People (Generally, those not in the industry) react with amazement when they find out I’m juggling multiple development projects. I’m sure they imagine me working 24/7, going from one project to the next, with little room for rest. Sadly, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Much of “development” is waiting.
Well, this past Thursday afternoon, we pitched Untitled Awesome Project to a broadcaster. As you may (or may not) know, I’m especially excited about this one as it’s a notion that (like Dark Matter) was many years in the making. And by “many years in the making” I mean that, like Dark Matter, I came up with the concept and main characters quite some time ago and put them on the back burner, allowing them to bubble and stew while I focused on the projects at hand. In the case of Dark Matter, it was almost seven years between the time I first came up with the idea (while working on Stargate) to when the show finally got that elusive green light. In the case of UAP, a show I first conceived while working on the first season of Dark Matter, the timeline may (just MAY) be a little shorter. I received word late last night that the pitch went over well and, should the right dominos fall between now and end of next week, I may soon be starting work on a pilot script. Of course we’re talking development, still a ways from a green light, but it’s a crucial step in a positive direction.
Expecting notes on the preliminary series overview of that comic book adaptation later this week as well. I have much love and respect of the series writer and artist and am looking forward to their feedback.
And, also this week, I’ll be getting together with one of my very favorite horror authors to start the wheels turning on our adaptation of one of his novels. This one’s going to be a lot of fun. And very, very unsettling. I started describing the project to Akemi who was so freaked out she asked me to stop. She bemoans the fact she won’t have the nerve to watch it when the time comes.
Finally, I’m just putting the finishing touches on the Episode #3 script for UF which I hope to deliver Monday or Tuesday after which I can set my screenwriting software on standby until it comes time for me to write the Episode #10, season finale.
Oh, hey, the results are in on our Which Vegetable Would You Excise From Your Diet For The Rest Of Your Life? poll and the winner is…
With 28.89% of the vote, edging out surprising second-place mushrooms at 20.44%, is – zucchini! Congratulation, courgette. Now get the hell out!
Perhaps equally not unsurprising is the fact that potatoes received the fewest votes at a mere 3.11% of the total tally.
So, last night, I had dinner at THE BEST place for fried chicken in Toronto: Home of Hot Taste, aka Buldak. There, we enjoyed five fantastic varieties of fried chicken – and a spicy squid platter for Akemi.
Fried chicken with green onions, Snow Chicken (with powdered cheese), five spice, garlic, and sweet and spicy wings.
I’ve been doing my research, putting in the long hours and trust me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better fried chicken experience in this city.
As a fan of mochas, lattes, and various chocolate/coffee drinkables, I make it a point to sample as wide a variety as often as possible. For research purposes mostly. And, having done my due diligence over the past year, I offer up my Top 5 Toronto Mochas…
#5. Bar Buca
This place boasts a host of fancy lattes laced with everything from honey and ginger to dulce de leche and, well, chocolate. They also do a delicious Cafe Al Zabaglione for that taste of Venice.
The latest addition to the Queen Street West scene is the Toronto branch of this Montreal bakery. Enjoy your mocha with lunch – or, better, yet a tartelette tropezienne and/or a Paris-Brest.
#3. Oretta Cafe
Adjoining the Oretta Restaurant is a little cafe that offers up terrific Italian bites and, of course, a stellar mocha (aka The Cioccolacciono).
#2. Hot Black Coffee
One of the chocolatiest of mochas hails from this quaint little Queen Street coffee shop whose internet-free environment ensures conversation over solitary browsing.
#1. Soma Chocolate
This should come as no surprise. Toronto’s premiere chocolatier makes one of the city’s premiere mochas. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, check out their decadent drinking chocolates.
I’m sure there are a lot of other great candidates out there. No doubt, in time, I’ll check them all out.
A progression of peppers…
Lamb and sausage.
Pistachio Friendship Cake. Best version ever!
Sis bearing gifts!
Matching outfits and collars for the girls.
Maple candies for Akemi and ghost pepper chili powder for me.
P.S. Mom says hi.
Two of my favorite things.
On Sunday, we hit the Toronto Garlic Festival, THE place to go if you’re looking to stock up on garlic – fresh, powdered, pickled, and in ice cream or popsicle form.
There were fewer vendors and food options this year, but we made the best of things, sampling some Syrian eats and Trinidanian doubles…
I’m as big a fan of spicy as Akemi is not, so I asked for a 50/50 split on the doubles – half with ghost chili pepper sauce, the other half mild. Interestingly, Akemi found her mild side crazy spicy while I found the entire dish not all that spicy at all. I wonder if my general insensitivity has extended to chili peppers now.
The haul: assorted garlic, black garlic, hot sauces, jellies, jams, and spreads. Enough to tide us over to November!
