Cover photo by Swire, used under Creative Commons license

But…but we want two pizzas

In between working, watching March Madness, and picking up some art this weekend, we’ve tried some decent new(ish) food joints.

First, after a stop at Bellwoods and before visiting Telegramme yesterday, we had lunch at Beer & Quality Meats. Honestly, I have no idea how I haven’t tried this place yet with a name like that. Anyway, we had burgers: the Hawaiian (pineapple, smoky chipotle aioli, jalapeno, mozzarella, bacon) for me and sliders doused in Sriracha for Nellie. They have a solid beer selection too; Nellie had a Steam Whistle while I had a can of Nickel Brook Headstock IPA.

Today, before really locking in with my laptop, we walked down the street to the brand new One Pizza. It’s one of the new breed of ‘good food, but fast’ restaurants popping up, like b.good around the corner. It keeps things simple: all pizzas are one size, and one price. Pick your toppings and it’s ready in 3 minutes. Nellie and I each designed our own (she: salami & muchrooms; me: chorizo and rapini; both: olive oil and basil) and each got a pint of Beau’s (she: lugtread; me: Tom Green milk stout). They also have Vineland Estates wine on tap.

The pizzas were damn good. The crust was perfectly thin but soft. The toppings were fresh…really fresh, like the tomato sauce actually tasted weird because I’m not used to tomato sauce tasting fresh on pizzas. The sausage, the basil, the oil…there was plenty of flavour without it tasting artificial. I’m guess that’s what we paid for…though, $40 tax in for two pizzas and two draft beers is fine by me if it all tastes like that.

We couldn’t quite finish our pizzas so we brought half of it home; maybe for dinner we could kill one each, but the next time time we go back for lunch it would be enough to split one. Assuming we could ever settle on the same ingredients, of course.

.:.

Cover photo by Swire, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license

Boxcar & Bellwoods & balcony

I will admit that I enjoy my team at work thinking that I have some kind of superpower for finding cool places. I introduced them all to 9 Bars and Monk’s Table, and have taken them to places like Dineen Coffee and Wvrst and Bar Hop, so they think I have some kind of talent. Truth: it’s just an internet connection and mild obsession. But when I brought them all to Boxcar Social yesterday after work, they really thought I had magical powers. Great coffee by day, good beer/wine/whisky selection by night, and relaxed backyard-feeling space all day.

My team drank cider and Muskoka. I, and others, drank Bellwoods: the Wizard Wolf, the Monogamy (Summit), the Omerta. The Omerta actually showed up while I was drinking the other two — nothing like just-in-time delivery.

More just-in-time: Nellie and I coordinated a pick-up order of some pizzas at Mercatto, which showed up just as I walked in the door, and which we enjoyed during a quiet night at home. We ate, and drank wine on the balcony, and started the kind of quiet weekend we’ve craved for a while now.

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.:.

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Thomas Cizauskas, used under Creative Commons license

Crawl II

Three weeks after doing a mini craft beer pub crawl (Volo, Bellwoods, Bar Hop) with our friend Amanda, we did another yesterday with her visiting sister Becky. This time we hit Bryden’s, Indie Ale House, Bellwoods again, and Wvrst.

Bryden’s was unremarkable, except in that it introduced the ladies to the Local 7 Session Saison. Bellwoods was fairly disappointing this time; my Wizard Wolf was fine but the No Rest For The Wicked sour stout just wasn’t enjoyable. And Wvrst was great, both for the sausage and for our drinks — I had a Silversmith Funzover Dunkel and a Péché Mortel, which Becky also tried and loved.

But the real star of the day was Indie Ale House. Somehow Nellie and I had never been, despite its reputation. It certainly lived up to the rep, and more: the beer was fantastic (especially the Fallen Idol Belgian sour), our food (especially the fried chicken) was outstanding, and we loved the feel and décor of the place. If we lived closer this place would be our new local. We’ll need to find an excuse to return to the Junction, I guess.

.:.

