Adorable Animals Never Tasted So Good

Adorable Animals Never Tasted So Good

The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. Barack Obama, 44th President of The United States of America. And me. Guess which one of these four doesn’t belong…

Give up?

Well, you’re wrong. It’s Barack Obama. Why? Because unlike Ms. Jean, Mr. Harper (or “Stevie”, as I used to call him on the playground back in the day), and myself, Mr. Obama has never eaten a seal. You know… those cute little tricksters from the Arctic? Adorable right? Delicious too.

Less than a week to go before Christmas, and I found myself dining in Toronto’s historic Campbell House on the corner of Queen Street and University Avenue. There was no special occasion, except there totally was. It was Charlie’s Burgers‘ (CB) last meal of the year, and in true pathetic fallacy fashion, reflected the biting cold and swirling snow outside.

With two celebrated chefs cooking their way through the North Pole, our Arctic Culinary Diplomatic Incident began. Chef Paul Finkelstein traveled with students to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut inside the Arctic Circle to source all the evening’s food. Chef Louis Charest, having cooked for royalty, heads of state, dignitaries, and diplomats, also worked as Sous-Chef within the Prime Minister’s Residence at 24 Sussex Drive, and won five gold medals at the Culinary Grand Prix in 2001. No big deal.

After meeting a man on a wine barrel sitting outside, we were directed to the Campbell House. Once inside, we traded our money – stuffed in marked CB envelopes – for a glass of Prosecco. In no time, our hosts Chef Paul along with Steve Cooper (a Nunavut lawyer and food connoisseur), explained the intricacies involved in catching and foraging items for the evening’s menu, including seal, walrus, and whale. They were certain it was one of the first times this type of food was being served in Toronto, especially as fresh as it was.

Sidenote: When I walked into the bathroom, I met an ice bucket full of Steam Whistles. As a waiter told me: “Charlie has a saying… You should never take your drink in the bathroom, but you should never leave the bathroom without a drink.”

Anyhoo. Some hazily-remembered thoughts on the menu – a dozen glasses of wine will do that to your memory…


Pagnirtung Fiord Roasted Turbot
salt pickled lemon, beurre blanc, Batawana Bay herring roe
Prosecco Asolo Montello DOCG – Veneto, Italy

Tuktoyaktuk smoked meat sandwich
smoked whale meat, mustard seed bannock, chelsea pickle
2009 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Printaniers, Barre Freres,France, Loire

  • This ended up being slightly altered – A smoked muskox sandwich, on the homemade bannock bread and with homemade mustard, with a piece of whale jerky on the side. Whale jerky was very salty, tough yet tender, nice and meaty.
  • This wine was struck from the list at the last minute. Replaced by an interesting and tasty German schnapps, Doornkaat, that was more reminiscent of vodka. Still… Good call!

Ceviche of narwal & maktag, narwal with soya
fried beluga morsels, wakame salad
2008 Chardonnay, Baglio del Sole, Feudi Del Pisciotto, Sicily, Italy

  • Narwal (also known as The Unicorn Of The Sea), as was explained to us, is what the Inuit use as their energy bars. Small stamp-sized pieces are placed between the gums and the cheek, and left to disintegrate for hours. An extremely fatty piece of meat, as it melts in the mouth, the fat gives the body energy. Unfortunately for us, our narwal-consumption had to be done rather quickly. Incredibly tough meat, but letting it melt even a little produced a soft and velvety strip of fat peeling off the narwal.
  • The second dish of the night to include whale, one of the waiters walking past us asked if we liked whale balls. Hell yes we do! And he brought us more.
  • All the wines were expertly matched, but this in particular was a knockout. Also, never had an Italian Chardonnay before, to the best of my knowledge.

Cape Dorset Arctic Char 4 ways
tataki, ginger cured, fennel candied, smoked, rice wine radishes, apple crème fraiche, fried fennel, celery root remoulade
2009 Bergerie du Capucin, Pic Saint Loup, Dame Geannie, Languedoc, France

  • Highlight of the night. The ginger-cured char was outstanding, the smoked was just right, but the stand-out was the fennel candied char. Hot damn. Paired with fennel that had soaked in syrup before being fried with cayenne peppers, it was sumptuous and left everyone wanting more.

