Joining in on the Search for the Perfect Q-ban Sandwich – Take One

Marco and Linds over at Sorryless have been on a quest to find the perfect Cubano sammy. ‘Course they are way out there in Pennsylvania – a good 8.5-hour drive for me – so there ain’t no way I can play with them direct-like, so I am crashing their party from way over here in the Great White North …

I mentioned my latest adventure plans to my friend Julie who was more than willing to keep me company. Now… we were supposed to do this weeks ago, but you know how that goes. Life gets in the way and all that. Neither here nor there. We finally made it.

Turns out, there are a lot more places making Cubanos than I ever expected. I even solicited my Latina friend, Naira to see if she had an opinion. Despite her boyfriend being Cuban, she had NEVER been… Sigh. She did suggest a place and we shall be trying that place next. I was wanting to be nice to Jules and pick a place ‘twixt us so I chose La Cecilia, just outside of Little Italy on Bélanger Street.

I parked a few blocks away on purpose. Figured I’d need to walk off the extra calories and this is a ‘hood I don’t really know. Turns out it is more Latino than Montreal’s official Quartier Latin What up wit’ dat? I heard more Spanish a-speaking here than I ever did in the Berri area… Our colourful character (see below) confirmed this to us… He said this ‘hood had more Latino-influenced establishments than they did. Apparently, Mtl Blog agrees.

Julie needed to leave by 2:30-3:00, latest, to drive her son to his grad (ball), so we didn’t have all that much time, but really? How long does it take to eat lunch? We met in front of the restaurant at around 12:45.

Such a tiny place! We liked that. The owner (we presume) spoke in an extremely heavily Spanish-accented French. I made the mistake of saying hello in Spanish and he let ‘er rip… Señor! No habla l’español (though I can understand if spoken s-l-o-w-l-y). Second good sign.

I explain to him that we are on a mission to discover wonderful Cubano sandwiches and probably would have taken some kind of appetizer but we were able to take a “combo” of sandwich with soup or salad or fries and a drink. We both opted for the salad. As for the drinks, Señor Chef/Owner suggested a “Maracuyá drink”, or, as they call it, in his native Dominican Republic (uh-oh, not so good sign), “Chinola” – turns out that this is the term for Passion Fruit blitzed with milk into a sorta milkshake if, you please.

Absolutely delicious!

This character came in. What a hoot and a half. Obviously an employee (could be family, who knows?) and said that it was all wrong… How can you have a Latin-inspired restaurant such as this and have no music? Up on a chair he went and turned on the music. Ahhh… now it was perfecto!

Talk about adding colour to the joint

Along comes our sammy and “salad”. Um. OK. I had explained to Julie what the components are supposed to be, which is why she jumped on the bandwagon to have one: pork, ham, cheese (I won’t get mad if it’s not Swiss, but it better have flavour), pickles and mustard on a pressed bun.

I’ll start with the salad. Cut up iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato “artistically” placed on top and a little container of bottled Italian dressing. I couldn’t even take a picture. I know, I know, I should have. Hang on… lemme see if I can replicate it… Ya. Never mind. I am positive you can picture it.

The Cubano. Yes. Bread was pressed and nice and crunchy. Pork was the equivalent of pulled pork – I’m not too bothered by it because it was so tasty. Found a small slice of ham in the second half of my sandwich. Cheese? Was there cheese? Pickles… Yoooo hoooo? Where are you? They must have been held hostage by the cheese… I think there might have been some caramelized onions, but that may be because of the pulled pork. There were a few little pieces of lettuce but not even enough to give it crunch… There was some mustard on the bread. Wasn’t there? Yes, there was. A very light coating.

My expectations were not sky-high high… but they were higher than what we got. While the sandwich was missing too many ingredients to qualify as an Autentico Cubano in my books, it was tasty. That Maracuyá (or Maraculla, as another patron spelt it for me) drink was the BOMB. Don’t even talk to me about the salad. Combo, my ass. Next time I’ll splurge on soup or fries… In case you did not bother clicking on the link to the restaurant, here is what they show their salad and sammy to look like…

Which goes to show that I did NOT look at the pics because… does that look like a Cubano to you? Does it? No, it does not. So… my bad for choosing the joint.

