Sunday, October 25, 2009

those who know, know

i kind of wish the world at large had the opportunity to enjoy the unique experience of going to costco with the dotytron. it's hilarious. "do you want to see those chocolate muffins i was talking about?" yes, yes i do! "this tea was obviously brewed using water that's too hot, you can taste the bitterness" *sampling from a styrofoam sample cup of tetley's green tea* lol!

so last night, our plans to meet up with high school peeps got derailed. lemme tells ya: gimme an old-fashioned tyrannical despotic regime anytime! trying to reach a decision based on consensus, through email, makes you want to tear your hair out. i had suggested the idea for a bi-monthly dining club - it was warmly received. but when it came time to decide where we were going to eat, all hell broke loose. there were last minute dietary restrictions, no one willing to come down and pull the trigger, it was too much! so in the end we bailed on the dinner plans and did our own thing, which turned out SPLENDIDLY!

incidentally, i think if you're going to do a dining club, participants just have to submit to the selector. like a book club. it's so and so's turn to pick, you read the book (even if it isn't to your taste) and then you get to pick based on your parameters when it's your turn. people all have to be on the same gastronomic page, too...if you have a raw vegan on board, it's going to be REALLY hard to find places month after month.

anyway, we ended up at caplansky's, in their new location. love it! bright, light, airy, with exposed brick walls and art deco hanging light fixtures i covet. there was a bit of a line-up at 7:30pm, but we got seated at the bar, promptly. the bartender was excellent - backing off when you didn't need him, materializing just when you did, chatty, warm, a real food hound (btw, he recommended hashimoto's to the TEETH. he said the chef will email you photos of what you've eaten so that the next time you come, you won't get the same thing twice - that the room was designed by the chef and that the chef attended the kaiseki institute in japan. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! way to make me blinded with lust to go, buddy. line of credit balance be damned!).

the menu has been expanded since the days at the monarch...there's a breakfast, lunch, AND dinner card. we collected ourselves, the dotytron ordered a fantastic draft beer purportedly made by a disgruntled ex-mill st. brewery employee, and then i rattled off our order in a staccato burst of ashkenazi gunfire: 1 kishka, 1 knish, 1 liver appetizer, 1 fatty sandwich combo with fries, 1 medium sandwich combo with the borscht (not beet based). at which point, the bartender paused from his frantic transcription, looked up, and cocked his eyebrow: "that's a lot of food"

inwardly, i bristled. i nodded, "yeah, we wanted to try the stuff we haven't had" and he nodded and went to input the order. the dotytron turned to me and said what i was thinking, "i take that as a challenge." ME TOO! i'm kind of like, don't you know who i am? i'm iron-stomach lagerfeld! i'm the girl who will eat 8 hot dogs in a single sitting and still be clamoring for more! who thinks nothing of a 3 piece fried chicken meal while waiting for my banquet burger to be done! please! well, the food came, it was across-the-board, delicious:

the borscht that came with the dotytron's combo meal (sandwich and choice of soup, salad, fries). again, it's a beef and cabbage based borscht, no beets. they used the smoked meat bits in making the stock - deliciously fragrant, soothing, warm with a hit of sourness...perfect for a biting fall day.

have i ever encountered a chopped liver i didn't want to order? no way! this little scoop was full of livery livery punch with the added bonus of little bits of unpuréed liver for texture. rich with the faint coppery taste that i associate with liver, it's served with rye ends (too many for the zeal with which i enthusiastically apply liver to carb) and red onion and some tomato.

kiskha! a nice snap from the skin encasing a flavourful, fluffy, mealy interior, browned and crisped on all sides and served with a ladle of smoked meat gravy. oh, my stomach is burbling just thinking about it the next day (seriously, i just had to swallow a mouthful of anticipatory saliva).

their knish is obviously sliced off a big slab, instead of the individualized portions i'm used to. we got the potato, with the smoked meat gravy (other options are smoked meat and they also have a vegetarian friendly mushroom gravy). sliced pavé of perfectly yielding, fluffy potatoes encased in a short, flaky pastry, redolent of onion - good god, i'm going to need a spit cup - i want to go back RIGHT NOW and eat more! DID I MENTION THAT THEY SERVE BREAKFAST!???!!!


