Monthly Archives: August 2009

Foxley, oh Foxley.

Foodie:  So what exactly is a nose flute?

Beast:  It’s an instrument and I need to practice before we pick up Nick Edwards.

So the Beast and I walked several city blocks–me in silence and he with an orange plastic “instrument” shoved up his nose–to the bar where Nick works.  He was just finishing up and then the three of us were going for dinner.   By the time we greeted Nick, the Beast had perfected a simple tune–two notes actually–and played it for his friend and then handed Nick his own nose flute, presumably so that the two of them can perform duets one day.

Foodie:  Were you able to make the reservation at Union?

Nick:  They’re all full.

Foodie:  Did you tell them who you are?

Nick:   I said “this is Nick Edwards.”

Foodie:  And they were still full?  Well I’ll be damned.  Let’s walk along the street and see what happens.

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Foxley is what happened; it’s a wonderful little place on Ossington (Toronto Life named it #11 in their top new restaurants list of 2008). There appeared to be a bit of a wait but the lovely hostess fashioned a table for three out of a table for two so that we were seated pretty quickly.   Nick and the Beast insisted on sitting beside each other on the bench.  They thought it would be funny to roll-play:  they were a gay couple and I was a woman being interviewed as a possible surrogate mother candidate for their unborn child.  That lasted all of four seconds and then they started playing with their nose flutes while insisting I choose the wine.  Actually, they insisted on me choosing pretty much everything, so I did.

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Our server recommended an Austrian white, (a Gruner Vetliner precisely) to start, and I chose a sea bream ceviche, frog’s legs, and mussels steamed in a green curry broth to get our appetities going.

Foodie:  Maybe we should put the nose flutes away, it being dinner and all.

Beast:  Nick, I also got a jaw harp!  Look!

Foodie (trying to distract them):  Who do you think invented the jaw harp anyway?

Beast:  Many cultures have a version of it actually.

Nick:  I imagine that most cultures invented a version of the jaw harp independently.

Beast:  You don’t think that one culture made it first and then passed it on through migration, trade, etc.?

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Sadly, the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of food.   The mussels were spicy, but not too spicy; the frog’s legs were, how do I say this without sounding absurd, they were really frog’s legs.  Like, they had joints and everything, but no feet. The boys picked them up and sucked them clean of all their flesh.  I, on the other hand, was much more conservative, and merely broke off a tiny piece of white meat from a wee thigh. The ceviche was the biggest hit–a bang of citrus, herbs, and salt–while the chop sticks were a flop.

Beast:  How are you supposed to cut a piece of raw fish if it’s too big for one bite?

Nick:  Here, let me help.

With their tongues out, jaws protruding and their ham-fists clutching their sticks, the two of them made for a touching scene–like two chimps trying to figure out how a primitive tool works together.

Foodie:  Did you see who just left the restaurant?

Beast:  Of course I did–it was Kenny.

Nick:  From Kenny vs. Spenny?

Beast:  Yup. (Mom, Kenny vs. Spenny is a pretty silly show about two guys who compete against each other in very silly ways.)

Foodie:  Why don’t you two go for a cigarette before we order more food?  I’ll come along of course, but I won’t smoke.

And outside, there stood Kenny Hotz. The Beast and I have only seen one episode in which the challenge was to fart the loudest. They even had some sort of device that measured the volume of farts, much like the Richter scale measures an earthquake’s seismic energy. There was the consumption of beans and other gaseous foods, but Kenny pulled out all the stops when he inserted a rubber hose into his anus and blew air into it via his mouth.  The resulting farts were–quite literally–off the charts, leaving Kenny rolling in a ball of pain, and laughter. The Beast and I had tears streaming down our faces and silent laughs–that’s when something is so funny that nothing comes out of your mouth.

Beast:  I’m going to ask him if it hurt blowing air into his own ass.

Foodie:  Don’t you dare!

Nick:  Do it!

Beast:  Hey Kenny!

Kenny:  Yeah.

Beast:  I was just wondering if it hurt blowing air in your bum in that one episode.

Kenny:  Yeah.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  But check this new injury out.

And then Kenny lifted up his shirt revealing black, blue and yellow bruising the size of a newborn baby.

