Cover photo by Loaded Dog, used under Creative Commons

What a week-ish

It’s been a busy 8 days, considering I haven’t been traveling or anything. The mother in law visited for about a week. We had a huge dinner at Jacobs & Co. I spent Saturday, including a Fieramosca dinner, involved in a work conference. Good Jays games and bad Jays games. Absolutely insane amounts of work.

I spent tonight eating dinner at Hawthorne with Nellie, planning my attack on Cask Days tomorrow, and watching the Jays’ season end in game 6 against the Royals, in a game they probably could (should) have won. But hey, at least the Habs are 8-0 to start the season. So there’s that.

.:.

Cover photo by Loaded Dog, used under Creative Commons

Image by Jace XIII, under Creative Commons License

May and June appear set to come up Milhouse

It occurs to be that we have a surplus of awesomeness lined up for the rest of this month:

June isn’t looking too shabby either, what with a Picasso exhibit at the AGO, a long weekend in Prince Edward County, the Flaming Lips playing (free) at Dundas Square, Session 99 craft beer festival and a 5-day trip to New York.

Also: today was the first beer-on-patio day of the year!

Life? Good.

.:.

Image by Jace XIII, under Creative Commons License

In Soviet Russia, XBox plays you

Seriously, somebody stop us. This has been our past five days:

Wednesday: after a long day in the office we met for tasty deliciousness at Beerbistro. I introduced Nellie to Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté.

Thursday: I took some co-workers to Fieramosca. It was, as usual, delicious. At some point (probably after the fifth shot of Limoncello) I was a little worried about how I was going to feel the next morning. Especially since I had an 8AM meeting. Also, this was my second visit to Fieramosca in less than a week; the previous Saturday Nellie and I took our friends Kaylea and Matt there to celebrate their engagement.

Friday: Nellie had after-work drinks with co-workers, which meant I had a night to myself. “Solo Dan eve” involved shooting a lot of XBox Russians (<– not a euphemism, by the way, dirty!), eating pizza and blasting The Dandy Warhols.

Saturday: errands, errands and more errands, followed by a few hours in the office, but it took a decidedly more positive turn when Nellie and her fancy new haircut met me on the way to visit our friends CBJ+M. We picked up barbeque from The Stockyards, watched basketball and did some New Orleans trip strategizing.

Sunday: it was too gorgeous to do anything but get outside, so we walked to Gilead Cafe, checked out some new furniture in the Distillery District, ogled a Montauk sofa, did some clothes shopping (!) and had a few glasses of wine and a prosciutto pizza at Paese. We came home and opened our windows for the first time in months, got the smell of spring in the place, and eventually picked out two bottles of wine with which to finish the day: a 2008 Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay from Niagara, and a 2008 Pirramimma Petit Verdot from McLaren Vale to pair with our Cumbrae’s steak. Both were fantastic.

So as fun as that all sounds, I would just like…I don’t know, a salad or some quinoa or something.

Finally…a breather

We got back from Australia three weeks ago, but it’s been tough trying to catch up, both at work and in real life. So I was more than a little happy to see this long weekend coming.

Granted, it wasn’t a long weekend for everyone (including Nellie) but it was long a weekend for me. At least, it was supposed to be a long weekend. I actually spent a full day in the office (part of the aforementioned ‘catching up at work’) before heading to old friend the Duke of York for a drink. The Duke pubs have always had a pretty generic draft list, but that night I had two from Muskoka (a Mad Tom and a Dark) and Nellie had a Hop City Barking Squirrel. Anyway, that’s where I’d planned to meet another old friend, someone I hadn’t seen since university. Nellie (who also knew her) joined us a little later and we got caught up. We then took her to Fieramosca where we were well entertained and, predictably, ate ridiculously well — I had the risotto special with prosciutto di parma, butternut squash and…something else that slips my mind, and our wine was some spectacular thing that I can’t remember.

