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Casanova-smooth lattés, simple lunch fare and bite-sized delectable cookies await those who enter the minimalist café Nocochi. The biscuits are the same as those you'd find in Dubai, where the owner's family runs five pastry shops that cater to the region's top hotels. The recipes are rooted in the Middle East and Europe, and mix flavours such as cardamom and cocoa, apricot and almond, strawberry and hazelnut. Need a present to thank a prof or woo a donor? You can buy the cookies in elegant clear plastic boxes, or get a platter of the delectables made up for your next departmental event.
Nocochi, 2156 Mackay, 989-7514 www.nocochi.com
French collector Daniel Rozensztroch's eclectic collection of hangers from 1850-2000 will be on display until February 22, at Université du Québec à Montréal's design centre. Alongside the exhibit are the design contest entries by students from UQAM, Université de Montréal, Concordia University and the École supérieure de mode de Montréal.
Centre de design de l'UQAM, 1440 Sanguinet (corner Saint Catherine), (514) 987-3395, open noon until 6 pm, Wednesdays to Sundays.
Last November, the Montreal Gazette, in collaboration with Global, ran a contest for a few weeks called "Survivor Panamania Tour." Many Montrealers submitted the weekly puzzle. Our houseguest from Austria, Sandra, entered my name several times (the contest was open to Canadians only). Before I knew what was going on I had to answer a skill testing question on the phone; something like 10 + 2 — 8.
I asked if I could use my calculator to be sure.
My math skills brought me to the Gazette newspaper plant where I was to compete against six other finalists in an active "survivor" contest. We were put in a wind tunnel, one by one. We had 30 seconds to catch as many "specially marked" ten-dollar papers. The one who grabbed the most won the money value of the papers and the chance to participate in the next contest...in Las Vegas.
With 26 catches in my pocket, my wife Myra Greenberg (BA'83) and I were off to Vegas with a $260 operating budget.
We were off to a good start when the host of the Treasure Island Hotel, because our registration line took too long, arranged for a bottle of champagne to be sent to our room. Well, the fun began.
We were given taxi money and $50 in gambling chips, but we put a hold on the gaming because we knew we had to see it all.
The first night was the contest finale. We were all to meet at Bellagio Hotel; watch the "Survivor" final two-hour episode and declare a possible one million dollar winner. There were ten of us from across Canada, and two of us would have a chance for the big bucks. We each chose a sealed envelope with a TV survivor name inside. My envelope contained "Rupert" — he should have been the winner.
The two individuals who had the correct envelopes re-entered the wind tunnel. They won some money, but no one matched the single one million dollar ticket that was in a sealed envelope. The pressure was now gone.
Now it was time to soak in the Las Vegas strip. We had three days and we walked until we dropped. Each hotel was unique — and worth about 50 million dollars. Some had around 5000 rooms! Show me a place in Montreal with anything close to that number.
The contest prize included the hotel, the airfare, a few chips but NO food. We had to be careful not to blow our budget. After all, we do have three young children at home, that we loved a lot. But this was OUR mini "getaway." Yahoo!
There were all kinds of shows in the evenings that were out of our cash reach. Inspiration hit when we were harassed one time too many by "time sharing " companies. The concept didn't appeal to us; only the bait that was used to lure us was exciting. The salesman told us that if we went to a two-hour lecture and presentation in the morning, he would give us breakfast, lunch and a buffet supper plus two tickets to an "All star" show the same evening.
I pulled Myra over to the side and we looked at each other. We would still walk up and down the Vegas strip in the afternoon; so why not soak up some info in the morning? We signed a few promise papers and were looking forward to our next day.
At 9 am, we were put in a limo bus with other guests. With breakfast, we listened to the informative lecture. The sales pitch started: "a one week a year, your whole life — own a beautiful room for $24,000, anywhere in the world!"
No thanks. Where are my gifts?
"In a minute, just talk to my boss; since you're Canadian, the special price for you is 14 grand if you pay instantly."
Let me check my pockets.... Ah, NO. Where's my gifts?
We ate a nice lunch, and then: "Okay, we are done with you just see that guy over there and he'll set you up."
Great. Almost home free. We get a "Hello sir" and a final offer never given to any other humans; "$4000 for a week every year for life."
Mmm, no thanks...but close.
We walked out with official coupons for buffet suppers at Bally's and than a "Superstar show" that same evening. The show was amazing; among the talents were Elvis, Michael Jackson and Ricky Martin look-a-likes who were awesome. They had all won best impersonator honours in their field.
It was almost midnight; we had one mission left before we hit the sack. Not gambling. We had to find and choose another "timesharing" company to line up our next day. BINGO!! The opening line was " excuse me, are you in Vegas for a few days?"
"We sure are and we want information on time-sharing," was my response.
This one offered us "Jubilee" tickets for two. We heard that this show cost millions of dollars to put on, and you can't miss the large billboards advertising it on the strip. We were also offered two buffet "seafood" dinners before the show AND three extra nights at Flamingo Hotel towards our next visit.
SOLD... we went and we conquered. We were pros by now; I used lines like, "You promised exactly two hours," "I'm checking my watch," or "Can I see your boss," "The price is too high," and my favourite; "I'm Canadian."
By the end of our four-day, three-night contest vacation we had seen the entire Vegas strip. Each hotel was unique and exciting. We saw three wonderful shows and ate to our hearts content. We used the free gambling chips on the last day. You know how it goes. Start with $50; up to $200...to $300 and then $0 within an hour and of course; down $30 after an hour and 15 minutes.
As we were checking out, champagne bottle in hand (who had time?), we could hear a commotion in the casino. We heard that a 19 year old walked into the hotel to use the bathroom and on the way put 50 cents in a slot machine and is now $125,000 AMERICAN richer.
That's Vegas, baby.