Full disclosure, my family lives in New Jersey and I hadn't visited in abour 4 years and not met them close to 18 months. What a great excuse to get there this fall and of course go into the city too. Bonus - a university friend whom I hadn't seen in over 15 years was visiting her sons in the city, and we would get to visit.

Not a very auspicious start, I took a tumble on the escalator at Billy Bishop on the way out! Good news (later) nothing broken, not so good (right away) very, very swollen left wrist and of course pain. Fortunately the lovely stewardess gave me ice on the flight and that kept the swelling down.

Anyway, not to be discouraged I went into the city on Sunday having bought tickets to see both Richard III and Twelfth Night. Shakespeare's Globe production in repertory, all-male cast playing both male and female roles, they were presented in the custom of how Shakespeare’s plays were first staged; actors participating in the pre-show ritual of dressing and preparing their make-up on stage, in front of the audience; music played live on traditional instruments; and lighting created almost exclusively by 100 on-stage candles, it was definitely worth the effort and Mark Rylance was absolutely riveting as Richard III (one of my least favourite Shakespeare plays), and Olivia in Twelfth Night. Stephen Fry played Malvolio. I had a perfectly wonderful day.

Went back on Tuesday to meet my friend, we spent a couple of hours at the MET; a wonderful exhibition called Interwoven Globe, the Worldwide Textile Trade 1500 - 1800. It was fascinating with textiles from India, Japan, China and Portugal to name some of the countries. It showed how the textiles actually influenced each other and the examples were stunning to say the least. The roof garden commission by Imran Quereshi was to my mind, more forceful in pictures than reality. Perhaps because the painting on the roof in a deep burgundy (old blood-like) in the shape of paisley and even flowers, seemed to resemble blood spatter in the photos of the installation but didn't have an impact when viewed. It was disappointing. Did a quick walk through of Balthus, Cats and girls too. 

Had a rockin' lamb shish kebab (my friend opted for one with rice) at the Halal Guys at 53rd and 6th close to MoMa on 53rd. Said goodbye to my friend and went for a look through before meeting another friend for dinner at the Modern; MoMa's one michelin star resto which left me a bit underwhelmed. Must have been the late kebab lunch!

Spent a lot of quality time with my neice, brother and sister-in-law. The weather was pretty spectacular in that special way that certain days in the fall are; not too hot, not too cold, glorious foliage and sunshine! Oh yes, also went to see Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot. It was in previews and though Ian McKellen I thought was terrific, think the rest needed a bit more time to settle into the play and themselves.

Looking forward to seeing several of you in the near future. 

In New York and New Jersey until Wednesday. Drove both ways and still can't figure out how I completely missed the news about the snow, I-90 closing, lake effect snow etc in Buffalo last week on Wednesday night into Thursday when I left a sunny TO! Well suffice it to say that until the nice Immigration Officer at the Queenston/Lewiston bridge advised me to fill my tank before venturing anywhere I was none the wiser!

That is the first thing I did and it was a confusing time because people weren't exactly sure what was happening. What I don't understand is why Buffalo is almost invariably caught unaware with the snow in the winter. The city hasn't moved in at least 100 years to my knowledge and so subject to pretty much the same or very similar weather conditions. Why can they not handle the snow and get enough equipment or whatever it takes. Be that as it may, the most helpful lady Gretchen at the front desk of the Allbright Knox Gallery (not sure how I landed up there but got off the highway and there I was at the entrance like a homing pigeon!) went on her computer, gave me a map, highligted an alternate route away from the closed section of I-90, got me some advance weather info and sent me off. Thank you Gretchen because that was the only glitch to the drive. Well, besides going over the NJ Turnpike 3 times because of construction and bad signage.

Finally arrived in Brooklyn to the lovely Ms. M's house. Wine and Thai food was the perfect antidote. The next day was marvellous with gallery hopping in Chelsea even if very cold - brrr.

