Rosie to the rescue

2 Comments

Eufy 11S Max

Our first robot vacuum, so we named her Rosie! (Last name: Jetson, of course). But seriously, the Eufy 11s Max was highly rated by Consumer Report and provided the best value and quality for the lowest price. At CAD$269 it was a relatively low price entry into this market. Sure there are cheaper robots but none of those were recommended by CR. There are definitely more expensive ones but do you really need all those bells and whistles?

Rosie was simple to set up and ran for 90 minutes before finding her way back to the charging base. And her dirt cup runneth over. I sent her out a few more times and she picked up dirt that I didn’t know was there! She easily rolled under beds, traveled along the walls and went behind couches and TVs. She returned to base every time. A couple of times she kept nudging the base away without mounting it for charging so I taped it to the floor and no more problem.

It’s fun to use and I haven’t had to vacuum in four weeks since I set her up. Great on hardwood floors and pretty good on carpet. You must tie up loose wires and pick up clutter so she doesn’t get stuck. The 30 minute quick feature is good, the circular motion for one room is great and the wall-hugger mode is pretty impressive too. If you can get it for less than what I paid on Boxing Day grab it and you can be a couch potato while she does all the vacuuming!

Book review: I Wanted Fries With That, How to ask for what you want and get what you need

Leave a comment

“Chief Complaints Officer” Amy Fish has channeled her many years of experience as an ombudsman into authoring her new book, I Wanted Fries With That, How to ask for what you want and get what you need, published by New World Library.

Fish begins her book with the prophetic words, “You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learning to ask for what you need or want.” She notes that at a formative part of her life, these lessons struck a profound chord with her:

  • Speaking up and asking for what you need is harder than you think.
  • If you don’t ask for what you want, you will not get what you need.
  • If you expect someone else to get you what you want, you may end up waiting a very long time.

The book is conveniently split into three parts:

  1. I want my problem solved
  2. I want you to change
  3. I want justice to be served

It is a lively and animated book complete with personal stories and reflections on life that Fish has recounted from her upbringing, family and friends. “People who are calm, who speak clearly, and who – well, you’ll see the rest – are better able to communicate and therefore have a better track record in getting what they want and need,” Fish writes.

With a pronounced sense of humour and stories to fill an entire book, Fish sets out on a journey to teach her readers and to do so with a sense of purpose in order to almost always get positive results. “In  my opinion, many of us don’t ask for what we want because we don’t know how to do it gently and calmly, and still achieve the desired results,” Fish teaches us. “Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean being a rude tyrant. There’s definitely a happy medium between aggressiveness and assertiveness.”

There is a basic premise in “I Wanted Fries with That” that says everyone is operating in good faith and that all we have to do to get something corrected is to point it out. This is a good lesson since when we feel we have been wronged, many of us have neither the patience nor the inclination to take corrective measures in a calm manner. It’s far easier to whine aloud and dump on products and people on social media than it is to strategically seek out the right person who may be in a position to help. Fish guides us to take the time to have a respectful and meaningfully persuasive conversation.

Fish shows us how to give that person the opportunity to be the hero in your story, to help you solve the problem and get you what you want. Her techniques help to build alliances with the person who can solve your problem. This person might be a server at your table, a clerk at a desk or a customer service agent on the phone. All of these people have something we want. “Sometimes all we have to do is let them see that there’s a situation to be corrected and give them the chance to do it on their own.” And not only might you solve your problem, but you can fix it for everyone behind you in line.

Sometimes we won’t get what we want on the first try and that’s when we need to rely on the art of compromise in order to find resolution. If we can’t get what we want, we ask for what we are willing to settle for.

