Miscellaneous photos: Toronto

I had very little time to do anything but talk yesterday, but I did manage to snap a few photos from the rapidly-growing city of Toronto.

This we what we need: MORE STREETS NAMED COWBELL!


A bobblehead from the local CfI office. Although I don’t watch the t.v. show, I was told that the family dog, Brian, is an out atheist. First ere’s a clip of his shameful admission:

and the relevant doll (he’s carrying a copy of The God Delusion under his arm (shouldn’t that be The D*g Delusion?):



Eric Adriaans, the genial and efficient head of CfI Canada, took me to lunch at a place where I could get genuine and endemic Canadian noms. I am, of course, referring to poutine, which at Smoke’s Poutinerie, come in a variety of fancy flavors. I had the chili cheese with beef (fries, gravy, two kinds of cheese, including cheese curds, chili, and sliced beef on top).  This was a mistake, for I was unable to eat anything for the rest of the day, including my fancy dinner. But it was good!:

The menu:


Lunch (I will tolerate NO food fascists here: I have had poutine exactly twice in my life). This is the “meal sized” portion, but I should have ordered the “snack size”:


Immediately after lunch, with my belly feeling like a lead sinker, I went several doors down to the CVO studios to be on The Agenda t.v. show, which comprised a 25-minute one-on-one, live-to-tape interview with Steve Paikin. I think it was a very good conversation: Paikin had read my book and had reams of good questions to ask. I’ll put up a link when it’s archived. But before the show they took me to MAKEUP, and when the makeup person briefly left the room, I snapped myself for what is probably a once-in-a-lifetime photo:


It was a busy and exhausting day yesterday, beginning with me filming several spots for CfI Canada, and ending with a round of drinks at the local pub with the energetic young CfI volunteers. Thanks to Eric and all the others for giving me such a pleasant day in Toronto.




  1. Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    PCC puts on lip gloss???

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    OMG there is a kind of poutine called “veggie deluxe”!

    • darrelle
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      On a Food TV show of some sort (maybe an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate) a gourmet duck confit poutine was featured. It looked fab – u – lous. Unnnhhh. I would really like to try it.

      I’ve only had rather basic poutine a couple of times, from diner type restaurants in Quebec province.

      • Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        I had a lobster version once, in Niagara-on-the-lake. Great dish, but probably missed the point somewhat.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          I can definitely see the possibilities of a lobster poutine. What was the “gravy” like? Thermidor-like? Bisque like?

          Some chefs get pissed off if they hear of cheese being used in a seafood dish. Personally, I can’t think of much that cheese of some sort wouldn’t be good on.

      • Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Our local place (north end of the St. Paul / Minneapolis area) serves the classic version, with or without seared fois gras on top. Yummy!

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          I’ve never even heard of poutine – another addition to the bucket list. (At this point I’ll have to live to about 937 to fit everything in.)

        • darrelle
          Posted June 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

          Careful! I might unexpectedly show up on your doorstep.

      • merilee
        Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I wouold go with the duck poutine, too;-)

    • ginger k
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I’ve had vegetarian poutine. It’s just vegetables and cheese over fires. It reminded me of pico de gallo. It’s not bad.

  3. Frank
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    “Guess what? I’ve got an urban-planning fever! And the only prescription, is more streets named cowbell!”

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 12, 2015 at 12:38 am | Permalink


  4. Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    That’s pretty upscale for a poutinerie …

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Since the harriers have to evade passerine persecution through flight alone shows how the harrier could not possibly have been designed.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 12, 2015 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        I think I must have missed something…

    • steve oberski
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Their motto, on a sign by the front door: Clogging arteries since 2008.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      You can’t eat poutine in a restaurant; it has to be from a truck.

      • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Really? Quebec is full of really low-brow places that sell it, even chains like Restaurant La Belle Province.

        • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          Not to mention its stereotypical location – the counter at a ski hill!

        • merilee
          Posted June 12, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          I can’t imagine skiing with a belly-full of poutine:-(

  5. GBJames
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I rather like that dog, Brian.

    • ginger k
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Brian is a cool character. He is the only rational character on “Family Guy.” He has some of the funniest lines on the program.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        I like the episode where he hammered out a BS self help book full of sophistry and ended up on Real Time with Bill Maher and Maher and the panel call him out on being a fraud.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted June 12, 2015 at 1:25 am | Permalink

        That ‘God on a jet bike’ sequence in the clip there was a steal from ‘Flash Gordon’. I just re-watched it and the technicolour sky backgrounds (filmed with ink in water I believe) are as spectacular and beautiful as I remember. The rest of the movie is quite fun to watch, too, it was made in the only way possible – comic-book camp and over-the-top.

    • Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      For those in the U.S., there are better-quality clips here. (I assume.)


  6. Markham Thomas
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry but that photo of what you are calling “Poutine” is sacrilegious and offends me. As it is my right to ask… no, to Demand! that you take it down post-haste, I Demand! that you do so.

    noun: poutine; plural noun: poutines
    a dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.

    Now if you will excuse me I need to go get the deep-fryer ready 😉


    • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Well, there is (in the Montreal area) a tradition of so-called “Italian poutine”, which is with meat sauce in addition to the curds and gravy.

  7. @eightyc
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Did you check out the Hitch pub on Queen Street east?

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Not intended as a food nazi comment, but hope the poutine didn’t impinge on the interview.

  9. Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff!

    Our local place makes poutine! And it’s very popular. Their’s is the classic fries with gravy, which you can get with our without seared fois gras (we always get it with).

    That poutine looks scrumptious! And I imagine it did take a while to digest!!


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      If I ate poutine like that, my stomach would make me feel like Van Eyck’s Eve.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        She looks PG. I guess its my great,great………………….great, great…..grandparent.

      • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Lovely! 🙂

  10. Quiscalus
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Love your makeup photo! Certainly needed a good chuckle. Can you use that for your book jacket photo on your next book?

  11. Martin Levin
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the Hitch (for Hitchens) should have been re rigeur for you. Next time. Toronto has now taken to naming back lanes. One intersection you might have enjoyed seeing (I don’t have a photo) is Gore and Clinton.

  12. John Dentinger
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I am shocked that Prof. Ceiling Cat could visit T.O. and not say anything about the most exciting thing ever to happen to the town (uh, besides his talk, of course) — namely,BABCOCK!

  13. tubby
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    When I lived in Toronto my roommates were… understanding of my lack of enthusiasm for poutine. There was a small food court nearby (I think it was Village at the Grange) and when they got poutine I’d get fish and chips. It smelled nice, but yeah, it looks like something than sits in you like a bowling ball.

  14. Jason
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I attended the event and got my book signed (with cat photo). It was a great talk outlining the major themes for the book. Thanks for a fun night. I was a little disappointed there was no theist push back in the Q & A like at previous talks. Would have been interested to see how you handled yourself after a bit of practice.

    One pet peeve in the Q & A, which seems to be so universal based on the constant reminding by the moderator to keep it short and ask your question, is no amount of Q & A warning can prevent the pre-question ramble. When chosen to ask their question, some people simply cannot bring themselves to just get to the fucking point and ask a question without babbling on for a minute to preface their question. Man that’s annoying. /rant

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      and got my book signed (with cat photo)

      JC’s drawing skill must be phenomenal if you are mistaking his drawing for a photograph.

    • merilee
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Diana and I were there, too. Great talk, Jerry, and great kitteh drawings. We also enjoyed the dinner, though I believe Jerry was too poutine-stuffed to photograph the noms. Someone at the table mentioned that Our Fearless Leader (Stephen Harper) referred to Vlad Putin as Poutine. I don’t think he was trying to be funny;-) I guess it’s no worse than Dubya’s Pooty Poot.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Harper probably was trying to be funny. That’s what it looks like when Harper is trying to be funny, which is weird and awkward.

        He is also terrifying when he smiles. It’s all opposite with Harper.

        • Posted June 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          That kitteh must be verrrrrry careful

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            It would be great to open a Twitter account as Harper’s Cat. You could tweet about trials and tribulations of being Harper’s cat but also make cat perspective observations about him and his cronies.

      • stizostideon
        Posted June 12, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        My favourite comment from Jerry involved difficulties with defining what religion was. Every time he tried, he was dropped into a pool of “yammering theologians.” There’s something very evocative in the phrase.

    • kevin7alexander
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I was in T.O. last night about two blocks away and I had my copy of the book but was engaged in a prior commitment. So sorry I missed it.

  15. h2ocean
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Glad that my home province is treating you right!

