Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Squid Eats: Kitano Shokudo

We have long been fans of Otto, a darn close to authentic Izakaya in Montreal.  However, until our most recent visit, we had never been to their sister restaurant, formerly Otto Bistro, recently rebranded as Kitano Shokudo.  While Otto specializes in yakitori and other typical (for Japan) bar food, Kitano Shokudo's menu covers a wider range: sashimi, sushi, noodle dishes, etc.  The cuisine also allows for more North American and specifically Quebecois influence.

Case in point, my wife ordered the duck confit with ramen noodles (mazemen).  Duck confit is, happily, a regional specialty.  She was pleased.  

I went more traditionally Japanese with chirashi, sashimi laid over a bed of rice.  It was in smaller pieces than I expect - not less food, mind you, just cut into smaller chunks.  It was all kind of jumbled together, salad style.  None of this was unpleasant.  I cleaned my plate.  Just different.

The atmosphere was less raucous than Otto and the space smaller.  A quieter meal.  It was a younger adult crowd for the most part, plus some families.  One family with little kids, who unfortunately couldn't be seated, was one we'd also seen at breakfast that morning.  Perhaps also travelers?  Our server was clearly gaijin (foreigner), though she comfortably switched between Japanese, English and French.  Eavesdropping on her conversations with others, I was not surprised to learn she'd had personal experience in Japan.  Prices were higher than at Otto's so a bit of a splurge.  A fine meal, nonetheless.

An odd quirk I noticed in the Montreal restaurant business on this trip: quite a lot of proprietors must be stereo equipment enthusiasts as their collections were often on display.  Such was the case at Kitano Shokudo.  

Friday, March 17, 2023

Star Trek: Gambit, Part II

Episode: "Gambit, Part II"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 18, 1993

via Memory Alpha

Last week's episode continues.  The attack on the Enterprise by the pirate ship was a ruse.  Riker modified the pirate weapons so they wouldn't harm the Enterprise.  Data, currently in command of the flagship, plays along with the game, feigning damage, allowing the pirates to run off believing they've disabled their pursuers.  Picard, meanwhile, discovers what the pirates are after in pilfering Romulan artifacts: an ancient Vulcan weapon.

Interestingly, most critics rate Part I over Part II but I prefer the latter for the simple reason that the acting's better.  There's a lot more Picard and Patrick Stewart spars wonderfully with guest stars Richard Lynch and Robin Curtis.  The secondary narrative tension between Data and Worf is satisfying.  A spin off series with Data as Captain and Worf as First Officer?  I'd be excited for that show.

I'm not such a fan of the ending - too hokey.  It's rock solid Trek but (and) it's hokey.

"Gambit, Part II" includes the most surprising cameo of the NextGen run: NBA superstar James Worthy as the Klingon smuggler Koral.  Worthy, one of the key figures in the Lakers' dynasty of the 1980s and an eventual Hall of Famer, was still an active professional basketball player in 1993.  He met Robert O'Reilly (Gowron) on an airplane and expressed a desire to appear on the show.  O'Reilly encouraged him to meet with the producers.  It takes a big man to make Worf look short.  At 6'9", Worthy towers over the 6'3" Michael Dorn.

Acting Notes

via Wikipedia

Robin Curtis played the role of Tallera/T'Pal, a Vulcan isolationist disguised as a Romulan member of the pirate crew.  The last time I mentioned her on The Squid, Curtis had taken over the role of Saavik in the Star Trek films when Kirstie Allie left.  Curtis was born June 15, 1956 in New York Mills, New York.

Other television work includes Knight Rider, General Hospital and Babylon 5.  Films include Hexed, Ghost Story and Shootdown.  Curtis had a long stage career, including her own one-woman show: Not My Bra, You Don't! - The Sexual Odyssey of a Forty-Nine Year Old Woman

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Squid Eats: Le Petit Sao

Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal) is one of the more touristy parts of the city, containing the Notre-Dame Basilica, upscale hotels, souvenir shops, etc.  As such, it's not our first choice neighborhood as a place to stay but there are still good reasons to visit when we're in town.  Our excuse this time was the Scandinave Spa where we spent a decadent late morning soaking in warm water and such.  Afterwards, we were hungry for lunch.  Google Maps led us to a lovely spot...

Le Petit Sao is a Vietnamese restaurant, a long and narrow set up ideal for a quick lunch and take out - I would guess less accommodating for a sit down dinner in the evening.  Most weekdays, I imagine they do well with the work lunch crowd.  The name translates from a combination of French and Vietnamese to the little star.  We both got banh mi sandwiches.  My wife got the pork, I the chicken.  Both were excellent.  The price was quite reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food.  Service was friendly.  

Le Petit Sao was a nice find.  I don't think I'd head across town for it but it's a good place to remember for future lunches if we're already down there.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Star Trek: Invasive Procedures

Episode: "Invasive Procedures"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 2, Episode 4
Original Air Date: October 17, 1993

Verad, a disgruntled Trill, hijacks the station, demanding that Jadzia's symbiont be removed from her and implanted in him.  Verad is resentful of the fact that he himself was passed over for the joining and has decided to take matters into his own hands.  

