Monthly Archives: August 2010

www.burratabenedict.com

I got myself a new family doctor two years ago because it seemed a bit absurd having to drive to St. Thomas, Ontario to see my childhood family doctor every time I needed medical attention.  My new family doctor has an office in the Guardian Drugstore, which is right at the end of my street.  It’s very convenient.  And Dr. Choy, my new doctor, is very nice.  A bit young, and a bit bossy though.  Actually, I hated him all last year because it felt like every time I went to him with an ailment he’d sneak in something about “studies show that dropping even ten pounds will help blah blah blah.” I’d come home and look in the mirror thinking to myself, “That Dr. Choy just called me fat to my fucking face man!” And then I’d do that old classic trick where you suck in your stomach as much as you can, and then stick it out as much as you can, which is so hilarious that I’d forget all about mean Dr. Choy.  But still, I’d go back to Dr. Choy and I’d leave absolutely furious!  It was like he was judging me and the lifestyle that I suspected he suspected me of having.

So for this year’s annual physical, where I knew Dr. Choy would be measuring and weighing me, I prepared myself:  About a month before my appointment, I eliminated snacking and I started running on Saturday mornings.  And there’s all that bike-riding I do too.  I ended up losing six pounds.  If that wasn’t going to impress skinny little f–king Dr. Choy than I didn’t know what would.  

Unfortunately, the night before my physical, I had a dinner party, for which I made a peach pie.

This wasn’t just any dinner party though:  This was the night of burrata benedict–a meal imagined by my friend Laura, who includes her fake website, http://www.burratabenedict.com in her comments on this blog, such is her enthusiasm for this dinner.  To be honest, I had my doubts about her dream of layering burrata cheese, her dad’s homemade prosciutto, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce on top of a toasted english muffin.  But when she told the Beast about it, his eyes lit up like the fourth of July.  So I figured, Why not? And besides, how many calories could possibly be in a few eggs with some yellow sauce?  (Thousands.)

Plus, it meant I got to crack open maybe the nicest early birthday present I can think of: a state-of-the-art 11 piece stainless steal cookware set by Mr. Gordon Ramsay for Royal Doulton.  It was on sale at The Bay and my mom and Russ insisted on getting it for me. 

Included in the kit was a an actual device to poach eggs!  

After I made the pie, I sort of figured all the work for the dinner party was done because you can’t really poach eggs or make hollandaise sauce in advance.  I took it easy, had a little glass of wine, and by the time my guests arrived, I realized I still quite a bit of work to do–something I normally neurotically hide when I have friends for dinner: the kitchen is always clean and orderly, and dinner and dessert are always prepared to the maximum point of being prepared.  

Not tonight.

For starters, I didn’t even know how to use my poaching machine, so Laura Googled instructions on her iPhone and dictated them to me.  Plus, I’ve never made hollandaise sauce so my friend Steven read aloud Julia Child’s recipe for it, which, if you ask me, is rather complicated.

And I physically needed help, or else we’d be eating dinner at midnight.  Laura rose to the occasion and prepared the salad, using fresh vegetables she brought from her Dad’s garden.  

And Steven cut the homemade proscuitto, and he must have read the recipe for the hollandaise about ten times to me, but I finally got it.

The Beast stood to the side, making sure everybody’s wine glass was filled.  

The egg poaching machine appeared to be working perfectly.

It just came down to timing in the end–having to coordinate the toasting of those muffins, the stirring of the hollandaise, the crisping of the prosciutto, the unpackaging of the burrata, the opening of wine, the re-heating of the roasted potatoes with lemon and garlic, the assembly of the burrata benedicts–but once the ball started rolling, there was no stopping us.  

The potatoes were a little cold.

Actually, everything was luke warm, at best.  But it didn’t matter:  the burrata benedicts turned out perfectly.  PERFECTLY. 

Laura had brought along two different sorts of burrata, both sourced from The Cheese Boutique:  one was traditional burrata and the other had a touch of truffle in it.  I had the truffle on my eggs benedict and I was in heaven. Every mouthful felt sinfully wrong.  

After dinner, we enjoyed the peach pie with a small siphoning of bourbon. All in all, it was a richly epic meal: It’s how I imagine emperors would have eaten hundreds of years ago.  

In the morning, I weighed myself before work, and before my physical.

Foodie:  FuuuuuucccccccK!

Beast: What is it?

Foodie:  I gained three pounds overnight!  F–king burrata benedict!!!!!

Beast:  That was a good dinner though.  And do you think it’s healthy that you’re trying to lose weight only to spite your doctor?

Foodie:  I am going to impress that f–king Choy no matter what!

