Posts tagged with elyse

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Restaurant Review - Pre Open at Snakes and Lagers


Behind the Bar - Photo by Daniel Peragine

It’s really easy to get stuck in old habits. Same playlist, usual drink, regular haunt, typical invitees.

Call up, go out, bar hop, get fed, lather rinse repeat.

So when somewhere pops up that is doing different, fun and easy to adventure into you’ve got to perk up your ears.

There is a local cult following of Snakes and Lagers' sister cafe Snakes and Lattes. Both board-game bars, one beer, one coffee. Great reputation but then again sequels can be hard.


Snakes and Lagers - Photo by With Elyse

Bubbly going in invited for a pre open tasting before the grand opening. Pre opens are always exiting like being in on a secret or the punchline of some fabulous party joke.

Arriving abnormally early I was seated at the sturdy bar with a view of the gorgeous selection of taps and bottles.

The building emulates the nod in the name to snakes and ladders. A thin stretched room to the back stacked with additional seating on the top floor. High tables, booths and gothically vogue stone walls.

Introductions are made and we are launched into educated suggestions on everything from games to beer to munchables.

As a Stiegl girl (a leftover habit from time in Austria) I’m directed towards the Beau’s Lug Tread. Not overly hoppy, crisp and generally just refreshing.


Photo by Daniel Pergine

We dig into the nibbles which I’m told are a culmination of worldy pub fair meets street eats. The later clearly coming through as none of them get in the way of upcoming friendly game initiated competitive streaks.

Brussel sprouts in a skillet and kale chickpea salad in a mason jar, all rustically appetizing. Both difficult foods to get right - the sprouts and kale. Done wrong the feelings of a punished petulant child get stirred up but, done right it’s health infused bar snacks. Salty and decadent with beer but with a little more green than usual. Snakes and Lagers does them right. To be able to satisfy craving with a salad is a feat worth mentioning.

image Kale and Chickpea Salad, Brussel Sprout - Photo by Daniel Peragine

It’s true when they say all the servers as “Gurus” connect on a personal level. We start a game of Fandoodle (yes actually the name) and our lovely host stays for a few rounds to ensure the ball or rather dice is rolling smoothly.

Sliders and falafel join the table. Not a drop spilled and the gambling style game is full swing. The mix in of white beans for the falafel adds a creamy profile and combats happily with the pickled onion topping while the Mini Mac is the solution to every fiend in need of drive through answers to boozy questions.


Mini Mac Slider, Falafel - Photo by Daniel Peragine

Switching on to Time-line (staff recommended), a historical game to order events of everything from the introduction of the Euro to dear old dial up. It gets you properly attentively thinking and moves us into dessert with cocktails.

imageLemon Meringue Pie, Bourbon Sour, Fluffer Nutter and Lemon Meringue Pie - Photos by Daniel Pergaine and With Elyse

Again nuzzled in mason jars are the Lemon Meringue (I can never resist) and The Fluffer Nutter. I’m able to pop behind the bar to see the cheery men at work making me a egg white based Bourbon Sour that I’ve seen circulating the bar.

The slightly deconstructed delicious desserts are texture based and excellently portioned but the knockout is the cocktail deserving of a standing O with its frothy goodness.

Wrapping up I feel, unlike some nights, that I actually did something. A feeling of specialty of an event, out of the norm excitement to draw closer with strangers, colleagues and even the oldest of friends.

Snakes and Lagers is located at 488 College St in Downtown Toronto

Filed under restaurant review restaurant With Elyse review board games snakes and lagers snakes and lattes snakes and ladders foodie toronto downtown journalism writing writer canada beer austria stiegl lager grand opening preview pre open slider beanie bartender bartending cold weather what to do in toronto what to do where to go

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Restaurant Review - Delysées French Bakery


Delysées Entrance - Photo by Daniel Pergaine

Close your eyes and think of Paris.

Warm coffee, sweet baking smells, clean colors and the sound of Juliette Greco floating in. A sign something is a good idea isn’t always obvious but sometimes it is.

