In downtown Toronto, it's a strolling 20-minute walk from Richmond and John to Yonge and Wellington. The heels of my red pumps clack on the sidewalk, and my ivory white dress bounces lightly in the cool crisp air. My sister Marie and her husband Georges are next to me, lazily hand-in-hand. "That's it!" my brother-in-law exclaims. "You two go without me and I'm going home." It's our typical bickering. Marie and I fight. Marie and Georges fight. Georges and I fight. I don't think we ever take one another too seriously though. Yelling just seems to make life more interesting.
Marie, nine years my senior, always used to say, "One day, when we're older, we'll be on the same level and can talk with one another. It won't matter that we're so far apart in age." I always believed her. Even at 10-years-old, it made sense to me. As the night progresses, it hits me we've transitioned into that phase now. And we've been in that phase for awhile, but it still gives me a small thrill whenever she asks for my opinion or advice. I feel proud to have someone I look up to see me as a person for guidance and learning.
The letters "CIEN" appear in the distance. "I see it! It's Lucien!" I squeal in childish delight. It's where we're eating fine-dining for the first time together.
I attribute a lot of who I am to Marie. She's influenced me in innumerable ways. One of her biggest influences is probably my love for food. She introduced me to the magazine Toronto Life when I was about 16. And that's when I started to learn about the city's culinary scene. A year-and-a-half ago, I started to actually indulge in fine dining. I put my money woes aside and decided I should treat myself to a nice meal, something that gives me deep, deep pleasure. I don't care that much for clothes or concerts or cars or computers, so it only makes sense that my wily hobby is cuisine.
At the same time I started to collect the experiences of Thuet, Scaramouche, North 44 and more, my sister and her husband (also a food aficionado) were scaling back their luxury budget in place of their newborn son. They claimed they had to live vicariously through me even though my sister had still gone to Globe Bistro, Tutti Matti, Canoe and Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar. So it was just Georges who was losing out.
That is probably why Georges recently proposed the idea that him, Marie and I start trying out new restaurants once a month. Once a month is a little too rich for me--and them--so we've adjusted it to once about every three months. And so here we are at Lucien, one of Toronto Life's top ten new restaurants of 2008.
"Your sister's going crazy," Georges remarks to Marie. I'm easily excitable. I don't know if it's them or me, but even though they've both given me my love for food, I think it may have developed differently from theirs.