I put Fish’s theory to the test, and after considerable complaining to myself and my wife about a defective zipper on my otherwise very warm, Quebec-made Chloropylle winter coat, I emailed the manufacturer about my problem. I wrote how pleased I am with their products other than my immediate need for a zipper replacement, citing the lifetime warranty and inviting the customer service representative to help solve my problem. While I am disappointed that Chlorophylle won’t stand behind their product and their frivolous lifetime warranty, Fish’s book convinced me not to give up. After the second email I was able to secure the meagre offer of a replacement zipper that I could bring to a local tailor, at my expense. While the free zipper is a partial solution, perhaps, with Fish’s encouragement I’ll take this matter to a higher authority, be it the company president or to the consumer protection office. “If the most direct route doesn’t work,” she says, “try any creative alternative you can think of while remaining calm and polite.”

Although Fish reminds the readers that she is not a lawyer (both her father and sister are), her negotiation skills rival that of many lawyers I know. One could say that many of her techniques of problem solving could be used to solve many personal problems, not just complaints. Perhaps her next book should be a parenting how to!

Amy has written for the Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, and the Globe and Mail. She lives with her family in Montreal. Find out more about her work a http://www.AmyFishWrights.com.

Glenn J. Nashen finds African cuisine in Plateau Mont-Royal

Leave a comment

Posted on MtlRestoRap

Always on the lookout for something different and experiential to try among Montreal’s thousands of restaurants, I recently happened upon a great find tucked in among the eclectic, unique spots in Montreal’s Mile End district of Plateau Mont-Royal. And of the many eateries I’ve experienced in our great city this was my first outing to an African restaurant (northwestern Africa to be more specific, and Mauritanian to be pinpoint accurate).

Atigh, is the creative genius behind La Khaima, a successful establishment that has been going strong for 15 years. Atigh arrived at that time from Mauritania, which shares its borders with four nations: Algeria, Mali, Western Sahara, and Senegal. He started cooking in university residence and enjoyed entertaining crowds of Montreal students since he missed such social occasions from his homeland. It wasn’t long before students were paying him to cook for them. That’s when he realized he was onto something that he hadn’t expected when he moved from Western Africa to Canada.

Atigh is the youngest child and as such he had the responsibility to cook for his nomadic family while the others tended to animals and collected food for their meals. His mother taught him all about preparing fruits and vegetables and how to cook up some amazing, tasty, traditional dishes.

The nomadic lifestyle meant that seven months each year the diet was vegetarian as the family traveled every few days to a new location, herding their animals in search of new fields and pastures. Out of necessity, culture and tradition, the local flavours and aroma of nomadic cuisine became first-hand to Atigh, who developed his expertise from a young age and transferred it to the new world.

As soon as you walk into La Khaima you enter a world of typical, brightly coloured fabrics, low benches and tables meant for groups and families.

We were greeted by Atigh’s staff – more like family – Tommy, Luis and Rodrigo. He has inculcated the Mauritanian spirit into his Quebecois server/manager, his Mexican waiters and chefs, and others from various points around the globe, like Hico, who was born in the Ivory Coast, moved to Benin and on to Montreal.

Bottled hibiscus juice branded in Atigh’s name lines the front window and was our first taste as we removed our shoes to sit at the table. These special flavoured drinks are common in the desert in Mauritania, with hibiscus leaves left to soak in water for twenty-four hours. Completely organic, there are four flavours to choose from: original, mint, ginger and unsweetened. The unique flavour was a good start to the La Khaima experience and fortunately can last even longer as bottles are sold in organic grocery stores across the city as well as in local depanneurs. What’s more, “It’s good for your health”, we were told by manager Tommy, containing iron and calcium, excellent properties for good circulation.

The menu is relatively simple. For a fixed price you are served appetizers, soup, a main course and dessert. “You’re going to eat as though you were in Mauritania,” said Tommy, setting out the well-spiced hummus along with a bowl of pita. “This is the best hummus I’ve ever tasted,” my daughter Nicole shouted out.

A few minutes later the lentil soup comes out in a soup tureen and Tommy ladles out a portion for each of us. It was very tasty, full of flavour, and there was enough for seconds. We talked with Tommy while we sipped our soup and learned more about the restaurant and the country.

The main course consists of a choice of protein served on a bed of couscous. There’s the vegetarian one loaded with carrots, beans and the vegetable choice of the day.

