Our heroine flew with congestion-filled head and chest to the oh-so cold city of Toronto last Friday. She touched down to find herself in the middle of a blizzard and doomed to wait in an hour long taxi line. But have no fear, a nice man from Abu Dhabi offered to share his cab with her, cutting the wait time in half. Along the way, their taxi meandered through the treacherous streets, but inside she, the sheikh of Abu Dhabi ” I dabble in oil” and the Turkish driver sat ensconced in warmth over conversations of tea and delectables.
Over the course of the next few days, she walked the largest underground shopping mall, worked a food show and found Canadians to be fixated on pizza. At the show that is. Holly, a server at the hotel became quick friends with our heroine as they exchanged tips on how to channel energy into working a double or working sick. But the food. Oh the food was rather pitiful, although a cold paired with no sense of smell or tastebuds had nothing to do with it. After a disappointing meal eating Roti and drinking Mauby, D. strove to turn things around. And how he did!
Walking in the rain does not sound like something our heroine would naturally do, but the rainbow at the end dangled in front of her in the form of an Indian restaurant Dhaba. Their housemade chai had a bite at the back of the throat and as they discussed all things personal, political and professional, they broke edges of papadum to nibble on. Course 1 arrived. “Duo of Burgh” demonstrated two ways of preparing chicken breast: five spice marinade and basil-almond marinade with hung yogurt. Both whet the palate and warmed the appetite. Next, they dined on roasted garlic naan with a side of saffron rice (with chunks of roasted ancho chiles and browned, crisped onions) alongside Makai Okra and P.K.’s Rogini Chop Rack. The Makai okra blended baby corn and okra with fennel seeds, ground haldi and a hint of mango masala. Yum. P.K.’s chop rack featured lamb popsicles from New Zealand prepared the Kashmere way in a nutty broth and infused with fenugreek. The servers were attentive and personable. The room’s ambiance leant itself to an intimate union with taste and aroma being the predominant intoxications of the moment. As a great touch, two mini Mango Lassi drinks accompanied the bill. Definitely going down in the book as a restaurant to revisit and acquaint oneself with the menu more fully.
The next evening continued the love affair with Toronto cuisine. Instead of the rain of the previous evening, snowflakes gingerly traipsed from the vacuous night sky. And began picking up in speed. Our heroine, refined by the suns of the Equator, had never encountered walking through a blizzard and proceeded giggling from the persistent flecks touching any surface in their path.
Upon stepping into Archeo, the dining room appeared empty, no doubt due to the impending blizzard. D. led the way to neighboring restaurant The Boiler House, where they proceeded into a friendly and modern dining hall accented by slabs of wood, stainless steel and low amber light. Choosing from their far too interesting menu selections, they settled on Mushroom soup and a mystery appetizer to be selected by the server du jour. Michael ended up bringing out the soup with the chef’s housemade spinach gnocchi in a parsnip goat cheese sauce finished off with watercress and a caesar salad with double smoked crisp bacon, herbed croutons and a garlic dressing. The gnocchi’s consistency was light and fluffy like little pillows of potato while the creaminess of the salad rounded out the saltiness of the bacon and croutons. The soup’s rich consistency and just-pureed-enough texture pleased. A few mouthfuls of entrees ensued with pan-roasted Arctic Char, confit leek and Peruvian potato hash, Meyer lemon beurre blanc. The salty crisp skin of the buttery fish mingled perfectly with the sweet notes of roasted corn and purple potato. D. ordered the pan-seared Pekin duck breast atop a spaghetti squash galette, finished with fig gastrique. No room for dessert, they sailed from dinner table to car leaping along the way through now ankle deep snow.
Snow caked the roads in white. With only two hours of sleep under her belt, our heroine boards the plane waiting in a stupor for the bags to be loaded on, waiting to be de-iced, waiting for the next time Toronto comes onto her horizon again in the future. Sleepy once again as she leaves a city that still holds so many more secrets to be unlocked.