“Whatever you do,”said my writing partner, Paul, clearly concerned about my penchant for adventurous eating, “don’t order the brains.”

“When was the last time you saw brain on a menu?”I scoffed.

And then, there it was, in the appetizer section: lamb brains.

In retrospect, it shouldn’t have come as that big of a surprise.  After all,  we were dining at Buca, my favorite Toronto restaurant, known for its creative offal offerings.

“No innards,”Paul reminded me as a we perused our menus, squinting to make out the tiny print in the darkened room.  Finally, I gave up and used the flashlight app on my phone.  Yes, I felt old – but not quite so bad as the evening progressed and about a half dozen other diners followed suit.  “Just go ahead and order for us,”said Paul, obviously too proud to use the flashlight function on HIS phone.

There were a lot of very intriguing menu options, but many fell foul of the “no innards” edict.  Eventually, I decided to split the difference by reading aloud slightly altered versions of the dish descriptions.  For instance, the pasta with duck offal ragu became “pasta with duck ragu”!  The revised descriptions proved more palatable to my squeamish writing partner.

A couple of the highlights…

October 9, 2014: Toronto Dining!The nod ini: warm bread knots with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and sea salt.

October 9, 2014: Toronto Dining!

The crispy pig ears.  Yeah, yeah, I know, but it’s not brains and, technically, not an “innards”.  It’s more of an “outard”.

October 9, 2014: Toronto Dining!

The bianca pizza with gorgonzola and duck eggs.

And various awesome pasta.  Love that place.

Then, last night, we met up with Brad Wright for dinner at another Italian restaurant in the neighbourhood.  My review: Pizza good, pasta okay, service excellent, slight urine smell.  Not sure about that one.

I was walking the neighborhood today, shopping for necessitates – socks, underwear, towels, a soda stream shaped like a penguin – and noticed A LOT of intriguing dining options in the area.

Tonight, it’s oysters with the director of our first two episodes and then, tomorrow morning, I’m homeward-bound.  And none too soon.  Akemi tells me that Jelly has been restless since I left, up and panting through the night, and has taken to following her around.

October 9, 2014: Toronto Dining!

20 thoughts on “October 9, 2014: Toronto dining!

  1. Poor doggies look worried. Being with you again will more than make up for the trip back east. Surprise bonus – wait til they find out that sometimes they might be doggie-sat by non other than MICHAEL SHANKS!!!

  2. Um, Joe, reading your post, you said, ““No innards,”Paul reminded me as a we perused our menus, squatting to make out the tiny print in the darkened room. ”

    – You were squatting? Nice mental image, but I think you meant,”squinting”.

  3. Can Akemi set up Sype for Jelly with you? When is the family joining you in Toronto?

  4. Jelly clearly misses you Joe. The rest of your dogs too. I bet the moment you see them they’ll all be super excited.

  5. “No innards,”Paul reminded me as a we perused our menus, squatting to make out the tiny print in the darkened room.”

    Not sure “squatting” is the word you want there. Maybe after.

    It all looks great and as you know I’d try any of it!

    “Slight urine smell”? I’m sorry, but that would be a deal breaker, for sure!

    Those poor dogs! You can just see the “So, where the **** IS he, anyway??” look on their faces. Have a safe trip back!

  6. Teasing all of us with the delicious looking bread knots…or with
    the pages from an even more delicious looking script?

    That looks like some dialogue on those white pages…perhaps
    with just a hint of rosemary, garlic and sea salt.

  7. I’m with Paul; no brains or innards. Hi Paul 😀

    I would like to grab those warm bread knots right out of that pictures. The pizza looks delicious too, but no to the pig ears, regardless of not being innards.

    Jelly looks so sad. It’s good you will be together soon. Have a good flight.

  8. @Joe:

    Love the pig ears!

    I’m generally not “innards-averse”, so count me in! 😉

    However, I’m not fond of cow’s brains (because of the metallic taste), or beef-kidney flavors. Give me sweet-breads, heart, tongue, pâté’, and in some cases, chitlins (fried please!) Still, I’ll try almost anything once and twice if I like it.

    On Jelly’s restlessness: at least this’ll be the last major away trip from them (and Akemi) for a little while, at least until Christmas, right? Will you be taking them to Montreal (5+ hour drive), or would that be dog sitter time?

  9. Surely nearly everything we eat consists of “innards”? Pork crackling is the best non-innard I could come up with. Pig’s ears probably count as crackling. Paul does realise that a nice, juicy steak comes from the inside of the cow, right?

    I met Peter F. Hamilton last night. He’s touring around promoting his latest weighty tome, The Abyss Beyond Dreams. He seems like a nice guy. I asked him if, with the success of long-form novels like Game Of Thrones transitioning to TV, will we ever see a Peter F. Hamilton-based TV series. He said, “Wait until next year.” So that sounds exciting! Not that I’m holding my breath. I know how hard it is to actually get anything made!

  10. Hope you have a good flight, sorry Jelly baby is not feeling up to her self, but you will make it all better. Oh, eggs on pizza, like dipping eggs with toast. Sounds good. >>and the urine smell, isn’t it amazing when you talk about subjects like delicious food smells, and urine,(ick) you can imagine the smell, almost like smell it, the brain(don’t eat this one) is amazing… and then I need dessert….if only in my dreams..

  11. Does beef tongue count as an innard? The cow keeps it inside or outside, depending on whether there’s something salty around.

  12. I can eat any part of an animal but a piece every day of the week. 🙄

    I think your children will continue to follow Akemi in order she not escape as Dady. 👿

  13. I had sheep brains once at an Armenian wedding but have always wondered afterwards if I was going to get that “Mad Cow Disease” – creutzfeldt-jakob disease. Didn’t taste bad, didn’t taste great.

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