Doing Toronto by bike is a strangely exhilarating experience.
You exist in a state of hyperawareness as cars whiz by you, people, store fronts, signs other bikers pull your attention as you peddle inches from damaging property or yourself. You don’t even notice how far you can travel in such a short time as you glide past the larger vehicles like a bipedal Remora in the slip stream of a pack of sheet-metal sharks.
Saturday afternoon was spent cutting a star pattern across the west side of the Toronto downtown. The Contact Photography Festival was in full swing so my cousins and I went to see some of the dozens of shows that spread throughout the city. I won’t go into detail about what we saw because though I have been known to take a picture or two in my day my abilities of explanation of art pale in my ability to explain food.*
For lunch we doubled back to a Roncesvalle Ave favorite, The Westerly. We were just in time to catch their bunch menu. The smallish cafe was abuzz, we were lucky to get a table. It is one of those places that I feel like I would be at once or twice a week if I lived in the area. Good coffee, good food and a laid back vibe. The menu looked like a murders row of great bunch items and I had to make a sophies choice between a Duck Confit Hash and Smoked Trout Latkes. I went with the Duck, which was great. Tender but slghtly crispy morsels of duck over potatoes and caramelized onions with two runny poached eggs on top, adding a level of richness while at the same time giving you the illusion that you are doing something good for your body.**
After more riding and more very cool photo exhibits, we made our way to a place that my cousins had heard great things about. It was billed to me as Tacos and Bourbon, and I’m sure I excitedly said, “yes’ while they were still mid syllable on the word bourbon. As some of you may know I love mexican cuisine and I am willing to defend it with furious facebook rage. Some of you may not know that I also love Bourbon, and I would gladly eat a kentucky derby horse to get my hands on a nice bottle.***
Grand Electric is about as quirky as an eatery can get. The only thing I have experience like it was Tubby Dog in Calgary. We arrived, on Queen St in the Parkdale neighborhood, half an hour before opening and a long line quickly formed behind us. There may not be a better sign for your taste bud’s future than a long line of people who reside behind you. After a short wait we were let into a wall of sounds and smells. Loud hip hop music thudded me in my empty stomach and the smell of mexican food wafted towards me. The beer list was concise but very solid, the Bourbon list was prodigious. Over twenty different corn based social lubricants made my decision difficult.****
The menu at Grand Electric is simple but pleasing, Tacos, Civiche and a few other mexican odds and ends that I’m sure are great. I went with a Tongue Taco, a pulled beef cheek taco and a braised pork belly taco. All three were great in their own way. The Tongue was perfectly creamy and just spicy enough, The Pulled Beef cheek melted in my mouth and the avacado and japano topping was a simple but perfect pairing. Finally the Pork belly taco was great, it was topped with a pineapple salsa verde that cut through the richness of the pork. Overall I would go back to Toronto just for another Bourbon and Taco extravaganza.
The rest of saturday was spent visiting with family and then meeting friends downtown for drinks. Many drinks. Kudos to the person in the group who saved is from Scotland Yard and got us safely to C’est What. My living thanks/hates you for the multiple pints of Duggan’s #9.
The evening ended with post bar food with Bailey, El Bison and a homeless man who was trying to sell us on the benefits of the homeless lifestyle at 3 am.***** It was a good day, night, morning.
*I admit to being out of my depth when trying to describe, explain or interpret art. I am in it for the gut reaction and the chicks.
**Oh yes my breakfast was so healthy I had poaches eggs.(and duck)
***Had David Milch only knew me when he was shooting Luck. No horse, no protest, Mr. Milch all it will cost you is a bottle of Pappy 21.
****I settled on Blanton’s Special Reserve.
*****Being homeless does solve the problem of the expensive Toronto real estate market.