Cover photo from the Southbrook website

Projectos

Last night we scrambled home from work to get ready for a visit from our friends Mike & Heather. They live just down the street but because of scheduling it’s never easy to find times that work for our common ingesting & imbibing needs.

They came round bearing meat and cheese, and we opened a special wine we’d brought back from Portugal: a 2003 Niepoort Projectos Chardonnay. It was a beautiful little thing, maybe the wine that convinced Lindsay to like white wine at all.

We followed that up with a local Sauvignon Blanc from Five Rows, since that’s their preferred grape but they’re not used to the Ontario style. We also sent them on their way with a Le Vieux Pin sauv blanc so they could sample the left coast version.

We were supposed to go to dinner afterward, but we were all so full of meat and cheese that we just walked to their place (which had been the dessert plan all along) to admire their beautiful loft, play with their beautiful dog, and drink their beautiful booze. They had, unbelievably, a 2011 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay. They didn’t know what a rare treat they had on their hands; I practically forced them to open it.

Speaking of unbelievable: after that Mike opened a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue and Heather opened a bottle of….some tequila that made me want to give up all other forms of tequila. Then Mike dipped into his beer fridge for some treats like a Prairie Flare and a Lindemans gueuze and I think some other things, and definitely some Portuguese custard tarts. We stumbled home and crashed out around 2:30.

Which made it feel WAY too early when we both woke up around 7:30. The day quickly turned into a jumble of errands, stress, and food, which at least included lunch (finally!) at Khao San Road (excellent), coffee at Quantum, and a visit to the popup LCBO on King West (where I bought the 2013 Southbrook Poetica Chardonnay) before we came home to buy a ton of groceries and pick up some framed prints. If we can stay awake we may or may not take in the Nuit Blanche installations in our neighbourhood.

.:.

Cover photo from the Southbrook website

Viande

Last night we had an even better Jacobs & Co experience than back in February — one for the ages. Our grand feast:

Caesar salad
Benjamin Bridge 2011 Brut

14oz Canadian Prime Ribeye (from Hereford in Guelph)
4oz A5 Black Tajima California Cut Striploin (from Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan)
Duck fat french fried potatoes, sauteed rapini, foie gras
Dunn 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Bourbon caramel cheesecake with maple bacon and maple pecans
Grahams 20 year Tawny port

The steak was as good as last time (maybe better), the service was excellent, the cheesecake was killer, and even with corkage fees we paid hundreds less for our meal than last time because we brought our own kickass wine. Seriously, I’ve been hanging on to that Dunn for just such an occasion, and I have several others like it that I wouldn’t open for anything other than Jacobs-quality steak.

A la prochaine, Jacobs.

.:.

Cover photo from the Jacobs & Co. website

Work work work work EAT work work DRINK work work work EAT work work etc.

In amongst all the work we ploughed through this weekend, we’ve eaten pretty well too. Surprising, right?

Friday we were too tired to do anything but order pizza from Queen Margherita and drink a BUNCH of wine.

 

Saturday we tried to have brunch at White Lily but the line was daunting, so we backtracked to Eastbound. We had Bench sour beer and mussels and fries and an octopus tostada, so not brunch really, but there you go. We swung past Saulter Street Brewing on our way (not really) home.

 

We had dinner plans at Carisma late on Saturday, but first we stopped in at DW Alexander. In all the years I lived in that neighbourhood I’d never managed to get a drink there. Turns out they were opening for the evening just as we walked up, which felt like fate. We enjoyed the music as the place filled up, and drank killer cocktails:

  • Old Fascist: Bulleit bourbon stirred with vecchio amaro del capo, house-made bitters & turbinado sugar
  • The Vixen: Bulleit bourbon, chambord, dry vermouth, vanilla syrup, chocolate bitters
  • Prickly Bush: gin, green chartreuse, lemon, ginger anise syrup, rosemary cucumber syrup
  • The Dutchess: Bombay Sapphire gin shaken with St Germain elder flower liqueur, sauvignon blanc, lemon & vanilla

Then, the main event: a typically amazing dinner at Carisma. We shared the burrata (still the best in the city) and scallops and prosecco. Lindsay had a truffle pasta; I had the half-chicken. We shared a bottle of Morellino which I learned is essentially Sangiovese. We shared cheesecake. SO GOOD.

 

Sunday we were moving a little slow, so we just grabbed brunch from Skin + Bones, and groceries for the week so we could get back to normal. Sheesh.

 

Cover image from the TIFF website

TIFF17

This past weekend was a très Toronto weekend. First there was a Jays game on Friday (a loss, boo) with Joe, bookended by drinks at the Boxcar Social on Harbourfront and the Boxcar Social on Temperance.