  16. Posted June 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for several years, and it was a pleasure to hear you speak last night. Thank you for taking the time to visit Toronto and speak at a CFI Canada sponsored event.

    One small correction: You were interviewed in the TVO (TV Ontario) studios.

    I also want to thank you again for your regular contributions to this website. Several of your posts on secularism informed a few of my arguments I had in a public debate a few months ago with a Catholic scholar.

    It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet you last night. Thank you.


  17. Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Poutine sounds rude to those of us who speak latin languages. I can’t be be the only one who thinks so.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      You must be thinking of putain. It’s a common mispronunciation of poutine among Anglophones that Francophones find amusing.

      • Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Are you one of those women that either fall in love with us or we fall in love with and then cry? I think I heard about you in the news recently!

      • Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        I’m a native francophone, hispanophone, lusophone and germanophone- btw. My grandparents had four different native languages, and then I was sent to school in a country that spoke English 🙂

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          So you’re for sure thinking of putain then!

          • merilee
            Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            had to look up lusophone;-) Wonder where the luso came from?

          • merilee
            Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            Then there’s also punaise, which means bed bug AND thumb tack.

          • Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

            I am it 😀

    • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Poutine is arguably the “national dish” of the working class (Francophone) Quebecois, so it isn’t actually terribly surprising it sounds rude.

      • Posted June 12, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        (Most Quebecois swearwords are misprounced Catholic terminology, for example.)

      • Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Said the anglophone upper-class Quebecois? 😀
        In France we get subtitles when Canadians speak French on television. They make very unusual and unnecessary sounds which must actually be harder to enunciate than the original versions.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          So maybe you know the answer to this…

          I’ve been told (by an Acadian-French Canadian) that Acadian French is closer to French in France than Québécois French is. Is this true?

          • Posted June 12, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            Both sound foreign to me 🙂 But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. People in Paris speak French in a completely different way than people in the Toulouse region, which is where I live.
            Although, Québécois does take the whole thing a whole step further. I’m naturally inclined to try to understand and communicate. Bearnais, Catalan, even Galician etc. I do my best. The Québécois sound doesn’t ease into my ear. It takes a mega-effort to make sense of what’s being said (for me.) For comparison’s sake my partner’s mother was from Liege and that’s where he learnt French- and our only linguistic argument is the pronunciation of ain/en in French 🙂

            • Posted June 12, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

              I need subtitles for French Canuck movies, yet have no problem with movies from France, Suisse, Belgium, French Africa or the French Caribbean. Here in Ontario I can converse, en français, with my Haitian friend and my Ivoirean friend, but have a helluva time with any quebecois.

          • Posted June 15, 2015 at 11:16 am | Permalink

            “Closer” is vague when it comes to languages. I don’t know how to tell. What is likely is that it is more “working class” than certainly (say) “standard Parisien”

            I do find it interesting to listen to, since it is a different accent and (some) vocabulary.

            (And I’m not upper class – pretty middle, actually. But yes, I’m an anglo. :))

  18. Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Please, more recommendations for eats in Toronto! I’ll be in town for Rush at the Air Canada Centre on the 17th and would appreciate any heads-up on places I simply cannot afford to miss. Many thanks.

    • merilee
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Momofuku, Nota Bene (both near University and Queen), Lee ( on King).

    • Vaal
      Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:15 pm | Permalink


      What type of dining do you want to do?

      Fine Dining: Canoe.

      Although there are lots of great fine dining places in Toronto, the reason I’d suggest Canoe to someone visiting is because it’s near the top of the Toronto Dominion Centre tower, making for absolutely spectacular views of the city while you are dining (especially watching the sun go down, and the CN Tower light up). And the dishes tend to highlight Canadian ingredients, done with a high level of skill.

      Alternates: One of the Momofuku restaurants, or the current “foodie” darling restaurant, Bar Isabel. Also: fantastic farm-to-table style Italian at Buca, which is pretty central downtown (or it’s more casual cousin, Bar Buca).
      If you want to whoop it up in a gorgeous space and feel like Gordon Gecko: The Chase.
      Cheaper, casual “foodie-worthy” dining at Richmond Station Restaurant, very close to the Air Canada Centre. It’s super popular, really fun, with the winner of Canada’s Top Chef TV show, who took his winnings and opened this restaurant to acclaim.

      Mid-Level: 416 Snack Bar.

