Cover photo by Dick Jensen, used under Creative Commons license

Lily Peasant Butcher Ball

I met my friend Sue for brunch yesterday. Luckily the middle ground for us is my new neighbourhood, so I had an opportunity to check out some new places before I move.

We wanted to try the White Lily Diner for brunch, but there was a 40-minute wait. Instead we went to Peasant Table, which was actually fantastic. I had the Farmers Breakfast: scrambled eggs, lamb sausage, grilled pork belly, roasted tomato, smashed potatoes.

As we walked back to our streetcar stop we popped into Butchers of Distinction, which looked very good indeed. After saying goodbye I dropped into The Cannonball, a coffee/beer joint just west of Broadview. Cozy little place. I believe I’ll spend some time there.

.:.

Cover photo by Dick Jensen, used under Creative Commons license

 

Cover photo from Pitchfork

An empowered and informed member of society

While I was in Europe this week Lindsay pointed out to me that, on the 20th anniversary of the album’s release, Pitchfork was dedicating a whole week of articles to Radiohead‘s OK Computer. The content is excellent, from other artists reflecting on the album to art inspired by each song to how the album’s view of technology predicted the current day.

Then there’s “Exit Music (for a Film),” which, four songs in, nearly brings the album to a dead halt, but doesn’t. There must be a thousand lonely bedroom balladeers who’ve tried to play this song and failed, then wondered why. Friends, you’ve been had: “Exit Music” may be still at its center, but only in the way that an astronaut strapped inside a space capsule is still.

It was a huge album for me. I knew and liked (liked, not loved) Radiohead before that, but I remember sitting in my first apartment in Toronto and hearing “Karma Police” on the radio (!) and just sinking into it. Letting it push me around. I was hooked, and it began a deep, fleeting love affair with the band. I’ve been listening to it for the past few days, and it’s just held up so well — maybe even better than Kid A.

.:.

Cover photo from Pitchfork.

Demagogic gavage

I just got home from the better part of a week in Europe (England, Sweden, and Germany, specifically) for work. Before/between meetings, this is what I got up to:

London

  • Beer at The Rake, Waterloo Tap, Craft Beer Clerkenwell, and The Rake again. I really liked Waterloo Tap for its location under a train bridge, but The Rake was a standout. Very cool spot. Dragged my colleagues back there with me.
  • Coffee at Gentlemen Baristas, Association, Frequency, and Gentlemen Baristas again.
  • Meals at The Archduke (tourist trap steak/wine place…meh), Barrafina (very excellent tapas), Hawksmoor (outstanding steak, my second time at this chain, but first time at this new location), and Aqua Shard (which had the most spectacular view from a loo ever…see below).
  • Other: the Tate Modern (to see the Philippe Parreno exhibit); lovely walks along the Thames; leaving the day before the terror attack on the Westminster Bridge, which our hotel overlooked (marking the second time I’ve left London the day before a terror attack, out of a total of four visits); and nearly missing our outbound flight due to traffic.

 

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Stockholm

  • A very late dinner at our hotel‘s bistro, a mediocre cappuccino from Espresso House, a regrettable visit to the Abba museum (for work reasons; don’t ask), and a deep desire to return to this city. Also, the title of this post is from a design magazine I found in my Stockholm hotel room.

 

 

Munich

 

 

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On the plane

 

Peachy

I just got home from Montreal. I am very full, and slightly sleepy, after this past weekend. So much fun. I flew in Thursday night, very much in need of relaxation and a few days with Lindsay. I had a nice easy ride from the airport, then we ordered pizza and put our damn feet up.

Friday

I needed a lazy, lie-about, do-nothing day. I got it on Friday. Man, it was nice. We grabbed some groceries, made a nice little breakfast of scrambled eggs with basil and tomato, sausage, fried potatoes, Belgian bread, and mimosas. After that we just hung out, watched TV, drank beer, played chess, ate leftover pizza, and tried to stay warm. Somehow we killed a whole day like this before going to dinner at Maison Publique. We’ve had a number of killer meals there, but this one was near the top of the charts. We had cocktails, house-made capocollo, pork belly salad with kimchi, garganelli grenoble, and a chicken pot pie the size of a chef’s hat. We had all this with a bottle of Domaine Queylus 2013 Signature Pinot Noir. We finished things off with a pot de creme and a pair of whiskies (Lagavulin 8, Glengoyne 10) before the staff surprised us with housemade ice cream. Helpful, since the rich food and whisky had given us a bit of heartburn.

