Cafe Boulud

Summer and the city

It’s been an odd summer.

Actually, Summer, maybe it’s not you. I think it’s me.

I feel restless, aimless, and have a hard time focusing. It could be work anxiety. It could be the headlines. It could be that I’m itching to get away but can’t decide where I want to go.  It could be that time is ticking and one day I will be dead. On top of this, my beloved Thoreau keychain broke, which feels symbolic.


Most weekends we stay in the city, on account of the Beast working on Sundays.

On a recent Saturday, at around 2:00 p.m., I was so fidgety that I suggested we get into the car and drive to Buffalo. Maybe, I suggested, we could go to the Albright Knox, which closes at 5:00 p.m., which explains why we didn’t.

“How about Canada’s Wonderland then?” I asked.

“Excuse me?”

“You know, the theme park?”

“Oh, I know what it is. I’ve just never heard you express interest in going before.”

“Those old wooden roller coasters are wonderful! We could just go for a couple of rides. Look here! The Internet says it’s cheaper after 4:00 p.m.! We could go to that Vaughn Mills place before!”


“I’ll buy you a present at the mall and pay for the roller coasters?”

“If this is really want you want, they ok.”

We got to Canada’s Wonderland at about 6:00 p.m. Parking was $20. When the nice lady at the ticket booth told me it would be $80 for two passes I nearly shat myself. But there was no going back. “Maybe you should consider a season’s pass,” she said.

“But I literally just want to go on one old, wooden roller coast,” I said. “I just need to feel alive again, you know? I want to feel like I have a soul.”

The Beast gently pulled me away, our two passes in hand, and we headed straight towards the “Mighty Canadian Minebuster,” which was fine, but not as thrilling as I remembered. Also, I always thought it was the Mindbuster.

Maybe it was the Wild Beast that I recalled (always as the Wildebeest) so fondly?

No, it wasn’t.

We also went on Thunder Run, which was a kid’s ride if you ask me. When a man couldn’t get out of his seat on account of a belt-misfunction, they shut the ride down for a good 3o minutes. We thought we’d just get out of line, but there was no way to turn around. We were stuck–and forced to watch weird music videos on screens, including Toto’s Africa. I have no idea what the narrative is there.

The Vortex was pretty good. We screamed like kids.

Just as twilight fell onto the park, we were ready to leave.


But the Beast suggested we take one last ride: the Leviathan.


I closed my eyes the entire time. My face hurt from smiling. And my insides were warmed by the Beast’s high-pitched, joyful yelps.

My mood was decidedly improved: five roller coasters in five hours at about $10 a ride. Not bad.

Last Saturday, I obsessed about staying in a fancy hotel on a Friday night, to have a stay-cation in the city. We’d have a fancy dinner, retire to our air-conditioned room, wear robes, maybe go for a swim in the morning, and order breakfast before checking out.

In order to stay on point with my personal brand-crafting, I really only had one option: the Four Seasons. I monitored the price all week. Thinking the rate would drop the day before booking, I didn’t commit. Only they never dropped: the price went up.

We salvaged the Saturday with a late lunch at Terroni on Adelaide where we had a memorable nebbiolo rosé called “Aurora”: it was such a beautiful burnt-amber colour.


Then we saw a matinée, A Bigger Splash, which made me obsess about Tilda Swinton’s entire wardrobe and realize that the Beast looks a lot like Ralph Fiennes, who was often outfitted in loose, colourful linens.



Flash forward to Friday night: I’d finally found a desirable rate at the Four Seasons and booked a room.



The Beast met me there after work and insisted that I take a series of photographs of him posing in the room, acting like a business man, a real baller.



Afterward the photo shoot, we headed downstairs to Cafe Boulud for dinner. Over oysters and escargot, we talked about our days at work, and debated what the colloquial term “tossed salad” meant. Earlier in the week, I’d sent a text to Lainey about how I’d–literally–tossed her salad for lunch but I accidentally sent the text to the Beast. This happens so often that neither of them even writes back to clarify. This time, however, the Beast was intrigued. He assumed that when he got home he would be on the receiving end of fellatio. I said are you an idiot because that’s not what tossing salad means.

We shared côte de bœuf, which came with the best boiled Yukon Gold potatoes I’ve ever had. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but I am serious.


We talked about our plans come October.  The Elegant Garage Sale, the shop the Beast has worked at for 12 years, is closing September 30. He plans on taking some time off, which I both support and encourage. As much as he has learned and as many lovely and interesting people he has met, I don’t think he’d ever imagined he’d be a retail manager at 32 years old. We talked about his hopes and dreams, and a potential trip to Greece in late October.

Neither of us has been there before. It’s a place that has enchanted me since my youth when my brother would come home from school and tell me tales of its ancient cities. I then went on to study the Minoans, the Mycenaeans, and the Athenians. To see the remains of these civilizations will be a dream come true.


We retired to our room–with the bone from the rib steak, which Cafe Boulud’s Hakim enthusiastically wrapped up for us (he was so excited that we were civilized enough to not let it go to waste that he shook our hands, his face beaming.) We changed into robes and sipped Champagne, courtesy of Cafe Boulud’s wine director, Drew (he was so excited that we were having a stay-cation that he’d sent the bottle up to our room ahead of us.) We watched 20 minutes of A Few Good Men and fell into a deep, blissfully air-conditioned sleep.

I briefly woke up at 5:30 a.m.–just long enough to see the sun rising, just long enough to know that everything was going to be ok.


7 replies »

  1. Hey. Just got home from your neck of the woods and loved it. Again. Except for the humidity. For a kind of staycation but a little away, if you haven’t done this do Ottawa. So much to do there.
    Thanks for the great sharing.

  2. Always wanted to do a fancy hotel stay-cation. Thanks for reminding me to follow through with my plans. By the way, I used to live across from Canada’s Wonderland (don’t miss it at all). I always look forward to what you will share next. Thanks

  3. As usual, your posting has not let me down. Loved your business man photo shoots. Well taken, laughed out loud. Glad everything is OK. If you only knew how many people enjoy your sharings, here, and on the tube.

  4. I just spew coffee all over the keyboard on the tossed salad meaning fellatio to the beast. Thanks for starting my morning with a deep belly laugh.

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