I Heart Hamilton

J’ENTEND TON COEUR - July 31, 2011

Boxcar Sound Recording Studio 468 Cumberland Avenue

Since we’re on tour, and sometimes fancy ourselves to be rock stars, it seems only fitting that we should visit a recording studio. Avishka and I were thrilled to get the opportunity to drop into Boxcar Sound Recording Studio to get a tour by co-owner and producer Matt Montour. We also lucked out by getting to observe the pre-production phase of his latest project. Musicians Trevor Howard and Gerry Finn (Ghosts of Memphis) were in the studio demoing tracks for their new record and were gracious enough to let us hang out, chat with them, and watch the process.

The building, located in Hamilton’s East End by Gage Park, was once a box factory and now hosts mainly photography studios, with Boxcar being the only music studio. Matt and fellow producers Ben Somer (also an amazing singer-songwriter) and Sean Pearson (who came by later on in the evening) have worked out of the studio for about a year now, producing music for big names on the Hamilton music scene and beyond. Harlan Pepper (we also got an exclusive preview of singer Dan Edmonds’ upcoming solo record), Brian Melo, Robyn Dell’unto, Max Wray, Kirby, Amberley B., Gavin Slate, Canadian Winter (who will be hitting the studio in September), and Cowlick are just some of the acts to have recorded at Boxcar. Everyone who has recorded at Boxcar gets to sign the door inside the studio and Matt made an exception to the rule, asking us to sign it! Avishka and I took this high honour very seriously. In typical fashion, we were very indecisive and did not know where to sign. In the end, we made our mark.



The train tracks next to the building pose a bit of a challenge due to noise; therefore, the windows inside the studio have been insulated to block out the sounds of clanging trains that pass by. What is also unique to the building is the freight elevator, which is apparently the oldest in the city. We got to give it a spin on our way out! Stepping foot in the studio, we got such a good vibe from it right away. Because the sunlight is blocked since the windows are padded up, the space is entirely lit by lamps that are scattered throughout the studio. It completely works, though, creating the appropriate ambience for musicians to make music. The recording room is incredibly spacious, with an attached soundproof room next to it where the producers do their thing. The vibe of a studio must make all the difference for a musician, and Trevor said he had a good feeling about Boxcar right from his first encounter with it. Trevor has been making music for a long time now, and at one point he noted that this was the most relaxed studio experience he’s ever had. We could definitely see how this would be the case, at Boxcar.


Matt took us through the studio, carefully pointing out all of the instruments and equipment. Each piece has a story to tell. There is a piano from 1912 that has been through two World Wars, a keyboard belonging to Dan Griffin of the successful Hamilton band Arkells, a variety of microphones (the ribbon mic being Matt’s favourite), a Hammond B3 with Leslie speakers, and a multitude of guitars, of course. Matt also briefed us on the history of the studio, citing other acclaimed producers who have worked in this space, like Glen Marshall and Michael Kiere.

We’ve said this before, but things have a way of clicking and coming around full circle for the four of us, in whatever we’re doing. How fitting, then, with our “heart” motif we have going, that one of the songs Trevor and Gerry are working on is called “J’entend Ton Coeur” (“I Can Hear Your Heart”). (Perhaps we can get bilingual and call ourselves Je Coeur Hamilton. We have a Parisian theme going lately, so this worked out quite nicely, giving Avishka and I an excuse get our French accents going.) The track features vocals in French by seasoned Canadian performer and singer-songwriter, Kim Bingham. A friend of Gerry’s, they have both worked with Canadian musician David Usher.

Gerry and Trevor recording

Another really interesting aspect of our time spent at Boxcar was getting to see the dynamic between the producers and musicians while at work. Trevor and Gerry were impressed with Matt’s skills as a young producer. It was a great match; things seemed to happen very quickly. We got to hear their discussions about what they think is best for the sound for the record – what musicians to use, what their influences are, and sometimes referencing other songs as examples for the sound they’re going for. The room was bustling with ideas as Matt, Sean, Trevor and Gerry discussed their plans.

Through chatting with Matt (who cites Tom Waits as a major influence on his work) about how he got into producing music, what I took away was his comment about the importance of doing what you love. Seeing his passion for music, as well as Trevor and Gerry’s excitement over the new material they were creating, it was really inspiring.

