Aris Grill

The Hippest Saturday

Foodie:  Would you look at the size of this?

Beast:  That’s disgusting.  It’s so swollen!

Foodie:  It’s awesome!  It’s so fierce I can hardly stand it.

Beast: What happened?

Foodie:  I got kicked during our last soccer game.

Beast: That’s why you shouldn’t take part in athletics: they’re too reckless.

Foodie:  What about all those push-ups you’ve been doing?

Beast:  That’s not athletic–that’s military training.

Foodie: You’re not in the army though.

Beast: Ahhh, I’ll be needing the training for when I start my marching band.

Do you ever think you really know a person and then behind your back they start posting all these things on Craig’s List looking to start esoteric sorts of bands with strangers?  The Beast has done this three times now.  The latest cattle call is for a marching band.  And this isn’t some joke.  He’s got uniforms planned and everything.  He says it’s going to be like Philip Glass meets New Orleans Jazz.

Foodie:  Well, I’m starving.  I can’t think of a better way to reward ourselves for the respective exercises we did this morning (me: a five kilometer walk disguised as a jog, him: 53 push-ups) than going for banquet burgers at Aris. Let’s pack up some reading material and get out of here.

Aris is a family restaurant on Roncesvalles run by a Greek family, I think.  It’s really a wonderful place to go for truck-stop style feasts and diner specialties: I’m talking about eggs and bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot hamburger plates (you know when you take a piece of white bread, top it with a burger and pour some gravy on it and then add a side of peas?  And by the by, Erinn introduced me to this delight), and a classic banquet burger fixed up with a processed cheese slice, bacon, and the works–onion, tomato and pickles.  There’s not an avocado or a piece of brie in sight to top an Aris burger. And who’d want a gourmet topping to crown this?

Beast: I don’t know how I feel about the redesign of the New York Times magazine.

Foodie:  Look at the cover of Food and Wine this month and it’s just as pretty as the rack of lamb Erinn made for us!

Beast: Oh God that was good.  And she even let me pick out jazz records to listen to. That was a nice touch.

Foodie:  Remember when we put the napkin around Satchmo’s neck?

Beast: Remember when Nick Edwards put the little napkin around his neck?

Beast: Even the salad was good.  Can you get that salad recipe?

Foodie:  I’ll try.  I want the couscous recipe too.  There was orange blossom water in there.  Can you believe that?  I never thought I’d have thirds of couscous.

Beast: Can you find out how she made the broccoli too?

Foodie:  She just fried it I think.  I can’t remember.  But it tasted like the Platonic version of broccoli, you know, the ideal–

Beast:  I know what Platonic means.  I’m really shocked that you ate so much lamb.

Foodie:  It was the best lamb I’ve ever had–and that mint sauce?  I have to admit though, I felt really self-conscious about eating it.  You, Nick and Erinn picked up those chops like you’d done it a million times and you got right in there and got all the bits of meat out from all the nooks and crannies.  I felt really awkward holding those chops man.  I felt like I had two left hands–like if I were a homo habilis on the the Serengeti Plains I would have starved to death without the carnivore skills that you three possess.  It was like breathing for you.

Beast: What’s wrong?

Foodie (whispering):  If these little shit brats knock my chair one more time I’m going to lose my shit man!  Can you believe it?  Their mothers are sitting right there and allowing them to run the length of the restaurant over and over again screaming and having fun.  I would never have been allowed–wait: it would have never crossed my mind that running in a restaurant was even an option!  The worst thing I did was ask to go the washroom by myself so I could play James Bond.

Beast:  Oh, pardon?

Foodie:  James Bond.  Where you pretend like you have a handgun and you’re being followed or you’re following the villain and you go all sneaky-like down the stairs and stuff like that.  I did it every time we went out for dinner from the time I was five until I was 16.  I’d go right after I ordered my kitty cocktail, straight up.

Beast:  My brothers and I would have been those kids running around wild in the restaurant.

Foodie: Your poor mother.  But your mom wouldn’t have stood for it–she would have been  yelling at you, wouldn’t she?

Beast:  She was probably too tired.  (Whispering) But those mothers are more annoying than the kids.  That one woman keeps singing an Enrique Iglesias song, “I Can Be Your Hero Baby,” or something, while the kids run lose.

Foodie: Want to get coffee from Cherry Bomb down the street and stop into that consignment shop and try on clothes?

Beast: Yes.

The Beast ended up buying a black and white houndstooth blazer and I bought a floral linen sundress and a pair of cotton bloomers from the turn of the century. I don’t know what I will do with them but I have a feeling they will come in handy, some day.