Baked mipkuzola chip, muhamara caribou Kibbeh Nayyeh
zatar mayo, fresh pita, pomegranate
2009 Bergerie du Capucin, Pic Saint Loup, Dame Geannie, Languedoc, France

  • A type of pâté made of caribou, and served with homemade corn chips and baked muskox chips. A nice little treat.

Iglukik walrus mac and cheese
Iglukik Igunag bacon bits & grilled Iglukik walrus, pan seared foie gras
2007 Barbera Asti DOC, Scagliola, Piemonte, Italy

  • First off, how “Toronto Elite” did I feel, eating walrus macaroni-and-cheese. I imagine that’s what Mr. Burns eats for comfort food. And rightfully so! The pasta and cheese sauce itself were spectacular on their own, but the addition of grilled walrus elevated this dish to never-before-seen heights (hyperbole!). The walrus itself was not gamey nor too fatty, though it had a distinct “seafood meat” taste.
  • The other surprise in this dish were the deep-fried rotten flesh balls. Of course, the proper term is Iglukik Igunag, but that’s just semantics. It’s actually rotten walrus flesh that’s frozen, and then cooked. More surprisingly (or perhaps not so much given the rest of dinner)… it was delicious.

Qikitarjuaq bouillabaisse
musk ox, rack of seal, cloudberry juice, fried soba noodles, saffron sabayon
2004 Volnay Santenots 1er Cru, Domaine Jacques Prieur, France,Burgundy

  • The second wine to hit a grand slam. Nice touch to be served seconds (and thirds) of some these bad boys.
  • The bouillabaisse itself was very favourful, but the seal… wow. So tender and soft and light… No wonder Stevie’s a fan.

Inuksuk
ice wine Akutak profiteroles blue berry, spun sugar
1998 Ice Wine, Vidal, Pilliteri Canada

  • The profiteroles were made using fat from the caribou we had previously consumed, and it was rich and tasty. And cute too!

One of the two best meals I had all year (the other honour going to Michael Stadtlander’s Haisai), and certainly one of the best I’ve had in my life. Charlie, you make good burgers.

NOTE: We asked about photography and were told it was forbidden. While that stopped us, it didn’t stop these fine folks from grabbing some amazing shots. I suggest you check them out:

Now Available At The Bay: Middle East Conflict or Visit The Bay’s PR Department For Some Great Deals

Now Available At The Bay: Middle East Conflict
Or
Visit The Bay’s PR Department For Some Great Deals

Earlier this week, what’s been alliteratively referred to as “The Bay/Bonnie Brooks Brouhaha” erupted as Middle East politics descended upon the venerable Canadian department store.

Palestinian and Anti-Israel organizations and supporters flooded the Internet and The Bay’s head offices, demanding a popular Israeli beauty product line be pulled from store shelves. Their argument:

Ahava’s products are manufactured in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Ahava is co-owned by two illegal settlements, Mitzpe Shalem and Kahlia, which are subsidized by the company’s profits. Ahava cosmetics are labeled ‘Products of Israel’ when in fact they are made in the West Bank.
(sourced)


At the same time, Israeli and Pro-Jewish organizations and supporters flooded the Internet and The Bay’s head offices, demanding the popular Ahava products be kept in stock, and with a call-to-action to buy up all of The Bay’s Ahava products, thanking them for carrying the line. Many supporters did just that, while many others expressed anger toward The Bay, vowing to never shop there again.

A close acquaintance (and fellow blogger at inctruth.blogspot.com) sent such a letter to Bonnie Brooks, CEO of The Bay. Below is his text, reprinted with his permission:

Mrs. Brooks,
I am totally shocked by the actions of your organisation in complying with the wishes of an Anti-Israel organisation.
My life has been dedicated to fighting racism and bigotry. This case is an example of the worst form of anti-semitsm making its rounds in the so-called civilized world. Only 70 years ago we witnessed a holocaust that defies words. Today the State of Israel is the only buffer the Jewish People have against a repeat of this inhuman catastrophe.
I respectfully request that you reconsider your decision to withdraw Ahava products from your shelves. Until this matter is cleared up, it is my intention to take my business elsewhere. When we vowed “Never Again” we meant every word.
Regards,
Harry

It wasn’t long before he received a reply from Ms. Brooks herself, also reprinted below with permission:

The brand in question, Ahava, has been discontinued globally by the brand owner, not by The Bay. One of our largest shareholders of the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company is one of North America’s most significant Israel supporters, and our Governor along with our Chief Beauty Merchant responsible for this product range, are both Jewish. We do not discontinue products due to pressure from any source other than our own decision based on either sales performance or product quality. We are very concerned that we have received hundreds of emails and negative customer reaction inside our stores, all due to the spreading of incorrect information, which has upset our many customers, employees, their families and the fashion industry who are supportive of Israel. We would appreciate the parties involved in the protest, being set straight as soon as possible.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Bonnie Brooks
Chief Adventurer
(aka President and CEO)The Bay,
Hudson’s Bay Company. 

