Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, March 19, 2018

A beetle, some Black Bear espresso & everything is right with the world

Woke up this morning knowing everything would be ok with the world today.  I have my beloved Black Bear beans back. Whoa ... aliteration before a second espresso! I experimented with another brand of espresso and well ... I'm a creature of habit.  The other espresso was good, but lacked the boldness and low acidity of my favourite bean. I love Muskoka Roastery.  I should hit the company up for a sponsorship ... I could babble all day about their beans. If they ship me a case of Black Bear I'd dedicate Memoirs to them.

Product label from Muskoka RoasteryThat's their label up there. For awhile I couldn't find it in any stores and was forced to try different brands. Just not the same. I almost did a happy dance when I spotted it back on the shelf yesterday.

AND a bonus day on top of having my Black Bear back, I found this sauntering along the livingroom floor:

Photo of a beetle wandering around my apartmentLovely, isn't he? I may be a complete and utter coward when it comes to spiders, but I have no fear when it comes to the rest of the bug kingdom. And he is gorgeous. Photo isn't that great, but you can see some of his colouring. He even has a little fuzzy butt. The white hairs stick out a bit, which amazed me. I didn't know beetles could have hairy bottoms.  Unfortunately, I suspect he's the one who's been munching on my morning glory, making it look like a wholey mess.

For the record, he's a Japanese beetle.  I'll have to do a bit of research and figure out a way to send them off to join the aphids.  Given the aphid devastation my plants endured, I'll take a wild guess and say Japanese beetles have zero interest in eating them. Why couldn't I attract lady bugs?



Little Portugal, French cooking & a lazy Monday afternoon in Toronto

Went for lunch with a friend this afternoon. She wanted to try Le Baratin, a French restaurant down on Dundas in Little Portugal (Toronto). We shared the Tartiflette (Emmental/Brie/Asiago potato tart, caramelized onions, eggs, cream) and Farçous, a spinach pancake (mushrooms, red pepper, goat cheese).... it was the kind of meal that makes your eyes roll into the back of your head. No, really, you take a bite and your heart stops for a second as you process the flavours. Then you take a second bite, your eyes sink into the back of your head and your brain screams "oh yes, oh oh YES".  Next time I go, I'll ask if the meal comes with gastronimic heart paddles, just in case my heart doesn't restart.

I didn't take any photos of the food - I was too busy eating and talking. What's a meal without good conversation, right? I'm not big on photographing while indulging my taste buds anyway.  Seems like a waste of time, the food comes at just the right temperature and it feels like an insult to the chef to piss around with a camera instead of eating.

It's a small place so you might want to go during off times or book a table.  Here's Le Baratin's website: Go .. now ... eat....

Afterwards I sauntered along east, enjoying what was a picture perfect afternoon. I also popped into Brazil Bakery to bring some goodies home. Just the aroma alone, when you walk along the banks of fresh bread, is enough to drive anyone off the into fantasy land. It's been a long time since I wandered along Little Portugal. I grabbed quite a few photos that I'll post over in the Photo Log section eventually. I have posted one shot that amused me - the greatest statement on politics I've ever seen. I usually rush through the neigbourhood going from point a to point b, which is a shame. I'll have to go back on a regular basis, especially for the bakeries.  Well, more work to do so ... later.

Le Baratin on Dundas, Little Portugal, Toronto


We'll always have the chili peppers

The best I can say is my balcony garden is green.  My tomatoes don't seem to want to tomato. They just sit there teasing us, taunting me with potential.  I don't think they like me.  My herbs are doing well, although I think I crowded my basil a bit too much, they aren't as big and bushy as I like. But they taste great. The orgegano is awesome, thank you for asking. 

Most of my peppers are ... sad ... bad ... and apathetic. They just didn't want to grow. If the weather holds out, I may get some late peppers in the fall.  However, one pepper is doing reasonably well:

photo of pepper plant I looked out earlier in the week and saw the red peaking through the green and almost did a happy dance.  The wind blew the little identifier marker away a long time ago so I don't have a clue which one it is. Couple day or two and I should have the first one to try. Lovely colour on it. Can't wait to see how hot they are.

Attack of the ATOMIC SPIDERS at midnight

Ok, I’m admitting to a severe spider phobia.  Snakes, preying mantis (which are the coolest creatures in the entire bug kingdom by the way), all sorts of crawly/flying things … not a problem. Slap a spare pair of legs on that body and my instinct is to go running at top speed in the opposite direction.   

I don’t hate spiders; I’m simply knee wobbly terrified of them.  Spiders and I have had a long standing truce over the years, they stay out of my room and I don’t go out of my way to harass them. It’s worked quite well for over 2 decades. Until last night that is.  I was in bed watching some random garbage when a HUGE … I mean H-U-G-E spider skittered up the tv screen. He must have been at least 10” long …. Ok .. he was about ½” long … but he sure as shit looked huge to me.  The first thought that scrambled through my scrambled brains was “OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT”. The second thought was “Can I wake up my 78 year old mother to catch that spider”. I nixed the second idea, but I seriously thought about it. I actually peaked out the door to see if her light was on.  Yes, I am a coward.

So … I spent most of the night wondering where he was. At one point I panicked and thought he was on my bed, which led to a quick whipping off of the covers and a shake (both me and the blankets).  This morning I banged my runners together and shook them, just in case he was lurking there (I really have to stop watching Australian nature shows…. Their damned spiders are the stuff of nightmares) and inspected my clothes before putting them on. Chances are, he isn’t even in the room any longer. But tonight, I’ll don armour and go and search all the crevices.

When I was a kid, vacations with my dad and his wife inevitably ended up in some kind of a spider admiration group hug. Do you know how many spiders there are in the Everglades? No, do you? I could never live there. The two of them would stop at every fricking spider web and ooohhh and awe over it.  Oh and yes, take photos of them…. Yup … photos. Bad enough we were standing in a swamp that had alligators and spiders, they wanted to take souvenir photos of them. I once muttered something about next time they should leave me at home and take the spiders on a nice vacation, which, as you can guess really didn’t go over well.

Read more: Attack of the ATOMIC SPIDERS at midnight

Heartbreak on Tomato Ridge - more tales from my balcony garden

The gardening gods conspire against me ... aphids, withering heat, smog and wind have all played a role in my balcony garden woes. I finally beat back the last of the aphids, admittedly, I think yesterday's furious winds might have blown away most of the stragglers. But holy cats… when those little bastards entrench themselves, they don’t give up. I finally uprooted a bit of oregano and surrounded two afflicted peppers … yes, they are up to their leaves in leafy, lush herbs. I also go out and prune the garlic chive moat around the other pepper. Since doing that, there hasn’t been a sighting on any of the peppers. I’ve taken to muttering “I love the smell of chives in the morning”.

The morning glory has been a different beast! That was the last aphid bastion and they stubbornly clung to every leaf. I soaked some tomato leaves in water and sprayed the leaves for days and days and days… each time they reappeared, I’d blast them. Finally, my balcony is aphid free! Mr Morning Glory is looking quite robust and aggressive. It’s now hanging down onto the balcony below, looking for more things to grab onto.

But … sigh ….

I’m in mourning ….

Read more: Heartbreak on Tomato Ridge - more tales from my balcony garden

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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."

- Albert Camus

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