Darcy and I had absolutely no food in the house (we had to order Chinese last night), so we ventured up the street to some of our favourite little shops. Usually Darcy goes to Sobeys on the Queensway, but we weren't in the mood to walk there in the slush. Since this is Bloor West Village, all the stores including the food shops are expensive, but the quality is good.
First we went to Carload, my favourite fruit and vegetable store. There are a tonne of Korean fruit/veg places on Bloor between Jane and Runnymede, but I always go to this one. I tried the others, but I prefer Carload because it's reasonably priced and fresh with a wide selection (up to 6 different kinds of mushrooms). We just got some basics (apples, oranges, white mushrooms, peppers, basil, tomatoes, etc.). Looking around it made me think of how the store has pretty much all the same produce regardless of the season. In both summer and winter, there are strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in the display to the left of the door and tomatoes to the right. All of this stuff is grown far away and flown here so we can buy bananas and trudge home in the snow. This is why I have no idea which vegetables and fruit actually grow in Ontario and when.
Then we went to Max's Market to get bread, deli meats, and cheese. Max's is very yuppie, but they have so much amazing stuff there. They have an awesome selection of bread including Ace and Fred's Bread. Ace is pretty good, but I am in love with Fred's Bread. Most of what they make is sourdough based and it's out of this world. We toasted some this afternoon and ate it with smoke gouda and Darcy said it was the best thing he's ever eaten. In addition to bread, Max's has tonnes of prepared food (hot and cold), desserts (some from Dufflet), cheeses, and deli meats including bloody rare roast beef that they carve in front of you. I got some smoked turkey, honey maple ham, and the smoked gouda.
Almost next door to Max's is Bloor Meat Market, which is a very expensive and high quality butcher shop. The meat there is beautiful and the butchers are knowledgeable and friendly. There is very low staff turnover, so even the younger ones have been there a long time. Darcy remembers seeing one of them during the blackout in 2003 at Shakey's Bar and Grill looking sad, probably because of all that spoiled meat. I just got some extra lean ground beef that was red as a ruby and some chicken breast. There was a man called Jim ahead of me in line who seemed to know everyone in the shop by name. They always say that you should cultivate a relationship with your butcher so that you'll get good stuff and good advice. I'm way to shy for that, I think. I always just try to be a well-behaved customer.
Lastly, we went to pick up my library books at the Runnymede library. The building actually goes way back to 1930 and there was even a Canadian stamp made for it. I only started using the library after I got laid off in 2003 and I couldn't afford to buy books anymore. At the time, I had really wanted to read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, but I didn't want to buy it. I started asking around to see if anyone had it, and then I was like, "why don't I just go to the library?" It costs nothing to get the card and they have a great web site where you can request books and they get delivered to your local branch. You can return books to any library in the city and they take care of transporting them to the appropriate place. I love it. I can't believe it's free.
I took out Through the Children's Gate by Adam Gopnik, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, and The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I saw both Adam Gopnik and Wayson Choy this year and they were even more entertaining than their books. Adam Gopnik is scary intelligent. Wayson Choy is hilarious. The Heart of Darkness is something I've been meaning to read, but never got around to it.
I'm just finishing up Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton, which is amazing. I totally recommend it. It's a memoir about gradually going blind. It's funny, sad, and really lends insight into what it's like to go blind. Sort of like how The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon shows what its like to be autistic.
It was a slushy day out there today, but I still love winter. The developers from Symphony Services who our company hired are coming to Toronto for a month to be trained and they arrive in 4 weeks (end of Feb!). I'm hoping that the cold and snow will be an enjoyable novelty for them like 35 degrees in winter was for us when we were in India. I hope.