Friday, 13 May 2016

Part 1 - One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch

Since we're moving back to Chester, and since moving costs about as much as I assume it costs to clothe and shelter a child from birth to the age of 18, I find myself having to work with my fridge and cupboard contents to sustain my carbon-based life-self. Now, I believe there are two ways one could react in a situation like mine; number one being the " what?" reaction, and number two, being:
I fall into the latter group, otherwise known as the "Ohhhhh nooooo, what?" group. I know it doesn't sound hard; to not eat out, and to make your own food, but it's tough for me. Not just because I'm not so hot a cook, but mainly because I don't know how to "grocery shop". I just can't do it in a way that makes sense. Whenever I arrive back home from dropping a few T's (twenties) or so at the store, and get them all unloaded onto my  kitchen table, there is no clear cohesion. It's like if someone were to lay out a bunch of pieces from different puzzles and try to jam them all together to make a discernable image three times a day. That's not gonna turn out well, or into anything. That's not how puzzles work. They are meant to go together in very specific ways. Just like the building blocks of our breakfasts, lunches or dinners.

But some of us (me) just don't get it. Take yesterday's experience; I went grocery shopping, panicked, and left with 2 beef hearts (for Gully), some couscous (for Gully), a carton of almond milk, Swedish Berries, and a box of Premium Plus crackers (more on those later). These are all "ingredients" for something, but the sum of their individual parts don't actually equal anything. Well, I guess they could, but that something would be leaning more towards a poisonous elixir than anything capable of being washed down on a sober stomach. Prime example? This treachery: Tofu Slimy Cylinder with a side of Cheese-Whiz and Crackers and "Salad" with the Worst Dressing Ever Made.

" Don't Go With What You Know"

I love Tacos. Whenever I see that Old El Paso Hard Taco Dinner Kit I think to myself "Never change...". It comes with all the trimmings (except some of the really vital ones) but most importantly it comes with approximately one billion shells. It's like there is always enough for everyone to have at least seven, no matter how many people are in on the feast. This is amazing because, in the context of suppertime, seven is often considered "too much" of anything for one person; too many boxes of Hamburger Helper, too many minutes before saying "stop" as the woman winds parmesan onto your pasta at East Side Marios, too many spoons for a bowl of soup. It's a tough crowd out there. This is why tacos are such a special treat; you can load an obscene amount onto your plate and no one looks weird at you, or sad for you. In fact, people usually egg you on the take more. Oh, people, aren't they hilarious?

Unfortunately, when I made this particular batch, I decided to get the Soft Shell Kit.  I hate Soft Shell Kits, but by changing the shell's malleability I was able (in my mind) to make dinner "healthier"(if you're having trouble following that rationale, remind yourself how much it doesn't matter). I also "health-ed" things up by using tofu instead of beef. That's a lot of unnecessary twists and turns when the traditional route so obviously yields the better experience. Which reminds me of the time Allison put Roshelle in charge of navigating her vehicle to our apartment in Montreal. For some reason, Roshe decided each direction would be a "turn left", just one right after the other. For a journey that would have otherwise only taken us ten-ish minutes, we ended up having to spiral into our destination after about fifty.

"Mmmm... thatttttttttt."

But whatever. That drive isn't the point. The point is this visibly upset burrito. It was clear no one was ever going to ask me for this recipe. I mean, on top of all those missteps, I used onions and carrots as toppings (whomp whomp). Between Graham and I, nobody warmed to the final product, so I ended up freezing about 9 to eat over the following 3-week period. Here's one unthawed from the freezer. It looks like Barbie put out a hit on Skipper and it was up to me to dump the body. It's wrapped weird, it's lifeless, it's lunch. Not for long, though. I know how to put spring back into the step of food like this. It's called the "Broil" setting. "Broiling" is the impatient man's "cooking". It may ruin everything, but at least that "everything" is always ready in under two minutes. Maybe one minute, if you don't like your smoke detectors screaming at you. Broil is god's gift to kitchen idiots like me, and you know what else, apart from broiling, is a gift from god? Salsa.

Herdez Salsa: The perfect condiment to elevate a flaccid food tube...

