Well, that was quite a weekend.
For Nellie’s birthday weekend I had decided to surprise her by flying two of her best friends — the Murphy girls — in from Halifax. My plan was well-thought-out and probably would have come off cleanly but for two things: a massive snowstorm wreaked havoc with flights into Toronto on Friday, and Nellie started drinking at Bryden’s with co-workers at noon. So now I was dealing with two forces of nature messing with the plan.
Fortunately I steered Nellie (along with half a dozen of her co-workers) to AAA and enlisted their help with the surprise. It wasn’t easy, but we kept her under control and oblivious while, after an epic travel ordeal, the girls arrived. There was an long, amusing moment when Nellie didn’t recognize one lifelong friend but did recognize the older sister, but that was soon overcome. And then the crying started. And lasted for about ten minutes. We finally got ourselves out of there and trudged through the snow back to our place, where we opened wine and listened to music and watched Nellie run and up and down the hallway yelling “Best! Birthday! Ever!” (vraiment?) The co-workers retired shortly after 1AM and we finally let the weary travellers get some sleep.
We dragged our asses up the next morning, not feeling our best but determined to maximize our day together. Some Fahrenheit coffee helped wake us up, and peameal bacon sandwiches from Carousel settled our tummies. We spent the afternoon catching up, napping, watching The Hunger Games, and scratching cat bellies. Eventually Nellie needed a little more nap action, so the Murphy girls and I walked through the quiet downtown to one of their favourites: Chipotle. After eating one of their near-football-sized burritos we were all worried about our ability to take on our big dinner planned for that night at Richmond Station.
We’d been meaning to try this place since it opened — it’s so close to us, and had been getting great reviews. The four of us met up with two more friends, MLK, and decided on the chef’s menu + wine pairings for the table. And manomanoman, were we glad we did. In retrospect it would have been a grand idea to write down the courses, but I was too busy eating. I skipped the oysters but loved the lobster puffs, paired with an Organized Crime Fumé Blanc. There was a great honking pile of a few different salads, replete with fried head cheese, paired with a fantastic Chablis. Then the main course: an enormous platter of pork…pork in all various forms, including kielbasa flowers (which is what I’m naming my band someday) and wild boar loin…it was epic. It was also paired with a truly stellar Rosewood Riesling. We were all about to pop, so luckily the next course was a small but tasty sampling of cheeses, paired with a Gamay. Finally, dessert: and while we didn’t let the kitchen know it was Nellie’s birthday, it was as if they’d customized it to her. De-constructed carrot cake, de-constructed apple pie, and a lemon mousse-ish thing with a crispy camomile foam. We each ordered a glass of Lailey late harvest Vidal. And then we were well and truly done. It was an outstanding meal, and I see us going back a lot from now on.
This morning was a little easier to face, but we were still full from the night before. Finally, around 10:30, hunger drove us down to Hank’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the Murphy girls to return home, thankfully with clearer skies than those which welcomed them here. We were said to see them go, but the whole weekend’s effort might have been worth it just for this moment.
Happy birthday, Nellie.