Ah Labour Day, it has been a long time since I had this experience quite like this! Of course both the boys are now grown, but one is now attending Queens - he transferred from Australia, which is his story to tell!

Anyway, the good news is that he took care of living arrangements and most of the packing. Please don't go into packed cases in the basement next time, I have no space for more chatckas! But he did need help with the actual move. Him having had a rather late night out the previous night (let's say very early morning) did not help matters because our ETD was much delayed. I - can't remember how long it has been - spent the night on an air mattress on the floor. On the other hand it was quite lovely to help him settle in, go grocery (did I say major, I mean really major) shopping. We had frozen pizzas for dinner. So guess no real bad news, except the original plan was to drop him early, return and for me to go to milonga!

But, no matter I left the next morning and had a lovely stop and waffle brunch with my good friend, her partner and their four Portuguese waterdogs! Home to 3 hours of filing. Now there is a completeIy clean work area and desk, I felt quite virtuous I must say.

Finished Ilustrado the book by Miguel Syjuco, that won the Asian Man Booker from the manuscript!! It is impressive, the device for telling the story is very confusing which may say more about me than the story-telling. Not sure why I did not find it as satisfying as I expected or more likely wanted. Strange how one's state of being impacts what one is reading at the time! On to Tinkers...

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

So first for the big smoke - La Negra was here to teach last weekend and on Tuesday. Hopefully the first of many more.

My surprise (or she is an excellent actress) is that she remembered me and that we had met last at Des Nivel in San Telmo! Of course I was flattered. Why is it that something that should be 'natural' is so difficult to do and most often looks manipulated and unnatural? Wish she had been here last summer. My financial situation then would have allowed one at least, maybe two private classes.

Did come away with some good tips; full foot on the floor - always, free leg belongs to the 'man', balance is our responsibility and of course give yourself completely without thinking - only feeling - to the leader for the duration of the tanda. Good advice; seems logical and common sense; yeah right - just try, it is hard to turn off the brain. But man, those few seconds (if you are lucky --- minutes) when it all falls into place is pure magic!

One works a lifetime for those precious 'times' and it is worth it....

Here then is some magic!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f_BYsvVUz4

Now have done about 3 divans with cooking lessons and what they say about 'always learning' and 'you can't please all of the people all of the time' is true! Guess that is why they are cliches. Anyway one good suggestion/lesson is that I shall arrive with a copy of the recipes for everyone. That way people who do want them can take notes, ask questions and write answers right beside the recipe. Another thought to cut on the total amount of time involved in the cooking would be to cook fewer dishes and have more participation rather than demonstration.

Please  feel free to weigh in on this because I have had a wide spectrum of responses to this....some way to achieve this without having to take an adult group to task and reverting to a schoolroom atmosphere, specially when they seem to be enjoying each others' company and having a good time.

The BMW/Mini showroom at the bottom on Broadview is quite spectacular. Lots of space, wonderful light and the morning light specially through the floor to ceiling glass. Views of the TO skyline and DVP and West Donlands.

I love early morning calls in Toronto. Except for birdsong, the city is almost silent in the silver light - the sliver of a fading moon hangs in the pre-dawn sky. The streets are still. It is 4:30am and I am on my way to work!

I am doing a Street Food segment on air with my pal Mike Tong who is making magic with flames and noodles. I am cooking dosas and satay on a bun. Time compression - weird how 45 seconds on TV consumes hours of real time and more for prep and shopping. And then it lives forever in re-runs. So different from theatre or even your last good meal!