Monthly Archives: July 2010

Wait For It…..Chippy’s.

Beast:  You know, I’ve always hoped that someday you could use the tag line, Food brought them together. And food tore them apart, in your blog.  And I think you’re finally going to be able to incorporate it into your next post.

It’s true.  The Beast and I have had quite the week trying to figure out where to dine for my 100th post which is supposed to go online July 28th, which is today, which is this blog’s two year anniversary.

Foodie:  I’m never going to build up an event like this again.  The pressure is too much to bear.

Beast:  I think the pressure may be just in your head–it’s not like people are waiting for this post.

Foodie:  Oh yes they are!  I rode past Terroni on Queen and Steven was on the street with his handsome cousins and–

Beast:  I like that you call girls handsome.

Foodie:  They were boy cousins.

Beast:  (Silence)

Foodie: Let me finish:  They were asking me where we’re planning to go. People are waiting for this post! It’s killing me!

Beast:  Food brought them together and food tore them apart.

I had thought about Chippy’s fish and chips all day but then I decided it wasn’t quite right for such a momentous occasion.  So I biked right past it on my way home from work.  By 6:30 last night, when I finally got home, we still hadn’t decided what to eat.  And to make matters worse/better, it was our weekly night with Nick Edwards.

The three of us sat on the deck in the end-of-day sunshine.

Beast:  Okay, Plan One:  we drive to Tom’s Dairy Freeze and get burgers and fries to go and then drive to High Park and watch the sunset.  Or Plan Two: we drive to Tom’s Dairy Freeze and we go to Mamma Martino’s, which is beside Tom’s, for dinner and then go back to Tom’s for ice cream.

(Note to readers:  We have a car for three whole weeks.  Tom’s Dairy Freeze and Mamma Martino’s–both situated on the Queensway–are fun/funny places to go when you have a car.)

Foodie:  Those are both excellent ideas.  But I don’t think I feel like the sort of burger and french fries I suspect we’d get from Tom’s.  I like the ice cream idea though.  And Mamma Martino’s, isn’t that expensive?

Nick:  No, it’s cheap.  We looked at the menu once.

Foodie:   But what about Hell’s Kitchen?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had take-out so that we could watch our show? Plus we have a nice bottle of white wine all ready to drink.

Beast:  You’re leaning towards Chippy’s again, aren’t you.

Foodie:  I think I may be.

Beast: I don’t feel like fish and chips because Christina brought me a Peking duck today at work.

Who’s Christina? Let me tell you:  She’s a rich Chinese lady that comes to visit the Beast nearly every day at his place of employment.  She loves to bring him food because, as she told me when I got to meet her not too long ago, “Oh he love to eat so much!  I never see any man eat so much in all my life!”  In exchange for the gorgeous Chinese delights that Christina brings the Beast from her favourite restaurant in Richmond Hill, she expects that he’ll contact her should a good quality curio cabinet come in (he works at a consignment shop that sells everything from jewelry to furniture).  She’s needs  the display case in order to properly flaunt her Swarovski crystal collection.

Foodie:  You ate an entire duck today?

Beast:  No, just two legs and a breast.  The other breast is downstairs in the fridge.

Foodie:  (Silence.)

Beast: You know what?  Let’s just go to Chippy’s.

He sensed, correctly, that I was about to lose my mind.  It was a selfless act on his part and I won’t forget it.

So we piled into the car like a happy family and drove to Chippy’s–the original location on Queen Street West.

Mom, right across the street from Chippy’s is Trinity Bellwoods Park.  Many people who live in the neighbourhood, and many that don’t, get their fish and chips to go and then eat it under a tree.  It’s quite lovely actually, as long as they clean up after themselves.

We’ve had a lot of fish and chips from Chippy’s over the years.  When it’s good, it’s really good.  But it can also be pretty bad.  I think it depends on what sort of mood the twenty-year-old, tattooed and heavily pierced person making your fish and chips is in.  And how high they are.  And how loud the music is.  Sometimes I wonder what parents think when they bring their kids in to get some takeaway fish and chips and they hear one of Snoop Dogg’s more poetic lines blasting from the stereo, like “So we gonna smoke a ounce to this / Gs up, hoes down, while you motherfuckers bounce to this.”

