February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
Cheese and charcuterie platters have been attracting me like bees to honey lately. I’ve been dying to go to a restaurant that serves this kind of combination, and so when a friend of mine informed me of a mutual friend’s visit to our fair (adopted) city, I heard opportunity knocking. I was given carte blanche for the choice of restaurant, and away I went, in search of the ideal, non-Asian (my visiting friend isn’t a fan), veggie-friendly (my other friend is a vegetarian) restaurant that had a cheese platter on the menu (I gotta look out for number one too right?). Given a particular area of town, the choice is usually easy. However, I was given the St Lawrence Market area. Beautifully charming, older part in East Toronto, busy but not obnoxiously loud, yet undoubtedly more pricey than the west.
I have a penchant for cardinal points. For some reason, south and west have always appealed to me, and I’ve harboured biases for those parts of most towns, regardless of the town or how correct my bias is. Since moving to Toronto, I am forced to concede that the eastern part of the city holds just as much charm as the west. Especially the St Lawrence Market.
After an exhaustive search of restaurants in the St Lawrence Market, just as I thought I’d have to look out for all but number one, I found a place that met all our needs and was not exorbitantly priced: Mercatto. Ignoring some of the reviews on Yelp and the like, I made reservations. We got there late, but had no problem getting seated. Wait staff was really courteous, lacking the snob factor that can be found a little too easily in a city of this size.
First order of business was the cheese platter. We had the choice of 3 from a list of roughly 10 different cheeses, most of which we’d never heard of. We decided to ask our waiter if he’d recommend anything, and instead of going through individual options, he asked what kind of cheese experience we’re looking for. You know you’re in the right place when you are asked what kind of space you’d like your cheese to transport you to. We settled on an eclectic, unique experience: one cow’s milk (Taleggio), one sheep’s milk (Manchego), and one goat’s milk (Pave du Barry). One mild and two strong cheeses, each with a unique note that I can’t really specify. I’m of the “I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like” school, so I’m not sure if that makes my taste discerning (read: I’m pretty sure it doesn’t). Oh so yummy! Cheese platters aren’t ever really big, and though my eyes want way more at first, I’m quite grateful by the end of the experience. Especially with strong cheeses making an appearance.
We ordered a bottle of wine, recommended by a Sommelier based on our cheese platter, and oh did that Sommelier hit the mark. We wanted a red, medium bodied, fruity yet ever so slightly dry wine, and that’s exactly what we got. Oh. So. Tasty! Best of all, the bottle was enough for each one of us to walk away with a fun buzz.
Wine and cheese aside, how was the food? Perfectly cooked, perfectly portioned, perfectly yummy. I can’t fathom why anyone would not enjoy their experience at Mercatto. Nice decor, knowledgeable and courteous service, excellent flavors, great price, what more do people want?! Trying something new be damned, I’d go back several times!
February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
Winter in Canada is quite the brutal affair, and even though Toronto isn’t as bad as others, it’s still worse than a human can sustain without resorting to specialized 700$ arctic winter gear. Back in the elementary school days, I used to make snow angels, have snowball fights, and generally traipse around the white stuff with the best of them, but as I grew older, and less prone to frolic around in the cold, I couldn’t handle the freezing temperature. The worst, least logical thing to do in such conditions, at least in my opinion, was running. I used to look at those crazy people running around in the slippery, icy, snowy conditions, armed with nothing other than running shoes, tight pants, a windbreaker, and a tuque and wonder what could possibly compel a human being to get out there and, not only battle the freezing temperatures, but also exert themselves while they’re at it! Clearly these people were insane.
You know how the saying goes right? Never say never. Well, I said never, and fast forward to today, never has arrived. Today, I ran away with the circus.
It started in November. I hadn’t jogged in over a month, and I was surprisingly craving it. The unfortunate reality was that I was facing a good 6 months of winter ahead of me, and I didn’t want to hit the treadmill anymore. My craving was bad enough that I started trolling the Sporting Life and Lululemon websites for the gear necessary to go hardcore on winter running. Nothing like a boost of pretty things to get you motivated! Acquiring these pretty things took a little longer than I would have liked but the winter is so definitely not over yet.
Having acquired all the gear I needed, I got home today, and set off before I had enough time to reconsider my venture into crazyville. I hit the pavement, tunes pumping, sun setting. Halfway down my block I felt a chill over my back and remembered the breathability of my base layer. Yeesh. I shook myself out of the reaction and continued. Turning the corner onto a bigger street, I suddenly felt self-conscious. I used to roll my eyes at runners in the winter, and here I was, bundled up with nothing but a thin layer of nylon-spandex guarding my bum from the elements, wondering what people were thinking of me. That’s the funny thing about growing up, you remember how you used to react to “older” people doing “crazy” things like run outside in the winter, or tell dirty jokes, or offer advice about dating, and though you’re on the other side, wiser and rolling your eyes right back at those teenagers who have much to learn, you suddenly gain consciousness of the shift. But let’s ignore that for now, that’s my crazy “30th birthday looming” self talking.