This new experience not only reinforced how incredible Hamilton’s music scene is, but also allowed us to get a glimpse into a side of it that we had never seen before. It was so great to get a behind-the-scenes look of what goes into making a record. We can’t wait to hear the finished product from Ghosts of Memphis, knowing we got to witness the beginning stages of it. If it’s any indication, Avishka and I left the studio already humming some of the music and singing “J’entend Ton Coeur”. I think we have a hit on our hands.

- Kristin

P.S. We got to drop back in a week later to check in on the process - check out Part Two of our Ghosts of Memphis at Boxcar chronicles.

Riding the freight elevator on our way out
2 years ago on 11 August 2011 @ 2:45pm 4 notes

TEA AND RED HATTERS - July 27, 2011

Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum 64 Sulphur Springs Road


Hello everyone! Hope you have been able to keep up with our adventures in Hamilton! Today the girls and I set off for tea at Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum, located just off of Sulphur Springs Road. Our stay at Fieldcote was certainly filled with delight and surprise. We first ventured into the museum where we were introduced to an exhibit featuring pictures of birds taken at Cootes Paradise. The exhibit was accompanied by a recording of bird sounds and a display featuring a canoe, birds and long grass to help set the stage of being outdoors. The set up in the museum was certainly a work of art in itself and made me think that stopping by Cootes Paradise may not be a bad idea. Who knows, maybe we’ll have to add that one to our list!

Posing with the Red Hatters

While we were exploring the museum we were accompanied by a sea of Red Hatters. If you are unaware of who the Red Hatters are, do not fret, we didn’t know either, so it became our mission to find out more about them. We made a video documentary of our time spent at the Fieldcote and interviewed the queen of the Red Hatters herself! (See video below!) It turns out that the Red Hat Society is a group of women aged 50 and over who get together once a month to fundraise for specific causes or just to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. As you might have guessed, all Red Hatter members fashion a red hat during gatherings. They were a joy to talk to and it was clear that they truly enjoyed having fun! Although we did not have fun red hats, we did arrive for tea wearing fancy hair fascinators so luckily we did not feel too left out.

Posing with our newest Honourary Tour Member, Betty

Let’s not forget about the tea! The girls and I sat outside on a patio where we were surrounded by Fieldcote’s beautiful lush gardens. To accompany our tea we each chose a different flavoured slice of pie. Avishka tried out rhubarb pie, Kristin cherry pie and I had the classic apple pie. During our tea we had the honour of sitting with a woman named Betty who was awarded senior citizen of the year twice, once in 1994 and 2001. We really enjoyed her company and sharing stories about Hamilton together.

Fieldcote is definitely a cozy and unique place to check out if you are in the mood for tea! This pretty much sums up our day.

Until next tea time!

Jenny :D

2 years ago on 10 August 2011 @ 11:23am 2 notes

THE KEY TO LOCKE - July 25, 2011

Locke Street
Locke Street Shops

The marathon of tour stops continues! This was the third tour day in a row for Avishka and Kristin. We love dedicating a day to a specific street or area, exploring it on foot and popping in and out of shops. This day was all about Locke Street and we were excited to finally check it out since it has been on our list. It was our Locke Crawl, if you will. As their website states, the street is eclectic, friendly, and funky. We concur!

We started our day by checking out the Cheese Shoppe on Locke. With its brightly-painted logo on the wall outside the shop, this is one of many examples of unique establishments on Locke Street. We had fun looking at all the goodies this store has on display. Living up to its namesake, of course, there is a smorgasbord of cheese, but also jams, baked goods, kitchen utensils, and all kinds of ingredients we could use on our next cooking adventure.

From left: Teacups at Olive’s Oddments, posing at Art Alley, outside the Cheese Shoppe

Another shop which caught our eye was Ten Thousand Villages which features handicrafts from all over the world and provides income to people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Through sharing the stories of these people and selling handicrafts, Ten Thousand Villages also encourages the community to support fair trade through volunteerism. From the moment we walked in, it had such a cool vibe to it, very warm and inviting. We chatted with some of the staff who told us that they were featuring coffee from Tanzania. Upon hearing this, I was like (I suppose in typical Avishka fashion) ‘ooh really??’ Yet another full circle moment on the tour. I’m travelling to Tanzania this fall for a youth development project so I was delighted to have the chance to experience some of the culture before going. After grabbing a cup of Tanzanian coffee (verdict: delicious), we perused the assortment of handicrafts, jewelery and home decor.