finally our sammiches. is there another option other than fatty? if yes, i don't want to hear about it (the dotytron got a good-natured ribbing for opting for medium). hand-carved and delectable. unlike schwartz's, as your mouth hovers over the sandwich for that split second before your teeth meet yielding rye and layer upon layer of brisket, your nose and mouth pick up the unmistakable drift of smoke that's been impregnated into that meat. it's revelatory. fantastic. the smoke is so subtle that you can't really taste it, but your keen sense of smell knows it's there and that's what makes this sandwich. not the mustard - as i told the dotytron, "i never put mustard on my smoked meat sandwich" him: "really?" me: "yup, i bare-back it." neighbouring lone diner at the end of the bar, overhears, chokes on his sandwich and looks at me with admiring, awestruck eyes. lol!

the fries are the same...the way i like them, on the too-salty side of salty, some crispies, some limpies, all of them amenable to a good squirt of ketchup and a mawing by the forkful.

after polishing off EVERYTHING on our plates, we got daps from lone diner, whose admiration for me had only increased as he watched me pack away bite after bite, and an apology from the bartender, for thinking we couldn't do it. i wanted to say, guys, we've eaten in ROCHESTER, sons. we're (well, the dotytron is an honorary one by now) CHINESE, sons. you think you can throw something at me, portion wise, that can even test brian's u.s.a diner on a no-atkins day? or the cracker barrel when i'm being circumspect? puh-lease. come again. it wasn't even THAT much food. we finished our meal and i felt fine. nothing that would require a witching hour pepto shot, that's for damned sure.

so we ordered dessert.


cherry pie for the dotytron and lemon meringue for me. the bartender warned me that the lemon was a little watery and gave it to me for 1/2 price. sweet! what a great place! the crust was tough (to be expected) and my lemon meringue wasn't punchy enough, but they were decent. i'd call those a $3 slice of pie, not a cent more (i think desserts cost a bit more).

anyway, for all that food, we spent $60, including tax and tip. a pretty solid deal if you ask me.

we saw the movie in the beaches cinema. well, well, well, aren't YOU a civilized movie going experience? $9 for non members, no crowds, no screaming kids and blaring arcade. loved it. overall, i enjoyed this film - i think like all the reviews have been saying, it captures the tumultuous confusion and capricious emotions of childhood. i love catherine keener and mark ruffalo - would watch them in just about anything (and in the case of a 10 minute, "13 going on 30" interlude whilst channel surfing last weekend, i mean it when i say, "just about anything") didn't love the soundtrack - although karen o's keening does kind of match the mood of the film. the wild things were a revelation - the confluence of ace voice casting and the CGI'd expressions resulted in a rich, emotionally gratifying performances from the fuzzy suits.

i loved the interaction of the wild things with each other and the way they stood in for recognizable (western) family dynamics. however, i thought the movie was a trifle long - the time that max spends with the wild things, is a little too thin on plot and character development to justify how long jonze lingers. i would have liked to see MORE during max's self-imposed exile. more exploration into the wild things' characters - less of a too-easily digestible mirror for his interactions in the human world with his family. overall, it was quite good...i'm not sure that i'd recommend it. i loved lauren ambrose as k.w. - there are some lovely, funny moments.

this morning for breakfast i attempted (in my own way) to atone for the supper time excesses of friday and saturday night with some whole wheat and oat scones (the same recipe i've posted before, subbing whole wheat flour for the white, and turbinado sugar for the white sugar). we had these with devonshire cream and strawberry fig jam.

then was the aforementioned costco trip that inspired the title of this post. we were almost paralyzed by our inability to choose the right candy/chocolate/brand mix for our halloween grab-bucket. but we soldiered on and then headed to the garden store to grab my canvases for carving.


tonight for dinner i made us a proper fall/winter sunday supper - the kind that sunlit, nippy, kaleidoscope-leaf days like these cry out for. creamed chicken stew with cornmeal dill dumplings. i contemplated throwing everything into the slow-cooker but that would have been a mistake - we don't like it when there's little nubs of chicken bones that you have to contend with in an otherwise luxuriant, silken bowl. so i par-cooked the chicken, at a low simmer (thighs and drumsticks) then let the chicken cool, removed the skin and deboned them. i used the chicken poaching liquid as my chicken stock. we have leeks in there, and carrots, celery, thyme, sage, parsley, rosemary, mushrooms, peas, and a sweet potato, cubed small in a slightly thickened, cream-infused liquid...all topped with dill-flecked, winking dumplings. nom nom nom.

dessert was a sour cream apple tart from altitude with vanilla ice cream. the dotytron has been feeling the onset of sickness (he's ALWAYS convincing himself that he feels a cold a coming on) but i'm banking on the restorative powers stewed veggies and chicken, prepared with love.

i'll let you know how it does.

fin.

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