home-cooked rabbit

One of the benefits of visiting in Toronto is eating really good food.

At my cousins’ in Pickering, the food is simple, healthy and delicious. The wine is plentiful and the atmosphere is homey, congenial and full of laughter.

At Frank’s it’s Nouveau-Calabrese with a healthy absence of all things wheat, carbs and sugar. Breakfast is homemade granola, fruit chased by strong Lavazza espresso. And because it’s morning it’s a Cappuccino. Lunch is homemade soup, homemade olives a la Calabrese, (smashed and jarred in a salt brine until ready to eat), finocchio (fennel) and salad. The beverage for this repast is a red wine at room temperature. On Tuesday, dinner was eggplant parmigiano and on Wednesday the meat dish was baby-goat, his mother’s recipe. (He had to go out to Scarborough to a Middle-Eastern butcher to get the baby-goat and he had to buy half the goat. He has a goal for after his hip surgery, he’s determined to find a butcher who has milk-fed baby-goat. That is supposedly the best.) Frank is famous for his small side-dishes; every meal has at least 6 or 7 small-sides and every meal has a fresh salad.

Late afternoon-tea is espresso and a piece of chocolate. This time, Frank had homemade chocolate truffles. He used a bitter chocolate this round, but they were still an amazing compliment to the rich dark coffee.

But the above served as prelude to what happened Thursday.

Background: when I visit Toronto, I begin in Pickering – the first suburb east of the city – and work my way back west, so that by the end of the visit I’m in Mississauga – the first suburb west of the city – visiting my Cumpare Joe.

Four of us – Joe, Carlo, Frank and I – went to dinner and Joe called in a favor and asked his friend Mike, the owner of Vivo Pizza and Pasta in Etobicoke, to make us a special dinner. He asked if Mike had any rabbit available.

It blew my mind to realize that I was going out to dinner and we were going to have a dish that was not on the menu; a dish the owner was making specifically for us.