December 15, 2011

The Saints went marching

In celebration of my upcoming 40th birthday my beloved Mark treated me to a surprise evening of fun, beginning with an outstanding dinner at Noce, a superb Italian restaurant on West Queen West.

We started our meals with a glass of Negroni cocktail and breads, then Mark had grilled Morroccan octopus while I had carpaccio as an appetizer.

For our mains, Mark enjoyed a braised veal cheek while I had a massive and succulent veal shank (osso buco) served on a bed of saffron risotto. I was stuffed so I passed on dessert but Mark could not resist a favourite, creme brulee.

Mark then passed me an envelope with the main surprise: two tickets to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Roy Thompson Hall!  The band play a distinctively New Orleans brand of Dixieland jazz, befitting their namesake base in the heart of the French Quarter.

It was a rousing 2 hours of spirited jazz, anchored by notable professionals doing what they do best. Each member of the band was on fire but I was particularlyimpressed with clarinetist Charlie Gabriel (b.1932) whereas Mark was blown away by the effortless drumming of Joseph Lastie, Jr. (b. 1958). It's safe to say the spirit of the Mississippi bayou was in downtown Toronto tonight.

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