Saturday, January 6, 2007

Saturday morning at the ROM, brunch at the Free Times Cafe -- it's good to be home

This morning Darryl, Diane, and I took in the Italian Arts and Design: 20th Century exhibit at the ROM. The exhibit closes tomorrow, so I was glad that we were able to get tickets. There actually weren't that many people there considering it's a pretty popular subject.

I bought the tickets online (through Paciolan -- an AudienceView competitor) and the email receipt said that I could pick them up at the self-service kiosk. I tried to pick them up yesterday because I wasn't sure how crowded it was going to be and I wanted to get right in there and make the most of our time. However, the software only allows you to pick up tickets at the kiosk on the day of your admission. There was also an annoying girl stationed beside the kiosk telling you what to do. Is it a 'self-service' kiosk if you need a live person standing beside it barking orders?

Anyways, the exhibit was amazing. The majority of the items were everyday objects (chairs, tables, lamps, dishes, vases, radios), but there were a few dresses, scupltures, jewelry pieces, and paintings as well. There was one adorable Fiat, that looked a lot like a Mini, and a few bikes. In the rest of the museum, you are allowed to take non-flash photography, so I thought I could in this exhibit as well. I was gently told by a security guard to stop, so the only pictures I have are of a red typewriter and a Vespa. I suppose they want people to actually pay and come to the exhibit insteading of enjoying their friend's pictures of everything. There was a very beautiful and expensive catalogue available for sale at the gift shop that includes photos of all the pieces. I bought one for my mom.

Italian art and design in the 20th century looks like it's all about smooth shapes and colour instead of decoration. It's a complete 180 from Indian art and design, which was very ornate (bejeweled, embroidered). My favourite piece in this show was a Futurist bronze sculpture of a man running by Umberto Boccioni. He said about this type of work: " Sculpture should bring to life the object by making visible its prologation into space. The circumscribed lines of the enclosed statue should be abolished. The figure must be opened up and fused into space". If you read that on its own, it might sound farfetched. But when you look at this sculpture (see picture), doesn't it sound true? I thought it was great.

We spent about 1-1/2 hours carefully looking at all the exhibits. Afterwards, we were casually browsing the permanent collection and it turns out we were all starving and wanted to go to brunch, but no one wanted to say so. I took the plunge, and we all happily agreed to make our way to the Free Times Cafe.

None of us had ever been to this restaurant before, but it was recommended in a fabulous book called Cheap Thrills Toronto. This is by far the best guide for good, inexpensive eats in Toronto. I stumbled upon it in Chapters one day and I noticed that all the places I know for yummy, cheap food were in there. It's so reliable, so I literally keep it with me at all times. A new edition is coming out in May 2007 and I encourage everyone to get one.

Free Times Cafe was a lovely place. I was ravenous by that time, so I ordered the Deluxe Combo with lox, which included a bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, 4 latkes, 3 cheese blintzes, sour cream, applesauce, and a small mix of greens and onions. I loved the latkes; the blintzes were excellent even though they're not really my thing. The applesauce had cinnamon and cloves in it (I think) so when it was combined with the blintz, it tasted like apple pie (yum). The smoked salmon was decent although not nearly as nice as the stuff you can get at the Cheese Boutique. The whole plate was $11.95 though, so I can see why they couldn't afford to serve centre cut salmon. The greens and onions were dry/wilted, but that happens at a lot of places and the salad really wasn't the star of the show. Diane had just potato latkes (I could have done that too) and Darryl had the frittata of the day with roasted red peppers, spinach, and goat cheese. The service was friendly and attentive, and they let us sit there and gab long after our meals and drinks were finished. It's a great place for a relaxed Saturday brunch.

Darryl said that his friend Sue has made 'Food Goals for 2007', kind of like new year's resolutions but to do with restaurants and cooking. I think that's a great idea! I'm going to have to do the same. I'll need to think on it a bit. Any suggestions?

Winterlicious is starting up soon and I have some friends to catch up with, so I have plans in visit the following places within the next month: Le Paradis, Simon's Wok, Beerbistro, and Mildred Pierce. I'll tell you all about them. Happy weekend everyone.

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