Kojin

Last night friends K+P asked us to join them for dinner at Kojin. It was a tasty, tasty meal:

  • Starters
    • Corn flatbreads, organic smoked sea salt butter, stracciatella cheese w/ garlic chili honey and thai basil
    • East Coast oysters w/ kombu mignonette, lemon
    • Blistered shishitos w/ sumac, spicy mayonnaise
    • Steamed buns: pork belly w/ hoisin, scallion, cucumber, and shrimp w/ spicy mayo, pickled onion, iceberg lettuce
    • Cocktails (Spring Heeled Jack: tanqueray, aperol, triple sec, cynar, lime; Lady Grey: earl grey vodka, cointreau, honey, lemon; Yuzu Soda: Tanqueray, yuzu, soda; Closson Chase ‘KJ Watson’ 2020 Pinot Gris)
  • Main
    • Cowboy ribeye
    • Ember potatoes w/ seaweed crema, maldon salt
    • Magnum of 2006 O Raffault ‘Les Picasses’ Chinon Cabernet Franc
  • Dessert
    • Yuzu sorbet
    • Digestifs (Lillet Blanc; Amaro; Campari & soda; Grand Marnier)

”’https://www.instagram.com/p/Cg5yeeXufSa/

47

We just got back from a weekend in Niagara on the Lake, full of winery visits and delicious meals and relaxation.

Friday

We took the day off and drove down around noon, stopping at Redstone for a long lunch on the patio. We enjoyed the perfect weather and a little too much food before driving down the street to Kew Vineyards. We picked up a few bottles of sparkling and carried on to NotL.

We set up at our home for the weekend, 124 on Queen, and relaxed for a few hours before dinner at our always-when-in-town restaurant: Treadwell. We got a great table outdoors, and had a killer meal:

  • Starters
    • Ohme Farms’ Tomato Salad, Monforte Fresco, Basil Sorbet, Aged Balsamic (Lindsay)
    • Burrata special (Dan)
  • Second
    • Tempura Fried Quiet Acres’ Zucchini Blossoms, Lobster & Ricotta, Roasted Garlic and Lemon Aioli (Lindsay)
    • Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Sweet Corn & Chili Succotash, Cilantro Crema, Salsa Macha (Dan)
  • Mains
    • Seared West Coast Halibut, “Panzanella Salad”, Roasted Tomato & Basil Mayonnaise (Lindsay)
    • Honey Roasted Duck Breast, Confit Potato Fondant, Bourbon & Vanilla-Soaked Cherries (Dan)
  • Dessert
    • Pistachio Tart with Quiet Acres’ Raspberries (Lindsay)
    • Dark Chocolate Mousse, Sweet Pea Meringue, Olive Oil, Ginger Cookie (Dan)

Saturday

Lindsay did some googling and found a cool-looking brunch place on our way to Beamsville: Yellow Pear. It’s tiny and in a strip mall in St. Catharines, but wow was the food good. Lindsay had shakshuka; I had the barbacoa pork skillet w/ house potatoes, cheddar, poached eggs, pickled onion, red sauce, and green sauce. It was one of the best brunches we’ve had in ages. What a find!

Our first winery stop was Flat Rock. I hadn’t been there in years, but the night before at Treadwell we’d had two of their wines as pairings, so we figured it was worth a visit. As it turns out, my memory of why I’d stopped going held up, and the only two we bought were the ones we’d tried the night before, but we had a nice time outside on their lawn listening to live music.

Just down the road was our next stop: 13th Street. Again, I hadn’t been there in years, but holy smokes had it ever changed. The place has become huge, with an art gallery and a whole separate tasting building and dozens of outside sheets and live music and to be honest it was pretty awful. Way too busy. Mean staff. We grabbed a special six-pack of some of the wines that won them the status of the #2 winery in Canada last week, plus a couple more sparkling, and a few butter tarts, and booked it out of there. Gross. 😦

We drove back down the QEW to St. David’s, where we picked up our annual Five Rows order and chatted with Wes (the winemaker) for a bit, and then drove to Southbrook. Yet another winery I hadn’t been to in a long time, but WHAT a different experience from the others. We sat outside amidst the vines, tasted the whole Laundry Vineyard flight (and then some), had an excellent chat with who we think was the general manager, got pooped on by a bird, and ended up leaving with a case of wine.