But you take your chances because when they get it right, Chippy’s can rival the best fish and chips in the city.

Our food was ready in no time.  All we had to do was drive the two kilometers home, which only  only took about 90 minutes.  I could have walked home backwards with my pants around my ankles and been home faster and I should have too because I have never been more hungry in life but Queen Street was a disaster and then right before we turned onto our street the Beast decided that we should go to the LCBO and pick up one more bottle of white wine so we drove to the new fancy LCBO at Dundas Street West and Bloor only to find it closed and it was only 8:30pm so then we drove to the LCBO at Brock and Queen and I ran in and bought a bottle and then we drove home in bad traffic again and I could barely speak in the back seat because of my hunger pangs and the Beast and Nick kept talking about whether or not the World Cup helped or hindered South Africa and all the while some crazy music was playing and I wanted to eat everybody’s chips in secret back there in the car but I didn’t even open the bag because I didn’t want to let the heat out.

Beast: (with remote control in hand)  Hell’s Kitchen isn’t on, but Gordon Ramsay’s new show, MasterChef, is!

Nick:  I think I may be done with Gordon.

Foodie:  We need to eat.  Now.

The other funny thing about Chippy’s is that you never get all your special sauces and sides that you order.  But because you’re too afraid of the twenty-year-old person serving you, you don’t open up the bag while you’re there to check and see that they got it right. You just take your chances.

This time we were missing mushy peas and a coleslaw.  But more importantly, I was missing a good attitude.  After eating my dinner too quickly, I excused myself and went to bed feeling uncomfortably full and guilty for forgetting to tell Nick about the new piece of music the Beast had just made, and for just being a terrible host.

There you have it.  Chippy’s.  I know you were expecting Eigensinn Farms or the Keg Steakhouse Mansion.  I’m sorry.  Oh and look!  It’s just after midnight so I missed my self-imposed deadline for posting my 100th entry on this blog’s second anniversary of existence.

This is bullshit.  Good night.  And we should have gone to Mamma Martino’s.

Foodie:  **

Beast:  *    (and  **** for the Peking duck)

Footnote:  If you’d like to hear the piece of Beast music that I forgot to tell Nick Edwards about, then click here, but please promise to read the accompanying post and then just scroll down to hear the song, which is called Render Unto Caesar, and please use headphones when listening because it will sound better.  And give it 60 seconds or so.  And I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this so I won’t do it again.)

Pesto

I made pesto on Sunday using basil from my garden. I blitzed up about 50 large basil leaves with about a cup of toasted pinenuts, four garlic cloves, a scant cup of finely grated parmigiano and about a third of a cup of good quality olive oil.

And all of those ingredients produced this much pesto:

As soon as I got home on Monday night, I got a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Speaking of pasta, I was about to conduct an experiment that had potential to be a recipe for disaster: I was going to sneak in whole wheat pasta. The Beast hates whole wheat pasta. But I think he hates it just to be an ass. I suspect that if he didn’t see the box, he’d have no idea he was eating it.

I also cut up some Niagara peaches for dessert. Everything would be ready just in time to tune into the series finale of The Hills.

Foodie: How’s the pasta?

Beast: It’s good. Do you like it?

Foodie: Quite a bit. Why, what’s wrong with it?

Beast: Nothing! It’s good. Really good.

I don’t know about you but when I’m watching an historic moment on television, I don’t like people playing toy instruments in the background, no matter how quietly they’re trying to play them. The Beast’s mother, bless her heart, brought him back two flutes from a recent trip to Washington D.C. And the Beast kept playing them during The Hills.  Mind you, he was playing them softly but I still found it terribly annoying.  I kept shooting him really rotten looks but he pretended not to notice.

Foodie: Do you plan on playing your toy flutes that your Mommy gave you through the whole show?

Beast: Don’t talk to me like I’m a baby.

Foodie: THEN STOP ACTING LIKE ONE! STOP PLAYING THOSE FUCKING FLUTES!

