mrs lebrain

#776: (Wag)yu Shook Me All Night Long

GETTING MORE TALE #776: (Wag)yu Shook Me All Night Long

For highway driving, nothing quite hits the spot like AC/DC.  It feels right.  Who Made Who works as a quickie “greatest hits” selection for a quick spin down Highway 401.  Mrs. LeBrain and I were heading to the GTA to celebrate 11 years as a married couple.  We rocked to “You Shook Me All Night Long” on the dance floor that night, and we were returning to the very same location once more.

Highway 401 is in a perpetual state of construction, but good music helps take the edge off.  This was my first drive that way in the new vehicle, and also the first with my latest gadget, a nifty dash cam that is sure to provide lots of content for my YouTube channel in the coming months.

Sorry, quick tangent:  Phil Rudd is the “man”, but Simon Wright doesn’t get enough credit for his time on the AC/DC drum stool.  AC/DC isn’t an easy beat to get the feel for, and every AC/DC drummer has their own approach.  The 1980s were a period of hard-hitters and Simon Wright was the perfect drummer for that era.  His precision is absolute on “Who Made Who” and it just sounds right.  Compare the original to Chris Slade’s interpretation on AC/DC Live.  That’s all I have to say about that.

We arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon and I settled into the jacuzzi pretty quickly.  I wanted to do a funny gangsta style photo in the hot tub with me holding a couple of American dollar bills.  I was thinking about when Floyd Mayweather threw the $1s at Conor McGregor.  And holy shit did Facebook react.

“Dude you look like if Kuato from Total Recall was successfully removed from his twin, grew up, lived a long and depressing life and got really excited when someone gave him 2 bucks to sh!t in the local YMCA jacuzzi.”

Two things:  Yes, I had pants on.  And yes, that “gang sign” is the Vulcan salute.  Relax.  Let a man enjoy his jacuzzi, publicly on social media like damn 20 year old.  Are you not entertained?!

We did some shopping.  Because, like an idiot, I forgot to bring a nice pair of shoes for dinner, I had to get a new pair just for this one night.  Then we met up with Jen’s best friend Lara for lunch.  Did some more shopping.  I wanted to go to stores that we don’t have at home.  There isn’t much of that, just the same old chains.  We did hit one up cool store, where I bought something called “Jean Guy”, but we couldn’t find any cool music or toy stores.  At least I got my shoes!

So where were we headed?  In ’08 when we got married it was the Pavilion Royale, but now it is a high end restaurant called 17 Steakhouse & Bar.  It’s very different on the inside, but recognizable.  There was the dance floor, where I once spun to “You Shook Me All Night Long”.  But we chose 17 for more than sentimental reasons.  The main draw was the real Japanese A5 wagyu.  And that’s what this chapter is really about.

I’ve never had real wagyu in my life and American wagyu was not going to do it.  You only life once.  Carpe diem.  Go big or go home.  It’s only money.  All that bullshit.  I’d done my research, I knew what I was getting my wallet into.  I’d been planning it over a year.

We started with a simple but delicious field green salad, with incredible goat cheese.  The smoothest goat cheese I’ve ever tasted.  Only when we finished the salads did they began firing our steaks.  None of that “here comes your main dish before you’ve finished your starter” nonsense.  Jennifer chose the US prime T-bone, medium rare, and let me tell you, that alone could have been the best steak I’ve ever tasted.  It was 25 oz, so more than enough to share.  So tender!  With cripsy, tasty fat.

Jen’s steak could easily have been the most tender I’ve ever tried, if not for my Japanese A5 wagyu.  Market price was $30 per oz.  I chose an 8 oz striploin, medium rare.  You should always get a wagyu steak cooked to medium rare.  I was electric with tense anticipation.  The steaks arrived, cooked precisely to order.

I gently cut a thin slice, which came off like butter.  There was a lovely char on the outside, a crisp splash of flat, and then the most tender meat you can imagine.  It was seasoned simply and perfectly, the saltiness enhancing that beefy umami.  On the tongue, it was like butter with only the slightest sensation of a meaty texture.  I probably didn’t even have to chew.

