Dec 22, 2009

The Sparrow or The single-ish syndrome.

My job is pretty chill, thanks to my recruitment supervisor. And thanks to my super-active manager who is doing a damn good job for the staff appreciation events and never misses to be the life of the party. We’re indeed having our annual Christmas party at The Sparrow. I heard from an en-vogue girlfriend this gastro-pub located in the Mile-End is tremendous. Plus, the designed flyer said it’s open-bar - in canary yellow characters – and what a good way to celebrate their newly-acquired liquor license. I already imagined myself sitting at the European style bar in a cute sparkling dress, just as happy as a cheerleader, ordering a fancy and super-alcoholic cocktail, engaging in a small talk with the British bartender, eye the bosses of my company from the corner, and discreetly order another one. 

It’s mot!@*rfuck**g COLD outside!” The first brake to my flawless plan is that the little engine I am, can’t wear a lovely dress neither sexy heels tonight. So here I am, trapped in basic pants and frizz hair, when the heat rises at 6 pm with homemade cocktails dedicated to our company: Grand-Marnier, Prosecco and grapefruit juice with a blackberry embedded inside. Interesting attempt but my palate doesn’t like bitter taste. Well, my manager seems to enjoy, given she drinks as fast as the lightning speed, while a certain someone remains glued to me about a conversation which – I’m sorry - I can’t remember the topic. Fortunately I enjoy the traditional atmosphere of the place. The warm wood, cozy lamps and sparrows’ wallpaper are a perfect mix between my Grand-ma kitsch and the revisited vintage style of today. 
About to have dinner, I consider my options. 1 – The bosses are sitting at the bosses’ table. 2 – Each department is respectively seated together following the same hierarchy they have in the office, except the French-speaking people who tend to form a “mixed” crowd. Needless to say, there is in reality no option but the empty seat. I end up with a awesome and very-scoped-on-the-goose man #1, a quite cute man #2, a man #3 with crispy adventures, an usually cold copy-editor who’s actually quite nice, and of course my particularly tipsy manager. Amazing how Super-Santa-Claus has the power to bring people together. 

Cool, someone engages the conversation on where everybody comes from, until someone else dares to talk about Montreal's winter. Well, too bad, the mot!@*rfuck**g coldest winter in the whole galaxy apparently deserves an entire conversation - How do your ears feel when it's -25 outside and you forgot your hat at home? And what are your reactions when you're running late for work and need to plow your car for two hours? To break the ice, the hors d’oeuvres are then served by a courteous waitress: delightful oysters with a spicy sauce, veal breast nuggets with anchovy, and also sweet caramelized onions spread on bread.  The main course is composed of a German dish called Spaetzle (basically home-made noodles with onions and artichokes) and braised lamb shoulder with olives, accompanied by fried potatoes, roasted roots and a surprising plate of Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, all served in disparate vintage plates. Original, unique and very rich in calories - Hey, it's Christmas after all! Mission accomplished for the Britishhh chief, I feel like I am in an old cottage deep in the wet and foggy UK. It’s so good but so heavy that I have to detach the button of my pants if I want to swallow at least one very-tempting profiterole. And I still manage to respect my personal policy to only do number two at home - agreement apparently not shared by all (!!!). 

The party is then going on with our intimate guests. As a real gossip lover, it’s really interesting to find out who dates who and scoping the place out for a funny looking couple. Of course, I can’t actually say anything out loud because it’s very childish; but I am also supposed to say something like they look great and can’t put a word on how happy they look – just to help them forget the 30 pounds they respectively gained since their wedding. This is a very single-ish syndrome. To summarize, I think my co-workers may mind their manners a lot (or might have been as stuffed as I was feeling). Indeed, apart of a few tipsy employees and a couple of typical 80s dance steps, the wildest thing seem to be  the office manager who takes her blue-electric-5-inches-Christian-Louboutin off. Ok, been there, done that.


Dec 10, 2009

Cafeteria & Suco or The kitty on fire.

She and I walk on St-Laurent Street toward Prince-Arthur and scop out the scene. Her blind date is an incredibly hairy dude, salted with a super-visible belly and peppered with unbearable effeminate manners. It just feel like we are unintentionally witnessing the "Hell Date" show. "It's not exactly what I expected", she says. I scan him from the head to the toes and reply, "Anyway, let's see what he got". 

The three of us move to one of my Montreal favorite spot, Cafeteria, a trendy restaurant-lounge located on the Plateau. The red light special rising in a modern-art décor provides an amazing atmosphere. The Heartbreak Tuesdays are usually perfect for a girls night out to devour Roman style fried calamari ($13 before taxes and services for a generous plate) or Homemade cheese tortellini in a creammmmmy pink sauce ($16) and get warmed up with a few martinis (6 bucks each). Chic and cozy, this is it!

