Many of you will know that this summer I was lured away from my position at Bibo wine bar. I was hired by friends who were opening a downtown eatery and needed a beverage manager. It was the perfect next step. Until it wasn’t. In spite of a direct conversation about when to quit Bibo and my start date at the new place, I have worked only forty hours all summer. Not enough to cover my bills.
Panic. Anxiety. Tears. Stress. Angry emails. Finally, really good friends and new opportunities that just might be great.
I spent two weeks after leaving Bibo visiting my oldest friend in Ontario. We had a great time and I won so much at the Casino slots that I came home with three times more money than I had in my wallet at the start of my trip.(WooHoo!) After that little break I expected to start my new job, which I did, testing the cocktails I’d developed to ascertain which ones were the favorites and finalizing the wine list.
It wasn’t until a week ago during the soft opening that it really fell apart. I was told I wouldn’t be needed until they got a liquor license. (!) I had made the fatal assumption that they already HAD a license. But that was my lesson. Don’t ASSUME anything and spell out your expectations of payment in the most painfully clear way possible. (Apologies to my next employer.)
Luckily. I have friends. Juanita at Color de Vino has kindly employed me over the summer and I could not be more grateful. If you haven’t been to Color de Vino on Whyte Ave at 96th Street you need to get there! They offer a huge selection of wines from light white to inky dark red. They have extremely knowledgable staff and the best prices in the city.Go. Go soon.
This past weekend I had a visit from a friend and in exchange for a roof over her head, she wined and dined me all over my own neighbourhood. It was really fun.
Friday night was a casual dinner at Daravara. She had the smoked meat Po Boy and I had the delectable Steak Frites. The steak was seasoned like Bulkalbi beef and the fries were crisp and delicious. I guessed from the moaning sounds coming from my friend that the sandwich was as good as the steak.
Saturday night we managed to get a 10:15 reservation at Solstice. My friend was really excited because she had wanted to treat us to a really fine dining experience including bubbles.
The decor at Solstice is very urban. It felt like Paris circa 1920 and the staff was gracious and kind. We got the window table and were treated to an ongoing street theatre throughout the course of our meal. Due to the fact that it was impossible to choose from all the delicious sounding appetizers we chose three appies and one main This did not disturb our wonderful server John at all.. We started our beverage extravaganza with their White Negroni. Served in a pretty crystal goblet, it was perfectly balanced & sublime. We moved to a gorgeous sparkling Rose Spanish Cava as we tucked into the first appetizer Steak Tartare with a 64 degree egg. What a sexy dish! Not your average Tartare, the 64 degree egg put it right over the top in terms of taste and texture and the house made potato chips were the perfect crunchy carrier. Next came the Scallop on creamy risotto. I don’t eat scallops. I don’t like how they are generally harvested and I don’t like the flavour. This was my concession to my host. I would try the scallop dish. I was rewarded with a scallop perfectly seared on one side and resting on some of the best risotto I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot!) Feeling like royalty, we moved on to a lovely glass of Pinot Noir from Burgundian producer Seguin Manuel. Did I mention the timing? Each dish came perfectly timed on the heels of the previous dish. Our last appetizer was their Pork Belly. Cooked to perfection, the meat melted in our mouths with just the rightt amount of sweet/tart sauce and (yes!) crunchy cracklin’ to balance out the wonderfully fatty belly.(sigh) Finally came our main course, the vegetarian cannelloni which we accompanied with a fresh glass of Prosecco. This dish really hit the mark. The pasta was hand rolled to just the right thickness and the rose sauce transported us straight back to our Punk selves in 1980 feasting on the inimitable Cafe Select Vodka Tomato soup. Our eyes met as we tasted the dish and neither of us could stop smiling. It was a really great dining experience and after the summer of austerity I’ve had, it was so very much appreciated. Every aspect of our meal was perfection. If you haven’t been to Solstice I suggest you get there soon before it’s impossible to get a reservation.
So that’s the story of my dubious summer of doubt in which I quit my job of ten years (for which I had become infamous) to land smack dab in the center of uncertainty, doubt and what I would call poverty if I were not so richly blessed with wonderful good friends who have consistently lifted me up each time my toes dipped into the lake of despair. (Yes. That was a run-on sentence.)
Thank you Juanita Roos. Thank you Kelly Nightingale and thank you to all the other great friends who have treated me to a meal or a heads up about a job posting. It’s been real. Very very real and as always, I am filled with gratitude and humbled by the greatness of the people surrounding me.