Sunday, March 01, 2009

delayed reaction

this post is going to be my belated review of bistro camino and a rundown of sunday foods. i had the pictures loaded up to craft a post on monday, but decided it was more apropos to apprise my faithful readers of the new plans re: performance.

tonight the dotytron and i went to a lecture by roger blandford, an astrophysicist from stanford, entitled "black holes: end of time or new beginning?" he was HILARIOUS. he was very cute and dry and enthusiastic and while i would say that there's a good 50% i didn't understand, it was really engaging and interesting. i always thought black holes were hypothesized, i didn't know that they fully existed and had been documented. it's always such a trip even to just see a picture of our galaxy and to know that there's a BLACK HOLE AT THE CENTRE OF IT. although, i experience the same degree of tripped-outedness when he showed a picture of some astrophysics research facility in namibia. it's like, "whoa! namibia! that's a PLACE?" the same way you think: "whoa, OUR GALAXY! that's a PLACE?" it's nice to get jolted out of your cognitive comfort zone - to have the boundaries and limits expanded a touch now and then.

before i commence with the bistro camino review, i have to say that we watched "vicky christina barcelona" this weekend. or, as i like to call it: vicky christina barfalona. the first time, i was so bored and incensed by the poor quality of the film that i fell asleep in between fitful rages at what an absolutely abysmal piece of film-making it is. the second time, i half-heartedly watched while in total i probably didn't see the whole thing. i don't think this negates my ability to review it because the movie is NOT plot-driven. it's the OPPOSITE of plot-driven. NOTHING HAPPENS. it's the BORINGEST!

first of all, there's this fantastically forced, amateurish, disengaging narration from a preternaturally stiff and smarmily omniscient narrator, who seems to treat the film as if he's auditioning for a role in a bob barker bio-pic (that's how patronizing he is.) the narration is completely extraneous and adds nothing and is an abrasive and consistent irritant.

second of all, the acting is uniformly terrible. people talk in strange, jolty, declarative expository sentences that make them seem more archetypal and mannered than 'dawson's creek' season 1. scarlett johansson "pretends" to be exasperated with her friend vicky and overacts with such vigor that it seems like a grade school production of a woody allen vehicle.

i also don't understand how it's supposed to be a comedy. it wasn't funny in the least. it was a colossal waste of time. it didn't reveal anything about the characters, their story, human relationships, or ANYTHING. i've heard people extolling it on the virtues of the touristing scenes in barcelona. THAT'S NOT A REASON TO SEE A FILM. GO TO BARCELONA. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS MOVIE. it was one of those situations where it was so bad and irredeemable that i actually had that weird rage/anger reaction that makes me PHYSICALLY discomfited. i've seen "annie hall" and thought that was sweet. i've seen "the purple rose of cairo" and thought that was a great homage to film. this was dreck. pure, unremitting dreck.

on to happier things. bistro camino was delightful! we ordered from the prix fixe options (you have two choices, $25 or $28, each three courses - we went with $28). the location is dreary - it's across the street from a canadian tire on a very downtrodden portion of the danforth (smack dab in the hinterlands between east york and scarborough). the sign outside is quite garish and hints more at 80s nail salon than french bistro. the interior features drop ceilings and a mish mash of quaint, country accents (fabric florals, hunter green wainscoting) and ye standard pub cast-offs (captains chairs). the service is hilariously well-intentioned.

it started off with what the menu described as "selection of 4 hors d'oeuvres - ask your server" so we asked the server what the hors d'oeuvres were (the menu was a little enigmatic). she rattled off a list of what seemed like 10 items. when we tried to order 4 from the list, she quickly interjected - "no, you get some of each of them." !!!!!!!!!!

the hors d'oeuvres consisted of (clockwise from top): a lush, satiny, cream of lentil soup; dilled gravlax; salty, chewy bayonne ham with a dried fig; a ham and leek spring roll; a perfectly crisp-coated and oozy bit of fried camembert; a rosemary biscuit with a topping of crunchy sea salt and tobiko; and a pickerel escabeche.  everything was extremely well prepared, tasty, and showed a competent hand in the kitchen.  

for my main i chose the duck confit with italian sausage from the prix fixe options. the duck was a staggeringly generous portion of perfectly cooked, moist, clean-tasting duck leg. served with crisp-tender vegetables and cheese sauce (!!!!!), a little potato topped with herbed sour cream, a little dab of chickpea puree, and custardy sauteed eggplant. the italian sausage was delicious.

the dotytron got the steak in green peppercorn sauce, which was a full 8 ounce striploin cooked to a perfect medium rare. it came with the same vegetable accompaniment as my dish, but was sided with thick cut, crispy outside, fluffy starchy inside potato wedges with more some more flaky, crunchy salt sprinkled on top. it was delicious (do i have to remind you that this was for TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS?????)

C ordered the lamb cacciatore, which i didn't try, but it looked delicious.

to round out our prix fixe (TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) we were told to order what we wanted from the dessert menu (regular price for desserts ranged from $5-$6). i ordered the profiteroles and got one jolly, fat one, stuffed with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. delicious!

the dotytron ordered the english trifle which would have been perfectly lovely had it not suffered the curse of what i call "the attack of the random mish-mash of fruit." if they had just stuck to the jam-soaked sponge cake, custard, and cream, and left off the kiwis and whatnot, it would have been a winner. even at that, for the price we paid for the meal (TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS A PERSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) it was well worth every penny and i almost felt guilty paying so little when we settled up the bill.

the best part is, the chef came out and inquired in his halting english how we enjoyed the meal, accompanied by stiff little demure bows. he was a compact, old man with a sweet, genial twinkle in his eye and well...let's just say that as soon as he walked away from the table, the dotytron looked at me, my eyes aglow, and declared to the rest of the table, "that's it. lagerfeld is done" it's my favorite things in one place! old, asian men! hard-working cooks! people trying to make an honest living! good, unpretentious food!!!!! a price that can't be beat!!!!!!!!!!! TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i want to go back there and i want to bring everyone i know there so that they can support the endeavors of someone who deserves success. i wish a blight and pox on every overpriced gourmet burger joint, or any college street "little italy" excuse for a deplorable plate of penne with vodka sauce that takes business away from bistro camino.

for sunday breakkie i made the dutch baby at the roomie and dotytron's clamoring behests. we call it the fat baby now. it really is hella good. we had it with burned bacon:

and this was sunday roast suppie. roasted chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, bacon-fat and brown sugar and sage roasted kabocha squash, roasted garlic celery root and yukon gold mash, caramelized onion gravy. it was deeeelicious. for dessert i treated myself to chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream and all was right in the world:

it's been a crazy crazy crazy week so far - ultra busy and questions up the ying yang at work. i'm sore from d-balling and my weight lifting regimen. i'm mildly stressed about work and extra projects. the remedy was definitely dinner at asian legend with the dotytron tonight and some looking at pictures of the galaxy before bed. that should set me right again.


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