First, I have to provide a bit of background.
I went to the University of Waterloo. For a while, I lived in Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc (WCRI)… and was Division Manager (organizing people, setting job lists, making sure stuff got done) for two terms, starting in fall ’79. The first of those two terms, two young women moved in for their first term at university. They were almost directly across the hall from me. One of them became my close friend and room-mate in the apartment division, Sandy Kemsley. We never lost touch. Her room-mate was Gail Cowling, with whom I did lose touch, then found again, briefly, when Ash and I were living in live/work warehouse space on St. Nicholas, and then I lost touch with again… until there was an article about my photo exhibit at Barrio in the Riverdale/Beach Mirror around six years ago. I got an email from Gail, who happened to be living less than a kilometer from me in Leslieville. Our connections were re-established. Now the three of us get together when we can to eat good food, enjoy each other’s company, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.
Gail and Sandy took me out for dinner on Thursday to celebrate my birthday. We started at my place with some wine and organic salsa & corn chips, then took a walk along Queen to Table 17. Table 17 is owned by the same folks as Ascari Enoteca, the Italian restaurant with fresh pasta that they make at the corner of Queen & Caroline.
Sandy scored right off the bat with a glass of Cava, because it was her first time there and she checked in using FourSquare. OK, OK, there are benefits to FourSquare. I’m not there yet 🙂
We ordered wine.
Really nice Niagara regional blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and other varietals, brought out delicious notes. They decanted it for us to help oxidize the tannins (a good thing), but I was able to reach around and grab the bottle for a photo.
We thought we had our decisions made until we heard what the specials were. Hmm, some awesome salads. We placed our orders, sipped our wine, and talked. Then the salads arrived. I had the kale, walnut and crab. It came with a light vinaigrette. The kale was raw, but was chiffonaded, so it was easy to eat. Very flavourful: the cabbagey kale worked well with the bitterness of the walnuts and the sweetness of the crabmeat.
Gail ordered the Table 17 salad, a delight of pine nuts, baby greens, and piave cheese:
Sandy had the boccancini with frisée and pumpkin gnocci that were crunchy, like they had been deep fried:
They were wonderful and could be habit-forming. Should come with a warning label.
We all went for meat for our mains.
Sandy had the short ribs, a rich delight on a purée of parsnips, served with confit cipollini onion and roasted vegetables:
Gail had a truly beautiful confit of duck, served on du Puy lentils and with some fresh greens (I recognize bloody dock in the foreground).
I had the steak et frites. I couldn’t resist. A top sirloin steak, Belgian-style frites the way they should be, bearnaise sauce for the steak and a lemony mayonnaise for the fries. I am kicking myself that I didn’t eat the rosemary. I thought it was just a stalk of rosemary. A couple of the leaves fell onto the table, and I ate them after the plates were cleared. They deep fried it! Rosemary leaves are really pungent when fresh, but when deep fried, the flavour mellows, and it actually is something I regret not having eaten.
Ah well. We were all too full to consider dessert, so we ended the night with a digestif. Sandy and Gail both had the Calvados; I had a grappa. We played with the arrangement for quite a while, and this is the last of about a dozen pictures I took of our efforts.
Really enjoyable dinner with excellent company. Thanks, Table 17!