Thursday I took a late morning flight headed to Toronto for the ABA meeting.  The leg from Northwest Arkansas to O’Hare ran into a slight delay when we were ordered by traffic control to “hold” for almost 20 minutes.  Remarkably, we weren’t very late.  I had a leisurely connection, so I grabbed lunch and headed to the gate. I’d found a new mystery and was eager to begin reading it.  I like to read mysteries in which the protagonist is a person of color.  My recent discovery is written by David Handler, pairs a Jewish New York film critic, Mitch, with a State Police Lieutenant, Desiree, who’s a sister.  The jacket cover of Cold Blue Blood was intriguing, and the book had good reviews. So far, it’s a good read.  I was engrossed in my reading when the flight attendant came through the cabin with the Canadian Declaration Cards. I set my reading aside to fill the card out when all of a sudden the woman in front of me reached back, grabbed my tray table and flipped it up. Club soda went everywhere, on the card, my briefcase and me.  She explained she was trying to let her seat back up and grabbed the tray table by mistake.  I’d just finished cleaning that up (and being thankful it was only club soda) when I got hit in the head with a children’s book.  You know the type— a plastic coated cardboard book?  A little girl sitting caddy-corner from me was tired of being on the plane, and getting antsy. Having twice drawn fire, I was happy to deplane.

 

The customs lines were really long, so it took a while to get through them, get luggage and emerge into the sunlight to flag a cab.  Fortunately, I ran into my friend, Dean Athornia Steele (Thorny) in the customs line. We shared a cab to downtown, with the cab driver from Ben Hur. Sheesh. His driving was so scary I closed my eyes or turned to look out the window rather than watch him run over a biker or pedestrian.  It was a harrowing ride, made better knowing that Thorny and I were there for each other in case our emergency contacts needed notification. Our driver dropped Thorny off first at his hotel (lucky dog), and then chatted with me on the way to my hotel. That seems fairly innocuous, but if the driver is turned facing the passenger in rush hour traffic, well, let’s just say that gives an entirely new meaning to “rush hour.” The area in which my hotel was located is called Bloor Yorkville.

There was an unusual twist to checking into my hotel. It was the hotel’s 10th anniversary and there was a contraption like a bingo ball turner on the counter.  I got to spin the cage and whichever colored ball came out; I received the prize matching it. That turned out to be an extra 250 reward points. Thorny came over not too much later, to go for a walk and to have dinner.  By the time I came downstairs, he’d made friends with the Okee Dokee Smoky Lady. This all came about because he asked the concierge for suggestions and when she handed him the map, after explaining where the action was, Thorny responded, “Okee dokee.” She laughed and said, “We always said that growing up, but it was Okee dokee Smoky.” We all laughed together and then the two of us took off.  You may recall from a previous post, that Michael and I always end up having interesting drives? Well, Thorny and I have the same experience walking.  We started out, map in hand, to go to a highly recommended Indian Restaurant, Host.  Needless to say there’s more to the story.  We ended up walking down Younge Street and after some time I noticed that we’d not seen any of the landmarks that the Okee Dokee Smoky Lady mentioned in her directions. We did, however enjoy the energy of the street, the buildings and some of the more interesting businesses.

  Just about the time we wondered if we were headed the right way, a man (Thorny tells me it was a woman but I think he’s wrong) asked me for money for food.  My practice is to buy food, but not give money.  We were standing at a fruit market when he turned to me, and since he’d been looking longingly at the fruit I offered to buy some.  He selected cherries and lychees, and gave me a big hug and we were on our way again.  About two blocks later a guy (we both agree on this) came up to Thorny and asked for food, so we headed into a sandwich shop.  He told us he was Muslim and didn’t want any pork, but asked for a ham sandwich, so Thorny bought a turkey sub combo. Right down the street was a hotel, so I suggested we stop there to get directions.  When we told the concierge where we’d started and what we were looking for he laughed. “Did you walk?” More laughter, not mean laughter, tickled laughter. “Well, you’re a long ways away. He pulled out another map (because we’d done so well with the first one) and pointed the way back and to the restaurant. We were right near University Avenue which runs through a number of, yep, universities.  So we started our walk back up University, past Queen’s Park, and even came across a building for the University of Toronto Law Faculty. By now it was getting late, and we really did want to eat dinner, so we were more focused on finding Host.  This time we went past it in the other direction.  To make a long story short, Host is on a small side street and by the time we found it, the kitchen was closed. I was not a happy camper, but as Thorny reminded me, it was our fault. 

 The Host of Host was nice though and pointed us to another restaurant he said was very good.  It was right up the street (we could see it so we couldn’t get lost).  Opus turned out to be an excellent recommendation.  The food was delicious, the setting low key, and the service great. Our waiter was hilarious, and we relaxed after our marathon hike. My first course was heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella and for an entrée I had Guinea hen and mushroom ravioli on pistou vegetables with crème fraiche sauce. Thorny’s main course was venison tenderloin on creamed corn with shredded vegetables and sauce diable.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, happy that we’d found such a terrific restaurant after all. One thing we were both amazed about was that on the wine menu a glass of 1995 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine sold for $17.95, not a glass, but an ounce. Wow. After dinner, we both managed to get back to our hotels without getting lost, and that was a good thing because it was pretty late when all was said and done.

           

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