Monthly Archives: June 2011

May the Beast Be with You

Last Saturday afternoon, getting ready to go and about in our neighbourhood.

Foodie: Are you coming, or what?

Beast: Yes! And by the way, I’m taking my Fendi purse back.

Foodie: I only use it occasionally, but fine.  What about your new Coach purse though?

Beast: A man can’t have too many purses.

It’s true. The Beast has three purses now.  He’s got his Fendi, which you’ve heard about before.

He’s got a lovely leather Lamberston Truex (which an old pal of mine handed down to me and I handed it down to my mom and when my mom saw the Beast eyeing the purse like Donatello Versace eyes a nice porchetta sandwich, then she handed it down to him.)

And his most recent acquisition is a vintage Coach purse that came with the original box and everything.

Once the Beast had his purse packed, we set out for a Saturday afternoon stroll.  After he bought a shirt that he felt made him look like an African jazz saxophone player from the 1970s and I bought a multi-coloured jump suit because it was made at a store in Port Stanley that no longer exists called The Kettle Creek Clothing Co. (their jump suits were the height of fashion for 30 year-old mothers in St. Thomas during the 1980s), we were starving.

Foodie: Hey! Let’s go to that sushi place up the street that I’m always talking about going to!

Beast: Sushi on Roncy?

Foodie: Yeah! Gio and Fabio say it’s good so it must be.

Beast: (mocking tone) Gio and Fabio say it’s good.

Inside, there was only one other table being served.

But neither of us felt uncomfortable.  The place was presumably being run by a husband and wife team who had their two kids in helping out–but not in a creepy way at all: the kids were playing on the computer and learning how to roll the rolls.  It was quite endearing, actually.  Plus, I liked the fact that beside the standard menu that you’ll find at nearly every Japanese place in the city, these guys had a hand-written izakaya menu too.

After we ordered, two little cups of complementary miso soup with noodles were brought out.

And shortly after that, some deep-fried oysters and steamed tofu with kimchi that we’d ordered from the izikaya menu arrived.

Beast: Oh god these oysters are good.

Foodie: Aren’t they?  I like the kimchi but I don’t think I like steamed tofu.

Beast: Did I tell you what happened to me on the subway yesterday?

Foodie: No, what?

Beast: I got on at Davisville with my headphones and book (The Beast wears headphones and carries a book on public transit so no one will talk to him) and I heard a voice, which I ignored.  But finally I couldn’t ignore it – it was coming from a person with a thin mustache wearing a big back-pack and a hat. (Pause) And he was developmentally challenged.

Foodie: What was he saying?

Beast: That he’d seen the new subways at York Mills stations and he asked me if I thought they looked nice. And I said, “Yeah, they look great,” and put my head phones back on.  And then he said, “They look really nice,” about three more times before I took my headphones off again. So I said, “Yeah, I saw them running one morning at Bloor and they look great.”  And he said, “Yeah. You know you can go all the way up and down the cars–they are totally open.”  And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “They’re going to call it The Breeze.” And I said:

–Pardon?

–They’re going to call it the Breeze. They had a contest.

–What? They’re not going to call it the Rocket?

–No. They’re going to call it the Breeze.

–Rocket is better.

–Yeah.

–But I guess breeze is more apt, with the speed and efficiency at which the subway runs.

–I like breeze.

–I like rocket better.

–Where do you think they get the technology from?

–For the breeze?

–No. For rockets.

–Bambardier, I guess.

–I think they got it from outer space. Where else would it come from.

–Oh! Rockets. Yeah. I guess you’re right.

–I saw it in Star Trek.

–You like Star Trek?

-Yeah.

–Which one?

–All of them.

–I only like the Next Generation.

–I like Star Wars too.

And then we discussed a bunch of arcane things from Star Wars, like the names of generals from the first three movies; the origins of Anakin; his high midichlorian count; the confusion that the jedi council felt at finding out about his midichlorian count; the age of Yoda; how it was that Luke could resist the Emperor and the dark side but Anakin couldn’t; what midichlorians are and the nature of the force. By this point we were going down the escalator at Bloor station and his friend/brother/supervision was dragging him away from me, saying that we had spoken enough.

Foodie: Is that all fucking true?

