The Weekender: Taste of the Danforth, Rogers Cup and six other items on our to-do list
1. ONTARIO VINIFERA SHOWDOWN
Forget everything we‘ve said about other showdowns (smoked meat, the kickass women of roller derby, etc.), because our new favourite epic battle is between riesling and chardonnay. Guest speakers and expert wine guys Norman Hardie, Bill Redelmeier, Charles Baker and Chris Waters debate the merits of each varietal, while the audience taste tests the wines and accompanying food pairing and decides the winner through a vote. It’s totally brilliant. Reservations required. August 6. $60. Café Taste, 1330 Queen St. W., 416-536-7748, cafetaste.ca.
2. TASTE OF THE DANFORTH (FREE!)
You know the drill: a king’s feast abundance of food (the traditional Greek plus Thai, Japanese, burgers and more), kid-friendly activities (we kind of want to try that rock-climbing wall from last year, if it is still there) and performances of all kinds (especially the nightly Taste After Dark, which features everything from SYTYCD Canada contestants to belly and salsa dancers). It’s one of the more popular summer cultural fests, but also one of the busiest, so arrive early. August 5 to 7. Danforth Ave. between Broadview and Jones, tasteofthedanforth.com.
3. EXIT THE KING
This classic example of absurdist theatre by French playwright Eugène Ionesco concerns the elderly King Bérenger and his fast-approaching death. Informed that he has only until the end of the play to live, the ancient and once-powerful king tries desperately to hold onto his power. His first wife, Marguerite, tries to make him accept his fate, while his second wife, Marie, tries to soothe his fears. Translation by Neil Armfield and actor Geoffrey Rush. August 6 to September 9. $28–$65. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., Bldg. 49, 416-866-8666, soulpepper.ca.
4. TORONTO CONCERT ORCHESTRA (FREE!) As part of their 40th-anniversary concert series, the Toronto Concert Orchestra—the city’s self-dubbed “homeless orchestra”—will be performing in various unconventional venues throughout the city during the 2011–12 season in an effort to “break audience boundaries.” Case in point: on Saturday, music director Kerry Stratton will conduct a recital of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 at Ontario Place’s new Echo Beach stage. August 6. Echo Beach at Molson Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., ontarioplace.com.
5. TORONTO FESTIVAL OF BEER
We’ve made no secret of our affection for boozy summertime evenings, especially since the soul-sucking swelter of a few weeks ago has mellowed into easy, breezy days (Sorry if we just jinxed it). And what better way to enjoy these lovely midsummer nights than with tastings, seminars, meet-and-greets and—we’ll say it again— tastings of some of Canada’s best craft beer? August 5 to 7. $38.50, Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place, 200 Princes’ Blvd., beerfestival.ca.
6. SLOAN (FREE!)
Canadian rockers Sloan have been making music together for 20 years, and in all that time they’ve managed to avoid the lineup shuffles, tabloid scandals and internal drama of similarly venerable bands. The self-proclaimed “longtime Toronto scenesters who will always call Halifax home” are celebrating this most august of anniversaries with their 10th studio album, The Double Cross. Expect this weekend’s show to feature new tracks—like “Unkind” and “I’ve Gotta Know”—and older faves—“The Other Man,” for example (which we think had the best music video of 1999, just for the child with Mozart hair). August 5. Echo Beach at Molson Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.
7. ROGERS CUP
We’ve decided to let those ill-advised ladies/legends ads go and focus instead on the serious talent of Venus and Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Caroline Wozniacki and the other women going head to head at the Rexall Centre over the next week or so. Sure, it’s depressing to see that level of talent and remember our own feeble attempts to even hit the ball, but in a good way. And let’s not even talk about that $2 million prize, okay? August 6 to 14. $20–$315. Rexall Centre, York University, 1 Shoreham Dr., 416-665-9777, rogerscup.com.
8. MOVIES IN THE MESS HALL
We’re all for recreating childhood summers spent at camp, except we’re pretty sure our camp experience was far less cool than this nostalgia-ridden summer movie series. On the first Sunday of the month, themed movies and comfort food are on offer at the Drake’s “mess hall” (it’s just the Underground). This week, the flick is 2009 French heist tale Micmacs, the menu features foot-long veal dogs and lavender lemonade, and the host is Nova Scotia native and well-respected film guru Richard Crouse. August 7. $5–$15. The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042, thedrakehotel.ca.