I tended to chores, and even finally unveiled some mail! Sunday Baking and ANook3's collaboration sticker set had arrived; accompanying it was an illustrated version of Sunday's go-to scone recipe. A clear phone case had been ordered through ebay to facilitate the crafting of a customized sticker phone case. Alas, my hasty decision hadn't considered the bulky component surrounding the camera lens, which is now blocked after application of the case. The ambitious DIY project has now been set aside for the time being, its imitation date unknown.
The morning would comprise of a hurried ticket-buying session to Justin Park's first-ever appearance in Toronto, followed by a team meeting. Anxious at the rapidly disappearing aisle spots, a friend and I snapped up the first spots available, only to have Ticketmaster release more seats over the subsequent two hours.
Despite immense frustration, I recalled Eric Nam's House on a Hill:
"Yeah, the grass is green
But I wish it was greener";
"Yeah, the sky is blue
But I wish it was bluer"
I was determined to prevent the ticketing process from sabotaging the actual experience.
New to the lineup was Esmeralda, which exuded a darker profile with chocolatey notes, yet nonetheless remained true to the generally lighter roasts utilized by the independent coffee shop. The member of staff behind the counter was incredibly patient with my inquiries, and even showed surprising enthusiasm about discussing the beans. I had relayed my preferences of 75% filter and 25% espresso, to which he had initially directed me towards the fruity Fazenda Sertão for its comparable qualities to Tres Dragones. He then graciously offered samples of both Fazenda Sertão and the cafe's newest blend of Esmeralda to ease the decision-making process.
Before departing, I learned that the Cold Brew on tap was always on rotation, depending on when the bag is depleted. My special request of a Nitro Cold Brew Lemonade had been honoured by the barista, and I giddily took the scrumptious beverage to go. The concoction was refreshing, gratifying, and most deserving of its hefty price tag. While I had thought differently during my last visit, the perspective has altered given the rarity of cafes that execute coffee exceptionally.
$11.29 earned me a Harvest Salad, Black Forest Ham & Cheddar Croissant, and unnamed Daily Special. The portion and variety of sustenance seemed reasonable for the price, though quality quickly became a primary concern. Two of three items had "Best Before" dates of the previous day, while the Daily Special was dated for the current day of pickup. This came as a surprise to me, for even the items included in the Metro bag had same-day "Best Before" labels. The cookies had been rock solid, while the Multigrain Baguette, as the sleepy polar bear noted, began to sport mould the following day. The experience led me to question the overall freshness of the prepared items, and whether they'd pose any unforeseen health risks.
Having received incessant nagging from the display of my hauled goods, the Harvest Salad was bestowed upon my vegetarian coworker. The listed components of Brussel sprouts, baby kale, butternut squash, and cranberries had appealed to me immensely, but she relayed that she found it largely average, though passable. The unnamed Daily Special emerged as a platter of sauce-covered Basmati rice and a single roasted chicken thigh. Clumpy was the bright orange sauce; laced with spices and herbiness, I deduced it a mild variation of Biryani. The chicken, in contrast to its anticipated tenderness, was unthinkably dry and tough.
Once back in suburbia, the hustling continued: I would dive into the house for my gym gear then dash back outside for two back-to-back classes at LA Fitness. As a result of being unable to find dumbbells lighter than 5 lbs in the last Body Works Plus Abs session, matters were taken into my own hands: 1 lb wrist weights were brought along to prevent injury and promote an effective workout.
Maangchi has been my go-to for a handful of previous forays into traditional Korean fare, including Bossam, Pajeon (shrimp and bacon variations!), and Hoddeok - and Kalbi would be no exception!
Needless to say, this led to charring and overcooking of the first batch and a half of short ribs, but a spectacular finish of onion-scallion-garlic chutney, which paired fantastically with steamed white rice.