Nick & Beast in unison:  WHOA!

Kenny:  Yeah.  That’s a little sneak peak for you of what’s to come.

Beast:  Thanks.  And that farting episode was hilarious.

Kenny:  I know:  It was probably the funniest half hour of Canadian television and it didn’t even get nominated for a fucking Gemini.

And just like that, he walked off into the night with his dinner companions.

Back inside, I performed some quick decision making:  we’d have some asian greens, a grilled mackerel, hanger steak with chimichurri sauce, and finally, a piece of pork belly.  We ordered another bottle of white while we waited for the food.  And while the Beast visited the washroom, I revealed a very serious plan–perhaps hatched in my head by the consumption of wine–to dear Nick.

Foodie:  Nick, I have a proposal–it’s a realistic way to get our lives on track.

Nick:  I’m all ears.

Foodie:  The Toronto International Film Festival is just weeks away.  Drew Barrymore will be attending.  She dates Justin Long.

Nick:  They’re back together?

Foodie:  According to my sources, yes.

Nick:  Go on.

Foodie:  I infiltrate the red carpet–haven’t worked out the details of that yet–but I find a way to approach Drew, and introduce the two of you.  Do you follow?

Nick:  Not quite.

Foodie:  You’re way cuter than Justin Long!  And she seems to be really into guys with mediocre senses of humour.  Can you imagine what would happen if she got a load of you?!  All we have to do is get Drew to meet you, maybe present her with a rose to get things rolling, and then before you know it, the four of us are double-dating, we’re writing scripts together, vacationing, and BAM-you’re an actor.  

Nick:  Yeah.  And haven’t you always wondered what happened to Firestarter?  I mean, what happens next?  What’s the next chapter for her? 

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And then both the Beast and our food arrived, leaving our master plan in limbo.  I could have eaten the entire plate of greens (looked like rapini) they were so good; the mackerel was served simply, and it may have been my favourite dish of the evening; the hanger steak was good, but I prefer my cilantro-garlic sauce to this chimichurri stuff; and the pork belly, well, it was perfect Beast-fare.

Beast:  Oh my God.  You can’t expect anything from an animal to taste better than this.

Foodie:  Woopsie….the wine’s all gone but there’s still food.  We better order one more bottle of wine; I recall seeing a reasonably-priced Negroamaro on the list.  Sounds good?

Nick & Beast (pointing to my plate):  Are you going to eat that pork fat?

Foodie:  It looks like blubber.

Beast:  It’s the best part!

Nick (to the Beast):  Do you want to share it?

I broke the blubber in two and tossed it to the savages who eagerly devoured it with their greasy paws.

We finished this three hour epic meal, which included three bottles of wine, seven very different dishes, and one celebrity sighting, with espresso. Afterwards we looked up and the chairs were on the tables and the three of us, other than the staff, were the only folks at Foxley.  In order to continue with our merrymaking, we headed to a bar, where, after consuming martinis–a drink I’m not accustomed to enjoying in multiples–I behaved poorly.  This would have been a perfectly lovely summer evening, minus the visit to the bar, and minus that third bottle of wine too.  But I wouldn’t have changed the company for the world.

Foodie:  ** 1/2

Beast:  ** 1/2 (but **** for the pork belly)

The Beast’s Hanger Steak, Followed by Soft Serve

Foodie: I’m home!

Beast (yelling from the kitchen): What time is it?

Foodie: I don’t know, I just got in the door man!

Beast: I’ll tell you what time it is:  it’s GRILL TIME!

I found the Beast in the kitchen dancing to Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies (I’ve been told he’s the godfather of Western Swing) and preparing a lavish dinner which included hanger steak.

Foodie: OMG! LOL! WTF?  The last thing I wanted to do tonight was make dinner and here you are, answering my prayers.

Beast: I’ve got some leeks, Roma tomatoes, portobello mushrooms and red peppers ready to be grilled with the steak, which I’ll be serving with shaving of parmigiano and rocket.

Foodie: Rocket? Did you just say rocket?

Beast: Yes. 

Foodie: You can call arugola whatever you want so long as I don’t have to do the dishes. I see you haven’t cleaned up along the way, like I do.