Warm up over, I started jogging. My expectation was that I would jog for a block and then my lungs would start to rip into shreds because of the lack of two things: oxygen, and practice. I kept those expectations at bay by checking the pavement ahead, expecting ice patches everywhere and a wipeout by yours truly to entertain the evening commuters. Surprisingly, my expectations were not met. I didn’t slip and fall, and managed to run much further than I was able to in the summer, prior to the familiar lungs-being-ripped-to-shreds feeling kicked in. And even then, it wasn’t that bad. Was it all that moksha yoga I had been doing since I stopped running? Was it the colder temperature? I don’t know WHAT it was, but I just had an awesome run.
Of course, around the end, I felt like there were icicles hanging off my butt, and that I could “cut glass” if you know what I’m saying. I’m still thawing as I write this but winter running, you have just been acquired as a hobby!
February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Janelle Monae – Tightrope
Sean Kingston ft. Nicki Minaj – Letting Go
Scissor Sisters – Any Which Way
Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand
Uffie ft. Pharrell Williams – ADD SUV
Marc Anthony – Lamento Borincano
NG2 – Ella Menea
Martin Solveig & Dragonette – Hello
Oasis – The Importance of Being Idle
Cake – Love You Madly
Nelly Furtado – Te Busque
Kings of Leon – Down South
Jamiroquai – White Knuckle Ride
February 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve noted a few things about myself over time. I’d like to think that makes me quite in tune with who I am.
I dislike pretension, and close mindedness. I love trying new things. I adore dancing. I steadfastly hate the idea of eggplant (though I’ve also noted that I’ve had eggplant when I was unaware of what it was I was eating, and quite enjoyed it). I love the color green, the number 13 (and 313), sweating it out in yoga class or hitting the pavement with my runners. And one glaring thing I’ve realized, that has come up in various major decisions I’ve made in my life, is that I rely intensely on my gut.
Both apartments I’ve lived in just “felt” right the second I stepped into them. I parked behind an Impreza one day and decided that it would be the next car I leased. I turned down two jobs based on my gut feeling that the best was yet to come at my company. All based on gut feelings.
It’s proven pretty useful in the above-mentioned examples, yet annoying in other areas (love life, snagging deals on clothes/shoes). At times where I’ve ignored my gut and went ahead where I felt I shouldn’t, I’ve been burned. However it’s always a learning experience I welcome. Sometimes the lesson is a big one (dating the wrong guy), other times, not so pivotal (eating the last few bites of Eggs Benny after your stomach has had its fill).
The scariest decisions are ones where my gut and brain/heart are at odds. The gut, at this point in my life, is an inexplicable inclination to do something that neither your heart nor your brain condone. At the moment, I’m faced with such a decision, and it’s a big one with financial implications to boot. However, my gut’s just telling me to go with it. Do it. Don’t back down. You won’t regret it. I doubt I’ll regret it, but the pre-decision jitters are just an integral part of life. It’s all about change, and how hard it can be, even if it’s for the better. Even if it’s something you’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time. I feel like I’m looking down that rabbit hole and I’d love to see what’s down there before taking the leap, but it looks like I’ll have to let myself fall to find out.
February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Here I am, in the land of association again. First, it was a bag of Miss Vicki’s Jalapeno flavored chips reminding me of a college friend. Now, it’s online “window” shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond reminding me of Saturday morning catnaps in the sunbeam on my parents’ living room floor.
It took me back to the time I transitioned from kid to preteen, when my Charlie Brown bedsheets just didn’t make me happy any more, when they were no longer enough. I remember once picking the sheets at the top of the pile to make my bed, and they happened to be the yellow set. The set that I didn’t typically use, but since I was in the midst of the onerous task of making my bed, I just went with it. That night, I remember turning down my sheets, and suddenly the vast yellowness in front of my eyes made me think of sunshine.
From that moment on, I relished the idea of sleeping in those sheets. Of course, associative memory being what it is, it’s only now that I realize the correlation between those yellow sheets and my catnaps in the sunbeam. Those catnaps were the bookends to my Saturday morning cartoon viewing. Whenever there was a sunbeam to be basking under, I’d plop down on the floor and luxuriate under the radiating heat. I still get giddy when a patch of sunbeam streams across my desk at work, like it did this morning. Best way to start the day.
All this to say, no matter how trendy a color scheme, no matter how often I wear it, I will never buy gray sheets. I’m sleepin in sunshine, whoahoa!
P.S. The title is in reference to an appetizer I had at a Latin restaurant just yesterday. Delish!