Friday night was D’s big send-off, which started at Gusto 101, a former garage that is now a noisy Italian spot. For a place catering heavily to the King Street crowd in their Canada Goose jackets, the food was surprisingly good. Particularly noteworthy: the Tuscan kale salad and the house wine on tap. After that, it was off to the west end for pint at the Communist’s Daughter (still Toronto’s best bar) followed by several more down the road at Get Well, with its outstanding and ever-changing craft beer selection that on this night included a coffee ale from Nickel Brook that wowed me. Later we poured ourselves into a cab home.
Saturday morning: having somehow, someway dodged the hangover bullet, we spend the suddenly warm winter day shuffling around the apartment as D. dealt with some last minute trip plans. Later we meet in Kensington Market where we each wolf down a pork schnitzel sandwich from Sanagan’s while shopping for supplies for a quiet, fancy dinner at home for the two of us. From our butcher we have two generously sized filets mignon, crusted with salt and pepper, pan-seared and finished in the oven until perfectly pink. Roasted red beets and horseradish cream add a Jackson Pollock swirl of bright violet to the plates. A purée of celery root and parsnips on the side brings softness and a creamy sweetness.
Celery root and parsnip purée
Four or five good sized parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch-thick slices
A small celery root, peeled, scrubbed and chopped.
3-4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Put celery root in a pot with plenty of cold water to cover. Place over moderately high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. After about five minutes add the parsnips and boil for another 15 minutes until everything is nice and tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor. Add butter, stock and some salt and pepper and puree until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash by hand, but the goal here is to end up with a light and smooth purée. Transfer to a large serving dish and serve.
Sunday: I make polenta with a fried egg and a bit of bacon for breakfast while D. finishes packing. I can never get the hang of polenta; mine's always too thick and heavy but good enough in a pinch. As the afternoon starts to fade, we say our goodbyes. I am on my own for the next long while. Bachelor life begins with a leftover mashup: the last of the pork from the carnitas stirred into the kimchi fried rice, topped with green onions and a heavy hand of hot sauce. I watch hockey and stay up too late, as I always do when left to my own devices.