Adventure Time gifs, Beast Toronto, bus, Cat bff, cat moments, cats on newspapers, condensed milk, dim sum, eyepatch guy, fallen statue, guangzhou almond cookie, maintaining consistency, office hours, Queen's Park, sandwich parameters, sandwich rules, sandwiches are an important part of my life philosophy, shame, Skydragon, TA problems, tapioca and melon, The Beast, unhealthy cat love
So I had office hours on Halloween. The students didn’t really understand the assignment and I tried to help them, but sometimes I feel like they’re either not listening carefully, or they interpret what I say as “yes you are doing the right thing and you can ignore all this other advice I’m saying.” I wore my yellow light bulb “crown” which I made by tying them onto a piece of twine and then tying it round my head. I am a Halloween genius.
The next morning I woke up bright and early and moderately panicked to go to Toronto. I ended up leaving the house later than usual, so I caught the bus instead of walking like I usually do. I thought for some time that I’d dropped my T-Card ending my reign of terror on the unsuspecting libraries at U of T my reign of terror simply being sitting there and writing, but one does have to start small… Spoiler alert: It was on the floor of my entrance corridor in my apartment when I got home on Monday morning (at like, 3:15 am). The train ride was relatively uneventful, and even though I was late, I did get my window seat.
I arrived in town and headed for one of my undergraduate haunts, the Tim Hortons at King and John, where I finished a large part of my thesis. I sat at the table by the outlets, and had some tea and what is a rare but delicious doughnut at Tim’s, the old-fashioned dip (an old-fashioned doughnut with chocolate on top – not to be mixed up with its fluffier cousin, the chocolate dip). I managed to finish some work, and then I went to meet my old friend Elias to go to an exciting lunchtime bonanza at The Beast.
The Beast apparently has an exciting lunch special, that being $10 for a sandwich around a secret theme which is tweeted earlier in the week (this week’s theme was Vientiane, which immediately reminded me of John Le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy), some form of side dish, and a dessert. I am a self-admitted sandwich connoisseur. I think it’s in my blood. The availability of decent, affordable sandwiches in England is probably the best in the world. I can eat sandwiches all day everyday, as long as they’re within my sandwich-parameters (see below). I breathe sandwiches. In no particular order, my sandwich-parameters by element
- Bread: I am not a picky person when it comes to bread type. I am partial to seeded bread, but I do also like a good white bread with crusty exterior. Even soft white bread can make a good sandwich, when done right, but the most important thing about the bread is that it is not stale. Also it should not be overly dry (can be solved with a spread/sauce), though that’s usually an issue of slice-thickness more than anything. The last important element of the bread is that it should not be wet – this appears to contradict the previous point, but what I mean by wet is that it has soaked up some sort of moisture, e.g. that horrible rubberiness that occurs when tomato makes contact with bread. The toasted/untoasted issue is only a thing when you’re at home or have access to a toaster – otherwise you cannot have a toasted sandwich as such. It will be cold and sad.
- Spread/sauce: Personally, I like just butter, but it should be spread evenly, and there shouldn’t be too much of it. The amount of spread/sauce should be enough to add to the flavour or moisture of the sandwich, but it shouldn’t overpower the other elements. I’m a really big fan of this fancy onion chutney I obtained at John Lewis when I was in England – the jar’s almost over though, so I’ll probably switch to Branston Pickle or something more easily obtainable. I am not a fan of butter with other condiments, but this is acceptable.
- Cheese: Only if it truly goes with the sandwich. Of course, given that there are so many different cheeses, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one for your sandwich. Using a soft cheese like brie as more of a spread is delicious – and it goes with onion chutney, should you choose to include it. I prefer hard cheeses to be sliced fairly thinly, because again, a sandwich is the unity of all its elements. One element shouldn’t overpower the other. My favourite sandwich cheeses generally tend to be the crumblier English cheeses, like Wensleydale or Cheshire.
- Vegetables: This is where you add texture to your sandwich. I do like lettuce, but be mindful of the different varieties and how they complement the other flavours in your sandwich. Red lettuce/romaine/butter lettuce/Boston lettuce have a fairly neutral flavour. Rocket has a nice bitter tang, and spinach or baby spinach are fairly sweet. All of them add a bit of bulk or texture to the sandwich. Thinly sliced carrots are also nice on a sandwich. I also like cutting up scallions and putting them on as well. Almost any vegetable can go on a sandwich, but again, like with cheese, if it’s hard, you should cut it thinly. Other random vegetable related things to note: sweet potato or yam makes a good substitute for meat, and avocado with a bit of salt makes a good spread, like the brie.