Saturday

Our heads hurt a little after that dinner, frankly, but we still got up early and had another lazy-ish morning. We had a bit more on the agenda this day though, the centerpiece being Péché Day at Dieu Du Ciel, where DDC offers a dozen or so one-off variants of the world famous Péché Mortel. First we wanted another Montreal staple: a smoked meat sandwich. We uber’d against the cold to St. Laurent, but skipped Schwartz’s and instead hit Main Deli across the street, which had no lineup, no cramped tables, and (arguably) better smoked meat sandwiches.

We felt a little full-sleepy from lunch so we stopped in at Dispatch Coffee, where both the decor and espresso were top-notch. We ducked back outside into deep freeze to catch another Uber, arriving at Dieu du Ciel. There was a huge lineup inside, extending another dozen or so outside, and the line was moving much less quickly than our hands and feet were freezing in the -35° cold, so we bailed. So did my battery: it was so cold that my battery suddenly drained from ~80% to 0% in seconds. We got ourselves home with a plan to warm ourselves before heading back out to dinner.

Unfortunately some sudden illness came over Lindsay; luckily she has a remarkable ability to know in advance when she’s gonna vom. And she did. So our planned dinner at Le Filet was out. Luckily Lindsay’s roommate was cooking chicken and vegetables, and offered to share. To round out the meal I girded myself for a quick excursion to the nearby Metro to pick up some white wine. While there I noticed a special 4-pack of Péché Mortel, including some of the variants they would have served at the brewpub…so I bought one and had myself a little mini-Péché day. The peach one was decent, as was the special edition (made with a lighter coffee), but the bourbon barrel-aged variant was tops. Meanwhile we had a lovely meal and fantastic conversation and listened to loads of good music which, several drinks in, turned into a bit of a dance party. Until 2am.

Sunday

Between the late night and losing an hour to daylight savings chicanery, we woke up a little later than planned. We pulled on some clothes and went straight to The Sparrow, once again back on The Main, for some brunch. We’d timed it perfectly too, taking the last available table; a long line formed shortly after we sat down. Brunch was excellent: Lindsay had a hot toddy(!) and house-smoked trout with spinach & green onion pancake, soft boiled egg, beet salad, and whipped crème fraiche. I had shakshuka: two poached eggs in a Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce, with merguez sausage and sourdough toast. We ended with three fresh, tiny donuts: lemon curd, nutella, and pb+j. Then: back out into the cold.

We bought some Fairmount bagels, withdrew some cash, grabbed espressos and a churro at Barros Luco, and did a little shopping before getting to Dieu Du Ciel just as it opened. We’d hit on a nice little compromise: most of the one-offs were gone, sure, but the one I’d really wanted — the Péché Latte imperial coffee milk stout — was still there. It was beautiful, sweet and creamy like a dessert. Lindsay had a Rosée d’Hibiscus.

We split a sample of a few more, and finished with a final glass (a Paris Thé saison with green tea for me; a Nativitor Weizen Bock for Lindsay) before ducking back out into the Arctic. We knew we’d need a little more food, so we got burgers from Burger de Ville and Ubered home. I showered and packed; we ate and watched a few minutes of TV. Then it was off to the airport and home.

 

Cover photo from Goodhood

Good hood

Last night I took a quick jaunt over to my (almost) new neighbourhood, met up with M2, and enjoyed a few more of the places which will soon be mine. Like KABOOM, a Korean fried chicken joint. And Hi-Lo, a dive-ish bar with decent beer and excellent music (Seriously, they played The Amps and Jay Reatard and a lot of other great stuff.) and we got all caught up. We also walked by Chez Nous, an all-Ontario wine bar which seems to have soft-opened.

I’m going to like it there, I think.

.:.

Cover photo from Goodhood

Cover image from the Comedy Kapow Facebook page

KaPow

Last night I strolled up the street to see the latest installment of Comedy Kapow at 120 Diner. My friend Amy was one of the comics, and she killed it as usual. There were a few others I found really good as well, especially Jimmer Lowe and the two hosts, Amish Patel and Ernie Vicente. It was nice to see a few of my old colleagues there too.

Weirdest moment of the night: seeing Globe and Mail sports reporter David Shoalts walk on stage and do a set. Was not expecting that.