Only eight days to the world premiere of Stargate: Universe! Make plans to be home next Friday night, October 2nd, at 9:00 p.m. If you already have plans, break ‘em. If your friends, family members, co-workers, or acquaintances have plans, break ‘em as well (“Hi, I’m calling on behalf of Sheila. I’m afraid she wont’ be able to attend your wedding. Incidentally, while I have you on the phone, would it be possible to take a short one-hour break between the best man’s speech and father-daughter dance so that the rest of the wedding party can enjoy the premiere of Stargate: Universe?”). I’m not going to lie. Ratings are important to some people. Not me, mind you, as I do it all for the love of the art and so I can have somewhere to store my vast collection of SF and Fantasy books. But, for some people, ratings are very important. Especially those looking for a second season pick-up. So do your best to get the word out to anyone and everyone – whether it be your local sewing circle, your online chat buddies, or all those participating in uncle Norm’s intervention this weekend. Let ’em know!
A day chock full of fun! This morning, VFX Supervisor Mark Savela came by bearing gifts. No, not another Bacon Explosion (see last issue, ed.) but alien effects. Wow! Truly spectacular visuals – some unsettling, some downright mesmerizing. And that ship! Or should I say “ships”!
So Ming-Na dropped by my office recently (Quite unintentionally of course. She was on her way to size a crew jacket and apparently got lost and stopped by to ask for directions.). While we were chatting, I asked her about all the wonderful local restaurants she had visited since coming to Vancouver. I was shocked to discover she hadn’t tried any. “No one has invited me out,”she explained me – which I found surprising but suspect given that I’m sure I extended an invitation very early on in the season back when she only knew me as the guy in the suit and the weird shades which, in retrospect, might account for her reluctance to take me up on the offer. As it so happened, I was heading to La Quercia with fellow producers Robert Cooper and Carl Binder last night and asked her if she’d like to join us. She happily accepted the invitation (I think the fact that I was sporting a less corporate jeans and dress shirt ensemble had something to do with it. Also the fact that I’d written the season finale and seemingly held everyone’s fate in my hand).
Anyway, we had a very nice meal – three courses in all. I started with a half order of the rotini al sugo di agnello, home made with lamb ragu. I completely forgot the dish contained lamb and offered Carl a bite. Being the lamb-hater he is, he wasn’t enamored of the ragu – but did enjoy the pasta. Being the lamb and pasta lover I am, I enjoyed both. Ming, meanwhile, had an wonderful little taleggio and mushroom tart (which I sampled when her back was turned).
For our second course, I had my favorite pasta on the menu, the spaghetti al’amatriciana – a sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy combo of perfectly prepared pasta, smoked pork cheek, chilies, and san marzano tomatoes. I also took part in the communal alla famiglia squash mascarpone risotto with saffron. Now, to be honest, I’m not a huge saffron fan (I find the flavors redolent of a public swimming pool), but its addition was very subtle here, just enough for a touch of flavor – and vibrant burst of color. Carl’s response to the dish was interesting. He thought it interesting at first but the more he ate, the more intriguing he found it.
For our mains, Rob and Carl went fish (trout and halibut respectively) while Ming went with the linguine alle vongole which, after the first two courses, she was barely able to make a dent in. She did pack it up to go, however, and I received an email from her today informing me that she was enjoying the leftovers. For my main, I went with the Guanciale e lingua di vitello – braised beef cheek and poached veal tongue, a delightful and delicious combination, both flavorful and fork-friendly.
We went with three desserts: apple strudel with grape sorbetto for Ming and Carl, the chocolate polenta cake for Rob and I, and the almond tort “for the table”. Alas, Carl was underwhelmed by the strudel. I liked my chocolate polenta cake enough but found it surprisingly light. I was expecting it to be richer, denser, especially since I did ask (as is customary) for “the heaviest dessert on the menu”. The winner was the terrific almond tort tough, served with a scoop of very ice home made vanilla ice cream.
All in all, a terrific night, in part because of the food, but mainly because of the company. Rob and Carl are always great fun, and Ming-Na was an utter joy – lively, laid-back, and positively hilarious.
P.S.: We’ve cast one of my favorite local actors in the three-part closer.
P.P.S.: Vancouver drivers must rank as the most clueless when it comes to traffic protocol. The fact that most of them have yet to master the four-way stop procedure astounds.
P.S.P.S.: Brie drools a lot. What gives?