Do you even know what this is? This is THE GREATEST SALSA IN THE CITY grocery stores. This is found in the, you guessed it, Mexican section. It's the best option Sobeys and Superstore carry in lieu of "the real thing". You know why I love it? Because it's, like, 75% water! #JustLikeMe! So besides being really tasty (so I say), it's also hella relatable, and if you're a woman like me, you know how important that is. *winky face*

This salsa is made up of wet red liquid (yes, I just used the word "wet" to describe a liquid, that one person didn't call me a wordsmith for nothing), with soaking red, green, and clear rectangular prisms and cubes. I wish I could have been to one to invent this perfect blend, but you know what they say, "If fluids and solids were druids and cold-tits..." No, that can't be it. Anyway, it's bee-knees, and also ranks high on the "you need a napkin on your lap/bring the salsa to you" scale. It's basically just cold soup in a jar, people. Make sure you have on your splash pants and you're nowhere near a first date. This shit gets messy.

La Salata

La Salata is an amazing freaking salad bar that my class-brothers Roman and Jon, and myself, frequent whenever our work finds us back in Houston, Texas. It is hands down, the best salad place in the world, and when you consider the fact that I have been to about 4 different places other than Nova Scotia you know it's gotta be true. The salad I created today would be the kind of salad that would be "let go" from La Salata, that is if it were ever to be hired on in the first place (which I doubt). It has two components; leaves and lines (see image on the left). It looks like miso soup, and by god I wish it were.  The dressing is what you get when you put maple syrup, garlic, olive oil and water in your Nutri-Bullet cup thing, and then forget you already packed the base of the machine for your move, so you end up shaking it like a martini and throwing the garlic in the garbage. I knew it was going to taste bad, but I didn't expect it to feel like this (see video):

             Continue to Part 2 - One Couple's Bad Dinner Becomes One Woman's Bad Lunch  ....
For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to 
listen to me ramble more frequently - follow me on Twitter 
and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps!
Twitter: FOLLOW!
Facebook LIKE!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

PART TWO - The Halifax Crafters Market/"Clean Spoons"

So it's been like three days since I had that lemonade, and I feel a mixture of "over it"/"could use a glass right about now". Like Miley Cyrus says on the last track of her "Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz" album: "What does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?" The answer, in this instance, being: "Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Nobody cares." 

"Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?"

After downing my glorified citrus water, I made a quick stop at a soap booth. It had a pretty straight forward presentation going on; there were some shelves, and the soaps which the chick had made (or so she says...) had been displayed in an attractive manner. Or maybe it was just a "regular" manner. It's not like she had dumped them into a pile on the table and been like "Perrrrfect". They were spread out carefully and deliberately. Maybe to "showcase" them in a desirable way, maybe to satisfy OCD tendencies, who knows. But now that I am thinking about it, I'm starting to like the idea of a "dumb, unorganized heap" look. Yeah, I believe that would have been a welcomed twist. It takes a lot of confidence to do absolutely zero set-up at a craft fair, or any fair for that matter, and a "like it or lump it" attitude can only mean that a product is so good that nobody has to do shit to sell it because it sells itself. That, or it means someone is lazy and they suck. Probably something I would have to decide on a case by case basis, but an interesting spin none the less.

Sadly, there was no "favorite imaginary mess". Her area was pleasant, and I was happy to have found it. I like homemade soaps because they're cheap and who cares/whatever, which happen to be the only two pre-requisites that must be met before I commit to any purchase. I asked the girl with the glasses how much they were (aren't they all "the girl with the glasses" these days? I know I am, and I don't even have a prescription). "Six dollars," she said. Awesome. She cleared that hurdle with a bit of height to spare (I would have also accepted "7 dollars"), and I hoped she could keep it up as I continued on to my next questions. She didn't. Instead, she and I got all tangled up in the following exchange, and before I knew it we were in a non-consensual discussion about my breakout:
Me: "So are any of these for like, face washing?"
Girl: "Yeah, this one here. It has charcoal, blah, blah, blah..."
Me: "Oh, neat, and is it good for..."
Girl: "Acne? Yes."
Me: "..."
Me (again): see video clip


