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 photo by tpower1983, used under Creative Commons

Sweet Left Carnita Marshmallow

Clearly this week was all about eating. Wednesday night we had that meal at Richmond Station. Thursday we had a drink at The Jester On Yonge and then dinner with CBJ+M at Monk’s Table. Friday I was too sick to go to work so we had to cancel dinner at Carisma, but shifted it to Saturday.

Before that, though, we had much more (chilly) Saturday fun:

  • getting a painting framed at Telegramme
  • a beer at BQM
  • an amazing lunch at La Carnita: pork belly, tuna ceviche, beek cheek, and fried chicken tacos; spicy chips; Left Field x Sweet Jesus Mocha Marshmallow Stout; margaritas; Don Julio Reposado; and churros
  • coffee and treats from Versus
  • a marathon of old Friends episodes
  • dinner at Carisma: burrata, beef carpaccio, and Barbera; sausage orecchiette, truffle tagliatelle, and Barolo; cheesecake and espresso

 

 

 

.:.

Cover photo by tpower1983, used under Creative Commons

Slow down, life. Slow down.

It’s rare that I go this long without posting, but it’s rare that I’m this busy. I’m going point-form this time, just ’cause.

  • Ten days ago, the Wednesday before last, I caught up with my old friend M2 at Batch, which he’d not tried. The beer was fine. The food was good. The conversation was, as always, long overdue and excellent.
  • That Friday a busy, noshy weekend started with an outrageous dinner at Carisma. Bread, burrata, calamari, pasta, white wine, a 100% Sangiovese that almost made me cry, creme brulee, espresso…oy. Barely made it home without needing a nap.
  • Saturday: pastries from XO Bisous, St. Lawrence Market, Arrival (imdb | rotten tomatoes), beers at Thirsty & Miserable (including a Westy 12!), and so much meat at Triple A.
  • Sunday: greasy Sunset Grill breakfast, an entire day grazing on the charcuterie picked up the day before at the market, and gnocchi + sausage + spicy sauce for dinner.
  • Monday: ham & cheese croissants from XO Bisous before I finally gave up and went to work.
  • Tuesday: I had to bail on drinks Monday, and (by choice) bailed on a work event Tuesday, because on Wednesday I was off to Ottawa for meetings.
  • Wednesday: I flew to Ottawa early in the morning, and arrived at my hotel early enough that I had time for a coffee at Morning Owl before my meetings started. I hit Morning Owl two more times that day (once for lunch, once for a meeting that afternoon), then had a fairly generic dinner at the Chateau Laurier.
  • Thursday: Morning Owl (again!) for coffee and breakfast. After my meetings and then a few errands I stopped at Bluebird Coffee in the Byward Market before meeting CB to get a ride with her to their place, wherein GB was preparing homemade fried chicken, which we ate with Dumangin 2004 Champagne. I caught an Uber X back to my hotel and had a glass of Norm Hardie cab franc at the bar.
  • Friday (Ottawa): black bean rolls and an Americano from Bread & Sons, back to Morning Owl for coffee to meet my friend Mark, and then lunch at Union 613 with my friend Dino. Union has an excellent beer lineup, and their fried chicken (yup, twice in two days) was outstanding, as was their corn bread. After lunch it was off to the train station and, from thence, Montreal.
  • Friday (Montreal): after a brief stop at Studio XX it was dinner surrounded by super-loud French bros at Bières et Compagnie, followed by a much better beer place: Pub Pit Caribou. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what the main beer list looks like, because their menu said they were featuring guest bottles of Gueuze Tilquin. My holy fucking grail. Both kinds, the L’Ancienne and the Quetsche. Deeeeeeeelicious.
  • Saturday: so relaxing, Saturday. Enough pastries to kill a man, then hours of Black Mirror, then another killer dinner at Maison Publique. Seared mackerel, spiced lamb tartare on mint toast, roasted cabbage (better than it sounds, probably because it was smothered in butter), fried rabbit, and a pôt de crème, mostly paired with a Painted Rock Syrah.
  • Sunday: my flight home got cancelled, so I switched myself onto the latest flight possible so as to extend my enjoyment of Montreal. I hit two more spots on my list: Brasserie Boswell, which was really cool and had lots of great beer on tap, and Depanneur Peluso, the top-rated dep in Montreal for craft beer. I bought a few bottles, including a Beau’s One Ping Only, partly because it’s a tasty-looking Baltic Porter, and partly because of the Hunt For Red October reference.
  • Monday: now back in Toronto, I left work to meet up with my buddy Jeff at Little AAA, the second installation of old favourite AAA. A couple of bourbons, a pulled pork sandwich, and smoked chicken wings later, I find myself in dire need of salad and water.

Plus lentement, s’il vous plaît.

Cover photo by Derek Law, used under Creative Commons

“A sophisticated and welcoming destination for those après work.”