Foodie (Walking out of the store): Do you like that dress?  I like it.  Do you?

Beast:  It’s a bit tight in the back where the buttons are.  It sort of pops open here and there.

Foodie:  Why didn’t you say anything when we were in there?

Beast:  There were all those girls around and I didn’t want to embarrass you!

Foodie:  I couldn’t see the back.  How tight?

Beast: It’ll be fine.

Foodie:  God, I hope those bloomers fit at least.  I didn’t try them on.

Beast: (Silence)

At Cherry Bomb, a really lovely coffee spot with wonderful baked treats (particularly their date & pecan scones), the Beast ordered an espresso and I ordered a small black drip coffee.

Foodie (outside the store): You get so Mr. Cool when we go into Cool Coffee Shops.

Beast: What do you mean?

Foodie (doing an impression of him): Yeah.  I’ll have an espresso.

Beast:  That’s what I wanted.  I should have asked for an EXpresso so that hipster could have corrected me and told me about the roast of the beans.

Foodie:  What are you talking about?  You’re a hipster.


Foodie:  Look at you–with our Levi’s jeans and your Converse sneakers and your hunter’s hat and your beard and dirty hair and your ironic Isle of Skye sweatshirt.

Beast:  YOU BUY MOST OF MY CLOTHES  and I happen to love the folk music from the Isle of Skye AND their single malt.

Foodie: Do you want to keep walking?  I have to pick up a nine inch tart pan from that restaurant supply store on College Street.  You could go to Soundscapes to look at CDs while I do it.

He did, so we kept walking, under the Lansdowne bridge where lots of pigeons live and then along College.

Foodie: Hey!  Would you come into this bike shop with me?  I want to ask a few questions about a custom build.

Beast: A custom build?

Foodie:  Yeah.  A custom build.  That’s where they–

Beast:  I know what a custom build is.  Why don’t you just go buy a bike from Canadian Tire?

Foodie:  Because I’ve been researching bikes since November and I want specific things that I don’t think I could find in a bike at Canadian Tire.

The Beast came in with me.  Actually, he was remarkably well behaved.  And Martin, the owner of the small bike shop, was incredibly helpful and answered a hundred questions and offered lots of sound advice.  He’s going to look into ordering a couple of different frames for me since they didn’t stock too many smaller ones in the store. Soon, I’m going to have the mint green bike of my dreams.  But it’s going to cost me.

Foodie (outside the bike shop): You know, Stephen from work is a real bike maniac.  He’s got, like, four or something, and when I told him months ago how much I was going to spend on a new bike he said I was nuts and that somebody like me shouldn’t spend more than $400 on a new bike.

Beast:  Why don’t you buy one of Stephen’s bikes from him?

Foodie: They’d be too big.  Plus they’re specialized and stuff.  I think he custom builds them himself.

Beast:  Why don’t you get Stephen to show you how to custom build a bike?  You buy all the parts you need directly from the suppliers and do it yourself?

Foodie (pause): I don’t think he would enjoy doing that.  I sense that bike time for him is alone time, not show-other-people-how-to-do-basic-things-that-you-could-learn-from-the-internet sort of time.  It would be like if somebody asked me how to vacuum or something.  I couldn’t ask him to do that.

Beast:  I think you should.  He owes you–think of all the countless hours of entertainment you’ve provided him with FATB. And speaking of which, when am I going to start seeing some money from this “blog”?

Foodie: Why would you get any money?

Beast:  Because I give you all the material.

Foodie:  That’s true.  (Pause)  I can’t even ask people with cars to take me grocery shopping with them.

Beast:  Why don’t you trade him?  I have a perfectly good clarinet he can have if he builds you the bike.

Foodie:  I don’t think that would be a fair trade.

Beast:  It’s a really good clarinet though.

Foodie:  I don’t think he plays the clarinet.  Besides, the price difference wouldn’t be that much anyway.

Beast:  Probably not actually.  And buying that mint green one would be like buying ten months worth of metro passes and you’re going to have it for years and years. And besides, people spend their money in unique and different ways: I’m saving up to buy a $5000 saxophone for instance.

We walked and talked and laughed all the way down College. I bought my tart pan and also a muddler to make mojitos with all that rum I brought back from Cuba.  The Beast didn’t buy one CD.  We decided to take Dundas Street back home, for a change of scenery.

Foodie:  Look at all these restaurants that we haven’t been to.  There’s Campagnolo, and that Porchetta place, and up there is the Enoteca Sociale, and across the street is The Brockton General and then further down is The Atlantic. We need to eat out more.  Enough frozen pizzas and roti man.

