Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review: All the light we cannot see.

A few months ago, we were at my knit night book club and trying to decide on our next book. Anthony Doerr's 'All the Light We Cannot See' came up as a suggestion, and although we did not pick this book, when I found it on 2 for 20 at the airport in Vancouver a while later, I picked up a copy.

I just finished reading this book on Monday night and I have to tell you, not only is it a page turner, it's a beautiful book.

Doerr takes us back to Nazi occupied France and shows us the live of two young people during the war. Marie-Laure, a blind girl from Paris, who's father is the locksmith for the Natural History Museum, and growing up exploring there has given her a wonder for the world despite her blindness.

With the Nazi's on their way into France, Marie-Laure's father escapes the away from Paris to go live with his recluse uncle in the Breton town of Saint-Marlo by the sea.

Meanwhile in a mining town in Germany, the exquisitely white-blonde haired, blue eyed Werner is growing up with his younger sister in an orphanage run by a French speaking nun. Werner is a boy who is always asking questions, and when he finds a broken radio in the trash and fixes it his path is set. Soon he becomes the go-to boy in town for fixing electrical appliances and radios. A talent which is so remarked upon that it earns him a place in a prestigious academy for the Hitler Youth, and finally into the war against his will.

Throw in a Diamond cursed with the power to keep the owner alive forever at the cost of the lives of those around you, and a crazed Nazi gem collector and you've got all you need for an intriguing tale.

  “What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.” 
I enjoyed this book from page one through to the end. Marie-Laure and Werner are characters to fall in love with. However, it was the character in Marie-Laure's great uncle Etienne that really captured my heart, in him and in 'the Professor' you have someone who is so committed to sharing science and understanding about our world with anyone who is tuning in, that they are willing to risk anything.

So this summer, grab a copy of All the Light we Cannot See, and I promise you won't be able to put it down.

“A line comes back to Marie-Laure from Jules Verne: Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My favourite 10 things from Jurassic World - No Spoilers

Sunday night Kevin and I went and saw Jurassic World, and the only negative thing I have to say about it is I can't believe we waited all the way until Sunday to see it. Which means if you're reading this, and you haven't seen it yet, you pretty much need to ASAP.

So here are my favourite 10 things from the movie. Spoiler Free of course.

1. Chris Pratt....Enough Said.

2. Tiny dinosaurs with saddles, just to please any creationists out there... you know the ones who would actually see a movie about genetic engineering ans playing god.

3. Remains of the original Jurassic park, still on the island. Recall this scene in particular.

4. There's a scene where Bryce Dallas Howard ties her shirt in a knot and it's perfection, that's all I'll say about that.

5. Jake Johnson, in a Jurassic Park T-shirt, and ridiculous mustache.

6. A scene between Jake Johnson and Lauren Lapkus.

7. The Shamu-style Mosasaur, who isn't technically a dinosaur, but who really cares.

8. The score. I mean, who doesn't love the Jurassic park theme song? And better yet, Chris Pratt singing it!

9. Wearing my T-Rex hates pushups shirt to the movie in eager anticipation of a T-Rex, cause seriously, who needs an Indominus Rex, you've already got the ultimate eating machine in the T-Rex.

10. Chris Pratt... have I mentioned him already? I don't think so. Anyways, here's an awesome video of him getting pranked by some fake raptors.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mucho Burrito Vs Chipotle

lllllleeeeetttttt's get ready to rumble!

In the Green corner we have Canadian owned and operated, 80+ locations underdog, and personal favourite, MUCHO BURRITO.

In the Red corner we have America powerhouse, with over 17 000 locations world wide, this burrito packs a punch, it's CHIPOTLE.

Yeah pretty cheesy, I know. But after dining at a chipotle for the first time in Toronto last weekend, I thought a little compare and contrast would be interesting.

The concept.

Both Chipotle and Mucho Burrito are examples of what's being called "fast casual" dining. Think of it as a step above fast food, but not quite a full service restaurant. Both however, to the casual diner, are what I would think of as the Subway of Mexican food. Pick your syle, choose all over your toppings as you move down the counter and enjoy your 'made fresh' meal. With the added bonus that the meats served here are cooked/grilled in house rather than microwaved sad frozen chicken.

