I had a light load on Monday night (the 12th) for rehearsal, so in the afternoon myself and a few castmates went to the Steam Whistle Brewery for a tour and some beer! This relatively young pilsner-brewing company set up “shop” in an old historical train station depot, where engines were brought in for cleaning and maintenance. Three previously fired employees of a corporate takeover endeavor had a few beers over a campfire and decided to start their own brewing company. They started calling it “Three Fired Guys Brewery,” but later reflected upon the need for local Torontor-ian workers to have a 5pm “whistle” to break them from their 9 to 5 jobs and reward them with a beer; thus, “Steam Whistle” became their name. I highly recommend their tour, which is “basically” free. For $10 you get a tour + a souvenir bottle cap opener; for $15 you get the same tour + a six-pack of their pilsner to go. And they give you before and after and during tastes of the beer, so in the end you get a lot more than what you paid for.
On Tuesday night, we headed out as a cast to have dinner at O Noir, a specialty restaurant with a sensory twist – the diners eat in the dark, served by blind waiters. The waiters themselves are nonplussed about the experience, but the diners get to experience what it is like to eat while blind, or certainly let all their other senses take over during the meal. We couldn’t use our iPhones or digital watches to take pictures or check the time, and if a restroom was needed we had to be led out via a waitstaff member. They have a full three or two-item menu, but you can also order each item as a “surprise,” and tell them if you are allergic to or don’t like any particular food.
The experience was unique. We were led in by the waiter, kindergarten-style with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us. It was pitch black save for the tiniest glow in two corners of the room. But I could literally not see anything, even my own hand. I could feel the place settings, which were just as you’d expect. Real glass and ceramics with metal forks and knives. Eating with them was totally different, for you had to make note of each item as you put them down, and I tended to want to hold on to the stem of my wine glass for fear of knocking it over. Some forkfuls would come up to my mouth with the right amount, some with too much, and quite often nothing at all. The conversation amongst my table was hilarious, and it was amazing to 1. not know the exact passage of time 2. have the ability to be expressive oneself physically without anyone seeing you and 3. try to make sure your needs or questions were made known just verbally. And there was the odd foul play amongst my fellow diners (I had fun blowing on the neck of my castmate immediately behind me). We had the whole room to ourselves as a party of 28 or so, so the volume in the room reached a few crescendos and there was a tiny bit of group singing. The food itself was simple American fare, but very well done. I had the surprise appetizer, a Filet Mignon with potatoes and green beans, and a surprise dessert. The surprises turned out to be a mixed green salad with (we think?) cooked parsnips in feta, and later some cinnamon & caramel-covered vanilla ice cream on a small slice of apple pie. Eating something that is not only visible but completely unknown is thrilling, but we admittedly used our fingers to make sure we didn’t miss anything on the plate. Remarkably, I didn’t emerge (blinking furiously even in the low-lit lobby) with food on my blouse, and because I was careful I didn’t drop my fork the way I usually do. I highly recommend this experience, which is available in the states at a restaurant called Dans Le Noir.
Later in the week, I had dinner at Fresh, a heath-conscious lunch and dinner location with a puppeteer friend Nicholas Lemon (lemonproductionsinc.com). I had a delicious kale salad and some honest-to-betsy Ginger ale, then Nicholas & I walked around the area, stopping at the CBC Building. He pointed me in the direction of a small museum, which I later visited to see puppets and old machines from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.
I’m writing the end of this post on Embarkation day, November 24th. We are in Houston, and will drive to Galveston this morning to the terminal and set foot on The Magic at 7am!!! I’ll soon blog about Houston, the wet drill, Thanksgiving, and my first week or weeks on the ship The Magic!