Woah. I think Jerry summed it up perfectly in one of Seinfeld's nightclub intros when he said, "Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, that's not gonna work at all." You see, I was going to say "sensitive skin", but my friend here judged my book by its cover-up, and went there. She was doing that thing creative types sometimes do so well: making normal people really uncomfortable through a series of way too honest and unfiltered observations. As soon as the "A-word" was out of her mouth, I began to feel myself move through all the stages of unexpected embarrassment:

Here's a tip - never ever draw attention to someone's bad skin day.  It's about as bad a SNAFU as misidentified sausage poisoning (otherwise known as "asking a woman who isn't pregnant about her pregnancy"). If there is something going on with my face, I am usually the first to know. Like I said, my glasses don't even need the glass parts! I can see! I am aware! Here's the good thing, though, and I mean this - this girl (unbeknownst to her) has given me a great story. I really like her for that. I know she didn't mean anything by jumping the gun and assuming I wanted to talk about "pizza face". One of her friends mentioned that she gets asked about acne-prone skin all the time, so it totally makes sense. Still, it was what it was, and every time I think of it I die. In a good way, because to me, it's amazing. Sometimes really painful moments turn into really funny moments upon further examination, and now when I think of this awkwardness, I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish I would have gone back and told her my version of our conversation, and how I am now almost certain it's going to end up being the highlight of my month. Maybe she would have laughed? Or maybe she would have stared blankly at me with that "evil intellectualism" these artsy types sometimes pour on ya. I'll never know. (Oh - and P.S.- the soap is "fleek". Will buy again. And again. And again.)

"Clean Spoons"

Speaking of highlights of the month, there was another contender that occurred within the confines of the Olympic Centre last weekend. While looking at some pottery at the end of our rounds, a dude (Cherakee - might have been your broseph-in-law?) noticed something "funny" going on with little Hayley Parsons' mug. You see, the crafters market has coffee you dispense yourself, and they also have clean cups for everyone to use. The evidence also suggests they used to have clean spoons, too. That is until apparently (as the guy pointed out) Hayley swiped that mug mistakenly to serve as her "cup of joe", leaving all other patrons with only a "dirty spoons" selection. The guy was losing it after we confirmed that yes, that was exactly what happened, and so were we. Hayley was majorly hungover that day, and it was a classic hangover move, as hangovers rarely read and have little to no attention to detail. I was and still am so glad this didn't go unnoticed because it's the kind of gift that keeps on giving (in the form of Hayley's new nickname: "Clean Spoons"). 
Move over General Hospital, there's a new soap in town...

Like I said, my purchase (although a bit prickly) was a success. Me love the soap, and even though it's not a snack, it still deserves a Harvey's rating. A good one at that - 9/Harvey's - for the laughs and the product itself. 
Oh, for crying out loud. I almost forgot the real snack that I had - Lure Caramel Co. toffee. Holy shiza. This stuff it addictive. It was like Hanson's first album was playing in my mouth, and no one is telling me to turn it down/off. What makes it even more incroyable is that the fact that it is hand-made! By Kate Melvin! I cannot wait to go to Lure in Indian Harbour and make myself sick! Just ask Natalie how fast I eat at a chocolate shop! Yum! Thanks, Kate! Harvey's out of Harvey's! And now that that's all wrapped up in a nice wordy bow, I am going to peace out and make lunch. It's almost 2:30 for god sakes, and I still haven't made any of my daily cheese-based meals! Pull it together, Tuesday! Is it Tuesday? I never know what day it is...

For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to listen to me ramble more 
frequently - follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps! 

Twitter: FOLLOW!

Monday, 2 May 2016

PART ONE - The Halifax Crafters Market/If this was an album dropping, it would be called "I'm Getting On The Horn"...

I made fun of Beyoncé yesterday on Facebook and everyone's mad at me. ANYWAY... if you were in the city this weekend, you probably took a bunch of fliff-notes out of your bank account and stopped into the Halifax Crafters Market. The Halifax Crafters Market is where (mostly) way too talented people try to cash in their brainchildren for (mostly) way too few dollars. That's right. There were some D-E-A-L-S carving out property at this little pop-up fair. I am talking, of course, about cousin Rachael's coloring books (which are basically being given away for 15$), as well as her original hand-painted totes, apparel, greeting cards, and prints. What I am not, I repeat, not talking about the five-dollar cup of lemonade my "hangover self" (who always gold-digs my "regular self") forced me into buying. Sadly, not at all

Before you start asking yourself what my problem is with lemonade everything, please keep in mind I'm not trying to wage war on the cool cats (How does the old saying go? "Every time someone says 'I don't believe in hipsters' somebody sends back a fish taco at Lion and Bright"?). We all know you can't please everyone, and what is perhaps even more important to remember is that everyone can't please me. It's not anyone's fault, except probably mine, so offense need not be taken. On that note...