We drove back into town, picked up a charcuterie board at Cheese Secrets (more on that later), snagged the last sausage roll at Budapest Bakeshop (there would have been two, but some douchenozzles in front of us took a bunch) and took a load off in the room.

For dinner that night Lindsay had arranged a picnic basket, which we carried down to Queen’s Royal Park. It was delicious, and the weather was perfect. We drank a bottle of sparkling and ate butter tarts and laid under a tree. We even witnessed a proposal in the park at sunset! It was a pretty great birthday dinner.

Sunday

Not much to do on our last day except return the picnic basket and have yet another meal at Treadwell:

  • Chardonnay Steamed P.E.I. Mussels, Fennel Pollen Cream, Grilled Bread (Lindsay)
  • Dave Irish’s Roasted Beets, Monforte Goat Cheese, Pingue’s Prosciutto, Hazelnut Vinaigrette (Dan)
  • Lobster Club on Duck Fat Fried Sourdough, Double Smoked Bacon, Whipped Goat’s Cheese (Lindsay)
  • Duck Confit, Beluga Lentils & Bacon, Fried Duck Egg, Broccolini (Dan)

On our way back to Toronto we stopped in to pick up our Kelly Mason collab order (plus a couple more bottles of the Frontier Block Chardonnay, which the Southbrook staff had urged us to order) and got to meet Kelly herself. I felt pretty lucky to meet some of the Niagara winemakers I’d admired for so long.

Frankly, it was all delicious

We went to visit friends D+K at their house last night, after trying to make it happen for nearly a year. They very generously made us a delicious dinner — charcuterie, mushroom risotto with prawns and scallops, wagyu steak, and grilled corn. We drank a lot of great wine too: 2019 Westcott Reserve Chardonnay, 1991 Beringer Cabernet, and 2016 Silver Oak Cabernet from their cellar; 2015 Hidden Bench Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay and 2011 Catena Zapata Nicolás from ours. We even got some doggy scratches in. Good night all around.

Post-Crime Redstone

Brother #2 and his wife were in town this past week-ish. We’ve had quite a good time, even if it went by really quickly!

Tuesday

Flight delays held up their arrival, but we had some lunch and enjoyed the backyard before walking down the street to Reid’s Distillery for a drink. (I had the afternoon off.) Later we had dinner outside on the patio at The Roy.

Wednesday

Since I had the morning off, we just took it easy before heading to White Lily for lunch — both brothers have now had the pastrami sandwich. We went back to the house where Lindsay and I worked for the afternoon, and they went to pick up their daughter for a visit. Once they were all back in town we ordered BBQ from Beach Hill Smokehouse, which has quickly become our favourite.

Thursday

I was in the office all day (and had a brutal commute home) but our three guests entertained themselves in the city. By the time I got home we needed a bit of leftover BBQ to tide us over, but later that night we ordered Maker Pizza so they could sample the garlic fingers. (Verdict: not bad.) We shut down the night with a bit of Mario Kart.

Friday

I went to the office in the morning, but came back for the afternoon. After work we went to see Thor: Love And Thunder (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was not great, but was entertaining enough for a Friday night. After that they drove the kid back home while we ate some roti and caught up on Drag Race.

Saturday

The four of us were out the door by ten, aiming to get down to Niagara in good time. Unfortunately, traffic and an ill-fated coffee stop put us behind schedule, and we didn’t get to Leaning Post until noon. Still, we had a great time tasting outdoors on their patio, and left with quite a few bottles.

We had lunch down the road at Redstone, and once we got situated in a table where we wouldn’t cook, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Collectively here’s what we had:

  • Cured Pacific Salmon w/ Cucumber, Green Goddess, Dill
  • Sweet Pea Cavatelli w/ Smoked Ham Hock, Egg Yolk, Breadcrumb
  • Meat Pizza w/ ‘Nduja, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Spicy Cacciatore, Mozzerella, Arugula
  • Fogo Island Cod & Chips w/ Celeriac Remoulade, Tartar Sauce, Hand-Cut Fries
  • Pan-Fried Pork Schnitzel w/ Mustard Spaetzle, Fried Caper, Crème Fraîche, Dijon
  • Various cocktails, ciders, and wines

We realized we were running out of time, so we only visited one more winery: Organized Crime. I hadn’t been there in ten years, and it’s really changed a lot. The chairs and tables on the front lawn — with a gorgeous view — were all either full or directly in the sun (and it was too hot for that shit) so we tasted under cover near the house. We left with several more bottles, and began the trek back to Toronto. Traffic was bad, but just usual-bad, so…not that bad.

