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Thursday, March 01, 2007

baby let your guard down

A giant of a man approaches me wearing an apron, blue suit pants and shiny, pointy toed caramel loafers.

With a large animated grin he yells something in Russian. My face goes blank.

He pauses, “ 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.

free flowers


Blogger Joy said...

This is living!!!! Continue to bite off big morsels and enjoy.

Gill, you know that I have always been a fan of your writing. I anxiously await the day you are contacted by a publishing house with a lavish book deal.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been checking your blog almost every other day, hoping it would be updated, and finally!!

Reading you makes me feel so inspired. And during these long and dreary Canadian winters, there's not much that makes me warm.


12:33 PM  
Blogger thestraightpoop said...

Gillian, once more your storytelling impresses me! I just took a Media Bistro travel writing course and would recommend it highly...hope all is well...

4:50 PM  
Blogger clare said...

hi gill this is clare. i was shown your blog and i'm impressed by your photography, your writing skills and just that you express yourself in such a way. your blog is real and professional! way to go :)
i hope all is well with you, i'm glad you are enjoying yourself in toronto.

8:16 PM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

What a wonderfully descriptive post... You have such a way of describing food, it's incredible -- you could definitely be a food writer, a restaurant critic, etc. And I totally agree with the others above that you have a real gift for both writing and photography.

Really enjoying your blog these last few months... And girl, you really do know how to live to the fullest!

2:08 AM  
Anonymous maitresse said...

you're a continual inspiration-- but just now you're inspiring me to get into the kitchen with some figs and caramelized onions...

last night I made soupe aux poireaux from scratch. It was good but very basic-- needed a kick or something. Any suggestions??

7:02 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Joy- If I ever get a lavish book deal- dreaming is good- you'll be sure to get one of the first copies!

Anynymous- Thank you, I'm fighting to keep warm these days too!

thestraightpoop- Thanks for the tip, I should look into that. Would love to work on my food writing.

clare- thanks man! we should get together again sometime. Let me know when you have a show.

thelatebloomer- thanks, I do love my food, keep stopping by.

maitresse- Maybe add some white wine, fresh rosemary and cumin. I love soup aux poireaux! Cumin is a subtle way to make anything a little more exotic, it may work!

6:13 AM  

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