$2.00 too many...

I once complained (via email) to Maynards about a 
package of Sour Patch Kids I bought in the New Orleans Airport. As I pounded away on my keyboard, I discussed how my candies seemed "damp" and that it "didn't matter if they only cost a dollar" because "it wasn't about the price, it was about standards." Although I am sure that statement rings true for a lot of people, it doesn't for me. I polished off the whole bag sour-y sweetness before I could even hit send. Because of course I was still going to eat them, a little wet around the edges or not. Standards, As if. The truth is it's always about the money and within two weeks I had a cheque in the mail for a cool $1.49. Cha-ching. 

The point of my story is to demonstrate my history of being "cost sensitive". Five dollars for a cup of lemonade is too much. I should have just asked for the lemons instead. It may not have necessarily been more "bang for my buck", but at least it would have been "bang". I had to play along, though. The dog and pony act had me right where they wanted me and they knew it. Must've been my eyeballs doing their best impression of really thirsty red grapes that gave me away, but, if wasn't those two face raisins, then it had to have been the smell of last night's booze naturally off-gassing from my pores. Either way, they were waving liquids around in front of a vulnerable Saturday morning liquor zombie, so obviously they had my attention (which gives me an idea for an alternative album name: "Desperation Hydration: Struggles of a Waterless Parched Person").

Becky with the good hair...

They had some choices in the "flavor" department, so I decided to go with "SeaBerry" (or as I like to refer to it now, "Really?"). I watched one of the gals pump a squirt (ew - "pump a squirt" - no!) into my cup and then start cranking on the old-school-machine-squasher. Judging from the progress they weren't making, it was clear that some sort of short-cut would need to be taken soon, otherwise, I would have had to go back the following day to collect my drink. And take a short cut they did, because after about the second lemon they began topping off filling up my bevvie with water. A lot of it. 

All that water got me thinking: What am I paying for? The manual labor? The physical exertion of bringing the arm upwards and downwards for a maximum of twice times? I felt like some fool throwing bills around so two roommates could make money while they figure out how their hilariously expensive and so obviously unnecessary 16-piece vegan-metal hand-juicer works. (#FiveDollarsFiveDollarsFiveDollars) 

Watching them reminded me of when I was a teenager and used to carry around a little lantern with a lit candle inside to "get around in the dark". In my house. I could have turned on the lights, but I wanted to use the lantern because I thought it was cool, and even more so because I wanted everyone else to think it was cool. They didn't, and I retired that habit fairly quickly once I realized it wasn't catching on. It wasn't very practical anyway, ya know, and neither is the jig they pulled down at the Crafters Market. And on top of the "Why even?"-ness of it all, I just realized while writing this that lemonade isn't even a craft! It had about as much business being there as I have in complaining online about something I actually enjoyed - none! Jokes on me, though, because all arbitrary and unasked-for observations aside, I did buy the lemonade. And that can only mean one thing - the hipsters won Saturday. 

This whole post is essentially just one long tug on a couple of strangers' chains and is built upon only two facts - one being that the lemonade was damn delicious and the second being that I am a cheapskate. Which is why I give the price of the thirst quencher a 3/Harvey's ("three" being the amount of loonies I believe it should have cost) and the taste a 9/Harvey's because I love lemonade. I'm serious. I love it.

This isn't the end...

I have more on my experience at the HFX Crafters Market coming up later tonight, (#cleanspoons and #soap), so prepare for my usual flooding of your newsfeeds! And remember I am still campaigning for me, myself and I.  If you can, please share this link! If you want, please follow me on Twitter! And, if you haven't already, like my page on Facebook! 

JillianMParsons FOLLOW!

Facebook LIKE!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Home Cooking - "Put down the spoon, you're killing you..."

