Monthly Archives: November 2009

Food. And The End. (Day 30!)

It probably goes without saying what a complete thrill it was to see Thomas Keller speak live and in person tonight at the Toronto Reference Library. If you’re not certain who the heck Thomas Keller is, see if these names ring any bells: The French Laundry, per se, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, ad hoc, Michelin Three Stars, and on and on and on. I had the foodgasmic pleasure of dining at ad hoc (whose tag line is “for temporary relief of hunger”. Indeed.) in the Spring of 2008 during my first trip to Napa Valley. My very best friend in the whole wide world for the last 18 years was getting married and we had dinner at ad hoc to celebrate. Ad hoc is all about comfort food and *I* am all about comfort food, which means we were a match made in heaven from the word “go”. I mean, any restaurant that has “Buttermilk fried chicken with brussels sprout hash, autumn squash, cippolini onions, chive biscuits and peppered anson mills grits” is, without a doubt, my kinda place. In fact, prior to eating at ad hoc, I wasn’t a huge duck fan, but being the adventurous eater I like to be, tried it there. Essentially, I could have put my face in the dish from the sheer goodness were I not afraid that my mug would end up splashed across TMZ.com for the world to see1. Let me just say that the smells were so good in that place that I could have possibly married them.

The Cookbook Shop had apparently been “stalking” Chef Keller for ten years. Ten years spent trying to get him to Canada, to no avail. Until tonight. His new cookbook, ad hoc at home, was recently published and he is touring in support of the book on, you guessed it, comfort food. I was ticket #65 and thought it would be a small, intimate group listeners, but there were more than 450 others who had the same idea I did — it was packed! The price of  the ticket included a signed copy of the book and when I walked in, he was surrounded by about ten people, with boxes everywhere, signing the books. I found my spot and he casually walked to the front to begin the chat. He said more than once how nervous he was and that his comfortable place was next to the stove, which I totally get being the expert chef I am2. He spoke at length about how kitchens are all about teamwork, and rituals3, and how he enjoys eating seasonal foods because he hates eating the same thing all year. I tend to agree — it’s no different than loving the changing of the actual seasons — food seasons are just as much fun to anticipate! He told a little anecdote about going into Pusateri’s today and seeing a lady buying peaches. He walked up to her and said “Don’t buy those peaches. They’re all dehydrated and don’t even have a smell”, to which she apparently stared at him and bought it anyway. He said she was also buying cherries. Cherriesand peaches in November? His point was that we should think about the seasons when we eat just like we think of the trees changing or the snow beginning.

Chef Keller was sweetly nervous and was much more reserved than I expected he’d be. There was a Q&A session and, of course, someone asked him what he thought about Canada and the Canadian food scene4, where he answered that he didn’t know much about it, but that he wanted to eat at The Black Hoof — and so do I, because who wouldn’t want to eat a horse tongue sandwich?! I ate beef tongue in Montréal, so why not horse tongue in Toronto? But I digress. The announced that Chef Keller would stay and personalize the books afterwards and so I sprinted to the back, after having sat myself in the front. The line-forming was mayhem and I had flashbacks to the five hours — FIVE — I stood in line to meet David Sedaris. David Sedaris is one thing — I would stand in a -30C blizzard with snow up to my eyeballs for the chance to speak to David Sedaris for even ten seconds (well, I would pretty much do *anything* to see David Sedaris), but, while Chef Keller is widely regarded as the best chef in America, I wasn’t about to spend the next four hours waiting for him to sign my book “To Carmen”. So home I went, happy as a lark, to eat my comfort food of a fried egg sandwich. 🙂

Speaking of food, this week’s New Yorker is their annual “Food Issue”, which means lots of foodie goodness. I was perusing the mag on the way to Chicago and nearly fell off my very comfortable Air Canada flight with economy class in-seat TV when I saw that Calvin Trillin contributed an article on the national food of Québec, poutine!! Firstly, it’s the New Yorker. Enough said. Secondly, Calvin Trillin. Calvin Trillin ranks up there as one of my all-time favourite writers extraordinaire and humourist who wrote one of my all-time favourite books called Travels with Alice. Thirdly, an article on the infamous snack food known as poutine in my beloved adopted country written by Calvin Trillin in the New Yorker. Z.O.M.G. It couldn’t possibly be any better unless David Sedaris was his writing partner, at which point I’d probably roll up into the fetal position on my floor and simply cry out of sheer happiness. For your reading, and listening, pleasure, I’m linking to an exerpt5 of the article in the mag and a clip of the podcast of Mr. Trillin speaking about the article. As good as it gets, fo realz.

