Monthly Archives: March 2009

Harvey’s. (Yes, THAT Harvey’s.)

img_06651Whenever the Beast and I have access to a car we drive to Harvey’s on the Queensway for dinner.   We could go anywhere with a set of wheels, like Eigensinn Farm or Langdon Hall, but we eat at those sorts of places all the time.  Harvey’s is more exotic.  The drive there is usually filled with our excited singing and the recitation of our “dream order”.

Beast:  I’m going to get a hotdog just for the drive home.

Foodie:  We should get onion rings too!

Beast:  On top of the poutine?

Foodie:  Not on top of the poutine, but in addition to it. 

Part of the allure of this particular Harvey’s is the staff:  they’re delightful.  Rashma was all smiles when she took our order:  a cheeseburger, a double bacon cheeseburger, two orders of poutine, a large onion ring, and a hotdog.  Not once did she try and convince us to get combos.  Who needs a pop when there’s a delicious Chilean Carmenere at home?  The best part about Harvey’s is the bill.

Rashma:  That will be $20.52 please.

Beast:  Dinner’s on me.  (He’s always quick to reach for his card when dinner is cheap.  That way when we’re out at a fancier place, he can politely remind me that he got dinner last time.)

And then the fun really started:  Bella, the lady who dresses up your burger for you, is always working when we visit.  She’s an attractive, middle-aged woman and Bella is extremely enthusiastic about what she does.  So enthusiastic, in fact, that one might assume she’s wired up on meth.  Let me put it another way:  she could easily be a character played by the formidable Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live.

Bella:  Hello hello there.  Who’s having the hotdog.  Have a hotdog here and it’s a hotdog. Takers?  Takers?

Beast:  Yes.  That’s my hot dog.  Just ketchup and mustard please.

Bella:  Just ketchup and mustard please–won’t argue with that.  No sweet relish?

Beast:  No thank you.

Bella:  You’re sweet enough already (winking).  Oh yes, sweet enough.  And I mean that it in a completely professional way.  Ketchup and mustard–won’t argue with that.  And I have a cheeseburger.  Who’s having the cheeseburger.

Foodie:  That would be me thanks.  Just mustard, onion, tomato–

Bella:  How about two tomatoes?

Foodie:  That would be great.

Bella:  Two tomatoes it is then.  Two tomatoes.

Foodie:  Could I get extra pickles?  I love the pickles at Harvey’s.

Bella:  (Looking at the Beast, winking again)  Well, a girl who knows what she wants and she wants pickles.  We’re going to give you four pickles.  One, two, three, and four.  And who’s having the double bacon cheeseburger.

Beast:  Just some ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, tomato, onion and lettuce please.

Bella:  No pickles?  Oh I can tell that he’s not a pickle man.  No pickles it is for this one.  And I’m going to put this all in two bags now because we don’t want anything tipping over on the ride home do we.  No, no, no we do not want that to happen to dinner.  You know, I like having fun with my customers and if you’ve had fun tonight you can always go to this website (pointing to the bottom of our receipt) and write about your experience here today because it does trickle down (makes trickling-down actions with her hands) and don’t forget to mention Bella!  That’s me.

Oh yes it is.  The Beast and I, our faces frozen in gigantic teethy grins, waved good-bye to all our friends at the Harvey’s and walked to the car with our dinner.  The onion rings were gone before we left the parking lot.  At home, we unwrapped our gourmet spread on the coffee table in front of the television.  img_0666
There was little talking, only feasting on greasy, cheesy, terribly wonderful food.

I nearly forgot our dessert!  We picked up six red velvet cupcakes before driving to our Harvey’s from a bakery on Queen Street West (just west of Sorauren Ave.) called Yummy Stuff.  I was only going to get four but then the nice lady told me that you don’t pay tax if you get six.  And that way, we’d have enough cupcakes for breakfast.  

Foodie     **1/2

Beast       **  (stale burger bun)

One footnote here:  I don’t actually know what somebody on meth acts like but I’ve heard people say on the television before things like, “that person is fucked up on meth man…”

Messing Up Meatloaf

I turned crazy the other night (that’s when I’m normal one minute and then crazy the next.) It happens every three months or so.  I think I allow my frustration—usually over the beast’s messiness—to build up.

The Beast's bedside table AFTER he tidied it.

The Beast's bedside table AFTER he tidied it.

 Sometimes it feels like I spend my weekend tidying up and organizing our lives and then the Beast can turn it all upside-down in seconds.  I can’t remember what set me off this particular time—maybe a pile of records left on the dining room table—but I turned into a nasty, capital B.  The Beast was afraid.  And I too was afraid after he said my behaviour reminded him of a mother figure.  Yikes.  So to make it up to him I offered to cook him anything he wanted.  I think he asked for a steak dinner with rhubarb crumble for dessert.  I decided to make my fancy meatloaf and rhubarb sour cream crumble pie instead.

