Kampai Toronto, a sake festival for lovers of brewed rice

Kampai Toronto, a sake festival for lovers of brewed rice

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on May 29, 2013. Kampai Toronto offers 100 varieties of saki at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District on May 30. “Try some sake. It’s rice wine.” John Gauntner, one of the world’s leading sake experts, hears this all the time. “Rice wine is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually exist,” he says. Sake, Japan’s national beverage, is brewed — not fermented like wine or distilled like…

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Remembering Toronto’s history, with the help of the web

Remembering Toronto’s history, with the help of the web

The building at the west-end intersection of Dupont, Dundas and Annette streets was the site of an 1837 stagecoach robbery led by Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie. Now, it’s a 24-hour Coffee Time. Times have changed in Toronto. Neil Ross, president of the West Toronto Junction Historical Society, counts the pre-Confederation tale among his favourite footnotes of Toronto lore. “Here’s the leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion, one day after marching armed men down…

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Jerry Lewis shows sensitive side in The Jazz Singer

Jerry Lewis shows sensitive side in The Jazz Singer

TV remake of Al Jolson movie screens at Toronto Jewish Film Festival. There’s long been a joke about the French inexplicably loving the films of Jerry Lewis. But maybe they’re onto something. Although a number of politically incorrect comments made by the Hollywood legend over the past decade have not helped his image, Murray Pomerance of Ryerson University thinks film enthusiasts should take another look. “So many people who have negative things to say about…

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Master mixologists compete over Toronto’s best cocktail

Master mixologists compete over Toronto’s best cocktail

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on March 27, 2013. As Robin Kaufman pours his rum-based cocktail into a glass, he shares the most important ingredient in mixology: the conversation. “The cocktail is expected of you as a job, but the conversation is the real skill, the real finesse,” he says. Earlier this week, the 27-year-old Nova Scotia native was awarded both the public and judge’s prizes at the Toronto edition of Made…

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Corn shortage worries bourbon connoisseurs

Corn shortage worries bourbon connoisseurs

  Canadians have discovered American-style whiskey — bourbon, that’ll be — but a drought in the U.S. corn belt has hurt supplies to the legendary Kentucky distillers. Craft producers who source corn locally have fared better. Seated in a corner booth at the bar of the Drake Hotel, Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh-generation master distiller, has plenty of family stories to share. “My dad had me around the distillery from the time I was a…

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Buster Keaton’s final word

Buster Keaton’s final word

Silent legend Buster Keaton shot his last movie, The Scribe, in Toronto. The rare short is being released on Blu-ray this week. Buster Keaton, who rose to fame in the 1920s, directed and starred in some of the most famous films of the silent era. The General (1926) is ranked 34th on Sight and Sound magazine’s list of the 50 greatest films of all time. Nearly four decades later, during a chilly October in 1965,…

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Eight Dickens shorts from the silent era in rare screening

Eight Dickens shorts from the silent era in rare screening

The filmmakers of the late 19th century and early 20th century were not short on material to adapt. Some of the earliest cinematic narratives featured the work of Shakespeare and Conan Doyle, but none drew the crowds quite like the stories of Charles Dickens. The silent era saw the production of about 100 films based on Dickens’ work. Eight shorts, made between 1901 and 1912 — including the earliest filmed version of A Christmas Carol…

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City of Toronto Archives: Where past meets the future

City of Toronto Archives: Where past meets the future

At Toronto city archives, a digitized database makes history accessible. A framed, black-and-white drawing of a TTC streetcar turning south onto Broadview Avenue from Gerrard Street hangs behind the desk of new city archivist Carol Radford-Grant. “I used to go by that corner on the streetcar to get to work,” she says, explaining why she selected it from the city’s vast art collection. A more iconic choice could have been made — a still from…

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