Welcome to BoBo Feed

BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

Bobo Feed will be sharing things that inspire us or please us-
from the worlds of architecture & design, fashion & styling, food and drink, travel, urban living, whatever...

We hope you enjoy.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Palette: Bidding a fond Adieu to a Kensington Friend

A recent article at torontoist.com, and then another in the Globe and Mail (not yet available online), alerted us to the fact that one of our favourite restaurants in town, La Palette in Kensington Market, would be closing its doors in late November. Seems (in an all too common twist of fate) that they have become the victim of their own success, by at first kick-starting and then anchoring the renaissance in Kensington since their opening in 2001.

The  current allure of the bobo neighbourhood  now means that landlords can raise rents beyond the levels that the original tenants are willing or able to pay, in the process threatening to kill the atmosphere that is the very essence of their good fortune. Thankfully for local lovers of French bistro fare, La Palette has recently opened  an additional outpost on Queen Street West. While we haven't yet visited, being somewhat stubbornly attached to the original, we hear from multiple sources that the fare is just as good. We will now have to transfer our allegiance.
photo above courtesy of jamie drummond's musings at gingerz.wordpress.com
La Palette is owned by the unstoppable Shamez Amlani (right in photo) and his wife Maria Litwin. (Shamez has become the defacto "mayor" of Kensington, the major force behind the neighbourhood's monthly Pedestrian Sundays during the summer.) The stoves are manned by ever-boyish Brook Kavanagh (centre) and team. He has steadily steered the menu towards more rigorous Ontario-based sourcing. While it remains decidedly French in approach, the goods are as local and sustainable as possible, including a decent range of Ontario wines.
We were introduced to La Palette by friends, probably a couple of years after it had opened. It was love at first sight, and sealed at first bite! The room is tiny, sometimes a problem with dining in this town, but somehow its diminutive scale fit the personality of the place. It was all set off by the towering presence of M.Amlani, who greeted and seated each customer, offered the wine list, explained the specials and sometimes even took the orders. And speaking of the wine list, he was there to guide you through the selection process, usually offering up some unlisted treasures from his cellar after he had a good idea of your tastes and budget. On more than one occasion we sat while a flight of reds was poured for us to sample. He would do the same for beers, having a substantial listing of Quebec, French and Belgian brews. He was the first restaurateur to talk us through choosing a beer the way a sommelier would a wine.
The dishes were always classically French bistro fare. A standout was the brilliantly executed Steak Frites, barely a half inch thick in that quintessential Gaullic way, cooked to the perfect "a point". The frites were addictively thin and crisp, screaming out for a big pot of dijon mustard (always readily available). Other favourites were the chicken "Bonne Maman", bouillabaisse, and more recently a selection of "local" game. Loin of elk, anyone? We haven't yet had the inclination to try the cheval- yes, horse- but since we've heard it's still featured on the menu at the new location we promise to give it a go. Though North Americans remain squeamish about it, it's a classically European offering  and the online reviews give it raves. (Shown below at the new Queen Street location in a photo from the Toronto Star)

 above, a corner in the Kensington dining room

We paid a final visit last weekend. As usual there was a loud and boisterous group present, the room was hot and noisy, and the atmosphere comforting. We missed the presence of  Le Patron, but we dined with the usual gusto, and left ready to move on the next chapter, happy to have had the chance to say farewell. 

We'll leave the last word to Shamez Amlani himself, quoted here from a November 6th, 2010 article by Tabassum Siddiqui in the Globe and Mail:

"When the doors close here after ten years, people will carry it with them in their memories. The new place is a new place and it's a different thing entirely. This place can go on and be the stuff of legend and memory. That's not something anyone can take away"

photo below of the new Queen Street W home from the National Post

La Palette is Dead! Long Live La Palette!

La Palette
492 Queen Street West
416 929- 4900

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Sorry, We're Closed"

We've been doing a little more night walking...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Big Red

Our pre-vacation research had led us to understand that the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the most recent of the "Big Three" art institutions in Madrid, was a bit of a lightweight compared to grand daddy The Prado and the private boutique collections of the Museo de Arte Thyssen-Bornemisza. Criticism tends to suggest that the Reina Sofia has a "shallow" collection, and that it's a museum built around the star of their  aquisitions, Picasso's Guernica. Despite the somewhat condescending narratives, the place is home to many fine pieces and is considered a tourist must-see. It is the one institute of the three that focuses on modern and contemporary art. 
In addition, we were already familiar with the fabulous 2005-completed addition designed by Starchitect Jean Nouvel which made it a necessary stop on our itinerary. Lo and behold, we found it to be the most stimulating of the three.
 Image courtesy madaboutmadrid.com
The Art:
OK, let's be frank. We don't know much about depth of collections, heirarchy of lesser and greater pieces, etc. Put us in a room with beautiful art on the walls and we're happy campers. Draw some connections between the historical context of all the various pieces we're looking at and we stroke or chins and say, "oh, that's interesting. Hmm, that makes sense, now." We leave feeling a little wiser and fulfilled by having been in the presence of beauty.

