My (Birthday) Week in Food

This was a week of films (the Inside Out Film Festival), impromptu liasons, unexpected flavours, delicious food and drink, and damp, sultry spring weather.

My women writers’ group, Write or Die, met in Steeltown this weekend, as one of our members, The Fashionista, is a Hamiltonian. We converged on her studio in an old knitting mill and feasted on asparagus quiche, quinoa salad, cherries, pears, fromage, blueberry coffee cake, and a plummy Italian wine.

The group transpired three years ago, after I had a dream about a workplace with a “creative department” that I wasn’t part of. I interpreted it as a metaphor for a life taken over by academia, the creativity a place I couldn’t get to. I emailed six women writers I knew about starting a writers’ group that would always include food and drink at its meetings, and we’ve been meeting more-or-less monthly, ever since.

The semester is slowly receding from memory, and I’m cooking again. I went to my first farmers’ market of the year, bought local organic asparagus, cauliflower, shitaake mushrooms. Made a roasted cauliflower/asparagus risotto that tasted even better the next day.

The Tennis Player and I chanced upon a fantastic neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall, Porchetta & Co. We were on our way to Insomniac Press‘s spring booklaunch at a local bar. The event was slow in getting started; we left in search of food. There on the sidewalk was a charming sign.

We went inside. Three earnest men produced sandwiches worth many a return visit. I’m thinking – picnics, trips to the island, takeout dinner on the way home from work. The marinated, slow-roasted pork was soft and crispy at the same time, the bun perfect, the parmesan, hot sauce, and roasted potatoes with truffle mayo on the side, sublime. We took those sandwiches back to the bar, the only literati there scarfing back sammies from greasy brown paper bags. It was, hands-down, the best meal of the week.

My birthday precipitated the making of blood orange martinis. A small group of friends gathered in my kitchen, and then we trooped off to a local restaurant, Brockton General.

This place has received great reviews and offers a different, locavore-inspired menu every night. I’m not entirely sold. We enjoyed the starters (pork rilettes, olives, fermented cabbge, paprika lima beans), great with a crisp Niagara wine.

My main, roasted free range chicken breast, was moist and juicy, but what’s up with flavourless oats and a couple of roasted heirloom carrot pieces on the side? Give me sauce, give me reduction, give me opposing flavours, layers and lingering aftertastes. Instead the dish was literal, didactic and well, plain.

The company was anything but plain, however, and the friendly, theatrical waitress brought me rhubarb upside down cake with whipped cream and a birthday candle, on the house.

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most flavourful.

Now, if only I could figure out what to do with those shitaake mushrooms…


  1. Coincidently, I just had a very good porchetta sandwich at a new place on Cambie and 19th.

    Happy Birthday and party on!!!

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