Beast: No, I haven’t. Why don’t you take a look around the house and maybe you’ll better understand why I didn’t have time to “clean up along the way.”

I don’t know what overcame him, but the Beast decided to go through his books and CDs in both the living room and dining room and organize them–he even plans on selling a whole bunch, which he “organized” on top of the dining room table.

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While I showered (my bike ride home makes me extremely sticky), the Beast grilled. And he grilled like a true master.

Foodie: That steak looks like it’s from a magazine! I am so proud of you.

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Beast: Look; I arranged the vegetables too!

Foodie: Yes, they look beautiful. You know you can’t eat the the tough green ends of the leeks, right?

Beast: (pause.) Yes, but they’re much more visually arresting this way.

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The steak was incredible, and cooked to a perfect medium rare.  Now I know I said in a previous post that the Beast and I enjoy eating outside, and that’s true.  But we recently picked up season six of Northern Exposure and it simply must be watched at dinner time.

Foodie:  I love Chris the DJ.

Beast:  No, I love Chris the DJ.

Foodie:  If you love me, you’ll drive me to Tom’s .

Beast:  Get in the car.

photo[4]The Beast and I had a set of wheels at our disposal for the past three weeks–a 1986 Oldsmobile with bench-style seats and a gear shifter thing beside the steering wheel to be exact.  On one of our Queensway Harvey’s field trips (if you don’t know what that means, read about it here,)  we discovered a place called Tom’s Dairy Freeze, that sells soft serve ice cream.  One of my favourite treats–since I was a kid– is vanilla soft serve dipped in butterscotch.  So we’ve established a ritual, as a reprisal of sorts from these hot summer nights: the Beast and I settle into the plush, infinite seats, roll down the windows, and listen to AM radio while we cruise the Queensway on our way for soft serve. It’s glorious.

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Foodie:  I wish we had a car all summer so we could come visit Tom whenever we wanted.  This place looks like it’s right out of an Edward Hopper painting.

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Beast:  Good reference, if you graduated from “Basic Art References 101.”  Try this one:  if I were to give my ice cream a title I would call it Synthetic Ice Cream Cone #2, by Marinetti. 

Foodie:  He was a Futurist you know.

Beast:  Of course I know, that’s why I came up with the title.  

Foodie:  Why are you eating your ice cream so funny?

Beast:  I’m trying not to get it in my beard.

Foodie: It’s not working.  It’s everywhere.  Look–there’s some on your shirt, and a little on your knee.

Beast:  Maybe you could get me a napkin.

Foodie:  Sure thing.  

Foodie (while handing the Beast several napkins):  I can’t believe the line-up at this place.  And look at all the soccer moms! (The Beast has an odd affinity for soccer moms.  Mom, a soccer mom is usually about 40 years old and attractive-ish, and she wears her long locks in a pony-tail and dresses in tank tops, yoga pants, and flip flops.)

Beast:  Oh, I’ve seen them.

Foodie:  I don’t think that one over there is wearing a bra.

Beast:  Oh, I know.

Foodie:  Why didn’t you get your ice cream dipped?

Beast:  Because it’s too messy.  And because it tastes like wax.  (Pause)  And because I didn’t want it to come out looking like an ice cream cone dressed in a Diane Von Fursternberg.

Foodie:  That’s clever.  

Beast:  Or maybe I should have gotten it dipped; dipped in diamonds à la Damien Hirst!

Foodie:  Are you done?  You’re crazy.

Beast:  You know what’s crazy?  That this is the most exotic thing we’ve done with this car.  We could have gone to the Toronto Zoo, or the Ontario Science Centre…

Foodie:  We drove to the cottage last weekend.  And besides, I think this place is very exotic:  women aren’t wearing bras and you look like a wild animal foaming at the mouth on account of the ice cream in your beard.  

Beast:  It’s like a Gaugin and a post-modern Robert Bateman rolled into one painting.

Maybe it’s for the best that we no longer have car access, at least until next summer.

Foodie:  ***

Beast:  ***

Sausagefest

The other day the Beast came grocery shopping with me, which doesn’t happen very often.