There are some first-rate PR lessons to be learned here:

  • Don’t Ignore Your Clients: Not only did Harry hear back from The Bay, but he heard directly from Ms. Brooks, their CEO. Taking the time to reply to him (and presumably, dozens more people) lends credibility to Ms. Brooks and The Bay, as well as their explanation for the situation at hand. How you engage your clients is the genesis of your company’s PR – remember that, in no uncertain terms, your organization owes its existence to your clients.
  • Be Proactive! There’s an argument to be made that had The Bay disseminated the information on why Ahava had been pulled from store shelves into the proper channels, it could have avoided much negative online and media buzz. While this appears not to have been done (and please correct me if I’m wrong), they are doing the right thing by speaking out now and having their message delivered from the top. No one can see into the future, but we’re smart enough to make some educated guesses. Anticipate all possible scenarios and plan accordingly.
  • Know Your Competition: In no way am I advocating being sleazy or sneaky in PR practices. However, it occurred to me that perhaps some Palestinian and Anti-Israeli organizations and supporters were aware of the Ahava’s plans to pull its products, and used the opportunity to create a stir by provocatively appealing to people’s political and religious views on the Middle-East. If that’s the case, I cannot condone that sort of behaviour. However, it is an example of knowing your competition, and knowing what your organization can do to position itself relative to them. Always keep an eye on other in your industry… You should know what they’re up to, and whether or not you can actually be of help to one another.

Add your rational and reasonable thoughts and opinions below, and let me know what you think!

The Highlands and Lowlands of Macallan Scotch Tasting

Solo Scotch
7:43 Arrive at Macallan scotch tasting at 99 Sudbury. Free parking is nice, though a central location and not having to drive to an event celebrating alcohol would have been even nicer.

7:44 Handed a silver Macallan coin, told to exchange it for a drink. Instead reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3.

7:45 Exchange coin for drink. Apparently tonight, a drink is defined as “a tall, thin glass containing just enough scotch to wonder whether or not there’s actually any scotch in there.”

7:46 Move to charcuterie buffet. Surprisingly well-stocked with four types of cheese, several cured meats, and a selection of bread and olives.

Charcuterie Buffet

7:48 Note to self: cheese with fancy names distracts crowd from lack of alcohol… Must increase cheese budget for next party.

7:50 The line at the buffet is now 30-people deep, compared to the three surrounding it minutes earlier. I’ve still only had one drink.

7:51 Getting frustrated at lack of alcohol at this scotch tasting

Scotch Set

7:52 Noticing a lot of attendees do not look like they are influential bloggers. This suspicion is confirmed after talking with staff… “They wanted to cram in as many people as they could fit…”

7:53 Random cute server surreptitiously offers me another drink, despite my lack of a silver coin. I wholeheartedly accept.

7:54 Starting to feel like a scotch cattle call

7:59 The event is scheduled to start at 8PM, but organizers show no sign of moving people into next room

8:05 Handed a second silver coin from a friend just as drink service stops. I have somehow angered the scotch Gods.

8:08 Ushered into second room; stage and screens in front, as well as Macallan bottles on display; tables and seating all around.

Ice maker

8:10 Sitting with three others. Nothing on the table except bottles of water and a glass full of nuts.

8:14 If walnuts and cheese were scotch, I’d be enjoying this tasting a lot more right now.

8:19 The Macallan rep tells us we were served 10-year old scotch to start, and will be getting into older scotches now. Sounds promising!

8:21 While Macallan rep goes into history of brand, I can’t help notice a lack of scotch on my table and the tables of others

8:24 The first audience question is asked, and the audience member receives a full bottle of scotch as a prize. Dozens of hands shoot up immediately.

Crowd

8:28 Jealously eyeing plate of cheese the guy across from me brought from the other room. Even more jealously eyeing bottles of scotch in front of room.

8:31 Servers (finally!) appear with trays of 12-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1998 (including clips from Titanic and A Bug’s Life) set to a Wallflowers tune. Really, Macallan?

