07/27/10

Bag of Tricks

We were sitting down to a sushi dinner about a year ago, playing “If You Could…” You know the game – ‘If you could have a house anywhere in the world, where would it be? If you could make out with a movie star, who would it be? If you could have anyone’s clothes, whose would you choose?’

We don’t always have the most intellectually stimulating conversations.

Regardless, one Toque asked the other, “If you could buy one accessory from a Canadian designer, what would it be?”

Without missing a beat, mid-bite through unagi roll, she answered, “Easy. Bag from 442 McAdam.”

“Ah, me too!” shouted the other.

A random coincidence? A sign of our cosmic connection?

A bit of both. 442 McAdam isn’t super well-known. Yet. We predict this line of luxury handbags by Calgary-born, Toronto-based designer Sarah Shell will be huge. The quality of the leather is amazing, so soft to the touch. The bags have unique touches like straps made from old rifle slings. How cool is that?

Sarah sent us an advance copy of her fall/winter 2010 catalogue recently and we’re delighted to see that she’s added wristlets, wallets and a men’s line to her label. Ah, life is good.

How cute would one of her wallets be tucked into our lovely laptop bag? (Yes. We broke down and bought it. The cosmos demanded.)

07/27/10

Vodka + Clam Broth + Tomato Juice = Happiness in a Glass

Try this at home, kids.

It’s salty. It’s spicy. And it’s uniquely Canadian. Friends, meet the Caesar.

We Toque Girls adore this cocktail. It’s a perfect beverage for those hot summer nights. (Who’s kidding who? It’s perfect for those hot summer days. Sometimes even those hot summer brunches, when we’re feeling naughty.)

While all Canadians enjoy this beverage, we are proud to say it was invented in Calgary — the lovely western city we Toque Girls call home. How’d it come to be? In 1969, a creative (and brave) Calgary bartender decided to mix tomato juice with mashed clams. Next, he added vodka, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce.

Sound tricky? Fret not, thirsty friends. Today, mixing up a Caesar is a simple endeavour, especially since Mott’s offers Clamato juice — the perfect blend of tomato and clam — everywhere in Canada and in the U.S., as well.

Now, we Toque Girls plan on hunting down the best Caesar in town — stay tuned for our adventures in securing that recipe! — so till then, give this recipe a whirl. (We found it at freedrinkrecipes.com.)

World’s Best Caesar

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish or more (This is our fave secret ingredient.)
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Mott’s Clamato juice
  • Celery salt

Rim your glass with celery salt. Add all other ingredients over lots of ice and stir well.

To add your own flair, get creative with the garnishes and spices. We Toque Girls heart olives and pickled asparagus in our Caesars, but the classic garnish is a celery stalk.

And if you’re ordering this drink at a bar, be it in Canada or anywhere else, heed this advice:

  • Don’t ask for a “Bloody Caesar.” This is a clear indication you’re a newbie, as you’re confusing the Bloody Mary cocktail — a poor man’s Caesar, in our humble opinion — with the Mighty Caesar.
  • Ask for yours “muddy.” The bartender will nod, add another dash of Worcestershire sauce and you’ll be on your happy Caesar way.
07/27/10

Five Random Questions for Lara Presber

Courtesy of Lara Presber

When we first started writing about Lara Presber and how we coveted her unique and lovely clothing, we had never crossed paths with her.  That all changed last December, when we met Lara at a mutual friend’s Christmas party. We discussed style. Cocktails. Men. And a beautiful friendship was born.

With the clothing line that bears her own name, the Calgary-based designer combines her love for both architecture and fashion design – she has degrees in both – by using buildings from around the globe to inspire her collections.

We caught up with Lara over the phone, while she was manning the fort at her very own boutique in Calgary’s Fashion Central.

So, without further ado, here are our Five Random Questions for Lara Presber:

What’s your go-to summertime look?