Inside Ten Thousand Villages

Olive’s Oddments was another really fun discovery. True to its name, the store boasts a massive assortment of oddities, including everything from furniture to fragile collectibles. Very deceiving from the front, the shop was much bigger than we thought it would be, extending to upper and lower levels. Our eyes kept bouncing around from place to place, and we kept calling each other over with excitement at every new find. We were especially drawn to a glass case displaying a variety of delicately-decorated tea cups, perfect for our next high tea. In this shop and several others, we kept spotting items in fours. Here we found unique handbags that would match well with each of our tour tees. It’s a funhouse of treasures!

Pure Home Couture is another stop that both Kristin and I were enamoured with from the moment we walked in. This home decor shop was simply charming. It seems so unassuming on the outside, but once you’re inside, you can’t help but fall in love. The decor, the lighting from the chandeliers and the music added such a soft, romantic feel to the shop. From bath salts and candles to lotions and jewelery, this was another stop where we excitedly called to one another to share our finds. The owners, Abby Karak-McDuffee and Steven McDuffee, have certainly paid careful attention to detail and Kristin and I loved the Parisian accents here and there, very reminiscient of Paris in the 1950s. Pure is the perfect spot to buy something special and different for your home or as a gift. We will definitely be visiting again soon!

Inside Pure Home Couture

We tried out Earth to Table Bread Bar for dinner. After perusing their menu online beforehand, we were pleased to see they take precedence in healthy and environmentally-friendly alternatives, and as they state on their website, they are “a sustainable system that now nourishes our community & our environment.” We really like the feel of the restaurant, with its vibrant colours and wooden benches with comfy, colourful pillows. We decided to try out some appetizers to share between us, or, as we are now calling them, the much cooler-sounding “apps”. Figuring we were at Bread Bar, we kind of had to try some bread, so we ordered the Fresh Bread and Dips (dips included romescu, tapenade, and hummus). We also ordered a plate of their Loaded Fries, which features Bread Bar’s standard skinny fries with toppings that change daily. Today it was gravy, cheese curds, and mushrooms (we opted out on the scallions). Bread Bar also has quite the lengthy drink menu, and we love a good drink menu. The Spiked Shakes looked particularly fun, but in the end, I went with the Housemade Iced Tea and Avishka tried out the Passion Berry Iced Tea. The staff was very friendly and interested in our tour. We even chatted to a couple sitting next to us who had read about us in the paper, and they gave us some suggestions for more food places to check out. We’re kind of foodies, so that was very much appreciated.

Inside Bread Bar

After dinner, we took a nice stroll along Locke, and decided to try our hand at a video blog, which we’ve been meaning to do! We were even recognized a couple more times as we were filming, which was fun. Watch it at the bottom of this post.

Honourable mentions to other places we popped into include: Kataya, La Jardinère Flower Market, Textures Craftworks, Second Chance, Goodness Me!, and Art Alley

There are so many shops along Locke; here are some other places we spotted, which we would like to visit next time. You’ll see them in our video blog: Epic Books, Locke Street Antiques, J Taylor Antiques, Locke Street Bakery, Vintage Garden Tea Room, and Forrat’s Chocolates.

- Kristin & Avishka

2 years ago on 3 August 2011 @ 2:50pm 4 notes

59 MINUTES IN THE MAXWELL SUITE - July 24, 2011

Downtown Arts Centre 28 Rebecca Street

Kristin and I rounded off the weekend of tour stops by taking in another show at the Hamilton Fringe Festival, this time at the Downtown Arts Centre on Rebecca Street. I had never been to the Fringe Fest before and was excited to have the opportunity to check out the world premiere of the sci-fi play 59 Minutes In The Maxwell Suite.

Funny enough, we’d first heard about the play during the James Street North Art Crawl where we were given cards about the play. Upon initially reading the synopsis, I was intrigued and hoped we’d have a chance to check it out, as the Fringe Fest features a wide variety of genres ranging from from black comedy to spoken word. How neat then that we managed to catch it on the last evening of Fringe Fest. As the four of us have realized as we’ve toured around Hamilton, so many things are interconnected and at the end of the day, many things truly come full circle.

