Monday, April 12, 2010

despite a 4 hour "nap"...

this weekend was another ram-jammed one. i just didn't get any of the not-fun stuff done and ended up doing all the fun stuff. i'm okay with that.

friday night dinner with strangers was so much fun! i couldn't believe how hospitable the hosts, B & C were lovely hosts who have a gorgeous house in the bloor west village area (an area that i've NEVER BEEN TO IN MY LIFE.) we had roasted salmon, a delicious boneless grilled leg of lamb, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and a biryani rice studded with caramelized onions, pistachios, and plump raisins. i've so come around on raisins in savory dishes (particularly biryanis.) i love them now. i'm not saying that if i see a raisin in a scone i'm going to let it continue on its merry way without harassment, but in a biryani, we can coexist. the crack pie was pretty good! i'd say very successful overall - a 75% success rate. next time i'm not going to over cook it so that it's goopier, but it did make transporting it across town easy (especially on saturday night when i wrapped it up and had it sitting vertically in my panier on a cross-town bike ride to foxley.)


 
this was my pre-modelling breakfast, currently my favorite thing to eat in the mornings. a toasted whole wheat bagel with sliced avocado, red onion, and tomato, with melted jalepeno havarti (or another kind of mild cheese.) it's super-filling though and i generally can't eat both halves of the bagel.

the modelling went well - the pics turned out by and large. H's styling is very avant-garde - she's really inspired by japanese harajuku styles - let's just say that at one point i was wearing fluorescent pink tights, with fluorescent yellow fishnets over top, and on top of THAT, red knee socks with black hearts. you can see some of the more successful photos at H's shop: foundlings vintage

after that i met up with the dotytron and we did our weekly grocery shopping and then stopped to get a "snack" at messini's (by the by, the bio on that website of the establishment and the owner are kind of hilarious.) we got a pork gyro and a lamb gyro and split them - i'm a HUGE fan of french fries in the gyro:

 


we were SUPPOSED to do work after that but somehow ended up snoozing on the couch and then getting up and feeling cranky because we were uncomfortable and then going upstairs to snooze some more, resulting in a "nap" that ended up lasting 4-5 hours. whoops. in our defense, we were out until almost 1am on friday night - which is SOOOOOO LATE (like, vampire time) for us. we got up just in time to scramble our stuff together to bike to foxley to meet buns and xtina for buns' birthday dinner (note: the following photos of our dinner are only marginally better than the ones posted in the blog to review.)

luckily for us buns and xtina had the foresight to arrive at quarter to seven to snag a table. the place was filled up by the time we got there just after 7 and they were already taking names for the wait list.

we each ordered 2 dishes and split everything (the dishes are designed for sharing):
 
this is a blue crab and avocado salad - a mass of delicate, fine blue crab meat seasoned with citrus and cilantro and stuffed in a ripe avocado shell with decorative squiggles of sriracha. the dotytron and i were all hot from the bike ride, groggy and head-fuzzy from the too-long nap, and still full from the pre-nap gyro fat bombs so we were craving stuff that was fresh and light and kind of appetite stimulating - the food at foxley totally fit the bill. the south east asian inspired hearty small plates featured complex interplays of sweet, sour, salty, and hot that kind of perked up your tastebuds and was a little different from the norm. because they're built for sharing, we were able to try everything and i'd say that the dishes were almost all really tasty and gently priced (ranging from around $7-$20 on average.)

 
next up were lamb and duck proscuitto potstickers - intensely meaty, ginger flecked little bombs of sanguine, gaminess.

 
wahoo ceviche with mango salsa - firm chunks of fish in a citrusy mango salsa punched up with cilantro and the licorice notes of thai basil. super refreshing.

grilled spiced venison wrapped in la lot leaves served with a salad dressed in what tasted like nuoc cham (the sweet-sour dipping sauce they serve in vietnamese restaurants.) apparently la lot leaves are also known as pepper leaves and are used as meat wrappers in vietnam. the venison was so tasty! finely ground and spiced with what tasted like a hint of cinnamon and cardamom.

next we moved onto the more "main course" style heavier, meatier dishes. except for the dotytron who ordered scallop ceviche with kumquat and grilled jalepeno. this was nice - fat slices of scallop in an indeterminate sauce - to be honest, this dish got lost amongst the heavier dishes that arrived in our second wave of ordering. i also thought that the flavours of kumquat (which i tend to find very strong and floral) didn't really come through.

 
sauteed asian greens in a highly addictive, sweet sauce. so good. i think it was gai lan - nice crunch to the stems.

 
this muscatel-braised pork belly had us all swooning with delight. you don't really need to hear me wax poetic about the wonders of pork belly and how the thin ribbons of pork flesh shredded at the slightest prod of a fork and how the slippery fat coated the inside of our mouths in a symphony of sweet unctuousness. it's good here - and a healthy sized portion, too.

grilled side ribs with a carmelized shallot molasses glaze were so finger-licking good - it was one of those situations were one of the people in the couple martyred themselves and gave up the last bite to their other half. the caramelized shallots and molasses combined to give an almost coffee-like bitterness to the glaze and the meat was falling off the bone tender.

this dish we called "captain beef heart" - it was skewers of grilled beef heart with a chili lime salsa. as it turns out, beef heart, when grilled medium has a texture similar to the tender bite of kidneys - and a meaty flavour minus the chew and brawn of beef meat. i really enjoyed this dish but i tend to enjoy grilled bits of meat and offal on sticks.

the timing on dinner was perfect - by the time we finished up we had just enough time to make it to see the high school play that our friend lolly co-wrote and that got shortlisted in the regional division of the sears drama festival (which i know nothing about but is some kind of prestigious prize for high school drama productions.) her play was SO GOOD! it was amazing - i'm so proud of her - she's so talented. i mean, i write but i can't imagine writing a play. it seems like so much work and i thought her use of symbolism and a greek-style chorus and tying together the themes into a tight cohesive whole (not to mention a twist ending that would have done m. night shamalamadingdong proud) resulted in a remarkably polished piece. so good.

