the aberdeen tavern

This year for Mother’s Day we decided to try out brunch at the Aberdeen Tavern. I’d been to the tavern the week before to sample some evening snacks with friends and to check out the new place post its former incarnation as Seven Windows.

I’d never been to Seven Windows, but the atmosphere of the Aberdeen Tavern was just right: cozy, and warm meets contemporary-fresh yet rustic tavern.

We sampled some delicious wild mussels with crostini, fresh hot frites, and Maryland crab cakes, with mango and jalapeño relish -yum! Not to mention their menu sounded mouth watering; like their pan-fried organic halibut, risotto, with brown butter, or their giant meatballs charred & braised in tomato sauce with Quebec cheese curd, or their duck confit spring rolls with caramelized onions! I knew that it definitely wouldn’t be long until I’d have to make a return trip to sample a little more.

Well, I didn’t make it back for dinner (yet) but instead I was able to just barely squeeze in a reservation for Mother’s Day brunch.

We made it to the restaurant for the tail end of the brunch rush and enjoyed a slow, steady and relaxing meal with mimosas to start, coffee and an assorted pastry platter to follow, which consisted of banana bread, walnut scones, and a side of house made preserves and apple butter.

Aberdeen Tavern dine full

We kept eyeing the brunches coming out of the kitchen and had a tough time deciding just which delicious thing to order for our main course. I ordered the tostadas rancheros; poached egg, guacamole, sour cream, aged cheddar, salsa fresca, black bean, with home fries.

Aberdeen Tavern tostada rancheros

My sister and mom both ordered the short rib hash; braised short rib, poached egg, charred corn, pico de gallo, home fries, and aged cheddar. It comes in a mini-individual little cast iron skillet!

Aberdeen Tavern short rib hash

Aberdeen Tavern bar

I like how the tavern is so versatile. Weekend brunch, snacks and drinks, dinner or lunch, or just drinks. Did I mention they do fancy mixologist worthy cocktails like the Russian pony; triple citrus vodka, ginger beer, lime, and mint or the derby; bourbon, peach liqueur, lemonade, earl grey tea, and mint!?

Aberdeen Tavern dine Aberdeen Tavern bench

I can think of many a special occasions that I’d like to celebrate here, and many more Sunday brunches!

I highly recommend you make a reservation before going to avoid the disappointment of not getting a table.

*Aberdeen Tavern, 432 Aberdeen Ave., 905.523.7707, @AberdeenTavern

friends of the aviary + cootes paradise

Two weeks ago Omi learned how to say peacock. Well, he actually says it so it sounds something more like “peatock”. In any case, I took his new adaptive use of the word as motivation for an impromptu visit to Westdale’s Friends of the Aviary, which is home to a lovely male and female peacock.

The aviary had a small crowd of weekend family visitors that casually checked out the various hens, roosters, chicks, peacocks and other fowl in their large outdoor cages. It also has an indoor coop for a variety of parrots and other small feathered friends. You can pay a small donation to help support the volunteer run aviary and enjoy the garden grounds on your visit.

Westdale Aviary peacock

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Attached to the aviary grounds is the Churchill Park Community Gardens. For a small yearly fee you can till and sow your own garden. There were a lot of fairly large plots and even some espaliered fruit trees. I  know a few friends that have been successfully growing their bountiful cornucopia of vegetables there yearly and they love this little spot of land.

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Churchill Park Community Garden

Right by the gardens is the Ravine Road Trail entrance to Cootes Paradise. Although we were somewhat ill prepared for a proper hike, we figured we could handle a little four by four stroller trekking on the trails while taking in some of the changing spring forest landscapes.

Welcome to Cootes Paradise

Ravine Road Trail cootes

At first the trail was mostly brown and leaf covered with little sign of spring. But then as we got further into the forest and trail we started to see bright green patches of spring time growth. I don’t know what these large green leafs were. At first I thought maybe they were lilies but they seemed too big. The leaves were huge and looked almost like giant lettuce leaves or swiss chard.

cootes paradise spring

As we walked further along, the trail headed uphill towards a ridge that overlooked Cootes Paradise Marsh. As I looked across the tree line I could see little speckles of pink and red that dotted the tree branches. They were the little red and brown buds on the trees just before the fresh and new leaf greenery were to appear.

cootes paradise

This was from two weeks back, so I bet this weekend if you were to go, the forest would be lush with bright fluorescent green bursts of new leaves and forest foliage!

spring tree buds

I love that despite having lived in Hamilton for five years there are still plenty of places to discover and explore. With every season each of these places take on a different look and beauty that can be rediscovered again.