I could write a whole article just on Anselm Kiefer at the Gagosian Gallery - it was sublime. Landscapes that have been restructured, very, very beautiful despite the subject matter. Show is titled Next Year in Jerusalem. The meat-locker installation with hung pictures/prints is haunting. Each installation is in it's own glass box which would seem constricting, which it is and also not! You can see the other installations in their own boxes which makes the entiire exhibition compelling and "distanced" at the same time. Absolutely made that whole day worthwhile; it was frigid and windy. Everyone should see this. Another good show was Francesco Clemente at Mary Boone in Manhattan; we couldn't get in to see the installation at her location in Chelsea. Also caught Nigel Nolan's installation at NP contemporary before it came down that weekend.

Last few days spent with family cocooning and feasting! Return drive was 8 1/2 hours despite the snow showers in PA. NY was clear this time around but it was bitterly cold throughout. Guess that is what winter is about; some Indian food would do wonders! Come and visit Ronica's Divan soon.

So here I am trying my hand at managing my own website.....a bit daunting. I have to admit. Actually teaches me a little humility. It's teaching me respect for people who do it and manage to do it well and consistently. Eating a little crow on my part...so, I readily admit to some dissatisfaction - I do at least recognize good writing! Not reassuring but like tango, perhaps I will get better with practice. For now it is enough to share some hopes and dreams. And, hesitantly,  ask for feedback.

It occurs to me that I have not ever mentioned what inspired me to actually start doing this. For sometime I had been thinking of using my interest in cooking, theatre, books, films, art, travel, people and the world in general as a more integral part of my life and living and how can I forget travelling! 

I travelled to Buenos Aires for the first time in the winter of 2009 for about 5 weeks to learn tango and Spanish. And there lo and behold live and doing well is the tradition of 'puerta cerrada' or 'closed door' restaurants. Traditionally held in the homes of chefs where they have an intimate dinner for upto 30 depending on the venue. It is typically a prix-fixe, and they are sometimes able to accomodate dietary restrictions. I went to two; Dan Perlman's Casa Saltshaker (www.saltshaker.net ), and Diego Felix's Casa Felix (www.diegofelix.com ). Each is different but definitely they were both an inspiration to, and instrumental in my making the leap.

I returned to BsAs in the winter of 2010 and was given the opportunity to cook at both venues with promising results and a lot of encouragement. I also had the pleasure of leading two cooking workshops followed by dinner at Maria Benavidez's lovely home and backyard in the barrio of Villa Devoto (www.comerconamigos.blogspot.com). This finally gave me the push to start my own version with a twist in Toronto. So started Ronica Cooks and Ronica's Diwans.

Here is a link to an article Dan wrote on his site about other underground restaurants around the world. Enjoy, and thanks Dan, Diego and Maria for inspiration.

http://www.saltshaker.net/underground-dining-scene

This is the end of the Labour Day weekend, and after the lovely hot summer we have experienced this feels positively chilly - 15C! However each season offers up it's own special charms and of course downfalls. Here;s hoping for a long, colourful and warm fall.

Of all the summers that I remember so far, seems to me I spent a lot of it sitting out on my porch watching the world go by, drinking tea (and other libations) and reading duing this one. Finally finished StoryWallah which is short stories by writers from the Indian diaspora and edited by Shyam Selvadurai. It was a most rewarding book, and made me remember how much I like short stories. So then I got the Granta Book of the Irish Short Story edited by Anne Enright, which was wonderful specially in the breadth of the stories, and included stories by the usual suspects; including but not limited to Neil Jordan, Colm Toibin and Roddy Doyle.

The two that made the most impact on me are well-known and I should have read them earlier but for some reason never did or didn't finish. They are All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I am not exaggerating too much when I say that I was hard pressed to put them down once I started. In short they were both compelling reads.

I was struck by the simple but absolutely pitch perfect writing in All the Pretty Horses, I particularly remember McCarthy's description of the ring left on the table from a very hot, just made cup of coffee at El Jefe's hacienda. And equally Salman Rushdie was able to capture the Indian temprament, the particular nuance of language and the feeling of the times so beautifully and perfectly. Completely deserves the Booker of Bookers. Both these books stayed with me long after having finished them.

Now reading Thomas Pynchon's tome Against the Day; proving to be a bit of a slog at well over 1,000 pages. Also reading Bossypants by Tina Fey - nice foil; fun read. Looking forward to more this fall and winter.