Tuesday, November 10, 2009

bon anniversaire de rencontrer

momma d got these cupcakes made for the post-performance party she threw for us in august - aren't they cute?

(i don't know if my french is anywhere near correct.) yesterday was our anniversary. 8 years. huit ans! since that fateful night at the much-missed small club venue audiowerks on queen west when i laid eyes upon the dotytron after 4 years and nary a thought in between (this, after a terrible, terrible, boots-in-dryer dj set - in my defense, the monitors were TERRIBLE!)

even though my heart and stomach and gastronomic inspiration yearned for a luxe kaiseki meal at hashimoto, instead we went easy on our much-put-upon pocketbooks and trundled down to a local gastropub to suck back oysters and classic irish pub food. not a bad trade off, after all. here's a secret about the dotytron: he is the perfect companion for a night of dark beers and raw bivalves. really, he is.

we went to the ceili cottage, which is an irish local opened by patrick mcmurray, world champion oyster shucker and owner of starfish - a seafood restaurant where we've eaten in the past. patrick was holding court at the bar at the ceili last night, shucking oysters to order, and to hear him tell it, he was looking to open the kind of place that he would want to go to after work. it's close quarters - a tiny, low, white washed building with thick beams overhead and tightly packed tables around a wide bar. there was a front room that was also packed with locals and it was a real chummy atmosphere. the kind of pub where everyone's talking to everyone and there's no such thing as a private conversation. tuesdays are apparently music night so an irish jam session started with pipes and open holed flutes and organs and a guitar player. it was pretty raucous. they also have a gorgeous front patio with a roaring fire place where they burn irish moss.

it is PHENOMENAL to have toronto's best oysters shucked within walking distance of your home. i can't reiterate it enough. the dotytron ordered a cask-conditioned ale from durham county which is hand-pumped at the bar. he was in LOVE. here's another secret about the dotytron: he loves all things pickled, brined, cured, and fermented. so an unpasteurized beer is his idea of heaven.

we started with their kettle fried chips with thyme and a pickled egg. the chips were DELICIOUS. crispy, brown, salty and not at all greasy the way bagged kettle chips are (i'm looking at you, miss vickie's). the pickled egg was very demure - a hard boiled egg with the faintest whisper of brine - it could have been a little punchier, imo. these two items are from the "bar snacks" portion of the menu, which consists of things like scotch eggs, chips, roasted nuts, etc. - all things priced at a couple of bucks a pop.

then we got a dozen oysters from pei. colville bays, malpeques, etc. all ones we've had before, but shucker paddy makes sure to get "standards" which means they're FREAKING HUGE. gah! so delicious. so briny and fresh and slippery and sea-tasting. the dotytron fell in love with their mignonette (i bare-back my oysters) - i had a small taste and it was an exceptional mignonette - bright and acidic and faintly sweet without any acetic sharpness.

then we had grilled oysters, which again, were the largest specimens i've ever seen. we had them "moran" style (butter, garlic, panko - panko wasn't crisped and they were a little TOO raw garlicky), and "rockefella" (arugala, pernod, butter - i missed the breadcrumbs, but the arugala added a nice peppery undertone). these were delicious overall, but needed a slightly more restrained hand in the kitchen.

they do a weekly sunday roast and a daily roast dinnie...tuesdays is "hash" - roast, hashed potatoes, and a poached egg. the roast was turkey. this was divine...although something easily made at home...i'd prefer it to be priced at $10 or a little more generously portioned but it was delicious and hit all the right notes.

i had the ontario berkshire ham served with hot mustard and a soda scone (and also some pickled peppers). the ham was sweet and thinly sliced, ringed with a thick layer of fat. the scones were light and a perfect accompaniment to the ham - making great little sandwiches with the truly hot mustard. a lot of the time i find soda bread a little too soda-y - it can have a tartar-y mineral note that i find off-putting. in this case, there was a bit of sugar in the dough that offset that and made it much more balanced. it's a near-perfect, quick, plate of pub food. i loved it.

while the dotytron sipped a scotch (oban single malt) i had the sticky toffee pudding. i LOVE LOVE LOVE sticky toffee pudding. this one was lighter than the one i make, much more airy. it sat in a pool of buttery toffee sauce cut with the smooth dairy richness of a splodge of cream. i almost licked the plate and just thinking about it makes me want to stand vigil at the door of the ceili until i can order 4 more and keep them all to myself.

so, for all that, 2 beers (they only charged us for 1!) and the scotch, it came to $135 with tax and tip. which is slightly more than i thought we were going to spend - i kind of thought it was going to be a $100 meal with tax and tip. whoops. but we did go all out. not so all out that i wasn't contemplating another dozen oysters...but still. i can't wait to take my family there. it's so close!!!

monday night's dinner was fantastic. i made us a laksa (malaysian/singaporean spicy noodle soup). i made my own curry paste with a bunch of ingredients (ginger, galangal, lemongrass, balacan) and then added coconut milk and thai chilis to make a fiery, bright tumeric-yellow broth. i added baby shanghai choy, fried tofu cubes, and cut up chicken breast pieces as well as par cooked shanghai wheat noodles (next time i'll do thick rice noodles). it was sooo good! and it came together fairly quickly, too. i'm going to cut down on the tumeric next time and make sure that i have lime on hand to squirt in at the end. it was a spicy and restorative bowl of goodness.

today is a day off in honour of our troops and veterans. seriously folks, WWI and WWI and most W are straight f**ked and veterans (except for the racist, super-codgery ones) are the best. rrrrrrrrrespect!

i'm filling my day doing errands and cleaning the house type stuff and making and freezing xmas cookie dough and packing for my trip tomorrow after work! we're going to my sister's for the weekend. to squish the kids and hang out and collect all the stuff we've gotten shipped there lately. oops. love ya, sis! the dotytron is frantically looking for his skates and helmet because he wants to crash miss ramona and little ze's skating lesson. lol! i'm SO PUMPED. we haven't seen those guys since september!!!

tonight for dinner i'm making a wild mushroom barley risotto with a side of roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts.


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