It’s a very rich piece of meat, far more than I anticipated.  I’d estimate that I finished about 3/4 of my meal, leaving a $60 chunk of wagyu in my takeout bag.  And that chunk of leftover wagyu was the best lunch I ever had the following day.

For sides, we ordered the fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat and thyme, the asparagus with hollandaise, and the scalloped potatoes au gratin.  Of those three, the asparagus was the clear winner, with the potatoes au gratin in second place.  Only I liked the fingerling potatoes; Jen didn’t care for them, leaving her batting average with any form of duck to be zero.

We had an incredible dessert of cheesecake, Crème brûlée and whipped cream which was supernaturally good. Everything was.

Having had probably the most expensive steak I’ll ever buy, was it worth it? If you are a steak lover, then yes, it is worth it.  And I love steaks.  A little goes a long way, but every steak lover should try real Japanese wagyu once.  It’s unlike anything I’ve had before and it is easily categorised as a true delicacy.  Having said that, should we return to 17 Steakhouse in a year, I don’t know that I would order it again, and that is only because there are other interesting features on their menu that I would like to try.  The 36 oz tomahawk would be a sight to behold, though I couldn’t eat it all myself.  I would also like to try the Porterhouse, the lobster bisque, and beef tartare.

Yes, the wagyu was worth it, and I can still taste and feel its texture on my palette.  It won’t be for everyone except in small doses.  They have a 4 oz minimum order, and I suggest that may the perfect size to experiment with.

17 Steakhouse & Bar gets 5/5, and so does the wagyu. 

We started with AC/DC so we’ll finish with AC/DC.  Who made wagyu?  17 Steakhouse did, and it was hell’s bells!  I couldn’t wait to sink the pink steak in my mouth.  It’ll shake your foundations just like it shook mine.  It’s a little bit of a ride on, down the 401, but worth the drive.  Hell ain’t a bad place to be(ef)!*  For those about to rock, I wagyu.

* Courtesy 1537

#767: Just Older

A sequel to Getting More Tale #332:  Getting Older Everyday

 

 

GETTING MORE TALE #767: Just Older

Unless you’re a teenager buying booze with your fake ID, nobody likes being mistaken for older than they actually are.

When I was in my 30s, people used to think I was in my 20s.  I looked younger and I dressed younger because I worked at a Record Store and I could get away with it.  I bleached my hair, had piercings, and flashy shirts.  I saw people working at hair salons looking like rock stars so I thought the same could work for me in a Record Store.  Eventually I had a collection of over 30 flashy shirts.  I don’t think my bosses were impressed with my new image, but it was a hit with the ladies.

I loved looking younger than my actual age but all good things come to an end.

After quitting the store I wanted to change my line of work and look more professional.  The fancy shirts went into a closet.  The pleather pants were saved for Halloween.  The hair was toned down.  Eventually it started to go grey.  My beard turned white and I got fat.  It can happen to anyone.

I own the “old man” schtick now, but there is still one thing that I hate.  And I do mean hate.

Mrs. LeBrain is a little younger than me (I’m a 1972 model and she’s a 1978), but not by a significant difference.  Where she wins is a natural youthful look.  People always mistake her for someone much younger.  She loves being asked for ID.  That kind of thing makes her day.  What pisses me off is when people mistake me for her father!  And it keeps happening!

I took Jen to the hospital to have some tests done (no worries, all good) and had about an hour to kill.  I had an mp3 player loaded up with Kiss.  Because Heavy Metal OverloRd had been talking about Hotter Than Hell (a personal favourite and among the first Kiss records I ever owned), I decided to take a nice morning walk while listening to that album.  When done I progressed onward to Rock and Roll Over.  It was a lovely morning filled with cool summer breezes, trainspotting, and Paul Stanley at his peak.

