KUDOS AND MEDIA MENTIONS
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A Taste for the Finer Things
Or if you're in Toronto, consider the Kensington Foodies Roots walk, a guided walk among Kensington Market establishments that starts off with Jewish and East Indian snacks, proceeds to a Lebanese spread and culminates with decadent truffles made from Belgian chocolate. Throughout, you'll learn about the culinary history of this vibrant multiethnic neighbourhood. Alternatively, the Foodies Gaslight Stroll winds through the Rosedale and Yorkville Village area, with stops at coffee house, cookbook stores and cafes along the way...
- Canadian Tourism Commission, Go Canadian Travel Magazine, Winter, 2003
SARS? Das war‚s für 2003
Nach einem Horrorjahr erholt sich Torontos Reisebranche nur allmählich. I survived BSE, SARS, West Nile Virus.„ T-Shirts mit derartigen Aufdrucken waren im Spätsommer der Verkaufsschlager in Torontoˆ und neben einem gelben Aufklärungsblatt und einem Zollposten mit Plastikhandschuhen die einzige Erinnerung an ein Horrorjahr. SARS hat die Reisebranche in Toronto härter getroffen als jedes andere Ereignis zuvor. Bilder von Passanten mit Mundschutz (aufgenommen in Asien ∑), dazu die Meldungen von mehreren SARS-Toten in der Stadt: Das Reisegeschäft kam zeitweilig fast völlig zum Erliegen, obwohl der Alltag außerhalb der hermetisch abgeriegelten Krankenhäuser seinen gewohnten Gang nahm. ≥Wir haben im Frühjahr über die Hälfte unseres Geschäfts verloren„, sagt Michael Law, Marketing- Direktor des Four Seasons Hotel. Das Gruppengeschäft aus den USA brach zusammen, weil die meisten Geschäftsreisenden (teils auch wegen des Irak-Kriegs) Reiseverbot hatten. Als SARS abebbte, startete Toronto Tourism zur Marketing-Offensive mit günstigen Dinner- und Musical-Packages sowie dem größten. Rockkonzert in der Stadtgeschichte mit den Rolling Stones.≥You‚re here. We‚re here. Toronto is back and it‚s booming„, rief Mick Jagger den 450.000 Zuschauern zu. Er hatte Recht: ≥Seit Juli geht es aufwärts„, sagt Law. ≥Nur ist eigentlich der Sommer mit 80 bis 90 Prozent Auslastung unsere Hauptsaison ˆ im Winter liegen wir bei 60 Prozent.„ Die Erholung kommt zu spät: Umgerechnet 380 Mill. Euro dürfte SARS die Reisebranche in Toronto ( inklusive Airport) gekostet haben. Und dennoch haben die kanadischen Touristiker nicht das Lachen verlernt, wie Shirley Lum demonstriert. Seit zehn Jahren bietet sie mit ≥A Taste of the World„ außergewöhnliche Stadttouren zu Fuß oder mit dem Fahrrad an ˆ Spezialität: Chinatown. In diesem Sommer hat sie fast drei Viertel ihres Geschäfts eingebüßt ˆ zumal auch die Gruppen aus China ausblieben ˆ und musste die Hälfte des Personals entlassen. ≥Boom!„ ≥Beep!„ ≥Zzzing!„ ˆ in Comicsprache wie ein Wasserfall redend, führt die quirlige Chinesin durch ihre Heimatstadt. Und plötzlich ist SARS ganz weit weg. HMJ
- Holger M. Jacobs, fvw interantional, November 21, 2003
Things that go BUMP in the night
Today, the area bounded by King, Toronto, Adelaide and Church streets is said to be riddled with unsettled spirits. Shirley Lum, owner of A Taste of the World, visits the infamous crossroads as part of her Ghosts, Greasepaint and Gallows tour. Dressed in Victorian attire, Lum leads participants to the lost hanging square, visits an obscure cemetery and talks of Ambrose Small, the wealthy owner of a vaudeville theatre who mysteriously disappeared and never returned, leaving behind a hefty balance behind.
"People do pick up vibes," says Lum, who tells of one tour guide who quit after one outing because they were spooked, while others calmly ask if anything smells unusual. "Some folks are genuinely frightened, so we have them chant "nobody can follow me home" to break the connection...
The Toronto-native says the multi-cultural mosaic of Kensington Market is the perfect backdrop for Haunted Kensington, Chinatown and Grange tour, she illustrates her walks with photographs while peppering her talk with fascinating anecdotes...
