Saturday, June 6, 2015

Birthday Weekend

The older I get, the more I celebrate - which is why I've begun the birthday long weekend tradition. That gives everyone an opportunity to buy me a delicious meal :-)

This birthday's been pretty terrific so far (and only 60 per cent of the way done). Yesterday I went to Bar Raval for lunch with Scott and my friend Sandra (it was awesome) and Scaramouche for dinner. Let's just say my husband is very generous as those amazing dining experiences no doubt cost most of a mortgage payment.

June 5, my actual birthday, is apparently also National Donut Day in the US. Very strangely, since I don't actually like them, I managed to eat the majority of 2 donuts at Bar Raval - and I sure wish I'd taken some photos first. One of them was gorgeously filled with creme Catalana and the other was topped with a delicate smear of dulce de leche on which was crumbled a generous amount of smoked jamon. Both were less donuts than salty bread, fried to perfection, with a little bit of creamy and sweet thrown in for good measure.

Scaramouche, which is always awesome, did not fail to impress. My filet mignon was cooked to perfection and, as always, there was coconut cream pie for dessert. Fun story: On Thursday, I went to my coffee shop on the way to work and chatted with my usual crowd. One of my coffee friends, Rocco, on hearing about my plans for the following day, said: Don't forget to have a piece of pie for me. Which just goes to show how a) famous that pie is and b) the degree to which Toronto really is a small town. I'm starting to wonder if Rocco might be a chef - just based on the crazy food conversations we inevitably end up having randomly at 8am.

Another birthday tradition, and one I've written about on a number of occasions, is the garden tour I take with my friend Nicole, every year, which is always held on the first weekend in June. Well, last year the horticultural peeps opted not to host it, for some bizarre reason, and Nic and I were at a loss. But this year it bounced back in force: They held the tour on Toronto Island.*

Toronto Island is an oasis in the midst of a lot of ugly. Our city isn't known for its natural beauty. From the dock, however, you can see one of the best vistas TO's got to offer:


And here's a shot of me taking a photo of the city:


Do not ask me how it happens, but every year we get the most spectacular weather for the garden tour. There's rarely a cloud in the sky which, given that I don't live in the friendliest or sunniest place, is like an eternal birthday miracle.

We went to this surprisingly good restaurant on Ward's Island and drank sparkling wine from a can?!


It was off-putting but not unpleasant :-)

Then it was off to see some cultivated nature. Note: Toronto Island, which is actually three islands which we seem to refer to as if it were one, is a micro-climate. Islanders seem to be able to grow many of the things that we, 5 minutes over the narrowest part of the lake, struggle with (rhododendrons, for example).

These gardens are not the most tended we've ever seen but they are the most lush - and they're surrounded by the incomparable natural beauty. Wild isn't my general garden preference - it's too untended for my OCD - but I do love to see how the other half live. I took photos of the neater plots:


The allium was everywhere.





This house is the most gorgeous thing ever. Talk about a million dollar view. It faces the CN Tower.



We did have one outrageously horrible moment when one of the garden owners looked at my abdomen askew and asked me when I was due. Fucking hell, people. OM fucking G!? In case I've been under any illusions that my stomach is that of my pre-perimenopausal state, I guess I can throw that idea under a bus. The woman realized immediately after her comment, that she'd been very misguided - and utterly stupid - but the damage was done. Might I add, she looked infinitely more pregnant than I do. I called Scott immediately, to freak out and to confirm that I don't actually look pregnant (not that Nicole didn't have her work cut out for her for the rest of the day). I told him, under the circumstances, I was ready to throw myself into Lake Ontario and be done with it. He gently urged me to reconsider: Like, for the baby... HILARIOUS!

Please tell me I don't look pregnant!
At any rate, I managed to pull myself back from the edge. After all, I've done nothing but eat for the past 48 hours, and I was slouching. Now it's off to have a glass of wine before my next festive meal. Wish me luck!


*Toronto Island is a residential community of about 800 people, many of whom have lived on properties - leased for 70 years, from the city - for most of their lives. The waiting list to lease is about 25 years long, and the process is by no means transparent. When your name comes up, you may get a property that's falling down - and 140K - or one with a city and water view that will easily run you a million bucks. If you've read Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, part of it is set on the Island. It's got a truly rich history and those who live there do not consider themselves city dwellers. It's not surprising - they basically live in cottage country, 5 minutes from downtown. The beaches are gorgeous - particularly Hanlan's Point, which is clothing optional. Note: It's a nude beach. No one ever wears clothes there, not even me.