...and we STILL went out after that! a triple-header evening! i'm so proud of us! we ended up with kdubs crew at thymeless for "dancehall generation" which was high on roots reggae (SNOOOOOZE) and low on dancehall (BOOOOOOO). i kind of hate roots reggae. i just think that if dancehall exists, why would you bother? but that's just in keeping with me always wanting things to be boombastic. i mean, i guess i could see you wanting the irie laid back vibes if you're out in the sun drinking some red stripe on the patio - but don't you want it to get MORE HYPE by throwing in some dutty bass? i do.

sunday morning i drove on the dvp for the first time ever and almost gave myself a hernia tensing up my shoulders gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of the damned. i also almost started crying. it was very stressful.

what WASN'T stressful was eating dim sum with the dotytron's family. i had a lovely time and got to visit with momma and poppa d's friends reet and rick who own that farm that we go to sometimes (not frequently enough.)

i have a confession to make: i find it really boring watching people open presents. like, REALLY BORING. the dotytron had a good idea for bridal and baby showers and whatnot - you should take the present from the person as they arrive, rip it open in front of them, and then offer the thanks to them and them alone and then put the opened gift on a table if you want to have the chance to have other people check it out. it's not such a public display that way - because let's face it, present opening is only really enjoyable in that moment for the recipient and the gifter - everyone else is waiting to go home. also, i think it's really hard for the recipient to sustain meaningful thanks after a parade of gifts...it's hard and really draining to be so continually and publicly effusive. i actually thought the dotytron's idea was really solid.

so i came home and worked on my stupid assignment and bid s-dawg adieu (he's leaving for sri lanka on thursday) and then the dotytron and i went on a long evening constitutional down to the beaches - it was nice - i like hanging out with that guy. the intention was to find someplace to eat but we had forgotten about the dearth of non-quasi italian restaurants in that general area. good lord - how do people live there? there's NOTHING TO EAT. not a single G-D THING! it's all penne alla vodka with grilled chicken!!! ugh. and the places are full of people shoveling down that crap!

we finally settled on papa sol's. we weren't in the mood for an epic, 3 course meal and we didn't want to spend more than $10. we were also (against my better judgement) swayed by the glowing review from eye weekly posted in the window (that i've linked to above.) the food was resoundingly MEH. i don't know how you can claim to be famous for a veal sandwich when THE VEAL IS BAKED AND NOT FRIED. WHAT THE CRAP IS THAT. it was kind of appalling. we didn't notice that little tidbit until after we ordered. i got a meatball sandwich and the dotytron got the veal and we split. both sarnies were okay at best. where they really nailed it is in the bun. a soft but crusty ciabatta roll with just the right amount of give and bite - like a good partner, it supports the sandwich filling but it also knows when to give way and let the filling do it's thing, and it doesn't fight with you. the sandwiches got a turn in a panini press which added some nice toastiness.

but the fillings were so ho-hum we might as well have been eating at subway. and the fillings were kind of skimpy. my meatballs were tender enough but lacked flavour. the veal was also tender but again was baked, and not fried. they were accompanied with a sweaty, half-cooked melange of button mushroom, onions, and green peppers (which i tend to hate.) the most terrible thing was the tomato sauce, or lack thereof - it was really a thin gruel with no discernible tomato flavour.

here's the thing: you don't go bellying up and throwing down in the veal sandwich/meatball sandwich world if you don't have a good sauce. there are too many outstanding contenders out there. if they had called these sandwiches something else, i would've bought it. and they were tasty enough. i didn't feel like i got hosed. but those my friends, were not a veal sarnie or a meatball sarnie that any self-respecting sandwich connoisseur (with whom i consider myself in solidarity) would accept as an acceptable specimen. even a mediocre veal sammy is good. the crispy breaded veal, a tomato sauce, some mozzarella or provolone - how can you go wrong? but the sammies at papa sol's didn't even qualify in the same category as a mediocre veal sammy.

and this brings me to another point: PEOPLE HAVE GOT TO STOP READING FREE WEEKLIES FOR FOOD ADVICE. those guys are so far off the mark! i mean, i read them too - but i just use them to alert me of new places. they can basically tell you if a place is edible or not. but in terms of HOW good or HOW poor - i don't listen. there's no point. the food writers for now and eye are yokels.

overall - i'd say that papa sol's make decent sandwiches, but don't go in expecting a classic veal or meatball - you'll be soundly disappointed. i don't think i'd ever go back.

tonight is my LAST night class!!! yesterday i made a pretty boring whole wheat couscous salad with roasted grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and red pepper with dill and parsley, dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. the dotytron grilled some monster chicken breasts that had been marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. i cut up the chicken breasts and served that over top. it's a healthy dinner at any rate, but not worthy of a photo.

to say that i phoned in the assignment might be the understatement of the new millennium.

fin.

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