Both chains focus on real food, freshly prepared and preservative free. Chipotle does put a bigger emphasis on organic and GMO free, however, as a scientist, I would encourage anyone who thinks that just because something is labeled as 'organic' or 'GMO-free' it's better, or healthier to think twice. Do a little reading on those topics and make good choices about food independent of media driven hype.

In short, both Chipotle and Mucho are serving you fresher and healthier foods than the standard fast food chains you might otherwise choose for a quick meal. And I really don't feel there is a winner between the two in this category.

The Menu.

Here now is where Chipotle and Mucho diverge, and in my opinion, Mucho Burrito comes out on top.

At first glance the menu's appear the same. if you're going in for a burrito, you have basically the options for filling it. Both chains also give you the option of having that burrito as a bowl, salad or tacos. But major difference the first is price and size options.

Here's the Chipotle Menu, taken from the Zomato page for their Young St location in Toronto, where we ate. Notice you have only one choice in size for the burrito, and there is no difference in price between the taccos/salad/bowl or veggie option. The whole menu comes in at a $8.95 flat rate. How do they justify the veggie option as the same cost as the meats option? well I guess they throw in the guac, and I'm assuming the grilled veg as well (the green peppers and onions) since they weren't offered as a choice on my carnitas burrito (they of course are included at mucho).

Now before we go further into the Chipotle menu, lets take a look at mucho's.

So apart from having a bigger menu in general, they also have size options on their burritos. Because come on. If Kevin and I are both going for burritos, we are not ordering the same size, and why pay more money just to throw away half a burrito?

Plus let's think about kid's for a second. My cousin Caitlin, who's 10, came with us to Chipotle in Toronto, and she's the perfect example of being two grown up to want to order off the kids menu, she's sure as heck not going to eat the giant "one size fits all, 10$ burrito mucho offers". In fact, even if their kid's menu had been visible, which it wasn't, they don't even have the choice of kid sizing their signature item, the burrito.

Over all, on base menu, Mucho Burrito is the clear leader here.

The Extra's.

Really this debate can be won over one word.


To add Guac to your meal at Chipotle, you will pay a whopping $2.21. Mucho give's it to you for a dollar. Plus it's free on the salads, and the mucho sized burrito. Enough said.

One last thing.

 If you haven't had the Mexican Chocolate Brownie at Mucho Burrito, I swear to you, you're life is missing out.

So maybe I have a bit of a personal bias towards Mucho, and I know some people swear by Chipotle. Maybe if one opens here in Calgary then I could do something like a blind taste test, but in the mean time, I'm sticking with my Mucho Burrito, and my go to order, the tacco salad.

So that's all for today... let me know where you prefer to get your burrito on in the poll below!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eating out in Toronto: A recap of my weekend through food.

Last weekend I visited family and friends in Toronto. Here's a quick recap of the food and drink I enjoyed while I was there.

 Thursday, June 4th

Lunch was at some little restaurant who's name I can't remember on Queen West near Romni Yarns.

Pulled Pork pita, salad with goat cheese and Woodhouse beer on special, can go wrong, especially with the crispy onions on top!

Then it was over to Bloor West near Bathurst Station to meet Steph and Lisa for dinner (Prosciutto Pizza) and martinis (mine was a lychee one!).

Friday,, June 5th

Tim's for breakfast.... boring I know, then I met up with my family when their Porter flight arrived, and we went to O&B Canteen for lunch.

Where Penelope was a pretty little lady, and I had the Green Bean Ceasar Salad and Pulled Pork (didn't eat the bun...cause you know carbs I guess)

Later we grabbed some drinks at Earls, where we were dismayed to find out that it was 'Appy Hour' and not 'Happy Hour'. Lame Sauce. And then back to the Porter shuttle drop off to wait for even more family to arrive. We followed this with dinner at Jack Astors, and I went with my usual order there, the Chicken Asiago Bow Ties Pasta... yum!

