Friday: we split a bottle of wine of Rioja (the Olabarri Reserva 2008) with a friend at Cava, then went big: dinner at Jacobs & Co. It was Lindsay’s first time there, and I think it lived up to all my hype. Here’s what we ate:
the usual white cheddar popovers | Perrier Jouet Champagne
Jacobs Caesar salad | Verum Chardonnay, Domaine d’Albas Viognier/Vermentino
a 28oz USDA swinging ribeye from Kansas aged 35 days + a 4oz california cut striploin A5 Black Tajima Wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan + sides (sauteed rapini, duck fat french fried potatoes, king oyster mushrooms) | Achaval Ferrer “Finca Mirador” Malbec 2011, from Mendoza Argentina
Sunday: we finished watching Dope (imdb | rotten tomatoes) after falling asleep partway through the night before. Excellent movie, by the way – killer soundtrack too. Then, after finishing the last of the leftover Jacobs steak and banging out some work (over a few bottles of craft beer) we got some killer tacos at La Carnita, explored the Aquarium for the very first time, and then made an amazing batch of pasta at home before completely crashing out, exhausted from the weekend. Phew!
We started with the sourdough bread and oil, then split the trout gravlax paired with two different glasses of Pinot Gris (one from Blue Mountain in the Okanagan, one from JM Sohler in Alsace).
Lindsay’s main was the Eurobass Grenobloise, paired with a glass of Leaning Post Merlot(!) while I had the special: venison Fleischschnaka (an Alsatian specialty — venison loin wrapped in a noodle) paired with the Pearl Morissette cab franc.
For dessert we split the London Fog: white chocolate cheesecake, almond, orange blossom, earl grey ice cream; I ceded the entirety of the ice cream and drank a tawny port instead.
Our colds interfered with our evening a little, but still…an excellent meal.
A while ago we joined the new wine club for one of our favourite wineries: Pearl Morissette. It’s called the Black Ball Wine Society, named after their Riesling, so named because of a story involving the VQA. We got early access to some new wines (which I bought) and will certainly take advantage of more early ordering in years to come.
A couple of days ago I got an email telling me that Pearl Morissette had “paired with 11 phenomenal Toronto restaurants to offer you a preview of our just released 2012 Cabernet Franc Cuvée Madeline”. All you had to do was show your society card and they’d give you a glass. Now, I have six bottles of that Cab Franc at home, but I still thought this was a cool idea. One of the restaurants on the list was Richmond Station, which I love, so I hit it on the way home. Sat at the bar. Got some food. And laid out the card.
My server looked totally confused, but she handled it well. “Okay,” she said, and disappeared upstairs to find someone who knew what this card was. The wine director (I think her name is Julia? Can’t quite remember.) came down and explained to me that, uh, unfortunately Pearl Morissette hasn’t dropped off any Cuvée Madeline yet. So no perk for me. Alas.
Fortunately, it didn’t hurt my meal at all. I started with an exceptional glass of 2013 Sohler Pinot Gris Grand Cru, and layered in the smoked chicken bratwurst w/ fingerling potato salad, cucumber relish, onion ring, grainy mustard, and dill. Then I had the special, a seriously delicate and delicious duck breast, paired not with Pearl Morissette Cab Franc, but with Pearce-Predhomme Pinot Noir.
While proposing the Pinot, Probably-Julia had also opened a Pearl Morissette Cuvée Métis Pinot/Franc blend for comparison. I went with the P-P Pinot, but wanted some dessert, so I ordered a glass of that Métis which had so kindly been opened earlier. That, paired with a little coconut chocolate fudge, made for a brilliant end.
Cover photo by sersen, used under Creative Commons license
Second thing about yesterday: the mother-in-law returned from a side trip and, along with Nellie, promptly got to work washing the windows and cleaning up the balcony. I rewarded them with cold beer from Beer Academy. We drank them, and a bit of Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, on the balcony to celebrate.