It turns out Dr. Choy was impressed with a modest three pound weight loss, but he was more impressed with the inches I’d lost around my waist.

Dr. Choy:  According to our records you’ve lost two and a half inches from your waist. 

Foodie:  Really?

Dr. Choy:  I’m very happy about this but I’m also wondering if we recorded something wrong last year.  I’m not saying that it’s impossible to lose that many inches accompanied by only three pounds of weight loss, but it’s a little surprising.  Do your pants feel looser?

Foodie:  Oh yes!  Yes they do!  (No they don’t.)

Dr. Choy: Well then that’s wonderful!  You’re blood pressure and heart rate are both excellent too. And by the way, we’re more concerned with monitoring your waist than your actual weight.  Studies show blah blah blah.

All I heard was, “I’ve taken you out of the fat file and put you in the not-so-fat file.”  I was elated! Dr. Choy was already treating me differently, like I’d somehow changed.

And I decided then and there to like Dr. Choy again.  But I may have overcompensated a bit by talking too much, which included me telling some white lies to further impress Dr. Choy.

Foodie:  Well, I have been watching what I eat.  I actually had lost six pounds but it looks like I gained a bit back.  But, you know, being a food writer is difficult…

Dr. Choy:  You’re a food writer?  That’s exciting!  Who do you write for?

Foodie:  Oh, you know, all the big ones.

Dr. Choy:  That’s great.  But it says here that you’re an “editorial assistant” in my records;  should I update it to writer?

Foodie:  Well, I’m still an editorial assistant…but I also write about food, which means that I have to eat A LOT, so it’s like, difficult for me to be, you know, like, a stick.

Dr. Choy:  I can imagine.  But we don’t want you to be a stick.  I’m sure that you know, since you work in media, how unhealthy some of these so-called role models are for young people today blah blah blah.

All I heard was that I now worked in media and was young and not fat.  

That’s what I call a good day.  

Too bad I double-checked my waist measurement when I got home only to find out that Dr. Choy’s assistant recorded it incorrectly:  I’ve only lost one inch since last year. And now I’m screwed for next year because it’ll look like I gained an inch and a half.  

Foodie:  ***1/2

Beast:  ***

 

OddFellows. OddBiker.

Besides dinner, I think my favourite time of the day is my bike ride to work.  It’s only 30 minutes long but in that time I manage to solve all of life’s problems.  Or at least I think I do until, oh, until bedtime–when I break out into a cold sweat and start fretting about all of life’s problems again.  

For example, I write blog posts in my head.  I write chapters of my pending autobiography (working titles include:  Last Time I Checked, Green Means GO!:  The Jessica Allen Story.  Or, Coming in Third Place: The Story of Jessica Allen. )  I also practice speaking in other languages.  I speak about 40 words of Italian, 30 in German, and 15 or so in French.  So, sometimes I make up sentences in those languages while I bike.  I also practice my mediocre Australian accent, a Cockney accent, and a reasonable Scottish one too. And I’m usually laughing because when you’re as funny as I am, you’re always laughing over something funny you just thought of. Plenty of commuters pass me and look over their shoulder as if to say, What’s wrong with you?  

Ich liebe dich an der himmel ist blau, ich glaube!  That roughly translates to “I love you and the sky is blue, I think!” And sometimes, when too many people pass me, a competitive streak passes over me and I think, Oh yeah buddy?  You think passing a a 35 year-old lady on a bike who’s talking to herself is some kind of feat? Well fuck you buddy!  And I haul ass and pass that jerk, who’s usually a 12-year-old kid.  How do you like me now?!  HA!  And sometimes, I play out revenge fantasies while I ride my bike. Those are the best. You know when you’ve been in a situation, usually at work, and you only think of a good comeback after the fact?  Or you think of things you’d say if you weren’t so polite and nice?  Like, the next time somebody tells me Jess, the fax machine is out of paper, I’ll say, “Oh is it Tim?  Let me just open up this drawer RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND GRAB SOME PAPER AND FILL IT.” Or, Jess, the toilet in the ladies’ washroom is clogged.  And I’ll say “Oh dear!  Is it Joan?  Would you like me to call Facilities, that 4-digit number that’s available to all of us, sort of like 911, and report it on your behalf?  Because I’ve got time to make that call.  I know you don’t. That’s like, a ten second call.  I got myself all the time in the world Joan!”  I never call Facilities though. You know what I do? (Because I can’t bare the thought of calling facilities and having a little old lady who doesn’t speak English coming up to our washroom only to flush a toilet,) I go into the washroom and flush the toilet.  It works every time.    

In short, I’m usually speaking in tongues, making scary revenge faces and laughing like a maniac while I ride my bike.

