Monday, July 06, 2009

people keep axin' me

if i'm preoccupied with things to do before the big performance. am i? i don't *think* i am. should i be? i don't *think* i should be. i feel like i've got bigger fish to fry. i think the only thing i have left to do is make my bouquet and get my hair cut and figure out what i'm going to do with these unruly tresses and log some time in the recording studio (aka our walk-in closet) and book tee times for the interested golfers and make sure everyone shows up where they're supposed to be at the right time, and bake my cakes and transport said cakes and cake stands down to the states. i dunno. i think with only 20 or so attendees, it's not that big of a deal. forgot the beer? need more ice? it's a 5 minute drive to the convenience store away.

i'm taking it one week at a time. one weekend at a time. one task on the giant to-do list at a time. with a reminder that even though we're going to be very very very very very much in the red when the month of september is said and done, we'll have (hopefully) had a spectacular time. the only thing i have to promise myself is to live in the moment and enjoy it and not wish, worry, and fret the time away. on our epic bike ride on canada day on the path that runs along the lakeshore, we passed the donald d. summerville outdoor pool, which is the very first municipal outdoor pool i ever swam in, introduced to me by the dotytron during our second summer together - after he had taught me to ride a bike, when it still seemed completely natural to be riding a bmx everywhere (my poor knees!) because of the strike, it was empty and forlorn, a concrete monolith left to stew out in the sun, bereft of laughing children and the slap of wet feet on the deck cut through with the staccato tea-kettle warnings from the lifeguard whistle. "boo! i can't believe this strike means i won't be doing any swimming in pools this summer," bemoaned i. "well," the ever philosophical, perennially half-full dotytron replied, "that's true, but you know what? i'm guessing the outdoor swimming at disney is going to be pretty fun, and the outdoor swimming in hawaii is going to be EVEN MORE fun." this effectively checked my ire.

it's true. as usual, we are very very very lucky and you shouldn't let a minute go by without being mindful of how fortunate we are. yes, you. even if, unlike me, you aren't going to disney with your entire family (the luck on that is debatable, in terms of the corresponding tax exacted on sanity and peace of mind). we're lucky to be living in the northern hemisphere where living amongst refuse is a minor inconvenience instead of a fact of everyday life. where we are fortunate enough to have the time and wherewithal to go on vacations, to have the use of our limbs and faculties and to be surrounded by love. what's a few (few few few few few) thousand in debt over a lifetime compared to that? it'll all work out in the end (hopefully). gah...i wish i wasn't so worried that the fates are waiting to mete out retribution for my (relative) good fortune when i least expect it. know ye this, fates: i'm well aware of how very lucky a button i am and grateful for every second that i get to continue to be thus.

on my way home tonight from work, there were cops stopping and redirecting traffic along wellesley. i was really confused and there were people clustered on the corners, wondering what was transpiring. then we saw a funeral procession, flanked by police officers on motorcycles, with people in the procession waving at us in the street and waving a canadian flag. for some reason this moment filled me with sadness. the people in the funeral procession were waving at us standing on the sidewalk as if we knew who they were (for the most part, we didn't - there was only one gentleman there, standing with a sense of purpose brandishing a canadian flag) when really, we were waiting for the resumption of our everyday lives, paused by a nameless, faceless inconvenience. the two narratives weren't related, or translateable. this death, that should have been pregnant with meaning, seemed so futile. was it a soldier from afghanistan? was it an officer? for a moment i was forced out of my lists and forced to be still and to wait and i'm not even sure to what i owe that moment.

this is a horrible way to transition into a review of a bbq restaurant. i'm not always the most elegant of writers. look, i'm writing at 11pm at night while having been up at 6am to go running. cut me some slack. the stockyards was a disappointment. the dotytron and i showed up early, just after 5 and decided to take a peek in. at that point in the evening, they were ALREADY out of ribs. OUT OF RIBS. ON A SUNDAY. BEFORE THE PEAK OF DINNER SERVICE. what the blood? way to not be serious about success. oh, did i mention that they only do ribs on TUESDAYS, FRIDAYS AND SUNDAYS?!?? these are RIBS. ribs are some of the EASIEST things in the world to pre-prepare. you smoke 'em, you park 'em, you bring them back up to temp on the grill with the sauce/rub of your choice. you could have ribs going in a CONSTANT rotation, QUITE easily. this drives me nuts.

then when we rendezvoused with bwong and sidled up to the counter to place our order, we found out they were out of smoked meat, had taken the chicken and waffles off the menu (when i asked why, i was given the cryptic and non-confidence-inspiring answer that "they weren't working out" --> FOR WHO?!???), were out of the cod and chorizo fritters, were out of the smoked chicken. oh, and they were REFUSING TO FRY ONIONS RINGS. because the fryer was occupied with fries and chicken. allow me to repeat that: THEY HAD ONION RINGS ON HAND BUT WERE REFUSING TO FRY THEM BECAUSE FRYER REAL ESTATE WAS AT A PREMIUM.