"Invasive Procedures" is an important Trill story which further explores the separate beings which are the symbiont and the host.  It's not an especially good Jadzia story as she is not conscious for most of it, though it does help to establish her self-sacrificing nature.  It's a more interesting Dax story, especially regarding Dax's friendship with Benjamin Sisko.  We see where the lines of loyalty are drawn for Ben - to Curzon (his pal back in the day), to Dax and, most importantly in the long run, to Jadzia.

The episode is also notable for a guest appearance by Tim Russ, the future Tuvok in Voyager.

Acting Notes

John Glover (Verad) was born August 7, 1944 in Kingston, New York.  He grew up in Salisbury, Maryland and graduated from Towson University.  Films include Annie Hall, White Nights and Gremlins 2: The New Batch.  Glover had a principal role on Smallville and also had appearances in Miami Vice and Murder, She Wrote among others.  He is currently the voice of the Riddler in the DC Animated Universe.  

Glover has won his greatest accolades on stage.  After his DS9 gig, he won a Tony in 1995 for the lead in Love! Valour! Compassion!  Glover is gay and has been married to sculptor Adam Kurtzman since 2016.  They've been together since 1993.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

On the Coffee Table: Yakitate!! Japan, Volume 4

Title: Yakitate!! Japan, Volume 4
Writer and Artist: Takashi Hashiguchi

via Amazon

Young bakers Kazuma and Kawachi work their way through the Pantasia chain's Rookie Tournament, repeatedly pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat.  Each round's challenge is a specialty (oddity?) of Japanese bread: melon bread, fried noodle bread, animal bread.  Kazuma wins with creative vision, Kawachi with grit.

There isn't much in the way of sexual reference in Yakitate!! but what there is tends towards the dirty old man vibe: objectifying talk regarding a woman's breasts, a competition judge so excited he nearly exposes himself and such.  The manga series is classified as shōnen, comic books targeting teenage boys.  So while somewhat offensive, the sexualized material is not entirely surprising.

Even so, Yakitate!! Japan continues to amuse.  The superhero action comic take on cooking competitions is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Squid Eats: Ma Poule Mouillée

We recently visited Montreal for the first time since before COVID.  The city is only two hours away from our house and in the before times, we'd do our best to go once or twice a year.  At this point, I'm comfortable calling Montreal my favorite North American city - friendly, easy to get around and varied in its offerings.  We generally stay in the Plateau which is less touristy than other parts of the city.  When traveling, I prefer to be in a place where you can see people going about their daily lives - walking their kids to school and such.  The Plateau is perfect.

As I have written before, Montreal is a dazzling food city.  Name a cuisine and there are numerous top quality choices.  One of our favorites: Portuguese.  I'm not sure I've ever had Portuguese food anywhere other than Montreal.  Our target on our most recent trip was Ma Poule Mouillée which translates to my wet chicken or, colloquially, my sissy.  

Whatever the translation, there was nothing wimpy about the food.  There's a half-chicken with piri-piri sauce buried under these fries:

We split the order along with a salad.  Even between two of us, it was way too much food - greasy, heavy and delightful.  Many napkins required.  We also got a half dozen natas, heavenly Portuguese custard pastries.  Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  We had to save most of the natas for later.

Ma Poule Mouillée is a counter service restaurant - great food for a reasonable price.  The place is popular, drawing a varied clientele.  A family of four sat behind us, the little kids very excited by the pastry options for dessert.  An older couple came in for their take out order.  The line to order never waned while we were there.

I would definitely go again, remembering to order less food next time.

Monday, March 6, 2023

On the Coffee Table: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

via Wikipedia

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes collects twelve short stories about the world's most famous detective.  It is the final Holmes book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1927, three years before the author's death.  Critics often rate this final volume as the weakest of the short story collections, though I feel a few of the tales are worthy of note.  "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" and "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" are unusual for the fact they are told from Holmes's perspective whereas the vast majority of stories are told from Watson's.  I appreciate "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" for the rare glimpse of Holmes's deep, genuine affection for Watson.  Some of the stories veer toward other genres.  In "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," for instance, a former rugby star hires Holmes to figure out what is going on with his wife, whom he caught sucking their baby's blood at the neck.  

And so, I have reached the end of my Holmes exploration, unlikely to seek out the few uncollected stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed my romp.  I was never able to get past seeing Sherlock as Benedict Cumberbatch in 21st century garb, though Watson has a more Victorian image in my mind's eye, complete with mustache and bowler hat.  I generally preferred the short stories to the novels.  While Holmes nearly always arrives at the truth, my favorite stories are the ones in which he fails, best of all when he is out-maneuvered by a woman.

As such, my favorite story of all is one of the earliest:  "A Scandal in Bohemia," featuring Irene Adler.  Adler is one of several characters who feature more prominently in adaptations than in the original Doyle texts.  Nemesis Moriarty and brother Mycroft fall into the same category.  "Bohemia" is, in fact, Adler's only appearance in the originals.  

I am curious now about the numerous adaptations and will keep my eye out for them, especially the various earlier British television series.