Beast:  Want to go to one now?

Foodie:  Are you kidding me?  I’m still stuffed with banquet burger!

Beast:  Me too but we will need to eat later on.

Foodie:  Why don’t I make us a lightish spaghetti?  I just read about one that Gwyneth Paltrow makes in Food and Wine: fried zucchini, some Parmigiano and basil, but I’m going to use mint. Oh look!  There’s Melissa from the restaurant!

Melissa is a filmmaker who serves at the restaurant where I sometimes work, AND she just got an editing job on a real TV show AND she reads FATB.

Melissa: Did you ever tell the Beast that I think FATB should be a television show?  And that I’d love to shoot it?

Foodie:  I think I told him that.  Did I tell you that?

Beast:  I think so.

Melissa:  And you guys would have to play yourselves, obviously.

Foodie: No way.  Mark Ruffalo would play him and Rosie O’Donnell would play me.

Beast: Are you kidding me?  Kathy Bates would play her and James Caan would play me and it would be like the movie “Misery” only instead of breaking legs it would be about us criticizing each other and eating average food.

We said our good-byes to Melissa who rode off on her bike and made our way home.  Enroute, the Beast spotted a men’s clothing store that looked very Italian or Portuguese in style.

Beast:  Look at this place!  This place is going to have the linen blazer I’m looking for!

Foodie:  It’s closed.

Beast (peering into the window): Can we come back next Saturday?  I see it!  It’s only $29.99.  It’s perfect!

Foodie:  They look a bit cheap, don’t you think?

Beast:  A linen blazer can’t have too much tailoring to it or then it becomes like a interior designer’s blazer.

Foodie:  Or a hipster’s blazer.

Beast:  Call it what you want.  I don’t want it to be tailored–it needs to hang in just a certain way to be authentic.

Foodie:  Hipster’s love authenticity.

Beast (with exaggerated pronunciation): First of all, a hipster doesn’t walk around thinking about how to start a progressive marching band–a marching band that presents African American music with the dignity and respect it deserves, including uniforms, dance steps, flashing arrangements and modern tunes.

Foodie: (Pause) I’m sorry you didn’t find the CD you were looking for by that Chubby Belly guy.

Beast: That’s not his name.

Foodie:  What, Jelly Belly Rub or something?

Beast:  IT’S JELLY ROLL MORTON!  And I wasn’t even looking for that: I was looking for field recordings of prisoners that were made in the 1930s.

Foodie:  That’s can’t possibly be a real thing that exists.

Beast:  It does exist and I’m going to find it.

Foodie: This has been a really perfect Saturday, don’t you think?

Beast:  Yes, yes it has.

We picked up a bottle of cheap white wine and walked the rest of the way home just as it started to drizzle a little.  Our hands and noses were cold by the time we made it back, and the grey sky was just about to turn black.  Housecoats were retrieved from different corners of our apartment and a fire was made.  And then, just as I was about to settle in and finish a book that I’ve had a hard time putting down these last few days, I spotted a rather large cardboard box from Amazon tucked away, as though a child were trying to hide it, in the corner of the living room: The Beast wasn’t looking for the Jelly Roll Morton CD any longer because he’d already purchased an entire box set of Jelly’s music.  I confronted him about it in a non-threatening way and the Beast scurried upstairs and retrieved his Amazon order, which he’d hidden, for me to see.  He opened it up and showed me all the CDS, all the booklets–and he was so happy.

What could I say?  I just justified buying a $40 tart pan because it was made in France.

Later on, once we’d finally digested the last bits of our lunch, I made us a pasta which we ate in the quiet of the night, both of us content in the fact that we were perfectly happy in this little moment of calm.

Aris Banquet Burgers: Foodie **  Beast ***

Erinn’s Lamb Dinner: Foodie: ****   Beast ****

Zucchini Pasta: Foodie: ***  Beast: **

*Drizzle with some good olive oil at the end too!

6 replies »

  1. Sitting here covered in baby puke, i am sooooooooo jealous of your quiet hip saturday.
    Mike used to be in a marching band – the blue knights – he even wore the funny hats and everything.

  2. Please everyone, I didn’t let my boys run around in restaurants. Although we did have a moratorium on eating out because we were outnumbered and control was an issue…..

  3. Le Beast is correct. Given the soul-saving pleasure I have derived from this blog since encountering it, I would be honoured to impart whatever bike knowledge I have at my disposal. Keep in mind that most of it was gleaned from internet bulletin boards back when those still existed, and is both a decade or so out of date and subject to the vicissitudes of my erratic memory. Caveat velocipedist, I say.

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