I can’t sleep well the night before I fly or, apparently, the night before I have to get up early for a big meeting – which is the all the more problematic when your that early wake-up call works out to a 4:30 a.m. rise and shine west coast time.

But I’m not on the west coast.  I’m in Toronto where I am enjoying (?) the ear-numbing chill of the type of winter I left behind long ago.  Following an uneventful flight (mostly spent reading Jeffrey Steingarten’s immensely entertaining It Must Have Been Something I Ate), we touched down in Toronto early and caught a cab back to the hotel where the gang awaited us.  After checking in and dropping off our stuff, we headed downstairs where we joined Rob, Sue, Alex, and Klaus in the lounge for drinks and talk of cars, ice driving, Tokyo, Paris, and, of course, brain ravioli.  Paul, my writing partner, belittled my choice of cocktail (the moscow mule), then proceeded to order himself a “Manhattan with a twist”, one of those drinks only ordered by characters in old Dashiell Hammett novels.

After drinks, Rob, Sue, Paul, and I headed to one of my Top Toronto picks: Nota Bene.  The highlights of the night…

Rabbit, Pork, and Pistachio Terrine with grainy mustard, cornichons, and toast.
Taglierini Pasta with shaved black truffle. Buttery rich, earthy, and phenomenally aromatic. Paul instantly regretted his decision to go with the scallops instead.
Rob's beautiful B.C. Black Cod with butternut squash puree and savoy cabbage.
Dessert #1: Broiche doughnuts and lemon curd with blueberry sorbet. My tastes tend toward the sweeter, but everyone else really enjoyed these.
Dessert #2: Sticky Toffee Pudding with pecan praline and spotted dick ice cream. No. For real. And excellent.
Dessert #3: Peanut butter brittle ice cream. Both ice creams were great. I regret not having gone with a fourth entry - pistachio ice cream.
Rob gives me the "I told ya so/I can't believe you ate that/Do you really want to end your third act with that?" look.

This morning, we were picked up and shuttled to the temporary production offices located in the far outskirts of the city.  It was, I suspected, a place popular with mobsters looking to clean up loose ends and make bodies “disappear”.

Turns out we weren’t the only production in the neighborhood…

We settled in and spent the morning discussing broad strokes: our main character, his backstory, his various relationships, how his past influenced his present, how events in the pilot will influence his future, and network demands.  Then, after lunch, we started beating out the pilot, managing an impressive Tease and three acts before running out of steam (due in no small part due being gifted a whack of chocolate bars including some dark chocolate-covered marzipan).  As much as I’ve enjoyed my time off, I’ve got to admit – it was fun to be back in a room, spinning stories.

 

Spinning with Rob. Just like old times!
Alex, who has done a huge amount of work to get the project this far, fights off jet-lag to pace and pitch.
While Klaus, the numbers man, discussed budgets and schedules in the next room.

 

Rob prepares to juggle ideas by the white board.

For dinner tonight, we headed to George where we enjoyed another excellent meal…

 

A perfectly situated table allowed us to check out all the Hell's Kitchen action.
There's Rob with that look again.
The bread platter. Fresh, fragrant and delicious - especially the focaccia.
L'Amuse Bouche: a tasty little duck terrine.
Whey fed pork belly with ricotta cavatelli, matsutake mushroom.
Rack of venison with potato perogies and mint yoghurt topped with pan-seared Quebec Muscovy foie gras. Perfection.
To finish: Chocolate mousse with coffee meringue and banana tempura. The pomegranate seeds studding my mousse were a nuisance but otherwise a great dessert.
The magnanimous Klaus picked up the tab for tonight's outing.

It was a short, albeit unbearably cold walk back to the hotel where we retired back to our respective rooms to await the coming snowstorm.  I hear it’s going to be a BIG one.  To avoid having to brave the potentially treacherous conditions, they’ve wisely decided to relocate tomorrow’s spin session from the remote stoolie-silencing fields of Don Mills to the quaint and cosy environs of the hotel conference room.

Pros: Love the show and all those involved I’ve met to date: Fred, Sure, Alex, and Klaus.  Would, of course, jump at the chance to work with Rob again.  So far, the Toronto restaurants are two for two.

