Saskatoon Round 2: Bottega Trattoria

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Last weekend Saskatoon really won me over with its sunny open skies and green parks and their zoo that had two cougars in the same cage (that’s nuts right?). It helped that this time I stayed in Leah’s nice apartment in University Heights (and not the hotel that we stayed last month when we dropped her off, which was apparently the ‘hood of Saskatoon and a place my mother reacted to like one might react to having lice poured on their head. Combine that with daytime highs of 10 degrees in August and we didn’t get the nicest first impression of Leah’s new hometown. And my parents and I bond over nothing if not our shared obsession with Leah’s happiness, safety, and well-being. Often to the detriment of all three.)

Anyway on Friday night we went to Leah’s Coating Ceremony. It was at a nice hotel by the river and there was a big banquet for all the new vets and their guests to eat before they (the vets) got led out of the room and then led back in again by a guy playing bagpipes and then handed their stethoscopes and embroidered white lab coats (not by the bag piper… by some other people). Leah actually put so much food on her plate that by the time we got to the carving station she had no more space and I had to ask the chef for two pieces of roast beef and then wait for her to eat her way through a couple inches of real estate so I could put her share on her plate. It was a fun evening. Another vet student at our table, this real Saskatchewan cowgirl, kept asking me why I wasn’t eating any of the fancy cupcakes and making fun of me for taking fruit for dessert. Those crazy BC girls and their fad diets!

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On Saturday we ventured downtown, where you would think many businesses should be open and busy, but we couldn’t find a place to eat lunch. If there is a street where all the good restaurants are, we couldn’t find it. The places we did duck in to, just to scan the menu for gluten-freeness, were completely empty. Turns out this is pretty off-putting when deciding whether or not to eat somewhere. We left a place that boasted a 100% gluten-free menu for this very reason (and also for the reason that they had chili in a bread bowl on the menu, which obviously intrigues me. Turns out the “bread bowl” component of this particular dish isn’t gluten-free at all, it’s just regular old wheat bread carved into the shape of a bowl! A funny trick. So really it was like a 98% gluten-free menu, as Leah pointed out. We read on to find their page of sandwiches, which listed a gluten-free bun as a potential option, which suggests not only that there are other options at the 100% gluten-free restaurant but that gluten-free is not the default option, which is what you might assume in a place that says it’s 100% gluten-free. It was more like 72% gluten-free. The hostess did not understand why we were asking her about so many obvious things.)

Sadly this was not the most disconcerting restaurant experience we were going to have that day. We eventually chose to sit down at a place called Bottega Trattoria, which was basically empty but looked nice-ish and new-ish, and not cave-ish. We were sold when the waitress confirmed that they “offered gluten-free options” (not giving away the farm with a “100%” guarantee. Get it? Giving away the farm? We’re in Saskatchewan!), and that they had gf pasta and pizza. So we sat down at one of the very crowded tall wooden tables, and our super beautiful waitress gave us menus (“Ugh she’s so pretty…I want to punch her in the face”-Leah).

We both ordered pasta and hoped for the best. The urban spoon reviews were pretty terrible, only scored 56%, but most of the complaints were about the service, and we really weren’t in the mood to keep searching for what was sure to be a similarly average meal a few blocks away (feeling quite cynical at this point).
While we sat there drinking our waters the owner came over and opened up the big glass garage door beside us, letting in not only the sunshine, but three drunk guys wearing what can only be described as shorteralls, into the restaurant.

Why they were wearing identical hick-costumes, and why they were blind drunk at one in the afternoon, we still don’t know. But we certainly had time to find out, because once they procured the necessary beverages to keep the party going, they swarmed our table and wouldn’t leave.
So just to review: inside the restaurant you have one manager, one server, two paying customers, and three drunk guys in shorteralls. What happened next is as follows:

Guy 1: Hey ladies, what’s up, are you from here? (or something like that) (looks down at empty chair) Can I sit here?
Me: Vancouver, and no!
Guy1: (looks hurt) Hey don’t judge me, gargle blah blah blah, something indignant.
Guy 2: Sorry about him, he’s got no social skills. I used to be a runway model!
Guy 3: And now he’s the king of the rigs! He makes a lot of money, you know.
Guy2: So do you guys want a casual night out, or like a party night? Because I would suggest _____bar for dancing and ______lounge for just like, hanging out. Which one do you want to go to?
Guy1: Are you a redhead?
Guy2: How old do you think I am?
Guy3: Can I sit here?
Leah: I don’t want to eat lunch with you guys…
Guy 2: Let me guess, you’re a teacher.

And so on.
It wasn’t as if anybody was going to mistake them for our friends who just ran into us and were saying hi. We were two normal people, in normal clothes, waiting for our food. They were three hammered guys in shorteralls, standing way too close to our faces. The service staff, which made up the only other bodies in the building, watched this happen and didn’t do a thing about it. When one of them asked again to sit down with us and we again said no thank you, they sat down at the table that was right beside ours. At this point we had been waiting for our food for 40 minutes and there were NO OTHER CUSTOMERS in the restaurant. Leah proposed we exit out of the front window, just like our visitors entered. But we were too tired to find somewhere else to eat. When our food came and we were ready to just be alone and eat our pasta and get out, guy 3 said, a la Kanye to Taylor Swift, “ok I’m gonna let you enjoy your meals, but I need to ask you one question… I have a food truck called “Disco Dogs” and it’s like, doing, really good. Do you think I’d make it in Vancouver?”
Like how would I know? So we didn’t go out for a casual or dancing night, we stayed home so we wouldn’t have to try to find food again.