This original Canadian play follows the 59 minutes spent by Luton Maxwell (played by Jared Lenover), the inventor of the controversial Maxwell Patch who ‘is under Congressional investigation for ethics and human rights violations’ and Naomi Verne (played by Elaine Hale), actress and daughter of a presidential candiditate in, where else but his suite, the Maxwell Suite. Deemed Time Magazine’s most hated man on earth, Maxwell seeks refuge after learning that God’s Coalition, a suicide squad, has taken over his building with plans to blow it up, only to be interrupted by Naomi Verne. From that moment on, the stories of both these individuals, their complicated relationship, and how they have gotten to where they are today begins to unfold as the clock ticks on…

What an incredible play, well written, thought-provoking and stellar acting. There were a number of things which stood out to me, mainly how the play was interspersed with the commentary of a newscaster, known as The Commentator, who I commend for his performance. The little details weren’t forgotten, as we watched his lips continue to move even as the television had been muted. Played by Steve O’Brien, The Commentator provided information here and there into the identity of Luton Maxwell, God’s Coalition and the details surrounding this mysterious Maxwell Patch, a ‘psycho invasive, mind-augmenting’ patch allowing the identities of two individuals to merge into one being, the memories shared.

Props to Jared Lenover and Elaine Hale for their portayals of Luton and Naomi. Jared did a wonderful job of embodying Luton’s internal struggles, not only as an inventor and scientist, but as a human being and allowed Luton to become a character the audience loved to hate. While Luton initially comes off as arrogant and self-absorbed, you begin to understand how past events have affected the individual he has become today and the reason for his coldhearted, often jerkish nature. By the end, we are given a glimpse into his vulnerable side, something he will rarely show to others. From the moment Jared stepped onto the stage, he commanded the audience with his presence. 

There was a simplicity and understated feeling to Elaine’s performance and she provided Naomi with mighty conviction as she began to uncover one mystery after the next surrounding her role in this whole ordeal. The emotion that was conveyed as Elaine swings from being calm and collected to panicked, to upset, questioning her love for Luton and most of all, deciding whether she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure her survival, was very profound.

If anything, this play allows you to question and consider human nature and relationships, our interactions with one another and the role of technology in this, especially in this day and age where our society is being driven forward by technological advances. I encourage anyone who has the chance to see this play to check it out, you will not be disappointed. I am certain that 59 Minutes in The Maxwell Suite will continue to do incredibly well at upcoming theatre festivals and trust me when I say that this 59 minutes is time well spent.

xoxo Avishka

2 years ago on 29 July 2011 @ 1:04pm 1 note

PAPER DOLLS - July 23, 2011

Amberley B CD Release
The Casbah 306 King Street West

We would be terribly remiss if we didn’t include one of Hamilton’s best and well-known music venues, The Casbah, on our tour of the city. Of course, we’ve been to countless shows there before, but upon hearing my friend and Hamilton-based singer-songwriter Amberley B was hosting her CD Release Party for her debut solo album, Paper Dolls, at the downtown bar, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to make Casbah a tour stop. Avishka and I were excited to check it out, along with our friends Krystal, Stacey, and Chris. We decided to forgo our standard uniform of the colourful tour t-shirts this time, since the night coincided with the annual Christmas in July celebration I have with Stacey. As a result, I attended the show sporting red and green beads, and a red scarf with snowmen on it. I don’t think anyone noticed.

The night started out with a bit of mystery and intrigue. A while back, Amberley made a stuffed doll, aptly named “Merch Man,” who was then stolen at one of her shows. The mascot miraculously reappeared at the CD Release, with a lengthy, heartfelt note attached to him. Who is the culprit? Who is responsible for the kidnapping and subsequently safe return of beloved Merch Man?? The mystery remains…

Kicking off the show of acoustic performances by female singer-songwriters was Kasey Downey. Playing guitar and accompanied by a single bassist, Kasey delivered a set with her soft yet powerful vocals. A little banter between the two in between songs made for a very enjoyable set. The stand-out track for me was her original track, “Warm Milk”.

Next on the bill was Ellie Ketsetzis. Showcasing her bubbly personality, she played some original tunes as well as some fun covers, including Adele and Jackson 5. My favourite was her closing number, a cover of Demi Lovato’s newest single, “Skyscraper”.

Brooke Nicholls rounded out the opening acts. Accompanied by Aaron Bruce on the keyboard, Brooke’s soulful, jazzy voice soared through the venue as she sang some original songs as well as covers of Jessie J and Kings of Leon. The keyboard was a nice change and switched up the sounds of the night, all leading up to Amberley B.