Last week, after a particularly trying day at work, and riding my bike all over the city looking like a maniac, I told the Beast that I was taking him out for dinner.  “Meet me at OddFellows,” I said.  He’s never been there, but I’ve had the pleasure of eating there two or three times now.  There are some really rich dishes on their menu, and I figured it would be right up his alley.

I got there first.  I said hello to a couple of lovely kids who were sitting on the little patio, and who work at the restaurant where I work, and then made my way inside where Erinn, who manages OddFellows, warmly welcomed me. Not only did she look like a dreamy apparition in her summer dress and braids, but she made me a delightful cocktail made with orange vodka, vanilla syrup and soda.

This creamsicle-inspired delight washed away all the day’s woes.  And completing my mood enhancement was the sight of the Beast strolling into the restaurant wearing his new off-white linen blazer that he picked out all on his very own from Winners.

Foodie: Well look at you!

Beast:  Do you like it?

Foodie:  You look like a real gentleman…who’s carrying a purse.

Beast:  My dad is with you on that one.

Foodie:  What do you mean?

Beast:  He saw my Fendi and and asked why I was wearing a woman’s purse and what was wrong with the man bag I was using before.  And I said, Why can’t a man have more than one purse?

Foodie:  Good point.  Do you trust me to order appetizers?

Beast:  Yes.

Foodie: What do you think you’ll have for your main? 

Beast:  I think I’ll have the steak frites.

Foodie:  You know what I’m going to have?  I’m having the spaghetti!  I know you’re probably shocked because why would I order spaghetti when we eat spaghetti all the time, but this spaghetti just sounds so fresh and summery with those roasted tomatoes and rapini.  It’s exactly what I want right now.

Beast:  (Silence.)

I chose the the pork belly and kimchi (Mom, that’s Korean spicy pickled cabbage) and the house-smoked trout for our appetizers.

Foodie:  I want to try to make kimchi.  I love kimchi!  I want to put it on everything! Don’t you love it?

Beast:  It’s okay.  It’s really spicy.

Foodie:  But it cuts the fattiness and richness of the pork belly so nicely!  I love it.

The Beast ate most of the pork belly and I ate most of the kimchi.  We were equally responsible for devouring the smoked trout on thinly sliced grilled bread.

Erinn, concerned that our drinks needed replenishing, suggested a bottle of Malbec for us to share with our mains.  

It was just lovely on its own, and perfect with our main courses.   

Foodie: Mmn!  This is so good!  You know, when I first looked at the spaghetti, I thought it looked pretty average–like something I’d make at home.  But there’s so much more depth to this than anything I’d make!  I wouldn’t roast tomatoes for example. And I probably wouldn’t add white wine to the sauce because I would have drunk it all by the time I got to making dinner.  Do you want to try some?

Beast:  I’m okay.  

Foodie:  How’s your steak?

Beast:  It’s good but I shouldn’t have ordered it rare.

Foodie:  When are you going to learn?

Beast:  I know, I know.  

(Mom, the cuts of meat used in steak frites, a sort of classic bistro, or brasserie dish, are usually ones that are very tasty, cheap, and aren’t necessarily too tender, like a flat iron or hanger steak. So you don’t want to order steak in steak frites too rare because it will be difficult to eat.  But the Beast always orders it rare and regrets it.)

Foodie:  What’s that stuff on top?

Beast: I’m not sure.  It’s good though.  Maybe onions?

We both cleaned our plates and sipped our wine, which just got spicier and bolder as our lovely night out went along.  And then we talked with Erinn about her pending pickling party in September where all the guests will bring twelve jars of any sort of preserve–from pickles to jams to chutneys–and a food dish that ‘ll showcase their preserve and we all eat and drink and then go home with eleven jars of different preserves!  She’s been busy making jelly using the blackberries in her backyard.  I made little yellow Ontario plum jam with a hint of star anise and cardamom.  I still don’t know what food dish I’ll bring to show off the jam though.

And then Erinn convinced us to have dessert:  A banana split with homemade ice cream.  She also brought the Beast a Scotch and me a Calvados to sip on.

It was the best banana split I’ve ever had.  When we looked up after cleaning that plate, we realized that we were the only ones left sitting at the OddFellows communal table.

Foodie:  I am so full.  What do you think they put in that whipped cream to make it taste so good?  It tastes like the ideal whip cream.  Like a Platonic whipped cream.

Beast:  You’re drunk.

Foodie:  Did you have a nice dinner?

Beast:  It was lovely.  I’m not sure about the communal table though.

Foodie:  Oh come on!  It didn’t affect our meal at all!

Beast:  It might have if somebody sat right beside you.  Plus, everybody is so cool here. 