Foodie: Do you really think you need six bags of chips?

Beast: Where do you find the frozen food in this place, like Swanson meat pies?

Foodie: I’m pretty sure they keep that stuff in the freezer. Do you want to talk about this?

Beast: About what?

Foodie: About what’s going on here, right now.

Beast: I’m just planning ahead. When you’re not home, what do you expect me to do? Starve? With ready-made meals that’s not going to happen. Plus, we never have enough snacks on hand. Don’t worry, I’m going to pay for it.photo[7]

Beast (after paying for the groceries): Eighty dollars!

Foodie: Junk food adds up buddy. Now let’s go home for sausagefest!

My favourite summertime meal is sausages and grilled vegetables. And my favourite place to eat is on our patio, but tonight there was a new episode of Hell’s Kitchen to watch.

The Beast insists these days on doing the grilling, which is fine by me. I just have to do the prep, which involves slicing up red peppers, zucchini, and other various vegetables that catch my fancy, and tossing them up with olive oil, salt and pepper. We had some Oktoberfest sausages on hand from a market in Bala, Ontario to boot.

With hands like a surgeon, the Beast manoeuvred our dinner on the grill so that everything was cooking perfectly. I stood outside with him to provide some friendly conversation.

photo[6] 09-40-09Foodie: This is my favourite summertime meal.

Beast: You’ve mentioned that before.

Foodie: My sciatica is really acting up again today. I feel like an old woman.

Beast: Yes, you told me that already.

Foodie: Did you know–

Beast: YES! I know that your favourite restaurant when you were a kid was Swiss Chalet! Now let’s arrange our food nicely on this fancy plate so you can get a nice photo already!

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After we finished our BBQ feast, and in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen, I offered to whip up a caesar salad during a commercial break because the Beast was still “starving”.

Foodie (yelling from the kitchen): We don’t have any croutons. Is that okay?

Beast: I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I DON”T RESPOND TO HATE SPEECH.

And then I had an idea: why not sprinkle some of the cheese Crunchies the Beast bought onto the salad? They’re practically the same as croutons anyway!

Beast (upon seeing a bag under my arm): What’s that?

Foodie: They’re Crunchies for your caesar salad!

Beast: Gross! Give me some.

And like a child with Attention Deficit Syndrome, the Beast ripped open the bag and topped his salad with florescent orange-coloured snack food.

Foodie: How is it?

Beast: Delicious! You want some?

Foodie: I’ll pass, but thank you.

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***

Beaches, but without Bette Midler

The Beast and I spent 15 hours last weekend in port towns along Lake Erie.  We may have eaten too much.   On Saturday afternoon,  we met my mom and step-dad for lunch in Port Bruce.  I used to swim here all the time when I was a kid.  My brother and I would often be treated to foot longs and french fries at this little shack of a place right on the beach.  I think that place burned down a few years ago.

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But there’s a new place in town, Shutters on the Beach, that serves up typical beach fare.  There’s one noticeable difference though:  the food here is really good.  Excellent, in fact.   No wonder really, considering the owner is Jonathan Collins, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who photo[4]regularly cooks for the Prime Minister and his family in Ottawa while subbing in as executive chef at 24 Sussex Drive.  He even cooked for President Barack Obama when he visited our Capital this past February!  But Collins hasn’t let his cooking for world leaders go to his head.  On the contrary, he and his wife Cynthia, an equally-accomplished pastry chef, moved their family home so they could help Jonathan’s parents run their restaurant in tiny Eagle, Ont.  And somewhere along the way, they found the time to build Shutters on the Beach from the ground up.  

The Beast, my mom and step-dad and I sat at a lovely table with a view of the beach only meters away.  Being this close to Lake Erie made my lunch choice easy: I had to have the perch, which included french fries, homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce.  The Beast ordered it too.

Foodie:  What did he put into this perch coating?photo[3]

Beast:  Mmmnn.  I don’t know.  

Foodie:  Salt and pepper obviously.  But what else is in there?  It’s so good, don’t you think?  It’s tastes even better than I imagined it was going to taste, and I had big expectations.