I got so mad that I couldn’t stop laughing. There was just no place for the anger to erupt so it came out in heaving belly laughter and squealing. The Beast mistook my laughing anger for laughing happiness so he kept playing away like a little gay wood nymph. I decided to distract myself, and show him how mad I was, by painting my nails.  It worked: like a child not getting the attention he so craved, the flute playing eventually stopped.

Foodie: Can you go get the peaches and ice cream at the commercial? I’m not capable of doing it.

Beast: I’m not capable of doing it either.

Foodie: Listen, it’s time you grew up, just like the girls on The Hills.

Beast: You’re right.  I need to grow up.  I will grow up.

Wow, that was easy. I didn’t know that’s all it would take. As I waited for the Beast to bring dessert, the phone rang.

Foodie: Hello.

Caller: (In an extremely whiny voice) Will you come in here and help me?

If I leave my cellphone out, the Beast will inevitably take it, hide himself away in another room, and then call our landline. And I always answer and he thinks it’s so fucking funny, which it is. I wheeze with laughter every time, mostly because I can’t believe that I’ve been stooped yet again by that little fucking bandit.

Foodie: Are you serious?

Beast: Where’s the ice cream and where are the peaches and how much ice cream do I put in the bowl?

Foodie: The peaches are already cut up and they’re in thefridge.  I can’t come in to help because my nails are drying.

Beast: That means I’ve got to do the dishes on top of making dessert?!

Foodie: Well I made dinner!

Beast: If you call boiling some pasta and mixing it up with pesto “dinner” than I’ll be in charge of “dinner” from now on.

Foodie: Oh you will, will you? Well be my guest. And for the record, do you know how much pinenuts cost? And do you even know how to wash a food processor? And how finely to grate the parmigiano?

Beast: There was cheese in that pesto?

Foodie: Yes.  And that was whole wheat pasta!

Beast:  I knew it!  

Foodie:  Liar! 

Beast: Okay. I’m hanging up now. I’ll see you in two seconds.

Beast:  I’m here.

Yes you are.  And thank goodness.

Foodie:  **

Beast: *

 

All Hail the Fish Taco.

I went to Turkey Point last weekend.  My friend Sarah’s mom rents a cottage there every summer and for the last several years I’ve joined them for a day or two. Turkey Point doesn’t sound like it would be a nice place to visit, but it is.  This part of Lake Erie has sandy beaches and blue water that you can walk out into for what feels like miles.  

The drive there, along highway 6, has you pass through a series of small towns, like Hagersville and Jarvis.  There are signs in these towns that point toward “internet access.”  I also saw a turtle crossing the road.  And I saw fields of corn and a tobacco and apple orchards.  This is some of the prettiest country around, I think. Maybe the sight of those fields and one-room school houses give me goosebumps because my dad spent a chunk of his youth in these parts–those angsty teenage years when he hitch-hiked to New York City with his friend Peter and spent three days there before calling it quits, and when he was buying records, like the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out, that would forever change him. Those days changed his life. 

And I’ll tell you what changed mine: the decision to make fish tacos the night I got back from my weekend at the beach sans the Beast.  You know I’ve been craving them. So I looked up “fish tacos” on Epicurious and used this recipe as my base.  I made a few changes to the fish marinade:  I used red onion instead of white, and left out the dried oregano.

I picked up a couple of tilapia fillets and left them in the marinade for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, I got our fish taco toppings prepared: the coleslaw was easy since I bought a pre-cut bag.  I dressed it almost like the recipe suggested: with a bit of mayonnaise and lime, but I omitted the milk and added the tiniest splash of white wine vinegar. And the guacamole took no time at all.  

By the time the Beast got home from work, I was very pleased with myself.   As usual, he asked that he be allowed to do the grilling. And as usual, all I had to do was follow him with a couple of drinks in hand (some dry, crisp rosé, to be exact.  I stumbled upon this gem at the LCBO that’s only $11.95.)  But then the unexpected happened:  we ran out of propane.  Before I could start to swear or cry, the Beast was downstairs firing up the stove and preparing a pan to fry that fucking fish.  And although we didn’t achieve grill marks, the results were glorious.