And that, my friends, officially brings me to the end of this daily blogging madness for which I signed up called NaBloPoMo. My writing muscles have officially been flexed and it was awesome! Through sleep-deprivation, traveling, and a creative writing class that required me to write entire 1,000 word articles weekly (!) in addition to my daily blog posts, I still managed to accomplish blogging every single day for 30 days (check the badge on the right, yo)!! Let me just say that it takes brass balls to achieve this, and although I know all of you at least one of you6 out there will miss my daily posts,  fret not! I’ll be back soon enough, but this time without the mad dash to the finish line whereby I’m wheezing and puffing like a 97 year-old woman. Because you deserve better. 🙂 

Now that NaBloPoMo is kaput, there are about eleventy-thousand things I’m going to do. I’m going to a) decorate my Christmas tree, b) eat before 10pm, c) sleep, d) reconnect with friends who thought I’d fallen off the face of the planet, e) not lose my job, f) tidy up my house that is in complete disarray, g) take a leisurely bath so as to finally use my favourite Lush bathbombs7 and h) go on the date I’ve been putting off for 30 days, which may or may not include “g”. 😉

To those of you who stuck this out with me, thank you for reading my occasionally narcissistic drivel (but also some good posts, too!). I’ll miss seeing y’all here every day, but the next time I bring this kind of cockamamie idea up, please call the po-po — I will seriously need to be arrested. For now, I need a big blogging break. Don’t wait up!

 

1 Think headlines such as “maid of honour starves herself for so long just to fit in her bridesmaid dress that she chows down like a pig in a trough”. Or something like that.
2 Not!
3 And of which I am also a HUGE fan — maybe I missed my calling, after all.
4 A question I’m asked *all* the time and one I just don’t get. Why is it so important for Canadians to know what Americans think of Canada? You’re a lovely, beautiful place, so stop looking for constant approval from your next-door neighbour, already!
5 Because I’m not a subscriber (yet…Santa!), I can’t download the article in its entirety. Sorry. 😦 
6 You know who you are.
7 Which, for the record, are the Avobomb and Comforter Bubble Bar combined. H-E-A-V-E-N.

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This Post Is Like a Britney Spears Song: Incoherent And Rambling (Day 29)

Time to pack away the turkey roasters and pumpkins and, if you’re like my family, pull out the 578 bins of Christmas decorations: December is upon us. Ah, December: that month-long foray into complete mayhem consisting of parties, parties and more parties; family gatherings with crazy Aunt Bess who won’t stop asking when you’re *finally* going to settle down; more shopping than you can possibly accomplish in a mere 30 days; and more eating and drinking than any human being should ever attempt. I’m already booked for the next two weeks solid at which time I’ll pack my suitcase once again and head to my most favourite city in the entire  universe, New York City, to celebrate my birthday. I’ll be a mad woman traversing the burrough, squeezing in shopping, eating excellent edible material, traipsing the Met, and dancing around to a musical or three (Hair and Next to Normal, here I come!).

Post NYC, I’ll unpack and repack once again to head to Houston for the holidays about which I am quite excited, because nothing says “holidays” like cranking up the A/C on Christmas morning. 😉 Jokes.

Before I take off on my jaunts, though, I’m doing some cool things in T.O. this week that I’ll try to recap when I have a free moment, by which I mean during the six hours a night I should be sleeping. All I can say is thanksbeto Steve Jobs for the WordPress iPhone app. 

– seeing Thomas Keller speak and having his new Ad Hoc at Home cookbook signed
Third Tuesday Toronto to see Julien Smith speak (!)
Junior League Christmas party
– Yelp’s Elite Christmas party that’s Mad Men-themed!
– Going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting down a tree for the very first time! And getting my nog on afterwards.
– An always fabulous iYellow Wine Club event called “Happy Birthday South Africa” at Reds Wine Bar
– Company Christmas party, but, more importantly, the after party. 😉

Clearly, I need a lifestyle manager.

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T-3 Days And Counting (Day 28)

You probably already know that I’m traveling this weekend. You probably also know that I’m hanging with friends and, of course, shopping. Let me just say that I went to a two-story — TWO-STORY — Target today and nearly cried. My heart began to race, I started to sweat palpably and actually had to pause for a moment to catch my breath.

Purchased were sock monkey Santa flannel PJ’s, affordable batteries (ahem), and a new release DVD for $3.99. Someone please remind me again why I live in Canada?! 😉

This post doesn’t really count and is totally phoned in; however, considering I’ve been out all day and am about to go out to paint Chicago red, I consider it a valiant effort.

