Monday, November 09, 2009

the royal winter weekend

that wasn't very wintery.

saturday was a splendid day. i went to mccall's and bought a few piping tips, some new piping bags, and a mini-muffin pan so that i can make wee little bite-sized, mini cupcakes. then i met up with D and we saw "an education." i thought this film was over-rated. the potential is there for something more, but what you get is a slender little thing with a good, believable, though not truly exceptional performance from newcomer carey mulligan - the one the critics would have you believe is the new audrey hepburn, the next "it" girl, etc. etc.

it's the story of a clever, 16 year old girl in suburban england whose options for advancement don't extend much beyond getting the grades to get into oxford. after that - there's not much more, as far as she can tell. she's swept up into a glamorous world of smoking and paris and french music and jazz by a slightly seedy, much older man (played, to my delight, by my favorite squint-eyed sleazeball, peter sarsgaard) and is seduced enough by the worldliness of the continent to not question her future or his intentions. there are some keenly observed moments that result in some genial laughs, but i felt the analysis and skewering could have gone farther. the class issues and the gender issues, and the examination of a nation slowly being awakened from post-war, stoic staidness and facing the rollicking destabilization of the swinging, mod, cultural revolution to come - all of these could have been more deeply examined to greater effect.

instead, as our heroine's eyes are rudely forced open by the implosion of her suitor's lies, we get a neat and tidy montage set to swelling strings that puts everything back right again, nice as can be. the ending was probably my principal complaint. overall though, i feel like if everything had been tuned up a notch, it would have made the entire plot more believable (what are her parents thinking - allowing a 16 year old girl to go to paris for the weekend with a 30ish suitor?!?) and the document of a girl - and a nation's - transition into modern adulthood more compelling.

saturday dinner was lovely - we always stay too late at J & S's house - i always feel bad because i know they have 2 young kids and are running on too little sleep already. J made a roasted squash soup with gruyere croutons and a mascarpone cream and L made us a hand-rolled pappardelle in a braised short rib ragu with arugala. it was delicious! my apple brown butter tart was a success, i feel. you can't really go wrong with brown butter, especially when it's housed in a crisp, crumbly tart shell and flecked with vanilla, nestled in the nooks and crannies around tender, mellow, honey crisp apples. we ate the rest of the tart last night...that's the evidence above.

for sunday breakkie i made us eggs benny with this new smoked, english-style bacon the dotytron nabbed from the mennonites. it's AMAZING. it comes with a thick, 1" layer of fat all around - so delicious - it takes me back to the most glorious english bacon sammy i had at borough market in london, which was basically a pile of this same bacon, fried on a skillet and served on a soft bun, glistening with the sweet, smoky fat. i added some baby spinach to our benny, too - just to make things respectable (somewhat).

then came the royal winter fair! yesterday was a gloriously, atypically warm november day - the kind that gives irrefutable evidence for the validity of global warming. so we biked the 10km there and the 10km back along the various bike paths that run along lakeshore. as we were doing it - i realized that the ability to bike to the CNE in about 35 minutes, was one of the reasons i loved living in toronto and why i find it really hard to see myself moving away.

here are some photos from the royal (which, btw is INSANELY expensive - it's like $18/person to get in, and that doesn't include the horse show. considering that all you do when you get in there is spend MORE money, it's a little bit of a gouging - but i do support the 4H club and i respect that farmers feed families and that rural ontario is as much a part of my ontario as any other, so in the end, i don't mind paying $18 for country mouse to come to city mouse):

look at that BUNNY! that little face!!!

we went a little buck and ate like pigs, even though we had JUST eaten like pigs 2 hours earlier:

we split perogies, an octoberfest sausage, and cabbage rolls, and a potato rosti with sour cream and cheddar cheese. then we had a cinnamon sugar elephant ear and an apple dumpling with ice cream (not pictured). this is in addition to stuffing our faces with all kinds of freebies and tasters (shortbread, summer sausage, kielbassa, etc.):

i almost got a free walking stick but then i realized we couldn't carry it back. this sucked because i listened to the whole message before getting it. the message was about how jesus is our saviour and i have to welcome ol' JC into my heart to get into heaven (the walking sticks were from the association of christian farmers and feature color-coded beads that represented sin, heaven, JC's blood, etc.) so after the message (which was LONG, btw!) i turned to the dotytron and said, "okay, i get it, so we have to wash ourselves in jesus's BLOOD." and the guy who was giving the message was all like, "well, not LITERALLY, it's a metaphor" and i was like (in my head): why are crazy religious people so humorless? like, how can they not understand satire? then dude asked me if i wanted to get into heaven and i was like, "not really" and he goes: "why?" and i say, "i don't think it seems like that big a deal" WHICH HE DIDN'T HAVE A REPLY FOR CUZ THEN HE CHANGED TACTICS AND ASKED ME IF I WAS AFRAID OF HELL and i said, "nope." and then we had already wasted enough time listening to this message and NOT getting a free walking stick so we left and i tried to weeze more free shortbread samples.

we also sat down for the superdogs show but the dotytron at the last minute decided the he thought it was going to suck and be mega-long because there were too many kids there so we left and then later all we could hear was people going APES**T for the superdogs like it was the rolling stones or wrestlemania in there or something. which resulted in lots of: "i can't believe we missed the superdogs" ribbing which is really just an excuse to repeatedly say the word "superdogs." try it. it's so much fun.

then we came home after stopping by the dotytron's parents house to dry our laundry, whereupon poppa d told us that some family members have been wondering where their thank you cards are for the performance prezzies they gave us and then i felt like crapola. i thought we had up to 6 months to send them back but then i came home and checked emily post and etiquette and they're like, "you should send them out no later than 2 weeks after your return from the honeymoon" and i was like: WHAT THE HELL! WE MOVED!!! plus, i was waiting for photos from our photog (aka the dotytron's sister) cuz i wanted to send a photo out with the thank you cards.

so then i spiralled down into depression because i really make an effort to be ON THE BALL with stuff like that (and by stuff like that, i mean sending out cards - thank you cards, birthday cards, etc.) but things have been stressful lately and i hadn't gotten around to it yet. then i got kind of mad that it's all ON ME to do it and how that's totally gendered and annoying and sexist. you think the DOTYTRON ever remembers to send out a birthday card?!???!!! hells no! he barely remembers when the birthdays of his immediate family are! it's all me! i've got them written down in my four calendars. do you think it's HIS idea to send a thank you card for xmas prezzies? or to do up cookie tins for aunts and uncles? or give frozen soup when people are sick? so i dropped the ball a little bit on the thank you cards but SERIOUSLY?!???? we were MOVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

so it was a combination of guilt and feeling attacked and feeling like it shouldn't all be MY responsibility, especially when my crew (aka team china) isn't the one wigging. it's totally a white person thing. i just don't want people thinking i have no class or no sense of etiquette. i do. it was just kind of a crazy time in our lives and i wanted to do it right.

bah! anyway, the end result was that the dotytron felt guilty about me feeling rotten, so to placate me we ordered in pizza from a new place (bona pizza - they're good!!!) and watched the season finale of "true blood" and caught up on this season's "top chef" - which, incidentally, is AMAZING!!!!!! the calibre of talent this year is insane!


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