When I was around 18, and my little sister was 8, we spent a lot of time on an all-ages educational website called Poopy Joe had a lot going on entertainment-wise, but somehow we always found ourselves clicking on either "The Poop Machine" game or the cooky vid with a familiar poppy lilt, titled "Oops, I Farted Again". Sadly The Poop Machine is not able to be attached to this blog, but if you're ever looking for a way to kill a few hours (or you're drinking alone and don't want to get lost down the Facebook rabbit hole firing off unwelcome friend requests and private messages) feeding this virtual face and butt is a pretty ridiculous way to do it. Yes, the sound effects are uber-disgusting (mute is always an option), but the speeds in which each meal plows, or slugs, through the intestinal track are fairly spot on. I mean, the corn barreling down, only to jettison itself into the toilet to the sound of a machine gun? It was, and still is, very ahead of its time. 
As was the bathroom humor spin on Britney's billboard classic seen above, where she spends the bulk of the clip tooting out fancy-free and footloose flames. For users looking for the amusement value of the  "Poop Machine", minus the interaction, this is where it's at. The jerky, dated computer generated dancing  squatting and arm-flailing won't make you feel like "you're there", but considering the context, you'll be glad you're not.

Amazing, right? But wait, what does a cartoon shitter and a gassy pop princess have anything to do with this blog post? Well, it all comes back to the weird food our bodies can and cannot (or should and should not?) withstand. teaches us the fake risks of real indigestion, and the gambles we take on the stuff we're not so sure about. "Stuff" like my Tuesday Case Study: The meal I cooked (badly...) in March, that I am now going to try to eat in late April.

Frozen - Like That Song By Madonna 

I re-discovered the freezer months ago when I realized it was capable of solving my issues with never finishing, or wanting to waste, my dinner. You see, I have trouble parting with my leftovers (hence the word "my"), which is really just a nice way of communicating my distaste for sharing, and that's where the freezer comes in. The freezer "freezes" things, prohibiting growth and change - much like the way Scotiabank "froze" my account when I deposited that empty envelope as a teenager, or the way I "froze" in my snake costume after laughing so hard I peed my pants scaly unitard while performing in my elementary school's production of Marco Polo.  In this instance, "freezing" helps me pick up where I left off with a past meal by completely eliminating the chances of bacterial poisoning (something that usually occurs when it is stored in the favorable temperatures of anywhere besides the freezer).  I know. That's a lot of scientific jargon for a wordy blowhard like me. You must be wondering if I've always been this in touch with my savant-ness, and how well I actually knew Oliver Sacks - The answer, of course, is a shaking fist and me saying "That's enough from the peanut gallery!" I mean come on. Jeez... (RIP Dr. Sacks)

Anyway, after this game-changing brain wave, I started firing even the smallest amounts of uneaten food into the icebox...  and the most undesirable. Lone, half-gnawed slices of pizza can often be seen through the frost on the Tupperware containers, as can old sandwiches and noodles with varying toppings and sauces. The majority of this collection is seriously, seriously old, a prime example being the eyesore that can be seen in three of the next five photos. I made this particular concoction about three weeks ago, and yes, I plan on finishing it today. I know some people will think "Ew - gross - what even is that?" but don't worry, I know exactly what this is and where it came from. After all, I was the one that tried to make it, and then somewhere throughout that same process, ruined it. It's like that beer with the salt and pepper facial haired man and the name of that book says: "I don't always make shrimp teriyaki, but when I do, I don't." Wait, I think I am making Dos Equis and Don Quijote one thing instead of two things that are very different...

You never know when you've added too much sauce until you've added way too much sauce...

Yes, this is shrimp teriyaki. Or more accurately, this is what shrimp and too much teriyaki sauce looks like after it's been viciously overcooked and frozen for twenty-one days. I like shrimp, and since all the ones I eat have had a bit of a tough go (as in, they used to be alive, curling their way through the sea, and now they are mostly just dead and expensive), I have decided to incorporate more into my diet. Like a healthier alternative to beef, or chicken, or pork, or what-do-I-care. Too bad "eating well" doesn't look the same for everybody. I have seen shrimp teriyaki done properly, and I don't remember it making me question if a really sick cat mistook my rice for a safe place to empty its insides. The visuals speak for themselves. See that swirly dehydrated-anus looking thing? That used to be a crustacean, and I ate it. And I ate that Van Gogh's-long-lost-(allegedly)self-mutilated-ear-part-looking mushroom over there on the left, too.

