When I was a kid, my interests were markedly different from those of my classmates. Whereas they spent their weekends and evenings playing little league hockey, I spent my free time reading Shakespeare and writing fanciful stories about small town alien invasions, robot revolutionaries, and party-crashing interstellar space buccaneers. While they idolized the likes of Montreal Canadien’s great Ken Dryden, Cowboy’s QB Roger Staubach, and Expos All-Star catcher Gary Carter, I looked up to decidedly more colorful trailblazers: the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and, of course, the Riddler. They wanted to be astronauts, policemen, firemen, and professional athletes. My goals were much loftier. I wanted to be a James Bond villain.
Why not? They were always stylish and well-dressed, surrounded by beautiful women, and fairly bursting with imaginatively bold schemes for world domination. The only drawback, so far as I could tell, was the risk of overconfidence which proved the undoing of many a good villain. It wasn’t enough to kill Bond. No, they had to demonstrate their superior intellect by concocting elaborate means to rid themselves of him – long, involved, and unnecessarily complicated processes that involved sharks, giant lasers, and in one particularly memorable sequence, a tiny sinking island surrounded by ravenous alligators (although they may have been crocodiles). As a young boy I vowed that if I ever caught James Bond, there’d be no messing around. I’d shoot him on the spot and have done with it.
Flashforward some thirty years and my classmates and I face the cold, harsh reality of life. Paul Hemming did not grow up to be a rock star. He became an accountant instead. And Kim Burnside never did end up pursuing her dream of becoming Canada’s first female astronaut. She now sells real estate on Montreal’s West Island. And, as for me – I never did become a James Bond villain. A villain of sorts (as many will attest), but not quite the evil megalomaniac world-shaking bad-ass I’d kind of set my heart on in primary school. Still, imagine my delight this morning when I received a package from a fan exhorting me not to give up on my dream. The fan (I set aside the letter but forgot it at work so I will make a point of mentioning her in Monday’s blog) even went to the trouble of sending me a truly Ernst Stavros Blofeld-esque accessory: my very own (stuffed toy) Angora cat. And a pure white one at that. Check out the unfettered evilness exuded by this simple accoutrement. Villainously chic, no?
Back to Fuel tonight for another nice meal. We again started with the pumpkin soup with caramelized sunflower seeds surrounding a plump, grilled scallop isle – this time sans those cool glass bowls that were reserved for the onion consommé. For our mains, Fondy remained loyal to her Alberta rib eye with sauce bordelaise, making it three times in three visits. Accompanied by broccoli rabe and sautéed gnocchi, she declared it a 10 on 10. So far, this dish has never failed to impress. I tried something different and went with the slow cooked beef shin and seared weather scallop served with wilted arrow leaf spinach and a fingerling potato vinaigrette. It didn’t really work for me as the cut was fairly lean, lacking in the tender marbling I look for in my beef dishes. For dessert, I had the pear beignet, served with a green tea sabayon. It was good, but I prefer its previous incarnation. Fondy went off-book and had an excellent caramelized banana tart. We received first-rate service from the lovely Genevieve, and the dashing Jameson, pictured above.
I finished Gene Wolfe’s The Fifth Head of Cerberus. What an intricate work of science fiction. I’m still trying to put the pieces together. Anybody read his Long Sun series? Next up: The Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch.
By the way, on Martin Gero’s recommendation, I checked out 30 Rock last night. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen on television since Arrested Development. Great script and great performances. Guest star Paul Reubens stole the show.