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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The tree comes down....finally

It is true that I love Christmas. In fact, I try to prolong it as long as possible. I put the lights, decorations and the Christmas tree in the first week of December. And I finally took the everything down today. Actually I had to do it as the recycling truck was due to pick up the Christmas trees tomorrow. They are destined for a new life as mulch. In fact, I had this tree so long, it actually started to sprout new tips. Alas, the end of the Yuletide season.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Masterpiece Dinner

Before Nardac and her hubby returned to Paris last Tuesday, they treated the family to a very special Japanese dinner. New York City's Nobu was an excellent culinary experience and Tojo's will always have a special place in my heart for being the first and best Omakase meal I have had. However, I was very pleased to discover that Toronto has its very own Kaiseki restaurant.

Sakura is a very quiet and unimposing restaurant. The Japanese staff were very attentive with serving and explaining each dish. We choose a six course Omakase meal. Nardac, her husband and I chose to pair our dishes with an alcoholic beverage. Nardac faithfully documented the meal in pictures and in words on her Flickr site. The highlight among highlights for me was the sashmi dish: grouper coated with rice crackers and yellowtail with gold flakes....who wouldn't love a restaurant that serves you gold. My favourite cocktail was a cucumber, peach and sake blend called ykuri. Each dish was a feast for all the senses.

I have since read some reviews complaining about the small portions at Sakura. Perhaps these reviewers ordered a few dishes, or maybe they did not take the time to savour the meal. After leisurely consuming the fourth of six courses which was the grilled dish of duck, scallops, shitake mushrooms, I had had my fill. To think I managed to consume the 3-day stewed beef tongue, a bowl of soba noodles and pickled shiso and dessert as well. However, I now have another theory. Perhaps these reviews needed more starch to fill their bellies. My own father declared that he still felt hungry after the meal was completed. But you see, he needs to eat bread with a meal in order to feel full. You could have rolled home the rest of dinner party.

Kudos to my brother-in-law for remaining upright and conscious when the bill came. Many thanks for a masterpiece farewell dinner.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Belated New Year Greetings

Thank goodness Christmas comes but once a year. After a fabulous Christmas dinner and other meals with the sister Nardac and her hubby, I set off to Winnipeg to met Mr. Hippo's family. Considering he has seen most of my immediate family, it did seem rather odd that I am just meeting his after a year of serious dating. The experience was not at all like "Meet the Fockers". It was a touching event and very enjoyable event.

Of course when everyone I knew hear about my coming sojourn to Winnipeg, the knowing smiles and nudges came to light. It is not long before someone who say, "so when's the wedding?" So greatly exaggerated is the importance of the "meeting the future-in-laws".

I was warmly greeted by the entire family. In fact, I saw almost all of Mr. Hippo's relations in Winnipeg (minus two estranged cousins). This is no small feat as two of his uncles are not on speaking terms and avoid all family functions where they may meet by accident. No one really knows how the rift occured. Curious to see that every family has its own estrangements. Another odd realization was that sibilings may not appear related. Nardac and I are rarely identified as sisters. Mr. Hippo and Bubba, his brother look even less likely to related.

I participated in a long time family tradition of welcoming in the new year at Mr. Hippo's parents home. They were engaged on New Year's eve those many years before and so the event is twice significant. So I break with tradition now and post a picture of the party.

I was also coldly greeted by a winter storm which dumped about 36cm in less than 12 hours. So much snow fell on the day before New Year's eve, it threatened most New Year's eve celebrations including my own. Mr. Hippo and his brother in law, diligently, spent most of the day digging out of his sister's home in order to get to his parent's home which awa just a mere 10 minutes away by car and about 50 minutes on foot...perhaps closer to 90 minutes with the snow covered roads.

But alas if this confirms your oldest sterotypes of Winterpeg, the temperature climbed to 6 degrees during the first week of January. Record setting temperature highs were broken not only in Winnipeg but all across Canada in fact. Perhaps there is some truth to that Al Gore film.