Lindsay got home from a work trip in the wee hours of Saturday, so we slooooowly got up and about and had brunch at Lil’ Baci, followed by our first TIFF screening of the year. It was Louis CK’s stealth movie (he made it outside of the studio system, so no one but the cast and crew knew what it was about) I Love You, Daddy (tiff). It was written like a modern film but shot like a classic (35mm black & white), which made it pretty fun. I don’t want to give away much, but like all LCK work it was funny and insightful and difficult. Outstanding cast, though, and fun Q&A. [UPDATE 10 Nov 2017: this movie takes on a pretty gross veneer in light of recent allegations against Louis C.K.] Afterward we had a slightly disappointing dinner at my old local Mercatto.

Sunday we doubled up, getting in a very long (two movie) line at the Elgin to see The Square (tiff) which had won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It was funny, sharp, contained not one but two bizarre primate-related scenes, and — best of all — completely took the piss out of marketing pitches. A little too long, but well worth watching. Afterward we rushed (our film started very late) over to the Lightbox and had a deliriously marked-up glass of mediocre wine at O&B Canteen.

Our final film of TIFF — seven short films, really, part of the Wavelengths program — was Figures In A Landscape (tiff). I’d never ventured into Wavelengths before, but hey…when dating an art curator, right? It was a mixed bag, some really interesting (Mr. Yellow Sweatshirt, (100ft), Rose Gold), some meh (Yeti, Heart Of A Mountain), one beautiful (Flores) and one just fucking weird one involving giant cartoon fruit gamboling through the Vietnam war (Division Movement to Vungtau), but I guess that’s always going to be the case with the festival’s showcase for the avant-garde.

After we tried going to King Taps but it was rammed, as was Carisma. We ended up trying Ardo for the first time (in this incarnation; I visited Toba several times) and sheeeeiiiiit was it a good call. We shared a damn fine burrata and had a salsiccia pasta (me) and funghi pasta (her) and cannoli and a lovely bottle of 2013 Nebbiolo Passeggiando from Langhe. Top meal all around, and actually cheaper than the subpar dinner at Marcatto the night before. I can’t wait to go back.

.:.

Cover image from the TIFF website

Grey Lake Wren Speed Hotel

I need a salad or something, ’cause…Jesus. What a week of food & drink.

Wednesday we tried the new local hotspot, the rooftop at the Broadview Hotel. The view was great, the ambiance was douchy, the burgers were fine, the wine was pretty good, and the bill was…a lot. I’ll go back when the buzz has worn off and just have a drink.

The next night I met up with T-Bone for our month-late co-birthday celebration. We tried Grey Gardens for the first time. Stellar wine list, pretty good food, nice vibe. Again, super-expensive for what we got. Getting there and back made me remember why I hate/avoid Kensington Market though. Sweet Cab Franc with dinner though.

Friday Lindsay and I popped in to The Wren after work to demolish their bottle list. We had so many great beers — the Indie Alehouse Dead Spadina Monkey, the Bellwoods Motley Cru, Bellwoods Grandma’s Boy, and Bellwoods Weft & Warp — and filled ourselves with fried buffalo cauliflower and burgers. I love that place so much.

Saturday we met up with CBGB who were in town visiting, and decided to finally try Lake Inez. It was so, so worth the wait. They also have a top-notch bottle list (we had Bellwoods Jutsu on tap, then split bottles of Rodenbach 2014 and the Nickel Brook Proud As Funk) and the food was outstanding:

  • Japanese deviled eggs (kewpie mayo & yuzu kosho, topped w/ arare cracker, roe & nori)
  • Filipino bbq pork skewer (soy & 7-up glazed pork shoulder, slow-cooked and grilled over japanese charcoal w/ a spiced vinegar sauce)
  • summer corn fritter (seasoned with shichimi togarashi and burnt citrus mayo)
  • heirloom tomato & watermelon XO salad (sun dried tomato dressing, crispy lotus root, and xo sauce made w/ dried scallops & shrimp, chinese sausage, and shaoxing wine)
  • spicy charred broccoli (flavoured w/ chili jam, oyster sauce, lime, and crispy anchovies)
  • market fish Kinilaw (filipino-style ceviche w/ coconut vinegar, lime, serrano, avocado, cilantro & cassava chips)
  • salmon ‘Sinigang’ (pan seared bc salmon, coconut polenta, vegetable fricassee, tamarind/miso sauce, chimichurri)

Good value for money too — we were all surprised when the bill came, and in a good way.

After dinner we all went around the corner to Godspeed Brewery and met up with M+LK for some of their beer. I’m still not 100% in love with it, but the new Dai Dai was pretty good, and I liked the stout better on draft than when I had it in the can. They had Norm Hardie Cab Franc on tap too, so…win. It was a really fun night. Gerrard & Coxwell: who knew?

.:.

Cover photo from the Wren website