Archive | March, 2011

The Bee’s Knees: Ray Bear & Mix Fresh Kitchen

28 Mar

We were thrilled when Chef Ray Bear agreed to an interview with us. He is a man of considerable note in Halifax, and a world-renowned chef. He is now also the co-owner of MIX Fresh Kitchen on Salter Street which opened its doors in 2010.

Ray Bear has had a long standing relationship with Halifax, and like all relationships it has had its ups and downs.

We didn’t quite know what to expect when we sat down with him and his business partner Chris Richards. What we got, though, was a fun, insightful, and fascinating conversation with two people who are determined to bring the downtown core of Halifax back to life through great food and memorable experiences.

Our conversation spanned a considerable amount of time, and plenty of different topics, but we finally got Chef Bear to tell us what he thinks is the bee’s knees.

“Definitely the waterfront.” He said that it’s both Halifax’s blessing and its curse, but the waterfront is most certainly one of Halifax’s most important assets. Chris was quick to say that Point Pleasant Park is at the top of his list.

We chatted for some time about the vision for Mix. Ray and Chris wanted to make it clear that Mix is not just about great food and service, but about an experience. They’re selling a great time, not just great meals. Mix’s food is as local and homemade as possible (they even make their own hamburger buns), and its atmosphere can accommodate a night out for drinks with the girls, a first date, lunch with co-workers, or just a quick meal and drinks after work. Somewhere comfortable and hip, with what they hope will become one of Halifax’s best late night experiences.

This vision comes with some context. As you may have heard, Ray and the restaurant named after him, Bear, were steeped in controversy a few years ago. We weren’t sure if Ray would want to discuss this history, but we knew that our interview wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t bring it up. We were impressed to find that he was entirely up for discussing the situation.

“People thought it was just about my ego, but it wasn’t. It was misunderstood. It was a place where I thought we could just say, ‘Okay, let’s do this.'” But things didn’t go as hoped. Afters some public unpleasantness with former business partners and considerable attention in the media, Ray had to walk away from Bear.

But back in Halifax, with a new vision, and a new partner, Mix’s atmosphere makes it clear that this restaurant is not about egos, or individuals, but about the customers. But why start another restaurant in Halifax after what he’s been through before?

“We have a lot of good will here,” Ray says. “There’s lots of love. And this type of place hasn’t been done here before.”

The vision for Mix has been inspired by restaurants in cities like Vancouver and Montreal, to Miami and New York City who offer unique outlooks on where you can take casual dining.

“Mix reflects a desire to have a room you can have dinner in or just hang out in.”

Throughout our interview they continued to stress that Mix is about the experience. The food is good, the service is good, but their ultimate goal is about making it a place people want to spend a lot of time in. But they admit there’s still a way to go to make it all a perfect reality.

“When we first started we dropped all kinds of balls,” Ray says. “But restaurants are never as good or as bad as the reviews say they are.”

They’d never done the level of volume that they’ve had at Mix before, so they know that there’s plenty of room for improvement, and that they’re making this progress everyday.

With plans for a revamped dessert selection and what they hope will be an unrivaled drink menu, they’re certainly not about to settle into a routine. Improvement and constant adjustments are what they’re invested in.

Places like Mix are what we feel Halifax needs more of. We’ve got bars in spades, fine-dining restaurants, and plenty of casual places. But hip, interesting, fun places that have great food, great service, fabulous drinks and a fun atmosphere? Well, there’s always room (and desire) for a place that can deliver on those promises.

We love that Ray Bear is back in action in Halifax. His passion for food and his community are evident. And because of this we think Ray, Chris, and Mix Fresh Kitchen are The Bee’s Knees.

Sweet Valley High

24 Mar

There is a time in every little girl’s life (OK, maybe in some little boys’ lives too) when the Babysitter’s Club books become just a little too childish. What’s a tween to do when the exploits of Claudia, Kristy, Mary-Anne and Stacey no longer get her rarin’ to visit the local library?

She turns to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, of course.

 

The Sweet Valley High books were hugely popular in the 80s and 90s as teenyboppers everywhere read about the exploits of two spoiled twins living a very charmed life in California. It was the classic good girl/bad girl scenario. Elizabeth, the “good” twin, was studious and nerdy and had a steady boyfriend, while “bad” twin Jessica was flirty and fun-loving and basically bad ass. Reading these books, I realized I was a total Elizabeth although I wanted to be Jessica badly. Every once in a while I’d pull a Jessica-esque move which would ultimately land me in noon-hour detention or piss off my friends. Moral of the story: being boring > eating your lunch with the pothead kids in detention.