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Wanna go for a picnic? Alpaca lunch! (My favourite joke)(At the zoo with the two cougars)

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Amrikkos in Nanaimo

Amrikkos in Nanaimo

Last friday my mom, Leah, and I decided to go out for a little girls dinner after doing literally nothing for the whole day. First we went to Michael’s (craft store), for like an hour. That was our big exhausting errand. Then we headed to a tiny Indian restaurant (also the only Indian restaurant, and therefore the best Indian restaurant) on a Friday night at 7:30, which in a lot of cities would be pointless but it’s Nanaimo so we walked right in and got seated. Amrikkos is my favourite Indian food, bar none, although Jolly’s in Kits is also good but their butter chicken can’t hold a candle to Amrikkos (shout out to Jolly’s for making me chickpea naan bread that one time though, that was really nice of you.)

I usually don’t even feel like eating Indian food in this day and age, because about 3 years ago my family hit that HARD. We were cooking up butter chicken and eating naan from superstore like every weekend. Those were the gluten days. After that, I started making my own chicken korma with cashews and peas in it (obsession was re-ignited because BC Ferries temporarily offered a butter chicken entree, which was my favourite freakin thing and they TOOK IT OFF THE MENU. I will never understand them. First the baked potato, and then… Anyway their butter chicken had cashews in it, and came with little naan triangles, and I could polish off one of those babies before we even pulled out of Horseshoe bay.) So after my year of putting cashews into every kind of sauce I could find, I was really off Indian food for a while there. But Amrikkos is a whole other story, and I often forget I even have such delicious options when I am home in the land of no restaurants.
We ate: calamari (possibly the best I have come across in my celiac life), pakoras, veggie korma, butter chicken, rice, and there was naan and the little cheese block thingys for my mom and Leah. I’m back on the train.

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Italian Kitchen on Alberni

Italian Kitchen on Alberni

This is a picture of the food that Leah and I ordered on the night before her last exam, which would mark the completion of both of our undergrad degrees. We were feeling celebratory and sad, nostalgic and relieved, all at the same time. Obviously this meant we had to eat our feelings. And we did, with a veritable feast from Italian Kitchen downtown. We started off with a caprese salad (not pictured… hard to believe there was actually more food involved than is pictured), and Italian sodas (Leah had one more exam to write, at this point we were still “on the wagon”). What followed was the “pesce piatto” – grilled salmon, ahi tuna, tiger prawns, veggies, and the crowning glory of the meal, a gluten-free penne in a creamy citrus fennel/lobster type sauce (usually not a fennel fan… I dealt with it). This was topped off with a hunk of lobster that had obviously been pickled in butter prior to serving. If we had ordered a plate of just the pasta and lobster (the same size as the platter we got, of course), we might have finished it off. So. Good.
So good in fact that our waiter felt compelled to compliment us on our ability to consume enough seafood for a family of four. We let that one slide. He had crazy Twilight boy hair.
It felt good to be freshly done school. Leah is on to become a vet now, and I… am gonna just keep talking about the food I eat.

Milestones on 4th

Milestones on 4th

My mom and I went to get my sister from school today, because she is here for a few days and she brings her vehicle with her and to us it is supreme luxury to not take the bus anywhere, ever. We were just running to UBC, getting Leah, I was going to talk to my prof for 10 minutes, home. Done. But then they decided they wanted a snack. This was not part of the deal, and I was basically in my pajamas. Then they decided they didn’t just want a snack, they wanted a full on sit-down lunch at Milestones. I was against this choice for several reasons. The first was that the only things I can have there are big burgers and steaks and plates of pasta, and it was two in the afternoon and I just wasn’t feeling it. The second was that I looked just appalling. The third was more of a personal matter of principle for me, which was that I have tried to work at that stupid place like THREE TIMES because they are across the street from my house and they seem to ALWAYS be hiring and I swear I am over-qualified. Anyways.
We went in and sat in the little heated atrium place and it was all set to be a really nice girl’s time. Leah was being just a ridiculous person and was really hyper and wanted to order everything on the menu (“I just want to feel really FULL.”) I wanted to order nothing. My mom was asking that we just “have a nice lunch out together, please don’t suck the joy out of everything.” So I announced I would eat after all.

Leah: “REALLY!!!!!!! What are you going to get!!!!!!” (like I said, being a crazy person)
Me: the burger.
Leah: “oh really!!! What!!!”

She was just really excited. I don’t know.
I was curious about the burger because I have tried all the other stuff on their little gluten free menu (which I do appreciate, so thank you Milestones, you bastards-that-wont-hire-me), and because they do have really good bread that they order in from Milwaukee that I wish I could buy here. I had the avocado salsa/bacon topping choice, and it was darn good. My mom and Leah ate half of it because I had to stick to my guns and prove to them how un-hungry I was. But it was a very burger-y burger and I would probably do it again.

And yeah, obviously I took all that lettuce crap off of it.

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