What makes my meatloaf fancy?  Good question.  Well, it’s the leeks and red onion I sauté and then add to the meatloaf recipe you find on the back of the Lipton’s onion soup box.  Wait—it gets fancier!  I reserve some of the Lipton’s onion soup mix and sprinkle it over the vegetables that roast in the same pan as the meatloaf.  If that’s not fancy, then I’m not 5’11” with defined cheekbones.

fancy meatloaf

fancy meatloaf

The Beast doesn’t flip over my meatloaf dinners the way I do.  That’s why I was determined to make this one perfect.  And I knew he wouldn’t be enthusiastic about the pie because of the sour cream (the poor thing is trying to cut down on dairy because he thinks it makes him congested.)  So it was crucial that I make the pie from scratch and put a shitload of love into it.  Then I remembered that I had a left-over frozen pie shell in the freezer.  And then the game was over:  everything began to roll steadily down-hill after I made the fateful, lazy decision to not make my pastry from scratch.  I can hear some of you right now:  “But it’s so easy to do though!”  Oh I know it’s easy, but it’s  the cleaning of the countertop beforehand to make sure no bits of coffee grinds make their way into the pie and the doing up of all those dishes afterwards.  
In short, the pie came out looking like acne.  

rhubarb sour cream crumble pie

rhubarb sour cream crumble pie

And what about the meatloaf? It was the worst I’ve ever made.  I don’t think I added enough fanciness.  The Beast described the taste of the vegetables as “funny”.  He was quite a gentleman about it though–the “it” being me apologizing for turning crazy by making dinner for him comprised of things he didn’t really want.  The whole meal was a bust, except for the pie:  even though it looked like a special child made it, the Beast finished it for breakfast and lunch the next day.   

Foodie     *

Beast       *

One footnote here:  I’m not 5’11.  And I’ve never seen my cheekbones.

Second footnote:  I can make pie crust.  I could make pie crust all day long if I felt like it man.  
Here’s documentation to prove it:

concord grape pie (recipe courtesy of Uncle Ron)

concord grape pie (recipe courtesy of Uncle Ron)

apple pie

apple pie

 

Royally Regular

The Beast and I visited with my mom in London, Ontario last weekend. We had Harvey’s for lunch when we arrived and Chinese takeaway for dinner. When my mom gave her address for delivery, the lady at the restaurant exclaimed, “Oh, you the Royal Doulton lady!”

“Why yes I am,” replied my mother. “The girls,” as my mother colloquially refers to these porcelain figurines, are displayed on every available surface in her home, including the kitchen cupboards and even her sock drawers. She knows her collecting has gotten out of hand, and apparently, so does the Chinese food delivery boy. But they make her happy.

You know what makes me happy? Being regular, and I don’t mean in an after-school special kind of way where the weird kid just wants to be like everybody else. I’m talking about regularity “down there”. I love pooping. A recipe for whole-wheat blueberry muffins from Gordon Ramsay’s new cookbook, “Healthy Appetite,” is making sure that I’m happy every morning—even again in the afternoon, on occasion. And the Beast likes them to boot. I made them Sunday night when we got back from visiting my mom and the painted girls, with the hopes that they’d flush our systems of all the glorious junk food we’d eaten.

Maybe I should start including recipes. Is that legal though? Because it’s Gordon’s recipe, not mine. Actually, I did make some modifications, so I think technically, that makes the recipe mine, no?

2 cups whole-wheat flourphoto2
1cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
a lot of blueberries
½ cup walnuts
½ tsp all spice, or ground cloves, or cinnamon
or all of that stuff
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Just mix this all up the way your instincts tell you to, and bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes.

photoThe Beast also requested a quiche Sunday night, which I thought was sort of funny. So a quiche I did make. It was sort of a torta rustica actually, which is an Italian version of quiche, but less “eggy”. It’s really just a delicious savoury pie. For the filling I mixed up 4 eggs, some ricotta cheese, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a little mozzarella, some really very crumbly aged Beamster, and a whole whack of fresh Italian parsley and chives. I don’t want to talk about the crust (store-bought) please and thank you. This pie, along with a simple green salad, turned out to be quite a lovely Sunday night dinner.  I was going to finish this by writing something about how the blueberry muffins have done their trick all week but the Beast says I shouldn’t write about shit in a food blog.

