baby let your guard down
With a large animated grin he yells something in Russian. My face goes blank.
He pauses, “Oh...you with Mischka?”
I hesitate a moment before I realize who he's talking about, “Micheal, yes, I’m with Micheal!”
It's Tuesday night and I've agreed to help a Russian friend of mine cater an event at the CBC building for the premiere of a documentary.
The grinning Russian leads me to a room filled with people chopping and preparing beautiful plates of exotic hors d’oeuvres, yelling back and forth in thick accents.
I stand beside a young Russian girl and spread fig, caramelized onion, blue cheese and grape onto crostini. Everything smells good. We sample, and it tastes even better.
Before I know it we’re heading out into the crowds, laden with trays, serving off bite size tongue teasers of mango salad, duck and apple, coconut satay chicken, shrimp ravioli, and other artfully displayed tid bits.
The crowd is ravenous and attacks the plates like hungry lions. I spot a huge clunk of mango salad on the floor, and worry that if we don't get more food out soon enough, someone will go home in a stretcher.
The Europeans in the crowd ask me questions in Russian, I smile and shrug my shoulders, put food in their faces and head back to the kitchen.
When all has been said and done, and dessert is circulating, we head back to the kitchen and celebrate. I clink glasses with pretty young Russian girls, an older woman with a girlish laugh and swinging hips, my friend and the grinning Russian.
The caterer is happy with the work and we head to Colburn Lane, a newly opened restaurant for another glass of wine. There I meet the head chef, the owner, and fall in love with the clean, dark, modern space. In the bathroom I look at my reflection, black blouse and pants, and the song sings "Baby, let your guard down." I nod my head.
My life has embraced the unexpected these days. With spring break last week, the world was mine, and I painted the city a passionate shade of red every day and night. I took on the town with friends, young handsome men, ate dim sum, drank martinis, smoked like a chimney and remembered what it was to feel young again.
And the adventure continues. Yesterday I bumped into my friend the caterer and we headed out for sushi.
This man knows food, as well as every restaurant or club worth going to. Not only that, but he usually knows the entire staff and a few of the customers.
Wanting good sushi, we went to Toshi Sushi, one of the few sushi restaurants in Toronto owned by Japanese.
We dined on the house marinated salmon salad, cooked oyster lined with spinach, spicy tuna rolls, barbeque smoked eel rolls, deep fried fresh mackerel, tuna carpaccio with fried onions, and washed it down with hot sake.
With all my concentration on the mind numbingly delicious barbequed eel, a young Asian man with long black hair walked to the back of the restaurant, his son behind him.
“Susur! How are you?” Yells my friend. Susur? I looked up and tried not to choke on my eel.
Susur Lee was the second Canadian chef to appear on Iron Chef America. In Toronto he is well known for his restaurants Susur and Lee, which I’ve been dying to try, but still saving my pennies before I can dive in.
And so the meal continued, and I blushed as I exchanged words with a chef I had only read about.
After our feast we made our way up the street for some less authentic sushi. Blowfish is a modern sushi bar with a DJ and a fine twist on traditional Japanese food. They offer flavored Sake, as well as Saketinits, martinis made with Sake and a little flare.
We sat at the bar and tried mango sushi, and I gave in to a Lychee Saketini, made with lychee, prossecco and passion fruit flavored rum. The meal came with a complementary bowl of hot and salty edamame beans, a much tastier version of classic bar nuts.
We finished the night French martinis at Lolita’s Lust, and a quick tour of globe, a newly opened restaurant featured on the Food Network.
I’m grateful for breaks in routine, for taste buds, for adventurous people, and the fact that I'm such a lush for life.
Sometimes I have to let my guard down and give the world a taste.