I was in New York visiting my wife; she’s doing her masters at the Pratt Institute of Interior Design. I had breakfast at this place called Tilda—it opened last fall in our little neighbourhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. One of the owners, Danny, is a coffee nut—he’s on the coffee machine like every day; he just doesn’t get a break. So, I had a flat white and an amazing egg sandwich on a homemade onion-brioche bun. I also had a banana. I tend to eat a very Italian-style breakfast which includes a pain au chocolate, a coffee and a banana—or any combination of those things.
1 p.m.: Lunch at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria.
I had lunch at a place in NoHo called Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria with a guy named Adam Epstein—he started the Tab payment company. I’d been wanting to go for a while, and it was very, very good. I had a bitter greens salad with radicchio and gem lettuce, fried rabbit and some fried artichokes as well. Then we shared a chocolate tart and had a couple glasses of Barbera. It’s not your typical Monday lunch, but when you’re in New York… It’ll probably be all downhill from here.
4 p.m.: Drinks and second lunch at Buvette.
I had a meeting lined up with Ivy Ackerman who started a food-tour company called Butter and Egg Road. She used to live in Toronto, but now she’s in New York, so I’ve been planning on meeting her for forever. We’d scheduled to meet for coffee, but coffee became a bottle of wine, and Adam tagged along. We ended up at Buvette in Greenwich Village. It’s just a little French wine bar, but Bernard, the manager at Campagnolo, was always telling me to go, so I finally decided to check it out. We started with a bottle of wine—a Syrah from northern Rhone—and then we had three cheeses, a brussels sprout salad, some olives, grilled bread and a little paté.
Then around 6 p.m., I went back to Brooklyn in an Uber to pick up my wife from school. We had reservations to go to Boulud Sud, but we decided to go somewhere closer instead, so we went to the Spice Market in the Meatpacking District; it’s an Asian fusion place that my wife absolutely loves. We had bok choy, trout-and-avocado tartare with papadums, a crispy branzino bao and an udon noodle short-rib dish with a rich beef broth. Because I had so much to drink during the afternoon, I only had two drinks with dinner: their version of a Moscow Mule and a Singha. It was an incredibly boozy day.
I had a latte and some toast with peanut butter at home. We like the green jar of Kraft, but they don’t have that kind in New York. My wife asked me to bring some to her but security confiscated it at the airport on my way down—they consider it a gel. So I had some Skippy or something, and it’s just not as good.
There wasn’t a hell of a lot of food in the house, and one of my chores that day was to pick up groceries. Something I always do when I visit my wife is make a pot of something she can put in the freezer, and this time she was dying to eat chicken curry. She has this old photocopy of her mother’s chicken curry recipe, and she hasn’t had it in ages. So I went to Whole Foods and bought two chickens, yellow curry powder, tomatoes and some butter. While I was there, I got a mishmash of stuff from the hot table for lunch and ate it in the store.
We had the chicken curry and peas for over rice for dinner. I was quite happy with the recipe, but my wife thought I tried to Italianize it by adding too much tomato. She said it was too red and her mother’s was more yellow, but I followed the recipe! So, I missed the mark, but it was still delicious. We stayed in for the night and watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
I had to catch my plane to Toronto around 10:55 a.m., so I got up pretty early. I had a one-shot coffee with milk and then ran out of the house. When I got to Newark, I checked in and had this really crappy western omelet on a sandwich with shitty drip coffee—I was so hungry. I got a mixed fruit salad for the plane, and I always grab a pack of Walker’s shortbread from the Porter gate because it’s so good. On the plane, I had some of those Terra veggie chips and soda water with orange juice.
I went straight to Campagnolo and had another Americano because I was a bit tired. I kept my energy level up by grabbing a chocolate chip here, a candied pecan there and some blanched cauliflower and carrots. At about 9:30 p.m., I had a bowl of our spaghetti all’amatriciana, a salad of bitter greens with white radicchio, frisée, some jerusalem artichokes and a beautiful caciocavallo cheese. We do these mini baguettes, so I had one of those, too. One of our regulars had a birthday, and he brought in a cake which he was kind enough to give me a huge slab of. It was like a vegan chocolate cake that had banana and coconut icing, and it was very good.
A former employee came in with his girlfriend and he wanted to try a bunch of whites, so I had a little glass of pinot gris and another of an Italian malvasia—two ounces here, two ounces there. It’s hard to not sip on things throughout the night when you have full access to everything and you can drink whatever you want.
To cap it off, my friend Richard Lambert from Parts & Labour and Ace Hill beer came by around 10 p.m. for a bowl of pasta. He gave me a case of his beer, so there we were drinking pilsner out of wine glasses, trying to wax philosophic and compare my draught Dolomiti Italian pilsner to his Canadian pilsner. So, that was a couple of pints. The next thing you know, it’s 11:30 p.m. and I’m heading home to bed. It was an early night.
