Monday, June 20, 2011

Baba's Day weekend

Oy vey, another mondo mondosian (that's a signature Dotytron catchphrase) weekend catch-up post. Pre-softball dinner on Friday was a beauty of a meal - roasted peppers, hot house cherry tomatoes, torn basil, topped with a custardy ball of burrata imported from Italy, drizzled with olive oil and coarse sea salt and black pepper. We ate it up with a toasted baguette, some capicollo, and some balsamic & olive oil for dipping. I'm absolutely loving these no-cook, summertime, composed meals:

We lost our softball game, which I wasn't happy about and I didn't play as well as I did last time, but I'm still in looooove with the game.

On the way home, I ended up going a little buck and spending like, 40 bazillion dollars on those new Magnum ice cream bars. We were totally under the sway of the pervasive advertising campaign (featuring Rachel Bilson! Photographed by my namesake, Karl Lagerfeld!!!) and thought we would treat ourselves to a bar. So we went on a mission, hit up 3 convenience stores with no luck, before striking gold at Shopper's Drug Mart. As I'm settling up at the cash, a little bit shocked that A SINGLE BAR goes for $4.25 or something, the cashier says to me, "did you know the boxes are on special?" So I go to the freezer section and lo and behold, the boxes ARE on special, from $6.99 to $4.99 for a box of 3. So of course, I went a little buck and bought FOUR boxes. In my defense, it's because I couldn't decide on a flavour. When we finally tucked into them at home, I gotta say, I was a little disappointed. The ice cream is really pedestrian and lacks the richness of Haagen Daaz and the chocolate has a nice snap to it, but still tastes like cheap, wax-infused crap. So not worth it.

The Dotytron's end of year recital was kind of amazing. A billion judo demos, hip hop, jazz, ballet, and the Dotytron's guitar classes. So cute! Then we headed over to B & G's for deck building. I feel like our friend Gaz totally helped demystify the process for the Dotytron and I. Gaz's approach comes down to "keeping up the intensity" (in his words) - working quick, fast, making sure stuff is level, and not being too precious about the process. I can dig it. Then it was meeting up with Dr. Rei, Hanbo, and Dr. Rei's bro for some Burger's Priest action. As I got out of the car to pick up the Burger's Priest, I saw that there was a KFC next door (I had forgotten the close proximity) and shouted, "Go in without me, I'm going to grab a Double Down to go!" to Dr. Rei. This was my meal:

The Double Down is aight. I wish they used dark meat, and I wasn't fond of the cheese - but the concept is pretty solid. My priest burger was overcooked - they used to serve them pink in the middle and this was cooked all the way through. When they do that, the meat becomes indistinguishable from a Five Guys burger, in my humble opinion (and I've got a pretty finely attuned palate for these nuances, let's face it).

Sunday was Father's Day so I made the Dotytron a breakfast of warm biscuits with strawberry butter, fried duck eggs, and Bob Evans sausage patties:

Then we possé-d up and headed to High Park with the Boobla. We hung out in the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground which is all kinds of awesome and checked out the zoo, which is sad. I can't handle the zoo tip anymore - it's just too damned depressing.

Headed over to Barque Smokehouse and got in line (they reserve 1/2 the table for resos and 1/2 for walk ins). We got a seat on the patio, were informed that it was a $25 prix fixe, waited about 15 minutes for our server to take our drink order and then began the longest wait. We waited and waited and waited. About mid-way through the wait, a bucket of popcorn seasoned with their dry rub was unceremoniously plunked down in front of us. The rub is nice - slightly sweet, with a good amount of paprika. Then we waited some more, watching all the while while EVERY OTHER TABLE in the restaurant received their first course. I could tell the kitchen was in the weeds - it was obvious. Less obvious is how a kitchen gets into the weeds when you're serving a PRIX FIXE. Not just that - a predominantly BBQ DOMINATED PRIX FIXE! All that shiz should be DONE, son! It's really just a matter of expediting! One of the courses is SALAD! Why isn't someone in the kitchen doing 40" bowls of the stuff at a time? The dessert course is an ice cream sandwich! Why aren't they premade and sitting in the freezer? Also, with barbecue, all your smoking should be done and you should just be warming the food. Ugh. I was getting increasingly antsy but the Dotytron was losing his mind.

After three unsuccessful check-ins, 1 with our nerdlinger server who gave us the empty, "I'm going to check on that right away for you" (apparently "checking on that right away" means "opening wine for 10 other tables") and 2 Abercrombie-blonde ditzy busboys "your food is coming out in 1 minute," the Dotytron was apoplectic. We had been waiting for 1 hour and 20 minutes with nary an ingestible substance save for popcorn to be seen. The interesting thing about these scenarios is how we always end up playing against type. You would think that **I** would be the one dropping F-bombs and losing my shiz, wouldn't you? FALSE! It's always the Dotytron who wants to walk out without paying and gets all wiggy. So I informed the waiter that we were leaving, he apologized profusely, and then the Dotytron wanted justice so he talked to the owner/manager who also apologized and said that he would send us home with 2 complete meals, packaged to go, on the house. Classy. They won us back right there.

It was kind of the best-possible scenario. I would generally prefer to eat at home and we got our meal for the waste of almost 2 hours of my time, they did the right thing. The food is really good. Prix fixe included: smoked chicken wings, Asian-style scallop, watermelon mint soup shooter (nicely and unexpectedly jumped up with a hit of chili), pork ribs, smoked chicken, chicken fingers for the Big Yam, surf'n'turf of striploin & shrimp served with hollandaise, smashed potatoes, sautéed peas and mushrooms, a salad of mixed greens apples and almonds, and ice cream sandwiches (ours just the cookie) for dessert. I was impressed with the creativity of the kitchen to go beyond the standard fare. I'm also a sucker for steak and hollandaise. Nice smoke ring on the smoked stuff with all of the meat getting a dose of the rub, and served with what I'm pretty sure is a Lexington-style sauce and a Kansas city style sauce (I prefer the Lexington). The food is incredible value for $25 and I will be going back. If they don't sort out their service issues, then I am the kind of person who values service enough when I'm eating out that I wouldn't go back...but I'm hoping that they learn how to manage the flow better. I place the blame squarely on the servers who didn't know how to make things right, manage their tables, or comfort their guests. The owner/manager was great and the kitchen ended up turning out really tasty food.

For dessert I made us the orange creamsicle tart from the Baked: Explorations cookbook, with some minor tweaks. I find the Baked boys really like to complicate things needlessly, so I did some streamlining of the process. Tart is great - a silky orange curd topped with whipped cream really does mimic the delicious summer pleasure of an orange creamsicle - will post the recipe with my adjustments on the morrow:

Tonight we're heading to Momma & Poppa D's for a belated Father's Day bbq - I'm bringing a spring potato salad (new potatoes, asparagus, radishes, tossed with a mustardy dressing) and the rest of the creamsicle tart for dessert.


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