Beast: Wait, I haven’t even gotten to the best part: at the end he was stroking his fake beard and he said to me, “You look like someone, you look like someone, you look like someone, you look like some — Ben Kenobi!”

Foodie: HE DID NOT!!!!

Then our rolls, one with barbecued eel and another with spicy salmon, arrived.

Foodie: That story.  Is that all true?

Beast: I couldn’t make shit like that up.

Foodie: You’re probably the most patient human I know.  And I’m not just saying that because you talked with a retarded person on the subway about Star Wars. You’re patient with everyone. Sometimes you do stuff for people– including members of my own family–and I think, “I would never offer to help X move or to drive Y to the airport or to assist a stranger with no legs cross the street.” I wish I could be more like you–just giving.

Beast: You’re wrong. People think I’m nice but I’m not nice. Every thought in my head is just pure fucking evil. It’s just hate.

I’m not wrong. The Beast is truly generous. He gives without thinking about the rewards he could reap. When I give, there’s always an ulterior motive. And I realize I give him a hard time when it comes to washing dishes and making dinners and doing laundry but that guy is good–good to the core.

After our spontaneous and lovely lunch, we got home and I made banana bread using this recipe.

But I substituted duck eggs for chicken eggs!  My friend Erinn brought me back half a dozen duck eggs from the farm she’s working on and they were so fresh that, how did she put it, “they came straight out of the duck’s ass just that morning.”

Then, of course, we had a fashion show.

Foodie: **

Beast: *1/2

Stanley Cup Pizza Party

If I don’t first make them cry, kids seem to like me.  I think it’s because I try really hard to make a good first impression–because I actually fear them–with stuff like horsey rides, tickle fights, fake farting, pretending to barf and swearing–fun stuff that their parents don’t do. The only problem is that after an hour of this, I’m done.  I mean, I’m physically exhausted and have nothing left to give.  And the kids are all like, “You are so much fun for an adult! Do it again! Put the chocolate on your bum again!” And I’m like, “Listen Billy, it was fun while it lasted but I am fucking out.”

So when I thought that I was hosting a dinner with four little kids (plus their respective mothers) I was ready to put on my chocolate pants. Sadly, the dinner didn’t take place on account of some pink eye (the kids, not me.) As disappointed as I was, it gave me the night off from cleaning the house.  The Beast and I just had to plan dinner for two.

On the phone during work.

Beast: Do you want me to pick up anything for dinner on my way home after work?

Foodie: I can not believe you just offered to do this.

Beast: I have to pick up episodes 7, 8 and 9 of Jazz (the Ken Burns documentary) from the video store so it’s no problem.

Foodie: I AM NOT WATCHING THAT SHOW TONIGHT.

Beast: Well, what are we going to watch then?

Foodie: Isn’t there a Stanley Cup game on or something?

Beast: We’ll talk about this at home.  What do you want me to pick up?

Foodie: I was thinking we could have a pizza party! We’ve got tomato sauce, cheese and a whole bunch of vegetables to add on top.  We just need some crusts and a jar of green olives.

Beast: Doesn’t your new mixer thing practically make crust by itself?

Foodie: Yes. But I would’ve had to have started making the dough this morning.  Plus, I’ve never made pizza dough before.

Beast: You’ve never–

Foodie: I KNOW!

I got home to find the Beast in his workout gear (red adidas shorts) playing the piano. At the risk of sounding like a capital Bitch, I can’t stand coming home after a long day of work and not being greeted on account of somebody being in their magical music mode and playing away on a magical instrument in nothing but their underwear.  This happens almost every night.  And it leaves me sour and grumpy. I’m not asking you to jump up and hug me and ask how my day was or anything.  Wait, yes.  That’s exactly what I want.  Then go back to your little music party.  But just acknowledge me.

Foodie: I’LL BE IN THE KITCHEN IF YOU CARE.

Beast: Bada bing badding dop dohop toot tooty fruit (that’s the sound of the piano.)

15 minutes later in the kitchen.

Beast: Oh hey there.

Foodie: (Silence)

Beast: Oh I get it.  I didn’t say hi to you when you got home.  Hi.

Foodie: I feel so depressed right now.  I really don’t think I can watch shows on jazz tonight.  I really think I would die on the spot.  Can we please watch a hockey game?

