It's a cloudy Easter Sunday here in Toronto. I'm just back in from my run, a longer leisurely one that's left me sweaty and happy. Funny how getting the blood moving usually gets the happiness current, the emotional qi, flowing too.
We had a celebratory supper last night, early because there was a small person E with us. The guys lit the Weber and we grilled bavette and then lamb, each drizzled with fish sauce and a little olive oil first. The lamb was in "steaks", cut from a leg, so there was a round of bone in the centre. It's a great cut, recommended to me by Dawnthebaker and her partner Ed. I'd also bought merguez from Sanagan's Meats. Those went on the grill and then we cut them up and dressed them with lime juice, fish sauce, and chopped shallots, making a kind of Thai salad, with mint leaves too, for colour and freshness.
I can imagine you thinking "that's a lot of meat!" Well, yes. Some of us like all of it; my kids don't love lamb, so the beef was aimed at them; and one friend can't eat chiles, so she had to skip the merguez. But we all had appetite.
As for the other elements: There was sticky rice, some black mixed in with the white so it was a lovely purplish handful, handy for scooping up a slice of lamb or beef or a piece of merguez with shallot. We oven-roasted beets and served them coarsely chopped, unpeeled. Jerusalem artichokes from QUebec roasted up quickly, and went out plain, looking like oddly shaped small potatoes. I made a sprout etc stir-fry, a made-up dish of chopped potato fried in mustard seed and turmeric oil and then joined by shiitake mushrooms from Ontario, and sprouted chickpeas and a new kind of sprouted seed combo now on the market here: fenugreek, lentils, and something else. It's a wonderful blend of soft (spud) and chewy, with great depth of flavour, especially when heightened with a splash of wine near the end.
At the sweet end, a friend D brought a chocolate pound cake she'd made with creme fraiche, that went quickly, thanks to the four twenty-somethings at the feast. Dawn had made a tart, a cross between cheesecake and custard, with ricotta, mascarpone? I think, and eggs. Delish. She put out a jar of poached apricots and we just balanced the fruit on the slice we were eating, each of us. It felt very sunny and Easter-renewal-ish that tart, and indeed the whole meal.
New sprouts, eggs, lamb, garlic chives from the garden that I chopped into a kumquat chutney, all these symbols of new life and springtime are heartening. But they'd have been a little sad and lonely if the weather had stayed as grim and chilly as it's been for most of April.
We got lucky yesterday though, with bright sun and temperatures at 19 or 20, T-shirt weather! I gardened in the back, cleaning up leaves and branches and packing them into recycle bags. It was too hot out there for clothing, so I worked in my jogging bra and pants, feeling the intense April sun beaming into me. Yes yes I need to be careful about UV on my skin, mustn't overdo it and all that. But oh the tonic of spring sun!
No wonder we had appetite last night for a good meal with friends and long discussions into the night. The other end of the evening came after midnight, when the Russian orthodox church down the street had its annual Easter Saturday procession: candles, priests in golden vestments, a huge crowd of people walking past carrying candles and icons and singing in Russian.. We stood by the edge of the road watching as they walked by, children and grandparents and everyone in between. Another year, another marker...
One of my kids asked me if I ever wished I believed so that I could take part in rituals like the one we were witnessing. "Not at all!" was my answer. It's remarkable to see people acting in concert, with an apparently common mind, but it is also at some level disturbing, don't you find? The coercion of the crowd is powerful and potentially very oppressive.
So, no thanks!
But a huge "YES" to spring and birdsong and short sleeves and bicycling, and children playing in the park, and strolling people chatting late at night in soft warmth.
Bring it on!