we ordered a bunch of stuff to share to maximize our variety : dollar ratio. we split the pulled pork sandwich. this was a rather stingy portion of shredded, mildly smoky pork on a textbook correct, soft, tender bun with a pittance of coleslaw acting as a buffer between porcine haystack and carbohydrate casing. the sauce was sweet, thin, and rather one note. it was okay. portion could have been bigged up.

next up, the porchetta sandwich. roasted pork, supposedly with cracklings, on a soft baguette roll, with lemon aioli. the aioli had no lemon to speak of. the pork was again, a meagre portion, with maybe a piece of crackling the size of my pinky nail somehow finding enough pig in the sandwich to hide within. inexplicable. again, the pork was tender, but the portion size and the absence of crackling put me off. i'm from the school of: "if you're advertising crackling, i want there to be CRACKLING on the plate" crackling service. don't put it on the menu if you're going to be leave me with doubts. in matters of pork crackling, there should be no questions.

the fried chicken (the fryer hog) takes 15-20 minutes. it's fried to order. the chicken was moist and steamy with a nice salty crust. it was quite good, but the chicken pieces were scrawny. plus, the fries, which ordinarily would have been to my specifications (thin, salty, crispy and lean) suffered from being kept in close quarters in the swedish chicken steam room that was the take out container's 5 minute journey from restaurant (there's only seating in there for like, 8 people max) to park bench. for $12, i thought this was decent, although if i spent an equivalent amount at popeye's i would emerge with enough self-hatred to bend the ear of a thousand confessional priests. and the chicken would be meaty AND halal.

we got one of the last orders of rib tips. these are the parts of the rib trimmed when you're cutting st. louis style ribs, where you have a befuddling network of thick cartilage around which the meat is stretched. they're pretty tasty. the specimens here were medium tender, not much of a smoke ring, very mild smoke flavour in the nose. they were still a little tough and were glazed with the same indeterminate, sweet style bbq sauce the pulled pork got. they were okay. not excellent. okay.

finally, our sides. for some reason that makes no sense to me or anyone who loves bbq, the sage minds at the stockyards opt to do a DAIRY LESS potato salad. guys, this isn't oktoberfest. if i wanted german potato salad, i would get it. i want MAYO and plenty of it, thank you very much. it was also touted as "7 herbs" - i counted 2, possibly 3, parsley and tarragon. the red skinned potato chunks were cooked correctly and swam in an oily pommery mustard slick. that's the size of the coleslaw portion you get with the fried chicken. the coleslaw wasn't mixed thoroughly so some bites were redolent of black pepper tickle and some were just sweetly, mildly briny bland.

overall, i feel like there's a LOT of room for improvement and it hurts me that they'll probably win the "best bbq in toronto" mantle by virtue of having been written up by the idiots in now and toronto life. if you're going to do it, do it RIGHT. i don't want orangina at a bbq place. i want ROOT BEER or a sasparilla. i don't want cute limeade at $3 a pop. i don't want 1/3 of the menu to be unavailable at peak hours. i want you to learn how to run a restaurant and meet demand. i want you to look at your portion sizes and price accordingly. i want my bbq to make my clothes stink with smoke. i want there to be peanut butter pie on the menu. i want A dessert at least! gimme a banana pudding. SOMETHING.

i wouldn't make the trip up to visit this place again. not worth it.

tonight for dinner i made us GIANT salmong burgers with that cucumber, radish, dill and feta salad in the sweet white wine vinaigrette. i lazied out and pan-fried the salmon patties. they're dead easy to make. i took the salmon filet, skinned it, cut it into rough chunks and then pulsed it in the food processor with some breadcrumbs, and egg, some scallion, salt and pepper (you could get fancier and add ginger, soy, sesame oil, chili sauce) until it looked like it would hold together. formed them into patties and cooked them until golden brown on each side in a bit of olive oil in my cast iron skillet.

i think we each ended up eating 1/2 lb. of salmon. i was mega-hungry. i worked like a dog all day and i've got crazy deadlines this week and friday is my day off and i've got a slew of meetings all week eating up my potential researching time. the nice thing is though, that tomorrow my colleagues are treating me to a pizza lunch (my feelings on said don't have to be repeated. oh what the hell - I LOVE PIZZA LUNCH!) to celebrate my coming nuptials. it's awfully sweet of them. the dotytron is going to come too. it's just a lowkey picnic in the park, after all.


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