Sunday, June 06, 2010

Farewell Food

The past three weeks have been ridiculously hectic for me, as I transition from life in Kingston, Ontario to life in Prince Edward Island. It didn't help that it was mostly the month of May, also known as 'The Time When Canadians Come Out of Winter Hibernation'. So after four months squirreled away in 'my' house out in the country, I found myself quite abruptly plopped back into life in the bustling metropolis of downtown Kingston, where fellow grad students were up for any sort of distraction from looming theses and celebrating the end of the school year (no more TAing, yay!!).

Suffice to say that, between celebrating the return of warmth and starting the drawn out process of farewells, I have eaten a lot of food. Here are some of the highlights from the last two weeks of my time in Kingston:

Erin's Birthday BBQ Bash - I told Erin I was planning to bring some steaks courtesy of the cut of local cow I'd purchased back in January. I communicated my Bring Your Own Beef plan via the Facebook event wall, and apparently people were quite interested in my steaks. When I arrived, Erin was quite excited and announced 'the local cow has arrived!!'. Um. Erm. Awkward.

Au Pied de Cochon
- What's the furthest distance you've traveled just to have dinner (to the parents at Christmas does not count)? I think I made a new personal record when I set out on the road with Crystal, Matt & Emily for Montreal, where we had made a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon. English Translation: Pig's Feet. I'd become quite obsessed with visiting this restaurant after it had been recommended to me by Joe (of Vermont) and a number of other foodie friends. Apparently the owner/chef, Martin Picard, also has a television show about food, The Wild Chef, but I was oblivious. Regardless, Crystal, my foodie friend, and I had decided awhile ago that we HAD to go to PDC before I lef for PEI. So we drove the three hours, with Crystal's husband, Matt, kindly volunteering to be our sober driver.

To whet our appetite for dinner, we decided to check out the Jean Tallon market. I'd made a promise to myself not to over indulge at the market, since there were precious few (3) hours before our dinner. Luckily, as I'd been in Montreal only a week and a half previous, I was able to fight off many a temptation. The four of us did share the most delectable serving of fried calamari and I ordered a couple of maple-syrup based treats for after dinner (including, as it turned out, the MOST delicious square that has ever touched my lips...made with walnuts, cookie base and maply syrup). I had an inkling none of my dining companions would be interested in dessert at PDC because there'd be no room left in their stomachs. I, on the other hand, had purchased a second stomach on the black market just for this occasion. It most certainly came in handy.

Arriving at PDC, I was surprised to find the restaurant is quite small. Apparently it was formerly a pizzeria, which explained the huge brick oven, lack of normal washroom facilities, and general narrowness of the establishment. Menus were handed round and we decided to share a couple of appetizers between us - a salad of sorts (not a normal one, of course) and a crepe (actually, it looked suspiciously like a pancake to me) with asparagus and egg. I am not doing the dishes justice AT ALL -they were both fantastically delicious and generous enough in quantity that all four of us were able to share. While PDC is well known for for its foie gras (there's even a foie gras poutine), duck-in-a-can and pig's feet, I opted for the PDC Melting Pot - a little bit of everything pig - black sausage, normal sausage, pulled pork, and pork chop, all sitting atop a divine serving of mashed potatoes. I could only eat half...even with that second stomach. No dessert was had and a three hour drive back to Kingston awaited us. It was worth it though, tenfold.

In the last week, excuses to eat ramped up quite a bit:

Crystal & Matt's House Warming BBQ -
Only three days after the PDC affair, I found myself eating and drinking with Crystal & Matt again. This time the venue was their new home in Gananoque, and the celebration was in honour of Matt's birthday (age not to be disclosed). It was a wonderful evening for a barbeque and Crystal had prepared quite the spread of food. There were two tiny pooches and one massive pooch also in attendance. I've determined the answer to that age-old question 'Are you a cat person or a dog person?'. I am most definitely a dog person. Besides the food and canine company, the evening was splendid because I got to hang out with Ana, Ben, Crystal, and Matt, as well as relatively new friend, Carl, and very new friend, Sarah.

You know what really bites (aside from mosquitoes off of Lake Ontario at dusk when you're trying to enjoy a juicy BBQ sausage)? Knowing you're going to be leaving a place that is full of wonderful, amazing friends. The kind of people you want to surround yourself with for life. That's tough.