Amberley B’s merch table

Then it was Amberley’s time to shine! Opening with the first track off her album, a powerful acapella song called “Silence,” Amberley commanded the stage right from her first note. (Merch Man was perched dutifully by her side.) The girl can belt out a song like I’ve never seen. Whether she’s giving an impromptu performance around a campfire or opening for major Canadian talents like Bif Naked and Holly McNarland, I’m so impressed with her vocals every time I hear her. I’ve been to many of Amberley’s shows over the past year or so, and I feel really familiar with all her songs and I love seeing how everything has evolved and come together so well. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Amberley played the whole album, and each track is so solid and stands out in its own way, making it impossible to pick favourites. The finished product also sounds amazing - we all picked up copies of Paper Dolls before Amberley even hit the stage. Make sure you do the same at one of her upcoming shows. Check out her official site for info. I’ve been spinning it nonstop since the show!

It was a great night of music - girl power at its finest!

- Kristin

Amberley B.
2 years ago on 28 July 2011 @ 6:10pm 8 notes

DAYTRIP TO OTTAWA - July 21, 2011

Ottawa Street

Ciao a tutti, or hello everyone! Perfect way to greet our readers considering that our first stop on Ottawa Street was at the lovely Cafe Limoncello. From the moment you walk in, it’s like you’re walking on sunshine. With a warm and inviting atmosphere, Cafe Limoncello certainly stays true to its name with yellow walls and decor and vases filled with, what else, lemons. And yes, they do serve limoncello. The four of us met to catch up on the previous days’ events (in case you haven’t heard, which I simply cannot fathom at this point, we were featured on the front page of The Hamilton Spectator on July 19th; read the online version here) and share in our excitement for the days ahead. As many of you may know, we have an affinity for our accents and as we took in our surroundings, we shared a few giggles trying our hand at the Italian accent. We’ve mastered the word ‘prego!’ quite well, that’s for sure.

We had the opportunity to meet with Dana Borcea and Andy Zimmerman from Tourism Hamilton who were interested in hearing more about our story after reading the Spec article. It was neat to discuss not only our tour, but also share the city of Hamilton and some of our fave spots growing up. The six of us spent our time at Cafe Limoncello in deep discussion over delicious, authentic Italian food. Having had some extra time to peruse the menu, we were in top form when making our decisions, Jenny and I in particular having decided what we would share in record time. Go us! After starting with a calamari appetizer, Kristin selected the Quattro Stagioni pizza while Carly went for the Tuscan sandwich. Jenny and I decided to share the Pizza Florentina and quenched our thirst with sparkling lemonade which had a bit of kick to it!

After our meal we were joined by the executive director of the Ottawa Street BIA, Patty Despinic. It was a great opportunity to learn about the history of the area, and she highlighted some of the attractions along the street, recommending some for us to visit. After hearing all about it, we were excited to go exploring.

From there we headed over to A Big Big Wallpaper Store, which also doubles as the Christmas Store. A huge portion of the place is filled wall-to-wall with Christmas decorations, ornaments, and lights. Being the week that Christmas in July is celebrated (a tradition for my friend Stacey and I), this was perfect, and also a great way to cool off, thinking of all that snow. Dana and Andy asked us to film a video interview, and what better place to do it, since we loved the store right away. Check out our interview, posted on Tourism Hamilton’s YouTube page, right here. - Kristin

Importantly, this particular Thursday was the hottest day of the summer. Troopers that we Tour Girls are, we chose to bask in the sunlight and walk in and out of the shops and galleries that Ottawa Street has to offer. And, although many of the stores were closed up for the day with lighthearted “Gone Fishing” or “Off to the Beach” signs on their doors, the street remained resilient and we were welcomed into whatever had remained open.

Inside the shop The Millionaire’s Daughter

One shop that did so was The Millionaire’s Daughter. Adorned with furniture and accessories sold on consignment, there were a lot of pieces with the unique and vintage looks that we love to check out. The successful business model that is used by Maureen is the way that buying furniture is made into a bit of a game. The price on the item is accompanied by the prices that it will be in coming weeks, so the buyer decides if they are to purchase now if they are in love with the piece, or hold out for a better buy. Ever since entering the store, I have been checking out their regularly updated blog.