I have a lot, but I think the overall theme of the summer has been neutrals. Every single crazy pair of shoes I have in my closet that I haven’t been able to wear, I’m wearing because they go with everything. I have a blush-coloured, bias-cut dress (of my own design) that I’m wearing a lot. You can wear blue shoes or yellow shoes or whatever you want with it.

Come fall, what can we expect to see in your store?

You know how I use a building each season to inspire each season. Well, the building for fall is the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo. It’s interesting because you have all these grey concrete cubes that are stacked. Every single one of them has a different coloured curtain. I thought it would be really fun to make a whole bunch of really simple greys – a grey trouser, a grey dress – and then make a bunch of fun coloured accessories to layer over top, so I have some belts and vests and stuff like that.

Nakagin Capsule Tower

What did you have for dinner last night?

I went to The Palomino (Smokehouse). Don’t make me admit it! I had red meat and beer. It’s so redneck!

What’s your favourite thing about Canadian fashion?

I love working in the Canadian fashion industry because I love that everyone here is so open and willing to help each other. That hasn’t existed anywhere else I’ve worked.

Are you into wearing toques?

I don’t really have any, but they’re okay. They’re cute. Actually, I do have some cute ones. I just don’t wear them very often, because I’m vain about having good hair when I get to work.

** A note from the Toque Girls: It’s true, readers. Toques can flatten your hair. Alternatively, if you already have flat hair, they can save your life.

07/27/10

Book Worms

Sweet summer reads

Did you know that the August Long Weekend is not observed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and the Yukon?  A travesty, an absolute travesty. Thank goodness we’re in Alberta and off for the civic holiday.  The weather is supposed to be smokin’ hot and we’re driving up to the lakefront cabin of one of the Toque parents’. The packing couldn’t be easier: bikinis, sundresses and flip flops. And books, books, books galore. We tend to release our inner geeks anytime we get on vacation. (Case in point: one young sister was horrified several years ago when we insisted on bringing the big Bill Clinton biography — hard-cover version, hot off the press — to the beach for a double date with two hot, hot Greek soccer players. Turns out that soccer players don’t really dig political science).

Whatever, hot, hot soccer players. You were kind of sweaty anyway. We happily read on. Our choices for this weekend:

  • Come Thou Tortoise: a super funny first-ever novel from Newfoundland writer Jessica Grant. The intro’s so good that it’s driven our own first novel into hiding somewhere deep in our imaginations and it’s refusing to come out. Performance anxiety, you know?
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: one Toque read it and finished it in a day (she took the afternoon off and hid out in bed). Definitely worth passing on.
  • Degrees of Nakedness: Book of short stories by another favourite Newfoundland author, Lisa Moore. Good name for a vacation book, no?
07/27/10

Get Fit, Don’t Hurl Stair Workout

The stairs of doom

We devised this workout in a fit of madness after a weekend of chocolate. Check those stairs out! There are 167 of them. It’s serious business. This is not for the faint of heart. Or for people who faint.

Keep in mind that you could do this with any set of stairs, anywhere, anytime. Ideally, the stairs you find to run will make your lungs burn and your legs turn to jello — after just one time up.

This is how we do it (said in Montell Jordan styles):

Repeat this circuit twice:

  • Run the stairs, one step at a time, all the way up and all the way down.
  • At the bottom, do 10 burpees, 20 squats, 20 pushups and 30 lunges.
  • If tired, remind yourself you want an ass of steel. And that’s why you’re out here.

Repeat this circuit three times:

  • Lunge up the stairs, two at a time. (You saw that coming.) Come back down one at a time.
  • Find a bench. Do 25 tricep dips off the bench.
  • Do 20 sumo squats. Add in 20 jumping squats for good measure.
  • Swear at The Toque Girls, if you must.

Now, for more cardio fun:

  • Pick landmarks — benches, trees and light posts all work — to establish turnaround points for suicide drills.
  • Sprint one suicide series.
  • You’re now back at the beginning, a perfect place to do jumping lunges until your legs scream.
  • Repeat the suicides and jumping lunges until you feel really not, not good.

Finish with ab exercises of your choice, stretches and ice cream sandwiches.