Saturday, July 28, 2012


The other night, in recognition of a certain celebration that will earn its own post later on, Collette decided to surprise me with a "dinner and a show" Now we have lived in this city a long time and of course we have not seen everything we have not been to every restaurant .. that would be impossible, like figuring out exactly what the big bang was or what the hell Dolly Parton puts in her hair.

Still, a dinner and a show ... Dinner is one thing and a show is another, we go to restaurants and we go to the theatre but rarely are the twain combined. Neither one of us are partial to the Dinner Theatre that populate the airport strip, not to be confused with the adult joints where you can get a cheap buffet and entertainment of an entirely different sort. I'm referring to the places where you can watch Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Wopat belt out the newly penned score to the musical version of Death of a Salesman, the Romantic Comedy.

The mystery was soon resolved as we made our way along Front Street towards St. Lawrence Market: Collette was taking me to The Sultan's Tent. This is a venerable institution in Toronto, it has been here in one location or another as long as I can remember; though I have never been.

I haven't had much Moroccan food; I am sure that in Toronto there are more authentic places to eat it but this seemed like a fine place to start. The restaurant oozes ambience: The large dining room is divided into smaller sections by wooden Arabic arches, there are lanterns and candles and we sat on a couch with so many pillows you could stack them to the Moon and call it the Canadian space program

Of course sometimes you can have too much ambience. In the candlelight reading the menu became a mystery in its own right. In the candlelight I wasn't sure if I was ordering hummus, a large military vehicle or something one should not buy in the presence of one's spouse.

Think about it

The food was fine. You order from a fixed menu with four courses. We had a few Moroccan style dishes, including a tomato based soup, frog legs, some sort of meat stuffed into phyllo and these little airy cookies that melted on your tongue.

There was also the ubiquitous mint tea which must be poured into your little glass from over the servers head. The waiters were quite proficient at this; I know if I attempted the same thing I would be screaming out words that were anything but Moroccan

As entertaining as the waiters were, they were not the show that is featured at Sultan's Tent. That show would involve a lovely young woman, veils, bells and a gyrating example of the female anatomy. That would all mean: Belly dancing

I've seen belly dancing before. I've actually seen quite a bit of it. In my previous incarnation as a wedding video dude I edited many receptions that featured belly dancing as the entertainment. For your typical white bread couple, the belly dancers were just that, an entertainment that you sat and watched. For the ethnic weddings the belly dancing was something different; the dancer did not just put on a show, she engaged the entire crowd by pulling people up on to the dance floor with her and bascially starting the party.

The same was true here. The dancer came out and did a couple of numbers on her own but she also encouraged customers to get up and dance with her. She was very good at teaching people some basic moves and by doing so, was able to break down any nervousness. She was able to encourage several women and a couple of guys to get up and dance with her.

She was quite good at her art, combining sensuality with lyricism with admirable athletic ability. I found myself watching the fluid motion of her hands and the precise placement of her feet as much I did the rest of her body

All in all it was a lovely night. After all these years Collette was able to find me something new to do which included food, wine, reclining on cushions and belly dancing. Dinner and a show indeed.

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