I will score it a 4/10. NOT for the Cubano, but for the drink, the friendly owners/employees and the fabulous company. Plus, Jules did say she would accompany me on my next Cubano hunt which will be sooner rather than later. (Jules is more generous than I… giving it a 6 – but then, she had nothing to compare it to.)

Me and my beautiful friend, Julie

B, I think you hexed me this morning when I told you the name of the joint we were going to…

Hide ‘n Seek – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday morning, my peeps! It is Friday Fictioneers time! Yessiree… Rochelle chose this wonderful picture by Fatima Fakier Deria this week. So many possibilities, don’t you think? You do? Then do, by all means, join in the fun and let us read it!

Click on Rochelle’s name for the rules and regs… or, if you already know them, just click on the link below and add yours!

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Hide ‘N Seek

Simon and Jeffrey loved playing hide ‘n seek along the waterways. They delineated certain blocks, making sure they stayed within, otherwise they’d never find each other! So much fun, especially on delivery days. So many crates to hide in or behind. They played almost every weekend when the weather permitted.

It was Simon’s turn to count. “…97, 98, 99, 100. Ready or not, here I come!”

He ran between crates, laughing, “I’ll find you, Jeffrey!”

Suddenly Simon was scooped up and thrown into a box on a boat. The wind knocked out of him, he thought he heard a muffled sound behind him.

“Jeffrey?…”

Seeing Things Clearly – What Pegman Saw

Good Monday, my peeps!  Was “oot and aboot” on Friday and Saturday (as you may know if you read my post…) and yesterday was working the crazy Father’s Day supper at the club.  I hurt. Everywhere.  This schlepping of tables and chairs and stuff… As a result, I’m a tad late in participating in this week’s Pegman (having missed the last two!)

Kept things light this week…  Thanks to both Josh and Karen for hosting this weekly special.

This week Pegman takes us to Taşlıçay, Ağrı, Turkey. You’re welcome to Karen’s street view and photo spheres anywhere within its borders to write your story. The Pegman challenge is to write 150 words or less inspired by the prompt.

Once your piece is polished, share it with others using the Linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ work is part of the fun!

©Vera Haber

Seeing Things Clearly

Scuba diving was their thing, their passion.  It was the reason their relationship still held after all these years.  Whenever they had differences, they would suit up and dive in, letting the water wash away any possible resentments, the bubbles from their tanks capturing all negativity and bringing them up to the surface where they would pop and disperse.

Twenty years into their relationship, they had visited countless masses of water, seen unimaginable species of fauna and flora.

“Hey, wanna try Balik Lake in Turkey?  I know we usually go for salt water, but this one is super clear, 70 metres at its deepest and 2250 metres above sea level.  Would definitely be something new.”

“We’re gonna freeze our buns off!”

“Nah, we’ll go in summer – though the option does exist to dive under the ice.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

“Cool, eh?  Funny girl.” He gave her a big kiss. “Let’s go!”

 

 

It’s What Nourishes Me

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

— Virginia Woolf

I have come to realise that without my friends and family, I am lost.  The words used for me are often “resilient” or “strong” or “capable”…. There is only one way for me to be that.  To connect with my friends and family when I need the extra strength to move forward.

I have always been this way, apparently!

