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!|
*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.