8:37 Macallan rep describes making of 15-year old scotch while audience members tweet frantically.

8:41 Servers appear with trays of 15-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1995. Really, Macallan? Really?

8:46 Servers appear with trays of Macallan Sherry Oak Cask Strength and individual Lindt chocolates. I am momentarily appeased.

8:47 Drink finished. Appeasement over.

8:48 Realize that Macallan encourages, facilitates, and condones tweeting under the influence of alcohol.

8:49 Note to self: On drive home tonight after scotch tasting, tweet @MADDOnline to alert them of dangerous drinking/typing epidemic sweeping our youth.

8:50 Looking around the room, I’m reminded of the lyrics to Kanye West’s Runaway:
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags,
Let’s have a toast for the assholes,
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags…

8:51 Macallan rep breaks out the patented (or maybe not) Steel Macallan Ice Ball Maker 2500 SCT (note, I made that name up).

Scotch Ice Ball

8:53 While Macallan rep discusses the merits of Ice Balls vs. Ice Cubes (cubes have larger surface area, therefore melt faster), I prefer to discuss merits of Ice Cube vs. Ice-T vs. Vanilla Ice (Ice Cube wins this round, with an honourable mention going out to Iceberg Slim).

8:54 Servers appear with trays of 18-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1992. Seriously?! To be fair, crowd cheers for 1992 Toronto Blue Jays team photo, boos vociferously at following still of Ottawa Senators logo.

8:56 Macallan rep informs us that 18-year old scotch is best drank neat, and that ice is best made with bottled water, not tap. Who has time to make ice with bottled water, you ask? Being a Toronto Elitist… I have the time.

8:57 Crowd is thanked, event over. I search in vain for taxi chits, giftbags or takeaways, to no avail.

8:59 I steal a block of cheese.

Bottles

Thanks Macallan, Matchstick and Praxis PR for a good time, and a special shout-out to Macallan for your goddamn fine scotch.

This. Is. Haisai.

Haisai 01
Here’s what I knew going in:

  • A celebrated chef who had moved from metropolitan Toronto to a farm in rural Singhampton, ON
  • A prix-fixe, 10-course meal prepared with food culled exclusively from his farm, or those of his neighbours
  • A dining room for no more than 30 people
  • A restaurant built exclusively of local materials – clay, stone, wood, etc…

Haisai 20
Here’s what I didn’t know:

  • What was on the menu for the evening
  • How broken wine bottles can be such a versatile decorative element

This is Haisai.

Haisai 03
We weren’t sure what to expect as we arrived at the restaurant. Dressed a half-step above semi-casual, J and I sauntered inside and immediately noticed the building was constructed largely with clay, stone, and wood. With no bricks in sight, it had a rustic feel that lent itself perfectly to the surroundings – farmland as far as the eye can see. That said, while the restaurant is in the main part of town, it should be noted that Singhampton’s “main part of town” seemed to be a cluster of less than a dozen buildings, huddled around a rural highway intersection.

Haisai 17
Once inside, we took a quick peek at the adjoining bakery and its impressive collection of preserves. It’s also praised heavily for its breads, but there were none on hand when we arrived. The walls of the bakery are lined toward the top with mismatched broken dishes, and the ceiling lined with broken pieces of brightly coloured ceramic.

Haisai 18
Satisfied, we crossed the foyer into the dining area, and were told we could choose whatever table we like. Good thing we came early. We sat along the wall, not far from the front where the open kitchen and service were.

Haisai 16
Haisai does things differently, and it works wonders. Their clay walls and roof are supported by thick logs and beams, with carvings and etchings dancing over their surfaces. The light fixtures are broken wine bottles, planted into the ceiling alongside decorative ceramic teapots that have been blown up and transformed into shard-filled snakes slithering above diner’s heads. In the wall are embedded ceramics and stones, while art pieces decorate the fireplace and surrounding space.

Haisai 21

The tables and chairs are all individually-made and crafted from local wood sources, and each chair is covered with an animal skin for that soft, luxurious, animal-skin feel on your back. The napkins and wine glasses are marked with Haisai’s logo, while you drink water out of broken wine bottles, blown to ensure safety around the edges.

Haisai 14
But I digress.

