Tutti Matti…Italian; “Everyone is crazy”…except those at Tutti Matti

All is crazy, seems to be the theme these days….and by days, I mean years.  About 12 years ago, a cyclone went through our town and planted a tree in our roof.  Just over three years ago our house exploded and we found ourselves homeless for a few months while all was being re-built.  Two weeks ago, an F3 tornado cut a swath through Goderich again, this time decimating the core of the town.  As each disaster left its physical scars, the real work began to emerge.  Each event stressful for some more than others.  Each event we found ourselves turning to rituals to calm, restore and replenish our tired minds, bodies and souls.

As is often noted, the ritual of food preparation and sharing is also one that sustains us in more ways than just nutritionally.

Pat and I chose to leave the craziness and stress of Goderich, where his office building is in a delicate state, in order to bring Emily back to McGill.  An attempt at creating normalcy.  Our time away meant that we could be taken out of the obvious circumstances of the office re-location and 15 staff, in order to pause, and if lucky have a good sleep.

On our way home from Montreal we took one more night in Toronto, so that we could go to our favorite Toronto restaurant, Tutti Matti.  We discovered Tutti Matti within months of it opening a few years ago.  We were drawn by the initial review of the restaurant, and that it served traditional Tuscan food; but what makes us go back again and again, is the fact that it not only nourishes our bodies, but our weary selves.  One cannot live well, love well or sleep well, unless one has dined well. Virginia Woolf.  I would add, that the value of the dining experience is directly related to those that prepare and share it with you.  This is where Tutti Matti shines.

As with all other visits that have included many personal celebrations(most recently Patrick’s 50th), we were warmly received and brought to our table in full view of the open kitchen.  I spent many years working in restaurants and to say that  pots and pans being thrown around were as frequent as the incessant swearing and yelling, is an understatement.  No such disorder exists at Tutti Matti.  This is a rarefied group within the often times turbulent restaurant industry.  The only thing crazy at Tutti Matti are the customers….like us;)  The staff is incredibly organized, efficient and are clearly passionate about their individual trades.  Each person contributes skillfully to the sense of purpose and calm.

Tutti Matti is as stable as the traditions that are reflected within its walls.  The unrelenting ability to create authentic Tuscan cuisine is awe-inspiring.  This is all due to its birth-mother Alida Soloman.  I have always believed that superior performance in a restaurant can only be achieved by a great leader, and Alida is this.  That comment will make her cringe!…I should take it out, but I can’t!  The staff are genuinely nice, I know that sounds hokey, but its true.  You want to invite them all over to your own house just to send a little lovin’ back their way.

Last night, Patrick and I chose this for dinner:  To share…FORMAGGI MISTI: schiacciata(tuscan flatbread) with olive oil, potato, shaved asparagus, pepper pecorino and 2 ducks eggs over easy.

Patrick’s main…PORCHETTA: oven roasted suckling pig with dried apricots, sauteed spinach and soft polenta

My main…GNUDI:pulled crab, chicory, mint, lemon presh peas, semolina ricotta

shared side:  PISELLI ALLA FIORENTINA: peas with prosciutto, onion, rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

Along with a couple a beautiful glasses of wine, we were satiated and happy.

Food allows us to re-centre, to have a break in our days.  Beautifully prepared food, delivered with care and joy elevates the event to the spiritual.  When I had my cafe, I was constantly humbled by customers that allowed me to nourish them; especially those that were visibly suffering from life-threatening disease.  I fed many who had the courage to get out, when the mirror probably told them to stay in bed.  These are the people who continue to inspire me.

While our family is healthy and safe, we know the importance of re-fueling.  At Tutti Matti you will genuinely be inspired by the kitchen, and humbly grateful for their attention.  It’s why we go back.  It’s why we know that every single person in that restaurant goes back.  We are all one.

Food and clothes wrapped up in small town wonder

Thornbury, Ontario is a small town on the shores of Georgian Bay.  Most people are familiar with its neighbour down the highway, Collingwood.  I prefer Thornbury because it has everything you would want as a visitor or resident, but without the hassles of living in a busy tourist recreational hub.

At a glance you would think that Thornbury has the highest independent retail and restaurant diversity per capita than any place else in the country.  I have yet to be disappointed with any of the restaurants or shops since happening upon the town fifteen years ago.

Our routine is to go for lunch first, then check out the shops.  Sunday we went to The Mill Cafe.  A renovation was just completed 3 weeks ago and it is sharp.  The Mill has long been a Thornbury favorite, and after receiving so many happy diners over the years, it is really great to have a fresh look.  I felt like it was a gift to the customers.  No doubt it will reap the rewards.

There are large pieces of original artwork by a local artist and with the pop of green on all seating it gives the impression of whimsy, but also skill and thought.  The design of the restaurant is much more open now, and it also gives you the impression that you are being welcomed into someone’s personal space.  That is not always so easy to accomplish.  Quite often an open space seem cold, but this is pure comfort and fun as you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen, keep an eye on the drinks that you ordered at the bar(or the regulars!), or enjoy some people watching. I would describe the food as a solid take on old favorites.  Anyone can find something to enjoy on this menu, from the food snob to the most conservative eater.  My husband had the pulled pork back rib sandwich, we shared the yellow and red beet salad, and I had the mini back ribs with chimichurri sauce.  Yum!  Now well fed, we are off to…

Without a doubt my favorite place to shop for clothes.  It doesn’t matter what I have bought, when I wear something from Furbelows, I receive compliments.
I love the fact that what you find here, except for the basics, you will not find anywhere else.  Jane, the owner, loves to bring in lines from small labels in North America as well as Europe.  This means that she cherry picks the clothes that come into the store, and therefore creates something akin to your own closet…varied, mix of high and low, and always interesting!  I love a clothing store that has mirrors in and out of the dressing room….sometimes you just don’t want to leave the room with a really bad piece of clothing on.  Furbelows has the best staff at a clothing store that I have ever come across.  They are not only fashionable each in their own way, they know their stuff.  They know every item in the store.  They also know when to tell you to “put and item back”;) or when to take you out of your comfort zone in order to go from “nice” to “awesome”.   If you want awesome, you want Furbelows.
On Sunday, I left with new (fall!) boots, skinny cargo jeans, long tank, and a cardigan(which looks like a piece of art in and of itself).  As I was at the counter paying, I spied this dress on the manikin, and after one more quick change, it was added to my stash for the day…the only I regret, is not buying the necklace with it!  Oh well, next time:)