Third thing about yesterday: we had reservations at Richmond Station. It was, as usual, tremendous. We started off with salad and a radish dish, all just incredibly fresh. Then Nellie and her mom each had the lobster bisque while I had the scallop crudo with jerk spice, all paired with a 2011 Domaine Breton “La Dilettante” Chenin Blanc from the Loire. Then for our mains Nellie had the halibut, while her mom and I had the duck. I’d say it was pretty much the bets duck I’ve ever had, and I’ve had me some duck. The pairing for that round was a beautiful 2011 Christopher Pacalet Gamay. The feature dessert of the night was an amazing-looking deconstructed cinnamon roll but we just didn’t have an inch of room left. We came home and drank our final bottle of Shypoke Charbono.
Dinner at Richmond Station, our first time back since Nellie’s birthday. We didn’t have a reservation, but they managed to find us a table upstairs…a cool space, since you can see the kitchen preparing the dishes. Just like the first time the food was good, and the service/servers were excellent. It’s quickly becoming one of my very favourite places in the neighbourhood.
Watched Seven Psychopaths (imdb | rotten tomatoes), made by the director of In Bruges. Very entertaining. Christopher Walken, man. Just…yeah.
For Nellie’s birthday weekend I had decided to surprise her by flying two of her best friends — the Murphy girls — in from Halifax. My plan was well-thought-out and probably would have come off cleanly but for two things: a massive snowstorm wreaked havoc with flights into Toronto on Friday, and Nellie started drinking at Bryden’s with co-workers at noon. So now I was dealing with two forces of nature messing with the plan.
Fortunately I steered Nellie (along with half a dozen of her co-workers) to AAA and enlisted their help with the surprise. It wasn’t easy, but we kept her under control and oblivious while, after an epic travel ordeal, the girls arrived. There was an long, amusing moment when Nellie didn’t recognize one lifelong friend but did recognize the older sister, but that was soon overcome. And then the crying started. And lasted for about ten minutes. We finally got ourselves out of there and trudged through the snow back to our place, where we opened wine and listened to music and watched Nellie run and up and down the hallway yelling “Best! Birthday! Ever!” (vraiment?) The co-workers retired shortly after 1AM and we finally let the weary travellers get some sleep.
We dragged our asses up the next morning, not feeling our best but determined to maximize our day together. Some Fahrenheit coffee helped wake us up, and peameal bacon sandwiches from Carousel settled our tummies. We spent the afternoon catching up, napping, watching The Hunger Games, and scratching cat bellies. Eventually Nellie needed a little more nap action, so the Murphy girls and I walked through the quiet downtown to one of their favourites: Chipotle. After eating one of their near-football-sized burritos we were all worried about our ability to take on our big dinner planned for that night at Richmond Station.
We’d been meaning to try this place since it opened — it’s so close to us, and had been getting great reviews. The four of us met up with two more friends, MLK, and decided on the chef’s menu + wine pairings for the table. And manomanoman, were we glad we did. In retrospect it would have been a grand idea to write down the courses, but I was too busy eating. I skipped the oysters but loved the lobster puffs, paired with an Organized Crime Fumé Blanc. There was a great honking pile of a few different salads, replete with fried head cheese, paired with a fantastic Chablis. Then the main course: an enormous platter of pork…pork in all various forms, including kielbasa flowers (which is what I’m naming my band someday) and wild boar loin…it was epic. It was also paired with a truly stellar Rosewood Riesling. We were all about to pop, so luckily the next course was a small but tasty sampling of cheeses, paired with a Gamay. Finally, dessert: and while we didn’t let the kitchen know it was Nellie’s birthday, it was as if they’d customized it to her. De-constructed carrot cake, de-constructed apple pie, and a lemon mousse-ish thing with a crispy camomile foam. We each ordered a glass of Lailey late harvest Vidal. And then we were well and truly done. It was an outstanding meal, and I see us going back a lot from now on.
This morning was a little easier to face, but we were still full from the night before. Finally, around 10:30, hunger drove us down to Hank’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the Murphy girls to return home, thankfully with clearer skies than those which welcomed them here. We were said to see them go, but the whole weekend’s effort might have been worth it just for this moment.