As we stuffed our corn tortillas, we tuned into The Hills because a commercial said it was “one of the greatest stories ever told on video.”  

We used to watch The Hills quite frequently but somehow it’s escaped our radar as of late.  But tonight they were playing four back-to-back episodes from the latest season in anticipation of the series finale which was scheduled for Monday night.  As a Kia commercial came on, we took our first bites of dinner.

Foodie:  I don’t want to sound vain but I think this is one of the best dinners I’ve ever made.  These are amazing.

Beast:  They’re sublime.

Foodie:  They are sublime!  I can’t believe it–this is exactly everything I wanted it to be, and more.  This is such a keeper of a dinner.  I want to share this meal with everyone I love.  

Beast:  If I ever drive a Kia just cut my balls off and shove them up my ass.

Foodie:  What’s wrong with a Kia?

Beast:  I don’t know anything about cars but I know that.

Foodie:  Don’t your parents drive a Kia?

Beast:  No, they have a Hyundai.  

Foodie:  How much do you love this dinner?

Beast:  It’s amazing.  You know what?  The Hills is one of the greatest stories ever told.

Maybe, but more than one hour of it makes you feel funny inside.  After consuming embarrassing amounts of fish tacos, there was still the question of cleaning up.

Foodie:  One of us gets to the dishes and the other one has to go downstairs and get the laundry from the dryer and fold it.  

Beast:  One of us has to go smoke a cigarette.

Foodie:  Which do you want to do?

Beast:  I don’t even know where the dryer is!

Foodie:  Pick one.

Beast:  Dishes.  First, that cigarette.

Foodie:  Deal.

As I folded the laundry, I heard the faintest sound of some sort of flute being played upstairs.  Normally, I’d yell up there and tell that damn flute-playing dummy to get downstairs and do the damn dishes, but the fish tacos, they’ve changed me.   

Foodie:  ****

Beast:  ***1/2

Great Expectations: A Burrito Boyz Dinner

(In a car, driving to Burrito Boys on Adelaide Street after making a pit stop at The Shoe Company on Yonge Street.)

Foodie:  Thank you so much for driving me to The Shoe Company.  I know how hungry you are.  I just really wanted to return those sandals and wipe the experience of buying them from my memory.

Beast:  We have a nice time together, don’t we.

Foodie:  Yes, we have the best time.  We also have the worst time.

Beast:  Suck my Dickens.

Foodie:  You don’t like Dickens?

Beast:  It was a joke in reference to you referencing A Tale of Two Cities.

Foodie:  Never read it.  Did you?

Beast:  Yes, in high school.

Foodie:  Did you like it?

Beast:  How should I know? I was 16.

(Pulling up in front of Burrito Boyz and parking.)

Beast:  The great thing about this place is that while you wait for your burrito to be made you can go down the street to a club for a quick cocktail and a little dance. (Mom, this area of Adelaide street is littered with clubs, like the real kind of clubs you see on TV with fake velvet ropes, big bouncers at the doors, and pretty ladies wearing no skirts and really high heels drunk and crying outside because of some bro of a cock-sucker inside who probably kissed one of their best friends or something like that.)

Foodie:  Did you know that Joanne Kates included this place on her top 100 list of best restaurants in the city?

Beast:  Yes, I think you told me three times in the last hour. What are you going to have?  Dinner is on me tonight.

Foodie:  Well, after the way you went on about how life-changing the halibut burrito is, I think I’ll have that.  And make it the large one please.

The Beast ordered for us and then we shuffled over to get our tortillas topped with any number of choice ingredients we desired.

Foodie:  You can get all of these toppings?  Even the guacamole?

Beast:  Yes!

Foodie:  What you getting?

Beast:  Everything but the hot peppers.

Foodie:  I’m getting everything but the green peppers.

The staff at Burrito Boyz are all young, exuberant and incredibly agile in their burrito stuffing capabilities. They move so fast that the naked eye has a hard time discerning their next move.  Once your burrito is topped, it gets handed over to the protein section where they fill it with chicken, steak, fish or soy and then it gets browned on the grill. Staff call out your order number once your burrito is packed in the cutest little brown bag.  The place runs like a well-oiled machine.