Sometimes it’s all in the name. In the case of Delysées literally my name is in the name. Coming in from the wretched cold to a chrome and white long stretched room highlighted with glass cases of every delicious fantasy you’ve ever had. The clientele is happily immersed but respectfully hushed to not disturb the natural elegance of the room as if it’s an opening at the Met.

imageJars and Macarons - Photos by Daniel Pergaine

Sitting down to taste through the menu all enhanced by the company of owner Fred Naggar who has settled into conversation with me. As charming as his young 4 month old bakery cafe, within minutes of arriving, the attention to detail, integrity and tradition is vividly apparent. The latte to start is from a grind always made to order. Light, velvety and quickly accompanied by the sound of croissants in batches of only 8 ready to emerge from the hot oven.

They are over 30% butter and made from carefully sourced imported ingredients. Pulling apart the countless layers of golden dough as welcoming as the first bite of the classic and chocolate versions. The affect is a weightlessness that lingers delicately underneath the next sips of your coffee.

imageSandwiches, Butter and Chocolate Croissants - Photos by Daniel Pergaine

The petite sandwiches are next. Just the length of a salt shaker their base is the fresh baked breads of airy baguettes and homey rye. A selection of 17 distinct classically manipulated combinations that make each bite layered and textural. Smokey red peppers with tempting feta and olives, ham with cucumber and the most seductive of bries.

The careful qualities of the thinness of each ingredient to ensure the sandwich remains as it was made is the higher approach that shows. Throughout the tasting little pauses to appreciate are interspersed with customers coming in speaking volumes as they bilingually chat with the gregarious Parisian owner. The shy excitement between myself, photographer and owner is palpable as we move onto the sweet section.


Pistachio, Praline, Passion Fruit, Chocolate, Raspberry Mouses - Photo by With Elyse

Crisp white flatware is laid down dotted with macarons and mouses in blushing watercolors and acrylic brights. We start at the soft sunshine colored passion fruit, a now favorite of mine perfumed, tart and hugged by bursting pomegranate seeds. The luscious freshness carries on to the raspberry, hinting memories of childhood summers spent outside. Time slows for each bite that turns into a moment of its own. The chocolate follow up is a rich feathery invitation to the cream and cherry inside and then finishing with nut selections of praline and pistachio. Both as unarguably silky as the others and both distinctly different in their buttery and savory personalities.


(Clockwise) Salted Caramel, Raspberry Lychee, Chocolate, Basil Lime - Photo by Daniel Pergaine

Finally are the macarons and my heart sings a little. Raspberry and lychee, chocolate, salted caramel and basil with lime. Looking at the lightly glossed tops of the buttony cookies it’s impossible for a dreamy sparkle not to wash over everything. The chocolate effortlessly centering around a seamless ganache, The salted caramel brightly evenly balanced, the raspberry lychee popping brushed a subtle ombré and the basil lime an unexpected herbal marriage. The first bite from a tender hardness to a soft resolved can only be compared to a first kiss. Unforgettable and excitingly simple.

The escapist romantic in me finishes the last few tastes with an encouraging sigh. A satisfaction melts over that has not been felt for ages.


Photo by Daniel Pergaine

Delysées is located at 780 King Street West in Downtown Toronto

Filed under review restaurant food foodanddrink foodie french paris met macaron toronto downtown restaurant review delysees With Elyse gastropost gastro French Cuisine french food coffee dessert pastries baking latte the city the met juliette greco music jounralism writing journalist

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ONE ON ONE with Lauren O’Connell

YouTube sweetheart and American Horror Story Soundtrack star, Lauren O,Connell talks covers, Coven and connecting with an on-line audience.


A lot of people know your music from your eerie rendition of House of The Rising Sun featured in the soundtrack of the new season of American Horror Story: Coven.

How did you get involved with the cult TV show? Were you inspired by the New Orleans storyline?

I actually recorded the cover almost two years ago, so it was a pleasant surprise when the folks from AHS got in touch this year. The song obviously suits the New Orleans setting and my recording has kind of an eerie vibe, so it ended up being a great fit.


Why do you think YouTube has worked so well as a platform for what you do? Is it harder or easier connecting with an audience separated by a web presence?