I’ve been trying to drink a lot of water and lemon, not only because it’s thirst-quenching, but because I’ve been reading that lemon reduces the ability for your cells to become cancerous. It wasn’t very nice out, so I had a big glass of lemon with water and a latte at home.
For lunch, I met a friend at Golden Turtle. We shared an order of spring rolls and I had a large pho with rare beef and brisket, and a Diet Coke.
2 p.m.: Wine tasting at Campagnolo.
In afternoon I did a wine tasting with Lungarotti, which is an Italian winery in Umbria. Typically brand agencies in Toronto will meet you to showcase the wine, but once a year a representative from the winery comes, and it becomes a big event. It was also fun for me, because four years ago Francesco Zaganelli hosted my wife and I in Italy. We haven’t seen him in a while, so it was nice to catch up.
5 p.m.: Campagnolo’s fennel cavatelli.
After the wine tasting I went over to Ufficio—I consult there—and tasted some new menu items with chef Jeff Lapointe. We tasted a new pasta recipe; just a classic spaghetti aglio olio because I wanted to get a sense of the quality of his noodles. We also tasted a new porcini agnolotti, a swordfish crudo with pine nuts, mint and chilies and a salad with endives, giardiniera and cured smelts. I had to get back to Campagnolo for 6 p.m. to try a new fennel cavatelli that my sous chef Julian had prepared. So those two tastings were essentially my dinner.
I got up and had a cappuccino and a banana at home, and then I met my dad at JaBistro for lunch. We had the blowtorched wagyu, ebi and salmon, and a small sushi platter. My dad lives on Vancouver Island, but he comes to Toronto often. I can’t always socialize with him at the restaurant, so we try to have lunch whenever we can.
12 p.m.: Lunch at JaBistro with dad
6 p.m.: Office-catered chicken cutlet sandwich.
I worked dinner service at Campagnolo, and my sous chef Julian stopped by with his wife. She brought in some chicken cutlet sandwiches from an office catering, so I had half of one—it was pretty good, actually. At the end of service I had a new salad that we’re doing with puntarelle, an arugula pesto, some compressed apples, white radicchio and elephant garlic chips. I also had a couple glasses of St. Nicholas Abbey 12-year rum—it’s a beautiful timber-casked rum that one of our regulars brought us back from Barbados. That was a nice nightcap.
11 p.m.: Campagnolo’s puntarelle-and-arugula salad.
In the morning I went to Ella’s Uncle on Dundas and I had an Americano and a green juice—it’s a kale juice that’s brought in from Owl and Goose, and it’s amazing. It’s my healthy thing that I try to do as often as possible, but I love it. I had a fruit danish, too.
Later on, I took a trip to the Cheese Boutique to pick up stuff for work and for a trade show: some pecorino, some gouda and risotto rice. I had a Turkish tea, an espresso and a cannoli. And I talked with Basilio [Pesce], because he’s the new chef there. On the way back to Campagnolo, I stopped at Its All Grk on Queen Street for lunch. I had a Greek salad with this kebab thing called beefteki—it’s ground beef mixed with spices—a Greek salad and grilled pita.
1 p.m.: Cheese Boutique visit
Saturday night was like a blur; it was so busy. A lot of regulars were in so I was doing a lot of hand-shaking and kissing babies and stuff like that. The guy we did the wine tasting with came for dinner and we did big tasting menu for him, so I lost track of what I ate. I definitely tasted a bunch of wine with them that evening, but I didn’t have much of a complete meal.
Sunday was the Restaurants Canada Show, so I got up early—I had to be at the show for 9 a.m.—and went to Ella’s Uncle again. I had a cappuccino this time and chocolate banana bread. I would’ve had a green juice but they didn’t have it, which really pissed me off because it’s the one balanced thing I do in the morning.
Then I came to Campagnolo to get ready. We were showcasing an award-winning aged gouda made in New Hamburg by a company called Mountainoak Cheese. We made risotto with it—we were making risotto all day, and I literally ate cheese all day.
8 p.m.: Dinner at Alida Solomon’s house
I went to Alida Solomon’s for dinner that night–she’s the chef and owner of Tutti Matti—and I was looking forward to it because she always puts on quite a spread. Our friend Andrew from Bespoke Butchers brought over some flank steak, and we had some sausages from Tutti Matti. We also had roasted sprouts and Ontario Jerusalem artichokes. There were pork side ribs, and an amazing cheese board—I thought I was done with cheese but I wasn’t! She had the freshest buffalo mozzarella that I’ve had in a long time, and a beautiful taleggio that we crushed with ciabatta. We drank a bunch of wine: pinot grigio, some Marchesi di Barolo and some Stratus red cabernet franc reserve 2010—it’s one of the best Ontario wines I’ve ever had. We had some proper grower’s champagne, too. We watched the Oscars, got drunk and had a beautiful dinner. It was a really fun night, and a nice way to cap the week off.