There are always exceptions to this, such as meeting a favourite person or doing something interesting or both. This is one of those exceptions.
Like Ottawa, Toronto was very food focussed. Incredibly food focussed. So food focussed I have no idea if I did anything (apart from look for parking) that wasn't food focussed. I think I spent a good six or seven hours eating, drinking and perusing foodish pursuits. There's little wonder why my clothes are just that much snugger.
You know you're in for a good meal when all you have to say is "Yeah, I'm meeting a friend at an Italian restaurant for lunch. Can't remember what it's called, but it's at Richmond and Victoria." and the response is gleeful "Ooh! Osteria Ciceri e Tria!" you know it's going to be good.
We shared the daily antipasti--a sampler tray, if you will. They were my word, they were good. I can remember all but one, but what I do recall--arincini di riso studded with cuttlefish, meatball in marinara sauce, lamb stew with crostini, fig with ham--was fabulous. For her main, my friend had the gnocchi with seafood; I had tagliatelle with duck ragu. We tried two desserts--a hazelnut tarte and a little cake (again, my memory fails).
If you read Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, you know that we shared a fabulous iced coffee that afternoon. She wrote getting together was like meeting an old friend. It was.
Jennifer and I have been emailing each other, off and on, for years--(this month marks my fourth year foodblogging on Cardamom Addict; Jenn's been The Domestic Goddess for almost six years). We've cohosted events and sent questions and comments back and forth to one another, but in all this time we've never managed to meet.
There was an immediate ease and familiarity--the type that's normally reserved for long lost friends who haven't seen each other in years. We sat at a patio and chatted about family and friends and Ottawa. We talked about blogging and characters who've come and gone in those years. We talked about our current real life adventures. Every once in a while pausing (or trying to out-volume) the Blue Angels as they zoomed over head, rehearsing for the Air show.
Throughout, we were the targets of unwanted attention. No, not the wayward Bay Street crowd. A bee. Probably a relative of the one that harassed Yal and I. Cheeky monkey tried to steal some of my coffee too! That's just what I need...a fixated bee on a coffee buzz.
I could have spent all afternoon chatting with her, but alas, she wasn't on holidays. We parted ways and I found my self on the TTC at possibly one of the two most dangerous-to-me stores in Toronto. The Cookbook Store is one of my measured Meccas. Yes. A store devoted to cookbooks. The usual suspects from Food TV are there, but unlike other bookstores, they don't dominate the shelves. Here is where I find good food writers. Here is where I find interesting titles. Titles appear here, in their original format, before they appear in big-box bookstores, rewritten for the American audience. I left with a copy of Piri Piri Starfish, a book from which I desperately want to cook each and every single recipe.
My restraint at the Cookbook Store was easily voided as I peeked in at a neighbouring kitchenware shop. That peek ended up with me buying a terra cotta garlic keeper and a cast iron corncob printed cornbread tin. I'd seen them in magazines and recipe books and just couldn't resisit.
It was inaugurated the next day with my variant of my favourite cornbread recipe. Using a combination of maple syrup and brown sugar, the bread has a sweet-smoky flavour. I'm sure the niblet pattern discernable in the cute little cobs only helps to make the cornbread even more tasty.
Maple Corn Bread
125g ap flour
1Tbsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
50g brown sugar
125ml maple syrup
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Seive together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in cornmeal.
Beat together the egg, sugar and oil until smooth. Mix in the maple syrup and milk. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour into prepared 22cm (9") cake pan or muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Oh, and the other dangerous-to-me shop? Well, if I mentioned it by name, I'm sure the percentage of solicitous emails I receive will increase. That's a lot coming from the gal who's also the Sensual Gourmet...But really, I highly recommend them, especially if you're well beyond what regular department stores stock.
What I'm reading:
I'm a quill for hire!