Foodie:  What does that mean?  We’re cool too man.

Just then, I looked over to the bar where real beautiful, cool people had gathered on this late August night to have a drink.  They were all smiling, chatting and laughing.  

It was almost like Erinn sensed my self-doubt because she came right over and the three of us ended up talking about our summer book lists, the East coast, and finally, our favourite Julia Roberts movies, like Notting Hill, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Mystic Pizza. We all learned a little about each other that we probably didn’t need to know.  For example, Erinn saw Runaway Bride three times in the theatre and the Beast bawled like a baby during Step Mom.  And me?  Well, the first time I asked the Beast out on a date, I suggested we see the movie Mona Lisa Smile.  I think it was a test on my part to see if he really liked me because if he didn’t, he would have politely declined my invitation. He said yes.

Foodie:  ***

Beast: **1/2

 

 

 

Sandwiches and Bourbon.

Last Sunday my friend Sarah and I hosted a baby shower for Giovanna.  From the beginning of our planning, I imagined serving sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I don’t know why. I guess it just seems like a really classy thing to have at a ladies’ luncheon: sandwiches with the crusts cut off.  I made egg salad, and while I thought about fancying it up a bit with some fresh dill, I opted to make it more like the egg salad you’d find in the basement of a United Church bazaar, but with less mayonnaise. It really is the best sort.  I also decided to make a very European style of sandwich because there would be Italian people at this shower: So on white Wonder bread, I prepared ham, swiss cheese, and Boston leaf lettuce sandwiches, with a squirt of Dijon mustard.  The sandwiches were a big hit.  And the best part was that there were left-overs for me to feed the Beast.

Beast:  I’m home!

Foodie:  Oh good, you bought potato chips.

Beast (seeing the loaf of brown bread on the counter):  Where’s the white bread?

Foodie:  You said you were going to buy it because you were going to pick up potato chips.

Beast:  I thought you said you were going to buy it because you had to go get brown bread.

Foodie:  Well I thought you were joking because why would I go out and buy two different loaves of bread?  And in the case that you weren’t joking, I figured you’d buy it yourself.

Beast:  I’m not joking!  I hate brown bread!  How can you not know this about me?

Foodie:  I thought you were just being difficult, like as a joke.  It’s not that different from white bread you know, taste-wise.

Beast:  Are you kidding me?  When you eat that shit all you taste is the brown and you can’t taste the good stuff you put between it!

Foodie:  You’re crazy.  Well, I need to shower so if you want white bread that badly why don’t you go out and buy a loaf.

Beast (looking very pathetic):  O    k        a        y.  I’m just so tired after working all day and I’m still taking my medication which I think makes me more tired.

Foodie:  Do you want me to go get it for you?

Beast:  No, no.  I’m just being a baby.  It’s fine.  I’ll put my shoes back on and go get it.

Foodie:  Why don’t you take my bike?  You’ll be back in under five minutes.

Beast:  How do you expect me to ride a bike in my current condition (see previous post)?  Do you know how painful that would be?

Foodie:  Well then I’ll go on my bike and be back in under two minutes.

Beast:  No.  I’m going.  You have your shower and then we’ll have our sandwiches.

And that’s exactly what happened.

The Beast prepared two egg salad sandwiches and one ham and swiss.  I had one of each.  And then we watched two episodes of Deadwood, a show to which we recently became addicted.

Foodie:  This isn’t a fancy dinner, but man oh man do I like egg salad, especially this batch.  It may be some of the best egg salad I’ve ever had, don’t you think?

Beast:  It’s good.  (Taking another bite and really thinking about it).  It’s excellent in fact.

The next night we had sandwiches again.  And we watched more Deadwood.  

Foodie:  Can you pause the show please?

Beast: What is it?

Foodie:  I just realized that I made you sandwiches for dinner two nights in a row and you never complained.

Beast:  Why would I complain?

Foodie: It’s not really a real dinner.

Beast:  I’m grateful for every dinner that you make.

Foodie:  You really are, aren’t you.  

Beast:  Of course I am!  If you didn’t feed me I would eat Macdonald’s every night. 

Foodie:  I think these sandwiches are really good too.

Beast:  Yes, you said that last night as well.  I’m honestly happy with anything you make. Honestly.  Except for whole wheat pasta.  I hate it.  And same goes for the whole wheat bread but you know that.  Stop trying to trick me into eating it.

Foodie:  Fair enough.

Beast:  And can I be really honest here?

Foodie:  Please do!

Beast:  Those roasted root vegetables that you always do in the winter, with the meat loaf, I’m not crazy about it.

Foodie:  That is one of my all-time favourite meals!  I could eat it once e week easily.