Foodie: We came at the right time–look at the line-up!  Can you imagine how jammed this place must be at two in the morning on a Saturday night?  

The Beast didn’t have time to imagine that nightmare because our numbers were called. We drove home to the west end in record time while singing along to Dion’s Runaround Sue–perhaps one of the best driving songs in recorded history.

Foodie:  These things are as heavy as a little baby.

Beast:  Do you want to split a big can of beer?

Foodie:  No thanks.  Actually, yes I do.  I’m going to have a little wedge of lime in my beer.  You want one too? 

Beast:  No, that’s okay–I’m not a woman or a jock.

Beast:  So, what do you think?

Foodie:  It’s delicious.  It’s really, really good.  I’m just going to grab some more lime so I can squeeze it on my burrito, and maybe some tomatillo salsa.

(I run to the kitchen, grab the lime, and leave the jar of tomatillo salsa because it has mold on top.)

Beast:  How does it taste with the lime?

Foodie:  Okay.

Beast:  Why don’t I believe you?

Foodie:  What are you talking about? 

Beast:  I think you’re trying to make this burrito into something that it isn’t.

Foodie:  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  It’s not that I don’t like, it’s just that when I imagined a burrito stuffed with halibut I though about a cilantro and lime flavour profile, and less about melted cheddar and beans, even though I asked for all that stuff.  Does that make sense?

Beast:  Yes.  But let that go and accept this burrito for what it is.

I did, and I enjoyed my first Burrito Boyz experience.  But there was something brewing deep inside of me; a desire to construct a dinner with my own hands featuring grilled fish, lime, cilantro, maybe some red onion and perhaps some avocado.  And it would all be combined in perfect harmony and it would all be shoved into a corn tortilla.  

I would not rest until I realized this dream.

Foodie:  *1/2

Beast: ***

La Palette and Les Mamelons

Foodie:  Well this was a good idea!  It’s been so long since we’ve been out to dinner.

You can say that again: It’s been so long time since we’ve been out for dinner.

I’ve had a list of new places to visit catalogued in the back of my head but you know what restaurant we decided on? An oldie but a goodie:  La Palette.  The original location, in Kensington Market, is a gem of a restaurant. (It’s also where the Beast first ate meat after being a vegetarian for years.) But tonight, we decided to check out their second outpost that just opened up on Queen Street West.

Foodie:  It’s nice here. I love the table clothes.  Your mom would love these table cloths–they’re so “French”.

Beast:  Yes she would.  It doesn’t feel the same here though.  It feels like they’re trying too hard to look “authentic”.  

Foodie: I see what you mean (looking around at bistro-style chairs hanging from the walls and French-themed posters.) It doesn’t feel like that at the Kensington La Palette.

What was consistent with the new location was good service:  Our server read out the specials like he was telling us a story.  Plus he was familiar with the wine list, and got our drinks to us in a jiffy.  All we had to do was decide on what to eat.

Beast:  I’m having the horse.

Foodie:  I think I’ll get the steak frites.  No wait.  You know what I’m doing?  I’m going to get the prix fixe because I want the escargots too, and then we can share the dessert!

Beast:  What’s duck confit?

Foodie:  I think it’s the duck leg.  No, I think it’s the thigh.  Maybe it’s the leg and the thigh.  I think you’d like it.

Beast:  I’ve changed my mind:  I’m having the horse tenderloin with the duck confit.  

Foodie:  Why don’t you start with the charcouterie thing and we can share that along with the escargot?

Beast:  Perfect.

After ordering, warm bread was promptly dropped off at our table.  

I really want to start branching out a bit with my home cooking.  It feels like I’m always making the same things.

Beast: That sounds great.

Foodie:  And I made a list of things I want to start making.  (trying to find list in my bag)  Just wait, I know it’s in here somewhere.  Oh and along with these new meals, we’re going to start having smaller portions too.  We are going to get healthy.

Beast:  What are you talking about?

Foodie:  (still looking for the list in my bag)  I mean we’re going to start eating better, spending less money on food, which means less meat in our diets, and our portions are going to be smaller.  It’s going to be great!

Beast:  This sounds like a terrible idea.  I hate everything you’re saying.  