We relaxed/napped for a bit, then went to dinner at Ascari Enoteca. We were sat indoors, which normally I wouldn’t want, but yesterday? Give me that air conditioning. Anyway, our meals were great:

  • marinated olives
  • broccolini fritti w/ tuscan battered broccolini, lemon zest, pecorino romano
    • 2020 Agricola Molino Sibillia Arneis
  • pea and mascarpone filled hand made agnolotti di piselli w/ mushrooms, crispy chicken skin, pea tendrils, butter sauce
  • three of us had the linguine special with octopus and ‘nduja and caper breadcrumbs, and it was on the whiteboard not the website so I don’t remember much more than that
    • 2015 Tenuta Di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
  • desserts of rhubarb tart, lemon sorbetto w/ melon, port, and late harvest semillon

By the time we finished that we didn’t have much left in us but to walk home and enjoy the evening with a bottle of Piquette from Leaning Post.

Sunday

We dragged ourselves up and out of the bed for coffee and a trip to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market. We hadn’t been in quite a while (and obviously they’d never been) so it was nice to walk around, check out the vendors, drink some fresh juice, pick up some flowers and fruit and bread and a bottle of wine from our Leaning Post friends, and head home. Having a car certainly made it an easier situation to wrangle than last time when we were crashing into an Uber with too many bags.

We ate a lunch comprised of market finds, and they took off to spend more parent-daughter time before leaving tomorrow.

Like I said, it felt too short, It’ll be good to get back to NS next month and pick up where we left off.

25th

I’m just about to leave Halifax after a little milestone celebration. About 18 months ago my friend Brian started organizing a 25th reunion of our Dal undergrad class, and it was held this past weekend. I was a little nervous headed into it — I wasn’t super-close with more than a handful of people in the program, and I knew a lot of them wouldn’t know me — but it turned out to be a good time nonetheless.

WED

I flew Porter from the island airport to Halifax, which I’d normally do anyway, but especially now that Pearson is a gong show. CBJ was on the same flight, by coincidence, so we could share an Uber to downtown Halifax.

Unlike most of the reunion attendees (who stayed at the Westin) I stayed at the new Muir Hotel on the waterfront. It’s part of the stunning new Queen’s Marque development, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my new home when in the city.

I knew I’d be hungry, so I’d made a reservation at Drift, the hotel’s restaurant. My sister-in-law was able to join me, and we got a table outside next to the crowds and harbour. We shared the Maryann’s brown bread w/ organic honey butter, and I had the iced digby scallop crudo w/ charred dill pickles and sherry and slow-cooked sustainable blue salmon w/ Nova Scotia oyster & bacon dashi, fried butterball potatoes and roasted radishes.

THU

I woke up early-ish, considering I was on vacation. It was for a work reason though — I drove around with my company’s regional head to see some of the local store formats and understand the market a bit better (from our company’s perspective of selling wine; I’m something of an expert on actually buying it here). I bookended that activity with breakfast (blueberry pancakes w/ fresh blueberries, espresso crumble, chantilly cream and maple syrup) and lunch (fish & chips w/ frites, tartar sauce, malt vinegar and mushy peas) at Drift.

That afternoon I went up to the Dal business school to meet up with the other attendees and have a small ceremony for a new scholarship our class created. It was fun to see the new building (though I’d seen it before; I finished my last MBA class there in 2008) and awkwardly re-connect with people I hadn’t seen in 25 years and who barely knew me then.

After that, we made our way down to the patio at Garden for drinks, and a few more folks showed up. We were there for quite a bit, enjoying the perfect weather, before heading downtown to…Pacifico? Seriously?? We all remembered it as a…um, less than classy place in our youth. But it has (a) moved to where Merrill’s used to be — a bundle of memories unto itself — and (b) become a fairly classy live music venue. We took over a little corner and caught up, and more people arrived. We wrapped up sometime after midnight and wandered up the hill to Pizza Corner, for much-needed Sicilian slices.