Beast:  We do eat it once a week and it’s not that great.

Foodie:  You’re f–king nuts.  That is such a good dinner.  Don’t you love how I sprinkle the remaining bits of Lipton’s onion soup mix that I use to make the meat loaf right on top of the vegetables?  It really unifies everything.

Beast:  Can I press play now?  Actually, I’m going to pour myself a bourbon.  Do you want one?

That’s the thing with Deadwood:  They drink whiskey for breakfast and make it look so glorious.  We’ve been drinking a lot of bourbon as a result.

Foodie:  Yes, I’ll have one of those.  And I put chopped up dill pickles in that egg salad and you hate pickles and you didn’t even know I put them in there.  And you loved that egg salad.  You loved it.

Foodie:  ***

Beast:  **

Swiss Chalet in London (ON) and Too Much Information (TMI)

Scene:  Friday, 4:00pm.  Driving the Beast’s parents’ car (which they graciously lent us) to London in order to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  

Foodie:  Did you pack your medicine?

Beast:  Yes, it’s in my purse. 

Foodie:  Your Fendi?  Are you really using it?

Beast:  Of course I am!  It’s there in the back seat.

Foodie:  What CD are you putting in?

Beast:  You’ll see.

After a few notes, I knew that we were listening to one of the very enchanting songs featured in the Oscar-winning movie, Gladiator.  And instinctually, the Beast and I both put out our arms and pretended to run our hands through imaginary wheat fields, just like Russell Crowe, the Oscar-winning actor, did in the film.

Foodie:  How the f–k do you have the Gladiator soundtrack?

Beast:  It was just in the car–it’s my dad’s.  And it’s not even the soundtrack:  it’s some sort of collection of heroic songs.

Beast:  Did you bring sunscreen like I asked you to do?

Foodie:  Yes.

Beast:  Will you please put some on me?

Foodie:  Really?

Beast:  My medication makes me photo-sensitive!

(The Beast had to go to Emergency last week because, well, because his balls were so sore. Don’t worry, his balls are going to be fine.  Turns out he got himself a little case of epididymitis, which results in sore and swollen balls, but it clears right up with some anti-biotics.  And yes, I’m allowed to talk about it because the Beast said he no longer has any shame after having so many people touch his balls and because I already told everybody I know already.)

Foodie:  This isn’t going on very well.  You’re so hairy!

Beast:  Will you grab my purse and get out the CDs I brought for the car ride?

Foodie:  Will you stop calling it your “purse”?  

Beast:  Why don’t you take a look in my purse for something else.

Foodie:  A present?

Beast:  Look in my purse!

Foodie:  I love them!  They’re so much fun!

Beast:  Turn them over.

Foodie:  Bottega Veneta?  Get out of town!  They’re gorgeous!

Beast:  They’re stamped sterling silver and they’re probably gold-coated.  I checked a few vintage costume jewelry books and I bet these would sell for well over $400.  I picked them up for $5 at work though.

Foodie:  You sound like someone who would carry a purse.

As soon as we walked in the door, I told my mom about the Beast’s balls and how sore they’ve been.  She immediately made jokes about how she was going to help soothe the Beast’s pain.  It was funny, albeit slightly traumatizing.  We ordered chinese food that night and watched four back-to-back episodes of True Blood.  It was exhausting.  The next day my Aunt Sandy came for a visit bearing bounty from her garden, along with some just-picked sweet corn from a local farm.  My mom and I zipped out to Angelo’s, an Italian deli and grocery store just around the corner from her place, to pick up some sandwich makings.  I got to set the table, which was a heck of a lot of fun for me because my mom collects plates.

She doesn’t really use them.  But I insist on bringing them out when I go home.

Aunt Sandy must have been in the door for all of three minutes before my mom grabbed her by the shoulder, pointed at the Beast who stood only a few feet away, and whispered, “He’s got sore balls.”  The Beast affirmed the news with a solemn nod of his head.

Mom:  And tell Sandy what he did in the doctor’s office!

Foodie:  Yes!  Tell Aunt Sandy!

Beast (sighing):  Well, I had on one of those robes and the doctor told me to lie down. I just assumed he needed to examine my behind because most instances of sore balls have something to do with your prostate so I laid down on my tummy with my bare bum in the air and the doctor looked at me like I was crazy and said, “What are you doing?  Lie on your back please.”  

Lunch was perfect.  The tomatoes from Sandy’s garden were divine.

And the corn was the best I’ve had all season.

We each customized our own little sammies.  As simple as it sounds, it really is one of my favourite sort of meals, especially when I get to enjoy it with such entertaining people who exchange in such delightful conversions, like this:

Mom (watching the Beast eat):  I just don’t know where you put it all.   And you’re so damn skinny!

