BY LJHere is a photograph of Emily and I! It’s doing an amazing job of illustrating our relationship dynamic. Emily’s so “wild”! She really is. Usually, in relationships, I’m the “wild” one, but that just goes to show you how truly wild Emily is. I am comparatively innocent. I feel like if Emily and I were two of the Beatles, we’d be Ringo and George in 1975. She’d be Ringo on a bender in LA, and I’d be George in England gardening.
Emily and I work together. I am Emily’s boss, to be exact, which is very cool for Emily. Last night, Emily and I talked on the phone until 3 AM- she was drinking wine at her apartment; I was drinking bourbon at mine- and we decided that we are “girl code best friends.” Emily’s fiance was sleeping on the couch next to her, and she kept poking him awake and asking “Do you know what girl code best friends are? What are girl code best friends? What does girl code best friends mean?”- it was very funny for me. Obviously, her fiance didn’t know what girl code best friends are. No man can.
I just wanted to take a second to shout out a couple of other cool moments from Emily and I’s friendship. We first fell in love last October, when we were standing behind a bar lining baskets with napkins and filling them with tortilla chips, and then we started saying “Basket. Basket. This is a basket. I’m touching a basket,” and thinking about how weirdly big of a part of lives baskets are, working at a Mexican restaurant, and then the word basket/concept of a basket became very funny to us, we were crying and laughing and saying “basket” over and over again- so that’s how it all began. With baskets.
A few weeks ago, after Father's Day dinner service, we ordered two desserts and ate them out of take-out containers in the kitchen; I’m not going to get too deep into it but it was definitely one of those moments where I stepped outside of myself and looked in on the situation and thought “This is why I write.” One day, I’m confident, I will write about that desserts-eating incident exuberantly and in great detail. Later that night, Emily rapped a medley of Will Smith songs- “Gettin Jiggy Wit It,” “Just The Two Of Us,” and “Miami.” Maybe I’ll write about that too, and win myself a fucking Booker Prize.
Last Thursday, Emily and I went out for dinner at the Hoof Raw Bar. Have you ever heard of the Black Hoof? Probably not, if you’re not from Toronto, which you’re probably not. Well, it’s a restaurant. I don’t know. It’s very cool, and serves you all the nasty-sounding bits of the animal that imagining yourself eating make you feel like barfing, only in this case they’re some of the best things you’ve ever eaten, I think- I have no idea. We didn’t go there. We went to the Hoof Raw Bar, the Black Hoof’s sister restaurant across the street, which is the same general vibe and concept only with seafood, and brunch. We chose Raw Bar over regular Black Hoof mostly because Emily wanted us to drink tomato cocktails, and I am 1975 George Harrison- happy to drink a tomato cocktail, eager to chill and please.
Emily picked me up in her car and we parked in front of some ugly condos on Manning Avenue which looked like they were made of mahogany Tetris pieces. We walked to Raw Bar and ordered two tomato cocktails- we both had the English: “horseradish, gin, hot saue, worcestershire, curry, lime, tomato.” To be honest I wasn’t initially that jazzed on the concept of drinking tomato cocktails exclusively, I was just kind of “along for the ride,” but the English sure showed me who's boss: it is. It was like the Bloody Mary equivalent of the exact moment when you’ve just finished snorting a line of cocaine and you look out at the world in front of you and it’s exactly the same as it always was only sharper and harsher and you’re fucking psychotic and everything about this analogy’s pretty lame but also spot on the money and honestly what do I fucking care if anybody else ever does cocaine or not or decides to try cocaine because I wrote that sentence. If anything, try the English. The rim around the side was curry powder and I just wanted it to keep regenerating itself. The horseradish was very pronounced. I sort of relate to horseradish, on a conceptual level. I believe that I am "like" horseradish.
The first dish we tried was a shrimp ceviche. I feel like it would be a cute thing to eat on a date. I feel like girls must look really lovable eating it. The person who invented the dish probably wanted it to be “playful” and “elegant.” It had some sort of jelly on the bottom of the dish that I remember liking but really it took us about two seconds to eat the whole thing so I didn’t have a ton of time to form any huge or meaningful opinions about it. I guess it was playful and elegant. It was hard to get all the components of the dish into one bite at the same time so a lot of my bites were like “This is a jalapeno” or “This is a piece of grapefruit.” I wish I could eat about fifteen times the amount of the portion mashed up in a big bowl with a side of the taro chips. I’d give it a rave review.
Next up we had some fish snacks, which makes you feel so cute to order- “I’ll have the fish snacks”- like you’re a little cat. I guess they switch the fish snacks up, but our round of fish snacks was:
1. On the right- smoked fish spread with some chips and little avocado pieces, the smallest avocado pieces there ever were. Haute stoner food. Kind of forgettable.
2. In the middle- fish pakora with tamarind ketchup. I loved them because I love all pakora. I love all pakora unconditionally. Even the dryest pakora, I adore. When I was in high school I wrote a lot of short stories about me-characters eating banana pakora in New York City with dream dude-characters, on dates, and I’d never eaten a banana pakora but the idea of it was perfect to me, and just the words: banana pakora. I’d like to work at a restaurant with banana pakora on the menu so I could get to say banana pakora every day. I’m sitting alone in my restaurant saying banana pakora out loud to myself and smiling because I get such a genuine kick out it. My mouth likes to make those shapes.