FRI

I slept in a bit and missed breakfast, but that pizza slice was still holding court. The Canada Day crowds on the waterfront were already plentiful, so I had a throwback lunch at the Split Crow, walked around for a bit, went to Weird Harbour for a coffee, and retired to the room where I watched the new Stranger Things episodes.

That night I went to more reunion stuff, starting with dinner at the Agricola Street Brasserie. I had seared scallops w/ fennel, lemon slaw, radish & maple, and dry aged duck w/ duck fat confit, fingerling potatoes & duck jus. I’d wanted to try that place for a long time, so I’m glad we finally had the excuse.

After dinner we went down the street to Chainyard Cider, where we drank mostly beer. After last call there a few of us somehow ended up at an awful joint called the Roxbury. I bolted almost immediately.

SAT

I crawled out of bed and caught a ride over to brother #1’s house for waffles and coffee and some nephew hangout time. I got a ride partway home and walked the rest, in light rain, grabbing another capp from Weird Harbour before getting back to the room. I watched The Boys, read my book, ordered room service lunch (the Drift burger: a 200g chuck patty, Avonlea cheddar, thousand island sauce, iceberg lettuce, Branston pickle, brioche bun & onion ring w/ frites, and a glass of cab sauv) and generally relaxed.

Later on I went to dinner at Rinaldo’s with brother #1 where we shared crispy brussel sprouts tossed in a lemon aioli w/ chili crisp & pecorino, and a Detroit-style pepperoni pizza. We drove around a bit, then headed downtown and walked along the waterfront before deciding to check out BKS, the Speakeasy in the hotel. It’s a cozy spot inside, and a spectacular waterfront patio outside. I was rather smoothly upsold a pricey glass of Little Book bourbon, but the beautiful view & great weather more than justified it,

SUN

Up early again to meet brother #1 for breakfast, this time at Robie Street Station. Stuffed completely full, I got dropped back at the hotel for one last bit of chilling in the room before strolling around the Queen’s Marque area a bit more and then heading to the airport.

We’ll be back in Halifax next month. Hopefully it won’t be another 25 years before I see this class again.

Visitors

It’s been a busy 48 hours of long-missed visitors coming to town.

On Friday CBJ and I met up with our old friend Wade, who was visiting Toronto and whom we hadn’t seen in ~20 years. We had an excellent dinner at Richmond Station (duck duck lamb) before hitting a couple spots (Planta Burger, Beerbistro) for drinks. There was a lot of reminiscing and struggles to remember names, as well as some struggles to read the menus without our glasses. It’s been 20 years, okay?

Yesterday two of Lindsay’s oldest friends T+K arrived from Halifax. So far we haven’t done much other than hang out, enjoy the weather, and eat…so, the perfect visit, basically. Last night we had a bottle of wine on the Chez Nous patio before ordering Descendent for dinner and sharing a magnum of Bachelder Pinot Noir.

This morning we went for fancy, boozy brunch at Cluny, and ordered plenty of food and cocktails. As we paid up and prepared to leave, something very nice happened: our server said we’d been such sweet guests that they wanted to send us over a round of mimosas. We happily accepted and drank our drinks, wondering what exactly we’d done to deserve such a treat. After observing more of the guests’ behaviour, we think it might have been more about what we didn’t do — i.e., be demanding jerks. I guess maybe at a touristy, insta-worthy restaurant, being polite, hungry, and low maintenance is enough to stand out.

All we did was eat and drink and relax and it was glorious

We spent last week in Montreal, visiting friends and old haunts, and taking the first downtime we’ve had since December. It was the relaxing & refreshing trip we needed, I think.

SUN

After the long drive to Montreal, with a brief stop at the Kingston Brewing Company along the way, we arrived at a familiar home base: the Hotel Nelligan. We dropped our stuff, got cleaned up, and then took a swing at dinner. Lindsay had done a bit of digging on the way into town and found Monarque; while they didn’t have reservations left, we took a chance and showed up. Luckily for us, there were two seats at the bar. Our meal was super tasty, and we liked the vibe. Here’s what we ate & drank:

  • Apps
    • Ocean trout tartare w/ smoked sour cream, mimosa garnish, trout caviar
    • Grilled Octopus w/ fattoush, labneh, dukkha, chermoula
    • A glass of Domaine Laroche, Les Butteaux, Chablis 1er Cru 2020 for me, and a Queen Bee cocktail (gin botanist, lillet, lacto-fermented mango & chili honey, lemon, orange blossom) for Lindsay
  • Main (shared)
    • House-made Thai sausage w/crunchy vegetables salad, peanut, nuoc cham
    • A bottle of François Mikulski 2019 Meursault
  • Dessert
    • Milk chocolate panna cotta w/ hojicha tea, caramel
    • A glass of Madeira for me, and Port for Lindsay

MON

After a pretty healthy lie-in (it was a VERY comfy bed!) I went downstairs for some breakfast while Lindsay relaxed. We had a lazy morning until heading out for brunch at Le Cartet around the corner and eating our fill. Lindsay had eggs benny served on an English muffin, orange hollandaise sauce, duck confit and onion compote with red wine, spinach, roasted potatoes with salted herbs, and greens. I had brioche French toast with apple butter, caramelized walnuts, chocolate crumble, chocolate mug cake, caramelized apples, salted caramel custard, and fruit salad. We walked it off along the waterfront, sat on the promenade du Vieux Port, and enjoyed the warm weather.

After relaxing for a few hours back in the room (I watched the new episode of The Boys) we went downstairs to the wine bar for a drink (okay, fine, we had a bottle of Viognier) before heading to dinner at Marcella, a new Italian place just down the street from the hotel. It was bustling and loud and had great music on the speakers. Our cocktails were good and the sausage and fennel salad were tasty. Everything was really great…until the pasta. We split the carbonara, and it was just so disappointing. My theory is that, because it was just before the kitchen closed, a line chef slapped it together or re-warmed it. Or something. It was bad. Overall the night was a good one, but that wasn’t a good note to go out on. (Also, we ordered a bottle of Barolo, with which I sometimes struggle.)

  • Cocktails
    • Italo Fizz: Bombay Gin, Martini Bitters, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda, Pastis
    • Smoky Old Fashioned: Bulleit Bourbon, Jack’s Bourbon Cherries, Angostura Citrus
      Bitters, Jack’s Bourbon Cherry Syrup
  • Dinner
    • Homemade Italian sausage, rapini sautéed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil
    • Fennel salad with endives, mandarin, and citrus vinaigrette
    • Chitarra Carbonara

TUE

It was hard to believe we’d only been in Montreal 36 hours. I’d definitely achieved a relaxation level I’d not felt in some time.

After some breakfast downstairs, we walked out of Old Montreal for the first time on this trip, meeting our friend N outside the not-yet-open (despite what the hours on their website and their door say) L’Ideal before plan B-ing our way around the corner to the cafe Saint Henri for some coffee and co-work time. We did eventually make our way back to L’Ideal — again, after some confusion about the hours — but settled in and enjoyed some funky wine. We chatted for a few hours, enjoying the fresh air, even if it was infested with so much pollen it looked like a mild snowstorm. Once good and chill, we walked home and crashed at the hotel.

For dinner we’d booked in at Nora Gray. We didn’t rally get the full experience as Lindsay suddenly felt very sick and we had to cut the evening in half, but I really enjoyed what we did have:

  • Appetizers
    • Homemade focaccia, pepperoncini, La Villana olive oil
    • QC lobster, asparagus, pickled ramp, brown butter crumble
    • Bottle of P. Frick 2018 “Auxerrois” Crémant d’Alsace
  • Pastas
    • Fettucine, calamari, pancetta, spicy tomato sauce, chive
    • Capunti, fresh peas, lamb sausage, mint, piave
  • Main
    • Grilled pork chop, zucchini, sunflower seed, fennel pollen
    • A glass of Rosso dell’Emilia 2017 “Le Marcone”

Would definitely go back if/when all parties were up for it.

WED

After yet another good sleep, I popped downstairs for breakfast while Lindsay tried to exorcise whatever demon possessed her body the night before. We kept the morning pretty relaxed, overall, watching an episode of Gaslit in bed while Lindsay nibbled gingerly on a croissant. Eventually we went out for a walk along the water, stopping in a park to admire a fountain and squeal at some cute ducks.

Eventually we got hungry, and went round the corner to Pub BreWskey. We opted to sit inside, but later regretted it. I had a salad and a fruit smoothie sour; Lindsay had mac & cheese and a grisette. I needed to eat some vegetables, and she needed to eat something, so we both did well, I think. After another walk & sit by the river, and a nice flat white from Aloha, we went back to the hotel to relax a little more before dinner.