Ladies and gentlemen, your menu for the evening:

Nova Scotia Oysters with Green Caviar:

Haisai 05
Seared Black Angus Beef Tongue with Farm Greens, Hempseeds, and Apple Cider and Herb Oil Dressing:

Haisai 06
Kohlrabi Soup with Roasted Piglet Belly Croutons:

Haisai 07

Pan-Seared Georgian Bay Lakehead Trout with Braised Lobster, Spinach Puree, Chervil and Lobster Sauce, and Parsnip:

Haisai 08

Pickerel Dumpling with Red and Golden Farm Beets and Tarragon Sauce:

Haisai 09
Apple with Cinnamon and Rum Sorbet:

Haisai 10

Roasted Duck Breast on Duck Gizzard Confit with Farm Mushrooms, Corn and Carrots:

Haisai 11

Roasted Rack of Lamb, Tomato Confit with Beans, Roasted Vegetables, and Potato and Squash Dumpling:

Haisai 12

Three-Cheese Platter with homemade Raisin Walnut Sourdough and Pear:

Haisai 13

Cognac-Chocolate Cake with Raspberry-Lavender Sorbet:

Haisai 15
An exquisite meal, it left us both very satisfied and very full. While it’s not cheap, it’s an experience all its own. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys good food. DO IT!

Sippin’ The ‘Gnac

“Each year, Cognac makes its mark with enthusiasm, style and confidence, and it’s wonderful to be taking part in this year’s edition.”
Jonathan Demme

Eighteen floors above street-level. Someone hands me a cocktail. I drink it. Then another. I don’t know what’s inside, but I drink it anyway. I hear music… syncopated beats aligned sonically with displaced dub. I see people… beautiful, elegant, hip to the groove. Out the corner of my eye, I think I spot a black Napoleon, with a multicultural harem of Josephines. I try to make sense of it all. Eighteen floors above street-level. This is not good…

I insisted on coming tonight, even brought along a friend of mine – a spunky Asian girl from Hong Kong named Loi Wing. But when the elevator doors opened and we stepped into the bar area, she vanished. No matter, I think to myself. I’ll have a drink and we’ll find our way back to one another. Strolling toward the bar, I notice a cool, yellow ripple to the bartender’s right; a batch of ready-made cocktails, waiting to be consumed. The bartender smiles, informs me those are the only drinks available tonight, and winks. Strange…

Grabbing the closest glass and taking a sip, I’m intrigued. Interesting taste, sharp with a hint of citrus, but not too acidic. I drink some more. The glass is small, and in a matter of minutes, I’ve emptied it. I’m drawn back to the bar and before I know it, I’m finishing up a second glass. I start to feel like a cross between Bruce Banner and Reed Richards, craving more to drink but knowing it will severely change my behaviour. I still don’t know what I’m drinking, the effects it’s having on my body, or who all these people are…

Beautiful people. I’m surrounded by them, in their bow ties, their stiletto heels, their faux-vintage cardigan sweaters, and their $200 fancy sneakers. Their conversations are dizzying, and I hear snippets from around the room flooding my ears:

“One sec, I have to post this to my Twitter…”
“What’s the name of that rapper who sings about Courvoisier?”
“Yeah… My blog gets about 700 hits a day… Hey, you want to get a drink somewhere after this?”
“Don’t they drink Sidecars on Mad Men? What do you mean you don’t know… ?”

I need some fresh air, and stumble toward a balcony door. Outside, I make the mistake of looking down onto the street below me. Eighteen floors above street level. Jesus Christ. I taste my stomach in the back of my throat. Hearing music inside, I peer through the windows and see bodies begin to tangle into one another, moving rhythmically. Except the beautiful people seem to have been replaced by the Great Emperor Napoleon, and a gaggle of girls grabbing at him. Napoleon is black, the girls are dark-skinned, light-skinned, Asian, all colours. There’s a man on stilts. What the hell is happening? What is in these drinks?

