
Where would I find you on a lazy Sunday afternoon in the city? In the summer I would be on my bike exploring, in the winter likely sitting in a café writing or tucked into a movie matinee.
Who is your favourite Local Celebrity? Celebrity – well, I’m especially fond of the ones who provide recommendations for Cheap Eats. Hawksley Workman, Elizabeth Baird, Emm Gryner, Heather Mallick, Rick Mercer, David Miller, Marty Galin, Gord Martineau, Ed the Sock, Josey Vogels… Don Mc Kellar
Car, Bike or Transit? Bike all the way, all the time… when there’s too much snow – cabs. (but, shhhhh, don’t tell anyone ;->)
Favorite personal story or commentary on the city When I first moved to Toronto, at 19 on a co-op work term with IBM, I moved into an apartment across from work at Don Mills & the 401. I didn’t know anyone in the city, I was living on the 23rd floor with two fourth-year engineers who I barely knew, and I was feeling completely lost and alone. Then one night at 10pm my phone rang. It was a friend of my father’s (my father the hermit in New Brunswick), who just found out I was in Toronto. He phoned to invite me out to dinner. “But it’s 10pm on a Tuesday night…” I said. “Ya, we’ll be there to pick you up in 15 minutes” When he pulled up in front of my building, it was pitch black out, and the only sound was the roar of the traffic on the 401. He swooped me into his car and drove me down to Chinatown, which was filled with light and life – people shopping, eating, wandering around. Then we walked through the crowds to a little hole in the walled filled with people. “If you are looking for a good restaurant in Chinatown, look for the one filled with people at 1am” he said as he wove his way through the crowd getting takeout at the front, and we were flagged to a table. At 11pm we ordered BBQ pork, Singapore-style vermicelli and gai lan w/ oyster sauce. And ate and talked until 1am. That was when I knew that Toronto was home. The next week he took me to the Tulip.
My Toronto includes!