The best part of this post, though, is that there are only TWO posts left before I get to wrap up this daily blogging madness and reclaim some semblance of a life!

So, until tomorrow, lovely blog readers.

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Can’t Blog. Shopping. (Day 27)

Ten bucks if you can spot me (hint, hint). If, however, you have vision troubles and are unable to find me ;-), you’ll at least get an idea of where I am. Where I am is likely in front of Tarzhay1 somewhere in the city of Chicago, freezing my bum off and likely having just been trampled trying to acquire that $49 50″ flat panel TV of which they likely had only two. 😉 Wish me luck.

1 By which I mean the most *amazing* store on the planet, Target.

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Happy Thanksgiving! (Day 26)

I had every intention of penning a verbose message this Thanksgiving, but the immobilization caused by the tryptophanic residue in my bloodstream has currently hurled me inexorably couchward.

I wanted to say a lot today. I am sure that some of you are more than tired of me and my vapid, but cheerful(!), blog posts, and while I’m sorry you’re bored, you must surely have a cold, shriveled little heart that cannot tolerate my gratitude! I feel like I have a lot to be grateful for, like my amazingly loving and supportive parents who, even though I packed up an moved 1,600 miles away, still love me just like I was sitting in their house being the demanding princess I can occasionally be. 🙂 I am grateful for being able to live in Canada and, while I know I won’t be here forever, I have fallen in love with this beautiful country and its fantastic peeps — I wouldn’t trade a single, solitary moment of my time here and will always say only excellent things about the country, even when they continue making fun of my accent. 🙂 But what I really wanted to do today was to show some love to YOU, my blog readers. You, the people who take the time to stop by here and read my drivel, to leave comments, to send emails, and reply to tweets. Those of you who stop by, lurk, and say nothing at all.

When I started blogging a few years ago, I loved it, but did it really just for myself. I never took it seriously. Then people actually started finding me and reading me, and I had no idea that my site would grow into a community of people I love and treasure—not just online, but offline, too.

My blog friends have sent me some of the nicest emails I’ve ever received. They have encouraged me in the midst of relationship issues, the ending of friendships and worries about my future. They have made me laugh and cry all at the same time. Some of them have crossed the line from “e-friends” to just plain friends. Friends I speak with regularly, friends I can’t wait to see again. Friends who fill my email box, my Facebook wall, and my snail mail box with love and care and friendship.

Blogging has reconnected me to old friends and to people I had no idea were reading or paying attention. It has opened my eyes to people and alternate points of view points and goals and books and careers and ideas and plans. And for that, I can never write an adequate post.

So, if you’re here, on this page, I just want to say Thank You. I am thankful for you. I am grateful for all of the little things, with seemingly insignificant moments that make my life so much sweeter.

I wanted to say all that, but all I can really manage at this moment is a giant Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I love, and am so thankful for, you all!

xo.

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Apparent Signs Of Loneliness (Day 25)

I *should* be packing for my trip to Chicago, but instead, I’m blogging, damnit, because when I say I’m gonna do something, I do it! Anyway.

Of our five senses, the one that can change my emotions more quickly than any other is my sense of smell (also, when I see hot guys, but I digress). To this day, certain smells bring back memories of specific times in my life and even particular moments in time or physical buildings, in some cases. I have an absolute love affair with candles. In fact, I have a candle closet in my house1. I am *all* about changing my candles out either seasonally: lotus flower, peony, lily, gardenia, jasmine, lemon or grapefruit for Spring; green apple, orange blossom, berry, or cucumber for Summer; clary sage, pumpkin, ginger, or persimmon for Fall; and fig, star anise, balsam, frasier fir, or red currant for Winter. With the exception of a few days during the summer when it’s hot2, I always have a candle burning. They just make me a very happy (and calm) girl.

Which is why I was so utterly disturbed by what I recently heard. I was at a party when I overheard someone say that “girls who burn candles are lonely. Candles are the new cat”. Ex-squeeze me? A-Baking powder? If that’s true, on both counts, I’m totally f****d, what with my candle closet, and near cat adoption and all. I wonder if there’s any truth to this? Could I be lonely and just not know it?! I certainly don’t ogle my candles like I would a guy, nor would I try to become, shall we say, intimate with my candles. Can we all say “3rd degree burns”? I certainly don’t support this theory, but it’s out there, circulating around the world and unfairly labeling me all the single ladies! As if.