In addition to more than 150 book titles, there was also a TV series in the 90s featuring twins Brittany and Cynthia Daniel (one of whom played Brandy, Joe Dirt’s love interest in Joe Dirt. I don’t know which twin it was as they pretty much look the same.)

Fast forward to 2011. Diablo Cody, who won a screenwriting Oscar for Juno, is working on writing a movie version of Sweet Valley High, which she has said in interviews will be a comedy. We at This Needs To Stop are curious to see who will be cast in this movie. Will we see actual blond twins, or will it be Dakota Fanning getting the Parent Trap treatment? Who will play Queen Bee Lila Fowler or hottie Bruce Patman?

We HOPE the new Sweet Valley High movie will be the bees knees!

 

Knut the Eisbar

22 Mar

One day a couple of years ago I found myself googling “cute baby animals” and stumbled across a video of an adorable baby polar bear. At the time I didn’t know anything about him and I found myself looking into who this little Eisbar (polar bear in German) was. As it turned out it was Knut, the beloved polar bear from the Berlin Zoo.

The song from the video (see below) was ingrained in my mind and in only two minutes and eleven seconds he had won my heart.

When I learned on Saturday that Knut had died an overwhelming sadness swept over me. I thought of my childhood and the moment I saw my first polar bears at the Vancouver Aquarium. I loved how enormous yet graceful they were, and I could have watched them play for hours.

So I started reading more about Knut’s life to gain some closure. And rather than sit here and cry I’d like

Knut enjoys a fresh croissant.

to share some funny facts about our favourite little polar bear.

Knut’s mom was a cougar. Not the animal kind, but you know. A cougar. Tosca (a former circus performer) was 20 years old when she mated with Lars – aged 13.

Knut is half Canadian! Lars, Knut’s father was born in Canada and later moved to Munich – where he met Tosca.

Despite being known for being a fish-eater, Knut’s favourite treat was the croissant. I’m sure if he ever got the chance to make it back to Canada he would have stopped by Two if By Sea Cafe to enjoy a croissant with his dad.

Knut is a plus-size model. Setting a great example for big boned bears everywhere, Knut graced the cover of Vanity Fair weighing in at more than 286 lbs.

So there you have it. Some fun facts on our favourite bear who will sincerely be missed by all. Check out the video of Knut that started the love affair.

The Bee’s Knees: The Foggy Goggle

21 Mar

By Joel

The Foggy Goggle in Halifax, NS, is our favourite bar in the city. They have amazing food (with tons of veggie/vegan options), hilarious and helpful staff, delicious drinks (try the T-Bone: cider with half a shot of Jack Daniel’s and half a shot of Fireball mixed in… Incredible), and a comfy and cool atmosphere. Really, it’s pretty tough to beat.

The Goggle is also the official bar of ThisNeedsToStop.com. If we need to meet up somewhere, or we’re all going for drinks on the weekend, we go to the Goggle. Sometimes we’ll think about going somewhere else, but then we’ll realize that we’d spend the whole time just wishing we’d gone to the Goggle instead.

The Foggy Goggle is, without a doubt, the Bee’s Knees.

They just celebrated three years in business yesterday, so we asked the owners, Julie and Natalie, to answer some of our questions:

First, happy third birthday! How did the Goggle get started?
Thanks! The Goggle was created to fill a void in our social lives. Nat and I used to eat and drink out a lot, but we couldn’t find a spot that suited both of our needs. Nat’s a vegetarian and I love my meat. I love craft beers and Nat prefers cider or wine. We both love the feeling of a casual pub, but dislike the greasy deep fried food that often goes with it, so we decided to open our own.

What things in Halifax (business, person, anything) do you think are┬áthe Bee’s Knees?
DEE DEE’S ICE CREAM! (homemade waffle cone with raspberry sorbet on the bottom and chocolate on top) We have both been addicted to this for years and we used to drive out to Peggy’s Cove once a week to get our fix but now they have a location on Cornwallis.

What do you think needs to stop?
Both of us hate sweeping up hundreds of cigarette butts a week from the sidewalks…put them in the ashtray litterbugs!