Saturday, June 6th

Woke up nice and early... Tim Hortons for breakfast.... because, you know, cheep/fast... if you're lucky the staff is on the ball... unfortunately for my mom they were not this particular morning (she paid for a yogurt parfait only to be then told they didn't have any ready. So she swapped for an oatmeal... then same deal.... so they had to do a refund yeesh). Why was it so important we were up and on our way early? Because we had an appointment at Kleinfeld's, so my cousin Kara could 'Say Yes to the Dress'.

No she wasn't actually on the show, but since we brought 14 people and one energetic toddler with us, she totally could have been. And Kara did find a beautiful gown to say Yes to, but I myself had my eyes on this one.... because you know, maybe one day.

Le Sigh.....

Afterwards we took a brief jaunt over to the Eaton Center for an hour of shopping....and wow, litterally half that place is under construction right now. Then hit up Chipotle for lunch.

I'm going to have to come back to the topic of Chipotle in an entirely separate post where I compare, contrast and rant about it in relationship to Mucho Burrito. So get ready for that folks.

After lunch we walked until our feet bled (or so my short legged Italian family made it seem) and my Aunts Nella and Teresa took their daughters to visit their College Dorms at UofT.

Here are Teresa and Julia on the steps of Annesley Hall at UofT Victoria College (PS Happy Birthday Aunt Teresa!). Annesley Hall is a beautiful old building, that would be just the idealistic place to spend your College years.

After all that walking, my little cousin Caitlin and I hit up the outdoor pool for a swim in the sun, and then everyone cleaned up for my Aunt's birthday dinner at Cibo.

Cibo! First I was all like, we have that in Calgary, but aparently they are two different chains. Either way the food at Cibo in Toronto (we went to the King st location) was amaze balls... kind of like the rice balls above. And better yet, they specialize in Central and Southern Italian Cuisine, so the whole menu just sounded like things that would come out of my nana's kitchen.

After stuffing our faces with appetizers and wine, I tackled this amazing veggie risotto.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off for some quick family photos, and for Penelope to run around like a silly goose. Then while all the old folk stayed up to have drinks in the hotel lobby, I went to bed nice and early.

Sunday, June 7th

Woke up nice and early to pack up the room and say good bye to my family, who were all headed back up to the North (the Soo and T-Bay). Then I hopped on the train to go meet Jill at St. Claire West Station.

Finally a morning without Tim Hortons, we went to Cocoa Latte, and I had the breakfast tostada and it was incredible, and huge! I also hear the chocolate milk they serve there is second to none.

Afterwards we met up with Lisa and took a walk through High Park.

Then drinks on a patio, where we were joined by Steph and I had a minor wardrobe malfunction, and back to Steph's place to watch Game of Thrones.

Monday, June 8th

Slept in, Tim's for breakfast again! Mad Max for lunch and Air Canada for dinner. I got home to Calgary in time to block out the scarf I'd been knitting all weekend and snuggle with Kevin before bed.

OK that got long winded, Happy humpday ladies and gents!

Monday, June 8, 2015

A day of movies and travel

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Toronto. Full of family, friends, walking and blisters and beer, wedding dresses and Penelope, pools and patios. It was great and exhausting, wonderful to see all people I love and miss, but as always I'm so happy to be home.

Today, on the way back, Jill and I stopped at the cinplex on bloor and young (I think) and saw the matinee showing of Mad Max Fury Road, and despite it being all one long car chase scene I really enjoyed the movie.

Fun fact about the movie... it's the 4th in the series, the first 3 are from 30 years ago and starred Mel Gibson.... so I'm going to have to check them out, not because of Mel of course, but rather because Max definitely seems to have some sort of troubled past. I mean outside of the run of the mill troubles of living in a post-apocalyptic world.

Then I popped on over to Pearson, managed to get myself onto an earlier flight thanks to Air Canada's practice of overselling their flights and flew on home to Calgary.

Along the way I watched The Wedding Ringer (alright) and The Business Deal (meh....despite the comedy of the movie it features a bit of a PSA about cyber bullying). And because even both those movies didn't last the whole 4 hours and 20 minute flight, I also watched the last two episodes of Parks and Rec.... which brings me to my closing point.

I kind of want this t-shirt....available on Etsy here.

Well I'm off to go read movie synopsis-es from the first 3 Mad Max films... happy Monday night world.