      It’s one of those gems that people who go there don’t want others to know about, because it’s small…and so great. It’s basically a small gastro-pub type place with great drinks and truly fantastic food, tapas style (among the many great items: order the Korean Fried Chicken and the mini Reuben sandwich, and thank me later). It’s right downtown, not that far from the Air Canada Centre.

      Alternate choice The Harbord Room. (For it’s amazing burger, but also for similarly upscale grub in a casual setting).

      Tummy-filling: Toronto has some great Roti places. My favorite: Bacchus Roti (Guyanese style). Though you’d need to drive more to the west end for it. Competitors: Gandhi Cuisine’s rotis, more central queen and bathurst.

      Toronto is such a huge and great place for food, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

      • merilee
        Posted June 11, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        Agree with Vaal on Buca!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 12, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        I tried to get into Canoe a way back when they were having the annual food fest thingy but it was too popular so I was out of luck.

        • Vaal
          Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink


          I’ve found that simply taking a slightly out of prime time reservation seems the golden ticket for getting into many places, even with little notice – e.g. 5 or 5:30 seatings. And then often enough, once you are booked to eat, restaurants seem to give deference to you, so if I phone at a later point closer to the meal and ask if I can switch the time to something more convenient – e.g. 6:30, 7:00 or whatever, they usually suddenly “find a table” for me.

          I’ve taken this approach again in booking my meals for my San Francisco trip next week and have easily gotten excellent seatings in places people complain “they can never get in” or take months to book.


          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

            Good strategy & advice! Thanks!

        • Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          I met a friend for lunch st Canoe maybe 15 years ago. Thst meal was overpriced and UNmemorable foodwise.

      • stizostideon
        Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        Those are all excellent recommendations. I could add a few: Byblos for (eastern) Mediterranean cuisine, Yasu for (high-end)Japanese, and Santouka does very, very nice ramen. Kingyo is also good for izakaya.

        • Vaal
          Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          Agreed, I love Yasu. It’s such an intimate, peaceful “trip to Japan” type experience.

          If a visitor has time I’d also highly suggest a stroll through Kensington Market – a little “town of it’s own” – in the middle of downtown, and right in the heart of Toronto’s wonderful main Chinatown. You can stroll all the funky shops and it’s got excellent eats all through the market: highlights like Pizzeria Via Mercanti (some say the best Neapolitan pizza in Toronto),
          Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos (THE best tacos, fish and otherwise, in Toronto. They are the only ones I’ve found in T.O. that not only compete with what I’ve had in South Cal, but which I actually prefer), and a couple newer places people seem to frequent:
          Moo Frites for take out gourmet fries and crazy toppings, and The Grilled Cheese, for giant hipster-approved grilled cheese sandwiches of many varieties.

          • Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

            Just east of the parking garage in Kensington Mkt there’s a hole in the wall which serves delicious Japanese crêpes and gelato ( try the blood- orange).

            • Vaal
              Posted June 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

              That sounds intriguing, I’ll have to try.
              Blood-orange gelato sounds great. Thanks.

              • merilee
                Posted June 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

                It was! There’s a special name for those Japanese crepes, but I can’t remember it, nor the name of the joint. It’s on the south side of the street (Baldwin?) that runs north of the parking garage in Kensington Market, and just east of the garage. That area is great fun to wander around it. There’s one restaurant that’s a Hungarian/Thai fusion, or something weird like that.

              • Vaal
                Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

                Got it. Next time I’m in the area…

        • Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          Bar Raval at College and Palmerston. Loud and crowded but incredibly good and authentic tapas. Beautiful carved bar. No reservations.

    • Posted June 12, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Many, many thanks for all of your kind recommendations. Looks like my budget and waistline are going to be shot to hell.

  19. Vaal
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    My son loves poutine and I enjoy some now and then. Smokes is good, but everyone is doing it now. My favorite poutine is at a place called the Combine Eatery in Toronto.

  20. Posted June 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for coming out! I wish we would have had more time to discuss cats. Let us know if you get that exotic cat!

  21. Posted June 16, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I wrote a review of Jerry’s presentation in Toronto that may be of interest to those who couldn’t attend.

    Overall, I was impressed and agreed with most of what Jerry had to say (though I was surprised at some of the statistics he quoted about the beliefs of Americans). It was definitely a friendly audience, but I was somewhat disappointed in his response to a question about whether religion is really the worst form of irrational belief and the greatest threat to our civilization.


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