Other than your fabulous establishment, what’s your favourite place┬áto eat in Halifax?
We look for any excuse to have a “business” lunch at The Elephant’s Eye or dinner at Da Maurizio

If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?
This was a tough for for both of us to answer honestly because it shows how shallow we are… but we went with our celebrity crushes: Matthew Gray Gubler for me (Dr. Ried on Criminal Minds) and Paul Simon for Nat (a crush she’s had since she was a kid)

What’s your drink of choice?
Nine out of ten times you’ll find me drinking a Tiara (Guinness layered on top of Mystic cider in a Pilsner glass) and Nat likes to have a Momosa before she starts cooking.

By popular demand: What’s the secret to the vegan bowl’s deliciousness?
Love (and Nat’s morning momosa)

Thanks so much Julie and Natalie!

So do yourself a favour and stop by the Goggle (1667 Argyle St. in Halifax). You won’t regret it. They also offer catering and have played fantastic host to so many cool events in Halifax.

First World Problems – Everything is Amazing and Nobody is Happy

18 Mar

OK, I know what you are thinking and yes it’s true, sometimes I whine and complain about things that really don’t matter. But how about this, how about we stop feeling sorry for ourselves when we are forced to wait over 5 minutes for our latte at Starbucks. Or what if next time our flight was delayed , instead of losing our cool and acting like we have just suffered the greatest injustice of all time, we remember that not so long people had to take covered wagons to get where they were going. And better still, let’s take a moment and recognize the fact that if you are reading this, you have internet and a computer and therefore you are already doing better then millions of other people on this planet.

I think this would be a good time for a reality check – and I know just the person to help – Ben Boudreau, he just took part in an amazing project with War Child. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and visit Ben’s blog (go ahead, we won’t be offended, but maybe just wait and do it after you finish here).

Don’t get me wrong, I know we all have our moments but I think that maybe instead of obsessing over our first world problems ,we focus on how everything is amazing all of the time. I think this video sums it up quite nicely & I know many of you may have already seen this but I think it’s worth a second look. (Thanks to Jon McGinley for showing me this video – it made my day!)

Britney Spears Weave Woes

15 Mar

Since “Baby One More Time” hit the airwaves we have been die hard fans of Britney. Even when critics hated on her in Crossroads, we stood by Britney and vowed to watch every time it played on Much Music ( which we might add is a significant commitment).

Then as all of you already know, Britney hit a rough patch. Her horrible breakup with Justin Timberlake sent her on a downward spiral. A shotgun wedding to Jason Alexander ( not of Seinfeld fame) and then her marriage to backup dancer Kevin Federline only proved to Britney that the void left in her heart from Justin could never be filled.

Brit-Brit hit rock bottom when she famously when into a barber shop and shaved her head. Although we were concerned we stood by Britney knowing that this just couldn’t be it for her.

As time has passed Britney has gotten her act together. The road hasn’t been easy but she’s fought her way back into the hearts of her fans. The one thing she’s neglected to do throughout this time of rebuilding is fire her hairstylist.

 

Britney graces the cover of Glamour Magazine with her fabulous and extension filled hair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Britney was always known for her fabulous blonde locks. Obviously hair extensions came into play at some point which is fine, but post-shaved head Britney has truly struggled in getting her hair back to an envy-worthy point.

This needs to stop. Whether it’s Papa Spears dishing out a bit more cash to the weave fund, or visiting the set of America’s Next Top Model for a makeover Britney must seek uber-professional help to bring her hair back from the dead.

Or perhaps the secret lies in Justin Timberlake. Maybe now that he’s back on the market the reunion of the century can take place. A happy heart = happy hair!

 

 

 

Bowl for Kids Sake

14 Mar

On Saturday the gang from This Needs to Stop participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters “Bowl for Kids Sake”. The event is a wildly successful fundraising event for the orgranization that takes place across Canada each year.

As of Saturday, March 12th, over $150,000 had been raised in Halifax alone. We bowled from the 6-8pm time slot and our time slot alone raised over $20,000. Not too shabby. (Update – we just learned that Bowl for Kids Sake event has raised over $200,000 – that means a lot of really great kids will get the chance to have an adult mentor!)

A huge thank you to everyone who supported us and helped to make the event such a success!

This Needs to Stop - ready to bowl in our handmade sweaters.

Oh yes, and there are our custom logos

This does not need to stop.