Beast: Fine. What can I do to help with dinner.

Foodie: You can grate the cheese.

Beast: Oooh, sorry. No-can-do. I don’t want to risk hurting my hands because then I couldn’t play my instruments.

He did grate the cheese, of course. I cut up some red pepper, red onion and a portobello mushroom.  We dressed our pizzas and got them cooking in the oven while we enjoyed a cocktail on the patio.

About 14 minutes later, dinner was served.

Foodie: I think I’m going to cheer for Boston.

Beast: Me too.

Foodie: Why?

Beast: Because they have better costumes. Plus, they’re one of the original six.

Foodie: What the hell does that mean?

Beast: Ah, like one of the six original NHL hockey teams ever?

Foodie: How do you know so much about hockey?

Beast: (Silence)

Foodie: You know, I only found out that they had three periods in this game about a week ago.  Why don’t they have halves or quarters like everybody else?  Three is just weird.

Beast: Are you kidding me? You didn’t know that?

Foodie: I’m being serious.

Beast: Get with the program man! Here’s what I want to know: where the fuck is Mark Walberg in all of this?

Foodie: What? Oh.  Because he’s from Boston.  I don’t know.

Beast: I’d also like to know how many Canadians play for the Bruins. I bet a lot.  So it’s arbitrary to cheer for the Canucks just because they’re based in Vancouver.

Foodie: I’m cheering for them because I saw Rachel McAdams cheering for them.

At about the end of the second of three periods of the hockey game, I noticed something: you know when you’re an alcoholic and you run out of cheap white wine but you still have a piece of pizza left to eat? That happened to me.  And do you know what the Beast did? He gave me the rest of his wine.

I couldn’t believe it.

So, after I finished my pizza and wine, I volunteered to get dessert ready before the third, and final, period started.

Have you seen the commercial for these President’s Choice ice cream sandwiches? The one with Galen Weston outside of Toronto’s City Hall? It’s probably the only time in my life I’ve wanted to buy something based on the commercial.

Foodie: How can these little fuckers taste so good?

Beast: I don’t know.  They could be twice the size though.

Foodie: I like them this size.

Beast: That was a really good dinner.

Foodie: It was excellent.  Do you think if I made pizza crust it could be any better than the packaged ones we get?

Beast: There’s only one way to find out.

STAY TUNED!

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***

His and Her Sandwiches

Arriving home from work and finding the Beast on the couch eating his dinner.

Foodie: Why are you only wearing underwear?

Beast: Because I just lifted my weights and I’m hot.

Foodie: You should shower.

Beast: I should shower? I can smell your feet from here, man!  Wash those things!

Foodie: We’re going on diets.

Beast: No.

Foodie: I’ve had loose morals regarding food in the last few weeks and it’s time to end it. What are you eating?

Beast: A summer sausage and cheese slice sandwich on white Wonderbread.

Foodie: I’m sorry I didn’t get home in time to eat dinner with you.

Beast: That’s okay: I have to leave anyway in about 15 minutes to get to a birthday party.

Foodie: Oh right.  Besides, I’m having diet food and you wouldn’t like it.

I’d picked up a piece of tilapia and a crusty bun in the hopes of constructing a fish sandwich like they do at the Fish Store on College. I also picked up one other thing that I feel funny about telling you: I picked up one of those shakers of spice. I have memories of some sort of lemon-pepper spice shaker thing that I used to sprinkle on fish sticks in high school and I really felt like that would add something to my fish sandwich.

Upstairs in the bedroom: the Beast is looking for a record to bring to the birthday party and I’m getting into afterwork clothes. 

Beast: What are you doing?

Foodie: Putting on the never-nudes.

For those of you who don’t know what never-nudes are, they’re in reference to a condition that a fictional character, Tobias Fünke, suffered from on the television show Arrested Development. Tobias had a phobia of being completely nude so he had to wear little jean shorts all the time–even when showering.  The never-nudes I wear are nearly missing a crotch, save for an inch of fabric.  You definitely can’t wear them in public or you’d burn somebody’s eyes out if you sat down without your legs crossed. Nevertheless, the Beast wears them around the house occasionally.  And now I’ve grown quite fond of them for lounging in.