My mother likes to tell me a story, of which I have zero recollection by the way, of a punishment she doled out to me when I was, I dunno… 4? 5? 6?  I’ll have to ask her.  Turns out it was the ultimate, primo, perfect punishment for one such as me.  You see, I was a biter.  I wasn’t happy with you or what you said or did?  I’d bite.  Drove my mother batty.  She threatened more than once to break my teeth with a hammer… ‘course she didn’t.  (And by the way… I STILL bite – so it may have worked only short-term, Mom.  If we’re wrestling or I’m being held down and I feel I can’t break free – I’ll bite you!  Consider yourself warned…)

Anyway, back to my story.  I bit, probably Dougie Dixon, my neighbour, once too many times.  My mother decided that my punishment was for me to stay in my yard, no friends could come over, not even cross the line (grass) and I couldn’t go anywhere for THREE DAYS! (She later realised that one and half days probably would have sufficed as it became more of a punishment to her as I moped and whined and complained.)  THREE DAYS!  It was torture.  No friends?  None?  Not one?  Be alone… They came to the house and my mother told them… “No, Dale can’t come and play with you.  You see, she is an animal and bites…”  Oh, the horror…

Why am I boring you all with this now?  Because I was feeling rather “meh” and frankly, lonely, these past two days… It’s amazing how you can share your house with three young adults and still feel like you are all alone.

This afternoon, I went Bob Burrowes’ funeral (my late dad’s girflriend’s baby brother).  Like my dad, like Mick, every single picture of Bob in the video they had playing on a loop showed his big-ass grin.  This guy, gone too soon via massive heart attack at the age of 67, had a lust for life and people just like Dad and Mick.  The number of people who showed up is a testament to this guy.

Many knew both my dad and Mick so there was some reminiscing going on.  Moments of sadness mingled with smiles of remembrance.

I left from there to shoot down to Montreal to join friends for Giselle’s birthday supper.  And THIS is the point of my going on and on… Jeez… Written diarrhea anyone?

Surrounding myself with people who love me and who I love is what nourishes me.  Keeps me from losing my mind.  From finding myself going too deeply into sadness.  I am blessed.  I can’t help wonder if that is what was missing from Anthony Bourdain’s life.  From Robin William’s.  From so many others who took their own lives.

And, because I can’t always be serious.  As I was parked two streets over and two blocks ahead, Dany and Giselle gave me a lift to close to my car.  I insisted they not go out of their way.  I got out of the car, crossed the two streets and…. promptly walked north instead of south.  Three blocks later, I think… jeez… didn’t walk that far to get to the restaurant, did I?  Turned around and started worrying that my car had been towed.  Dumbass.  I was further south than I thought.  That’ll learn me to pay attention to, not only the street I am parked on, but the cross street too!

Julie mentioned a fabulous App called “Waze” that tells you where the cops are, the potholes, which streets are suddenly blocked off, which bridges are closed… so I used that and realise that… yay!  Despite seeing the tail end of some fireworks (effing annual competition…) my bridge home was NOT closed…

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

61. Finding reasons for getting together

62. Nourishment of friends

63. Finding my car

64. No closed bridges on my way home

65. Great readers who also supply me with love and friendship (yes, Frank, this does include you!)

 

What a Great Saturday!

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.”
Charles E. Schaefer

As much as I went on about being “lazy” the other day’s post, Saturday I definitely took advantage of all that was offered to me.  To hell with house-work, garden-work, work-work.

Though I had gone to bed at 2 a.m. (thank you, Linda for keeping me up late regaling me with your fabulous three months in Italy – I would call you names in jealousy but I cannot as I am so happy for you to have done this trip all by yourself) and woke up at 4 a.m. with a sudden sneezing/runny nose fit (I swear, it felt like a bug had gone up my nose and planted a cold there, with no gentle warning signs), I was up and at ’em at 8:30-ish, though I had at least another half-hour before my alarm went off to prepare for a day of sailing with my friend, Jean-Louis.  He has a lovely 25′ sailboat that he keeps at Pointe-Claire Marina.   By the time I did the stuff I had to do, I ended up leaving the house by 9:50 instead of 9:30.  Texted him to let him know I was on slo-mo and got a response of “no problem”.  He lives a hop, step and a jump from the marina so no biggie for him.  Turns out it was a good thing as the little tender they offer to get you to your mooring doesn’t start until 10:30 anyway.

We gathered all our stuff and climbed aboard.  Lovely boat indeed.  I was suddenly brought back over twenty-five years ago on my father’s sailboat “Footloose”.  Many happy memories attached to that beautiful Bayfield.

