I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you all, but I never really grew to love Toronto over the course of my short stay here.  Part of it was due to the fact that we moved here in the dead of winter, the overcast bleakness that welcomed us a perfect complement to the city’s leaden architecture.  Part of it was the endless traffic exacerbated by the equally endless road closures for construction that never quite seemed get underway.  And, admittedly, part of it was my own bias, a personal distaste for Toronto that I acquired at a very early age.  I’m fond of telling the story of how, growing up in Montreal, I used to suffer the six hour car ride from my hometown to T.O. every summer in order to visit my grandmother.  My sister and I would dread the annual family road trip, but my father always tried to put things in perspective.  “This is your grandmother’s one hundredth birthday,”he say.  “It’ll probably be the last time you see her.”  And so, duly guilted, my sister and I would hop into the car, resolved to make the best of an exhausting, occasionally nausea-inducing, situation .  Then, the following year, it would be: “This is your grandmother’s hundred and first birthday.  It’ll probably be the last time you see her.”  And then: “This is your grandmother’s hundred and second birthday.  It’ll probably be her last.”  My grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 112.  Them’s a lot of road trips – and a lot of time to develop an intense dislike for hogtown.

Having said all that, I have to admit that the city is not without its charm: great restaurants, fun things to do in the summer, and some genuinely nice people.  It also offered convenient proximity to the University of Guelph, the best animal oncology hospital in Canada.  And, for my pug Maximus, the timing of this extended visit couldn’t have been better.

Today, we were there for his fourth (of five) radiation treatments.  According to the oncologist, the size of the tumor remains unchanged but, on the bright side, his swollen lymph node  is considerably smaller.  Hopefully, the anti-cancer vaccine he’s taking will kick start his immune system soon.  We should know in a few weeks.

So, Akemi and I watch a lot of the cooking shows – Top Chef, Iron Chef, Chopped – but her favorite remains Hell’s Kitchen.  So much so that it inspired her attempt one of the Hell’s Kitchen menu mainstays.  Nope, not the risotto or something as simple as scallops.  She tried her hand at the far more challenging Beef Wellington.  How’d she do?  Well…

Hmmmm. Looks okay...


C’mere, you.  Get out.  GET OUT!  OUUUT!

Take off your jacket.

No, wait.  Keep the jacket.  Stay.  Pop it in the oven and let it cook for another ten minutes.  I’m hungry.

42 thoughts on “September 1, 2011: My history with Toronto! Maximus’s radioactive road trip #4! It’s raaaaaaaw!

  1. “on the bright side, his swollen lymph node is considerably smaller.”

    Cool. 🙂

  2. Max looks good after his treatments, little sweetie-pie. Will he be completing the last radioactive treatment while you are in Toronto?
    “…but, on the bright side, his swollen lymph node is considerably smaller.” Wonderful news!

    Um-m… that beef dish looks good until sliced open. I would not consume it even after 10 minutes more cooking though. My preference is all meat utterly well done.
    But good effort Akemi! Bravo!

    So, when is the return trip west?

    Ahem, mailbag is overdue sir, just say’n.


  3. Joe that’s a bona fide GREAT travel story. So glad to hear of Maximus’ progress with the treatments.

    “There’s no place like home.”

    re: the end of the TO chapter, what a class-act, sir. I’m speaking of your handling of this certainly trying period AND Mr. Carl Binder, a friend indeed!


  4. Yaaaay ((((((((Maximus))))))!! More good news! 🙂 I pray that Maximus overcomes this tumor…and be cancer free. I’m cheering for ya Max ol’ buddy. 🙂

    Love the cooking shows! Food Network is my third favorite network. (History Channel: #1; Discovery Channel: #2) 🙂 Love Chopped. Love Iron Chef (you should be a judge on there 😉 ). I’m not into Top Chef. Don’t like Hell’s Kitchen. That Gordon Ramsey scares pants off me.

  5. Thanks for the news on Maximus. What a brave puppy. And thats Not how the beef should look?!? Never having made it, I do not know…the outer side looks wonderful. Great job Akemi, Joe be nice to the cook!

  6. That Beef Wellington looks amazing! Bring it over here – I’ll eat it; I like my beef rare. My hat is off to Akemi for attempting and mastering such a complex dish.

    Glad to hear that the radiation is shrinking that pesky lymph node.

  7. Great news about Max…still keeping everything crossed.

    The beef wellington looks beautiful. It is asian beef wellington – sashimi beef style with the crust.

    good times!!

  8. Still sending good thoughts for Maximus.
    LOL if you show her panties, why should I be surprised you also show her uncooked meal. It looked great, lol. Since I am prone to eating beef right after it quits mooing, another 10 mins would have done it. Any idea why the outside looked so great and still raw inside?
    So do you head back home after the next radiation treatment? Or you going to be a GOOD son and go visit your mom first?

