Wanted a free forum for personal and community expression, not much else.
Certainly never intended to provide the world with a public diary of my life, how boring, never thought I would be graced with such a global forum, never grokked the full import and extent of the virtual community/family.
But things find their own way, you are what you are, it is what it is and we got what we got. [ed. note - insert proper John Lennon quote of your choice here.] Many of you have checked in with me on a daily basis for years and when I don't show up for a spell, some of you get a little worried. I appreciate that. Still not sure how much is too much.
I am fine.
We were heading into the cold on this journey, extreme cold for a southern Californian. Minus four today. We spent an hour and a half on the runway in Detroit getting the airplane's wings de-iced.
I had been piling up free nights and credits all year on Hotels.com and decided to use the whole batch on the lovely old queen of a hotel, the Fairmount Royal York.
Got the rooms for a song. Ideally located across from Union Station. We were going to rent a car but took the subway and train instead and I'm glad that we did. Would have been hell on those roads.
Toronto is a lovely city, even in the freezing cold. Everyone is fashionable and even the dogs like to dress up.
We did a lot of visiting with our large extended family, some sightseeing and of course, a lot of eating. By the way, I now weigh more than my younger brother Buzz and he was simply overjoyed.
We ate out with Buzz and Julia the first night in Chinatown, on Spadina. The Chinese food in Toronto is legendary, it is home for a huge community. Barrels of supplies on the sidewalk, food made before your eyes in open kitchens.
First we stopped at Dumpling House.
We ordered XLB, our favorite steamed dumplings, wonton soup and pan fried dumplings. While all were very good, the pan fried were by far the best I had ever tasted. By a long shot. Best in show.
But no, we were not content. My brother quit a law career and became a celebrated chef and restaurateur in Canada. My wife can cook with anybody. Hardcore foodies all and basically full but at my urging we went down the street for a second dinner anyway.
We asked several Chinese folks about barbecue recommendations, walked north in the frozen air and never found the joint then back to an old standby, King's Noodle.
It was all good but the roast pork was in a class by itself, the skin was so crispy it crackled.
We left, utterly gorged from our gluttonous repast. All my fault, really. Thought about dessert and then thought better not. No chance on pushing the heart muscle and who really knows about Canadian medicine?
They drove us back to our hotel and we hit the hay early. We had a large Chinese dim sum feast with extended family to look forward to the next day.
Leslie and I took a train up to the museum area and walked to Dynasty in Yorkville. We had eaten there before on a previous trip but the location had changed. Some of the best dim sum in Toronto, purportedly. And it was excellent.
|chili, salt and pepper prawns|
Now of course I don't usually go off on such a monofood, single cuisine tangent. But when would I have an opportunity to feed like this again?
Soma. It is free on Fridays during the Christmas season, of course they never used to charge at all.
Purchases in mittened hands, we decided to brave the chilly air and walk back to the hotel, stopping first at the wonderful old St. Laurence Market.
Bought real raw Cantal cheese from France, which I prize above all others. Can't buy that in the U.S..
They had smoked salmon I had never even heard of. Wolfhead?
Saw all sorts of stuff, even fish parts.
Lamb shank with squash purée and mint gremolata, celery root veloute with prickled pear and cress, beets with hazelnut dukkah, honey, gouda and radicchio, an absolutely sinful dessert. Very unusual flavor set with the meal, tended to the Mediterranean but kept you on your toes and taste buds.
Spent way too much money at a Benihana on a night when there weren't many options.
Had a great bouillabaisse at a nearby food court, Marché. Watched a lot of curling. Remembered what it was like to be cold. Hung out with family. Took pictures of skyscrapers. Was going to check out the CN Tower but forty bucks a piece? I don't think so.
We also didn't know that it would be snowing so intensely. The falls not frozen yet probably soon. We certainly were and my camera gear took some abuse too. Hope it doesn't end up real expensive.
The snow got very intense, blowing sideways and hard.
We first found shelter at Tim Hortons, than finally at a blackjack table after a steep climb up top. Saw homeless people in the snow, cruel and heartbreaking, incomprehensible how they survive, really.
Many things to admire about our neighbors to the north.
Hope to catch it totally frozen before I am.
Twas a very enjoyable trip, perhaps the last of a very enjoyable year. But who knows? Never know what's waiting around the next corner...
Dreamt about my brother after the flight back last night. We were both kids, maybe in the tub. The honest and beautiful experience of loving your brother or sister as a child and even as we get older, does anything else compare?