I got back in good time and soon a nurse called to tell me Jen was all set to go.  She led me to her bed, and I saw a big bright smile on her face.  It’s the smile that keeps me going every day.  “Hi ‘dad’!” she said grinning.  I was confused.  Did she have a seizure?  Was she really mistaking me for her dad?

No, she was playing around.  The nurse asked if she wanted them to call “her father” to come and get her.  Me being her father!  Jesus Murphy….

I hate, hate, hate being mistaken for her father!  I didn’t even have my big white beard!

I’ll let it slide because those nurses did a great job as always, but c’mon!

I looked exactly like the guy in the photograph below.  I don’t think he looks old enough to be Jen’s dad, do you?

The hat, maybe?  The day I took Jen to the hospital I was wearing a Van Halen T-shirt and camo shorts with shoes and socks.

I have since shed the locks; a mixture of “shit brown” (my dad’s words) and grey highlights.  I now rock the bald head again, but do I look any younger?  I don’t think so.

It’s a game I just can’t win!  Though it doesn’t really matter does it?  Jen prefers me with less hair, and it’s a lot less work.  I was just keeping it long just to have long hair at Sausagefest for once.  I enjoyed that (it also kept my neck from getting burned), but long hair doesn’t feel nice in the summer time.  It’s time to go back to what feels good!

I have a birthday coming up this week, but I’m not old.  Just older!

 

Sunday Chuckle: NKOTB

There was no way I was letting Mrs. LeBrain throw out this treasure.  A vintage New Kids on the Block pillow case from 1989!  A keeper forever.

#726: Misplaced

GETTING MORE TALE #726:  Misplaced

I lost my favourite flash drive.  It’s around here somewhere.  Maybe I left it in a shirt pocket that ended up in the laundry.  Flash drives can survive a go in the wash, that’s no big deal.  It has 32 gig of various music on it, and it’s my handy dandy go-anywhere music solution.  Most recently it had the complete studio albums of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Deep Purple, and many more.  Losing it (temporarily we hope) meant putting some tunes on another flash drive instead.

This time, I loaded it up with some AC/DC, Faith No More, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Joe Satriani, Whitesnake, and more.  Jen had a day of errands to run, so I decided to use a vacation day and help her out.

Our first mission, for most people, was no big deal.  In the lives of Mike and Jen, it requires planning and preparation:  getting your photo ID at Service Ontario.  You know those lovely pictures that look like mug shots because you’re not allowed to smile or show any facial expression at all?  Those are an obstacle and a half for Jen.  Why?  Because she’s epileptic and can’t have her photo taken with a flash.  Just another day in the Mike and Jen Show.

Since this wasn’t her first rodeo, Jen knew what to do.  She learned the hard way last time.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Why don’t they just take a photo without a flash?”  They can’t.  Those cameras are hooked up in such a way that they cannot turn the flash off.  Last time Jen had to do this, the staff at Service Ontario were absolutely stunned.  This time, we called in advance and booked an appointment.  Jen told them of her condition and made sure that they were prepared for her.  Then she went to Walmart and had some photos taken without a flash.  We picked the most bland-faced one of the bunch, and she had it printed up in various sizes and finishes so we’d have lots of options.

“Print it?” you’re asking.  “Why not just give them a card with the pictures on it?”  Yeah, they can’t do that either.  So what we do, and it’s quite ingenious, is take the Walmart photo and tape it where you’d normally stand to have your picture taken.  Then, they take a picture of that, while Jen looks away.  It took a few tries but we got her photo ID today with no hassles.  That was a first for Jen!  Mission accomplished.

Then we hit the road for Mission #2.  I loaded Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap up on the flash drive.  The mission this time was really simple.  We were going to visit Jen’s best friend Lara in Brampton for lunch.  It was a lovely day for a drive and AC/DC kept my pedal to the metal.  We both had a chuckle at the lyrics to Big Balls, with me remembering what it was like to be 10 years old and laughing every time Bon Scott said “balls”.