I’m just starting to be comfortable in my role as candle of the night, when I notice he is already fidgeting on his sit like a kitty on fire, who's in a hurry to rub her pussy on the dance floor. I drink half of my Lychee Martini in one sip praying he would stop jiggling before he breaks the chair. He finally opens his mouth to mention that he is the best dancer of Hip-Hop ever and this little lounge is too small to shake his booty. I just can’t resist swallowing the whole lychee saying to myself “I can’t wait to see your moves dear little pussy!”. Needless to say, observing him totally sweating over two songs and a half, while she is desperately trying to maintain a conversation, is not the kind of heat I need before getting my freak on at Suco. Well, there’s always a little selection of men who make your cheeks blush, while, more commonly, there's an impressive gathering of others who are pain in the ass…

Even if it was bound to happen at some point and it now makes perfect sense, I am slack-jacked. We are at Suco, the sophisticated lounge of the Hotel Opus and basically the place to be on a late Tuesday night. And this super hairy overweight guy obviously doesn’t know how to dance. Firstly, he starts to rotate his arms in a counterclockwise direction, and then shuffles back and forth while keeping his legs wide apart and slightly bent, in another words, here is MC Hammer in the 90’s. He secondly executes tragically the outdated moonwalk, and soon after he lifts his palms heavenward while jutting his arms up and down like a hyperactive swimmer. And of course…he never stops. At 3 A.M, she – whom he had barely given attention during these 2 hours of extreme work-out - eventually has to pull him by the arm to leave.  

The whole thing appears so hilarious that I am wondering if I'm not watching Albert Brennaman dancing in the movie Hitch, but no, I've just been at Suco with two goofy who dared to look for a date on a random website, with their personal ads cramming between an ad for two Gabon parrots missing, one broken table set to give away, and a “earn $1000 a day online without spending a dime” proposal


Dec 4, 2009

Tiffanie's or Being clumsy in the kitchen ain't easy.

 It really bugs me when people ask me to cook for their little fragile stomachs which like this and don't like that, want it cooked this way and not that way, with no this and extra that. Simply because the boomerang effect of being a perfectionist by nature is that I suddenly become the fourteen years old girl with acne and braces, all panicked and clumsy...

On one side, there is a twenty-something nice gift package, who spends every Sunday at his dear parents house in order to eat THE perfectly cooked spicy beef with sticky rice, of a very present mum listening to his every needs, whom will surely be cooking enough to put the leftover food in labeled tupperwares for his lovely son to take home. On the other side, there is me, a funky-looking young girl, from a scattered worldwide family, with some juicy family reunions happening once in a while, and who happens to cook for others every 36th of the month, trying to keep her concentration on a few pots on the stove and a dish in the oven and ends up looking like an elephant in a porcelain store.

For once, I decide to prepare something for somebody but this time I’m going to take it easy. I'm going to cook rice, buy a whole roasted chicken and these bags of magic powder that miraculously change with some water and a little boost into a three-peppercorn- Dijon-mustard-and-Armagnac sauce. So, after passing ten nail places, fifteen corner-stores, twenty massage places, one French restaurant and thirty-three Chinese ones (It's  insane how easy it is to eat at a chinese restaurant and hard to do a grocery when you live in the middle of nowhere!);  I finally have all my ingredients to make up my little lie.

The story is that I forgot the sauce on the stove while I was putting my black eyeliner. The rice was overcooked and the meat extremely dry. A minute later, I was opening the door to a way too punctual sexiness, with black make-up on my cheeks, smelling burned food, and presenting my disaster in a very refined style: a ball of rice surrounded by three strips of chicken breast with a fillet of three peppercorn sauce on a square plate. Having of course my biggest Colgate smile on. Well, a smile is an inexpensive way to change your look, isn’t it?

  • Post-it on my fridge: Put 400g of Tagliatelle in boiling water. Meanwhile sauté two cloves of crushed garlic, one onion finely chopped and 300g of fresh shrimps. Add 60ml of white wine, 2 cans of peeled tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let thicken 15 minutes. Add a can of pitted black olives, 400g of drained and cut artichoke hearts and a few basil leaves. Drain the pasta and mix them with half the sauce. Add Parmesan and the remaining sauce. AND, take a shower – Of course shrimps taste good, but certainly not on you, honey. 

Nov 26, 2009

Saco & cie or Let the hair do the talking.

Being young and restless, wrapped in a sexy BCBG black dress, sipping champagne to celebrate New Year Eve's at Time's Supper Club was simply amazing. And my resolution that night could have sounded like a tipsy fantasy, however it eventually appeared to be nothing less than an Epiphany...