So, I met my friend Bina for a drink last night. She also wanted to try this new Speakeasy 21 place near where we live, but it was stupid-rammed. We went elsewhere. It was cold out, so we ducked into the nearest place. Unfortunately for us the nearest place was the Suits bar in the Trump Tower. Yes, that Trump Tower. Neither of us had been before; I’d only tried Stock, the upstairs restaurant/hooker pavilion.

So we sit down and order a glass of wine from one the lady server, who corrects my (correct) pronunciation of Bachelder. We also order a charcuterie board, which arrives a while later. It’s a very nice array of meats and mustards and vegetables flourishes, so we ask what each of the meats are just to be sure. The gentleman server tells us he doesn’t know what they are, but says he’ll find out. A little odd, but no matter. He’s back in a minute and…doesn’t really have any more information. He points at the prosciutto and tells us it’s prosciutto. He points at a different meat and says that’s also prosciutto. He points at what’s clearly chorizo and says it’s salami. And he doesn’t know what the fourth one is. (It’s salami). We figure it’s his first day and thank him anyway and he’s off. So, more than a little odd, but whatever. It’s all tasty.

At some point I finish my glass of Chardonnay and want to move on to a red. When the gentleman server returns and asks if I’d like more wine, I say I’d like a glass of the Tempranillo — I remember there being one on the by-the-glass list. No problem, says he, and he heads back to the bar. A few minutes later the lady server stops at our table and, before I even register what’s happening, pours another Bachelder Chardonnay in my glass. By the time we process what’s just happened the lady server’s moved on to another table. We wait for her to finish with them, then point out that I’d asked for a glass of Tempranillo. She’s surprised by this and begins to explain how she thinks our signals got crossed, but then stops and smartly says, “No matter, I’ll take care of it.” Great. She’s off and I’m getting thirsty from all this cured meat.

A few minutes later the gentleman server comes by and delivers my glass of wine. Except…it’s white. It’s another glass of white. To his credit, at least it’s not another Bachelder Chardonnay, but it’s sure as shit not Tempranillo. We can’t even hold it together at this point; we both start laughing. I stop the server before he gets too far, and tell him it’s still not right. I offer to point out the specific glass on the menu if he’d like, but he says he’s got it. Okay then. He walks away. Bina can’t stop laughing.

Finally, the lady server comes over — at least 10 minutes after I’d originally ordered my second glass — and with a pained “Third time’s the charm!” delivers a glass of what appears to be Tempranillo.  At that point I didn’t even care; if it was red I was calling it a victory. Bina ordered another glass of exactly the same wine; she was having none of my adventure. We finished the board and ordered the bill. The lady server apologized as we split the $100 tab for our bits of meat and four glasses of wine. That’s right, four glasses –the thrice-ordered Tempranillo was not comped. I still tipped her; none of the mishegas was her fault. But I wished there was an option to delegate 100% of the tip to one server and one server only.

So, the moral of the story: never, ever set foot in the Trump Tower.

I got home from those drinks around the same time as Nellie, and we decided to get some dinner at Carisma. We’ve had great experiences both times we’ve been there, and I was hoping to wash the stink of #TrumpFail off me. Happily, Carisma came through in the clutch: our starters (shrimp pasta and burrata) and mains (steak and lamb) were amazing, the wine guru (who recognizes us now…score!) brought us a killer 2005 La Spinetta Pin Barbera/Nebbiolo, and the service was like a precision drill team. And that’s how it’s done.

Thanks for saving our evening, Carisma.

.:.

Cover photo by Derek Law, used under Creative Commons

Photo by Eli Christman, used under Creative Commons license

Carisma [sic]

Somehow, despite the fact that it’s around the corner from our place, we’d never tried Carisma. The name doesn’t immediately suggest “Italian restaurant”, nor does the store front, so we’ve walked past it dozens of times and just never gone in. Friday night, unsure where to go, we just took a flyer and decided to give it a shot. And a good shot it was.

However it looks outside, it certainly feels like an Italian restaurant inside…rich decor, friendly staff, regulars speaking Italian — only Italian — with the manager. As is often the case for us we avoided the menu and ordered all specials: I had the burrata with a glass of Falanghina, while Nellie had a small plate of fettuccine in white truffle and olive oil sauce paired with a glass of Gavi. For her main Nellie had the black angus steak, while I had a Mediterranean sea bass — unusual for me, but I wasn’t feeling hungry enough to get into any of the big secondis on the menu. We both asked for wine pairings; Nellie was given an Aglianico with her steak, which seemed a bit weird and didn’t go terribly well, while I was given a Malivoire Pinot Noir, which went extremely well with the grilled fish. I was also excited that he went local with my recommendation…I didn’t expect that.

For dessert we split a lemon & lavender crème brûlée. Nellie had a glass of Oban with hers, while I had an espresso — no doubt the reason I managed to stay awake for more of our Midnight Madness screening a few hours later than she did.

Anyway, a good find, a happy find in our own neighbourhood. We’ll definitely be back, possibly in greater numbers to occupy that huge corner banquette.

.:.

Photo by Eli Christman, used under Creative Commons license