It’s definitely easier to connect with people via a web presence and that’s why it’s worked for me. It’s not the same connection as playing for a live crowd, of course, but the sheer breadth of it makes it easier for you and your ideal audience to find each other. There’s a lot of luck involved there, too.

Making VideoSongs and vlogs on YouTube pulls back the curtain a little bit on artists as working musicians. I think people appreciate that. It makes music seem a little less disposable and that goes a long way in the age of piracy and short attention spans.

What us the most important tool to take advantage of when creating an engaging live webcast?

"Engaging" is the key word there. I think it’s important to treat it like a live show as much as possible. The format takes some getting used to, but I do my best to take requests and respond to people in real time. If there are no surprising moments or audience participation, people might as well be watching a recording or listening to an album.


Recently you talked about the power and intention of covering a beloved song. Do you think covers are still the fastest way to connect with people or is it fighting an uphill battle?

Covers of well-known songs are definitely an effective way to reach new ears. It feels like an uphill battle sometimes because new listeners are going to include new detractors, no matter what you’re doing. Covers not only reach people who wouldn’t normally seek you out, but also tend to be more polarizing (for better or worse) because people have emotional histories with the songs. You just have to be okay with that and remember that if everyone likes what you’re doing, it’s probably not very interesting.

Filed under american horror story american horror story coven coven lauren oconnell new orleans youtube webcast advice house of the rising sun webcast advice quitters covers web presence vlog ideal audience working musician music interview With Elyse one on one soundtrack american horror story soundtrack

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ONE ON ONE with Josh Doyle

Recently debuting on Jimmy Kimmel Live (Aug 23rd) Josh Doyle talks skinny jeans, success and his album Solarstorms.


E - Grammy award winning producer John Shanks has said you are a “singer-songwriter in the true sense of the word” What do you think defines a singer-songwriter particularly in the new music era?

JD - I think what he meant was that I had a classic sensibility to what I did, kind of like the earliest folks in the singer songwriter genre - Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan. They were all each a self contained unit just with a guitar and a voice, meaningful lyrics, and they could pull off a peformance without the fanfare and the band etc. In this current era of music  it seems to have gone back to the pop stuff that is all about image and marketing, being the most successful. Just go on youtube and see which videos have 300 million views..  I think to be a singer songwriter today you still have to care about the song and being honest in your music as your central focus and not disguise a bad song with beats to make it seem good.

E - You live in Tennessee but are originally from the UK. What do you find the biggest difference is between North American and European music markets?

JD -  In America, audiences are a lot less loyal to artists they enjoy. They are influenced easily by lights and colours and once one big thing displaces the last thing they liked they leave the old big thing. Also in the USA its all about the “beat” of a song whereas in Europe its all about the song itself. That happened because radio sells advertising and faster, peppier songs are less likely to be channel changed. So it’s evolved into people needing to write more upbeat, conservative songs, which is a bad direction in my opinion. A bad thing about Europe is they are more influenced by fashion and image, so you can have a mediocre band that has a few hit records because they look good in skinny jeans but then they are forgotten soon when skinny jeans go out of style.

E - What drew you to Nashville opposed to other major American cities known for having pounding music scenes such as New York or LA?

JD - My wife and I tried out LA, I liked it (I love it out there) and she didnt, I think she liked New York but I didnt (too similar to London for me). Our families both live in Michigan and Indiana so this is a good location to be close and also better standard of living (cheaper) than LA/NYC. 

E -You just recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel on August 23rd. Do you feel late night shows still have the same power to promote new music as they did say back with the Ed Sullivan show? 

JD -Well, not like the Ed Sullivan Show, because literally that was the only thing on and EVERYONE was tuned in. Now everything is saturated with internet and everything else.  I think TV shows are getting a handle on it because they are providing content in different ways that are being consumed by people - its not just about the one off show now, its about the youtube clips of the show the next day and what the fans post about it, the itunes episode if you want to buy it to your phone, the tweets about it etc. Hey, we’ll see if it makes a difference to my career - this isnt a one off for me, my team is prepared for this to be a springboard for other opportunities, other TV, getting on a big tour etc.