3. The last fish snack I tried was my favorite- this Japanese-style octopus. I know there is a name for it. It’s not okonomiyaki, but it’s very close to okonomiyaki. It was the same deal, with the squiggly mayonnaise and sauces, only not a pancake. It was beautiful. I had this one really chive-y bite, and the chive was cut so thin, like tissue paper, and the chive against the chewy octopus bound together with the gluey sauce was really perfect, and right, and it was so small, like a baby tooth, swishing around your mouth and you’re afraid you might swallow it whole.
Next up was the cured fish board, which we ate it from right to left. On the far end was albacore with citrus, which was overshadowed by bolder flavours while I was eating it, but now that the night’s over and I ate that meal four days ago, I’ve been thinking about that albacore a lot. It was very gentle. It was a nice person. It reminded me of the Tocca perfume called Stella, which I own but never wear because I don’t want to just smell like some girl. But the reason why I bought the Stella was because I tried it on once and kept sniffing my wrist and thinking of the color pale blue as well as a little segment of clementine crystallized with white sugar, and then I kept imagining a white wine that would taste like crystallized clementine, and thinking about how much I wanted that wine; I wanted that wine so bad that all I could do was buy the perfume instead. This albacore was the fish equivalent of my wine wish.
Next up was the tandoori trout. It was a loud joker. Everyone in the world would love it. Home run.
In the middle was pickled mackerel, which we were both obsessed with. We ordered bread and butter with our fish board, the bread was hot and the crust cracked in a very romantic way which made me think of people falling in love in, like, Germany a long time ago. Like, Hansel and Gretel-style people. I liked making myself little pickled mackerel and bread and butter sandwiches. It was such honest food. It was like wood, and calloused hands.
The chorizo scallop was stupid. I liked it while I was eating it the same way I like eating a Dorito while I am eating it. Then the second I’m done I’m like, “That was stupid.” Not of me, but of the thing, for existing. It was chewy and gummy and tasted like the taste of chorizo. I am not remembering it fondly at all.
The last one was a jambalaya pickerel, which was not as flavourful as I’d anticipated- the board was supposed to move from subtlest to loudest-tasting- but I liked it because it flaked off itself nicely. It had almost like an imitation crab texture to it, and I mean that as a compliment. When I was a kid and I ate imitation crab for the first time I like FREAKED OUT because I loved it so much. I probably ate an entire pack of it in a day. On the side were those lanky oniony things at the top, which I couldn’t even figure out the taste of as I was eating them. They made literally no impression on me. The cute little rosebuds beneath them were amazing. I don’t know what they were. Pickled little rosebuds. Little hearts.
I ordered a second English, and Emily had a Tequila Maria, which was guajillo tequila, Valentina hot sauce, cilantro, lime, orange, and tomato. It was incredibly floral. It was, like, SPRING. It was like May the 2nd. I think we would have loved it if we hadn’t tried the English first, but the English was perfect, and will overshadow every tomato-based drink I ever drink again. Also, our server was a really beautiful man. But you could see his phone through his pocket, which inspires a bit of an eye roll. No disrespect to him, it’s rampant these days, but I’m personally getting kind of tired of seeing guys’ phones through their pockets. It’s just, like, not that charming. I want to see your wallet, or like, you know. Your dick.
While we were ordering our second-round of drinks I impulse-ordered myself a Filet-o-Fish. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t leave the restaurant without ordering a Filet-o-Fish. I love Filet-o-Fishes, like, actual Filet-o-Fishes. They are one of a mere four items on the McDonald’s menu that I give a fuck about: second to strawberry sundaes, closely followed by egg McMuffins and french fries. I don’t think I ever ate a Filet-o-Fish with my grandfather but I always associated them with him. Every time I ordered a Filet-o-Fish when I was young my mom would tell me he loved them, which was nice to hear, because you kind of need a little bit of emotional support when you’re ordering a Filet-o-Fish. It’s obviously sort of a dorky thing to do. Our server, we found out, had never eaten a Filet-o-Fish in his life, which didn’t surprise me. Imagine watching an exceptionally handsome man eat a Filet-o-Fish? You’d be like, “Um, didn’t you mean a Big Mac?” Actually, I feel like he must have been a McChicken eater. Now I’m getting paranoid that he’s reading this.
Point being, the Filet-o-Fish was fucking amazing. The real star of it, I think, is the milk bun, because of the way your teeth sink through it really fast, and then all of a sudden you’re at the fish part, long before you expected your teeth and tongue to get there, and you’re just socked in the GUT with this immense wave of SALTY, and the fish is so hot and the cheese is so squishy, and then there’s, like, FLAVOURS, so many more FLAVOURS than you expected, and of course it was very cute how it came all wrapped up in the red-and-white checkered paper.
I meant to take a picture of the Raw Bar bathrooms, too, because they were so lovely. At one point Emily went to the washroom and I watched the hot waiter give a cute barback and a cute tutorial in how to fold the red-and-white checkered paper into little cuplets, like diner french-fry style, and the barback was really struggling, but the hot waiter was so patient. It was a real treat, let me tell you. After dinner Emily and I sat on a curb outside the ugly condominiums. I’m not normally a person who demonstrates any tremendous amount of interest in “funny Youtube videos,” but she showed me this six second long video of this cute-ish teenager saying “This is how I kiss… DOGGIES,” and then putting a dog’s entire snout in his mouth. I don’t know why it’s so weirdly funny but we watched it about fifteen times, and I laughed so hard I cried.