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The best way to beat February blahs? Carnival and Mardi Gras and Shrove … – National Post


National Post
The best way to beat February blahs? Carnival and Mardi Gras and Shrove
National Post
Toronto’s most famous carnival celebration is, of course, the festival formerly known as Caribana(now Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival) — transplanted to summer because of the weather — but February offers a carnival smorgasbord in town as well.

For a taste of carnival Brazilian style, head to Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse (95 Danforth Ave., 416-465-0969).

The spirit of New Orleans is alive at Southern Accent (595 Markham St., 416-536-3211, southernaccent.com), which is holding a Cajun house party for Mardi Gras (Feb. 21).

At Big Daddy’s Bourbon Street Bistro and Oyster Bar (212 King St. W., 416-599-5200, bigdaddys.ca) there’s a Mardi Gras party on Tuesday, with free beads and samplings of New Orleans-themed cocktails and snacks. From 7 to 11 p.m., Gene Hardy and the Pipsqueak Orchestra will play swing jazz and blues..

“The Swiss always have their carnival one week later than the Germans do,” says Helmut Enser, owner of German restaurant The Musket, which serves as home base for Canadysli, Toronto’s version of Swiss carnival, which has been taking place annually since 1976 (40 Advance Rd., 416-231-6488, musketrestaurant.com).

In Basel, Morgestraich starts on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, but here it falls on Feb. 25, beginning at 7 a.m. and running until about 10:30 a.m. Canadysli is an outdoor parade with indoor entertainment in full carnival style, with masked characters, surreal costumes and the dissonant chords of Canadysli Guggemusig, the house marching band. “They play false tunes on purpose; it’s really hilarious,” Enser says.

Participants and observers can restore flagging spirits with a Canadian breakfast or Swiss specialties such as mehlsuppe, a hearty flour-based soup with shredded cheese, onion quiche and küchli, a thin and crispy pancake dusted with icing sugar. On March 3, The Musket hosts a carnival masquerade ball with an optional dinner, raffle, live music from the Rail City Kings and, of course, the Canadysli Guggemusig.

 

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