So looking forward to consistent warm days and the planting of our own backyard and community garden!

pittsburgh pittstop + on to DC

In mid-March, when winter was still kicking it big, we decided to go on a family road trip to Washington DC!

We had little to no expectations about the success of our travels (it being an 8 hour car drive to DC and having an active toddler that doesn’t normally like to sit still). We went for it anyway, opting for a overnight midway-stop in Pittsburgh.

I love Pittsburgh! But unfortunately for this particular visit, the exploring and wanderings were kept to a minimum. We were really only there to break our journey and to give Omi some romping time. Despite the short visit we did manage to fit in a quick early morning breakfast meet-up with some old friends before getting back into the car for the rest of the journey to DC.

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We’ve most definitely got a runner on our hands! This trip mostly consisted of chasing after Omi.

pittsburgh doors

Pittsburgh has some great doors, buildings, bars, diners, dives and just all round an amazing vibe. Wish we could’ve stayed longer.

We made it to DC unscathed and were rewarded with budding tulips, crocuses and warm spring weather. All the while we’d heard that Southern Ontario was being hit by a crazy mid-March blizzard!

The visit was a mix of relaxing and visiting with family, sharing good meals together and the occasional day trip out for some sightseeing.

Happy to be somewhere without snow, we stripped ourselves of winter coats and picked a warm grey spring day to check out DC proper.

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With coffees in hand we wandered the museum arcade making our way in and out of the various Smithsonians and stopping for an extended session of merry-go-round admiring and pebble throwing.

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All the museums in DC are free! So it was perfect for our noncommittal walk-throughs that were just long enough to keep a toddler entertained. Since it wasn’t tourist season the museums weren’t too busy, which allowed for quick entrance and hassle-free easy manoeuvring around on the inside. Just a week or two later and it would’ve been packed for DC’s infamous cherry blossom viewing.

To coincide with an escape from a spring rainfall we spent a longer time checking out the contemporary art collection at the Hirshhorn. Once the rain cleared I spent an even longer time outside with Omi admiring the circular architecture of the museum.

Midcentury modern architect Gordon Bunshaft, who designed one of my favourite art galleries -The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, also designed the Hershhorn.

Hirshorn Museum

Travelling with a little one does have its challenges but overall I’m happy that we keep trying it out. So long as our expectations of what we do when travelling continue to adjust and evolve with Omi then I hope to continue to squeeze in as much exploring and as many mini-trips as we can!

 

village station bazaar

Although this weekend was packed with a ton of amazing things to do in Hamilton (Doors Open, Craftstock, AGH Design Annex Spring Sale, and Jane’s Walks) I came down with a mini-cold that kept me out of commission until Sunday. Luckily I was feeling recouped enough that I made it out to enjoy some spring sun, wind, and an early Sunday afternoon visit to the first ever Village Station Bazaar!

I’ve been longing for something downtown on a Sunday afternoon similar to Kingston’s Sunday antique and farmer’s market or something akin to the ever successful Junction Flea in Toronto. Needless to say, I’m so over the moon that something like this has been born here in Hamilton! I can’t wait to watch this event grow over its lifetime this summer.

Village station bazaar

Cafe Oranje Village Station Bazaar

Much needed latte from Café Oranje to wake and warm me up as I browsed the vendors.

LITA Village Station Bazaar

Vintage clothing and wares from Love in the Afternoon.

Jelly Bros. Maps

Hamilton neighbourhood maps by the Jelly Brothers.

Alfie Smith

Alfie Smith, Hamilton blues man.

Z&ko Village Station Bazaar

Super cute quilted South African hot-pink printed skirt locally designed by Z&K.O.

meatventures

Tasty meat treats from Meat Ventures. Sad I missed out on the opportunity for pulled duck sliders.

ifiori village station bazaar

Gorgeous spring flowers (fresh cut & potted) from James North’s i-fiori.

ifiori tulips

This was the first of the Village Station Bazaar but there will be more! The first Sunday of every month from now until August 3rd. I can’t wait to see the addition of food trucks, bakeries, and perhaps even a local farmer selling some seasonal produce.

Oh yes, Hamilton sometimes my dreams really do come true! Thank you Melanie from MODify Your Closet and Chris from Cafe Oranje for organizing!

If you’re interested in vending at the next bazaar, you can contact the organizers here.