Cons: Toronto aint growing on me.  It’s cold and, without a doubt, the ugliest city I’ve ever visited.  And I’ve been to Jersey.  Also, it remains to be seen whether we’ll be able to make a series deal.

Still, so far so good.  Looking forward to tomorrow’s brainstorming.  And the brain ravioli at Black Hoof.

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neil
neil

Is this project stargate related or something else entirely?

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

well, the cold is a major negative, but then it’s a major positive to have coworkers you like. Not to mention starting off on the ground floor this time of the production. And you certainly hit Toronto running, so to speak. Love the food reports, and really really want to see the pics for tomorrow’s dining. Hope everything turns out well for you, and thanks for showing us Rob and the others. But note, without a couple of pictures of Paul, we’re going to begin to think you hired an actor for those rare shots of him in Vancouver, and that you’re really flying solo here in the east.

Quade
Quade

Its great to see Rob again.

Is this new project centered around Toronto? Is there some reason it cant be made elsewhere, say Bridge Studios?

Bryan
Bryan

Hi Joe,

I live near Toronto, and indeed, the storm is awful.. looking forward to spring, once summer comes.. I’ll be looking forward to winter.

Take care,
-Bryan.

Sean D.
Sean D.

Okay okay Joe, so, you’re writing mystery scripts, and going to Toronto… so a google on stuff filmed in Toronto… and…

Are you and/or Paul writing (or going to be writing) for anything related to any of the following:

Degrassi: The Next Generation
Doc
Kids in the Hall
Mutant X
Nero Wolfe
Night Heat
Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal
Queer As Folk
Wonderfalls
Breakout Kings
Dual Suspects
King
The Listener
Nikita
Rookie Blue
XIII
Fringe
Skins
Prison Break
Blue Bloods
Gilmore Girls
The West Wing
Monk
Warehouse 13
?

Not “Queer as Folk”? lol

Nikita would be cool.

Though the coolest one of those listed:

Warehouse 13. grin

Cheers,

Sean D.

Deni
Deni

Hi Joe, glad to hear your day went well. My daughter feels the same way about Toronto, said it was cold and ugly as sin. Working with Rob has to be a huge plus, though! When do you get to see Brie and Stewie? Stay warm!

Moniker
Moniker

Toronto may be cold, but they know how to run an airport. Just last week I flew to Shanghai via Toronto. There was an blizzard at the airport – but we landed on time. At least, I assume we landed as I felt the landing gear touch down but the visibility was still only about one a meter. The flight to Shanghai wasn’t delayed either, even though the plane was covered in ice and snow. They just threw some anti-freeze on the plane and called it a day. Most other airports I have been to would have shut down in those conditions. Also, the nearby Niagara area produces some excellent ice wine!

Randomness
Randomness

@Hell’s Kitchen

Lol. If Gordan Ramsey were there, you could just pick up the popcorn, sit back and watch the show haha

@And the brain ravioli at Black Hoof.

And gross as Brain Ravioli sounds, please post pics of it. Curious more than anything Joe.

Asdasdg
Asdasdg

Toronto this Toronto that? What on Filmmaking is going on in Toronto?

Airelle
Airelle

Good on the meals being 2 for 2. I hope the guys at refuel are not reading this. Glad to see Rob’s smiling face again, yes, and food pictures, yummy. thanks for sharing. The storm is one for the record books I think, so glad you got there before it hit. Stay warm with the moscow mule and good luck on the brain stuff,.

Ponytail
Ponytail

I love, love, love Robert Cooper. Stick with him and your new show will be great. Plus, the two Iron Chefs are together again, Chef Joe and Chef Rob. Future cook-offs go under the “Pros” column.

Malimar
Malimar

If this project goes forward and you do move to Toronto, do you suppose there’s any chance we could convince you to come talk to the students of the Television and Film Arts department at Buffalo State College, about a 2 hour drive south? (Naturally reimbursing you gas/toll money, at the very least.)

How about if we treated you to your choice of Buffalo restaurants?

fsmn36
fsmn36

I’ll pass on the brain pasta, but those deserts look amazing.

