Thursday, December 24, 2009

MTL part II

on sunday we woke up and headed to reservoir, which was touted as serving a pretty good brunch. FALSE! it was also a gastro-pub influenced menu, but there weren't many things on there that we wanted to eat. the food was good, but the service was terrible, and the coffee wasn't unlimited, and the space wasn't as cozy or conducive to whiling away a lazy weekend afternoon like the sparrow. we all basically ordered the same thing, it was the only thing that resembled a basic egg-based breakfast (otherwise, there was fish'n'chips and carrot soup as options). it was a sunny side up egg, served with a thick slab of glazed bacon, on top of a sundried tomato, olive, and gruyere bread. the bread was way over the top. i kind of hate sundried tomatoes too. as bwong said, "remember when sundried tomatoes were on everything?" - it's such a throwback! dr. rei was feeling the effects of trying to keep up with champion eaters like bwong and iron stomach lagerfeld - she ordered a yoghurt - which was actually quite delicious. it was flavoured with orange and came with a little dab of chocolate pudding/cake in the centre...the yoghurt was ultra-thick and creamy. hanbo ordered a toasted brioche thing that came with a smear of nutella/gianduja. very nice. if the service and atmosphere had been better, i would have given them more daps. i don't know that i'd necessarily prioritize going back.

on sunday evening we went to an indeterminate (read: not on my spreadsheet) hot dog and poutine place. i'm not going to lie, i was a little disappointed that we didn't go to the orange julep or dic ann's or hot dog decarie - all pretty famous poutine/casse croûte places. those are the kinds of sacrifices you make when you travel with other people who aren't so slavishly devoted to regional road food as you. i always find it kind of improbable that people DON'T prioritize checking out regional road food above all else, but i know that's just me being a weirdo. plus, those places were all pretty far out of the way and would have necessitated driving.

we met up with I and saw "avatar" - not in 3D because it was sold out. it was, everything i say about the visuals should be attenuated to account for the fact that i saw it in 2D, perhaps 3D would negate all my critiques. overall, it didn't change the face of movie making forever (as far as i can tell). the na'vi look really cool, but still look super fake. i contend that the both the t-1000 from "terminator 2" and the aliens in "aliens" look more real. the moon the na'vi inhabit, pandora (i'm telling you, all the subtlety of my dad complaining of racism at chuck-e-cheese), looks fantastic, a phosphorescent, glowing, densely forested jungle, replete with majestic (though still fake-looking) animal life.


the story is ludicrous (and is basically a recapitulation of "aliens"): human corporation headed by single-minded, heartless capitalist (here, giovanni ribsi does a blustery job sounding like a crappy richard nixon impersonator channeling paul reiser's role in "aliens") is after "unobtanium" (LOL!!!) which lies directly beneath the sacred tree of one of the na'vi tribes. sigourney weaver has studied the na'vi and created a system where human consciousness can be linked up to na'vi "avatars" as a bid to convince the na'vi to leave their home so that unobtanium mining can commence. sam worthington plays jake sully, a paralyzed from the legs down army guy who gets downloaded into an avatar, disrespects nature, falls in love with the na'vi tribe princess, realizes the error of his ways, and ends up being the chosen one. along the way, he decides that the return of the use of his legs (he's promised spinal cord surgery in exchange for the military using him as an avatar spy) isn't as great a reward as helping the na'vi and staying with them, conveniently where he gets the use of his legs. lol!

i can't tell you how racist and sexist and ham-handed this film is. it's deplorable. the na'vi are a modge-podge of various ethnicities and speak with a faux-african cadence. they are naive, childlike, and slavishly devoted to nature - basically the film borrows from every post-colonial, orientalist trope in the library of the exotic, authentic, "other" slavishly worshipping at mother gaia's feet. we can learn so much from them! look at how in tune they are with the spirit world! their ancestors! with the beating consciousness that binds us all! look at that stupid bumbling gringo, walking amongst them, not knowing and uselessly shedding life! oh wait, he's also THE CHOSEN ONE. how convenient!!!

it's an extremely terrible script with no character development, but again, the visuals are pretty dazzling - although nothing above and beyond what i've seen in other CGI-laden flicks (again the 2D caveat.) ultimately, my review of "avatar" can be summed up thusly: GO SEE "DISTRICT 9"

on monday we woke up and went to willensky's. oh willensky's - what a gem you are! THIS is what road food is about. it's got all the road food signposts - inconvenient hours (9-4pm monday-friday), a limited menu, and character in spades. the "special" is a pressed bologna sandwich. the bun is a run-of-the-mill hamburger bun. the bologna is also pressed in short stacks and then stuck inside. you're given the choice of a kraft single slice or swiss cheese. we had these with egg cream sodas. there's almost a 1:1 staff to customer ratio. it was hilarious. there was a bank of stools and we sidled up, they sized us up, and in the space of 10 seconds the sandwich was slid across the counter. they've been at this game for so long (depuis 1932) that they've stripped the interaction down to the bare essentials: "special?" "cheese?" "swiss or kraft?" "pickle?" and that's it. we were in and out in under 15 minutes, but in the time we were there, no less than like 7 people came in. most of the people were regulars. they didn't even have to place orders. it was THE BEST!

out of deference to the perfection of that sandwich, i'm not going to try to recreate it at home. it's like a chicago beef sammy - it's better left as a local treat - it makes you want to go back to a place to have that one thing they do that no one else does.

next stop was fairmont bagels to load up on montreal bagels for home. finally we hit up schwartz's for some smoked meat sammies. they're solid, but i still say that caplanksy's is smokier. you get NO smoke from a schwartz's sammy. it's still really good though.

here's a shot of the crew at au pied de cochon:

last night we had our friend K over for dinner. it was so nice! i made a red lentil and coconut dhal with fennel, cauliflower, and potato garam masala dry curry with brown rice.

in other news: an important discovery - we peeped parkside fish'n'chips, the local was pretty bomb! so happy to have a good chippy close by. it's not as good as harbord, but it's better than reliable, duckworth's and chippy's. the other one i have to try is penrose. parkside is boss. super crispy, generous portions, cheap as all get-out, a little stingy on the tartar sauce, and the fries are of the wilty variety.

our house is as clean as it's going to get - even though things are a little untidy, it's nice knowing we got a vacuum/dust/bathroom/mop done. tonight we're going to do the annual xmas eve movie with momma, poppa, and ehm d. we're seeing "up in the air" - we usually sleep over there - but seeing as how we're literally down the street and, well, 30 years old AND that we have the most comfortable bed in all of christendom, for the first time in 8 years we're sleeping in our own bed and heading back over early xmas morning for prezzies and mimosas and breakfast. i'm making a panettone french toast with english bacon and fruits.

merry xmas everyone!!! love to you and yours!


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