Monday, March 11, 2013

Destination Toronto: Caffé Volo


"I'm not dressed for dinner, thank you very much." Her voice was satin over steel, and she arched an eyebrow at him. She had gotten over her initial shock at being surprised in his carrel and was now fully awake and fully annoyed at his tone.

His eyes passed over her slowly, pausing to regard her lovely figure and then resting for a long time on her sneakers.  He despised sneakers on women, for they were a waste of a perfectly good podiatric opportunity. He cleared his throat. "You look fine. I think the color of your blouse brings out the blush in your skin and the butterscotch flecks in your eyes. You look nice, actually." He smiled at her a little too warmly and looked away.

I have butterscotch in my eyes? Since when? And since when has he looked at them long enough to notice?

"There is a little place near my building that I frequent during the week, especially on late nights.  I'll buy you dinner, and we can talk about your thesis proposal, informally, of course. How's that?"

"Thank you, Professor."

Their eyes did not meet for long, but they met, and warm and somewhat hesitant smiles were exchanged on both sides."

Gabriel's Inferno, Ch. 12


This was one of my favorite chapters in Gabriel's Inferno and so when I visited Toronto, I knew my trip would not be complete without checking out Caffé Volo.

The place is easy to pass by on the street, blending in with its surroundings quite well. In fact, when my friends and I first approached it, we weren't even convinced we were at the right location.  Once we stepped inside, however, we quickly recognized the setting we had read about.

"The Caffé was a quiet but friendly establishment that boasted perhaps the longest and best beer list in Toronto.  It also had a very fine Italian chef, and so their food was some of the finest simple Italian fare on offer in the neighborhood.  The restaurant itself was small, only ten tables, which were supplemented in the summer by a patio.  The decor was rustic and included antiques, such as reclaimed church pews and old harvest tables."

I enjoyed a lovely evening there with good friends, good alcohol and good food. And yes, we requested a particular section...

"Gabriel liked it because they sold a particular kind of Trappist Ale that he preferred, Chimay Premiere, and it pleased him to have pizza in the Neapolitan style to pair with that beer. (As ever, he was impatient with mediocrity.) Since Gabriel was a frequent patron of Caffé Volo and more than somewhat persnickety, he was offered the best seating, which was a quiet table for two tucked into a corner near the large picture window that looked out on the madness that was Yonge Street at night.

Transvestites, university students, frat boys, policemen, happy gay couples, happy straight couples, celebrities slumming, yuppies walking their pretentious pets, eco-friendly activists, street persons, buskers, possible gang members, Russian mafia, a wayward professor or Member of Provincial Parliament or two or four, etc. It was a myriad of fascinating human behavior, it was live, and it was free."

Ever since my visit, I've wondered how many other fans of The Professor have wandered into the place requesting the same seat. I'm guessing at least a few and I'm guessing enough of us may have popped in by now to be easily identified upon sight. *giggles*

"Julia settled cautiously into her seat, which was a converted church pew, and pulled the lambskin rug that the waiter had draped over the back of the pew tightly around her.

"Are you cold? I'll ask Christopher to seat us near the fireplace." Gabriel moved to signal to the waiter, but Julia stopped him.

"I like to people watch," she said shyly.

"Me too," he admitted. "But you look like a Yeti."

Julia reddened.

"Forgive me," he hastened to add.  "But surely we can do better than a lambskin rug that has been God knows where. It probably used to grace the floor of Christopher's apartment.  And who knows what kind of shananigans went down on it."

Now, in the true spirit of shananigans, I'm breaking my self-imposed rule a bit and a sharing a portion of a personal picture taken from my night at Caffé Volo.  I think it's important to see that the essential details of this scene are factual (parenthetically it should be noted that the attractive arm you see there is my friend's, not mine. I wanted the window seat.) Please note one lambskin rug and one bottle of Chimay resting on the shelf above said rug. :)

Now, no evening out at the bar is complete without a little music...

"That's a beautiful song. Who is it by?"

"It's called You and Me by Matthew Barber, a local musician. Did you catch that line - the one about virtue and vice? I guess we know which term applies to each of us."

Seriously, if you haven't followed through and listened to this wonderful song, do yourself a huge favor right now.  I listen to this tune a lot and probably never would have known about it without reading about it in Gabriel's Inferno.

Many thanks to SR for two wonderful discoveries in one chapter.

Next week, we'll continue our series of evenings out on the town in Toronto.  You should probably pick out your best pair of shoes for a very nice dinner.

Until then, take care,


kariadri said...

Love it. Thanks for share your trip with us

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