Whilst recently traveling in the United Kingdom I had the good fortune to have some time to sit down and discuss Good Food and Wine with prominent British artist and all round splendid fellow David Shrigley. Topics of conversation include the great “British Banger” (read: sausage), the ubiquity of bland continental lagers, deep-fried pizza, smoked whale meat, foraging for mushrooms and offal.
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A few years back David Shrigley was passing through Toronto and so we had made plans to meet up for a couple of drinks to catch up. We had decided to meet at The Communist’s Daughter, a favourite spot of mine. However, with it being Canadian Thanksgiving, the “Commie” was unfortunately closed. That evening the weather was particularly bleak, torrential rain punctuated by horrendously torrential rain. As we were rapidly being soaked to the skin I decided that it may be a good idea to find the very first bar we could on the Dundas West strip. As chance would have it, we didn’t have to journey too far as we quickly found a Portuguese Sports Bar that didn’t look overly intimidating.
After ordering a couple of pints of beer, David and I sat down at a table near the window and watched the rain-drenched world go by as we chatted about our recent adventures and mutual friends. At some point in the proceedings I had happened to notice that most of the crowd of older Portuguese gentlemen were huddled around the bar… and they were all looking over at the two of us… rather intently. It was quite disconcerting actually.
After around 10 minutes or so one of the gentleman approached the table with a platter of Chorizo sausage. I pointed out that he must be mistaken as we hadn’t actually ordered any food. “Is on the house” he replied. I remarked to David that I should frequent this establishment more often if they always have complimentary sausage as it really was quite delicious.
Around 5 minutes later another fellow arrived with a platter of hard cheeese and small bowl of salt cod croquettes. Placing them down in front of us he told us that these too were “on the house.” I can distinctly remember making a mental note to myself that I REALLY needed to come to this little bar on a much more regular basis. All of this rather tasty free food. Amazing! Then something dawned on me…
“David, I cannot believe that you are now so well know that these blokes at the bar reconise you!”
“No Jamie, they probably recognise you. What with you being a well-known Toronto Sommelier and all that…”
“Ha! I doubt it… they probably think that I am that Mick Hucknall from Simply Red or something!!!”
Oh how we laughed. We sat there for another hour or so, consuming a fair number of pints in the process. Suddenly a huge cheer came up from the bar from the crowd of Portuguese fellows. The owner had found the CD that he had been scurrying about downstairs for… Simply Red blasted through the bar’s tinny soundsystem… “Somethings got me started…”
“David, are you alright if we leave now?…”