Level with me. Is there some trick to eating a mango? Some secret strategy to separating the edible from the inedible parts? One that doesn’t culminate in my having to insert the entire pit in my mouth in an attempt to chew the flesh free?
Okay, admittedly I’m not what you’d call a Mango Man. I’ve always preferred the simple rinse and eat straightforwardness of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, or the relative simplicity of the banana. Papayas are as complicated as I go. But this morning, I wanted fruit with my cereal and, as it turned out, the mango was my only choice (Yes, technically the tomato is a fruit as well but I was saving it for lunch). On the rare occasions when I’ve eaten mango in the past, it’s always been served cubed or sliced. How was I to know you’d require some arcane insider knowledge to perfect this truly incredible feat? And so this morning, oblivious to what awaited me, I cut into the mango and almost immediately hit pit. Ah, I thought, it’s like cleaning an avocado. Cut around the pit, twist one half free, stab, twist and extricate the pit, then scoop out the meat with a spoon. Sadly, it was nothing like eating an avocado. When I attempted to twist one half free, the skin came right off while the flesh of the fruit clung stubbornly to the pit. Ah, I realized, it’s like cleaning a pear. Just use a sharp knife to slice the flesh away from the core. Of course, it was nothing like cleaning a pear either because rather than come away in nice clean slices, the fibrous pulp remained stuck to the damn pit, giving up the odd strand or two that I had to physically tear off with my juice-stained hands so that the topping on my All-Bran resembled not so much breakfast fruit as it did spaghetti squash. Finally, fed up, determined not to be beaten, I popped the whole pit in my mouth and started gnawing. As I worked the enormous stone around in my mouth, I briefly wondered how many individual’s in Earth’s history had headed down this same slippery slope only to meet an atypical end. I could just imagine the evening news – Anchor: “On the lighter side of things – In his career as a writer-producer, Joseph Mallozzi swallowed a lot of abuse. But, yesterday, he happened upon the one thing he couldn’t swallow – a mango pit. Funeral services will be held on Sunday.”
Frustrating fruit aside, it’s been an uneventful food day. Last night, however, was a little more exciting in that it was our first night of Dine Out Vancouver. During the Dine Out event taking place over the next couple of weeks, some of the city’s top restaurants will offer special three-course menu’s designed to showcase their establishments while offering prospective diners a deal in the process. It’s a great opportunity to check out places that may not be on your radar. Like, for instance, the restaurant we visited last night: Il Nido.
Tucked away behind a Starbucks (kitty-corner from another Starbucks) on Thurlow Street, is Il Nido, an assuming little restaurant that has persevered in the shadows of some of the city’s more high-profile Italian eateries. In my seven years living in Vancouver, I’ve eaten there once – but can’t recall anything about the place or the meal I had. I was hoping my second visit would prove more memorable. Fondy and I arrived for our 6:30 p.m. seating to a fairly empty house (somewhat surprising given all the talk of the heavily booked Dine Out participants). Il Nido’s Dine Out menu is extensive, offering a wide variety of appetizer and main course selections, almost twice as many as those offered on the regular menu’s of other restaurants. Fondy started with the roasted butternut squash puree with roast garlic crostini. She enjoyed it but I thought it paled in comparison to the more flavorful versions I’ve had elsewhere. I started with the porcetta, roasted pork belly with balsamic brown butter sauce. It was good, if not a tad overly salted, but, again, came up short in comparison to the melt-in-your-mouth versions I’ve sampled elsewhere. For her main course, Fondy got the braised short ribs on polenta with natural jus. We were both a little confused because she had told me she was going to order the jumbo pork chops and we both thought she HAD ordered the pork chops – although Fondy admitted that it was possible she may have pointed at the wrong menu item. Still, despite the fact that her heart was set on pork chops, she did like the short ribs. I went heart-healthy or my main, choosing the snapper in livornese tomato broth with julienne vegetables. While the snapper itself was perfectly cooked, the broth was fairly insipid. Thank God for the shredded green onions that topped the dish. We ended the evening with dessert: a very good tiramisu for her, and a great flourless chocolate cake (actually more pudding than cake which was capital A-okay with me) and crème fraiche sorbetto. Service was prompt, polite, and a little icy. Overall, a fine meal but, to be perfectly honest, probably not one I’ll remember seven years from now.
Crystal writes: “When I was at the Edinburgh Film Festival in Scotland several years back, they did a terrific street play in a cemetary at night. Being a fearless adult, I went and so discovered my insides weren’t as fearless moving around the cemetary at night. Especially when the play consisted of people ‘popping’ out of the graves to tell their stories.”
Answer: Reminds me of my sister who goes all out on Halloween, decorating her front yard in truly creepy fashion hoping to scary the beejeebers out of the tricker-treaters. I, on the other hand, can evoke truly spine-tingling terror at a fraction of the cost by answering the door with a platter of fresh vegetables. “So, what’ll it be, kids? Broccoli, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts?” The look on their little faces is priceless.
Anonymous writes: “How did you cook those steaks, and how would you prepare that fantasy cheeseburger?”
Answer: Pan-fried with a little salt and pepper – but grilling is really the way to go. As for preparing that fantasy cheeseburger, here’s the recipe: Take one wallet. Bring to Diva at the Met located in Vancouver’s Metropolitan Hotel. Place order for one DC Burger. Eat. Pay.
Windshield bug writes: “What I’ll be making: Hickory smoked brisket. Mesquite bbq ribs, dry rub is always better than sauce before you start cooking. Don’t let it dry out though…use the sauce as you get about halfway done.”
Answer: Can I swing by at halftime? I’ll bring dessert. It’s interesting to learn of the different ways people do BBQ ribs throughout the U.S. North Carolina boy Ben Browder swears by vinegar.
Shipperahoy writes: “Not too long ago a friend and I took a Friday the 13th flashlight tour of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose which was actually pretty cool.”
Answer: I’ve heard about the Winchester Mystery House and think it would be a fun place to check out. What else is there to do in San Jose?
Trialia writes: “Doth thy pictured companion know he has his very own fanlisting?”
Answer: He does now!
Lukas writes: “In at least two episodes of season 3 (once in Tao of Rodney, and multiple times in Common Ground) the German flag on this one guy’s shoulder was upside down. I’m not an obsessive fan but being German myself, it was something that caught my attention.”
Answer: Actually, the upside down German flag was intended as a subtle symbolic parallel to the literal upheaval Atlantis undergoes in both episodes as shocking events “turn the place upside down”, forcing our heroes in a scrambling panic to right things and re-establish the standing order that…yeah, somebody screwed up. I’ll mention it to Costumes next week.
Jen writes: “What hotel was this? With baby dolls decorating the lobby? I think I’d act exactly like Fondy. I’m a baby in that respect. Did you get anything cool at comicon?”
Answer: It may have been the Horton Grand Hotel. As or picking up anything cool at Comicon – I got some Japanese horror movies and picked up some books from my buddy Stuart Moore (Firestorm, Para) who, incidentally, is writing the Atlantis comic and doing a terrific job.
Marla writes: “Will events in Atlantis this coming season mention or deal with those that will be taking place in the SG1 movies? Will it be known whether Carter goes to Atlantis before or after the threat of the Ori has been dealt with?”
Answer: Nothing is yet set in stone with regard to the timing of events.
Craig writes: “I’m just wondering if your travels have ever brought you to my corner of the globe here in Scotland? Also, while i’m on the subject of the mother country have your cultured taste buds ever sampled haggis?”
Answer: Never been but would love to go. Never tried haggis but I’d be more than willing to give it a try. Come on. You’re talking to the guy who ate airport snake soup.