Then, for dessert, we happened by a chocolate-themed pop-up by Cove Crafted, a collaboration between B.C.’s Cove Cannabis and Beta 5 Chocolates. The chocolates on display were non-infused, no cannabis was on sale on-site, but there was plenty of chocolate to be had…
You have your choice of three blunts: 66% dark chocolate with cocoa beans, milk chocolate and lavender, and, surprisingly my favorite, white chocolate with matcha and green mango.
Adam Chandler, the chocolatier behind Vancouver’s award-winning Beta 5 Chocolates. I miss this place.
A peek inside Akemi’s emergency chocolate drawer.
Alright. Off to work on an outline. But, before I do, some shout-outs to a few blog regulars. Sending best wishes to MaggieMayDay, positive thoughts to Hilda for a speedy recovery, and Happy Birthday tidings to gforce!
Today was the second day of the UF Writer’s Room and I’m pleased to report things are coming along nicely. So far as the show’s creative is concerned anyways. Lunches, on the other hand, are a work in progress. Read more
Squeezing in as much fun (aka food) as humanly possible ahead of this Monday when I will be swallowed by the black hole known as The Writers’ Room. Read more
I love reunions!
So, a couple of weeks ago, Roger Cross (Dark Matter‘s SIX/Griffin Jones/Kal Varrick, and every other show’s everyone else) sent out a Toronto-wide text to let everyone know he’d be in town shooting one of his innumerable productions. Last night, we finally got together for a feast of steak, sides, steak, wine, steak, Yorkshire pudding, steak, dessert, and more steak! In attendance, from left to right: Robbie, Stephanie, Akemi, Joe, Ivon, and Roger. Read more
Ivon and I taste-test a smorgasbord of Japanese convenience store offerings. Read more
Given the fact it’s impossible to get an Impossible Burger here in Toronto (ironic, no?), I thought we’d try the next best thing: the meatless burgers at Planta Burger. To be honest, they were…okay. Texturally uninspired (I was hoping the “crab cake” would, at the very least, be crispy) and underwhelming in flavor. The cauliflower was a disaster, almost half the deep-fried portions pure batter. But the fries were pretty damn great! Read more
Hey, who is that throwing another shrimp on the barbie? Read more
Very saddened to hear of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. While I’ve never considered myself a “fan” of celebrities, he was one of the few Akemi and I genuinely loved for his honesty, cutting sense of humor, and the obvious empathy he had for others.
Anthony always had a way with words. These are my favorite Anthony Bourdain quotes:
“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”
“And chicken is boring. Chefs see it as a menu item for people who don’t know what they want to eat.”
“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”
“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”
“To have a child is to give fate a hostage.”
“Assume the worst. About everybody. But don’t let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it all roll off your back. Ignore it. Be amused by what you see and suspect. Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious and corrupt asshole shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them or finding them entertaining.”
“A proper saute pan, for instance, should cause serious head injury if brought down hard against someone’s skull. If you have any doubts about which will dent — the victim’s head or your pan — then throw that pan right in the trash.”
“It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.”
“These are the end products of the Masterminds of Safety and Ethics, bulked up on cheese that contains no cheese, chips fried in oil that isn’t really oil, overcooked gray disks of what might once upon a time have been meat, a steady diet of Ho-Hos and muffins, butterless popcorn, sugarless soda, flavorless light beer. A docile, uncomprehending herd, led slowly to a dumb, lingering, and joyless slaughter.”
“The food was what you might expect to find on Air Uganda tourist class:”
“I compared it to taking my first acid trip: Nothing was ever the same for me. I just wanted more of it. If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I’d pick Tokyo in a second.”
A sad, sad day.
Sure, I enjoy Iberico pork and shaved Alba truffles on risotto as much as the next guy, but sometimes you want to take a break from the wagyu and o-toro and just enjoy the simpler things in life. Like Nutella. Or cabeza tacos. Or, as was the case over recent days, some fried chicken.
I’ve had a hankering for fried chicken going on weeks and so I called on Toronto’s resident fried chicken expert, Elliot Sokolsky, to lead the way. Unfortunately, since the last time I saw Elliot, he’s adopted one of those crazy diets where he avoids sugars and starches and fried chicken, but he made an exception for the occasion. (And, I’m hearing, regretted it soon after, but that’s a story for another blog post. Maybe on his blog.)
Ivon Bartok (who no longer eats fried chicken and, instead, opted for one of those grass and shrub smoothies) and Akemi (who doesn’t like fried chicken) joined us for moral support…
Our first stop was Gdous Juicy Chicken House (223 Spadina Ave.), a Taiwanese fried chicken chain that opened up in Toronto’s Chinatown about a month ago.
Since we need to pace ourselves, we simply went with the double drumstick order. It was very crisp, with a surprisingly light coating, and the meat was tender. My only criticism – the flavors were restrained and I felt they could have used more seasoning.