My mom and step-dad had already eaten so they just watched with amusement as the two of us wolfed down our late lunch. Afterwards we went for a little walk on the beach during which my mother and I competed for the “loudest laughing cackle” title.  I think she may have won in the end:  after I pointed out that both of her femur bones have all but disappeared, my mother emitted cackles and snorts the likes of which I have only dreamed.   When she sits down, her wee little thighs are no longer than the length of my hand.  It’s like her hips sit on top of her knees.  

After our delightful visit, the Beast and I drove along idyllic Dexter Road to Port Stanley.  We had to check in on my step-sister, Rebecca, who is spending a few weeks home along while my Dad and step-mom visit Grand Bruit, Newfoundland. Rebecca usually goes too, but this year, she’s working three or four summer jobs, one of which includes handing out food to the masses who line up every summer  at Mackie’s.  This beach restaurant, which first opened in 1911, is an institution in Port Stanley, and many a teenager have spent their summers working here.  Mackie’s is famous for their freshly-cut fries, special dipping sauce, and Orangeade–a sickly sweet, but curiously satisfying, orange drink.  photo[1]

The Beast and I decided it would be best to visit Rebecca at work so she’d know we’d arrived safely.

Foodie:  Look!  There she is scooping ice cream!  

Beast:  Whoa!  Did you see that lady walk by?  She looks exactly like Pamela Anderson!

Foodie:  Oh stop it—WAIT.  She does look just like Pamela Anderson! Try to get Rebecca’s attention now! 

Beast:  Come on, you don’t want to embarrass her, do you?

Foodie:  That’s exactly what I want to do.

I waved like a maniac until Rebecca saw us.  She looked mortified.

Beast:  Are we going to get anything to eat?

Foodie:  We just ate.  But I haven’t had Mackie’s french fries in so long, and you really ought to try them.  

So we ordered up lunch number two and sat outside.  photo

Beast:  Did you used to come here a lot as a kid?

Foodie:  My Dad always preferred Port Bruce because it seemed to be less crowded. We used to come to Port Stanley in high school though. We’d skip class and get suntans instead.

Beast:  Did you ever get caught?

Foodie:  I have a vague recollection of the principal sending out a school bus to the beach because so many students were missing on one occasion.  These fries are really, really good.  They’re actually better than I remembered!  Don’t you think?

Beast:  You just ate the last one so I can’t be sure.

Have you ever been to one of those Real Canadian Superstores?  They’re like heaven, only cheaper.  And they have way more selection than paradise could possibly offer, including DVDs, food, towels, Joe Fresh stuff, and candy.  The Beast and I took Rebecca to one in St. Thomas, once she finished work.  I told them they could each choose one treat and I’d buy it for them.  I can’t remember what child chose which candy, but we left with Sour Peaches and Swedish Berries.  And then, the three of us went for a bite to eat.  It was shortly after 10:00pm, so the pickings were slim.  Much to our delight though, there was an East Side Mario’s right in front of the Superstore.  Much to the Beast’s delight, they had half-priced appetizers, so he felt obliged to order both mozzarella sticks and bruschetta.  And much to my delight they had bottles of that Budweiser beer with lime in it!

Unfortunately, it was the worst of the three meals we’d indulged in that day.  It’s hard to mess up tomato bruschetta.  Fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper and some good olive oil speak volumes when stuck together on a piece of toasted bread.  This Mario character served his on some sort of pita thing with mushy tomatoes, processed “parmesan” and a very thick and sweet balsamic-like glaze.  My pasta primavera tasted like it was coated in vegetable oil.  The Beast devoured his pizza of course. And Rebecca ate a piece of bruschetta, a bite of my pasta, and about three spoonfuls of her minestrone soup, which she declared to be quite good.  The rest of the meal she tried to get her dirty little 16-year-old hands on my extremely fancy iPhone.  She also threw an occasional Swedish Berry at me. The best part of the meal was the herbed garlic bread served warm with little pots of butter. That, and the fact that Rebecca took a photo of herself on my iPhone and forgot to delete it, made my night. 

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Shutters on the Beach:  Foodie ***     Beast ***

Mackie’s:  Foodie **1/2     Beast ***

East Side Mario’s:   Foodie *     Beast**