This post is also called “Cottages: the enemy of salads everywhere.”

Wayne, Baby T and I went north on Friday: Lunch was a breakfast burrito that I ate on the run (from my local favourite, Espresso Mi Vida) while picking up groceries for the getaway. We were gunning it, to get out of the city before the traffic got too thick.

After a frantic packing session and a good fight, we were on the road on time (only half an hour off-schedule, which is spectacular for Wayne and I, and only possible with fighting). Still, it was well past dark when we finally reached the cottage, so supper was takeout Chinese. I respect you too much to lie: There wasn’t a vegetable in sight in my supper (Combo #4 – heavy on the chicken balls and red sauce). Dessert was Neapolitan ice cream with chocolate sauce. Cottage, dude. That’s what you do there.

After putting the baby to bed and digesting for some time, the men arrived. It was a boys’ weekend, a belated celebration for Wayne’s (and our friend Ric’s) birthday. I was the only female present, and only because I hold the keys to the place.

It was a privileged slot: Those men could cook! One of them, a Belgian, fed us a brunch on Saturday that was three hours in the making: the best crèpes I’ve ever had (one was cinnamony apple and cheddar; the other was BLT with a twist). As I watched the greatness of this brunch unfold, I was too absorbed to even think about making a side salad of any sort to serve with it.

I was in charge of supper (Giadia’s mascarpone pasta and Norm’s classic Italian chicken wings), but fortunately, the Belgian stepped up again, offering to take over the salad course. And he nailed it, with a perfectly balanced maple vinaigrette over a salad of romaine, shallots, slivered apple, almonds, cashews and raisins.

I wish I could have photographed the 12 exiled raisins that Wayne pushed to the edge of his plate like poison insects threatening to contaminate everything. But the camera died the moment after the salad was captured:

I, the Raisin Avenger, was in salad heaven. When dinner was done, the boys leaned back in their chairs while I plunged into the bottom of the salad bowl with the giant wooden tosser to scoop out every last bit. It’s exquisite to be served someone else’s dressing. You get so sick of your own. It’s like your own monkey brain, doing Great Expectations with grocery lists in your head; sometimes you just need a Jesus break from it.

With that in mind, I’ll wrap this, but I encourage you to 1) Make one of your friends swap a jar of homemade dressing with you, to keep you from getting bored of your salads, and 2) come back tomorrow to read about the delicious bowl I’m making tonight with a jar of dressing that Gelstein gave me. It’s built around a Jamie Oliver number called Crunchy Thai Salad, and it’s going to be a delicious kickstart to a redemptive, leafy week.

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