Trying on accessories. From left: A in Antique Avenue, J, C, K in Molly’s Back Porch

Antique Avenue is another spot that we have wanted to discover. Walking down the stairs covered in old school advertisements and other paraphernalia, we just knew that we could while away a number of hours in that basement! Going through the aisles of old books, hats, toys, musical instruments, cameras … the list goes on and on! Plenty of things to tweak our vintage hunter instinct! 

A visit to Earl’s Court Gallery filled our artistic quotient for the day. We were welcomed into the gallery immediately, and were told that anywhere that there is art in the gallery, we are allowed to go. After having a sneak-peek at the show Connections within Context: Anong Beam and Nava Waxman about to open later in the evening, we were able to tour the other offices and workshop to look at any art that we could find.

Honourable mentions to other places we popped into: Bra-makers Supply, Molly’s Back Porch, Discount Fabrics, Antiques Unlocked.

Ciao for now!

xoxo Avishka and Carly

3 years ago on 23 July 2011 @ 1:35pm 3 notes

FRINGE BENEFITS - July 17, 2011

Theatre Aquarius 190 King William Street

 I don’t think that there is anything quite as entertaining to me as the theatre. Something kind of incredible happens when, as an audience member, you get the chance to watch live actors take on characters and tell a story. Thus, Kristin and I chose to get cultured this past Sunday and check out the Hamilton Fringe Festival.

 After taking in Theatre Aquarius’ lobby, we were led into the theatre by some Fringe volunteers. We chose to see Kristofer Van Soelen’s Writer’s Block and, well, it was actually really good. After reading the pamphlet from the playwright that introduced the play and actors, I was convinced that the show was going to be either a pretentious art piece, or that what I read was suppose to be a joke (The line that really got to me was, “What problems you may find with the show, or moments that fail to completely enrapture are, sadly, the fault of my actors”). Without a plot, characters A (played by Kevin Ritchie), B (Karen Knox), C (Andrew Perun), and D (William Moynihan) are in a dialogue with Kristofer Van Soelen (the omniscent writer) to figure out what their back stories are and where this story is suppose to get to. But, honestly, it was funny, well-acted, and a joy to watch. And there was even a sword fight!

 Check out the show, or any of the others on the Fringe website. There’s one that Nancy Kenny is performing called Roller Derby Saved by Soul. It sounds incredibly cool, and she even does some of the show on roller skates! We met her just before going to see Writer’s Block, and it did incredibly well at the Ottawa Fringe (best in Fest and Juror’s Pick). Regardless, though, there are plenty of shows of all different genres to check out, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening in the Hammer. It’s on until July 24th!

 xoxo Carly.

Theatre Aquarius
3 years ago on 22 July 2011 @ 11:04am 1 note

Hanging out with Tourism Hamilton on Ottawa Street!

Video courtesy of Tourism Hamilton.
3 years ago on 21 July 2011 @ 5:20pm 2 notes

DEFINITELY NOT A FIASCO - July 16, 2011

Il Fiasco Cafe and Wine Bar 182 Locke Street South

 The word “fiasco” is really just something fun to read, hear and say. It seems like one of those words that, just by saying it, a day can go from glum to cheery in an instant. Unfortunately, however, our idea of the word was clearly amiss. Once Kristin educated the rest of the group on its true definition - “absolute, abject, or utterly humiliating failure,” if I’m not mistaken - we were prepared to do whatever it took to make the evening anything but!

 To be honest, it had been a while since we were all able to do an outing as a whole group. As our inaugural Locke Street stop, we decided to try Il Fiasco. We started with some baked brie, and everyone except for me prescribed to the “meal as dessert” notion. Avi went with a Passionfruit cheesecake, Jenny ate a Death by Chocolate brownie, and Kristin did the Apple Strudel. Although everything they had looked so incredibly delicious, I was much too concerned with my own supper to be distracted by sweets! I had the Cashew-Crusted Chicken - it was stuffed with some sort of sun-dried tomato and goat cheese filling, and served with potatoes and veggies. Best meal of the tour, hands down, and I doubt that anything will top it before the summer is out.

 After supper, we walked up and down the street to take in everything that Locke Street has to offer, making notes of where we’ll come back to on our next free afternoon. Just four giggling girls with massive grins on their faces peeking through shop windows, having impromptu photoshoots, and sitting on stoops in front of businesses that had closed up shop for the night. 

