Steamed muscles

Steamed muscles

It’s amazing how a casual remark can alter weather patterns across the planet. Last week, I pointed out to a friend that I had miraculously escaped ice storms in four different countries this winter, arriving in their wake in time to enjoy sunshine and unseasonably warm afternoons in London, Greece, New York and Toronto. I really should know better. All the weather demons, the demiurges of tempest and drought, storm-riding banshees, rain-bringing brumal cluricauns and silent white vampires of nocturnal snowfall must have overheard my comment and blatt! Temperatures plummet. My rhubarb had just pushed its bloody knuckles through the mud. My tulips were doing their sinuous shoot-dance whispering “we are tulips” in that strangely sibbilant high-pitched Dutch accent tulips have. All the lilies were reaching faceless green fingers towards the light, like Cadmus’s teeth. Will they now survive? Will they be nipped in the bud? Oh God, what have I done?

Regret for the remark was magnified on Saturday when my wife and I showed up for Harry Rosen’s 8k Spring Run Off in High Park, a well-attended event (2500 people plus 1500 more for the 5k) that raises lots of money for prostate cancer research. Running is hell, of course. No doubt about that. And there was snow in the air and temperatures of minus 1000 and a bitter wind as we lined up for our pin-on numbers and loot bags. Even in thick jeans, scarf and gloves, the pearly whites were chattering. But then the sun came out and the park perked up and once the heartier boys and girls had disappeared into the distance the whole thing turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. I haven’t run that far since I was at school and was chased by a coxswain. Wendy and I crossed the finish line together, collected our T-shirts then jogged off to Tim Horton’s to readjust the caloric balance.

Timbits aside, I have tasted some delicious treats this week.

1) primo: mullet bottarga (sweeter and less salty than tuna bottarga) over freshly made noodle ribbons at Coppi. To accompany it, owner Fausto Di Berardino poured a delicious Pecorino—a white wine from Abruzzi made from the Pecorino grape, one of the rare old varieties that are currently enjoying a renaissance as winemakers vinify antique obscurities as single varietals. It was a great match. The grape is called Pecorino, says Fausto, because, in the old days, vineyard owners would encourage shepherds to bring their flocks through the vineyards as they came down from the mountains to lower pasture. Free manure.

2) a whole dinner at George where Lorenzo Loseto continues to push the envelope, finding some really canny juxtapositions.

3) to a German wine tasting and lunch on Monday at Roy Thomson Hall where some racy, juicy, complex Riesling wines from Dr. Loosen in Germany’s Mosel region were poured. Dr. Loosen himself was there, eloquent and interesting and well-dressed as ever. A group of us dined in his winery once and he humbled us all by bringing strange, wonderful, anonymous wines from many parts of the world from his cellar and asking us to identify them. Once we had watched our wine-writers’ pride dissolve we were able to thoroughly relish the experience. Vintages will have some of his own wines soon. They are always gorgeous.

4) lunch at the Gallery Grill with Anita Stewart and Jamie Kennedy. Loved the house-cured duck prosciutto that chef Suzanne Baby pairs with diced poached quince, organic micro-greens and a toasted nut vinaigrette. The three of us were there figuring out the details of a TV show we want to pitch to the networks—but I promised I wouldn’t mention anything about it. I ordered the gnudi to see how they compared with those made at The Spotted Pig in New York. Baby’s weren’t nearly so rich—which was actually a blessing—soft little dumplings of spinach and ricotta with toasted sage, breadcrumbs and pecorino. Scrumptious stuff.