Before I guess at an answer, I’m plopped down at a table. Sitting surrounded by strangers, we stare at each other blankly, and then at the abundance of colours, textures, and flavours spread in front of us. Brown sugar, white sugar, raw sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, rosemary, mint, ginger, lemons, limes, blueberries, cherries, juices, sodas, and more. But once again, there is little time to make sense of the situation. I feel the effects of the drinks starting to wear off, and begin hoping for a return to some sense of normalcy and logic, when a series of vials are thrust under my nose, one after another. With the seemingly innocuous scents of maple, iris, and – most devious of all – ginger cookies, wafting through my nostrils and into my system, I’m overcome by sensation once again. Blinded to everything around me, I feel defeated by the urge to try more… taste more… experience more…

Let loose, I’m suddenly mixing ingredients in a frenzy. Flashes of Fantasia flicker in my mind as I create one unholy concoction after another. My hands have a mind of their own, and I feel like Being John Malkovich as I watch myself uncontrollably fall under the stupefying spell of this powerful beverage. Addicted to the feeling, I mix together Courvoisier, cherries, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Too many ingredients with the letter C, I think to myself. Scared, I add a dash of lemon juice. Before I’m done tasting, I’ve already moved on to my next experiment. Courvoisier and cucumber. Again, too many C ingredients. I’m even more scared now. This is not just a coincidence. Coincidence, I think to myself… Also starts with a C. Now, I panic. Are they controlling my mind? Is that why everything here tastes so good? Is that why I had imbibed so much more than I ever would have under normal circumstances? Is that why I couldn’t think straight? “WHAT HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE TO ME!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. Everything stopped. The room grew silent. Uh oh, I thought… They’re on to me.

I calculated my dashing factor. If I ran top speed, I estimated being in the stairwell and on my way to freedom in under ten seconds. Would that be enough time? And what of the complimentary gift bags I noticed by the door? No, no time for that now. Must concentrate. With beads of sweat forming across my forehead, I surveyed the room. There was a small commotion at another one of the tables. Had someone else realized what was being done? Were they being subdued? My heart raced.

“Alright! We have a winner for the best mixed drink!”

A voice. Whose voice? God? I don’t know. Applause. Cheering. What’s happening? All the beautiful people are standing up, looking toward the small commotion. Glasses are raised. People are drinking more. Don’t they understand what this is doing to them? The music begins again. Beats. I’m disoriented. Loi Wing saunters up to me, and I am relieved to see she is OK. I try to ask where she’s been and what they’ve done to her, but she smiles wider than ever and drags me by the arm, back outside to the balcony.

The fresh air invigorates me, and I begin to feel sober at last. I revisit what I just experienced: the dizzying excitement, the blurry exhilaration, the energizing crowd. Loi Wing asks if I want something more to drink. “Oh hell yeah,” I reply, before losing myself again in a glass of Courvosier Exclusif.

You Give Love (and PR) A Bad Name

If you haven’t already heard, cheating is not the reason marriages break up. No, the real reason behind many a divorce is a force much more sinister than extramarital sexual urges… that’s right, I’m talking about Rogers Communications.

 Rogers Logos

Yes, it’s not enough that they gouge us on service fees and spray-paint our sidewalks (really? didn’t you learn from MLSE eight months ago?), now they’re coming into our homes and breaking up our marriages. Imagine coming home one night after a long, hard day at work, and you walk into your bedroom only to find your wife in bed with all of Rogers Communications. If that sort of thing turns you on, you’re probably on the wrong website.

If you haven’t already heard, Gabriela Nagy “blames a Rogers cellphone bill for breaking up her marriage… Nagy claims a unilateral decision by Rogers to consolidate her household’s bills allowed her husband to discover she was having an affair. That, she says, led to the “destruction” of her marriage.”

 Gabriela Nagy

Here’s a thought: Maybe the marriage was already destroyed when Nagy decided and proceeded to have an affair, and not when the husband found out about it. I’m pretty sure that the old adage “It’s not illegal unless you’re caught” doesn’t hold up in a court of law.

Now, Nagy “is launching a campaign to improve privacy protection in Ontario… [and] looking for other frustrated customers to join her lawsuit against the telecommunications giant for what she claims was a breach of her privacy.”

Is she? Is she really? Or is there more to this already-ridiculous story? Well, when a story in Toronto transcends being ridiculous and begins bordering on being offensive, there’s always a safe guess as to why: J.P. Pampena.

 JP Pampena

First off, let me say that this entire story stinks. Reeks. It’s a wonder Pampena can come near it, what with his heightened sense of smell. But then again, this is the same publicist who orchestrated the messy soap opera that surrounded Toronto’s baby Kaylee case in 2009 and 2010.

