Monday, August 15, 2005

Simple Pleasures

Saturday was glorious here in Toronto- still very warm, but not that oppressive, muggy, humid weather we've been having this summer.

My day started with a simple breakfast of vanilla yoghurt with fresh blueberries and granola out on my back porch.

It was a lovely treat to be able to sit outdoors and read a favourite book. Currently I'm enjoying Marriage of Sticksby Jonathan Carroll. He's a wonderful writer. When I told my husband it was a "delicious read" he thought it was about food. It's not but like good food, you savour every bite - or in this case, word.

Later we met up with my daughter Sharron for some Greek food on the Danforth, or Greektown as it's affectionately called. There are many wonderful shops and restaurants in this very trendy part of the neighborhood. We had dinner at Ampeli, our usual haunt. Our Greek friend Stella says the only place you can get better Moussaka is at her mother's. Ampeli is so welcoming, you feel like part of the family and the food just melts in your mouth. Vasili (or Bill, as he is known in Canada) was our waiter for the evening - a most engaging, funny and attentive guy.

For starters we had grilled calamari and saganaki which, at any Greek restaurant I've ever had it at, gets a loud "OPA!!!" when it's set aflame. Vasili asked if we know what Opa!! meant. I assumed it meant something like "Voila!" or "Tah Dah!!" - just an exclamation of joyful surprise. In fact it means "in the moment". We all know time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc., but that only defines what was and what potentially will be. Opa!! is the expression for focusing on the here and now. He says (and it seems obvious to me) that this sentiment and the simplicity of Greek cooking and dancing is what life is about - living in the moment and enjoying the simple pleasures life has to offer - good food, good company, and for today, perfect weather.

For the main course I had the juiciest lamb chops imaginable, served with delicious lemon roasted potatoes. Sharron had the roast lamb that was heavenly and David had the lamb souvlaki dinner with all the trimmings. We were all pleasantly stuffed and thought we'd walk around a bit before getting some ice cream for dessert. Actually, we were dreaming of Hollywood Gelato, but didn't want to go that far and figured we'd find something similar in our wandering.

Hard as it seems, we didn't find anyplace on the Danforth for ice cream (maybe we were too busy people watching and chatting to notice) so we continued our walk towards the west, knowing that eventually we'd come to Greg's (which actually has moved further west than the article says. It's at Spadina for those of you living in or planning to visit Toronto) They make their own flavours, like roasted marshmallow, green tea, pistachio - I once had licorice ice cream - always something different. As luck would have it, it started to rain as we got to Yorkville (a very upscale neighborhood with lots of expensive restaurants and shops. It's where many movie stars hang out when filming in Toronto. To get out of the rain, we stumbled into an alcove between a hotel and supper club and lo and behold "Opa!!!" someone selling ice cream from a cart. How could I resist Dolce de Leche ice cream?!

A perfect end to a simply perfect day. So to all of you Opa!!! - enjoy the moment!!!


Randi said...

sounds like you had a lot of fun. I love gelato, ill have to check it out. Are you familar with egullet? We're planning a gathering on Sept 10th. Visiting Kitchners farmers market and then going back to a private home in oakville to cook our wares. Check it out on egullet. org.

Ruth Daniels said...

Randi, thanks for sharing the site. Although I didn't see the Sept 10 gathering. Now that sounds like fun!!!

Joe said...

Looks like a tasty breakfast to me!

Ana said...

Sounds like a fun day. And it reminded me of that "greek yogurt" so creamy that all the US bloggers are raving about. Can you find it in Toronto? I can't find it here in Ottawa and I'm dying of curiosity!

Ruth Daniels said...

Ana, truthfully I haven't looked for the creamy Greek Style yoghurt. Since Christine Cushing lives in Toronto and uses it on her cooking show, I bet I can find it in "Greektown" or at one of the fabulous cheese vendors in Kensington Market or the St Lawrence Market.

I used to live in Ottawa many years ago and there was a terrific cheese store in the Byward Market. Are they still there? Maybe they would carry it.