Dinner #4 was at old favourite Maison Publique. It’s not far from where Lindsay used to live, so we went every time I was in town. Four years away didn’t diminish our affection for the place, nor had the food suffered — the meal was absolutely delicious.

  • Food
    • Mozzarella with radish and pesto
    • Duck hearts in a spicy diavola sauce
    • Smelts grilled in lemon, butter, capers, tarragon
    • Ravioli with ricotta, garlic
    • Halibut in a cream sauce
  • Drink
    • glasses of a Mâcon Chardonnay
    • a bottle of Chardonnay from Jura, very funky and different but delicious with our meal
  • Dessert
    • pot de crème
    • strawberry tart
    • glasses of red wine (Lindsay) and Jurançon (Dan)

THU

Time to leave our hotel, and Old Montreal. As the week got closer to the big F1 weekend, it was becoming nearly intolerable anyway. After a quick lunch at Mandy’s we jumped in the car and drove to a new neighbourhood. N lent us their apartment for a few days, and we got ourselves settled in just ahead of the huge rainstorm which battered Montreal on Thursday, In between downpours we managed to skip over to one of our old favourite beer bars, Brouhaha. We had some tasty pints (me: a brown and a session IPA; Lindsay: a sour and a rauchbier; Finchy: lager) and a flatbread pizza, and timed our escape for another lull in the rain.

Later that night we met up with N= J at Brouillon Café-Buvette for a pre-dinner drink. We’d originally planned to visit somewhere outside of the city, but the biblical rain would have made that pretty miserable, so N smartly booked us in for a late dinner at Pichai. Luckily it had been on my list of places to try, not just because it was on the Canada’s Best 100 list, but because they’re known to have a great wine selection — which, it turns out, was curated by Nora Grey’s sommelier. It turned out to be an exceptional choice — what a wonderful meal.

  • Food
    • Veal tongue
    • Fried rice w/ scallops
    • Green papaya salad w/ peanuts & dried shrimp
    • Fish balls in sweet chili sauce
    • Grilled hangar steak w/ rice powder, herbs, lemon
    • Sauteed Argentinian shrimp, green beans, chili, basil
  • Wine bottles (note: their list isn’t online and I didn’t take good notes/pictures, so this is all I remember)
    • Pierre Frick Muscat Sec
    • Giardino Gaia orange wine

FRI

I went out in the morning to get coffee and pastries from a local place called Miche & Carré. The croissants and my capp were good; sadly Lindsay’s Americano was not.

Eventually N + J met us here, and we jumped in the car for a day trip out to see La Fondation Grantham. We were there in part to see an exhibition called Exhibition Troubled Garden: Study for Migratory Roots:

The Iranian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist Anahita Norouzi is interested in displacement issues related to notions such as statelessness and hybridity. For two years, in collaboration with the Biodiversity Research Centre of the Université de Montréal, she is developing a research/creation project on the ecological, cultural and social dimensions of migration issues from the perspective of non-native plants that have appeared in Quebec as an extension of the migratory flows of populations. Curator: Bénédicte Ramade. [source]

We were also there to see the building itself, tucked into the landscape and old forest, with a river running lazily by. We found trails afterward, and got some fresh air and walking in before the mosquitoes found us.

On the way back to Montreal we were hungry, so we pulled off the highway and visited Cantine Chez Dave & Dan in Saint-Liboire, a box on the side of the road which served up delicious hamburgers and chicken burgers and enough fries to kill a horse. We piled back in the car and did our best to stay awake as we drove back in to Montreal traffic, narrowly missing rush hour and another thunderstorm. We decided not to tempt fate, as we’d done the day before, and just stayed in.

SAT

Not much to Saturday: packing, one last coffee with N as we handed their apartment back to them, and a drive home. We fought one last brutal rainstorm on the way out of town, but the rest of the drive was pretty easy. We even stopped in Cornwall and fulfilled Lindsay’s nostalgic wish for an East Side Mario’s lunch.

We came home to a Kramer who yelled at us for a couple of minutes but pretty quickly became an affection monster. Not a bad welcoming party, really.

A week where we did little but sleep in, dine out, drink well, and see friends did us a world of good. As much as I love vacations where we experience something new and fill our brains with different, this was what we needed right now.