Aunt Sandy:  Maybe it goes right to his balls.

And this:

Mom:  Did you know that Snoop Dog’s favourite TV show is Coronation Street?

Beast:  Fo’ Shizzle?

Mom:  No, SNOOP DOG.

After lunch, the Beast took us girls antiquing.  There was no shortage of testicular joking.  And after Aunt Sandy left for home, my mom decided on the destination of her birthday dinner:  Swiss Chalet.  Now you’re probably wondering what I ordered, considering Swiss Chalet is all about chicken and I don’t like chicken.  Well, I also don’t like people who go to Swiss Chalet and order hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, “lite” chicken wraps, chicken caesar salads, or ribs.  If you go to Swiss Chalet, you’re supposed to order a quarter chicken dinner (white meat for me), and french fries. That’s how you do it.  And because I grew up eating Swiss Chalet about once a week, I can tuck my little bird-eating phobia into my back pocket for 45 minutes or so, and come out feeling great and satisfied.  

The other great thing about Swiss Chalet, besides the chicken, is that every Swiss Chalet across our Nation is pretty much the same, including the clientele:  I’ve never seen so many canes and walkers in a single dining room in all my life, including our own party: My mom’s partner Russ gets around with either two canes, a walker or a scooter.  He has Addison’s disease; a neurological condition that really messes up your balance. And my mom has Lupus so she’s in pain, oh, most of the time.  But you’ll never meet a more jovial and happy pair who rarely complain about their ailments.  In fact, sometimes I forget that they’re not entirely able-bodied–until I see them, say, getting in and out of a car and walking to a table at Swiss Chalet.  As I held open the door for my sweet waddling mother, for shaky-legged Russ, and for the Beast with his big ole’ swollen balls, I knew that we’d fit in perfectly.  

The girls ordered quarter chicken dinners with fries and the boys ordered one of those half-chicken and half-rib combos (with fries) that I’m so suspicious of.  Soon after ordering, our server dropped off our dipping sauce, which I immediately began to photograph.

Mom (to server, and talking in a really loud voice):  She’s got a food B-L-O-G so that’s why she’s taking photos because they’ll go up on her B-L-O-G.  

Server:  I thought she just really liked the sauce.

Mom:  Maybe she’ll write about you in her B-L-O-G.  It’s called–

Foodie:  Okey-doke there mamma!  It’s nothing really…  

Server:  I’ll be in your blog but only if you say I was the best server you ever had.

Foodie (after the server had walked away):  MOM!  

Our dinners arrived with typical Swiss Chalet promptness, and with typically perfect french fries.

The combo thing looked okay, which is hard to tell from this photo of the Beast’s dinner taken soon after it was placed in front of him:

My favourite two thing about Swiss Chalet is watching how people eat their dinner: everybody has a very particular way of doing things.  For instance, I take a bit of chicken, a french fry, and dunk it all in the magic sauce for each fork-full.  Half-way through my meal, I make a little chicken sandwich using the bun, and dunk that in the sauce too.  My mom, on the other hand, gives away most of the white meat in exchange for other people’s bones.  

It’s a gruesome affair but it pleases her beyond measure.  And it was her birthday after all.

Oh wait–my other favourite thing at Swiss Chalet is actually the little finger bowl filled with luke-warm water and a speck of lemon.

It’s always been the perfect way to end a classy affair.  

Foodie:  ***

Beast: **1/2

Burrata + Beast + Bag

Although the Beast has lots of ideas, they rarely involve thoughts on what we should have for dinner.  But the other night, all on his own, he proclaimed that we would be having burrata. More astonishing was that he was actually paying for and bringing home said burrata.  (The shop where he works has an Alex Farm cheese store a stone throw’s away and they advertise when the precious cheese arrives from Italy.)  All I had to do was prepare some fresh tomatoes, bruschetta style, and get some baguette ready to be grilled.  

Since the Beast was practically making dinner, I decided to visit a favourite vintage shop of mine that’s just around the corner.  Good thing too because I found a beautiful leather Fendi bag for $20.

The Beast and I arrived home at the same time, he bearing his ball of burrata and me with my new Fendi.

Foodie:  Fancy meeting you here!

Beast:  What’s that you have there?

Foodie:  Oh this old thing?  Just a bag I bought around the corner.

The Beast snatched it from me and examined the interior in order to properly authenticate it.  

Beast:  I love it!  It’s going to be perfect for me, don’t you think?

Foodie:  Hahaha.

Beast:  What?

Foodie:  You’re joking, right?