A flood of memories may haunt sightseers as they amble along the Yorkville, U of T and Queen's Park tour. Lum recounts tales about a club known as the Mynah Bird, a coffee house in the 60's that was housed in an old Victorian home on Yorkville Avenue... The original owner of the Victorian home was an artist before he died and showed his disapproval by haunting the premise...
We may not have any creaking castles or misty-covered moors, yet there are still plenty of ghoulish gatherings to keep you hair standing on end. So for a spook-tacular night of fright try a haunted tour - you never know who you might bump into.
- Vena Eaton, The Sunday Sun, October 26, 2003
Power outage sheds light on other kinds of fun
With the allure of sedentary activity such as television and video games, a lot of children seem less excited by physical activities than they used to be. But the power shortages forced them to get a taste of some of these basic pleasures missing from their techno-based lives. If you enjoyed the night away from the tube and are looking for more power-free family fun, here are some of the best options. All that's required are the motivation and enthusiasm to get there.
HAUNTED KENSINGTON AND CHINATOWN: Perfect for Buffy The Vampire Slayers fans . This two-hour stroll through Kensington, Chinatown and the Grange neighbourhoods is led by Shirley Lum and her guides, who tell ghostly tales of haunted sightings. For instance, did you know of the house in Kensington Market where a Jewish ghost cooks chicken soup in the basement? If stories like that don't scare you away, this tour will supply you with plenty of haunted history trivia and great tales to spook your friends with on Halloween.
- Margot Varadi, Toronto Star, Monday, August 25, 2003
Kensington Kool: Walking tours
We met our guide underneath a pole with a cat on top of a chair - one of the several gateways to Kensington Market that I've passed many times without much thought. I've lived on the edge of the market for two years, been a regular visitor for almost four, and have such a warm, deep affection for the place I would like never to be too far. But I wanted to take this guided tour in order to reacquaint myself with the neighbourhood, learn the colourful history and venture outside of my typical routine.... particular tour was Kensington Foodies Roots walking tour of the market by A Taste of the World, and we were off to sample traditional dishes that arrived with successive waves of immigrants in the early 1900s...
The open-air history lesson is followed by a delicious cup of coffee at the Moonbean Cafe and I was almost embarrassed to admit that I've never ventured inside. This is a warm, welcoming place where trumpety jazz pipes out of speakers and the smell of fresh roasted coffee is intoxicating... and finally, our second food stop, Akram's, a Lebanese grocer's family run shop. We are served heaping plates of tender stewed chicken and steamed vegetables over couscous, garnished with a cabbage and beet salad. The food is some of the tastiest I've had, but the most impressive part of this meal was the tea. It arrived in a majestic stainless steel teapot engraved with fine detailing, with a spout as long and elegant as an exotic bird's beak. The tea smelled wonderful, a mixture of cloves and cardamom floating loosely about in our miniature cups....
Ready for our dessert, we moved a few doors over to Chocolate Addict... Laid out for us were three curious samples. The first was a chili pepper truffle, innocent enough until a slow, warm burn tickled the back of my throat... I cool off with the second selection, a white chocolate lavender truffle. My throat is coated with sweetness and the burns stops.... The last is a piece of smoked dark chocolate. Seemed an odd combination as I sniffed it hesitantly, but the bitter-smoky flavour was a perfect mix.
Our mini buffet of chocolate turned out to be adequate metaphor for my tour of Kensington Market. I have come to think chocolate a simple, uncomplicated pleasure. Never have I entertained the possibility of chili chocolate or anticipated that two seemingly opposites would combine to produce such surprisingly wonderful flavours. And yet they did. Just as Kensington Market, a neighbourhood I love and believed I knew well, revealed itself to be so much in flavour, colour and possibility.
- Lauren Ferranti, Toronto Guide, Spring, 2003
Get Strolling: With spring upon us (finally), Metropolis celebrates the fine art of walking. Take the first step as we join a selection of tours with Margot Varadi
Wine, goulash, schnitzel, Gateau Basque and avocado stuffed with potatoes and baby shrimp - these are some of the delights found along Lum's Yorkville tour. The guide took 15 others and me on one of her off-beat tours, Foodies Gaslight Stroll: Rosedale & Yorkville Village. (The name comes from an old gaslight that still burns at Yonge and Roxborough Sts., which lit the way during Toronto's horse-and-carriage era.)
- Margot Varadi, Toronto Star, Sunday, March 23, 2003