Atigh carefully selects what is in season at local markets, just as he chooses spices and other special ingredients back home. Other choices include the beef with date and cinnamon plate and there’s also chicken with lemon and olive. My family sampled the veggie while I tried the beef and chicken choices. All of us were excited about the presentation and smells that steamed up our tented area.

“Everything is made fresh and cooked slowly,” Atigh pointed out. While the dishes are typical of western and northern Africa, the spices are sourced personally from Morocco by Atigh who travels to the region several times a year, on his mission to ensure genuine nomadic flavours. “The lemon is from Yemen,” Atigh told us, used to marinade the chicken or lamb dishes.

The ever-versatile and always smiling Atigh is also a musician who plays the ardin, a traditional Mauritanian instrument. At other times he is in the kitchen cooking and frequently he personally serves up old style Ethiopian coffee in a traditional ceremony and smokes cigars with his regular customers.

Atigh is a storyteller and enjoyed sitting with my family and recounting tales of his childhood and native land. He speaks five languages and his family back home is still nomadic, surveying the stars, noting the shape of the grains of sand, and following their camels! In fact, his cousin served as president of Mauritania for 18 years.

Today, 3000 Mauritanian ex-pats call Montreal their home and many visit La Khaima regularly to stay connected. Travelling diplomats from the region also drop in for dinner and to support the local community.

La Khaima is a BYOB venue, and one of the few local establishments that remain open on Monday nights. African music is always filling the warm, festive and  friendly environment which is suited to couples, groups and families.

Atigh even started the Festivale Nomade to help spread the word about Mauritania. He could not be more proud of his heritage and he is constantly looking for ways to give back to his adopted home here in Montreal. “He is very charitable,” Tommy says. “He has a very big heart.” La Khaima meals are are all-you-can enjoy, including fresh mint tea and home-baked date cake drizzled with warm molasses syrup. The price is fixed at $25 per person, $12 for children. And you can bring your own wine. It is located at 142 Fairmount Street West, a few blocks east of Park Avenue in the Plateau (and just down the block from Fairmount Bagel). They are open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays) from 5:00 PM-10:00 PM. For reservations call 514-948-9993. Find them on their websiteFacebook and Instagram.

Amy Fish helps us to learn to speak up

Leave a comment

I would think that the “Chief Complaints Officer” for Montreal’s Concordia University would be the go-to person in how to deal with a wide variety of complaints. Indeed, Amy Fish has channeled her many years of experience as an ombudsman in authoring her new book, I Wanted Fries With That, How to ask for what you want and get what you need, published by New World Library.

In I Wanted Fries With That, readers are encouraged to stand up for themselves by learning how to complain effectively. Through funny, real-life stories, pragmatic methods on how to address grievances are highlighted showing that a situation, no matter how intense, can be resolved with civility, honesty, and fairness for everyone involved.

I have just cracked open a new copy of Amy’s book which launches on October 17 at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. From the get go, it is clear that you, “Need to have courage to live life. This includes learning to ask for what you need or want.”

Amy quickly teaches us that:

  • Speaking up, and asking for what you need, is harder than you think
  • If you don’t ask for what you want, you will not get what you need
  • If you send your friend to ask for what you want, she may not be able to do it, in which case you won’t get what you need
  • We were born with the ability to make our voices heard, and we need to use this gift wisely

Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore and the Jewish Public Library are hosting the book launch of I Wanted Fries with That at 5151 Côte Sainte-Catherine Road, in Snowdon district of Cote des-Neiges-NDG, on Thursday October 17th, 2019 at 7pm. Tickets are free with purchase or pre-purchase of I Wanted Fries With That exclusively at Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore. You can also reserve your ticket directly on this site.

Having known Amy for a number of years, I am looking forward to her hilarious stories that will not only bring a smile and chuckle but will surely teach me, and you, a thing or two about standing up for what I need and want.

As I begin Amy’s book I am already reassured in learning that, “People who are calm, who speak clearly, and who are better able to communicate have a better track record in getting what they want and need.” I Wanted Fries With That will set me on the path of solving problems, getting other people to change and seeing justice served.

