Digesting Last Year

Tonight, my intention was to move all my Word documents and photo gallery on to a memory stick, directly due to the haunting memories of the Great Laptop Crash of 2011. The serious focus of my work dwindled quickly with wine and the warmth of the fire. I found praline almonds to snack on and began to revisit 2011 in pictures instead.

During an intermission (wine glass refill) I suddenly decided to be proactive and do my 2011 taxes. Buried in my receipts I unfolded a ripped-out section of The Toronto Star. It was a feature by food critic Amy Pataki, on her perfect week of eating. She documented seven days of breakfast, lunch and dinners, culling various outposts in Toronto. As I tabulated my restaurant and booze bills I started thinking of chicken and waffles, gourmet hot dogs, chocolate chip and blue cheese cookies and the like.

Taxes accomplished (and post-effects of my indulgent late afternoon massage at the spa long vanished), I felt guilt-free to return to the recreational creeping of pictures to piece together my perfect week of eating. It would go something like this (in no particular order, but consisting of all of the below and a daily 5km run included):

It was a shook-up snowglobe kind of day in Quebec City. Pink-cheeked skaters spun tight circles around the Place D’Youville outdoor rink. Here, en route to find elk and wild boar burgers at Chez Victor, we stopped for the sugar rush of childhood cocaine: maple butter and maple syrup filled cones. Probably the same nutritional value as a morning glory muffin.

I love this trend of childhood staples getting a gourmand slap of the spatula. Fusia Dog on Duncan Street has done just this. A Rowe Farms kosher weenie gets a substantial upgrade: paratha bread, kimchi, daikon slaw, coriander and a one-two punch of wasabi mayo.

50-50 fries at the Burger Bar on Augusta (Kensington Market). They are hit with a few shakes of salt and masala, and the marriage of white and sweet potato is a force to be reckoned with. Serve with July sun, pint of Augusta Ale, someone you love and a brunch burger: 6 oz. beef burg, with a fried egg, bacon and dollop of maple syrup on top. Reasonable fascimile: lamb and kimchi burger with gorgonzola & King pilsner.

A girl cannot live on hotdogs, burgers and fries and maple syrup-filled cones alone, but, my god, that would be a great existence. I am a salad specialist, mixing sweet and savoury at all costs. I think I put more fruit in salads than vegetables, and this one featured mango, raspberries, cuke and sugar peas. The dressing was a Mother Hubbard concoction of plain yogurt, honey, grainy dijon and orange juice. Never recreated the same way.

This was actually my girlfriend’s order, but, we intermingled our pastas. The Drake Hotel gets much praise for its classic mac & cheese, but Kim’s pumpkin-stuffed ravioli in browned butter sauce with smashed hazelnuts and basil was divine. One must order the splashy $12 Drake mojito too–rum, mint, fresh lime + sugar and soda. Add a night at either the Drake or The Gladstone to round out the night of romance.

When in Rome, or Egypt, one must do what the Romans/Egyptians do. So, we ate camel. It was the most sensational dish we had in all of Egypt. After being buried in sand as part of a therapeutic “sand sauna,” we plunged into a nearby cold spring and recovered with rosehip tea and hookah pipe. As night fell, Ali Baba, our dear donkey, carted us back  to the Al-Babenshal hotel. We sat on the rooftop of the 13th century fortress and felt like royalty. In fact, royalty was dining beside us–the King of Siwa Oasis was 20 paces from us.  The camel stew with pita bread and spicy plum tomatoes and roasted potato was a 2011 stand-out.

In 2010 I was all over the Le Gourmand chocolate chip-walnut cookies for good reason. They are soft  as clouds and the chips are a still in a melty, seductive state. But…move over Le Gourmand. About Cheese (483 Church street, Toronto) was hawking chocolate chip and blue cheese cookies until the baker of these tastebud magnets selfishly went on maternity leave.

Burgers with bacon & eggs. I sense a theme and wild animal attraction. This one was from the Gourmet Burger Co. on Parliament. I have since moved to the Annex and miss my burger go-to joint.

Yes, pink grapefruit, kiwis, dried cranberries and Wensleydale cheese (which is about $10 for a wedge that wouldn’t even prop open a door). It’s the yin meal to my yang meals of burgers.

Once upon a time I loved sushi, especially wild salmon rolls. Until I thought I was going to die from sushi poisoning and had 5 years of dry heaves whenever I saw sticky rice or soya sauce. I’m on my third attempt on re-entry. This art piece was from Omi Sushi on Carlton. I want to love it, I really do.

Kim’s birthday breakfast request: a fried bologna & Velveeta sandwich. Now, this puts a traditional grilled cheese to shame. I had never seen the likes of Velveeta before. It’s an actual cheese “loaf.” Paired with ketchup and a mimosa, let’s just say it was a happy birthday afterall.

But that was last year. Upcoming? I’ve already started a Belize Must Eat/Drink list for February. Armadillo, “Panty-rippers,” raisin fudge, gibnuts (something similar to a guniea pig I think), coconut tarts, cashew nut wine, plastic pudding, tamiltos, cowfoot soup and Syd’s fried chicken on Caye Caulker.

But before then, tell me. What’s the best thing you ate last year? And what’s on your list this year?

Categories: Eat This, Sip That | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Digesting Last Year

  1. I’m gob-stopped as usual Jules

  2. Drooling over here! I officially miss the restaurants in Kensington Market and on Queen St. Oh and Nataraj on Bloor. You know I don’t do the seafood, but I sure could go for a brea, avocado, red onion sammich, toasted. Or some cream of broccoli soup from Java House. Or some homemade sweet potato fries from the Lakeview. Or anything from Temtations in the market. Thanks for this tasty post!

  3. siobhan oshea

    super yummy Jules! well done as usual.

  4. This is wonderful! Very inspiring and great shots. I loved the sushi pic. It makes me want to jump into the screen.

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