Let me tell you about where I live.
I live in the middle of nowhere, a very rural setting indeed, a house partly hidden in the woods and where no other house is visible. We are about a five minute drive from a little village of 700 souls, or a two hour drive from Toronto, which houses many more. Many times we drive in to Toronto on business, to see a show, to see fiends, to eat – particularly the latter. But we don’t have to. There are some local spots that serve up very good, homespun fare.
One such place is Jeannine’s Backtalk Café, given that name because the owner, Jeannine is what used to be called "sassy". In other words, she’ll diss you at the drop of a hat, but done tongue in cheek – so it’s fun to hear insults affectionately traded. “Hello, idiot” she’ll greet regulars. I’m one too – a regular that is.
Jeannine serves up mean diner food. The kids love her poutine, but I go in most mornings for breakfast, always two cups of coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich, or a toasted western or a BLT or a variation thereof. But the evening of April 24, is quite different. Out come the nice table cloths and flowers because Jeannine is serving up something else – a three course Spanish dinner with paella as the main attraction or something else for those who - well, don't like paella. But I went to an evening cooking class with Jeannine where paella was the featured assignment, so she - and I - know our way around this recipe well. It’s delish, by the way.
If paella is an unusual dish to serve at a little rural eatery that is better known, in fact famous, for its diner food, April 24 is no ordinary night. Because Jeannine’s Backtalk Café is participating that night in A Taste for Life, the annual fundraiser where 25% of participating restaurants' sales go to a local AIDS Service Organization. In Jeannine’s case that’s PARN, with whom I go way back. (I’ve been a client, a volunteer, a board member, their chair and more.) So myself and my partner will be at Jeannine’s hosting dinner that night.
Of course you don’t have to come to our little village to celebrate the Taste for Life way. The official website lists all the many locations where you can eat for a good cause almost nation-wide at a large number of locations. Toronto, for instance has almost 40 participating restaurants. My own agency PARN, with its office located in Peterborough, Ont has 16, including of course Jeannine’s Backtalk Cafe.
Partner and I have participated in a Taste for Life for years, either in Toronto or more locally, sometimes as host, other times as diner. It’s always a special evening, a feel-good affair where your tummy feels good too.
Says its website “A Taste for Life started in Ottawa in 1999 in support of Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation. Since then Taste has been joined by 23 communities from Newfoundland to Alberta, Toronto to Stratford. This event brings out thousands OF people from all walks of life who will enjoy a great evening out while knowing they are helping make life better for people close to home."
So join me at Jeannine’s for paella, or something. Or if that’s not practical – the place only seats 30 anyway – try another place. Please.