When Dirty Deeds ended, I threw on Rush’s Moving Pictures.  On a recent episode of Eddie Trunk’s radio show, Geddy Lee left no doubt that Rush is over.  Neil Peart has not only retired from Rush, he said, but from drumming altogether.  The physical toll that those 40 years took on Peart’s body means he needed a permanent vacation.  Rush will never play again.  That was running through my mind when I selected Moving Pictures, but soon I was immersed, rushed down “the river” like a modern day Tom Sawyer.

We picked a cheap steak place for lunch called Chuck’s roadhouse.  Surf & turf for $20?  Sure, I’ll try anything once.  Better than a fast food burger.  My steak was overdone but I haven’t had a lobster tail in years!  The sweet taste of lobster and salty butter was almost too much to bear.  I could have cried with joy.  Lobster is the ocean’s steak.  That was the easiest $20 to spend, ever.  I’d go back; maybe next time the steak won’t be over cooked!

We had a great lunch.  Jen broke a plate, but like a true friend, Lara took the blame.  We dropped her back off at work and headed home to Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door.  It’s a quirky one and that’s why I love it.

As we rocked to “Fool in the Rain”, Jen remarked on how much her musical taste had improved over the last 10 years.  “I’ll always love Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but now I like Led Zeppelin too.”  Hey, I’m glad to have been a positive influence!

I think every music fan likes to share their favourites and hope it connects with somebody else.  The car is my favourite place to do that.  Thanks, Zep!

 

Sunday Chuckle: The Long Road

It has been a long hard road for Jen and I this whole year.  It’s Sunday though, and that means a Sunday Chuckle, not a Sunday Mope!  A few days ago, Jen finished cleaning out her mom’s house.  We found some incredible stuff there.  One of the books (from her dad’s collection) is over 200 years old.  A few others were dated from the 1800s.  Lots of cool stuff, but….

Also some not-so-cool stuffs.

Some context:

In the penultimate episode of Record Store Tales (Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain), my wife made fun of me for owning one song by Nickelback.  The controversial Canadian quartet appeared on the ZZ Top tribute album A Tribute From Friends, performing (of all songs) “Legs”.  Quite badly!  She mocked me by writing, “Three words: MIKE OWNS NICKELBACK!”  [Bold and underlining are hers.]

This is what I found in her old bedroom.  You can tell it’s hers by the rainbow wallpaper.

There you have it.  I had a song, but you had the poster, baby.  You had the poster.

Still love you most though!

 

Sunday Chuckle: The Public Shaming of Mrs. LeBrain

I took Friday March 16 off work to take Jen to her neurologist appointment in Toronto.  We left Kitchener at 9 am and arrived shortly after 10.  The receptionist told Jen that her appointment was for April 16, not March….

Feeling oh so terrible about it, she said to me, “I’m so sorry, you can watch all the Star Wars you want this weekend, I won’t even watch the Leafs vs. the Habs if that’s what you want.”

I said that isn’t what I wanted.  I just wanted to post this story as the next Sunday Chuckle!

 

Happy Birthday Mrs. LeBrain!

It’s a busy time of year when you have Christmas and birthdays in the same week!  I always felt bad for people who have birthdays at this time.  They always seem to be overshadowed.  So join me in wishing Mrs. LeBrain a happy birthday today!  She surely deserves it.

Don’t worry about gifts.  All she really wants is for the Leafs to win the cup! (For Christmas or her birthday — either one will do!)

Sunday Chuckle: No Quarter (by Mrs. LeBrain)

Currency is a method used to pay for goods and services in the country or region where these good and services are provided.  Its denominations are very specific and exact.  Often, the customer cannot pay the vendor an exact amount so the vendor is required to return the difference to the customer to complete the transaction.  This action is commonly referred to as making “change”.

Money is highly recognisable to its users.  Larger denominations are made of universally sized paper and plastic sheets referred to as “bills”.  Smaller denominations are metal pieces with a circular shape in a variety of sizes known as “coins”.  The different sizes typically indicate value so they can easily be detected and assessed by their users.  Many nations have ‘coins’ very similar in colour and shape, but with the value of these coins being so small, most users cannot be bothered to examine these pieces closely to confirm authenticity.