I knew we were gonna have some fun when I noted the sign just inside the cockpit… and J-L poured his home-made sangria into these insane 32 oz thermal glasses…

So we left the marina in Pointe-Claire around11 a.m. and wanted to go all the way to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, which is the most western tip of Montreal Island.  Both towns are part of the area known as the West Island (or as I like to call it, the Waste Island 😉 )  The wind was not the best and since we had some time restraints, we decided to motor out, knowing we would be able to make our way back by sail.  We had to stop in Beaconsfield (half-way) for gas and then continued on our way.

Jean-Louis really knows this lake, called Lake Saint-Louis, pointing out various areas.  When we were across the way from Dany and Giselle’s hometown of Notre-Dame-de-l’ïle-Perrot, I texted them sending them a picture with a “Hey!  I’m in your back yard!

View of Île Perrot

Apologies for the crappy picture.  I stupidly did not bring my real camera and, as nice a pics are with my phone, they suck big time when it comes to zooming, not so fabulous.

We had to “drive” through a canal – the water is so very high right now…

And finding parking… who’d a thunk it would be such a bitch to find parking for a boat?

We went through, turned around, went towards one slot but didn’t like it as it was on the point of the bay and would have had a helluva time with the currents, realised a space had opened up and got a great spot!

Some peeps hang out in groups so they can raft up.

We had lunch in a new restaurant called Taverna, a blend of Greek and Italian cuisines.  Sitting on the terrace, we froze our buns off but the food was decent.

Heading back, we had a good wind right behind us, so Jean-Louis opted for his genoa sail.  We flew all the way home.

Many beautiful homes and St-Joachim Parish of Pointe-Claire – a church that actually faces the water instead of the street:  originally built in 1713, replaced in 1750-1755, a third church was added between 1868-1881, the whole thing destroyed by fire in 1881.  The one we see now, was consecrated in 1885.

I needed to be back at the marina by five o’clock, latest, so I could take a shower and make my way to St. Lazare where friends were meeting for pizza before a benefit concert at Bar Chez Maurice to raise funds for palliative care for a local organisation.  Four bands participated but we were most interested in Cinema V – friends of ours being members.

The other bands were CHESS, RUSTY (with Cinema V guitarist) and LIKWID (with Cinema V guitarist, bassist and singer).

Each band played a 45 minute set with a 30 minute break and set-up for the next one.

So… little history lesson… Dany (drummer) and I were prom dates waaaaay back in 1981! For those of us who have been following me for a while, you’ve seen pictures of Dany, his wife, Giselle, and a few more of us.  We’ve always kept in touch but, in the last three years, more effort has been made.

A few years after we dated, the band won a competition with the local rock station CHOM 97.7 and went to Japan… how cool is that?  Ya gotta love that ’80’s look…

Cinema V John, Marcello, Nigel, Dany, Radford

Now, all in their 50’s (just recently for you, Rad!) – all have aged rather well, if I do say so myself!

John, Marcello, Nigel, Dany, Radford

‘Course, I had to zoom in a bit on Dany…

As “groupie-wife”, Giselle, all sparkly-eyed, basked in her husband’s prowess… I kept trying to catch her as she watched Dany but I swear, that woman sees a camera, she instantly turns and smiles…

I figure I’ll end this little ramble with a snippet of one of Cinema V’s original songs…

To think they hadn’t played together in 26 years!

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

  1. Music concerts with friends
  2. Sunshine and wind on my face
  3. Sailing – had so missed it
  4. Taking the whole day to do stuff just for me
  5. Going to bed with ears still ringing from the musical night

 

 

 

 

Head High, Walk On – Friday Fictioneers

Good Wednesday evening, my peeps.  It’s been a helluva beginning to my week and this is my first chance at writing my story for Friday Fictioneers, hosted, as always, by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields – the mistress of the short story.  This week she chose this cool photo from Jean L. Hayes.  You may use this photo only if you are participating in this challenge.  Otherwise, not cool.  To join in the fun, just write your story in 100 words or less, not including the title, and add your link by clicking on Monsieur Frog below the pic.  It’s fun and addictive.