Returns

A few scant weeks after brother #2’s visit, brother #1 and his family were in town yesterday. They came over for a bit of a hangout before said brother and I went to see Sigur Rós play at Meridian Hall. It was my first time since seeing them in September 2001 and October 2002.

It was worth the 20-year wait. They played for a combined 2.5+ hours, and had all the magic I remember. They swung from delicate to punishing with little warning. They seem as tight as ever, with the maturity that comes from two additional decades of touring. Jonsi still emits alien whale song from a slender body in such a way that it beggars belief. I got choked up during “Svefn-g-englar”, but the final movement of “Popplagið” was so overwhelming that I teared up.

The setlist, according to setlist.fm:

  1. Vaka
  2. Fyrsta (>)
  3. Samskeyti
  4. Svefn-g-englar
  5. Rafmagnið búið (>)
  6. Ný batterí
  7. Gold 2
  8. Fljótavík
  9. Heysátan
  10. Dauðalagið
  11. Smáskifa [followed by intermission]
  12. Glósóli
  13. E-Bow
  14. Ekki múkk
  15. Sæglópur
  16. Gong (>)
  17. Andvari
  18. Gold 4
  19. Festival
  20. Kveikur
  21. Popplagið

Today the brother + fam are wrapping up their visit to Toronto, and we’re off to Montreal for a week. It’s my first work break since December and and our first time back in Montreal together since Lindsay finished her Masters there. À bientôt!

Eastside Social

Last night we finally tried Eastside Social for dinner, after years of living five minutes away from it. There’s also a vague coastal/Maritimes theme we haven’t quite been able to zero in on (e.g., they have a donair once a week) but we heard there’s a nice backyard patio, so we booked us a table.

First of all, in a neighbourhood bereft of good patios, especially backyard patios, this one’s pretty good: cozy, pretty, with a little fireplace. Our experience of it was dampened in part by the loud, barely-drinking-age, diner en blanc happening behind us. One attendee of said party was wearing so much perfume or lotion or whatever that I couldn’t smell anything else all night. Anyway, the vibe threw us.

As for food, it was good-ish, if kinda weird. The wine selection was lacking, to say the least. I have so many comments on both that I’ve had to annotate them below.

  • Cocktails
    • Bourbon Sour 1
    • Dill On Dill
  • Appetizers
    • East Coast Oysters with “all the fixins” 2
    • Grilled Octopus, slow cooked sous vide and grilled w/ parsley, garlic, chili, olive oil, and lemon 3
    • Sauvignon Blanc (Te Henga, NZ)
    • Sancere [sic] style Sauvignon Blanc 4
  • Mains
    • Fried tempura duck leg confit w/ bbq glaze; served with green salad w/ Asian pear, pickled fennel, radish, green bean, candied walnuts, and orange-sesame vinaigrette 5
    • PEI Mussels Marinieres w/ white wine, butter, shallots, garlic, parsley, and chili; served with warm sourdough bread, fries, and aioli
    • Chateau Pesquie 2020 Viognier 6

Notes on the food:

  1. I couldn’t taste the bourbon. Also, I’ve never seen foam last like this on a cocktail. It was still there 30 minutes after I finished drinking the liquid underneath.
  2. By “all the fixins” they meant cocktail sauce and a basic mignonette. No hot sauce. Not even horseradish.
  3. The octopus was very delicious.
  4. It might have been a sancer[r]e style sauv blanc, but the menu contains no other information and I never saw the bottle, so we’ll never know. Also, the NZ sauv blanc was not good. Also also, the only reason we were drinking SB was because the lone sparkling they have by the glass is Prosecco.
  5. The duck was very confusing. The meat was delicious and tender, but the sauce tasted like a hot wing. My brain struggled with it.
  6. A viognier was, admittedly, an odd choice to pair with our mains (though it worked better with my deck than I expected, what with the buffalo wild wing sauce) but it was literally the only decent option. At first we thought about a bottle of chard, but the only one they had was — I shit you not — Barefoot. And not just that: they were charging $65 for a bottle, when it retails for $10 at the LCBO. ($9 until mid-June!) Even for a restaurant, 550% markup is pretty egregious.

So while the meal was decent, if quite puzzling, we couldn’t quite square the final bill of $268 + tip with what we’d just eaten. Not sure we’re going to be rushing back.