DeGrassi always greener for Toro chief:[Toronto Edition]
by: Aaron Wherry.
Toro magazine editor Derek Finkle lives on famed DeGrassi Street with his wife, Julie, and dog, Chester.
LIVING I’ve lived on DeGrassi Street for almost six years. I moved in with my now wife, Julie, who owned the house with her mother. It had two separate apartments then; my dear mother-in-law is now living elsewhere, and we had it renovated back into a single- unit dwelling. I quickly discovered that I could buy fresh fish just a few blocks away at Bill’s Lobster in Chinatown East, on Gerrard, and that there were plenty of great parks to walk to with Chester, the puppy boxer who came as part of the deal with Julie. I also learned that there was a high school at the end of the street, but that it was called Eastdale, not Degrassi Junior High. I’ve never watched Degrassi, but I doubt its characters strolled down my street smoking pot at recess as often as the Eastdale students do.
EATING The last good restaurant I ate at was Verveine. We love this place and probably eat there twice a month, maybe more if you include weekend brunch. Lately, I’ve been hooked on the rib-eye steak. It comes with spinach and the best frites in the city — rivalled only by Jules’s, just north of my office, near Spadina and Richmond.
DRINKING If DeGrassi is known for anything these days, it’s Bonjour Brioche, the finest patisserie in Toronto. There’s also a fantastic new bar in our neighbourhood called Barrio that opened this summer on Queen near Logan. We had a party there last week for our August-September issue, and they ordered us a half-case of a terrific Rioja — appropriately named Toro.
DRESSING I go clothes shopping maybe twice a year. Julie buys most of my clothes, something I wasn’t that crazy about early on but have since come to enjoy. The one store in my area that I frequent to buy things for Julie and me — a guy’s got to return the favour once in a while — is Body Blue, on the Danforth. The owner, Sam, is one of the neighbourhood’s great characters and he has a knack for buying things — my vice is jackets — you won’t see anywhere else.
ESCAPING Julie and I bought a cottage on Georgian Bay’s Christian Island last summer. Last winter, the bay froze for the first time in more than five years, and I went across on my cross-country skis, thinking I was being tremendously adventurous. Halfway there, a native couple drove past me in their pick-up truck, the ice cracking underneath them along the way. So much for that illusion, I thought.
AVOIDING There are a few stores and restaurants in the city I won’t step foot into. Nicholas Hoare bookstore on Front Street comes to mind. I was browsing there a few years ago, and an employee came up to me and asked if she could take my leather book bag behind the counter. “Not if you’d like me to buy anything,” I said. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the store’s responsibility to keep an eye on their product without instituting a policy that makes customers feel like criminals.
IMPROVING Bury the Gardiner. Level SkyDome. As Douglas Bell points out in our current issue, it was a mistake. Let’s admit it and move on.