*Village Station Bazaar, King St. E & Ferguson, June 1, July 6, August 3 11am-5pm, @VillStnBazaar.

copps

Last week I saw the signage and insignia for Copps Coliseum being taken down. Its vintage orange lettering, which matched the stadium’s exterior underbelly, was faded and properly representative of its era of origin from the 80′s.

Some might say good riddance to the namesake Copps. Especially for those that argue that Victor Copps, (former Hamilton mayor, who had been known to some as an advocate for “urban renewal”) did nothing for the city but level the core of Hamilton’s downtown to make way for the giant modernist cement conglomerate we now know as Jackson Square.

Check out this great historic video done by the Hamilton Public Library to get a good perspective and history of the area that was torn down to make room for Jackson Square.

All things said, I am kinda saddened by the passing of that giant capital orange “C”. Burton Kramer, graphic designer and artist designed the logo (as well as the CBC logo that I grew up with in the 70′s and 80′s). In my mind Copps Coliseum will remain Copps with an orange “C” I mean, I still call The Skydome, “The Skydome” and besides what are we going to call the new Copps? FOCs?

Copps Coliseum Bay St. Copps ColiseumYork blvd

the edit

I first met the stunning and totally down-to-earth thrifter blogger fashionista Jentine at the opening of Girl on the Wing, and while trying on capes and designer 80′s sweaters at MODify your closet.

On Christmas Eve while doing some of my traditional last minute shopping on Ottawa Street I stumbled upon Jentine’s most recent fashion exposition at her brand new store The Edit!

The store although small, is perfect! Jentine had a great hand-picked winter selection of a vintage hats, shoes, boots, clutches, jackets, and dresses from the couture and fabric print houses of vintage 70′s Paris to 50′s cocktail and party dresses. I picked up a long black 80′s sweater dress with deep pockets and shiny brass buttons -dresses with pockets are the best!

the edit vintage window dress

 

the edit vintage hats on wall

the edit vintage shoes

the edit hats&sweaters

the edit jentine

It was fabulous to see the shop, and to chat with Jentine about her new adventure. I departed with a sweet treat of homemade fudge (courtesy of one of Jentine’s friends) melting in my mouth and my dress, a present for myself, in tow.

Even though it seems as if spring will never come, I’m sure that it won’t be long until the winter sweaters and jackets are just a distant memory, and skirts, jumpsuits, strappy sandals and shorts will be on the racks and shelves at The Edit.

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I love to see how Hamilton’s storefront fashion, food and retail scene continues to evolve and change. In the four and half years I’ve been in Hamilton, I’ve been happy to have witnessed a wave of new young entrepreneurs taking that massive jump to put themselves out there and to pick downtown Hamilton as the place they want to invest in for the long haul. So happy for Jentine and for the continued evolution of Ottawa Street!

Check out Jentine’s fashion blog My Edit here, or follow her on twitter @myeditblog.

*The Edit, 205 Ottawa St. North, W-F 12-6, Sat 11-5, @shopTheEdit

hendrie valley

Being how this winter is so… wintery, really the only choice in the matter with regards to the weather is to either hate every moment of its wet, icy, bitter, snowy, blowy coldness or learn to love it. I’ve decided to go with the latter.

One wintery day we decided to get all bundled up and go for a walk at RBG‘s Hendrie Valley. If you park at the Cherry Hill gate (just over Mcquesten Bridge heading towards Burlington) you can enter for free. Head through the gate and onto the trails towards the boardwalk for some bird watching and chickadee feeding.

We brought some of our own bird feed with us, but there was plenty around on benches and railings to attract a good enough crowd.

So many chickadees! Steve even got a few to eat some seed off his hands. We also spotted a downy woodpecker and a spattering of cardinals that looked beautifully gorgeous-red against the snowy white backdrop.

We didn’t last long; the sun was already starting to drop as was the temperature.

Happy to have made it out of the house to enjoy some winter sun, nature and fresh air.

 

owl of minerva

One of my favourite kinds of food is Korean. I love the combo of its savoury, sweet, spicy, garlic, and sesame flavours.

When I first moved to Hamilton we’d found this secret little Korean restaurant  (just tucked behind the International Village by the Ti-cat building) that I loved. It had sunken-in individual bbq tables, great Korean pancakes and hundreds of tiny polaroids of its customers pasted on the walls. I guess it may have been a little too secret, in that maybe not enough people went? To my dismay it closed down a few years ago.