  9. Glad there’s some good news about Maximus–hope he continues to get better.

  10. Aww, come on Joe, that Beef Wellington looks fine. What kind of foodie are you?


  11. “My grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 112.”

    Good heavens! Do you know what that means? It means you can’t retire until you are close to 90 at the earliest. At your age, that means you’ll be working another 45 to 55 years! Take your time finding your next job, and your next one, and your next one, and your next one,… You’re gonna be working a long time.

    Your little Sugar Lips looks very good after 4 treatments. Keep fighting sweet Honey Bunny!

  12. Why is it that Maximus is always smiling *after* his treatments? Combination of feeling peppier and happy to be leaving the doctor’s I imagine.

    Akemi did a lovely job on the beef – it’s the oven’s fault if it’s not done enough for you.
    Nola S.

  13. Nice to hear that your T.O. experience wasn’t all bad. It’s a great city for foodies like yourself, and it’s also a great place for families — so many things for kids to do.

    I also used to drive down with my family to T.O. every year, and I’ve continued to do this into my adulthood. I’ve been going there once or twice a year for 40 years, and almost always have a great time. Didn’t your parents ever take you to all the fun places, like Canada’s Wonderland, CN Tower, Centre Island (aka Toronto Island), the ROM, the Ontario Science Centre, Casa Roma, etc.? And, what about side trips to Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake, which are only an hour away? I have great childhood memories of going to these places, and can now introduce my kids to them. Of course, it helps that I love road trips, so if that’s not your thing, I guess it could be a bit nightmarish, especially if you were car sick as a kid (I was, too, until I was introduced to the wonders of Gravol).

    I was going to ask if you plan to drive to Montreal before you take off for the West Coast, but I guess if you find 6 hours in a car to be rather trying, then I guess that answers that question 😉

    Anyway, I’m sending good vibes to Maximus…. Obviously, you’re going to stay for that last treatment before you leave. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the last treatment will bring out the best outcome.

    BTW, as a foodie, I’m surprised that you’re calling the Beef Wellington raw… it looks rare to me. Good for Akemi for making the attempt and not going for something easy.

  14. Hooray for Max! Hooray for Akemi for even ATTEMPTING Beef Wellington. Looked delicious to me.

    Almost anything is looking delicious. My digestion has been upset for most of the summer. Seeing my specialist tomorrow for lab results and, hopefully, more clues and dietary freedom. I may have to…gasp!…re-learn how to cook.

    Anyone heard from PBMom or her husband today? She’s also dealing with health concerns.

  15. love all the Hell’s kitchen references. It’s my guilty pleasure for the week.

    I can’t figure out why i get so much enjoyment out of the torture of these nitwit chefs.

    You’ll get it next time Akemi! (just watch out for the raw fish or the uneven/burnt scallops and make sure the garnish is on time)

  16. I don’t know, I’d have to agree that it just looks rare! Maybe Akemi should join you in you cooking class when you get back home!

    Great to hear good news on Maximus! I would imagine they could also give him a mild steroid to help jump start his immune system. Hey, it works for humans!

    “The Changeling” was on today, Chris did a fantastic job writing that one. My favorite music of the entire SG1 run is the “Daniel Jackson-ascended being visit” pieces. We hear it in “Abyss” as well, when he visits Jack in Ba’al’s prison cell. Whether that was Goldsmith or Acree, they get a gold star for that piece. Simple, yet elegant. My two favorite adjectives.


  17. This blog is much like my DVR, every time I go to it I feel like I’m so far behind.

    What are the next steps for Maximus after finishing treatment? Any plans for alternative treatments once you get back to Vancouver?

    With all the emails, texts, comments, and your schedule I don’t know how you do it.. I’m doing good if I can make it home from work make dinner and fall asleep. Make sure you take some time to rest, burning out is never good.

  18. 112? For real? Awesome! Did she share the secret to living a long life?

    That Max sure is a cutie. Please give him a belly rub from me?

  19. Things have been kinda crazy here the last couple days, but I have time for a few things…

    1. Put that Beef Wellington back in the oven! For an hour. No, make that two. I like my meat well done and in some cases, dry. In fact, I would eat beef jerky on a daily basis if it wasn’t so loaded with salt. I love overcooked meat ends and edges; nothing is as good as the dry outer ‘crust’ on a ham or a roast, or crispy boneless spare ribs from the Chinese take-out down the street. See, I have the same problem with rare meat as I have with fat – the more I try to chew it, the bigger it gets in my mouth. I just can’t make it small enough to swallow.

    2. Dad, on the other hand, loves his meat rare. “Just knock of the horns and wipe its ass” – that’s how he always orders it, even in the finest of restaurants. 🙄

    3. My grandmom lived to be 101 and we thought that was good. Your grandmom must’ve been Wonder Woman…or Wolverine. She wasn’t short and hairy, was she? (Because if she was, then I should live to be 200! :D… 😛 ) What was her secret to a long life? (Please don’t say she ate raw meat.)

