I’m back! We broke down and bought an air purifier and it’s reduced my crazy mold allergy symptoms by about 90%. Definitely working better than any of the meds I was taking. Well, until this morning when it was cool and 14C and we opened the windows to let the cool, “fresh” air in, which of course was full of mold spores. In any case, I haven’t been venturing outside much but one of the things I did do a couple of weeks ago when the mold count was low was to head over to the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West) for their annual garden party.

The garden is actually behind a storefront a few doors down where the Drake has their General Store and ice cream shops. So we got there by heading down a back alleyway. It had rained earlier (rather a torrential downpour) so things started a bit late, but once the rain subsided, it was a decent night.

Tables were loaded with snacks – a cheese dip, awesome kimchi, nuts, savoury little scones and crackers that no one really knew what to do with until our friend Laura riped a pack open to eat with the kimchi. Duh.

Gin and blackberry punch – went down really smooth. I think I had 3 or 4 of these.

There was a bit of seafood for appetizers.

These are mine. The rest of you, get your own!

The spread.

Chef Rose and a sous chef discuss chicken wings.

The highlight of the meal was the pork, and you could meet your meal before it was served.

An array of salads including a spicy potato salad and one full of corn and beans.

Speaking of corn, there was some. And while these were hard to eat, there were tasty butters and condiments.

And then it got dark… this is Miami-style ribs and the chicken wings.

The lighting on this shot is crap, but Greg’s expression clearly indicates that I am holding up the line.

Hey Chef! Can we have some cracklins?

And the garden at the Drake isn’t just for parties – it’s an actual working garden where Chef Rose and his staff grow herbs and vegetables that they use in the kitchen – like this green bell pepper.

We didn’t stick around for dessert because it was getting late and my old eyes couldn’t take much more outsideness. But this was a really great event and I’m happy that I went, and that the weather was actually agreeable. The folks at the Drake know how to put on a good party.