Foodie: I can’t find my fucking list of new foods.  I’m going to have to go from memory:  I want to make spanish rice and we can have burritos.  We can fill them with fresh vegetables and the rice and maybe some cheese.  

Beast (Looking at me like I’m crazy.)

Foodie:  And I want to have homemade pesto on hand, in the freezer, at all times. That’s a nice, easy meal to make–some pasta with pesto, when paired with a salad. Also, shrimp–

Beast:  NO FUCKING WAY.

Foodie:  What’s wrong with shrimp?

Beast:  Are you talking about that shrimp that’s been in the freezer for a year?

Foodie:  No!  Relax man.  I’m talking about the new bag of President’s Choice frozen shrimp I just bought.  I am going to grill them and we will have shrimp tacos, served with a lime and cilantro-dressed coleslaw.  

Just then our appetizers arrived.

Foodie:  Well this isn’t exactly what I expected.  I thought they’d be drenched in melted butter.

Beast:  You didn’t read the menu very carefully then.  

Foodie: But that’s how they’re served at the other location.  

Beast: How is it?

Foodie:  Lovely actually.  Really lovely!  There’s some chanterelles, leeks and croutons in here.  Want to try?

Beast:  Yes please.  I have a feeling you won’t like some of this stuff on my platter.

Foodie:  I’ll eat anything that once possessed hooves, but I don’t want the duck stuff.   

Beast:  You’ve got to try the duck stuff!  It’s so good.  Please? 

The Beast puts a big spoonful on his fork and I removed most of it, leaving just a smidgeon of duck stuff for me to taste.  

Foodie: That’s delicious actually.  It’s amazing–is there some clove, or nutmeg in there?  It reminds me of the corned beef I had at Union which I still think about to this day.

Beast: Have some more.

Foodie:  Nope, that’s fine.

In anticipation of our main courses, I ordered a glass of cabernet and the Beast decided on a second pint of beer.  

Beast:  How’s your wine?

Foodie:  It’s okay.  Actually, it’s fairly mediocre.  I don’t get it.  

Beast:  What?

Foodie:  I don’t think there’s any excuse for serving mediocre wines by the glass at a place like this.  I reckon their mark-up here is very reasonable, roughly 50 per cent.  Did you know some restaurants mark their wines up by 100 per cent? So this glass of cabernet sells for nine dollars.  There are five glasses of wine in a bottle.  That’s means they’re getting 45 dollars for every five glasses they sell.  What did they pay for the bottle?  I bet about seventeen to twenty bucks. Here’s my thing: there are plenty of great wines available in that price range. And restaurants don’t have to buy exclusively from the LCBO outlets–they can purchase cases from wine agencies who have stock that don’t hit the LCBO shelves.  There’s no excuse for a mediocre nine dollar glass of wine.  There might be an excuse for a six dollar glass of wine, or cheaper.  But maybe this wine is just mediocre to me.  It’s only nine dollars, which is cheap by many standards.  No, I don’t think it’s just me. This wine is definitely dull.  It’s a one-note wonder.  And it’s too warm.  

Just as the Beast was about to fall asleep, our main courses arrived.

Beast:  Wow.

Foodie:  That looks amazing.  What’s that stuff underneath the meat?

Beast:  Oat risotto or something.  How’s yours? 

Foodie:  Mine is like a baby steak frites!  I think it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  How perfect too, considering I’m eating smaller portions now.  

Beast:  Why is it so small?

Foodie:  When you order steak frites as part of the prix fixe, it’s a bit smaller.  

Beast: (Helping himself for the second time to my french fries).  These fries are good.

Foodie:  Please stop doing that.  I’m not eating your oatmeal so please stop eating my fries.

Beast:  Help yourself to the oatmeal.  It tastes like shit though.  

Foodie:  What’s wrong with it?  

Beast: It’s so profoundly cereal-tasting that it takes away from the flavour of the horse, which is absolutely perfect. Look at it!  

Foodie: Wow.  That’s rare.  I don’t think I like blue cheese on top of steak.  Maybe it’s a fad right now or something. Remember when we had steak topped with blue cheese at the Harbord Room? 