Copyright ©Jean L. Hayes

Get ze link

Head High, Walk On

She waltzed through life exuding confidence.  Her smile was often referred to as a welcoming beacon.  The day she was called in and told that she was “too familiar” with the clients and that two of them had complained about her, that confidence was shaken.

What the hell does that mean?  How did she go from being a “favourite” to many, to being “too familiar”?

While at first she was stunned, as the day went on, hurt and dismay set in.

By evening, she chose to hold her head high and walk on.  She would not change who she was.

 

Time to ‘Fess Up.

It’s true.  I cannot lie.  I am lazy.  No, no, don’t bother, ye who get “exhausted” reading my posts about all the things I have to take care of.  No, no.  That’s me being pushed against the wall, forced to take care of whatnot and whoseit, truth be told.  I so love a clean house.  Hate cleaning it.  I love a beautiful garden.  Hate weeding it.  Love a clean car.  What is UP with men getting all excited to clean theirs?  I think my mother rubbed off on me!  She always says she was meant to be a “Poule de Luxe” – which literally translates to a “Luxury Chick”  I could  be A-OK with sitting on my arse, book in one hand, something cool and refreshing in the other and while away the hours while someone else does the work.  Of course, I would never have that satisfaction you get from a job well done.  Or done as well as it could be.

I do this to myself EVERY SINGLE YEAR!  I take a stroll around my front yard and note the roses are surrounded, kept from showing off.  Those evil weeds just keep coming back.  I do have to hand it to them.  They are so very clever, insinuating themselves around the bases of plants that will gladly rip my skin off as I bring an end to their existence.  Of course I could use a claw-thingy (oh look, it’s called a “Cultivator” – thank you Google), and I do… but let’s face it, you can’t remove the corpses with other than your hands, encased in gloves, or not.

Having finally cleared out the weeds, I walked around my little “patio” in the front and was promptly refused access by the overgrowth of some tree – sorry.  I have absolutely NO idea what each and every plant is except for the lilac – and that’s coz I love them and I planted it there.  Anyway.  I sure hope my timing was okay but I spent a good hour pruning said trees and bushes so that I could, if I so wanted to set myself up to, sit on my little patio and watch any passersby pass by.

I can tell you.  I foolishly (or not) did not take any before pictures, but it shore to look perty now…

Now that I am looking at the picture, I am reminded that my, ummm, “shaping skills” must next be made to work on hedges and other shrubs… that one in the patio pic, in the back… looks like it’s having a bad hair day, morning-after-the-night-before style, don’t you think?  Maybe I should leave them to the experts.  Like when I call them, because I so want to spend more hard-earned dinero on this house before selling it, to trim my cedar hedges.  Mick used to do it every year but, since I need to pay, I think ever two is just fine.  Which means it’s this year.

Speaking of Mick, lemme just apologise to him right now – again.  He used to do almost all this stuff by himself.  The trimming of trees and laying down of mulch – reminder to self:  GET THE BLOODY MULCH so I don’t have to break my back for the rest of the summer.

And, finally, I get to the point of my post.  Talk about taking the scenic route…

Why, oh why, did your work ethic NOT rub off on us, Mick?  OK… maybe it was too late for me, (old dogs and all that) but could you not have been that little bit more influential on your sons?  They really did not have to take after me in this certain aspect.  OK… Maybe I’m being a little harsh on myself, maybe I’m not lazy per se, just not particularly organised, or rather, consistent.  It would definitely make my life a lot easier if I were.

So, I’m trying to change things up here.  I’ve been trying to show the boys that doing a little each day keeps things less discouraging.  That, I, too, work a full-time job but still get shit done.  That it’s okay to have moments to relax (post on my fabulous yesterday to come tomorrow) but that there must be times spent doing one’s share.  Would be insanely fabulous if they could do so without my having to nag and complain.

Trying to have MY newfound work ethic rub off on them…

… or something along those lines… 🙂