Friday, May 20, 2011

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month 7 Different ways!

It's mid-May and I am mid-way into celebrating Asian Heritage Month in Toronto.  There are plenty of exciting city-wide Asian Heritage Month events to check out.  Friends and colleagues kept asking me which events I'll attend for the remainder of May.  Well, here are my top 7 picks of the Asian Culture celebrations in Greater Toronto Area. See how many Asian cultures you get to experience and how much ground you cover until the end of May!  Don't forget to slap on sun block as you head out for your own cultural adventure ...

Broadview Gateway: 4 Cultures Foodies Walking Tour

A Taste of the World Walks presents  culinary historian, Shirley Lum , who leads this fun and informative Foodies walking tour! Yes, I couldn't help but slip in one of our quirky events ;-) as it will be fun since I'll be leading it. It'll be a blast!  There will be equal portions of food for the palate and thoughts, while we peel back the layer of immigrant food history in lost Chester Village, Riverdale and Chinatown East,  Toronto's third Chinatown. Celebrate Asian Heritage Month with us as we check out the ingredients needed to make  Zong Zi connected with the Dragon Boat Festival preparations while peeling back layers of Chinese history in Toronto! 

Sunday May 22, 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Broadview Subway Station, entrance 
RSVP Required: or (416) 923-6813

FREE Japanese Mechanical Doll Demo Tamaya Shobei, Karakuri Ningyo Master

The Japan Foundation, Toronto welcomes Master Craftsman Tamaya Shobei IX for a special demonstration of Karakuri Ningyo, elaborate mechanical dolls that first became popular in Japan in the 17th century. Mr. Shobei represents the ninth generation of a line of esteemed artisans sharing his name who specialize in Karakuri Ningyo. Technologically advanced and aesthetically beautiful, Karakuri Ningyo are considered the forebears of modern-era Japanese robotics.

Mr. Shobei will be demonstrating two types of Karakuri Ningyo. Perhaps the best known form of these dolls, the Cha-Hakobi-Ningyo (tea-carrying doll) holds a tray, delivers a cup of tea to a guest, and then returns to its original position. The Yumi-Hiki Douji (arrow-shooting child), considered the pinnacle of Karakuri Ningyo craftsmanship for its detailed movements and facial expression, can pick up an arrow and shoot it at a target.

Tuesday, May 24, 6:30 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM) FULL!
   ** Additional Timeslot Tuesday May 24, 2:30 PM **
The Japan Foundation, 131 Bloor St. W., 2nd Floor of the Colonnade Building
RSVP Required: or (416) 966-1600 x103

A Taste of the World Walks presents this eerie ghost walking tour during Asian Heritage Month! Try snacks associated with Chinese  a little-known ghost festival called Qing Ming, all the while listening this and many other ghost stories with multicultural twists as these thee areas are so culturally diverse! Find out which shops and/or favourite eateries are haunted!

Friday, May 27, 6:30 - 9:00 PM Red Pole w Black Cat, 350 Spadina Ave.
RSVP Required: or (416) 923-6813 

FREE  East Asian Homeland Festival 
Toronto Public Library presents eight Asian Homeland Festival on Saturdays throughout May. This is one festival which celebrates the breath of Asia. Only Marco Polo covered more Asian ground than their 2011 Asian Homelands Festivals! 

12 PM  Stories from Japan and beyond with Yusuke Tanaka and Nathalie Vachon.
1 PM    Food demo & tasting with amazing chef, Winlai Wong of the hot King Street West eatery called Silk Route Asian Bistro & Bar
2 PM    Balinese dance and music with Sekar Rasa Duo 

Saturday, May 28 Lilian H. Smith Branch 

FREE Asian Film Festival screening: Bodyguards & Assassins [十月圍城]

Reel Asian is presenting martial arts action-packed and star-studded film. It is 1905 Hong Kong and news has reached Chen Xiaobai that revolutionary leader Sun Yat-Sen will be arriving in the city for a secret meeting. Prior to his arrival, an elite army of deadly Qing assassins with lethal weapons has been posted all over the British colony. To save the fate of a nation, Chen recruits a gang of extraordinary citizens – amongst them a beggar, a rickshaw driver and stinky tofu vendor – to protect the great Sun Yat-Sen. Hang on to your seats! This epic blockbuster is non-stop combat. Winner of 8 Hong Kong Film Awards in 2010 including Best Film, Best Director and Best Action Choreography.