Beast:  No, not at all?  It’s the perfect size for me:  I can fit my iPod in there, a book or magazine and some drum sticks.  

Foodie:  Well that’s fine and dandy, but I don’t think this is an appropriate man bag.

Beast:  I think it’s more than perfect.  I actually think it was designed for a man, not a woman.

Foodie:  You’re fucking crazy.  That’s a woman’s bag.

Beast:  Well anyway, I love it.  So thank you.

Dumbfounded, I turned my attention to disrobing the ball of burrata from it’s plastic sheath.

Burrata is traditionally made of mozzarella di bufala, which is mozzarella made with the milk of a water buffalo so it’s fattier, creamier and tastier than mozzarella made with plain old cow’s milk, which is called fior di latte.  What makes burrata extraordinary is its centre: a combination of both mozzarella di bufala and actual cream.  Take a moment to imagine cutting into something like this and you’ll appreciate why those southern Italians called this cheese “burrata”,considering burro means butter.  

The panna, or cream, drizzles ever so gently out, just begging to be mopped up with a hunk of bread.  And the flesh of the firmer mozzarella is so damn silky.  It’s an overwhelming–and slightly sensual–combination of textures.

Alex Farm sells one ball for $36.  (The Beast, with his neighbourhood discount got our burrata for a steal at only $31.50.) I’ve seen burrata for $40 a ball too.  Stephen asked why burrata is so expensive.  It’s a good question.  And I’m not sure I have a satisfying answer.  I think it has to do with burrata’s limited shelf-life, which is about 48 hours. That means once it’s flown to Canada, buyers have about 24 hours to sell it to consumers, like the Beast, before it’s really past its prime.  Maybe our Italian friend, Giovanna, will have something to add to this discussion.  

Beast:  (Moaning.)

Foodie:  This is really, really lovely.

Beast:  Oh God.

Foodie:  You really like burrata, don’t you.

Beast:  (Moaning.)

Foodie:  I like it, but I think you like it more.  And I don’t think I could possibly eat more than a few pieces of it.  It’s so rich!  I’d make myself sick I think.

The Beast was not capable of leaving any burrata uneaten so he ate, oh I’d say…about 75 per cent of that chubby ball.  I ate a lot of bread and tomatoes.  He was in pain about an hour after dinner.  I was not.  

I can’t be certain if he’s serious or not about using the Fendi bag.  More importantly, I can’t decide how concerned I should be if he is.  

Foodie:  **1/2

Beast:  ***1/2

 

 

 

Thank You Mamma Martino’s.

(Standing in line, waiting to be seated at Mamma Martino’s)

Foodie:  A nice man in line told me that the line up on a Friday night typically goes out the door so we’re not doing too badly at all.

Beast:  Why do you always talk to strangers?

Foodie:  I am so excited!  Look at this place?  Red checkered tablecloths, crying babies, suburban families, kitchy decor, 14 year-old bussers.  This is amazing!

Just then, the 14-year-old host took us to our table which offered a view of Mamma Martino’s tiny patio, and the Queensway.

Foodie:  You don’t see 14 year-olds working in restaurants in the downtown.  In fact, you don’t see them really working anywhere.

Beast:  Sure you do.

Foodie:  Where?

Beast:  Coffee shops, video stores.

Foodie:  No way.  Think about our coffee shops and video stores–employees are all in their 20s or 30s.  Teenagers don’t have part time jobs downtown.

Beast:  I worked at Blockbuster when I was a teenager.

Foodie:  But you lived in Leaside jack-ass.  I’m talking DOWNTOWN.

Just then our server came over to take our order.  The Beast decided on a caesar salad followed by a pepperoni pizza.  I chose Mamma’s chef salad followed by a panzerotto stuffed with pepperoni and green olives.  Our salads were dropped off before we had a chance to conclude our downtown youth employment debate.

Beast (Eating complimentary garlic bread and his caesar salad):  Italian food is great but Italian-American food is fucking awesome.

Foodie:  I agree with you.  Listen, just because caesar salad and fettucine alfredo aren’t traditional Italian dishes doesn’t mean I don’t like them.  Did you know that fettucine alfredo was originally just pasta with butter and parmesan, which is the most basic, most popular pasta around in Italy?  It was an Italian restaurateur in Rome named Alfredo who attached his name to it. Apparently he was serving it to Hollywood types, like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, in the 1920s.  When they asked what it was called he told them it was fettucine alfredo, which was easier to remember than fettuccine con burro e parmigiano. And then those Hollywood types brought it back to America and served it to their friends and the Alfredo name stuck.  And then sometime after that, alfredo turned into a cream sauce of some sort.  And now you can buy it in a jar at the grocery store but you can’t find it in Italy.  I just think it’s so interesting to examine how traditional Italian dishes have morphed into their North American counterparts.