Cover photo by Thomas Cizauskas, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Lisa Ray

Defeated by meat

Last night we tried the hot new place in our ‘hood: The Carbon Bar. We’d had plans to do so just before the new year but one of our party wasn’t feeling up to it. Turns out the same thing could have (should have, maybe…Nellie was already feeling sick by mid-afternoon) happened last night, but we were determined to finally try this place. We met our friends JP & Sue for an early dinner.

First: the space is amazing. Crazily high ceilings, warehouse-sized floor plate, and little hints of the building’s past lives — Electric Circus writ in neon, Disney figurines, glowing Baby Blue signs, etc. It’s an impressive place, no doubt.

The place has built its reputation on meat. Well, among foodies anyway; it’s also become something of a hot spot for clubby types, but David Lee’s grilling has attracted people — like us — looking for his take on southern bbq. And man, did we get some of that. Here’s what we ploughed through:

Starters

  • Crisp chicken skins w/ sweet chilli vinegar
  • Cabrito Papusa (goat-stuffed masa tortilla, tomatillo salsa, guajillo date jus)
  • Charred sea scallops w/ brisket espuma, dill pickle, parsley, rye caraway croutons, mustard, horseradish

Main

  • Pit master platter: pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork ssäm, jalapeño sausage, roasted turkey, pork crackling

Sides

  • “Hot Mess”: sweet potato, cheese curds, crema, pickled jalapeño, chopped brisket
  • Pork & beans
  • CB slaw

Beer (mostly; Nellie drank wine and JP tried to order a Mill Street IPA but was handed a Tankhouse)

The starters and sides were good. The platter of meat, however, was spectacular…there wasn’t a single thing on there that wasn’t amazing (well, maybe the pulled pork, but it was still damned good). The brisket might have been the best we’d ever tried, and I would have eaten a pound of that sausage. Unfortunately Nellie had gone from feeling poorly to almost passing out during the meal, so she couldn’t really partake. Given that, despite looks of longing from JP and I, we didn’t even try to finish it. Half of what was left is in my fridge right now, just waiting for me to eat it. Anyway, we had to cut the night short because Nellie needed to get to bed, but it was a pretty impressive first visit. We’ll definitely be going back.

.:.

Cover photo by Lisa Ray (yes, that Lisa Ray…she was there last night too)

“Friends, relations, tribe, nation, common people.”

I spent most of last week at a conference just outside of Phoenix. This was my view each morning:

Not bad, right? But with this trip coming right on the heels of the previous week’s trip to Boston, I was ready to come back to Toronto and have a couple of quiet weekends. Fortunately while I was away the long Toronto winter finally breathed its last. I arrived home Thursday to find runners and cyclists swarming the waterfront, leaves finally breaking out on trees, and the Canadiens playing their first playoff game.

As sure as those are signs of spring, so too is Hot Docs. My travel schedule kept us from seeing our usual five screenings this year, but we did manage to squeak in a few. First, after a bite and a beer at The Oxley followed by a few spectacular glasses of wine (my ’99 Peter Lehmann Shiraz really stood out) at Opus we took in a late screening of Blackfish. I get emotional every time I think about Tilikum or Dawn Brancheau or pretty much any other part of that film so I’m not going to describe it much more here. I’m just going to say this: SeaWorld can go fuck itself. So can MarineLand. So can anyone who goes there.

After our customary pre-Hot Docs stop on the patio at the Victory Café

…we hit our second screening: Which Way Is The Front Line From Here: The Life And Time Of Tim Hetherington. It was directed by the author Sebastien Junger, with whom Hetherington had shadowed an army platoon to create a book called War and a documentary called Restrepo. Not long after the documentary was nominated for an Oscar Hetherington was killed in Libya covering yet another war zone. Junger made the documentary to explain who Tim was, why he was so possessed with telling stories this way, and sharing more of his brilliance than we were likely to ever see otherwise.

After that we needed another drink. We made our way (slowly, happily) down to Bellwoods Brewery, which we’d shamefully not yet tried despite it being named the 3rd-best new brewery in the world last year. We had several tasty pints and ate bread and salumi and rosemary fries, and sat in the perfect inside-but-almost-outside weather.

Spring!