“I gave it to myself, it’s given to me by me.”

Last night, after a long week at the office and a Saturday at a work thing, Lindsay and I had a date night:

  • Lady Bird (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the Varsity
  • Champagne and cocktails at Bar Reyna, my first time there since it used to be Caren’s
  • Dinner at Opus
    • Lindsay had the carrot bisque w/ lime Chantilly and coriander seedlings, and the aged prime striploin and roasted salsify w/ spinach and juniper
    • I had the Yellowfin tuna ceviche and albacore carpacio w/ pickled cucumber, dill yoghurt, watercress and pommes gaufrette, and the red deer venison loin w/ vegetable tartare and apple jus
    • We shared each had a glass from Bourgogne with our starters (red for her, white for me) and shared a bottle of 2000 Croix de Beaucaillou with the mains
    • We shared a salted caramel chocolate tart with sponge toffee, popping candy and grapefruit and glasses of 20 year old Tawny Port

This morning, before I headed back to the work event, we scarfed down a gigantor breakfast (and killer doughnuts) at White Lily Diner, which is quickly becoming our go-to brunch spot.

 

I did *NOT* run up the Rocky steps

For the past three days I’ve been in Philadelphia at a work conference. It was a really interesting one, put on (in part) by Wharton business school. Refreshingly, instead of trapping us in a great hideous ballroom for the whole time, they conducted four sessions in stunning, mostly historic, venues: the Franklin Institute, the College of Physicians, the brand new Museum of the American Revolution, and the Wharton school itself.

Because of my flight timing, and the prime location of our hotel (the stunning Ritz-Carlton) I managed to squeeze in some great spots.

Zavino, a casual pizza (and pasta) and wine bar, fed me a terrific gnudi special, an enormous beet salad, and some Sangiovese.

After caffeine-ing up at La Colombe and doing a little work I decided to try out Monk’s Cafe. The front bar was busy but I snuck into the back bar, and had a great time. It was quiet back there so the bartender (John, I think?) and I got to chatting, and he pulled some killer beers for me: a Russian River Consecration sour and an Almanac blackberry gose.

Since I was now on my way to the conference I decided I’d better get some more coffee in me, and stopped at Elixr on the way back to the hotel. Straight up one of the best espresso shots I’ve ever had.

During the evening’s sessions, where they fed us dinner, I had an obligatory Yuengling. After, once the evening had wrapped up, I tried Brü, a craft beer + wurst place I’d walked by earlier in the day. It was…super-loud and full of drunk dickbags, but I found a seat at the bar where I could watch hockey (WPG vs. PHI) and drink beer. I fended off bros while drinking an Avery Raspberry sour, a Rodenbach Alexander, and Half Acre Chub Step coffee porter.

On Friday we were in sessions from 7:30 to 9:30, so I did exactly nothing fun.

This morning I got up extra-early so I could return to Elixr before the conference re-started, and the cappuccino lived up to the standard the espresso had set earlier in the week. Absolutely top-notch.

Today, when my session ended I had a bit of time before my flight, so I grabbed lunch at a classic (kind of touristy, but still classic) local spot: McGillin’s. It’s an old tavern dating back to 1860 which is found down an alley. Sweet. I had a philly cheese steak and cole slaw and a pickle and a bag of chips, and a Lancaster milk stout, and it cost me $12 with tax.

Despite a bit of schlepping around back streets due to the marathon today, I got to the airport in pretty good time. Then I saved even more time because I have PreCheck, so I had two hours to kill before my flight. Luckily as soon as I walked through security I saw a Vino Volo. I had a Mencia and a Sangiovese, and I’m drinking a California Cab as I finish writing this.

Pretty solid trip, all in all, and it made me REALLY want to come back to Philly some day.

[UPDATE: I left Vino Volo as soon as I saw my plane pull in. As soon as I got to the gate I got called to the desk, and found out I’d been upgraded. Wasn’t expecting that. Smooth, comfy flight, followed by probably my all-time fastest exit from Pearson. Travel score!]

Le Party

Late last week we were hosting Lindsay’s mom, aka Party, and thought we should take her to some of our favourite spots. While I was at work they went to White Lily Diner without me. The nerve.

Anyway, Thursday night we went to The Wren for burgers & beer. We had chipotle buffalo cauliflower, a smash burger, an uncle buck burger, and my favourite: the big smoke sandwich. I had an Indie Alehouse Outrageous Fortune, and Lindsay and I shared bottles of Bellwoods Grandma’s Boy, Bellwoods Weft & Warp, Bellwoods Motley Cru.

Friday night we had a drink at home (some Adamo Pinot Noir, which was terrific) before heading to dinner. We stopped first for a cozy glass of red at Chez Nous. Okay, fine, two glasses: the Malivoire Foch and Leaning Post Syrah.

Then it was on to dinner at Lake Inez. We’d been there with CBGB a few months ago and loved it; this visit might have been even better. We had the sunchoke skewers, the Filipino BBQ pork skewers, roasted squash salad (which had a kick), the bistek tartare, and the 5-spice grilled striploin. That sounds like a lot, but shared among three people it left enough room for both the Filipino purple yam cheesecake and the pear sorbet & gingerbread. All this, of course, was paired with a selection from their stellar bottle list: the Bellwoods pink guava Jelly King and Bellwoods Psidiumism among them.

Saturday morning we got up early in an attempt to secure a table at Bonjour Brioche, but even an 8:30 arrival presented problems. Since all the tables inside were full we sat outside in their heated patio, but on a morning where it felt like -17° with the windchill this turned out to be a bit of an adventure. We survived though, and left well-stuffed.

That afternoon, after Lindsay dropped Party off at the train station, we met up at C’est What for lunch. Lindsay had the jambalaya; I had the butter chicken. I drank a Muskoka Raspbeery Coco Lait, and a Shillow Knowledge Is Porter, and we shared yet another Bellwoods Jelly King.

By dinnertime we were too lazy and unwilling to brave the cold to do anything other than order from Double D’s. Saturdays!

 

“Well, what would you call it? A hobby? I’d say it’s more than that. Look at the consequences. The stakes are very high.”

This past Sunday, after a brutal week at work, I needed a day of nothing but downtime. Thankfully Lindsay was good with that.

We had an amazing breakfast (sausage, eggs, hashbrowns for Lindsay; pork chop w/ apple sauce, maple pecans, and mustard seed jus for me) at White Lily, then retreated home to drink Benjamin Bridge bubbly on the couch.

We spent the rest of the day finishing the first season of both Mindhunter (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and The Deuce (imdb | rotten tomatoes), both amazing series. I’d just finished season one of Fargo too…so much amazing TV to get through.