Beast:  Yes I do. I know I don’t like it.  

Foodie:  I like the way they serve it at the other location, remember?  The steak is topped with just a pat of sun-dried tomato butter. It’s divine.  I think it’s the best steak frites in the city.  This version is just too much with this cheese and then this balsamic reduction of some sort.  It’s too much.  

Beast:  It’s like piercing a nipple:  why destroy a perfect thing?

Silence.  

Followed by gaping mouth.

Followed by more silence.

Foodie: Did you really just say that?

Beast: Was that too much?

Foodie:  Not even close.  I’m just a bit…I’m just a little shocked is all.

We finished our meal with a discussion on horse meat and the taboos surrounding its consumption.  The tenderloin that the Beast enjoyed came from, according to La Palette’s charismatic (and dashing) owner, a horse who lived to a ripe, old age, never had a saddle on its back or a bit put in its mouth, and who ate grass and roamed fields freely.  It was delicious, but almost too lean for my liking.  

The evening ended with a flawless piece of lemon tart (the Beast said the crust was a little undercooked.  I disagree.) He had a calvados (an apple brandy) and we each had an espresso.

I think I prefer the La Palette in Kensington, if not for the more intimate and “honest” setting, than for their simpler version of steak frites.  

(Outside in front of the restaurant, unlocking my bike.)

Foodie:  Want me to wait with you for the street car to come?

Beast:  No, you go ahead.  I’ve got my book and headphones so I’ll be fine.

Just then, two young punks walked past us.  One had a mohawk and big things in his ears and tattoos everywhere and he looked filthy.  He started hacking up a lung.  He even threw up a bit, almost right in front of us.  His friend looked embarrassed.  It made me sad. 

Foodie: Maybe I should stay to protect you.  Is it just me or is this part of Queen Street even worse than what it used to be like? 

Beast:  No, I think it’s always been like this.  Maybe you’re just more observant than usual tonight.  

Could be.  Or maybe I’m just losing my “edge” in my old age: a few years ago, I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash over talk of nipples.

Foodie:  **

Beast:  **

The Canada’s Day

Yesterday, at about 7 o’clock in the evening, I felt compelled to go for a run.  This happens about six times a year.  I had some very exciting new pop songs on my iShuffle and I was eager to test-drive them.  I started out just fine but come the second song, Paparazzi by Lada Gaga I believe, it became increasingly difficult to move my legs.  I wanted to run like the wind but my old ham-hocks felt like they were being weighed down by bricks.  And my hips hurt too.  But I told myself that I would run for the duration of six songs.  The pain was so bad that I wasn’t running very fast.  In fact, I was sort of speed-walking, or maybe tip-toeing.  It was quite sad.

And then, as soon as Beyonce’s Halo came on, I saw another runner, who was uncomfortably close, pass me on the park path.

Foodie (in my mind):  Who the fuck does that asshole think he is?  Wait a second. Why is he running like such an idiot? And why does he have a suit jacket and jeans on?  Oh, that’s the Beast!

Foodie:  What are you doing?  How did you find me?  What’s going on right now?

Beast:  I saw you in the park.  Oh my god–joke running is so hard! I’m exhausted! (panting).

Foodie:  You weren’t watching me run, were you?

Beast (still panting):  For a little bit.

Foodie:  How absurd did I look?  It feels like I have metal hips right now and normally I run so much faster but I can barely move my legs.

Beast:  You looked fine!

Foodie:  Running shouldn’t be about vanity, I know, but you really have to believe me that the way you just saw me running is in no way indicative of my normal running speed or style.

Beast:  Do you want to walk home with me or do you want to keep running?

Foodie:  Well, I’ve already run for four songs.  That’s probably 20 minutes.

Beast:  That’s probably 15 minutes.

Foodie: No, these were epic songs.  I think we better walk.

So we did.  In fact, we walked past home and to our local video store to pick out a movie. Inside, the Beast held up a DVD of a Mozart documentary for my consideration.

Foodie:  You’ve got to be joking!  It’s Canada’s Day.  We should be celebrating–not watching documentaries.

