Friday, October 22, 2010

Lost: The Quest for Roti

There's a funky little roti shop on Queen Street that Ken and I adore. We've never been sure exactly where it is. We drive there via visual landmarks. It's west of the corner of Crack and Crackhead, across the street from the Parkdale Community Centre. We've never managed to pin down the closest major intersection.

Once every couple of weeks, we make a pilgrimage. It takes an hour or so to drive there in rush hour traffic, and only slightly less to get home again. Worth it? You betcha! I'm sure it creates a sasquatchian environmental footprint, but since we never fly in airplanes* or take any significant road trips, I hope we can be excused.

Last night we set out around 6 pm on our usual route. However, around halfway to downtown either we took a wrong turn or (Ken's theory) some long-term construction project was completed providing a new route which we inadvertently took. By the time we noticed, we were deep into an industrial area. A wall of enormous concrete silos loomed overhead, a heavily graffitied cube fan sheltering at their feet.

"Where are we?" we asked ourselves. "How did we get here? Which way to roti?" The street we were travelling on ended at a T-junction. On the cinder-block wall at the cross of the T, someone had spray-painted in red: "DON'T PANIC".

We turned south and found ourselves passing through High Park, a posh old neighbourhood full of roomy houses with wraparound verandas and wide gardens presided over by ancient trees. We figured that now we were oriented. Just keep going south and we should find Queen St.

Except, this far west the lake cuts up so far north that Queen St. has ceased to exist. The next turnoff was Lakeshore Blvd. We turned east onto Lakeshore, a busy four-lane thoroughfare, just as the sun was setting over the lake. A few small sailboats were tied up here and there by the shore, casting long shadows across the rippling, dark grey mirror of the water.

The car filled with a bad smell. We were stuck behind a dump truck filled with something dusty, maybe dry cement mix. It drifted in through the vents and parched the back of my throat. "Don't worry," said Ken. "The next exit is two minutes away."

Ken signalled his left turn, to get off Lakeshore and back onto the side streets so that we could double back and get our roti. As he made the turn, his face fell. I turned to read the sign: Eastbound Gardiner Expressway. By the time we realized our mistake, we were well up the on-ramp to one of Toronto's major highways. Ridiculous! How could we have taken so many wrong turns in one night? Ken has been my loyal chauffeur for 9 years now. I have never known him to get lost.

By the time we were barrelling along the Gardiner, we decided that we weren't meant to eat roti on this particular night. We exited at Spadina and ate in Chinatown instead. It wasn't roti, but it was a mighty fine dinner nonetheless.

*Any single long-haul air travel flight uses approximately as much fuel as an average car does in a whole year.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

I googled the restaurant and when you were passing through High Park, I'm assuming on Parkside Dr, you were pretty darn close. I looks like Queen started a few blocks west off of The Queensway which was close to Lakeside.

I had fun taking the drive with you virtually though...

Anonymous said...

Corner of Crack and Crackhead across from the PCC? That's Toronto for ya.

Jameil said...

LOL @ Which way to roti?? Poor thing!

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: We drove south on Keele St. all the way from Steeles to Rogers Rd., then along Rogers onto Old Weston Rd. Then south. The place we got confused was at the train tracks. Normally we turn onto Davenport, but instead we crossed the train tracks, turned onto Junction Rd, (where the big silos were) and then found the T-intersection back to Keele St. (where it said DON'T PANIC). Ken was right. We went back there tonight in a 2nd (successful) attempt to get roti. There had been construction and a barrier blocking off the train tracks crossing, and now it's wide open. Google that! ;-)

wigsf: The best food is often found in the crummiest neighbourhoods.

Jameil: It was certainly a comedy of errors. Fortunately we went back tonight and got our roti! :-)

G said...

I've only had similar adventure like that once at work.

I was at a private house picking up some newspapers (this house was located deep in the woods of NE Connecticut) and when I left to go back to work, I made a wrong turn.

By the time I got to a road I recognized, I was some five miles from my starting point and I was heading in the opposite direction from my job.

It was a bit o'fun going along the drive with you, and that sprayed sign of Don't Panic popped up at the right time.

Lynn said...

I am not familiar with roti - but looked it up and it sounds wonderful. Isn't it frustrated to get lost? Sounds as if you got some sights in though. :)

Karen said...

What is Roti??

Sparkling Red said...

G: Yes, it felt like DON'T PANIC had been painted there with us and that very moment in mind, like a personal message from the Powers That Be.

Lynn: It wasn't too frustrating, because we knew approximately where we were and where we were heading. It was just a matter of sorting out which street to turn onto. Also, I'd had an afternoon snack, so I wasn't absolutely starving for my dinner.

Karen: Roti is a soft flatbread kind of like a burrito, filled with one of many fillings. There is Indian roti, which is likely to be filled with curry or jalfrezi or [insert indian dish here]. There is also West Indian roti which is slightly different, using Jerk seasoning for example. Bacchus roti is of the West Indian variety.

DarcsFalcon said...

My goodness, you had yourselves an adventure! LOL Sometimes those can be kind of fun. Sounds like yours turned out well, even if you didn't get your favorite dish. :)