Next on NBC: Crotch Mahogany & Sweetbreads McQueen

On Saturday, not two hours after returning the rental car that took us on our cottage excursion, we were off to Enoteca Sociale for dinner with some old university friends. Since there were eight of us we sat in their private room downstairs amongst the wine, and were served an amazing meal in the family style: several common plates shared among us. Using their menu and my fuzzy memory I think I can piece together roughly what we ate that night:

  • a 4-foot long board full of charcuterie and some very boozy pears
  • beef carpaccio
  • some kind of salad with dandelion in it
  • smoked sweetbreads w/ sweet pea & fava bean salad (note: this was my first team eating sweetbreads, and they were delicious)
  • whole roasted sea bream w/ linguica sausage & romesco
  • rigatoni w/ pork, tomato & pea
  • mussels
  • asparagus & ricotta ravioli w/ mint, hazelnut & parmigiano reggiano
  • PEI 20 oz grass fed striploin w/ roasted bone marrow & rosemary potatoes
  • sticky toffee pudding w/ homemade vanilla ice cream

We had to out of there by 9, so we walked a few blocks down the street to Midfield for some more wine. We just let Chris pick out a couple of bottles for us; I remember the Sigalas Assyrtiko; I don’t remember which Portuguese red he brought though.

Finally we retired back to a friend’s place, where we proceeded to drink his wine and beer and gin while sitting on his roof, admiring the view. We also admired his red Alexander McQueen pants with black splotches and his giant egg-shaped crotch mahogany whisky display case. And lest anyone think I’m making either one of those things up, here be proof:

The big barese

This past Friday, to the detriment of both our waistlines and wallets (but utter joy of our taste buds) we revisited the previous Friday’s theatre of operations: Dundas West / Brockton Village / whatever. It was even better this week.

It started out in the very same way: leave work late and head straight to Midfield Wine Bar. I’ll be honest, we made dinner reservations in the area that Tuesday when we decided we wanted an excuse to go back to Midfield. Anyway, we sat at the bar and were greeted by Chris as warmly as if we were regulars and not just second-timers. Peckish, we ordered a board (much the same as last week’s, but with Serrano ham and an excellent clothbound Red Leicester cheese this time) and let him start picking wines. I had a white from Vouvray that I don’t quite remember, the Santagostino Nero d’Avola/Syrah I’d enjoyed so much the previous week, the Castello di Verduno Basadone (I’d never had a wine like that before) and an 04 Chateau Lescalle from Bordeaux. All excellent, especially the reds. Nellie had a Stratus Tollgate white, a Sauvignon Blanc of some kind and two more reds which have since slipped her mind.

Midway through our drinks & eats, our friend Duarte showed up. Socialite that he is, he knew all three couples sitting at the bar, even though none of us knew the other. I think it’d been a few years since we’d seen him face-to-face so it was good to catch up with him while he waited for his friend.

We had dinner reservations for 10:00 just down the street at Enoteca Sociale, erstwhile (just) hotspot and still darling of the Toronto dining scene. We usually try to wait until some of the scene-buzz has worn off a place before trying it out, so the time seemed right. I don’t know if the food is better or worse than when it first opened (note: if it were much better I don’t think I could have stood it) but I think the vibe was more to our liking now than it would have been then. It was charming and efficient, and classy and tousled, and just the right level of noisy. All of which to say, it was completely unlike our experience at Salt the previous weekend.

Now then, down to the important stuff: ze food. I’m copying and pasting straight off the menu*:

  • Starter: Spicy barese sausage, grilled artichokes & shishito peppers, pecorino fresco
    • Dan: Aglianico del Vulture “Liscone” 2008 DOC, Cantine Madonna delle Grazie, Basilicata
    • Nellie: Frascati Superiore 2010 DOC, Casale Marchese, Lazio
  • Dan’s main: trecce, pork sausage, charred broccoli & tomato peperonata
    • Gutturnio “Fermo” 2010 DOC, Roberto Manara, Emilia Romagna
  • Nellie’s main: lobster spaghetti, tomato, chili, basil
    • NV Franciacorta Brut DOCG, Majolini, Lombardia
  • Dessert: sticky toffee pudding, cardamom syrup & vanilla bean ice cream

My trecce (braided pasta) was really good. So was Nellie’s spaghetti, though there was so much lobster she couldn’t finish it. But my god…my god, that barese sausage. It might have been the most flavourful meat I’ve ever tasted. And if you took a bite with some of the shishito pepper? Goddamn! Unreal. I wanted to run back into the kitchen and steal the rest. I composed an ode to barese sausage on the spot. I considered nominating that sausage to be named to the order of Canada. So yeah, I liked the barese sausage.

Sigh…clearly, with Midfield and Enoteca being three blocks apart, this wallet & waistline problem isn’t going away.

* Seriously, restaurants who publish their entire menu, with wine pairings, on the website (not in a PDF) are a blogger’s best friend.