1 Check the photo, yo.
2 By which I mean 24C/78F

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Thank You For The Mammaries (Day 24)

Admit it — you love breasts. We all love breasts, really. It’s possible that breasts could be called an American obsession and, in fact, I would venture to say that men everywhere take great lengths to recognize the hypnotic allure of a shapely breast. Big ones, small ones, fake ones, real ones, round ones, square er, semi-round ones — it’s all good stuff. For some women, breasts could easily qualify as their most enthusiastic component, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.  

So what’s *not* to love about breasts? I’ll tell you what — that bitch known as breast cancer. Sure, we all love prostates and ovaries and skin and throats and brains and lungs and all those other body parts that contract cancer, too, but being a woman who doesn’t have, say, a prostate, I worry more about breast cancer than I do about any of the other varieties. Which means you get to hear about this subject today. You’re welcome! Not to mention, breast cancer statistics1 are nothing short of grim. Consider these applicable to the U.S. in 2008 alone:

– 250,230 new cases
– a 1 in 8 incidence
– 40,480 women died from the disease. In one year. And people are pissed about the 4,3652 troops who have died in six and a half years in Afghanistan??
– the highest rate of cancer only after lung cancer

Thanksbeto the Twitter, I found out about a little project going on in Toronto called ProjectPink!. The idea, started by Darryl Koster of BusterRhinos Southern BBQ3 in Whitby, Ontario, was this: talk about how every woman should have a dash of pink in their hair at some point in their life which then manifested into his agreement that he’d dye his hair pink if Torontonians purchased 1,500 BBQ sandwiches4 between now and December 18. Most importantly, though, 50 cents of every sandwich purchased would be donated to the Breast Cancert Society. Sweet! Some of the way cool Toronto bloggers and tweeters I follow — karmacake.ca and cakeordeath.ca5 — decided that if the number was met, they too would put pink in their hair, and so on and so forth, and, let’s just say that a little viral revolution was born. Of course, never one to be left out when it has to do with a mini-revolution, and because I have always, always, always wanted pink in my hair, I jumped on the bandwagon.

You may remember those research studies “they” do on kids where they put deliciously yummy candies on a table and tell the poor, drooling four year-old that if they can wait five minutes without eating the candy, they get them all, but if they can’t wait the allotted time, then they’re basically headed for a life of unhappiness and destruction? 😉 Well, I fall into the latter category. I have gotten much better as I’ve gotten older (ahem), but my OCD6 tends to kick in when I’m excited about something and I just simply cannot. wait. Yes, I have zero patience and yes, I have negative 500 willpower. Your point?

What I’m getting at is this: my very favourite colour is pink. You could say that I am somewhat of a pink fanatic; my Twitter page is pink, my NaBloPoMo page is pink, my iPhone case is pink, I only use pink file folders at work and now, thanks to ProjectPink! my hair is now pink. No, I am not channeling my inner Avril Lavigne rocker girrl, despite the fact that I live in Ontario from whence she came. I like to think that I’m just taking this opportunity to promote ProjectPink! in my own little way before December 18, as well as fulfilling yet another item on my lengthy Canadian bucket list. Of course, the pink hair also most certainly qualifies under “Things that would never have happened in Houston, Texas”. 😉 

I’ve gotten mixed reactions. I see people glancing at it like “does she have pink in her hair?” or, alternatively, probably thinking “talk about age-inappropriate!”. The cool, hip people I know are like “omg, I lurve it so much!”. The uncool, non-hip people I know7 are like “hmmm, okay”. When I tell them it’s for breast cancer, they get it, but really, they don’t. It washes out in six to eight weeks anyway, but I honestly don’t care one iota — I love it and every time someone asks me about it, I tell them it’s for ProjectPink!  If I can do a teeny, tiny part *and* have pink hair, then I’m one happy girl!

Now that this long post has come to an end, I can say in conclusion, fuck cancer and support ProjectPink!

P.S. You may have heard that the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently suggested that women begin to wait until they’re 50 to receive a mammogram. Well, my message to USPSTF is this: you should get out of my way because if you persist with these guidelines, you can assume that I’ll promptly be putting on my killer 4-inch heels and coming after you — so watch out! Also, you should know that I think about you when I touch myself. 😉

1 Source: breastcancer.org
2 As of 11/22/09 at 1:25pm EST. Source: antiwar.com
3 OMG. Southern BBQ in Canada?! Cornbread, sweet tea and baked beans? Yes, please!
4 By which I do not mean Canadian BBQ or “hamburgers”. I mean real BBQ sandwiches. You know, like brisket.
5 Does anyone else see the pattern here?
6 I don’t really have OCD, but I like to blame my impatientness on OCD rather than the fact that I just simply have a lack of willpower. 😦
7 You know who you are.

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