Beast: Those are my never-nudes!  Take them off!

Foodie: No way man.  These are my new home-time shorts.

Beast: Why are you taking photos of me in my underwear and why are you posing in the never-nudes?

Foodie: Because it’s time to sex this blog up a bit! Sex sells. Look at Blake Lively and that Wiener! We need to release sexting messages or something.

Beast: I don’t even have a fucking cell phone. You’re selling out and you’re turning into a real creep.

Foodie: Will you hold still for crying out loud? How am I supposed to get the money shot?

Beast: You know, some of my friends have mentioned that they don’t think I’m being featured enough in the blog. I bring a lot of readers to the table.  If you put more of me in there and less of you going on and on and on, you might make some real money.

Foodie: Who would play you in the Broadway production of Foodie and the Beast?

Beast: (Pause) Val Kilmer.

Foodie: (Silence)

Beast: Or Gérard Depardieu.

Foodie: (Silence)

Beast: Maybe Miles Davis.

Foodie: But he’s black!

Beast: Ah, more importantly, he’s dead.

Foodie: You have time to join me outside for a mojito before you go?

Beast: (Pause) Yes.

(My mojito looks a bit golden because I add a tablespoon of maple sugar instead of simple syrup.  I have to say, I’m becoming awfully good at making them.)

Foodie: Did I tell you that I’m going to the Power Ball? (Mom, the Power Ball is an annual fundraiser put on by the contemporary Canadian art gallery, The Power Plant, in Toronto.) I am so excited!  But I have no idea what to wear.

Beast: I’ll tell you what to wear: take a big cardboard box, like the one our TV came in, cut out holes for your head, arms and legs and put a computer screen with a power point presentation on it in the chest part.  Done.

The Beast finally left for his party and I got to work on my single person diet dinner. Since I had quite a bit of trouble with the fillet sticking to the barbecue a few weeks ago when I attempted to make a fish sandwich, I grilled the fish on a piece of foil. And this time around, I hollowed out the bun and grilled it too.

Then I added a few tablespoons of homemade salsa and some fresh greens.

The final result was delicious! That, plus a 9 oz glass of white wine and a modest handful of gourmet potato chips, made for a perfect dieting dinner. Didn’t have to undo the top button of the never-nudes either.

Salami and cheese sandwich: Beast **

Fish sandwich: Foodie ***

Cuntry Roads

Last weekend I had to stay in Stratford overnight for a work assignment. I took the Beast with me.  It was the first time I’ve ever slept in a king size bed.

You can fit, like, six people in one of those things.

The next morning, we considered our breakfast options while drinking coffee from some sort of coffee pod machine. I’ve been reading a lot of Calvin Trillin, an American food writer whose work often appeared in the New Yorker and who traveled the country looking for the best examples of classic American food. So I was a bit obsessed about finding a classic Canadian breakfast.

Foodie: We could go to that roadside place we passed whiled driving through Shakespeare–what was it called?

Beast: Rosemary’s. That place looked good.  What about Features?  It says here in the Yellow Pages that it’s the best breakfast in town. They have something called, “The Paul Bunyon” breakfast.

Foodie: Well, I don’t know how authentic-sounding that is but let’s give it a shot.  I’ll also text Erinn because her friend Lisa used to live in Stratford. Maybe she’ll tell us a few places to visit.

Before we found Features though, we passed this place on Stratford’s main strip.

Foodie: Let’s go here! Look at this place!  It looks amazing–and this is exactly the sort of thing Calvin Trillin would do!

Beast: Whatever you say.  You go in first.

Walking in.

Foodie (whispering): Oh fuck no. Oh shit no. This is a bad idea.

The place was empty, save for an elderly couple sitting at different booths who jumped up when we opened the door.  And the place was dead silent, save for the loud hum of a very old air conditioner affixed overtop the front door. We wanted to run away. But it was too late.  The old lady, who didn’t appear to speak any English, showed us to our booth and gave us menus.

Foodie (whispering): I am so sorry!

Beast: Give me your iPhone.

Foodie: Why?

Beast: Because I want to look up this place.

Foodie (handing him phone): It’s not that bad. I’m going to have a western sandwich! That’s hard to mess up.

