Best of the City 2012: Toronto’s top 10 services, from wine storage to yin yoga
Fine Wine Reserve
For oenophiles with a collection surpassing their square footage, this 5,500-square-foot facility, located one floor underground near King and Spadina, provides the most sophisticated wine storage in the city. Owner Marc Russell, a former geologist, maintains optimal conditions for the 11,000 cases in his charge: a $350,000 refrigeration system ensures temperature and humidity are precisely calibrated (13 degrees and 65 to 75 per cent respectively). Security is equally rigorous: access to the cellar, kept behind cement walls three feet thick, requires an ID card and fingerprint recognition (infrared cameras also record all activity). Private lockers, accessible 24/7 and starting at $38 per month (for a capacity of eight cases), are geared toward condo dwellers with limited space. Larger case storage units accommodate bottles that won’t be touched for a decade or three. Russell is opening a second midtown location this winter specifically for the latter (and to be closer to his Rosedale and Forest Hill clients), which will free up space for 100 new lockers.
324 Dundas St. W., 416-977-0400
In an art market where a 10-inch painting can go for as much as a two-bedroom Riverdale semi, rental is an ingenious way to showcase your taste without buyer’s remorse. Bau-Xi Photo represents some of the country’s most visionary emerging and established photographers, and much of its collection is available to rent—you might lease a dazzling aerial of the Northern wilderness by Toronto’s Eamon Mac Mahon, or a hypnotic shot of museum taxidermy by the New York photographer Richard Barnes. Rental periods can range from a few days (just long enough for a fabulous party) to a year, and fees generally run at a small percentage of the work’s retail value—the typical rate is about five per cent a month (meaning a $3,000 work would potentially lease for $150). If you’re looking to test out a permanent addition to your collection, rent-to-own programs are available.
BACKYARD FARMING CLASS
South Greenhouse, Downsview Park, 647-721-1150, freshcityfarms.com
It’s a time-honoured cycle: every year you promise yourself a vegetable garden, and every year that promise gets lost in a haze of sun-drenched summer sloth. Fresh City—an urban agriculture venture that delivers organic fruit and veggie boxes across the GTA, year-round—will help you out of that Muskoka chair and into a rigorous backyard farming regime. They offer a two-and-a-half-hour workshop often led by Fresh City co-founder Phil Collins, a landscape architect and lifelong farmer. The seminar is a crash course on the basics of urban farming, focusing on soil health, composting, plant care, pest control and harvesting. Collins also teaches backyard, terrace and container gardening, so condo dwellers with balconies have no excuse. $50 per workshop.
NEWBORN SLEEP TRAINER
Almost every aspect of motherhood is a lightning rod these days, but there’s one thing all new parents can agree on: a sleeping baby makes for a happy household. For those seeking backup, Alma Plummer has hushed and cooed newborns into military-grade sleeping patterns for 18 years. Her clients rave about her, so much so that business is almost entirely word of mouth. During her hours (usually 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.), Plummer will make sure baby keeps to a strict schedule while you get some much-needed shut-eye. She is also a good resource for pretty much any question you could ever have about how to deal with your bundle of nerves. Make that joy. Call for pricing.
6 Case Goods Ln., 416-203-3443
Found, in a dusty basement: a hefty box of heirloom images, with the first photos taken after Grandma immigrated to Canada jumbled among slides of Mom and Dad on their bell-bottomed honeymoon. To prep them for Facebook uploading, visit this digital lab in the Distillery, where staff efficiently and professionally scan printed photos and slides—they’ll also develop and scan old rolls of film. Images are tweaked to match the colours and depth of the original, then catalogued on the storage device of choice. Scans $4–$23; $85 package includes 40 photos and a 10-inch-square book.
550 Wellington St., third floor, 416-601-3589
The latest yoga craze: Yin, which stretches the tight fascia and connective tissue beneath muscles, increasing blood flow and keeping joints loose. It’s a popular side pursuit for runners with rock-hard buns, or anyone feeling an age-related loss of flexibility. Teachers arrange students into classic Indian yoga poses chosen to stimulate the energy pathways of traditional Chinese medicine, then command them to hold it: to get fascia deep, practitioners breathe through each pose for five to 20 minutes. The Yin class at 889 Yoga’s new studio at the Thompson Hotel is one of the most rigorous. On warm summer evenings they’re held on an outdoor patio, a chilled-out space in which to practise patience. $21 a class or $80 for five.
100 Geary Ave., 416-913-7590
Mitch Robertson is the choice of collectors, curators and artists for complicated jobs—like hanging a pricey piece of art on a concrete wall or suspending it from invisible wires 10 feet from the ceiling—not least because he has his own opinions. “It’s better I tell them than their guests whisper that things are too high, or uneven,” he says. For art that won’t fit up skinny staircases, he will remove canvases from their frames, then re-stretch them on-site before installation. $80 to $100 an hour.
The bespoke craze has migrated to our walls. At their Liberty Village studio, designers Anita Modha and Jonathan Nodrick create original wallpaper to match your handcrafted furniture and custom-tailored suits. Bring in any original artwork or photograph and Rollout will digitally print it using latex-based paper and eco-friendly inks; designs can be printed in repeat patterns or as wall murals. The studio also carries house lines, including vintage Paris street maps, skull-festooned damask and urban woodsman plaid. From $10 per square foot.
The Spa at the Hazelton
118 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6307
Beards, the laziest style trend of the past decade, are finally on their way out, and formerly scruffy men are realizing a painful truth: shaving hurts. Part of that searing pain can be alleviated—if you’re willing—with proper exfoliation. And there’s no better way to exfoliate than a full-on facial. The Spa at the Hazelton Hotel offers the Discovery for Men, a facial procedure specifically designed for tougher, oilier male skin. Aestheticians use high-end Valmont products from Switzerland to clean deep into your pores. One hour for $140.
The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton
181 Wellington St. W., 416-572-8000
Too often, a trip to the spa means being roughed around and hosed down like an elephant. At the newly branded Clarins spa at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, treatment rooms have soaring, 20-foot ceilings, flattering lighting and individual treatment table temperature controls. For the hour-long Moisture Quencher Body Therapy ($150), a mild glycolic peel and layers of fluffy hot towels slough off rough, dead skin. Next: a seriously relaxing rub-down with hydrating oils, which results in a soft, smooth epidermis that seems to regain a decade’s worth of elasticity. Afterward, steam in the lavender-scented sauna.