Saturday, July 12, 2008

Toronto, Ethiopia, and the road to Italy

¡Hola chicos y chicas! ¿Cómo están ustedes? Estoy muy muy muyyyyy bien, gracias.

In fact, today I found out that I got an A+ in my POLI 214 class (Introduction to Human Rights). I totally FREAKED out. Honestly. I didn't even believe it. I've been checking for my grade every single day since about 2 days after the exam (pathetic, I know), refreshing the page every couple of hours. Finally, today, I saw the grade, didn't quite believe it, and refreshed the page one more time, just to be sure. Sure enough, yup, my grade is an A+. YES!!!!!! I have never taken a political science class before, nor will I ever again (ha ha), but I DID IT! I can't even believe it. My sister asked me, "Did you study hard?" I don't know if I ever "study hard"; I don't know what it means. I simply study until I cannot study anymore.


One week ago, I was in Toronto. Yes, my Montreal ass has never been to this city where, as my Uncle Elio put it, "People live to work, whereas in Montreal, people work to live." Interesting, that he said that, and it left with an unsettling sense of foreboding: I do intend on going to do my Master's in Toronto at the University of Toronto, which is why I went to visit the city in the first place. Despite all the negativity I have heard about the T Dot, I truly enjoyed myself there, and I did find the locals (well, the hotel workers and wait staff at restaurants and cashiers) to be exceptionally pleasant. Where was all the snottiness people were talking about? I'm glad I didn't see any.

Since my trip to Toronto with my vegan other half, I have been enjoying meals worthy of a queen. No joke. We stayed at the Delta Chelsea hotel--which was fabulous, I must say, and I was very pleased that there was a gym in the hotel. We were very lucky to have a Le Commensal restaurant just downstairs--DOWNSTAIRS! Fabulous. At first I wasn't all that excited, since we do have Le Commensal in Montreal; eating at Le Commensal on Elm, however, was such a delightful experience, as their menu is much more varied--especially where vegans are concerned--than is the one in Montreal, where the choices for vegans are much more limited. I was so impressed that I went to and wrote a review (under the name "tragedia"):

The next morning, as Matt didn't want to walk to Fressen's for vegan breakfast (bless his heart!), I grudgingly accepted that we try out the breakfast at Le Commensal. They don't offer breakfast in Montreal, but here they make it every morning. I must say that it was splendid, and I was happy, in the end, that we (read: he) opted to go there (we saved Fressen for the next day). We both had scrambled tofu with fruits and toast and all nice stuff. Matt even bought me a cookbook I'd been wanting for quite some time: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I've already made one recipe from it (pictures to come in my next blog post): the sun-dried tomato, black olive, and walnut artisan bread. It's yummy. :-)

That same day (Saturday), Matt and I went to check out the University of Toronto's HUGE campus. It was a beautiful summer day, hot but not humid, and we walked around looking for the Italian Department's building, which, of course, was closed. Nevertheless, it was a good experience to check out the campus and see what the streets were around it.... We stopped for a coffee at a place called L'Espresso. We gave in to temptation at the last second when we saw a couple receive an order of crispy fries, and our enthusiastic waitress was quick to emphasize what an excellent choice we'd made in ordering them. Then she, upon seeing my Joy of Vegan Baking book on the table, suggested--no, insisted--that we check out Fressen's for brunch. Ha!

That evening, we went with Matt's dad to what I can describe as only the best vegan-restaurant experience I've ever had. We went to the Vegetarian Haven. I'm not gonna blab on and on about how great the restaurant is; you can check out my blabbing in my review here. Simply amazing. And! I have a photo to prove it:
On the top left, you have my cheesecake; on the top right, you have Matt's dad's fried apples (he wanted fried bananas but, strangely enough, they were out of bananas; these proved, however, that fried apples are just as good, if not better, and just as sinful, too); finally, on the bottom, there is Matt's half-eaten chocolate fudge cake. Aren't they beautiful? Yes! We didn't really need to drive back to the hotel afterwards; we very well could have rolled there. Oi.
The next day, we went to Fressen's, finally, for brunch, and the food was just as delicious as everyone told us it would be. We were delighted, though I was very... well, here's my review:
And then we spent the rest of the day in Mississauga, with family, and by midnight, we were back in Montreal, and Matt and I were both at work only 9 hours later. Yowza.
Today is my sixth day working out of seven in a row. That is not to say, however, that I haven't done my share of relaxing/hanging out this week. On the contrary! (And you must know that I'd be getting to talking about Ethiopia at some point, right?) Well, Monday, my boss was kind enough to order me a falafel wrap and some garlic potatoes (mmmm); Wednesday, we ordered Indian food (mmmm); Thursday, I ordered even BETTER Indian food from my favourite Indian restaurant, Pushap, and devoured it with Matt and his sister; Friday, last night, I went to have Ethiopian food (ding!) for the first time ever (pictures to come in my next blog post). We went to Magdala Ethiopian Restaurant. It was a very pleasant dining experience, despite the blaring air conditioner right next to our table that left us frozen for most of the meal. Nevertheless, the food was delicious, the price was right, and injera bread is my new favourite food. I have yet to make a review on a dining website, but they will be getting a very good one. Yay!
Finally, the road to Italy, yes? A few days ago (Monday, to be exact), I was notified that I, as well as my cousin Laurie (yes!), have been accepted to go on an all-expenses-paid one-month trip to Italy, to study and site-see in the region of Lazio (the region where Rome is). It caught me so off-guard that I was sad at first to find out that I was chosen to go. I had applied for this trip in April and they call us now? "Preparate le valigie; partite in tre settimane." Three weeks to prepare for a trip to Italy? Really, now. What if I couldn't get off work? Whatever. Anyway, now I'm happy, but still a little stressed and kind of nervous and knowing I'll have to get over my shyness. I do believe that this trip is a blessing, and that I have been given this (forgive this cliché; I do hate it) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a reason; it will help provide a much-needed break from the every-day here, it will provide release, and it will provide some sort of closure, as I will be visiting the region where my dad had gone countless times to visit my grandparents. This will be yet another step in the forming of my character and of my academic experience. If I am lucky, I will take photos and videos of the places he himself visited. This is for you, papa.
I'm going to miss my mum and my sister and my doggie and my boyfriend TERRIBLY, but the month will fly by, I will be enlightened and have new experiences under my belt, I will eat well and enjoy my time, I will love the espresso, and I will come back just to go back to school 2 days later. HA! Oh boy.
Vegan in Suburbia