Not too long after Cho Sun Ok moved from its Queen North location down on King East and it sufficed in satisfying my Korean food cravings.

However, it was an even nicer surprise to wake up one day to find that Owl of Minerva had opened up a location here in Hamilton just at Main and Wentworth! I’d been to their Toronto location on Bloor in Korea town, so I knew that I would not be disappointed. Good Korean in Hamilton, finally!

I went with only one other friend (coincidently before heading to Kim’s Convenience -a play about a Korean shop owner), so we didn’t order a huge elaborate meal. Instead we ordered bibimbap. A good standard fare for any Korean restaurant and anyone new to trying Korean food. The stone bowl stayed crazy hot for the duration of the meal, and the Korean sides were great!

I really want to come back with a larger group of people so that we can have a proper Korean feast of some kalbi short ribs, bulgolgi and samgyeopsal. A little heavy on the meat -I know. I guess I could throw in a spicy and hot tofu kimchi chigae. Chigae’s are my cure all for chills and colds. Warms you right up!

Truly a perfect winter time place. I hope that in the summer they’ll have cold Korean noodles!

*The Famous Owl of Minerva, 309 Main St. E, 905.528.7275

 

 

about town

This weekend there are so many interesting things going on I’ll be hard pressed to do them all!

Starting on Friday there’s the International Market Place; an event put on in partnership with the Immigrant Women’s Centre. I checked it out when I first moved to Hamilton and would love to see how it’s evolved and grown since last going five years ago.

Be sure to stop by and support your local community and pick up some handcrafted goods and wares!

 

On Friday night at Christ Church Cathedral there’ll be a special talk about the potential future of James Street North. It’s entitled James Street North 5×7; 5 minute talks by 7 community thinkers on improving the James Street North community. It’s free and starts at 7pm.

*Christ Church Cathedral, 252 James St. North

 

On Saturday in partnership with Hamilton Artists Inc. and Needlework, the first of a new quarterly talk series put on by a recent new crafty collaborative Pulling Strings will take place.

If you can remember the whimsical underwater crocheted window display of White Elephant from two Supercrawl‘s ago then you might know who Shannon Gerard is. She’s been a collaborating force with the Hyperbolic Reef crochet project among many other craft, art and crochet endeavours. She’ll be giving a free talk from 2-3:30pm at the Inc. followed by a $10 (no experience necessary) crochet workshop at Needlework from 4-5:30pm (RSVP for the crochet workshop to pullingstringshamilton@gmail.com).

"Hyperbolic Crochet Reef", White Elephant's store window display, Supercrawl 2012

If you have some time Saturday afternoon I suggest you check this event out!

*Hamilton Artists Inc. t 155 James Street North

*Needlework 174 James Street North.

 

Last but not least, on Sunday afternoon I’ll be taking part in a #HamOnt Blog Fair at The Casbah organized by Hamilton bloggers I Heart Hamilton and Cut From Steel. There’ll be food trucks, beer, and a whole crew of Hamilton’s finest local bloggers. Come out and grab a bite to eat, sip some beers, and check out alt-electro-dance-rock duo Dear Rouge play a set at 5pm. The event is free and all are welcome! Please come by and say “Hi”!

If you’re knew to Hamilton or just want to get to know your city a little better this will be a great event to get your finger on the pulse of the city’s goings on, and to meet with some Hamiltonians who are passionate about their city. Hope to see you there!

so long fall

Fall’s basically over, and we’ve officially entered into the season of brown, when all the trees are barren, the air is cold and evening light is scarce.

I adore fall and love its sunny days, cool evenings, and changing colourful landscapes. I also love that my birthday is during one of my all-time favourite seasons.

This September and October I had so much on my plate that I didn’t have the time take in all the extra moments that I normally observe to ingest everything that is fall.

I celebrated my 35th birthday and with that I somewhat irregularly started climbing the escarpment stairs, and reintroduced yoga back into my life. As I get older I’m realizing energy and flexible movement are needed things in a life raising kids and I kinda need to work to maintain this.

Here's a gorgeous view of Hamilton from the escarpment after a stair climb. With the days getting colder and shorter, I'm not sure how many more times I'll muster up the motivation to climb these again before spring.

Despite all the crazy business I somehow managed to make a Halloween costume for Omi too. I made him a stuffed cloud costume that he donned with rainbow leg warmers. We didn’t actually go trick or treating this year but I couldn’t resist the potential cuteness of him being a rainbow cloud.

So long fall… I promise not to neglect you next year!

 

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