A common coin in Canada is known as a “quarter” which has a value of 25 cents.  (1/4 of a dollar) To put this into perspective, my daily coffee costs about eight quarters and an ass-kicking rock CD would cost Lebrain about 80 of these things.

One afternoon, after having a morning coffee with one of my girlfriends, we decided to visit the “Golden Arches” for a quick and unhealthy lunch.  The order came out to $11.25, and for once I had EXACT change (woot!!!).  I reached into my purse and pulled out my ten dollar bill, my one dollar coin (known in Canada as a ‘Loonie’) and what I thought was a “quarter”.

The cashier and her supervisor examined the coin closely and gave it back to me.

McD:  “What is this?”

Me:  “A quarter.”

McD:  (In a rude, shaming tone) “No it isn’t and we can’t accept it from you”

I took the coin back and gave the cashier a fifty dollar bill (making her provide me with a lot of change to complete the transaction.  It turns out the “quarter” was a Swiss Franc with an exchange value of $1.27 CAD.

Their loss, my gain.  I just hope they didn’t spit in my fries.

Mrs. LeBrain

#598: “Seven”

Here’s a very special story for a very special day. September 18th is the day I met my wife! Happy “meetaversary” sweetie.

GETTING MORE TALE #598: “Seven”

When dating, there are many rites of passage on the road to a long term relationship.  For either sex, one of the usual hurdles is meeting the “best friend”.  If the best friend doesn’t like you, your whole relationship could be doomed.  It happened to me and it could happen to you!

I met Mrs. LeBrain on Sept 18 2005.  We made contact like most people these days, first online and then in person.  Meeting people online in 2005 wasn’t as mundane as it is today.  Jen had never met someone from online before.  We’ve told the tale of meeting before – from both perspectives.  Mine was Record Store Tales #111:  The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt.  Her version was Getting More Tale #434:  The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt.  Needless to say, music is important to both of us.

There was one thing Jen failed to do, and that was inform her best friend Lara that she was meeting someone over the internet.  She knew Lara wouldn’t approve.  Once we started dating regularly, she had to come clean.  As predicted Lara wasn’t impressed that she would go and meet some random internet dude without telling her.  She was in trouble!  And so was I, just for existing secretly!

Jen arranged a coffee meet up.  We picked up Lara and her friend Dave, and headed over to the nearest Tim Horton’s.  I was pleasantly surprised by Lara.  Jen had made her out to sound evil and dangerous.  She seemed anything but!  Funny, smart, and clearly someone who cared deeply for her best friend.  We got along immediately.

At one point in the evening, Lara asked me, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”

I didn’t understand.  “Pardon?”

“On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?” she answered.

“Well, I’m a pretty easy going guy, so I’d say about a three.”  Hypothetically, of course.

Secretly, inside, Jen was worried what this meant.  She said nothing, nor did Dave.

We continued to drink our coffee and chat.  Lara liked science fiction, so we had that in common.  In Canada, sitting around a Tim Horton’s all night drinking coffee (or tea in Lara’s case) is a pretty common pastime.  My wife can really drink coffee like a champion.  If there was a Stanley Cup of Coffee, she would win it every season.

We made tentative plans for a future meet up, when suddenly –

RRRRRRRIIIIIP!

Lara reached over, grabbed my soul patch hair, the part right below my bottom lip, and YANKED HARD.  I looked wide-eyed to see my own facial hair in her fingers.

She asked again, “On a scale from one to 10, how pissed off would you be?”

My answer was immediate.  “SEVEN!  DEFINITELY SEVEN!”

And that is why to this day, all of Lara’s kids and their friends call me “Uncle Seven”.  My nickname became Seven, irreversibly and permanently.  It’s been over ten years and I’m still Uncle Seven.  In fact, here is an actual conversation that I had with her son Tyler, and his girlfriend.  It was Tyler’s 19th birthday:

Mike:  “Tyler, you’re an adult now, you don’t have to call me Uncle Seven anymore.  Just call me Mike.”