You know, sometimes people say that food, flavored or not, tastes like nothing and you think, "How the hell can that be?!" Well, it can be. This dish really tasted like nothing. It sure felt like something though. Like I was eating one of those "potions" you serve to your parents as a child, made exclusively of inedible ingredients. This particular creation has a texture of Barbie Doll head, along with a granular taste - like rocks that haven't yet gone through that Rock Tumbler you regret asking for last Christmas. It's different, and I appreciate the freak flag it's trying to fly, but all those things I just described, to me? Those are indicators that scream "Put down the spoon, you're killing you."

That look Jerry Seinfeld gives after he says "Nah, no-one's ever been shot in the city..."

 Into the compost it goes! Now you can appreciate all the vibrancy of the brown color wheel, which, as I have mentioned in the past, is a personal favorite. The way the broken plastic bowl plays off the garbage-ness of the contents almost convinces me to give this disaster another shot at being lunch, but then I'm reminded of my easy-to-prepare fallback: an incredibly bland, 4-piece handheld sammy. That's right, no plating required. It is a simple as one single slice of fake turkey, two lightly veganaise-ed pieces of bread from Organic Earth (doesn't matter what kind, just as long as they're tan-ish), and three rectangles of Old Cheddar. Sure, it may look like the kind of sandwich that could depress the "Target Lady", or prompt a kindergarten teacher to place a call to child services, but this is made by grown-up hands for a grown-up bod and it is my adult right to control my own malnutrition. Mine and mine alone.

Dog food and the wishy-washiness of leftovers...

Speaking of malnutrition, that pic with the rice, black bits, and the old coffee has reminded me I need to feed the puppers. Gully eats "whole foods" now - which means liver, rice, carrots, and whatever else I think looks neat in his dish, but regardless of the recipe it somehow always manages to look like the bottom of a green bin... or canned Irish Stew.

I know, I know - who cares!? My point is I need to wrap this up. I have to provide for this animal at some point this morning, so let's get down to info that actually matters, like the Harvey's Scale.  Today it has to be broken down into two separate ratings. The first travesty gets a big fat zero, all thanks to the fact that it sucked the first time I tried it, and it sucked even worse almost a month later. My "Trad-ish Turk Sam" (which is "cool" for "traditional turkey sandwich") gets a seven because of it's simplicity and it's ability to not make: 1) a mess, or more importantly, 2) me sick.

Oh yeah, and while we're waiting for fame and fortune...

Remember - I am still campaigning for me, myself and I.  If you can, please share this link! If you want, please follow me on Twitter! And, if you haven't already, like my piz-age on Facebook! Do all three and wow, we are going to be fast friends I am sure of it!

Twitter: FOLLOW!
Facebook LIKE!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Seven Bays Bouldering & Café: PART 1 - The part where we aren't climbing anything yet...

The photo on the left was taken from 7 Bays website - on the off chance they
get mad at me for stealing it, I have the image on the right ready to take over.
I've never thought to myself while at a café eating a lunch, drinking a coffee, or writing a rambling: "Hey, you know what would make this place perfect? Adjacent indoor rock climbing "bouldering" wall(s)." I just haven't.

It's like Scott Aukerman (or whatever his name may be today) of Comedy Bang!Bang! says in one of my favorite sketches: "Maybe it's just me, but for me..." Yeah, for me? I don't think that would have ever been a naturally occurring idea, and for those of you who have met me, you know that says a lot. That's because I am a person who is writhe with ideas. In fact, I'm surprised/offended it isn't my nickname at this point. I mean, how many episodes of inventiveness does one need to demonstrate before it sticks in everyone's head as a defining quality? Have I told you about the "B-Safe-Let"? Have you seen "Plate Pants"? I think Kristin Wiig said it best while slaying an impersonation of Kris Jenner: "What do I have to do for attention, kill somebody?"