- Meat: Personal preference really dominates here. Personally, I like pork. A lot. I do like ham and salami, but other cold cuts don’t really do it for me. The key with cold cuts is to make sure they don’t make direct contact with the bread to avoid moisture transfer. I also like putting leftover meat from the night before on a sandwich. Chicken is particularly good, but make sure to cut it into smaller pieces to avoid dryness or the ‘thickness’ conundrum (if something is too thick, it can overpower the sandwich). Some meats cause me to break the sandwich rules – a bacon sandwich, for example, should have bacon on it (obviously), but the bread for me should be toasted (butter is not a necessity). Sometimes when I feel really bad, I fry the bread in the bacon fat (keeping the bacon warm in the oven, of course).
So given my ridiculous sandwich-parameters, imagine my moderate disappointment with the Beast’s special. It was a sort of Laotian bahn mi. The sandwich had a few fundamental flaws:
- Too few vegetables – the only vegetable on it was some sad, wilted cilantro, and it was not sufficient
- A bit dry at first – the filling didn’t reach the ends of the bread.
- Not enough variety in textures – a sandwich is a textural experience – fixing #1 would probably fix my other problems.
- The sandwich was essentially too big for the amount of fillings.
The sides were a sort of coleslaw which I expected to have mango in it from the menu (it didn’t appear to). It was ok, but a larger serving might have been nice. The dessert was pretty terrible. It reminded me of airplane food – actually the whole thing did. I ate a few pieces of the fruit before offering it to Elias, but he didn’t want it. I did finish the sandwich, mostly due to hunger, but if I wasn’t hungry, I’d probably have not finished it. Elias later told me it seemed to be an ‘off’ week, and that maybe the usual chef was off. But maintaining consistency is something important for a restaurant, even if it is a $10 lunch special. I would like to try The Beast again, but I probably will go in the evening and skip the sandwich.
We walked back to Queen West and parted ways (he had to go back to work). I streetcared up to Kate’s to harass her cats and do some more work. Her cats love me. I think. I know. Well, Kate said it. I love them too, because I’m a sad old lady.
Also why do cats always sit on newspapers? Is it something about the texture? The noise? The playability? I don’t get it. I bought the papers because Friday was the day of the Rob Ford scandal reaching its peak (though I think that every time something new happens). All I can say is that I didn’t vote for him… After doing my work and reading the papers, I left to walk down to the Elephant and Castle on Yonge, where I met my friends from the gym. I realised that I’ve known them for such a long time now. We all get on really well. It’s nice to meet up with people who genuinely care about you, and you likewise sincerely care for them. I’m glad Monica instigated it – she lives in Australia at the moment, so it was a really nice surprise to hear about her brief trip. The service at the restaurant was downright awful, but the food was actually pretty good, especially for the price. I had a bacon cheeseburger for $12, which included chips as well. The quality was excellent, but the waitress’s grumpiness really detracted from it.
At the end, Monica gave each of us an almond paste cookie from Guangzhou, which she bought at a famous bakery there. They’re vegan, and the texture is a bit different, but I really enjoyed it. I walked to Union station with Jesse, Caohan, and Rey, and we agreed to meet on Sunday for dim sum at Sky Dragon, which is a tradition of ours.
I am in love with the tapioca pearls + condensed milk + melon thing. I don’t even know what it’s called but I almost leapt out of my chair to ask the cart lady to give me one. It’s so good. I realise that about 3/4 of this post is about food, but the weird tapioca melon condensed mlik thing is so good I don’t even care.
Jesse, Rey, Caohan and I ended up wandering around for a bit downtown. Of course, we had to go jacket shopping. It seems both Caohan and Jesse have been, for almost 2 years, in a state of constant jacket shopping. Just buy a jacket! Pleaaasseeee!
I again waited for Kate to get home and we hung out for a bit and watched some bad television, like we always do. Then I had to leave to walk to the bus station since I am crazy and always take the 1am bus so I can spend more time with her. On the way there I found two cats who were adorable brown tabby twins, except one was thin, and the other really chubby, like Maru.
The chubby one actually followed me for almost two blocks and I tried to discourage it because we were about to cross a busy road. Luckily, it turned away, but then it stared at me until I left its field of vision. We had a moment. It was perfect. Though both cats rubbed against my legs, only chubby mc chubs followed me.
The only other eventful thing on my walk was that I saw a downed statue by Queen’s Park.
It was kind of exciting, I guess.
Anyways, time to get back to work.