And there was plenty of that at the Reina Sofia. Like everyone else, we made a beeline for the room in the historic Sabatini Wing which houses Guernica. Fortunately they make you work a little for your reward, and the large collection of spaces took us on a tour of the artisitc influences playing out in Spain in the '30s and on into the years of the Second World War. We were quite struck by the role of artists in producing cartoon style anti-fascist propaganda, and were able to directly link that world to the current day, reflected in the exhibition of cartoon art we had seen a few days before at the Circulo de Bellas Artes. And of course, how could there not be plenty of Miro, one of our favourites?

Unsurprisingly, there were many Picasso's, a number of which were studies for Guernica.
...and an assortment of other goodies...

The Building:
The original museum was housed in a former hospital, the white-ish structure at the center of the photo below. It has a lovely courtyard filled with luscious plants and a spectacular Calder mobile on a plinth. Since the renovation, it has become known as the Sabatini Wing, named after it's original architect. The addition occupies a wedge- shaped site fronting a busy boulevard, oriented at an awkward 45 degree angle to the Sabatini.

Nouvel's solution to his design brief was to pull the program spaces apart into three blocks. The largest is an addition to the museum and is attached to the Sabatini via an airy shaft that houses elevators and stairs. The second block is the library/ bookshop structure which parallels the street. The third contains a cafe with a theater space above.

The three blocks sit on a paved plaza which they share with the sculpture 'Brushstroke' by Roy Liechtenstein. Nouvel's masterstroke was to unite the three individual parts with a red aluminum skin and to place a gigantic "floating" shiny red ceiling on the space. The roof structure is punctured with enough skylights that the space isn't dingy, and in fact, it must be a very cool oasis in the scorching heat of a Madrid summer.
 Image above courtesy arcspace.com
 image above courtesy viajejet.com
Above, the Liechenstein sculpture 
with the museum entrance behind.

Below, the library stacks are partially sunken below the plaza.

The red roof floats above the open air plaza, 
hovering above the old Sabatini Wing.

Below, the red facades and ceiling have a strong impact on the immediate neighbourhood.
 image above courtesy arkitectoniq.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Bathurst Street, Toronto

Friday, November 5, 2010

Waste Land: An Incredibly Inspiring Movie

Run, do not walk, to see this movie!

How often have you read that tag in a film ad? Well we're here to tell you that we just saw this documentary and really, you have to run, not walk, to see it. If you can. Unfortunately it is not yet in wide distribution, but please keep your eyes peeled- should it come to a screen near you, DO NOT miss it!

All photos in this post courtesy www.wastelandmovie.com

This story of the transformative power of art comes hot on the heels of a couple of recent super-large scale urban art projects in Rio de Janeiro: Favela Painting (which we featured here), and the Women project by incognito French street artist JR, who recently won the prestigious TED prize for 2011.

Waste Land was a project undertaken a few years ago by Brooklyn-based Brazilian ex-pat Vik Muniz (here's a brief bio and here's a great article about him from the New York Times). Having been raised poor himself, and having achieved the comfort to go out and get for himself pretty much anything he could desire, he decided it was time to give back. But his goal wasn't just to give in a monetary sense, although a financial payoff enters into the picture, but to be able to "teach a man to fish" in the words of the old saying. His oeuvre being the production of transient artworks made from unusual materials which are then photographed, he hatched the idea of using garbage as his medium. (Actually "garbage" is a misnomer as the film's protagonists will clearly point out). This beautiful documentary by talented British film maker Lucy Walker tracks Muniz as he and his Rio-based "on-the-ground" assistant Fabio hatch the plan for the project and end up becoming immersed in the lives they are documenting.
The team travels to the euphemistically named Jardim Gramacho, the world's most heavily used landfill, where a community of Catadores, or "pickers", scavenge the trash for recyclables. They become enchanted by the dignity and wisdom of these people who society considers as disposable as the refuse they help re-purpose. We'll leave it at that- you really have to see this film! (Be sure to bring your Kleenex)

Here in Toronto the film will be shown for an exclusive engagement at the TIFF Bell Lightbox beginning on Thursday November 25th.
 And here's the trailer:
(best if you expand to full screen after opening)
WASTE LAND Official Trailer from Almega Projects on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

After the Bounty has been Harvested

At the peak of summer we had the good fortune to visit friends who live an hour outside the city, where they maintain a large and productive vegetable patch. It was a pleasure to experience the bounty of an Ontario summer right at the place where it comes up out of the soil. (You can share in our experience via a previous post here.)

But alas, the days fly by and the seasons turn and before you know it, the bounty's been consumed or put-up for winter and the garden stops to take a break. It's during this period of "repose" that we were lucky to have had the chance for a re-visit. The garden is still as beautiful as in late July, but with a touch of melancholy now in knowing that very soon it will all have come and gone for another six months.

Late July
The sure "knowlege" that their reproductive days are numbered must be spurring on the hearty squashes and chards for that final sprint to the finish line, as they squeeze out every last possible seed or photosynthesize like crazy before the inevitible first frost.