Anyway, enough about the misgivings of everyone around me. The union of rock-climbing and café-going isn't necessarily an "unholy" one. You could say it is out of left field, but I personally am partial to the left side of things anyway, being left-handed and all. So what if it isn't one of those "sure-bet" DTF on POF kind of matches? FRED on Agricola gets away with cutting hair just around the corner of their dining area. CUTTING. HAIR. AND. SERVING. FOOD. They might as well be grooming dogs, which is a type of hair I am never thrilled to find in my lunch, but at least am very used to. But regardless of what animal is shedding nearby, human or canine, somehow they've made it work. And you know what? The peeps over at 7 Bays Bouldering have made their niche market work for them too. Quite fabulously, in fact!

Make Parking, Not War

Let me start with the parking, because in this city, it's important. The parking here is amazing in that it exists, and there seems to always be an available spot. It reminds me of something that doesn't remind me at all of the concrete mind fuck also known as the new Halifax Central Library's parkade. I have cursed more and put more dents in my Jeep within the confines of that Queen Street free-for-all than anyone could ever imagine - unless you can imagine the number one. One dent is what I put into my vehicle while pin-balling towards the exit, but to this day, it still feels like a million. In other words, the parking here is (comparatively) a flirtatious, tall glass of water. Drink it down, drink it in.

Along with the love affair described above, you will notice upon your arrival a series of garage doors. You know the ones - they look like really wide and tall multi-paned windows. Okay. Although I have no confirmation on what this space was before 7 Bays settled in, I'm going to go ahead and guess that it was a CrossFit... "whatever"?  All signs garage doors point to CrossFit, because we are living in a time where it is more common to find a bunch of individuals running around and exercising really loudly behind these retractable passageways than it is to find the usual suspects - greased up mechanics getting their "lean on" inside the auto-body shop. Of course, none of these observations are relevant to this review since in this particular case you find neither. In this case, the big bad shutters keep the rock climbers safe from looky-loos like me (or, I suppose, the environment?), and have nothing to do with car repairs or people throwing kettle balls at each other. Because that's what CrossFit is... right? Cacophonous shouting and hurling gym equipment like a Real Housewives hurls her wine ?

The Café with The Elbow Room 

It's inconspicuous, it's spacious and it's got a one-room/one-toilet bathroom. JACKPOT). This is a good, no, a great place to grab a bite, to get a beer and to get a table (finally). However, it is not a safe place to get a London Fog. Jessie Redmond tried pulling that stunt and I immediately (and unfairly) teased her for being "so fancy", for the sole purpose of giving myself a cheap chuckle - unfortunately at her expense. Jessie - you and your London Fog. We both know I will probably never let you live it down, and that sure is ridiculous! Oh, friendship!

This is also the spot to be if you were hoping to see men in long, breezy shorts. That is, apart from the yoga studio, but at 7 Bays instead of getting and eyeful of dudes pinching their testicles in ways that make your own private parts cringe, you can watch them standing next to each other, looking at/talking about the rock wall they seem to rarely be climbing!
Seriously, there are so many long shorts in here. Some of the shorts are tolerable, but others are definitely made from hemp and possibly...oh man... by hand. Here's a pro tip: Thin material? Wear JOCKEYS. Women aren't men. We don't like to see the shapes and sizes of sensitive areas through your clothing. If you ask me, catching a glimpse of a penis form without warning evokes the same squirmy feelings I get when I hear the words "epic" or "sensual", or when the insides of a person's elbows somehow make their way into my line of vision (please. god. no.). But enough about free birds, let's move on to something that actually stokes the appetite as opposed to extinguishes it: Tea and good food.

Tea: Rooibos Ginger

This little tea is so cute! The mug reminds me of the ones that were used when I would serve tea at the Chester Legion. That was back when I was a better person/a little Brownie. If you're unfamiliar with Brownies, a Brownie is a tiny girl who is forced to do good deeds, such as brighten the days of the local seniors and participate in the Terry Fox Run. They also have to serve tea and triangle sandwiches to people a couple times a year and from what I can remember I was always stuck serving egg salad. Such an injustice. Do you know what someone eating an egg salad sandwich asking you (too closely) for "Another egg salad sandwich!" looks/smells/sounds and sometimes feels like? I cannot be around egg salad to this day. I'll never understand the public ingestion of the egg salad sandwich. It's so polarizing. Makes me want to cry for everyone involved. 

