Think back to the past (it may be more or less distant for you) to the glorydays of grade school. Besides throwing your bag on the ground and turning on the tv, you probably headed straight for the kitchen and opened the fridge, amiright? Nine times out of ten it was usually chicken fingers and KD for my sister and I, and that meal meant I was done with the outside world and made me ready for a night of little responsibility and obligation. While my tastes (only slightly) matured since then, and my nights are way less carefree, I’ve started to miss that ritual of having that perfect after work/school/childminding/whatever day snack. Rituals are important to us, science even says so, and I’ve made it my mission to protect a few moments after I’ve wrestled my kid out of his outerwear to devote to a daily personal moment, all about food. I’m not one to stick too closely to a routine, so I’ll need to switch up the menu:
Tea and Pastries
I have a serious sweet tooth, and a little sugar at the end of the day is like water to me. My go-to choice is an almond croissant, and one of the most religious croissant experiences I’ve had was at Patisserie Sebastien. Pair that with a cup of Coconut Bongo tea from Tealish, and you easily have the sweetest way to forget work and welcome the end of the day relaxed, but also with a bit of a sugar high. Other favourite sources of sweetness include Bobbette and Belle in Bedford Park and Bakerbots in Dovercourt.
Wine and Cheese
The pairing is classic, and for good reason. A little wine will help dull the edge of those harder days, and the right cheese will make you forget the other food groups all together. A personal favourite includes something like a Beaujolais and aged Pecorino on a black pepper and olive oil Triscuit, along with a honey date. Seriously, one of the best snacks you’ll ever have. The crackers and dates are easy enough to stock, but for a more serious cheese experience I’d try Global Cheese in Kensington or the Junction Fromagerie in, well, the Junction.
Milk and Chips
Okay, this is not a real category. In fact, just reading those two words together made me gag a little bit. But ignore that reaction and believe me when I tell you that chocolate milk and spicy chips are one of the best food buddies ever. Something my mom introduced me to years ago, it’s part of the whole salt and chocolate phenomenon that you don’t initially think will be great and then turns out to be amazing. My go-to is Natur-a Chocolate Soy Milk and Miss Vickie’s Jalapeño Chips. Avoid any kind of sweet chili type concoction – you want a bit of serious heat to make this work.
Depending on your day or diet, you might just want to skip the process involved in procuring the perfect snack and focus on making sure you always have the perfect drink to welcome you home. Depending on where you are in watching Mad Men, a simple low ball of whiskey might just do the trick. But before you go and get loaded in an attempt to erase the memory of the fake smile you wore for most of the day, take a minute to contemplate a drink that you’d like to linger on as you settle in for the night. An Old Fashioned would do if you’re really feeling that 60’s parlour vibe, but I favour a solid Rye and Ginger with a little lime anyday, even better if you’re getting close to the holidays and can get your hands on some cranberry gingerale. For beer drinkers, I have nothing to offer because in some weird genetic anomaly I can’t stand the taste of most beers, but my well-rounded partner suggests Mill St. Tankhouse Ale for a true Toronto brewed refresher.