 Jay Sherman

In reading up on Nagy’s case, it seems abundantly clear that Pampena is behind much of this media-attention-grabbing circus:

  • Nagy showing up for interviews dressed all in black, wearing a wig and dark glasses
  • Suing Rogers for $600,000 (is that all your marriage was worth to you?)
  • Launching a Facebook campaign dubbed Citizens Helping Individuals Reform Privacy Policies (CHIRPP)
  • Mentioning she has switched to Bell and is much happier with their privacy protections

 This has sleaze written all over it, and it’s a goddamn shame. It’s a shame that this woman is attempting to profit from her own immorality, while trying to paint a sympathetic picture of herself (though acknowledging herself she won’t win many sympathy points). It’s a shame that Rogers – giant, evil corporation that they are – has to deal with this bullshit, likely meaning that somewhere down the line, us “regular” customers will have to pay some sort of price for all this. And it’s a real shame that J.P. Pampena is giving publicists and public relations practitioners everywhere a terrible name.

It should be noted that Pampena is also the same publicist that infiltrated the Molson Canadian Rocks SARS Toronto Benefit Concert, doing media interviews and taking credit for an event he had little – if nothing – to do with. He’s drawn the ire of well-respected PR practitioners all over Toronto, and with good reason. He was even called out (albeit anonymously) on Inside PR, a leading Canadian podcast on the state and future of public relations, by then-hosts Terry Fallis, Dave Jones, and Martin Waxman.

Interestingly, Inside PR has also been the basis of discussions on why publicists should not be a part of any story, unless extenuating circumstances call for it. Obviously, Pampena missed that episode. Wonder why….

(Another interesting note on Pampena – who, by the way, is also registered to run for Mayor of Toronto in the 2010 election – is that though he claims to be blind (26 years and counting…), his Twitter page has him spotting a celebrity in Pearson Airport.

Poultry Poetry

Robot Chicken

***UPDATE***
I was not chosen as winner of the prize. While it’s purported to have been done by random draw, I think it’s safe to say my poultry poetry blew everyone else’s out of the water. Even on the frontiers of chicken, there is no justice.
******

A close, personal friend of mine – who’s huge in Japan, but chooses instead to live out his days in Toronto, breeding naked mole rats and writing about it on his blog Hammer and Popsicle – sent me a link the other day.

Naked Mole Rats

 When I first clicked on it, I read it over quickly and thought to myself: “Wow! This is pretty dumb.” But after having considered it for a few moments longer, it occurred to me that it’s actually quite clever.

 Tasting Toronto, a local foodie blog, is giving away a Cuisinart® Griddler®. The appliance is a prize the blog itself won for submitting an award-winning chicken recipe to a contest put on by the Chicken Farmers of Canada, who run the chicken racket in this country.

Cuisinart Griddler

 Rather than ask for traditional entries into a contest however, Tasting Toronto takes a different approach, asking readers to channel their inner Monty Python by marrying classical sensibilities with modern-day silliness.

Monty Python

 Asking their readers to submit poems based on their love of poultry, Tasting Toronto has one-upped the Chicken Farmers in the contest department. A food organization asking for recipes? Old news. And you know what? Old news is not news.

 A food organization asking for odes and ballads deifying their product? That’s already more interesting, if for no other reason than the concept. Add to that the fact that chicken somehow seems inherently silly, and this contest just got interesting.


 I wish the Chicken Farmers had thought of something this clever. It’s a great idea and one that can be re-used and re-purposed for many organizations. By inviting creativity, followers of the product are encouraged to express their feelings for said product any way they’d like. Often, this results in passionate outbursts of adoration as people are thrilled to let a company know just how much they love (or not) a product.

 That said, I heart chicken. They say pork is the other white meat? My friend, there is no other white meat. Only chicken. Here’s my entry in the poultry poetry sweepstakes. If you like it, please let me and/or Tasting Toronto know.

 I walked up to my ho and asked: “Yo, how’s trickin’?”
She looked at me and said: “Makin money thanks to chicken!”

“Thanks to chicken?” I asked, acting all surprised.
“Hells yeah bitch, that shit’s keeping me alive!
“It’s chock-full of protein and keeps me going,
“It’s got the energy I need to keep on blowin’!”

“What about your clients when they smell it on your breath?”
“I tell ‘em for the price of two, they’re getting four breasts!
Two of them are female, and two of them are fowl,
They get excited and get messy, so I throw them a towel.”

 “Damn,” I exclaimed, “I can’t hardly believe it!
From now on chicken’s what all my ho’s be eatin’!”

 The moral of the story, for those that don’t know,
If you want to make money, get some poultry for your ho.