Waking up today, I didn’t really have a firm plan of what I would prioritize today. Having changed lifestyles, I still am trying to nail down a routine to follow. It doesn’t help that I have so many ideas in my head and I do a little bit of each to keep each one going. One of my pet projects now is to finally get me to do an exhibit downtown of my photography. I banded with my friend Natalia who has done it before. I get seemingly nervous and hesitant to do a show. Something about it intimidates me. But I know I have to at least get one exhibition under my belt. My friend Natalia is tentatively thinking of having one by early summer and I thought I’d ride along, breaking me into this exhibition business very gently. So I thought I meet up with Natalia today up at Yonge and Eglinton. This part of Toronto is littered with small and quaint shops and restaurants. It’s quite easy to spend an hour or two walking in and out interesting novelty stores. Despite having visited this part of town many times, I missed one restaurant which has been there for several years now. With Natalia’s recommendation, we walked into La Vecchia (http://www.lavecchia.ca/).
It looks very unassuming outside. It’s sign up in dark wood, not too apparent when this winter day today is quite gloomy. Taking Natalia’s word for it, I walked in without looking at the displayed menu by its doors. I figured, it’s an Italian restaurant. I should be able to find one that would interest me pretty easy. Seeing the restaurant’s interiors, it is predictably European fashioned, with its dark bar and stone/brick walls. It has a comforting, cozy feel to it and I zeroed in a nice table by the restaurant’s window.
A waiter comes with the menus and I scan each page. While I hover up and down the menu, Natalia decided to have mushroom and asparagus soup and Antipasto Di Casa. I could feel my mouth water each line I read, trying to decide which one should I order. Capellini Sardi, a decadent shrimp-scallop-arthichoke pasta in tomato-garlic olive oil sauce or Risotto Porcini, yummy risotto with creamy mushroom, roasted garlic and a good helping of shaved parmiggiano. I wrestled between the two for a good while before finally giving in to a gut feeling to go for the risotto. Was I ever glad I made that decision, this dish was so refined in taste, I ate the last morsel :)
The size of the helping was moderate (which was good as risottos tend to be heavy and filling). It came served on a white plate, sitting on a raddichio. I look at the gorgeous plate in front of me and started snapping pictures of the food Natalia and I have. It was sort of like torture as the smell of freshly shaved parmesan wafted around me. It was instant gratification when I had the first taste. There was an elegant restraint and simplicity in this dish, the mushroom flavour blending well with the saltiness of the shaved parmigianno so effortlessly. Initially I thought that the raddichio was plated just for garnish. I am not entirely crazy about raddichios but something beckoned me to make a perfect bite, layering a slice of this bitter vegetable, to a helping of the creamy rice and a shaving of parmiggiano. It was an amazing combination of flavours, every component shines through, holding its own. I am not always happy about eating anything bitter but this one I’ll make an exception. Next time I walk in this restaurant, (Yes! There would definitely be a next time!), I would have to struggle whether to experience this dish again or try to discover a new one. I guess I’ll cross the bridge when I get there. It will be a struggle for sure. Just take a look at how clean my plate is and that would give you an idea of my dilemma when that time comes ;)