Tyler:  “OK Seven.”

Girlfriend:  “Wait…your name is Mike? I thought it was Seven.”

Mike:  “…You thought my real name was Seven?!  Who the hell would name their kids a number?!”

Girlfriend:  “There’s a girl named Eleven.”

Mike:  “Yeah!  On a TV show!  And it wasn’t her real name!!”

 

The fact that I took Lara’s little “test” as a joke meant that our friendship was solidly guaranteed.  I passed!  We’ve been tight ever since.

 

#555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom

GETTING MORE TALE #555.5: A Short Visit to Sonic Boom

Yesterday I took Mrs. LeBrain to Toronto to see a neurosurgeon.  It was a great meeting; very positive, but we will get more into that in a future tale.   (Look for an upcoming Getting More Tale story called “Seize the Day” if you want to know more.)   After the meeting with the doctor, she had some tests.  I didn’t need to be around for the those, so with a couple hours to kill, I went down to Sonic Boom on Spadina.  I was accompanied by Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom, who insisted we cab to the store.  It was a rainy miserable day outside.  Wet, cold, windy and unpleasant.  The cab ride wasn’t unwelcome.

I’m glad I shaved my beard down to a goatee the other day, because almost every dude in that store looked the same.  Bearded hipsters buying vinyl, left right and center, lookalikes all!  I tuned out the background noise and focused on the cool.  Upstairs they had two colouring books I almost considered getting.  Do you know anyone who is a huge fan of either James Franco or Benedict Cumberbatch?  If so, I am happy to report that Sonic Boom had colouring books of both.  (They also had Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.)  I spied the new Mastodon among the new releases, but headed downstairs where the real treasures usually lay.

Although I put in a Herculean effort, there was little to be found.  Maybe I have too many CDs, because everywhere I flipped it seemed to be “got it, got it, got it, got it…”  Aaron asked me to look for Danny Michel and a few other titles.  Nothing to be found.  I was struck by how just about everything seems to be reissued on vinyl today.  The Spice Girls’ first album, Spice.  I fail to comprehend.  It doesn’t compute.  I considered buying some Kiss reissues, but I didn’t really want to come home with something I already owned.

With some persistence I did liberate three titles:

  1. The Sword – High Country (CD, used, $9.99)
  2. Queen – The Game (2 CD remaster, used, $9.99)
  3. Rush – Agora Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio, May 1975 (vinyl, new, $32.99)

The Queen set was in the recent arrivals, and that is a nice score.  I’m nowhere near complete with my Queen remasters, but when I can pick them off one by one, used?  That’s the best way.  The Rush on the other hand is something of a chance I’m taking.  This is a radio broadcast vinyl, and I’ve never bought one of those before.  They had several available.  I don’t have anything live from Rush in 1975, so that was the key factor.  Also a non-album track:  “Bad Boy”, a Larry Williams cover.  180 gram coloured vinyl to boot.  Should be good times.

Not a knockout shopping excursion, but not a waste of time either.  We walked back to the hospital (although Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom would have preferred a cab) and got soaked, but it’s good to stretch the legs when it’s a long day of driving and sitting.  Besides, we enjoyed looking at the Toronto scenery.  The fruit and vegetable markets smelled great.  They even had bonsai trees.

Back in the hospital waiting room, I was able to do a little research for my Kiss Re-Review series in progress.  Guess which album I have to write up next.

I don’t want to use the word “disappointing” for this Sonic Boom trip, because I am very pleased with my new albums.  I told Uncle Meat I wanted some more The Sword, and Sonic Boom delivered.  I’m more surprised than disappointed that I was only able to scrounge up three finds this time.  Every visit is different, and I’m sure that next time I return (either in the fall with Aaron, or sooner for more tests) it will be another story.  Sonic Boom is still an absolute must for any music fan visiting Toronto.  Don’t miss out, and be sure to check out the new arrival bins.  They are often the key to many great finds.

As always Sonic Boom gets 5/5 stars.  And so does Mrs. LeBrain for being a tough-as-nails trooper.