Shannon's Meat Monday - I still had local beef and lamb left from January, when I bought a rather large amount of meat, and it was being stored at Suzie's parents' house, so with less than a week left in Kingston, I figured the only way to finish it up was to invite people over. So I invited some of my best old friends - Ana, Ben, Suzie and Kopka (the husky did not get a plate of meat), as well as some of my new friends - Cat, Matt and Carl. To be honest, I had an alterior motive for the dinner invitation, I was trying to friend-matchmake some of these wonderful people. I had an inkling they'd hit it off and I was right! Added bonus, the leg of lamb was absolutely divine and the mashed potatoes with skins left on were delectable.

Ana's Multi-Reason BBQ Potluck - What better night for a BBQ than a Tuesday evening? Ana is a fantastic person. Many people know that. Recently Queen's University's Faculty of Applied Science also recognized her amazingness and hired her! Reason enough to celebrate with friends, although Ana had to make sure there were other things to celebrate - like her sister's birthday and her dog's birthday. I made quinoa salad and chocolate cake. The potluck was hopping, everyone I'd hoped to see before I left was there. The evening flew by and, evidently, the wine flowed quit freely as well. Being a 'school night', the party wound down by around ten-ish. Emily and I decided we should go out on the town, which really meant going to the Iron Duke. She was drinking rum & coke and I decided to try to keep up with her even though I was drinking wine. NOT a good idea. At some point, my purse started to resemble a smiling face. The next day was a complete write-off. After very brief consideration, I determined I would have to delay my departure by a day since I'd effectively lost an entire day thanks to Pinot Grigio.

Thai in the Park - I vowed that before I left Kingston I'd make one last visit to the Wok-In, which is a little hole in the wall on Montreal Street that serves up the best Thai food in town. Don't be discouraged by the fact that it's located directly beside Shakers, Kingston's 'premiere' strip club; this little restaurant is worth going to the shady side of town for! Notably, I lived on the shady side of town already, so was never deterred by this. I wanted to say goodbye to Crystal and Emily without the hullabaloo of a party to distract us from important conversations (i.e. boys and the such), so at Ana's BBQ we made a plan to have take-away Thai in Park. Unbeknownst to me, word about our plan got around at the BBQ and by the end of the evening, people were coming up to me and asking if I was planning to go to the Thai in the Park event!! Well, in the end it was just us three girls and Carl who enjoyed Wok-In on a blustery, rainy Thursday afternoon (evidently a 2.00pm start for lunch was too late for people who work day jobs). After lunch Carl & I had hot drinks at the Sleepless Goat, a co-operatively owned cafe on Princess Street that I will miss dearly, although I won't miss the semi-homeless woman who sits outside it, since she once inferred that I was pregnant.

And now, a Farewell to Food
And that's just a sampling of the farewell food I enjoyed over the last couple of weeks in Kingston. Other highlights included the fruit bouquet that Kate and I designed for Chris' birthday, or the last lunch I enjoyed with Ana at Pan Chan Cho's. Now I am back on PEI, and it's time to say farewell to food. Yes, indeed, my days of gluttony and indulgence ended on May 31st. Since I ran the half marathon in October of 2009, I've been packing on the pounds - mostly by eating delicious foods, but also to a lesser extent by neglecting my normal activity level. I blame it all on this business of writing a thesis, although the truth is that I always gain weight when I am living away from PEI and especially when I am in a period of transition. It's time to get back to a healthy weight and, more importantly, to re-develop a healthy relationship with food. I want to feel fit again, and I want to be able to enjoy food without having to buy a whole new wardrobe that includes elastic waistbands and flowy dresses. This past Friday I visited my old nutritionist and am now on a plan that's high in protein, veg and healthy fats, and excludes sugars and starches (for the time being). I've also signed up with the Atlantic Fitness Centre AND Largo Fitness Center, the former offering two excellent exercise facilities and a variety of fitness classes, the latter offering twice daily classes based on Muay Thai Boxing. Let the journey begin!!


Elena G. said...

I want to leave a place, just so I can enjoy a week or two of "Farewell Food". Loved the post Shannon! Hope all is well in PEI...

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