Saturday featured beautiful weather, maybe some the last we’ll see this year, so I found an excuse to go for a walk. That excuse? Wine! Just a few bottles from the new Vintages release, nothing serious. Meanwhile Nellie was buying gifts that we took with us over to T-Bone’s place, to meet the new addition to their family, drink their wine and share some Indian food.

Sunday started with one of my favourite things (breakfast at Hank’s) and just got better from there.

Good weekend. Quiet, but good.

With the grain

Oh, it’s been some kind of long weekend so far, yes it has. My brother and his wife arrived early yesterday morning; we met them at the airport and — a little car-location trouble aside — got on our way down to wine country. Traffic was pretty awful with all the people headed for (presumably) the border, but once we jumped off the QEW we were fine. We stopped at Hidden Bench, where they also had sausages and burgers on the grill, followed by Fielding, Thirty Bench, Rosewood, Daniel Lenko, Tawse and Megalomaniac. We filled our bellies with charcuterie and cheese from Good Earth and then boogied back to Toronto.

That’s eleven different bottles plus a case of Daniel Lenko White Cabernet for Nellie. Not bad for an afternoon’s work.

The wine theme continued that night as we settled in for dinner at Wine Bar. Excellent as always, with the scallops and short ribs being the stars of the night, along with a German Riesling whose name escapes me. We came home full and happy.

Today has entailed: greasy breakfast, St. Lawrence Market, the Distillery District, food trucks (too crowded, alas), Soma drinking chocolate and lunch at Against The Grain Urban Tavern, a new pub down by the waterfront. They have one of the few lakeside patios I can think of in the city, and a very good beer list, and pretty decent food on top of that. It’s a bit of a hike — perversely, Toronto’s waterfront isn’t easy to reach — but I can see that we’ll be back soon.

Tonight we head to Fieramosca, where I am required by law to bring any family members within Toronto city limits. So…blogging may be sparse tomorrow.

Frater!

This past weekend was a rare treat: a brother visit. Brother #2 arrived Friday night and left Monday morning. In between we had dinner at Duggan’s and breakfast at Hank’s, visited St. Lawrence Market, enjoyed the lone spring-like day so far this year by visiting the Distillery district, watched some funny movies, had a long and sumptuous dinner at Fieramosca followed by ill-advised Trappist ales at Smokeless Joe, played a little Call of Duty: Black Ops and were generally lazy the rest of the time.

Happily this won’t be the only brother visit of the year. We’re visiting my family’s farm in July since brother #1 will be visiting from Australia, and then in the fall we’ll be visiting Australia for three weeks ourselves. Beaucoup de familial bonding, as they say.

"The seed that we planted in this man's mind may change everything."

Yet another super weekend. Friday started when I walked straight from work to Fieramosca for dinner with CBGB and GB’s sister & brother-in-law. We tried to sit outside, really we did, but the humidity was just oppressive. We took the bulk of our meal indoors, and had the relaxing and satisfying evening we always have there. The drink across the street probably wasn’t a great idea…it was hot, we were full and someone (not me this time!) ended up with most of a pint on their pants.

On Saturday, once Nellie had slept off the limoncello, we did our usual run to the market and then hid out in the air conditioning for a bit. Ultimately the day was all about seeing Inception (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the Scotiamount, which I LOVED. So good. Such a rare combination, that; an action movie that feels gritty and still cerebral. I don’t want to give away much to those who haven’t seen it, but among the many memorable scenes there’s a long hallway fight and subsequent sequence featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt — certainly one of my favourite actors working today — that just blew my mind. What was left of it to blow, anyway. Highly, highly recommended, though I would say that there’s little need to see it in IMAX as we did. I think you could see this on a regular modern movie theatre screen and not lose anything. Plus, you wouldn’t have to suffer through the tragically cheesy IMAX laser light show before the film.