Beast:  Fine, I’ll take a look in the German and Scandinavian section.

Foodie:  No way!  New releases only!

Beast:  Wait!  I’ve got it–I’ve been trying to make you watch this movie since our first date and tonight is the night.

The Beast handed me a movie called, “Marty”.  It won several Academy Awards in 1955.  It looked like a real gem of a film about a bachelor, played by Ernest Borgnine, who lives with his Italian mother and works at a butcher shop in Brooklyn and who’s painfully shy and has trouble meeting girls.  Of course, he meets a girl by the end of the film.

Foodie:  This looks great!  But you’ve never suggested that I watch it before.

Beast:  Excuse me?  I always pick this up when we’re here and you always walk away to look at TV series or to the Merchant-Ivory section.

Foodie:  I love period pieces.

Beast:  We’re getting this.

Foodie:  I’m not saying we’re not.  I think the movie looks great.  Are we allowed to get ice cream right now?

Beast:  Yes.

So we rented Marty and walked home with ice cream in waffle cones.

Foodie:  This is the best Canada’s Day I’ve ever had.

Beast:  Will you stop calling it Canada’s Day?  It’s CANADA Day.

Foodie:  Was I really saying Canada’s Day?  That’s hilarious!  I had no idea.  That’s a good joke.

Beast:  It’s not a joke because you weren’t consciously deciding to say Canada’s Day to be funny.

Foodie:  I am so hungry.

Beast:  What’s for dinner again?

Foodie:  Only one of my favourite meals in the world.

And I nearly forgot about it!  It’s the simplest thing really:  grill some summer vegetables and serve with mozzarella di bufala.  Done.  I had it once at a restaurant in Florence about eight years ago and then I proceeded to recreate the meal once or twice a week while I lived in that glorious city.  I raved about it so much when I got back to Toronto that Giovanna even created a similar dish at the restaurant where we worked to shut me up.  She’d grill endive and radicchio to serve with the mozzarella, and I believe she added a few slices of prosciutto di Parma to boot.

Beast:  What the fuck is that?

Foodie:  It’s fennel.  And in the other bowl there’s some zucchini and red pepper.  I’ve got asparagus too.

Beast: Where are the sausages?

Foodie:  I didn’t take them out of the fridge because I thought this was enough.

Beast:  (grabbing the sausages from the fridge and heading upstairs to light the barbecue.)  Make yourself useful and fix me a drink–I’ll take some J&B on the rocks please.

Foodie:  But I have a nice rosé I want to open!

Beast:  I’ll have some of that when we eat.

Foodie:  Oh this is going to be so good!  I love this meal. I can’t believe we haven’t had it in so long.

Beast:  Where did you get the bufala?

Foodie:  From Terroni.

Beast:  How much were they?

Foodie:  75 cents per little ball.

Beast:  Why don’t we eat mozzarella di bufala all the time?

Foodie:  Well a dozen balls cost nine dollars.  That’s actually cheaper than a big ball which usually cost upwards of twelve bucks.

The Beast just looked at me like I was Canada’s-Day-Crazy.  But dinner was done so we laid out our spread and got ready to watch Marty.

I prepared my plate and poured myself some more rosé.  The site of my simple and perfect feast made me grin from ear to ear.  It’s the thrill of mixing and matching all those flavours, and the texture of the slightly crunchy, just-charred vegetables next to the oh-so-buttery, melt-in-your mouth mozzarella that makes this a meal I will never tire of.

Not four minutes into the film did I look over at the Beast to find his eyes glazed over.

Foodie:  Are you crying?

Beast:  YES!

Foodie:  But the movie just started.  Are you okay?

Beast:  It’s Ernest Borgnine’s face.  It just kills me.

Foodie:  It’s a really good face.

Beast:  Yes it is.

It’s a really good movie too.  I especially liked the scenes of the old Italian mammas bickering with their adult kids and how Marty the butcher is worried about the new “supermarkets” coming in and ruining his business.

We sat there, with our glossy eyes and glasses of rosé, watching our movie and feeling so very content, while the whistling and popping of fireworks outside sounded in the distance.

Foodie:  ***1/2

Beast:  ***1/2