Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Wolf nipple chips. Get 'em while they're hot. They're lovely."

On Sunday I had an experience that reminded me very much of a bit in Monty Python's Life of Brian

I wonder if you remember the scene where Brian is a food vendor at a gladiator match, selling exotic finger foods to the spectators, including Reg, Judith, and Francis of the People's Front of Judea:

BRIAN (calling out his wares): Larks' tongues. Wrens' livers. Chaffinch brains. Jaguars' earlobes. Wolf nipple chips. Get 'em while they're hot. They're lovely. Dromedary pretzels, only half a denar. Tuscany-fried bats.

BRIAN: Larks' tongues. Otters' noses. Ocelot spleens.

REG: Got any nuts?

BRIAN: I haven't got any nuts. Sorry. I've got wrens' livers, badgers' spleens...

REG: No, no, no.

BRIAN: Otters' noses?

REG: I don't want any of that Roman rubbish.

JUDITH: Why don't you sell proper food?

BRIAN: Proper food?

REG: Yeah, not those rich imperialist tit-bits.

BRIAN: Well, don't blame me. I didn't ask to sell this stuff.

REG: All right. Bag of otters' noses, then.

FRANCIS: Make it two.

Well, I didn't nosh on otters' noses, but I did get to sample some really delicious and, in some cases, very creative and/or exotic cuisine.  I won tickets to the Ottawa Humane Society's Summer Harvest Garden Party fundraiser. Lots of the top chefs from Ottawa restaurants, as well as the chef from the Prime Minister's residence, and chefs from the Algonquin College Culinary Arts program were there, cooking for the guests.  The event raised more than $35,000 dollars for the shelter!

My friend Debby and I dressed up in our best garden-party outfits, dispersed our children to various other events, and set off into Ottawa.  Of course nothing goes off without a hitch, and when I got to her house to pick her up, I managed to fall down her front steps onto the patio stone pathway, grazing my knee and hurting my wrist.  Fortunately there were no grass or blood stains on my dress.  Two extra-strength Advil gelcaps later, and we were on our way, with Deb driving, since my wrist hurt.  We decided that if an ER visit for wrist X-rays was necessary, we would do it after stuffing our faces at the party.

I felt a bit like a Jim Carrey character as we drove up behind a Lexus and a BMW to the valet parking area in my tan 1999 Mercury Mystique with the big dent in the passenger-side quarter panel, but soon we were accepting a glass of Prosecco and gliding (Debby) and limping (me) gracefully into the shelter where the Garden Party was being held.  The shelter is only a year old and is a beautiful facility!  It's clean, bright, and spacious, with plenty of room for each dog and cat, and no cages in sight.  The hallways were filled with tables of goodies from each chef or restaurant, and we were soon sampling all the deliciousness on display.

The gorgeous Deborah.

I snapped these pictures surreptitiously with my Blackberry, which doesn't have a flash, so they aren't the greatest. These sesame-crusted chicken sausage bites with Asian slaw and beets were from the Algonquin College Culinary Program:

and these phyllo port-soaked strawberry cup thingies too:

And then it was on to oysters!  From Whalesbone Oyster House.  Raspberry Point oysters (from Prince Edward Island) with a squeeze of lemon.  Mmmmmmm:

We filled our plates with appetizers. (I ate the shrimp out of the shrimp étouffée before it occurred to me to take a picture of my plate.)

And that's when things got all Monty-Python-otters'-noses-y:

Yes. Smoked duck tongues with spicy mayo.  They were in a tempura batter and deep fried and were quite tasty.  Though I did prefer the Kentucky-fried quail legs.  (I can't believe I just typed 'Kentucky-fried quail legs', or ate them for that matter.)  They were really, really good.  Not Tuscany-fried bat, but still, pretty close. :)  The food in the picture above was from Atelier, except for the gazpacho.

I didn't take many pictures of the main courses -- it was hard to juggle the plate, the utensils, the wineglass and my Blackberry, but these were good:

And so was this (from Urban Pear):

But my absolute favourite dish was this -- deconstructed sushi from K.W.Catering:

I was one happy camper.  And kind of red-faced since it was really hot.  I imagine the air-conditioning doesn't usually have to deal with a few hundred extra people, some of whom were cooking.

Laureen Harper, the wife of the Prime Minister, (below, in the blue-and-white dress) is a long-time patron and supporter of the shelter.  She was there chatting to all the chefs and shelter people. Not in the picture is her RCMP protection officer, who was very good-looking -- really tall, nice hair, ice-blue eyes and cheekbones you could cut paper with. He caught me staring at him a couple of times, but his attention was purely work-related. I was tempted at one point to throw myself at him yelling "Frisk me, I've got a knife", but I thought better of it.

We managed to leave without taking home any animals.  Though it was touch-and-go for Debby and a year-old German Shepard called Sasha.

So, thanks to 93.9  Bobfm, who ran the caption contest that I won the tickets on:

Just put the spray bottle down, and no one gets hurt.

It was a lovely afternoon.  And we didn't have to go to the ER after all.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

According to Rachel: Ladies of the Evening edition

Friday night in Carp. Early summer. Ten p.m. or so.

I am lolling on my bed, glass of red in hand, enjoying the breeze blowing through the window, and watching the beginning of a C.S.I. episode on DVD. Leah is at my desk, which is right beside my bed, playing spider solitaire on the computer. Rae wanders in unexpectedly from her bedroom, where I'd assumed she was asleep, since I'd tucked her in earlier. As it's Friday night, there is no set bedtime.

Onscreen, two hookers are strutting around and leaning over into cars.  Rachel catches sight of the TV screen. It's too late to turn it off.

Rae: What are those girls doing?
Me (mentally girding my loins for one of *those* conversations): Well... [pause to collect thoughts] Those girls are prostitutes.
Rae: What are prostitutes?
Me (remembering my vow not to lie to my kids but to explain things in simple terms and not go into too much detail): A prostitute is a woman who makes a living by having sex with men.
Rae (nonchalantly): Oh. You mean a hooker.
Me (mildly shocked and quite amused): Where did you learn that word?
Rae: From Leah.

We both turn and look at Leah, who has a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face.
Me: Leah, where did you learn about hookers?
Leah: From Ellie and Grace.

[The daughters of a friend of mine whom I *know* will find this very funny when I tell her about it.]
Me: *Loud guffaws.* And how did that conversation happen?
Leah: We were listening to a Lady Gaga song, and I was all, "what is this song about?" and Grace explained it to me.

Me: Oh. OK.
Rae: Is there any ice cream?

Question answered.  Crisis averted.  Ice cream consumed.