Beast (reading from phone): Ah, Justine from restaurantica.ca advices against ordering eggs.  Think about it? This place is empty–how often do they get new eggs?

Foodie: Oh it’ll be fine. What else do they say on there?

Beast: Ashleigh says, ” I suspect this place only stays open because they sell American brand cigarettes…and because the odd unsuspecting tourist accidentally wanders in for an awful meal from time to time.”

Foodie:  Are you fucking kidding me? That’s hiliarous!  That’s us! What a shit head I am.

Beast: I’m scared of ordering eggs but now I want a western sandwich too.

Old lady approaches.

Old lady: Order?

Foodie: We’ll have two western sandwiches please.

Old lady: Drink?

Foodie: How about two cups of coffee.

Beast: Where do you think she’s from?

Foodie: Germany? Hungary?  She seems very sweet. But how does a place like this stay in business?

Beast: They must own the building. Look at the back of the menu.

Foodie: It’s 11:30 right now–maybe the place will fill up with regulars any minute. (Pause)  It was rude of her not to ask what kind of bread we wanted our westerns on though.  I would have liked mine on some dark rye or 12-grain.

Beast: (Silence)

About 20 minutes later, the nice old lady brought out two western sandwiches with some homemade fried potato wedges. And you know what? They weren’t half bad! Although, the coffee was undrinkable.

Walking the main strip of Stratford.

Foodie: I need some real coffee now please.  We’ve only had shit coffee today and I’m getting grumpy.

Beast: There’s Balzac’s.  I’ll buy you an espresso.  And you know what?

Foodie: What?

Beast: I think we both learned a valuable lesson about authenticity today.

Foodie: What?

Beast: It doesn’t exist.

Foodie: Or maybe you can’t go looking for it: it’s got to find you.

Beast: (Silence)

We spent the rest of the afternoon in old book stores, antique shops and little country bakeries.  We bought a rhubarb crumble pie, summer sausage, kaiser rolls and cheese curds to take home to my dad’s place in Port Stanley that night. We also wondered through a lovely park that didn’t allow dogs in it.  And when the Beast saw a lady walking her dog in the park, I had to restrain him from saying something to her.  I used his own brand of humour to distract him.

Foodie: Hey! Do you think this is where William Shakespeare is buried?  Hahaha!

Beast: The thing is, she’s the type of lady who’d tell me to not smoke near her and the dog, even though she’s a hundred feet away. The sign clearly said, NO DOGS ALLOWED.

Foodie: We should move to Stratford!  I could try and get a job at the local newspaper and you could get a job teaching stage fighting to the Festival actors!  Oh, that would be good!

The Beast sat there looking very serious for a drawn-out moment, presumably considering my joke in earnest. And then he stood up and began demonstrating some of the moves he’d teach the class. He kicked his little legs and did chops with his little hairy arms.  There was a lot of jumping too.  And yelling, “hi-yah!” He was playing both the student and the teacher.  It was overwhelming–a real tour de force. It may have been the best performance in Stratford all day.

Because we were starting to get a bit peckish, we decided to get a sandwich from the York Street Kitchen–a tiny little spot just opposite the Avon.

In keeping with our theme of authenticity, we ordered the Mennonite Sandwich, which was summer sausage, cheddar, corn relish, tomatoes, honey mustard, mayo and lettuce piled high on white country-style bread. We took it to go and found ourselves a park bench in front of the river.

It was divine.

We hit the road at about 6pm. I decided that we wouldn’t take any major highways to get to Port Stanley: instead, we’d take the country roads.  The Beast seemed indifferent so away we went.

Foodie: I fucking love driving in the country.  It’s probably because it’s in my blood, you know?  You know that we had a corn field for a back yard practically, right? I played all day in that fucking cornfield.  I built palaces in there, man.  I looked like a little indian by the end of the summer. Can you say that? Indian?

Beast: (Silence)

Foodie: I just think this part of the province–what county is this? Perth?  I just think Perth is lovely.  Oh goodie!  We just crossed the line into Oxford county.  I’m from Elgin county but I know Oxford.  Oh do I know Oxford!  We competed against schools in Oxford for high school sports. My last year, our soccer team won the Oxford-Elgin Championship.  Did you know that? Anyway, they’re just the prettiest counties–all the farms and rolling hills and prettiness.  You know, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl! Is that a country song? By Shania? Or Taylor Swift?  I should write a country song like that. Don’t you just love this, with the windows down and the sun shining?