Beast: Oh really?  I’ve never been more bored in my life.  You’ve told me that story ten times!

Foodie: Don’t look now but you should see the fettucine alfredo at the table behind us!  It looks incredible.  Maybe we should have ordered pasta.

Beast:  We’ll be back to Mamma’s, with Nick.

Foodie: Wow.  This salad is….is incredible!  The dressing is so unusual!  It’s like a parsley pesto or something, but without the nuts.  I’m shocked.

Beast (tasting it):  It is good.  You should try making it.

Foodie:  What is that?  Parsley, garlic, olive oil.  Maybe lemon?

Beast:  You always add too much lemon to your dressing.

Foodie:  No I don’t.  I add too much white wine vinegar, but not lemon.  It’s the vinegar you don’t like.  I was expecting Mamma to serve me iceberg lettuce with bottled Kraft Italian dressing.  But no!  Mamma serves me iceberg lettuce topped with this revelation!  I’m blown away.

Beast:  I’m thinking of buying a thumb piano.

Foodie:  Oh really?

Beast:  What does that mean?

Foodie: Well, you already have two thumb pianos.  Do you think that’s a good way to spend your money?

Beast:  Wow.

Our server arrived in the nick of time with the Beast’s small pepperoni pizza and my panzerotto.

Foodie:  I’m just saying that two thumb pianos are probably more than enough. Don’t you think?  Or is this thumb piano divine or something and you just have to have it?

Beast:  Did you have to have that that boyfriend blazer you just bought?  Or the two pair of sandals?

Foodie:  That boyfriend blazer was on sale for $39 and I returned the sandals smart ass.  Maybe if you have so much extra money to spend on thumb pianos, you could start buying groceries more often.

Beast:  You are being so mean right now!

Foodie:  Yes, I think I’ll start leaving you little lists of groceries to buy after work.  I think it’s time you started pulling your grocery weight in this relationship.

Beast:  I don’t even eat half the shit you buy!

Foodie:  What in the hell are you talking about?

Beast:  Like yogurt, or…

Foodie:  And?  What about all the white wine you drink now?  I always buy the white wine.

Beast:  I don’t know what kind to buy!  And you’ll just criticize whatever I bring home.

Foodie:  That is a lie!  You know you can bring home the Ruffino Orvieto without getting into trouble.

Beast:  And I did.  Don’ you remember I bought that 1.5 litre bottle?

Foodie:  That was ten bottled ago.  How’s your pizza?

Beast:  It’s amazing. May I have a bite of your panzerotto? Oh wait–you purposefully ordered it with olives so I couldn’t eat it.

Foodie:  It’s good.  I wish I’d asked for the marina sauce on the side though because it’s getting soggy fast.  We’re joke fighting, right?

Beast:  Of course we are.  Well, sort of.  Listen, I know that if we broke things down on paper that you’d pay for more in this relationship.  You do all the laundry. You really take good care of me, and I appreciate everything you do.  I really do.

Foodie:  Now I feel bad.

Beast:  I won’t buy the thumb piano.

Foodie:  NO!  Buy it.  I’ll buy it for you!

Beast:  No, it’s okay.  I’m just a spaz who buys too many CDs and books and thumb pianos. Do you know that I haven’t walked into a CD store in weeks? That’s the only way I can avoid buying a CD–by just not going in.  And do you know that if I go to buy a book at Chapters and it’s not there that I’ll buy something else that I didn’t even intend to purchase because I’ll have justified it somehow in my sick head?  I’ll tell myself that I was going to spend $20 anyway, so why not get that biography of Beethoven?

Foodie:  You do have a problem.  But you’re recognizing it and taking steps to remedy it.  (Pause.)  I think Mamma Martino’s has been good for us…for our relationship.  It’s a place you can be yourself, open up, and talk about your feelings.  I think we should come every week.

Beast:  Like therapy?

Foodie:  Yes, like therapy.  It’s safe here.

The server brought our bill when we were ready.  I had two questions for her: First, what was in that dressing.  Turns out it’s parsley, garlic, olive oil and vinegar.  I will try to make it at home.  And second, where was the closest Wallmart?  Turns out it was just down the road a bit near Sherway Gardens.  So the Beast and I continued our Friday night on the Queensway by visiting the Wallmart with all the other suburban families.  I had to buy jam jars and a new shower curtain.  At the register, the Beast smiled proudly, pushed me aside and handed his debit card to the 14-year-old cashier.  It momentarily broke my heart.  And then I remembered that I paid for dinner.

Foodie:  **

Beast:  ***