photo1

Foodie     **1/2

Beast       **1/2

Brad’s Brunch

Much has been written by jaded servers and other industry folk about the phenomenon of brunch.  People love brunching.  People who have to cook and serve those people who love brunch,  hate it.   Or at least, I did.  I worked Saturday and Sunday brunch for nearly a year at a very popular and extremely busy Queen Street West restaurant.  I always did my best to smile and be cordial on the floor, but my personality shifted as soon as I was out of eyesight:  “Of course you can have an egg white omelette,” to the 20 year-old diner, but on the way through the revolving kitchen door, “what the fuck is so fucking scary about yolks? She’s a size zero.  She should eat a fucking sandwich for chrisssake.”  Or “Your over-easy eggs are slightly over-medium?” at tableside, but in my head, “So you’re telling me you want me to take this plate away and get the extremely grumpy and hung-over chef in the back to redo these little guys up for you?  Sure buddy.  No fucking problem.  The thirty or so folks in line won’t mind that you just cost them another twenty minutes of waiting, and can I also cut the crusts off your toast for you, you little baby.”   People turn into animals.  They call you over to their table (some monsters even snap or whistle) to order when you’re clearly talking to other customers, and then you rush over and they’re not even close to deciding what they want;  they ask you to take their order while they’re on their cell phones; they sit down at dirty tables (who does that?); and in turn their poor behaviour causes perfectly normal people–such as myself–to lose all sense of decorum.

img_0583Wow. I haven’t spoken about all this in years and it’s clear I have some pent-up anger raging inside of me.  That’s why it’s with mixed emotion that the Beast and I make our way to Brad’s Eatery every Saturday for brunch.  It’s around the corner from our place and there’s never a line-up and everybody who works there is plain lovely.  We’ve only ever ordered their eggs benedict which is made with such care (no clumpy, ill-tasting hollandaise here!) This Brad character apparently used to work at Mildred Pierce.  (The servers at that now-closed establishment must have put up with the ultimate brunching characters.  The place had a line-up before they opened up on Sunday mornings!)  The thing is, it’s hard for me to relax at brunch.  I’m always worried about turning into the cliche couple who “brunches” with their pile of papers.  And I’m always conscious of the servers’ feelings and never want to cause them any sort of grief as a result of me eating there.  But the lure of bacon and eggs is just too much for me to resist.

Foodie:  Why don’t you get salad with your eggs benedict and so will I and then we can order a side order of potatoes to share.

Beast:  But I don’t want salad.  Why don’t you just order a side salad?

Foodie:  Because I don’t see that available on the menu but I do see a side of potatoes, so if we both order salad with our eggs, we can get potatoes too.

Beast:  Just ask for a salad!  

Foodie:  But it’s not on the menu!  Brunch is hard enough without assholes asking to order things that don’t even exist!

 The server, a lovely gentlemen, who doesn’t fuss about with small talk and is extremely efficient, came to take our order, and I have a feeling he’d overheard our conversation.  The beast went ahead and ordered eggs benedict with peameal bacon and potatoes  with a side of apple wood-smoked sausage.  I was about to order the same, but with salad instead of potatoes when the server did the unspeakable:

Server:  Why don’t you get half potatoes and half a salad for an extra $1.50?

Foodie:  You can do that?

Server:  Of course.

Foodie:  Well, yes.  Yes, I will do that!  But only if it won’t be any trouble.  I don’t want to cause any trouble.

Server:  No trouble at all.

Maybe it was his accommodating attitude that nudged me into doing the unspeakable:  I asked for a modification.

Foodie:  Would it be possible, and feel free to say no, but would I be allowed to have just plain old strip bacon with my eggs benedict rather than the peameal bacon?

Server:  Sure.

And just like that, I got my dream brunch meal.  Pleased as punch, I grabbed the Style section of Saturday’s Globe to read my Beppi, Joanne and Leah, and the Beast buried his face into his New Yorker, and then we ate our perfect breakfasts. On the way out, the servers all smiled at us like they recognized us from previous visits.  

Foodie:  Did you see that?

Beast:  See what?

Foodie:  They know who we are!  Do you think they’re going to talk bad about us now?  About how we read our pretentious papers and how we get the same thing every week and just how annoying we are?

Beast:  I need to have a cigarette.

Foodie:  We can’t come back next Saturday.  We can’t become “regulars”.

Beast:  We could wear costumes.   

Now that’s a good idea.  We could go every week dressed as different characters, even changing the inflections in our voices to really fool them.  Costumes or not–and despite my irrational fears–I’m sure we’ll be back at Brad’s eatery next Saturday.  It’s too tasty to stay away.

Foodie     ***

Beast     ***