23 comments:

  1. You don't look pregnant, but you do look sassy and gorgeous and as if you're making the most of your birthday! At least you look young enough that she thought pregnancy a credible option -- no such luck when my gut sags after a few days' indulgence! ;-)
    Those gardens look so lush and restorative, especially so for city folk, I'd guess -- they've got the same kind of wilder vibe that mine does, although they're obv. more polished (or they probably wouldn't be volunteering themselves for a gardens show...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, many thanks for responding. I'm still trying to get over it! And I did decide to take the view that, if she's asking, fertility must still seem possible :-) I imagine that these islands are pretty small-time compared with yours. You really do live on one of the most gorgeous islands in the world. But these are still pretty special - esp. given proximity to TO.

      I also suspect you've got much more of that micro climate thing going on. My friend Nicole, with whom I tour, is from Komox. She did draw some parallels but, seriously, you've got mountains.

      Delete
  2. Oh goodness, who would make such a comment? Yikes! Your weekend does otherwise sound amazing... happy birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It has been totally amazing (other than that moment).

      Delete
  3. This is so beautiful! Sounds like you had just the perfect day for a birthday -- gardens, sunshine, great food :)

    And I get how offputting a question about being pregnant can be -- as a 'public servant' I get it all. the. time. Apparently everyone thinks they can stare at your body and comment on it because you are there for their pleasure. Sorry, rant over! In any case, it's better than the lady commiserating with me about the "baby years" being long behind us... you just can't win, LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's its own special kind of WTF! :-) And it has been excellent so far. Wonder what today has in store.

      Delete
  4. The lady obviously either hadn't heard the rule about not asking about the baby until you can see it's head or needed an emergency visit to the opticians!
    Wretched woman.
    Don't let her spoil what looks like wonderful birthday celebrations! Continue having a great time! Happy birthday. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! Who asks those questions? I work with this woman who's obvs about to have a baby tomorrow and for 9 months she's said nothing and neither have I cuz it's not my business and OMG, what if I were wrong.

      Delete
  5. 1. Scott IS hilarious! 2. You do not look pregnant. 3. She may have pregnancy on her mind for some reason. 4. It most def means you look young enough to be pregnant. 5. Which you do! Look young enough that is! And finally, 6. Can I become a citizen and then get on the list for those houses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! Right? And thank you for your well considered comment list. :-) BTW, I don't think you need to be a citizen - but you do need to live on the island year round (or seem as if you do). There are no food stores - or any stores, FWIW. But the Loblaws now delivers, which is awesome.

      Delete
  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND BEAUTY!!! tell anyone silly enough to make silly observations that you're having a fabric baby. that's what i do when i'm wearing a chic drapey top;) (and scott's response is priceless.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci! A fabric baby - excellent response. Instead, I gave her a death look that scared her to her core.

      Delete
  7. Happy Birthday! (the woman needs glasses)

    ReplyDelete
  8. First of all, you in no way look pregnant. Though, on the other hand, maybe this is a testament to how friggin' fantastic you look (youth = fertility and all that) or perhaps the glow you gained from your canned sparkling wine? Anyway, no, I detect no pregnancy.

    Happiest birthday to you! It sure sounds like you know how to celebrate :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm getting pretty good at celebrating at this age :-) And thank you for your kind words!

      Delete
  9. Maybe you have THAT glow? :) Old lady didn't know it was all those products you made yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great minds think alike-- I was also at Bar Raval for lunch on Friday with my husband, celebrating his birthday. He took the day off so we could go there before it got too crowded in the evening. And we also ate two donuts, despite not being donut lovers. Then we went to the AGO for the afternoon, and to The Chase for dinner (Scaramouche would have been a better choice, but we were there for a charity dinner last week and we wanted to try somewhere new). However, we spent the rest of the weekend doing chores, sounds like you had more fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is your husband named Marcel? :-)

      Delete
    2. In all seriousness, that's bizarre. But weren't those donuts amazing??

      Delete