The restaurant is in the midst of a soft opening, so a lot of its menu items are not yet available, but I look forward to coming back and checking out the spicy wings on my next visit.
Don’t we all?
Our second stop was one of food personality Anthony Bourdain’s favorites, the venerable Popeyes (400 Queen St. West), a ubiquitous establishment I – believe it or not – have never visited.
Akemi and Ivon = super excited!
I deferred to Elliot, the Popeyes veteran, who ordered up some tenders and Buffalo Wing sauce. Overall, not bad but there was a notable drop-off in the quality of the chicken from Jdous.
Our third stop was The County General (936 Queen St. West) where we ordered their signature County Fried Chicken (buttermilk fried chicken, Texas BBQ sauce, dill ranch, honey garlic herbs, pickles, corn bread). The chicken was delicious, although I could have done with a lot less of the accompanying sauce. Also, not a fan of cornmeal-crusting and its occasionally gritty texture. Akemi loved the cornbread!
And that was a wrap on the Elliot-assist. The next day, however, Akemi joined me for second lunch at Buldak: Home of Hot Taste (658 Blood St. West) for their Korean fried chicken. I was, honestly, overwhelmed by the enticing offerings and ultimately elected to go with a combo that included both their regular and spicy fried chicken. The waiter attempted to steer me clear of the spicy version, warning me “It’s very hot.” I told him I’d be fine.
The original recipe was very good and served with a side of salt so that customers can presumably adjust to their preferred level (I definitely thought it needed a pinch). As for the spicy fried chicken – wow! I rated it a 7.5 (on 10) on my heat scale: fiery yet flavorful, sweet and savory, with a great crunch. Akemi, on the other hand, rated it a 10 and then refused to hold my hand for the rest of the afternoon for fear I’d somehow transfer the spiciness despite the fact I used two wet towelettes and throughly washed my hands afterwards.
Home of Hot Taste’s spicy fried chicken was, hands down, the winner of this extended outing.
I fully intend to check out some of Toronto’s other contenders. But not before I pay a return visit to Home of Hot Taste so I can sample their green onion fried chicken and their Blazing Fire chicken with cheese. Who’s in?!
Look, as a foodie, I’m the last person who is going to criticize someone’s menu selections. If you want to shell out an extra $50 to top your scallops with Osetra caviar or spend $150 to finish that risotto with white truffle shavings, why not? Who am I to say anything? On my first trip to Tokyo, I dropped over $200 on a modest wagyu (a taste experience so revelatory that, upon my return to North America, I was unable to eat regular steak for three years). But I have to draw the line at this –
And this –
And this –
To answer the question posed in the last video (“Is a $90 24-karat gold burger worth it?”), I can say with utmost certainty: No, it’s not fucking worth it. Why not? Well, because unlike Osetra caviar ($300/2 ounces), white truffles ($300/ounce), or an A5 Black Tajima tenderloin from Gunma Prefecture ($300/10 ounces), that edible gold tastes like absolutely nothing. It is not only completely devoid of flavor, but chemically inert so that it will pass through your digestive system without effect. Truly the only justification for ordering any of the afore-mentioned is that they allow you to proclaim “I shit gold!” and be literally correct, in addition to sounding like a complete asshole (as opposed to maybe being figuratively correct and sounding like an asshole).
As this culinary trend started to gather steam online, I wondered: “Who the hell would order this?”. And, almost immediately, someone came to mind, an ostentatious grandstander who, as far back as I can remember, never hesitated to joyously remind everyone of his incredible affluence. The kid who decorated his Christmas tree with diamonds and precious pearls because regular ornaments just wouldn’t do. The kid who’d take a private gondola up to his tree house. The kid who named his dog Dollar, then fed him kibble in the shape of dollar signs!
This little bastard, with a consumption so extravagantly conspicuous he’d put a rapper to shame, wouldn’t think twice about chowing down on gold-dusted wings, gold leaf burgers, and gold-sprinkled sundaes. Why? Because he can and he wants you to know it. Also, he’s always been a jerk. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof! 10 Times Richie Rich Was A Dick!
Hey, poor kid, nice boat!
Lest anyone forget how wealthy I am, let me remind you. I bet half those kids hadn’t eaten a proper meal in days.
That’s not a top. THIS is a top! Just kidding. It’s a 1200 carat diamond worth more than the lives of everyone you’ve ever loved.
What’s next? Hire a couple of goons to work over those pesky third graders?
Dance for me, monkeys!
Replacing the stuffing of his glove with cash because…his opponents can’t afford to buy a decent pair of shoes.
Yeah, these coins grow naturally in my backyard. Also, Santa is a close personal friend of mine – oh, and your grandma isn’t dead anymore.
P.S. I went back for the Candy Bar. They were already sold out. 🙁