Rooibos is my favorite tea, and ginger is one of those buzz foods I've heard you're supposed to be having, so I thought it would be a smart choice for me. And it was, but here's the thing - tea is just hot water with maybe one spec, one teeny tiny spec, of flavor, and no matter what that "flavor" may be, it all tastes like wet loose-leaf the end. Wet loose-leaf that I have acquired one hell of a taste for, so when critiquing this beverage, as far as hot paper-water goes, this cup was everything I could have hoped for and more (taking into consideration the self-reflection brought by the glassware). Thumbs up for sure/Will order next time.

Dumplings and Spiralized Salad for Two (...for One)

I chose the furthest table away facing everyone's backs because I hate when people watch me eat stringy things/salad/tacos etc. That's messy stuff. Stuff that isn't easy to figure into perfectly bite-sized portions. Today it seems that one patron in particular couldn't care less about those feelings of mine. This "dude/dooood" has decided to come chat up his bro who happens to be sitting at the table directly across of me. And, and, he keeps facing me! Do you know how hard it is to eat spiraled vegetables? In a civilized way? In a way that says "I'm not 3 months old?" It can't be done! It's like what I imagine seeing someone trying to eat a slinky while driving alone on the highway might look like - insane. Trust me. I know. I once spun a slinky into a light fixture at the request of a man who was clearly deranged, just so I wouldn't hurt his feelings. There is no way that that didn't look nuts (it definitely did to my co-workers), and I can only assume a mouth half-full of similarly shaped bits leave me appearing no less certifiable. All issues aside (you know, a bib would have been nice) the taste of this dish makes it worth finishing in one sitting. The sauce is scrumtrulescent and the filling-ness of it was - I don't know - does "100%" mean anything to anyone? I was pretty full. On healthy stuff. That's hard to do, at least for me it is.

Oh my God, and then there were dumplings. Dumplings are amazing, but before I get to them, did you all know that I used to work at the Black Market Boutique for my sister who is a now part-owner (where else could that slinky story have taken place)? 

Anyway, this particular night I was closing the store with my friend Ari. Suddenly, I began to sing an original tune, one for all the lonely women out there who, at times, find themselves spending the majority of their evenings in. Alone. Ordering take-out for two (for one). You know what I'm saying. We've all done it - made it sound like we're placing orders for two or more people, knowing full well the numerous Asian "combos" scheduled to arrive at our doorstep are for us, and us alone. Hence the song's title "Tonight, I'm Ordering in for Two (for One)".  It was a stunning display. Almost as if I had immaculately concept-ed a song not unlike the way Jesus was immaculately concept-ed, and the profound results of that evening are reminiscent of how I put my order in at 7 Bays. See how there is a paper bag there? Next to the dumplings? Yeah, I asked for those to be brought to me in a take out container. I, for no reason at all, pretended they were for someone else, and the chick at the counter believed me... that is, until she slid them my way following the veggie bowl of awesomeness. They just smelled so good, like the way the plastic lining of a fruit roll-up smells good, and before I knew it I was humming "Tonight, I'm Ordering in for Two (for One)" and ripping into them. They were, hands down, the best dumplings I have had in the city. For real. I know what you're thinking: "Were they really that good, or were you really that hungry?" Unfortunately, there's no way to tell. Sorry. Go try some and let me know what you think?

Yes, You Should Eat Here and YES WE ARE GOING CLIMBING

Everything I ate here was super, super Harvey's-esque, so I am giving it an 8 out of Harvey's. It was tasty A.F., it was fast and I had a whole seating area to myself (huge selling point). The rock wall is also on the agenda. That's right, myself and a few friends plan to tackle that thing this week and I will write the second part of this review upon its completion. There will be video, and I plan to wear one of those extra-thick, anti-incontinence maxi pads because I know for a fact I am going to pee my pants laughing. It's happened before, it will happen again. I guess that means I'll be joining in the breezy short brigade since a queen-sized panty liner isn't the easiest thing to conceal in a pair of knock-off Lulu Lemons. I just hope they have some new "fresh boulders"...?! Stay tuned, like usual!

For more books news, Regular Food Critic news, and just to listen to me ramble more frequently - follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page! T'anx again, peeps!