E -
You are the former front man of the Dum Dums which gained large success opening for Robbie Williams and being well known through BBC. Was it hard making the leap from band front man to only man solo artist? 

 JD - Well a lot of Dumdums songs started with me in my room writing them by myself, so in that way it is similar. Either way the buck stops with me - as the frontman of a band you are the focus just as a solo artist is the focus. Its just as hard in that sense.  Its easier being in a band because at the beginning we would help the cause work towards common goals— one guy was great at organising practises, another guy was a peacemaker etc. You need organisation to get anywhere as a flighty artistic type and luckily I now have a management company who work with me to get it all together, but before I was on my own and it was harder.

E - In your song “The Meaning of Life” you have a very strong lyric - “All of my life I’ve been afraid of myself.” Is this a feeling that’s aided or erased by being a performer? Does this make you more or less afraid?

JD - Funny, I dont really analyse my lyrics after I write them, I just write them and hope people “get it”, yknow, deep down. That line is really about being afraid to look at yourself beneath the surface, to see what makes you tick. I think that is scary for people because they dont know if they’ll find that deep down, say, they are just like their mother, or maybe they realise they act like they have high self esteem but they hate themselves inwardly because they are addicted to something and out of control. In my case, the next line says “been putting on a mask for everyone else” and I feel that all too often, the different masks I wear to different people. I feel like being a performer is the real “me” its the “me” I want to be but in a sense I am still putting on a mask - no one is seeing my angry side or my cruel side. I think being a performer is like any other mask you wear, say, for friends, family, workmates, lovers, and it is always scary to get to the bottom of yourself its easier to just live superficially and pretend… 

Filed under josh doyle jimmy kimmel jimmy kimmel live one on one with elyse james taylor cat stevens robbie williams bob dylan bbc john shanks the dumdums grammy uk la nashville nyc north america europe ed sullivan the meaning of life

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Crystalyne Navigate Through Oakville

Originally Published by

Oakville Today - June 15 2012

NORTH OAKVILLE TODAY – On hot summer days outside of the big city people may question what there is to do. Aside from pool hopping in the suburbs or tanning outside the local Starbucks, options can seem limited. 
However, thanks to Oakville’s growing music scene, there is fun to be had, one just needs to know where to look.

On Sunday, June 10, Arnold’s Bar on Morden Road hosted a summer music night featuring local acts from around the GTA including Justin Dube, We Are The Wild Things and seasoned powerhouse headliner Crystylyne.

Donned in tank tops, aviators and shorts (the uniform of today’s music lover), the crowd ventured to the backyard outside venue of Arnold’s to show their support to new and familiar bands alike. 

Despite the stifling heat, all the bands had people dancing, shouting and throwing their cares aside, in a celebration of the coming summer months. 
With sounds ranging from screams to soft Circa Survive reminiscent falsettos, the night built to the standout of the event, Crystalyne.

Photo by Daniel J. Peragine

Usually recognized for their lead singer Marissa’s experience with her past band on Much Music’s Disband, Crystalyne played Arnold’s as the second stop on their Navigatour Tour to promote their new EP Navigate.

Hitting hard into their first song, Crystalyne comes off as energetic, welcoming and are obviously adored by the crowd of both loyal followers and newbie fans.

Sitting down with the band post-show, they engaged in an open and warm discussion about the obvious comparisons to Paramore, creative dynamic, future plans and the loyalty to their craft. The band’s close relationship was made obvious by their playful camaraderie.

Crystalyne’s presence may mark the introduction of more male heavy female fronted bands in the local alt music scene.

As the heat finally died down, watching the attendees exit the bar with beaming eyes and arms full of EPs, vintage high school inspired t-shirts and rubber wristlets, it became clear to this reporter that Crystalyne will be the local soundtrack to “Navigate” through the heat wave season.

Elyse Simpson is a freelance journalist and one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20. Excerpts from her work can be found on her blog “With Elyse” 


Photo by Daniel J. Peragine

Filed under GTA arnold's bar circa survive crystalyne disband june justin dube local morden road much music navigate oakville oakville today paramore seaway band starbucks summer 2012 top 20 under 20 we are the wild things with elyse