    4. I’m rooting for Maximus! Go little fella, go! 🙂

    5. Just had to put my old lady kitty on thyroid meds. She probably should have been put on it 3 years ago – I hope it’s not too late. She’s also on antibiotics for a bladder infection thingy that developed while we were away. Between hubby’s medical bills from this past winter when he had no insurance, and vet bills, I will never get out of debt.

    6. Anyone interested in buying a comic book collection?

    7. If you have OCD, never EVER eat at a Yogo Frozen Yogurt joint. It’s like the Chuck E Cheese of dessert parlors. Counters smeared with toppings, NO SNEEZE GUARD over the topping bins, kids hovering around the topping bins at nose level, sticky floor, sticky handles, sticky tables…just disgusting. We tried the stuff, but we were so skeeved out that we couldn’t enjoy it at all. Never again.

    8. @ Akemi – You are much braver than me. Keep experimenting – keep learning. If your bento boxes are any indication of your talent in the kitchen, I’m sure you’ll be cooking circles around those tv chefs in no time!

    9. @ Joe – Another severed foot in a sneaker has washed up in the Vancouver area. I guess this rules you out as the serial killer. However, not so sure about Carl…

    10. I really have nothing more to say, I just hate ending on an odd number. 🙂

    Nites, Joey!


  20. 112? Wow.

    Yay for Max. You keep truckin’, buddy.

    I don’t like my meat that rare, but I have a few people in my household that do. I would have stuck it back in also. I’ve never attempted that dish before. You and Akemi are so adventurous. I had pasta and marinara tonight. Kind of boring, but it’s food.

  21. I couldn’t eat that. All the beef I eat must be cooked medium well.

    I just read “Orphans of the Sky” by Heinlein. Why has this never been brought to the screen?

    Joe, are you a fan of classic sci-fi (like Heinlein, Bradbury, and Asimov, etc.) or more modern stuff?

  22. I’m making Beef Wellie for my boyfriend’s birthday soon.. will probably turn out like that too! Did the extra 10 mins in the oven do the job?! Kisses to Maximus xxx

  23. I’ve been meaning to try Ramsay’s Beef Wellington recipe. Personally, I think Akemi’s came out fine, as I’m on the “rare for me” crowd”. Great to hear about Max. All in all, it looks like you’re going into the weekend on a positive note.
    Warning of the day to folks. Make sure to turn off appliances like stoves when the power goes off, and do NOT leave things on top of it. Power came back on after 4 days, and a house within sight of mine was going up in flames within 30 minutes. No one injured, pets made it out safe, but the damage is extensive. Still, my boys left the roof on the house, so there should be some salvagable items. And those of you on the gulf, take care and keep your persronal flotation devices handy. Sounds like you
    ‘re due for a wet one.

  24. Great news re: Max!

    Beef Wellington can be tricky. For the record, I would have eaten it just like that. Cut the horns off and slap it on the plate, IMHO.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  25. I dunno Joe, I’ve just moved back to Toronto from Montreal, and while Mtl. is a great place to party and sight-see, actually living there presents some real challenges. Finding a doctor for example. I had to wait FIVE MONTHS to get a GP to see me. In Toronto? SAME WEEK. You talk about road construction in Toronto? Montreal is an absolute nightmare when it comes to roads and road “maintenance” (pretty sure I saw an entire car in a pothole last week). So yeah, T.O may have “leaden” architecture, but give me a city that WORKS any day over an “artistic and cultural experiment”. Maybe Van is the best of both worlds – if you can afford it.

  26. Good to hear some positive news on Max. Come on vaccine…kick in and start working on that tumor.

  27. Glad for some positive news for Max. Hope everything continues to be positive.

    We are in AL now!!!! Yeah!!!! Hubby starts new job on Tuesday.

  28. Umm, Joe, are you posting from the past again? Like a 1000 years ago? 🙂


  29. Next time, Akemi should try replicating that Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger from the other week.

    With any luck she never tries making that fried fudge.

  30. Maxie, so very cute! I hope that vaccine will help, is it a personalized vaccine using Max’s cells/tissue? It’s amazing how much medicine has changed just in the last 10 years.

    There have been some Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) done on canines but I couldn’t find that many; they are continually expanding it’s use-it zaps tumors without surgery using focused light, no scalpels. Sort of like that Brazilian voodoo guy who plucks out tumors, only this is FDA approved.



  31. (Posted this afternoon, but it didn’t take, so am re-posting.)

    Akemi-san, your Beef Wellington looks beautiful! Have you worked with pastry before? It sure looks like it. I bet Joe is very proud of you. I looked at a recipe, and wow, it’s complicated. Sending lots of respect your way. Bet it tasted delicious, a good reward for your hard work. 😀
    Joe, this darling girl clearly loves you. Don’t let her get away!
    Great news for Maximus. That is so encouraging. Shrinking lymph nodes are a good sign. Praying that his immune system powers up and his old “P & V” returns. Hugs for your boy and the rest of the babies. 🙂

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