I don't get out a lot.
Between work and school, I spend most of my free time making food or watching cooking shows on TV.
But this weekend blessed me with a couple of days off, making me feel like I'd just been bailed out of prison.
After my Friday morning music class I headed to one of my favorite destinations: St.Lawrence market. The sky was blue and the air was crisp. I pushed the collar of my jacket around my neck and squinted in the sunlight.
Once in the market I strolled past the bakeries, looked at a few cheeses, and then headed straight to the fish and chips stand at the end.
After eyeing the menu I ordered fresh grilled Atlantic salmon and sat down at a barstool. Around me sat businessmen on breaks biting into fish sandwiches, older women nibbling at fish and chips, and crowds of people digging into paper plates of unctuous seafood.
I watched my fish sit on the fiery grill until ready. It was served to me with a large salad, charred and grilled on each side, a garlic and herb marinade coating the fish, and a thick spicy sauce on the side. The fish was hot, fresh, and melted in my mouth. It was miles away from supermarket fish, or anything I've attempted to cook and home. I ate it slowly, watching the crowds around me, and the cook behind the counter continue to grill and fry fish and calamari.
With my stomach satisfied I roamed around the market for hours. I felt at home among the fresh bread, organic produce, marinated olives, butter tarts, enormous chunks of cheese, and bins of grains and spices.
At an Italian food counter, people sat around the counter with veal sandwiches, meatballs, spaghetti and meat sauce, and looks of content.
I thought to myself: this is where I belong, where I feel alive, inspired, and myself. If I plan on enjoying life, food needs to be a big part of it.
In the evening I went for drinks with friends, and went home as they continued onto other bars and clubs. It's becoming more and more clear that I’m not the party animal I used to be. These days I enjoy low key, intimate environments. If there is good conversation and good food I can stay there all night.
With this in mind, I headed to the Gourmet Food and Wine show with my roommate the next night.
The event took place in the spacious Metro Convention Centre, where stall upon stall had been set up of gourmet food, wine, liquor and more.
Walking into the room full of buzzing people, armed with a wine glass, I felt at home again. We sailed from one stand to the next, tasting local Ontario wines, gumbo seafood soup, spicy vegetarian sushi, seared salmon, fresh fig bread, salad with blue cheese, pears and smoked salmon, and other food that made me smile and groan with pleasure.
On the food network stage, the chef threw together random dishes, yelling about the food being sexy and asking for a glass of wine. I had the impression he had already had a few.
We talked to people, made friends, discovered new flavors and a new taste for wine. I was in my element, and would do it all over again to watch my roommate dig into a prime rib sandwich with a sinister grin on her face.
Like after any good meal, I feel satisfied but hungry for more.