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Velotique: Beach bike rentals, now

Another great use for steel shipping containers that have become too abundant and therefore cheap.

 Everyone will have their own opinions about colours, but I think orange would make a striking, yet pleasing contrast with the green trees. See my version (2).

 Never mind. As they are, the containers are more colourful than the mothership store on Queen East at Rhodes Avenue. It has a terrific, big bike graphic, but on a tired, brown background.

Note to Velotique: Andrew Horne might be available to colour consult. His studio is just up Rhodes at Gerrard.

Velotique is a popular and necessary store in the neighbourhood of Ashbridges Bay, so I think it’s great that they are doing bike rentals at the park entrance.

The first hour is $15 + taxes and each hour after that is $4. You pay with a credit card, but you get to rent from friendly humans who are seated at a table alongside the container/showrooms.

The bikes are like new, I was promised, and there is some selection. You see a couple of tandems in the photo. There was also one of those fat-wheelers with the 5-inch tires. It’s 20 bucks, but wouldn’t that be a good way to try one to see if you like it?

Fresh Corn Chowder with Roasted Poblano Peppers

Your Royko Recipe for July, 2017

Food & Wine, July 1992, Page 92. Credit: Anne Raver.

Fresh Corn Chowder with Roasted Poblano Peppers
Corn. Chiles. What could be more Meso-American than this? Serves 4.

As chiles become more and more popular, it seems that nomenclature becomes more and more problematic. This recipe is a case in point. The chile required is called a poblano. The same chile, transported west and grown in California, is called an Anaheim. Dried, both are called ancho chiles. In any case, these are among the mildest of the chile peppers.

4 to 6 large ears husked fresh corns
4 tbl. sweet butter – or margarine
1/2 medium finely chopped onion
2 medium cloves minced garlic
2 cups milk
2 poblano peppers – or 3 Anaheim peppers
1 cup crème fraîche or milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or farmer’s cheese
2 tbl. chopped fresh Italian parsley – for garnish

Using a sharp knife, slice the corn kernels from each cob into a large measuring cup, scraping the cobs with the knife to extract any juices, until you have 3 cups. Transfer to a blender or food processor.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Scrape the mixture into the corn and add 1/4 cup of the milk. Blend until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter or margarine over moderate heat. Add the corn purée and cook, stirring constantly, until quite thick (about 3 minutes). Whisk in the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk. Cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under the broiler as close to the heat as possible, turning frequently, until charred all over. Transfer chiles to a paper bag and set aside to steam for 10 minutes. Scrape off the blackened skin and remove the core, seeds and ribs. Rinse the chiles, pat dry and cut in 1/4-inch dice.

Strain the soup through a sieve. Rinse out the saucepan and return the soup to it. Stir in the chiles and crème fraîche (or milk), season with salt to taste and cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not boil.

To serve, ladle into small warm bowls. Garnish with cheese and parsley.

Afrofest Weekend

When we couldn’t hear the drums from our house, we wondered if Afrofest would be a small, quiet affair this year? We needn’t have worried.

 Woodbine Park was probably fuller than we’ve ever seen it. Fabulous crowd, enjoying entertainers here, all the way from Africa, food and shopping from vendors’ tents. Afrofest 2017 continues Sunday, July 9th.

Here’s an iPad movie clip to give you a bit of the flavour. Pure fun.

Godspeed Brewery is fully open

Blog interest in postings about the Godspeed Brewery on Coxwell near Gerrard East has been high, so I think I should get this announcement online quickly.

At 4:00 pm today, Godspeed opened softly, but completely, with table service. Takeout service started on Canada Day. Congratulations to brewmaster Bim and all who helped.

Godspeed Brewery, 242 Coxwell Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4L 3B2

Since some of us are more interested in the food offerings than the beer …

The Frank Slide: Connections

Danica opened a book that Anne Viccari let us have from the library of her late husband, our friend Ben Viccari. The book, Disasters Canada, gives a well-written account of a horrendous landslide in 1903 … the Frank Slide.

Book, Disaster Canada Bottom: the picture,framed. Main:The Tragedy: Frank Slide

Frank was the name of a northern coal mining town in what is now Alberta. A huge limestone slab, half a kilometre across, broke away from Turtle Mountain one night, sending gigantic boulders crashing into houses in the town below. More than 70 people died and 17 miners were trapped (but dug themselves out). [Wikipedia]

Danica and I have a painting by my mother, Helen Andersen, called The Tragedy: Frank Slide. It was done in airbrushed gouache in 1986, 83 years after the disaster.

I wondered what inspired the painting. Helen had grown up on the Prairies and, although the Frank Slide had happened long before her birth, I imagine that people still spoke of it when she was a child. But why turn to the subject so many decades later, in 1986?

Ben’s book gave me an idea. Apparently local Kootenay Indigenous People had long avoided camping near Turtle Mountain, never lingering there long, because of a legend; the mountain “was restless and would one day choose to move”.

Did Helen see The Tragedy as symbolic of a larger story? Colonizing settlers had dismissed Indigenous lore as irrelevant superstition, recklessly ripping away at coal seams and destabilizing already precarious ground. Was the tragedy the slide, or the failure to grasp that indigenous Peoples may know a hell of a lot more about this land than relative newcomers do?

If this was Helen’s take on the Frank Slide, she was slightly ahead of the rest of her settler culture. Even today, 40 years later, most of us have only the dimmest sense that cultures thousands of years older than ours have developed insights into our relationship the to “the land” that we ignore at our peril.

William rides to Trillium

Recently opened Trillium Park used to be a parking lot at mothballed Ontario Place. I took a leisurely ride from our house … dedicated bike paths almost all the way. One hour, at a pokey pace.

Slide show The new park.

It’s rather small, but hey … it’s a park and it affords a different view of the harbour and downtown.

 I missed the entrance at first, and rode past before doubling back to find it. More interesting than the park itself are the surroundings … things you can see from the park or nearby.

I passed the Prince’s Gate to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds (first slides) and Inukshuk Park as I got close. You can ride right through Trillium Park, to see the old Ontario Place buildings (closed for decades). The big geodesic sphere was an IMAX movie theatre, once upon a time.

The tall ship is the Kajama, taking customers on a harbour cruise. The flag (last slide) was flying on one of the sailboats docked at Ontario Place … kind of fun.

Slide show

 Parting shot

Trillium Park is just across from the noisiest end of the island airport. I captured the sound of a plane idling on the runway. It gets much louder during take-offs. Imagine the pretty pictures with this soundtrack.