What a busy day I had on Sunday! First I had to read the paper and drink coffee; second I had to go get the makings for the Oscar spread I wanted to prepare for the Beast and me; and third, I had to go to that vast expanse of buildings on the CNE grounds to the CRFA show (Canadian Restaurants Foodservices Association) where my friend Giovanna was both demonstrating and competing in a celebrity chef Iron Chef-type thing. This is big league shit man–Susur Lee, Anthony Walsh and Lynn Crawford were all there too!
For her food demonstration, she and her sous-chef Fabio Moro, showed the crowd how to make tortelloni. While Fabio rolled out the fresh pasta, Gio prepared the butter and sage in which the butternut squash-filled tortelloni would be gently tossed in. I was so proud of her up there!
She spoke with such grace and eloquence about the history of tortelloni and how they’re always handmade, making them a pretty special sort of pasta. I had a little moment of pride when Gio said that she actually used both butternut and acorn squash in this batch. Let me explain why: many years ago when I used to work with Gio, she asked me to order some eggcorn squash. “Pardon?” I asked. “You know, eggcorn squash,” she replied confidently. (That’s the great thing about immigrants–they have such funny ways of speaking sometimes!) It was up to me to teach Giovanna about acorn squash, and, to be honest, about so many other food-related things. In fact it might as well have been me up on that stage giving the demonstration. But I was happy where I was because the crowd was all given a sample of the tortelloni to try:
But the fun was still to come: Giovanna competed against Jason Bangerter of Auberge du Pommier in a Iron Chef style competition. It was even hosted by Kevin Brauch, host of the Thirsty Traveler and the floor reporter on Iron Chef America!
Giovanna won. She won last year too. I can’t remember what she and Fabio even made because I was so nervous the entire time. Plus, I was blown away that Gio chose the very public stage to share two very personal bits of information: first, she let slip that Fabio was not just her sous chef for the day, but also her fiance. And second, after Kevin asked Gio about running the Boston Marathon this year (yes, she runs marathons, and yes, she qualified for that little one in Boston with 2 minutes to spare), she told him that she wasn’t doing it this year. He asked her why and she said, in front of a crowd of about a hundred, “Because I’m pregnant.”
But this blog isn’t about Giovanna and how she runs marathons and how she wins cooking contests and how she’s going to be starting a family: It’s about me and my accomplishments. I could totally quality for Boston. I could qualify for any shit show of a marathon I wanted, but I’ve got plantar scilliosistis still.
Moving on to far more important things, I decided on having a bruschetta party for Oscar night. This is when I prepare an assortment of toppings to crown toasted pieces of baguette and other breads. I think it’s one of my favourite dinners because you get to design your own little toasts with whatever you want and each bite can be different, or the same. Don’t you see? There’s endless potential for discovering new taste combinations but there’s also the comfort of repetition. You decide.
I chose three cheeses: a nice Manchego, a creamy Quebec brie-style cheese, and Osau Irati. Accoutrements included spicy strawberry jam, green olives, and truffle honey. I also prepared some mashed up avocado, bruschetta-style tomatoes, and cannellini beans warmed with olive oil, garlic, parsley and some red chili.
Beast: Wow! This looks incredible! (He scans the table for a moment) Is there any meat here?
Foodie: There are three slices of salami left over from gourmet sandwich night. You can have all three slices.
Beast: Obviously. This is great. And after this we can heat up some frozen pizzas for dinner, right?
Foodie: What are you talking about? This is dinner.
Beast: Oh. I just thought these were snacks.
Foodie: They are snacks–this is like snacks for dinner.
Beast: Interesting. What have I missed so far?
Foodie: Not much. Kathy Ireland is acting crazy.
Beast: Who’s that?
Foodie: A former model I think. She’s scaring the poor celebrities on the red carpet with her crazy talk and crazy eyes. And that lady from the view told the Precious lady, “You’ve burned your genius into a dream come true.” I don’t even know what that means but it sounds awesome. And George Clooney’s Italian girlfriend is acting all, “what is this little show again?” She could care less about being there. Oh, and I think Sandra Bullock nailed her outfit, and so did our friend Rachel, and–
Beast: Are you sure there’s not more salami?
Foodie: Yes I ‘m sure. Why would I lie about that?
Beast: Sometimes I think you ration my food–that maybe you hide it so I don’t eat it all.
Foodie: That’s a good idea. Be quiet now–I want to see how Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin do.
So we enjoyed our Oscar snacks in silence. I don’t even think we laughed much during the funny bits. In fact, this may have been the first time that I’ve fallen asleep during the Oscars. I was out like a light right after Ben Stiller presented an award dressed up like an avatar, which I did laugh at. I don’t know if I’m just getting older or the Oscars are getting duller. At least the snacks were award-worthy. Dear oh dear…did I just attempt to be clever by making a joke about our Oscar snacks being award-worthy. Fuck, I’m getter older AND duller.