Deni
Deni

I think I just figured it out, and if it is what I think it is, I’m thrilled! And no, Das didn’t tell me. smile

Maggy K.
Maggy K.

Where’s Paul? Does he really exist? Don’t recall ever seeing his smiley face!

crazymom1

Another thing I’ve never had: sticky toffee pudding. I can now say that I’ve had macarons. Kate went to Las Vegas and came back with macarons from Payard and chocolate from Vosges. She also says she has pics from dinner at Joel Robuchon’s restaurant, but I’m still waiting to see them.

scott_land
scott_land

Joe-

That sounded like an awesome day you had. I’m curious to find out when you can spill the beans on the new show.
Is it after you sign a contract or what that you can at least say the name of the show?

My darn coworker commented the other day that she saw an add on TV the other night about a show coming soon that was from the producers of SGU.
She knows I’ve been following your blog and how I feel about SGU. You know something, this coworker has a mind like a steel trap and she never forgets a thing. But when I beg and pleaded for her to remember what it was and what channel she saw it on she o’ so conveniently forgot and smiled. Its like she’s teasing/torturing me with this carrot.
I guess I shouldn’t have ate all those chocolate bars in front of her the other day going “mmmm this is good, you should try some of this”. *chomp, slurp, munch* “Oops! I forgot didn’t you saw you were on a diet”. *chump, chump, slurp*
**GROWWWWWL**
“What was that noise? Was that YOUR stomach growling?”

Now I’ll never find out if she truly saw that promo or not.

Karma Joe, flipping Karma……

Gilder
Gilder

OT: Can’t recall if I’ve introduced Sebastian, the dog I’m helping socialize at Animal Defense League of Texas. There are a few photos over at Twitpic; also a few of another ADL resident, Bam-Bam, who reminds me of a certain stunt coordinator.

http://twitpic.com/photos/baterista9

Eric
Eric

Aww, why you gotta hate on my hometown? Toronto’s not so bad.

Also I guess it depends where on Don Mills you ended up, but I can assure you unless you were at Don Mills and Steeles, you weren’t at the outskirts of the city.

hal ehrlich
hal ehrlich

Brain ravioli ?? Yuch!!!
Sounds so wierd, I just gotta hear how it tastes, but better you than me.
also is it a appestiser or is it a main course ?
how much does it cost ?

good luck with the new job..
Amd let us know if you hear any runblings about stargate while you are gone…

Thanks again.

Randomness
Randomness

Hey Joe, remember you said you liked the Last Exile anime series right?

They’re making a new Last Exile series called Last Exile ~Ginyoku no Fam~ will apparently have new characters, new story, and mechanical designs.

Amazing news huh? Last Exile blew me away when I watched ages ago, incredible series in both story and animation.

News here

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-02-01/gonzo-lists-last-exile-fam-the-silver-wing-for-2011

Poor Edgar Derby
Poor Edgar Derby

It would be odd to see the West Wing after all this time…but I would like to see how President Santos gets along once Josh quits to be mayor of Chicago…

Guillaume
Guillaume

I have a request: please Joe, could you document your brainstorming session ? I mean just a little cell phone video (5-10mn). I would kill to have a look on the whole development of a show from scratch.
How do you develop the ideas, characters, storylines … from nothingness to the finite retail DVD.
Keep those videos for way way later for the DVD release.
I would like to witness the magic of creation, from nothing to something.
This is also why I cherish things like Doctor Who confidentials, when Steven Moffat discusses the script, have it read by the cast … anything and everything to the finite product, that is so precious to document the original ‘spark’.
Thank you ! wink

Gravy
Gravy

@Sean D.
You forgot two really fantastic shows: Flashpoint and Covert Affairs! Come on! razz

PBMom

I’ve been to Jersey — lived in Jersey for 4 years of my life — have relatives in no Jersey — and that is a pretty strong statement. I always thought Toronto would win out in that City Deathmatch.

Be careful with the snow. It’s going down into the TEENS in Houston tonight with an wind chill factor in the SINGLE DIGITS. Yes I’m shouting because I’m freezing. Friday there is a 50% chance of our once-a-season snow.

Nice to see Rob again. Looking foward to hearing the news once you can say yeah or nay.