Beast: ARE YOU DONE!  I’M TRYING TO LISTEN TO THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS!!!!!!

Foodie: Will you turn on the GPS thing on my iPhone?  I’m just not sure if I want to take this road or not coming up.  Oh don’t worry–we’re not lost or anything!  As if! I know these parts like the back of my hand.  I grew up ’round here.

Beast: Did you just say, ’round?

Foodie: That’s how we talk ’round here.  Can you see if I take this next left? I just don’t remember anything about a “Nova Scotia Line” on the way home from Tillsonburg. This is tobacco-growing country, did you know that?  One summer–

Beast: How the fuck do you work this thing? It’s not working.  I hate this phone.

Foodie: Is that a text from Erinn?  What does it say?

Beast: It says that Rosemary’s in Shakespeare is the best truck stop.

Foodie: Oh no!!!!  Are you serious? We should have gone to Rosemary’s for our authentic breakfast experience!!

Beast: We don’t need this phone.  We’re going in the right direction.

Foodie: Take it easy there, city boy!  Ah, better leave the navigation up to me.  Just give me that phone.

Beast: NO! We are headed west so we’re fine.

Foodie: How do you know that?

Beast: SEE THAT GIANT GLOWING THING STRAIGHT AHEAD IN THE SKY? THAT’S THE SUN, DUMMY.  AND IT SETS IN THE WEST.

Foodie: Oh, right.

Beast: And besides, there’s the lake to the south and Port Stanley is right on the lake. We just keep heading west and we keep following the lake. We don’t need a stupid phone.

Foodie: This is just like a country song.  I’m going to write it and it’ll be called–

Beast: It’s be called “Cuntry Roads” spelled c-u-n-t-r-y.

Foodie: Don’t worry, once I hit Port Bruce we’ll be fine.  And would you look at that! There’s a sign for Port Bruce! What did I tell you? Do I know these parts or what!?!

Beast: You’re behaving like a real spaz.

Foodie: Don’t blame me: blame it on the country.

We made it to idyllic Port Stanley safe and sound and had ourselves a lovely weekend, which included consuming quite a bit of wine, wonderful meals and a memorable hazelnut pavlova smothered in whipped cream and rhubarb compote. I also managed to squeeze in a couple of cuntry road runs, one of which ended at Hawk Cliff; six kilometers outside of town.

I ran past the Port Stanley water tower and turned onto Dexter Line. I ran past a horse farm, several dead toads all dried up on the side of the road and about a dozen bikers headed to the beach. Each one waved at me as they zoomed by.  And then I turned onto Hawk Cliff Road.

It’s a dirt road–one I’ve been up many times before in a car, but never on foot.

I ran past farm land and meadows.

Until the road ended here.

And then I walked the path to the edge of the cliff.  I remembered coming here for picnics with my mom, dad and brother. Sandwiches, chicken noodle soup in a thermos and juice, probably.  Mostly, I remembered coming here, rather reluctantly, a few mornings in a row in 1986.  My father woke my brother and me up well before school started and loaded us into the car, still sleepy-eyed. It must have been early autumn because it was still dark out and the tall grasses at Hawk Cliff were covered in frost. We were lucky, my dad told us, because it was the last week we could see Halley’s Comet and with some good fortune–and a pair of binoculars my mom bought us from K-Mart–we just might be able to spot it before it left for another 86 years.  It took a few mornings of trying. But on the last morning, there in the tall grass with his kids probably complaining about the cold and damp and about being tired, my dad spotted the comet. “Where! Where!” We squealed, hardly knowing what to expect once he gave us each a turn with the binoculars. My brother found it next. I remember having some difficulty but eventually, I found it too–hovering over top of the jet black lake, like a pale ghost shimmying away in the night sky. It was beautiful.

I remembered all that, standing there in the tall grass with the cool lake breeze gently sweeping over me.

And I knew I was home.

York Street Kitchen: Foodie ** Beast **1/2