Archives: donuts

b-i-n-g-o

Ever since moving to Hamilton there’s been a part of me that has always wanted to stop into Delta Bingo on King Street.  I’ve never played “real” bingo, and I feel as if the days of bingo halls are somewhat limited -a dying sport -you know just one of those weird and random things that somehow carried its way through the decades into the 21st century but will likely not be around forever.

So here we are in the year 2012. I’m nine months pregnant and sitting in a Bingo hall. It felt in many ways somewhat fitting.

With some friends visiting from Pittsburgh (Hamilton’s neighbouring rusty American older brother), we figured it was as good as a time as ever to bingo it up and celebrate all that downtown Hamilton has to offer.

We made a stop first for a mandatory Hamilton classic Ghostbuster donut from non other than Grandad’s Donut -the one next to the bingo hall and not to be confused with the recently closed Grandad’s Donut on James north (sniffle -I shed a tear).  We travelled with donut in hand to check out this bingo situation.

Well it turns out bingo is dirt cheap! For just a $1.25 you can play four games with three cards per game and a chance to win upwards of $200!!

The bingo patrons and workers were sweethearts too.  I think everyone caught the drift that we were novices. They took us under their bingo expert wings -always checking up on us, making sure we were on the right coloured card and familiarizing us with all the bingo lingo (diamond, rotating kite etc).

I have to admit although bingo is cheap it can just suck you right in and before you know it you’ve spent an afternoon tossing away dollars and not winning much.  We left with our eyes red and in a haze, only to be coaxed back in by a bingo veteran who told us we needed to try for the $2000 jackpot -beginners luck right?

Well we didn’t win, but we did learn some good bingo tips.

1. Buy your bingo dabber before, from a cheap place like a dollar store. We bought ours at the convenience store two doors down for $1.5o each

2. Spend a limited and set amount of time and money that is predetermined before you enter the bingo hall.  It’s so easy to get carried away when cards are cheap and they give you change in Delta Bingo coins. Before sitting down to play inquire what time the big jackpots are throughout the day and spend a $1 on just the one card and sit for that one game and then skedaddle.

3. If you’re planning on spending a while at the hall bring your own snacks and drinks.  We indulged in some fries and onion rings from the Delta Bingo cafeteria.  They gave us a little needed energy boost but they also burnt an $8 hole in our pockets that could’ve been better spent trying to win a bingo jackpot or just hitting the road $8 richer.

4.  Too many bingo cards at one time means trouble.  You’ll see all the elderly (and more advanced) bingo players doing it, but don’t get too ambitious… honestly playing more than six game cards per round made my head spin. I couldn’t keep up and kept missing multiple numbers.  For all I know I could’ve won the $2000 jackpot. I preferred sticking to three cards per bingo round. I failed entirely when we had a sheet with nine game cards to play at one time.

I would go back to play bingo at the Delta on another special occasion. Perhaps for a bachelorette or a birthday pitstop before drinks, dinner, a movie or bowling.

When and if the Delta does close I wonder what that huge space would be repurposed for.  Perhaps another downtown grocery store? Or maybe an indoor roller rink? A downtown McMaster University building? We’ll just have to wait and see…

day trippin’

On a recent hot and sunny weekday Steve and I decided to do a mini day trip to St. Catharines’ old downtown strip.  To be truthful I had not been in St. Catharines since I was a little kid and the only thing I remembered about the city were its 1970′s suburbs and that huge bridge that crosses over the Welland Canal that makes you feel like you’re driving right up to the sky.  I’d never been to the old downtown St. Catharines and I was pretty excited to take a looksy.

St. Catharines’ downtown is capital O-L-D (for a Souther Ontario city).  According to Wikipedia:

The area was originally known as a storehouse for goods at the crossing of an Iroquois trail over Twelve Mile Creek. Curving Indian trails formed the foundation of the downtown streets as they appear today. Among them remains the largest and most historically-significant of the city, St. Paul Street.

Unlike many planned North American cities whose downtown streets run in a straight grid-like line St. Paul Street curves and meanders along a little ridge mimicking the winding rivery creek that used to run behind it.  There’s no creek back there now, but there is a highway.  This is just my guess as the only indications that there was an old running river was from some old writing I noted on the side of current artsy occupants of Bang On hair salon‘s building that says that it used to be an old flour mill -presumably powered by the current of the river that used to flow behind St. Paul Street?

In any case, our first stop on our mini trip was the  Niagara Artists Centre, which I had been wanting to visit for a quite a while.  It is not by any means a monstrosity of a gallery but similar to the 1-2 room gallery space of  Hamilton Artist Inc.

Artist Jared Charzewski‘s exhibit Salvage Swell was installed in the back gallery.  It was awesome! His sculpture was made up of piles and piles of used clothes.

*Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St.Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.641.0331

A few doors down was vintage clothing store Out of the Past -I know, I know Hamilton has one too but this one is the numero-uno original and I loved it! The prices were so right, and there was such a great collection of items for both men and women.

*Out of the Past, 340 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.288.6007

The next place we happened upon was a real treat.

The Write Book Shop is one of those bookstores that you can get lost in for hours and hours and still have a stock pile of rainy days banked to come back for further exploration. They had two floors plus several back rooms of books ranging form rare antiques to classics, children’s books, books on Ontario, history, crafting, cooking and sewing. You name it they have it.

*The Write Bookshop, 285 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 905.684.8426

For lunch we stopped in at a vegan restaurant/bakery/café called Rise Above. I first heard about this place via the folks at Mjolk and it looked so good that we decided to check it out for ourselves. The lunch was great and so was the Bill Murray painting exhibit (Still Murray by Grant Redman) but my favourite part of this stop were the vegan donuts. Yeah, it IS possible -vegan donuts!  AND they were good.

You can read more about the creator of these vegan donuts -Kyle Paton here.

I would love for both Kyle (owner of Rise Above) and Bruce Worden (chef or Rise Above) to open up a fresh and contemporary place like this in downtown Hamilton. Can’t you just picture it in one of the storefronts of Treble Hall?

*Rise Above, 120 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines 289.362.2636

I was reading that similar to Hamilton downtown St. Catharines was rampant with one-way streets. In effort to rejuvenate the core they converted their one-ways to two-ways and low and behold look at the new businesses opening up. I’ve even heard rumours of the rerouting of the Niagara Wine Route so that it will eventually pass through St. Catharines’ downtown. Gotta love good city planning and investment in the downtown core!

Overall it was a great little day trip to St. Catharines. I think that it has something going on, and besides I’m always up for a new place to explore.

 

grandad’s donuts

When I moved to Hamilton a few years back, I started my first job in the city tucked into a north Hamilton neighbourhood in between John and James Streets north.   Contrary to what some people may think, Hamilton’s North End is a wonderful little pocket with a strong and proud community.  You can even see some North Enders sporting T-shirts that say “The North End.  Hamilton’s best kept secret.”

And it’s true!   The neighbourhoods have that characteristic lower city Hamilton charm.  They’ve got old Victorian homes that hug the bay and waterfront.  There’s easy access to some great hidden Hamilton treasures, like the Bayfront Trail, the outdoor ice-rink at Pier 4, Hutch’s Harbour Front, Hamilton Harbour Queen Boat Tour, The Harbour Diner and Grandad’s Donuts, a fine donut establishment I was fortunate enough to have stumbled across.

The particular Grandad’s I refer to is the one located on the corner of Burlington Street east and James Street north kitty corner from the Port Authority.  It is a true North Hamilton staple -just ask anyone who lives in the neighbourhood.  On any given day you’ll likely see a crew of construction workers lined up getting their early morning or late afternoon Grandad’s fix.  Or you might see the usual crowd of friendly north end regulars teasing and joking around with one another at the donut counter over their coffees and delicious donut treats.

Their donuts, unlike most donut chains these days, are made fresh daily from scratch right in the Grandad’s kitchen.  Specialty donuts like the Ghostbuster -think éclaire meets Boston cream, never cease to blow my mind.  With its light and slightly crisp donuty exterior and its soft and smooth melty-whipped fresh cream interior, dipped into a bath of chocolate goodness -it’s no wonder that I can never resist getting just one whenever I’m in the neighbourhood.

With its 70’s rusty orange decor, yellow booths, and a counter top you can cozy up to the with old-school bolted-to-the-ground stools, its retro familiarity reminds me of donut shops from when I was growing up as a kid.

Grandad’s even has those classic fountain juices; peach and lemonade that flow from an eternal waterfall of fruit juiciness within their glossy clear plastic viewing containers.

To be honest I have a soft spot for this place not just because their donuts are the best donuts in the city, but also because I’m somewhat sentimental for nostalgic places like this one, and these days I find places like this are becoming harder to come by. When you can sit at a counter, whether a stranger of not, order your coffee and chat with the people sitting next to you and the friendly staff, you know you’ve got something special.

Although I no longer work in the North End, I do on occasion feel the need to satisfy a craving for a Grandad’s donut and coffee.  I’ll find myself willing to make the trek by bike or on foot and without skipping a beat it’s like I never left the neighbourhood.

Grandad’s Donuts could very well be Hamilton’s best-kept secret.  Hamiltonians be proud of another original homegrown Hamilton donut fixture. If you have yet to check out this gem it is most certainly worth a trip to the North End.  Buy a dozen and grab a coffee.  You won’t regret it, and you will surely be greeted with a warm hello and welcome from staff and customers alike.

You find the extended and beautifully edited article here in the Hamilton Spectator!

* Grandad’s Donuts, 574 James Street north

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