China 2009 | 139min | Cantonese & Mandarin with English subtitles | Rated 14A
Director Teddy Chan Tak Sun | Producers Peter Chan Ho-sun, Huang Jianxin
Actors Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Wang Xueqi, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Nicholas Tse, Hu Jun, Li Yuchun, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, Fan Bing-bing, Zhou Yun, Wang Po-Chieh, Mengke Bateer, Cung Le

Saturday, May 28, 8:00 PM
Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Avenue

Second Chinatown Foodies Walk: Dragon Boat Festival prep

A Taste of the Worlds Walks celebrates Asian Heritage Month by presenting a special culinary walking tour of Toronto's Second Chinatown. Savour and sample Zong Zi or Sticky rice dumplings at the hosted dim sum and tea stop at one of the oldest Chinese bakery. Culinary Historian and raconteur, Shirley Lum will have you chuckling over the lore and legend connecting the exhilarating boat race and the decadent dumplings! A tour of an Asian grocery store will get guests into the grove of picking up the necessary ingredients, and feel ready to prepare for the festivities!  
Sunday, May 29 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Lucky Moose Statue, 393 Dundas St W/Beverley Sts.

FREE Dragon Boat Festival & Sticky Rice Dumplings: Hands-on Workshop & Demo  

Toronto Public Library presents this unique event. On the fifth day of the fifth moon, the dragon boat festival takes places. This year, this exciting lunar food festival takes place on Monday June 6th, 2011. How does one prepare for this fascinating event? What are the lore and legend connecting the Zong Zi or sticky rice dumplings  to the Dragon Boat Festival? Find out by registering for your spots! Culinary historian, Shirley Lum will demonstrate how to make the savoury and sweet Zong Zi or dumplings, and then you get a chance to try it yourself! 
Monday, May 30, 6:00 - 8:15 PM
Palmerston branch  
Pre-register spots (416) 393-7680

Have a fabulous time!
Explore Toronto's various neighbourhoods
while celebrating Asian Heritage Month! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Best Mother's Day Gift is YOU: Spend Precious Time Together

Time.  It's so precious.  Mother's Day is fast approaching as the clock keeps ticking away, and the days slip by, and next thing you know, it's Saturday and you still do NOT have a Mother's Day gift!  I don't know about you, I don't need a countdown, as there have been daily ads/commercials with reminders that time is running out, and that you'd better treat mom to chocolate, flower, jewellery and spa treatments. Oddly enough, none of the before mentioned gift items appeal to my mom (okay, maybe a small pair of earrings, but then my mom will note that she has no events to attend, so no excuse to wear them).  How does one say "Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I love you, Mom" so it's meaningful, memorable and intimate? Remember the last time you made that hokey homemade card for mom? Bet your mom might still might have it tucked away with some of the other crafts you've made but forgot about along the way, since you grew up... Funny thing, it's not any of the tangible items you can conveniently purchase at a store or online, but merely by giving yourself namely, spending some quality and quantity time with your own mom or grandma.

I've had the pleasure of hosting the Second Chinatown Foodies Walk for intimate, small group ( 8-9 of us) scheduled on Mother's Day.  Several women treated their own mothers to a foodies walking tour experience with me. Along the Second Chinatown Foodies Walk, I start off with the hosted dim sum and it's always a fascinating communal experience as we bond over flying chopsticks, tea pouring etiquettes, while trying new and familiar flavours, textures and aromas.  Often, the food/drinks, the old pictures and stories I share along my culinary historical walking tours would trigger awesome personal stories and memories and render many heartfelt chuckles. When we end at one of the oldest Chinese bakery sipping hot Hong Kong tea with bites of a medley of pastries,  folks are always amazed by how quickly the day flew by while they were having so much fun. Remember that old saying, "Time flies by when you're having fun! " So true! Sigh!

This year, I'm spreading the Mother's Day love over the whole weekend, just so I can keep it intimate numbers per tour. As a culinary historian, it's sheer fun peeling back the layers of multicultural food history within the marketplace and residential quarters of Kensington Market along the Kensington Foodies Roots Walk with folks who have wicked stories of their own to share.  I look forward to reciting my Grilled Cheese Haiku (written for first time after several decades hiatus) after we taste a variety of Canadian artisanal cheese, as I'm sure all will appreciate Canadian humour! Longtime residents, newcomers and visitors alike, love the beginning of the tour, as I challenge them to imagine only one family and one house occupying the area, and then we end with pictures and maps showing that very first family's home and long driveway. Heady experience I must say.

By the way, to make Mother's Day more memorable, I will be handing out a single flower for each Mom treated to the tour by their accompanying offspring! Book your spots by Thursday May 5th, 2011 to make sure your Mom gets her flower! Call the office (416) 923-6813 or e-mail

Remember your Mom, Grandma or your favourite Auntie. 
Life is short & sweet. 
Life is sweeter, when precious time is spent together with loved ones.
Cherish those memorable moments as we sip & nosh together.