Amy has written for the Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, and the Globe and Mail. She lives with her family in Montreal. Find out more about her work a http://www.AmyFishWrights.com.

I’ll be back soon with a full review of I Wanted Fries With That.

Debut cruise review: Harmony of the Seas

Leave a comment

My readers have welcomed my contributions over the last year to MtlRestoRap, a Montreal restaurant review site. I’ve heard from many of you and received lots of favourable comments. Same goes for my recent Theatre reviews, all of which can be viewed under the “Reviews” tab up top.

I’m proud to say that today I launch my Travel Reviews with the publishing of my first ever Cruise Review in the formidable Canadian World Traveler magazine. My inaugural article is above or can be read on the online version of the Fall 2019 edition on page 50.

Please comment, like and share as this propels me forward to review more and to share with you.

Getting my thrills zip-lining across the open interior of Harmony of the Seas
Nikki getting the feel of the Flo-rider on the Sports Deck of Harmony of the Seas
Two spectacular ice shows aboard Harmony
A real ’50s style boardwalk with carousel, diner, cafe and bar. In the distance is the horrifying Abyss, an enclosed slide that drops an incredible 10 stories
GREASE the musical was so much fun and so entertaining
Sensational view of 12 levels mid-ship aboard Harmony of the Seas

Review: The Pianist of Willesdan Lane is a gripping, intense and beautiful story

Leave a comment

“Mona Golabek’s one-woman show is both a tribute to her mother’s triumph over persecution and a celebratory concert of life-affirming classics.”
– Montreal Gazette

“A story that deserves to be told…and heard.” – Montreal Mom

“[Mona Golabek’s passion] drives the audience to its feet to applaud with heartfelt gusto.” – Montreal Rampage

“A compelling one-woman show. Not to be missed.” – Pat Donnelly 

“This production [launches] the 2019-2020 theatre season with panache, grace, style, class and an emotional heartstring tugger.”- Orcasound

The Pianist of Willisden Lane is described as a Musical Journey of Hope and Survival. Now on stage at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, in Cote des Neiges, this One Woman Show is just that, and so much more.

The story is about the life and times of Mona Golobek’s mother, Lisa Jura, who was born in Vienna. With the Nazis marching through Austria, Lisa’s parents make the heart wrenching decision to send their youngest child out of the country to escape the war and the horrors erupting across Europe.

Mona recounts Lisa’s teenage war story and also portrays some of the other characters that enter her life during these dark years. She is serious and youthful, whimsical and scared. She takes her audience with her on an emotional rollercoaster ride. All around her baby grand piano.

Mona’s grandmother and mother, both accomplished pianists, would be so proud. Not only has Mona carried on in the tradition of her matriarchs, she does so with great aplomb and in awe of their great success against all odds. Indeed, a very real story of hope and survival.

With many mesmerizing interludes at a large, impressive piano at centre stage Mona captivates the audience with classical pieces from some of Europe’s greatest composers while paying tribute to, and sharing her for her dear mother.

After 90 uninterrupted minutes of sharing her family’s story in character and in music with superb projections of portraits and video from that era Mona draws to a close in a masterful concerto number as tears well up in my eyes.

Powerful. Stirring. Hopeful.

The Pianist of Willisden Lane was adapted for theatre and directed by Hershey Felder and is based upon Mona’s novel, The Children of Willisden Lane. Her book has been translated into several languages and has been read by hundreds of thousands of readers.

Playing at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts through September 29, 2019.

Mike Cohen and Glenn J. Nashen go kosher at Luzzatto on Decarie

Leave a comment

I recently dined with my friend Mike Cohen at Luzzatto Kosher Restaurant at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Decarie Boulevard, near Plamondon. If you’re looking for a different option in Kosher dining in Montreal’s West End this Glatt Kosher fine Italian dining restaurant is worth a visit.

They offer Soups, Fresh Salads, Italian Dishes, Grilled Specialties, Mediterranean Platters, Sandwiches and Pitas, Wraps, Chinese Dishes, Drinks and More.

Read our full review here.

Older Entries