 It should be mentioned, however, that we were particularly content on this very evening for a specific reason.  Before we even sat down for our meal, we were joined by a couple of visitors from The Hamilton Spectator. They sent photographer Kaz Novak to take our picture down Locke Street (we were channelling Tyra at every step), and then we got a chance to sit down with reporter Danielle Wong to discuss everything I Heart Hamilton Tour-related. It was kind of surreal, but completely comfortable. Just the four of us chatting about our goals and plans with the Tour, and talking about our ideas and hopes for the City this summer and beyond. It’s expected to be in print this week - we’ll post the link here when it’s published.

 xoxo Carly.

3 years ago on 17 July 2011 @ 11:26pm 2 notes

THE ART OF SANGRIA - July 8, 2011

James Street North Art Crawl

Hello everyone!! As planned we had decided to check out the July Art Crawl on James Street North. This was actually my first Art Crawl as I was unable to make it to our first, so as you might imagine I was excited and curious to find out what the Art Crawl was all about. Since we arrived a bit too early we got the chance to walk around James Street. We checked out Dr. Disc which carries vinyls, DVDs and a large variety of CDs. We browsed through the store for a bit before deciding to walk around the back of the store to check out a rock band that was playing on the rooftop of the building! We were joined by a small crowd of people that gathered around the parking lot to listen to the music. It was definitely a unique and great way for bands to promote their music and attract new fans. Before leaving, we were attracted to the graffiti painted on the side of the building. Graffiti can be considered art, after all! So naturally we decided to pose by the wall and take snap shots of each other.

Posing outside Wild Orchid

Our next stop on the street was the Wild Orchid. Since I had not eaten and had become famished at this point of the evening I was attracted to the scent of Portuguese food while walking by the restaurant. A sign advertising sangria, just outside the restaurant, got us excited and eager to try out our new find. As soon as we walked in we were welcomed by some traditional Portuguese music that suddenly made me want to dance the polka! The restaurant itself was very inviting and offered a menu with a wide variety of Portuguese cuisine. Although it was a difficult choice to make, I decided to go with the grilled salmon fish with a side of Portuguese rice and veggies. Since Kristin and Avishka had already eaten, they enjoyed a pitcher of sangria that we shared between the three of us. If you are unsure, sangria is essentially cold wine mixed with juice and cut up fruit. After a few glasses of sangria the three of us began to have a bit of a giggle fit. Our small group has become known for our random outbursts of the giggles and hilarity but after a few glasses of fruity wine our giggles took over much of the conversation. It is safe to say that we very much enjoyed our time at Wild Orchid and we would certainly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is up for some authentic Portuguese cuisine. Authentic cuisine is one thing to love about James Street North. It is known for its Portuguese and Italian restaurants and cafes. Visiting James North is definitely a great way to step away from the ordinary and try something new.

Out front of Wild Orchid

The Art Crawl itself was quite exciting. In all my life I have never seen James Street so packed with people. People were everywhere! The atmosphere on the street was very welcoming and fun. Everyone was accepted and seemed to be having a great time listening to musicians playing on the street or looking at some very impressive works of art. Creativity at its best was definitely evident on James Street that night!

The girls and I had a blast checking out shops and galleries along the street. Some of the places we visited included White Elephant and Mixed Media, where we actually found Hamilton post cards!! We were so proud of this find that we decided to buy a few as souvenirs for our tour and mailed one to our close friend, Emily, who lives in Toronto. Humble Pie, Hamilton Artists Inc, Loose Canon, The Print Studio, and James Buttrum & Son were other examples of places that we discovered while touring the area. Each gallery or shop displayed unique pieces of art and knickknacks that craved discovery!

Artwork along the streets of James North

At the end of our evening we lounged at the Mulberry Coffeehouse to get off our feet and discuss what we had seen. While leaving the coffeehouse we were approached by reporter Emma Reilly who works for The Hamilton Spectator! We were overcome with joy when we were told that The Spectator wanted to cover our story! It was the best possible way to end our night of touring the Art Crawl.

This concludes our time at the Art Crawl. If you haven’t already gone to check it out we would strongly recommend going. Also, check out our story in the paper!!

Jenny :D

3 years ago on 8 July 2011 @ 3:42pm 3 notes