Not yet done with movies, we decided to take shelter from the rain and watch The Runaways (imdb | rotten tomatoes) on TV. Neither of us knew much about the band, or how it started, or even how young the girls were…just that Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Curry had been members. It was okay…really, it looked more like an art project than a movie, which is probably because Floria Sigismondi directed it. And while Michael Shannon was good, I mainly wanted to punch him in the face. So be warned.

Avast

I’m getting too old for this.

Last night wasn’t a late finisher so much as it was an early starter. Dinner at Fieramosca (with a bottle of wine), then drinks with co-workers at The Pilot, then more co-worker drinks at Volo, and finally dinner at Origin. I think our meal was good. I know it was long. The ending gets a little fuzzy. The next morning was even fuzzier.

How fortunate, then, that we were scheduled to get on a boat and cruise around in the hot sun for most of Saturday afternoon. Our friend CB had arranged a little celebration for husband GB’s birthday, so nine of us piled on a catamaran and prepared to enjoy the weather. My stomach wasn’t quite ready for that, though; the first few minutes while we were tied up made me queasy, but as soon as we were underway I felt better. A little nap below decks helped.

We reached Centre Island, had a bit of a stroll and (somewhat inadvertently) took in the sights at Hanlon’s Point Beach. Then the skipper cooked lunch, which we ate on the grass, by the water, in the sun…pretty awesome. Back on board and birthday cake in hand we set back out, cruising through the harbor and all the way around the islands. It gave me a look at parts of Toronto I’d not seen before, like the north side of Ward’s Island and a bird colony on the Leslie Street Spit. I got to relax on the deck of a boat for a few hours, a cool breeze tempering the hot summer sun. Shaky start and a little sunburn aside, it was a brilliant day.

Yeeeeeaaaaah, I need a rich friend with a boat.

"Hey Dye, rumour is you suck!"

Yesterday was all kinds of great. I got up early and ran three miles. I went to my first Jays game ever, and a pretty good one at that. Rookie pitcher Robert Ray looked like he was going to take a 1-0 loss to the White Sox, but the Jays scored two in the bottom of the 8th and won it for him. It was fun, especially since we were clearly sitting in the rowdy section, taunting poor Jermaine Dye half to death. The low point was when some sadist decided to play a dance version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and send all the 30-somethings into fits of righteous indignation. High point: ballpark dog. Yum.

After a quick stop back at home to freshen up, we were off to meet CBGB and assorted family members, first for a drink at the Duke of York (where there was some unfortunate karaoke) followed by dinner at Fieramosca. I’ve had countless great meals there, but this one goes in the hall of fame. All three apps (gamberi, antipasti and prosciutto) were great, all the mains got rave reviews (especially the ones featuring pancetta…including mine), the desserts that showed up were wonderful as always, and the wine went perfectly. The service was, of course, wonderful. We all left feeling very full and very happy.

Unless Nellie buys the ~$49 million lottery ticket while she’s out, I think today’s gonna be a letdown.

Now then…can I use a lightsaber while I snowboard?

The Queen (our home station) decal
Our home station

Four days since I last blogged. The hell is wrong with me lately?

A good four days it’s been though. Thursday night was spent partaking in one of my favourite pastimes: watching the Habs beat up on the Leafs. Friday we had dinner at Fieramosca, and came home to find our Wii Fit waiting for us. We considered setting it up that night, but the wine and limoncello we’d just consumed made us think twice. Ironically.

Yesterday was our get-crap-done day (capped off by an excellent meal and very nice 2004 Cab Sauv from New Zealand), freeing up today for brunch with our friend Cyndy and entertaining CBGBLB, who I think were just using us for our Wii. But they brought us chocolates* and convinced us to order pizza, so we didn’t mind. We also finally put up our TTC wall decals, courtesy of Walloper, which we think look pretty sharp.

I’ll be honest with you: the idea of staying home tomorrow to play Wii Fit and lightsaber duel kind of appeals to me more than the idea of going to work tomorrow.

* The chocolates were from Eat My Words. Very cool idea in support of the Steven Lewis Foundation, and a great gift idea. Check it out.