"What happened to your hair??!" The first words of my father. I haven't seen him in a year, Paris, 2007. I indeed started wearing my super-short pixie hair earlier that year after an adventurous move to Montreal and having spent several months here, including THAT special night out at Time's. Well, it's not that I particularly cared about the brave new tendency of the 21st century, the short sassy hairstyle, but my Kelis-afro that had neither tail nor head, nor shape nor balance made me certainly look like a wild lioness. But really... while it continued to correspond to my non-conformist mentality, it just no longer made sense with my newly-discovered sophistication. "Apart from that, Dad, I'm fine, thanks."

My roommate had flat mid-length chestnut hair (Oh, you actually dare to call T-H-A-T a hairdo?) and I had this varicolored mop on my head (You too! You call T-H-A-T a hairdo?). No need to mention that Saco seemed to be the lifeline for the shipwrecked we were. We heard about a special-$10-hair-experience offered by the Hair School-Salon through a friend who knew a friend’s friend who first did it and of course loved it (Yes, there’s nothing wrong with being a sheep when it’s time to give your confidence to a new hairdresser). A few days later, I was having the time of my life,  squirming on my rotating chair with my hairstylist, himself young and vibrant, rocking green dreads. No seriously… he was so cheerful and creative that I gave him carte-blanche after five minutes (I swear,  I’m not always that easy!). I eventually left the salon all smiles with a contemporary afro, with curls that barely reached my ears… They say the motto of Saco is to deliver an affordable luxury within a relaxed and professional environment. Indeed, it’s true.

Being inspired by this little but worthy change – or maybe getting brain waves from Britney Spears - I was a month later in my bathroom with one mirror facing me, one mirror in the back, cutting my hair with the kitchen scissors. Only God knows why I was just very confident of my abilities to be Edward Scissorhands in order to get a fresh and funky mohawk. I’ve  slooowly cut very short the sides while I left the top longer, curly and messy to accentuate the powerful contrast. A pile of hair on the floor later - and after returning to the reason- , I was overjoyed to find the final hairdo both fearless and chic, and I never regretted this liberating and revealing moment. 

Who ever said long hair is the ultimate symbol of femininity? 
The shorter my hair are, the more I enjoy expressing my versatile sexy look.

Nov 17, 2009

Le Pois Penché or The big black shark.

It all started with four black tiger shrimps served on ice with the House cocktail sauce and tomato comfit… or should I say it all started with a big black shark tight in his Dolce & Gabbana jeans and brand-new YSL shoes?

Entering Le Pois Penché around 8 P.M on a typically Canadian cold Friday night to the voice of Edith Piaf and the circa ’20s decor sounds exciting.  On one side the hallucinating seafood platter on a client’s table and the permeating smell of a filet mignon freshly cooked with wild mushrooms is mouth-watering.  On the other side, I got him, a wealthy African business-man in his early thirties with a few extra pounds but still good-looking. Well… He got this Je-ne-sais-quoi, a mix of Diddy’s class and Clooney’s presence that always catch - but unfortunately not keep -  my attention. 

While my mate is unpacking his amazing life, self-complimenting his exploits and tripping on his extraordinary future projects, he finds a minute to order the wine, a white Meursault, Domaine Michelot, Sous la Velle ($135 the bottle before taxes and service – Let me tell you something: they’re not all that expensive!). Of course I make sure it tastes particularly wonderful. My instinct tells me it will be a solitary long walk, bottle in hand, with MC I-am-the-King-of-the-world and my-dear-you-know-nothing-at-all in the headphones. Caught in the muse's eyes of the painting in front of me, I hear him say with his forced French accent “We’d like to share the Shrimp cocktail and she’ll take just like me: the Loup de Mer”. (Wait wait wait, did I mention I’d like to have the shrimps and the Loup de Mer? And did I hear WE? And share?)

The four giant shrimps ($22 before taxes and service) look a little bit lonely in their martini glass… but I have to admit that they're delicious and perfect to whet the appetite. Special mention to the House cocktail sauce very tasty and refreshing. Between two sips of wine, here comes the well-known Loup de Mer (Price of the market) that my wannabe Diddy-Clooney particularly enjoys. I’m actually surprised by the presentation of the dish, far from the usual way-too-art-gallery presentation of these self-proclamed  hype restaurants.  My   Mediterranean silver bass is huge (1.5 lbs) but presented in a classic elegant plate with a generous portion of crispy fries and nice asparagus on the side. I eat eve-ry-thing. Well-cooked, well-balanced seasonings and flavorful! It’s just so delightful to have a blast with a dead fish while my date is having so much pleasure to talk about him, himself and he; as my next table neighbor, a 60 years old skin apparently so frustrated, can’t stop starring at my unborn wrinkles.
I really hope for two seconds that Mister has no more room for the dessert - so I'd  be free to the third - until the manager personally offers us a Baileys on ice.  Let's go for the absolutely savory Profiteroles accompanied of ice cream drizzled with chocolate ($12 before taxes and service). Yummy! 

The icing on the cake? Probably when Smart Mouth is about to call me Rebecca or Sheila or any other name in A.