Monday, April 28, 2008

Pleasant Surprises

Once in a while you chance upon something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. We had the pleasure of such an occasion last week on our drive back from visiting family and spring snowboarding in Montreal.

Where I grew up, we have the Turnpike and Parkway but here it’s all about the 401. A means to speedily (some more speedily than others, ahem) travel from Toronto to Montreal, with time only for a few quick pit stops, most people don’t venture into the little towns scattered around the highway along the way.

Lucky for us, Sanj had a meeting in Belleville and so we, along with a visiting and newly engaged cousin from England (congratulations Radhika), spent a wonderful evening in a beautiful town. Belleville even means beautiful town in French!

Since Sanj is in the food business, our little side trip started off as a tour of a cannery, Sprague Foods. Similar to the opening sequence of Laverne & Shirley, except with cans, we were really impressed by the operation. Seriously, how often do you think about the canning process? It’s pretty neat and thankfully, super clean!

On our way to dinner, I stopped into a quaint used furnishing store, Funk & Grüven and was so thrilled to spend time getting to know the owner, Mark Malachowski and his employees. I actually LOVE small talk. Some people garden or skateboard, but my favorite hobby is small talk. Pleasant, unobtrusive conversation that’s non threatening, warm and makes people smile? I’ll take one of those, please. You learn a lot more about people then you think when you small talk and I love it.

I also love great finds! I bought this 1950’s pitcher while in the store for $30. The color stood out in the store and matches our new lights but what I really love about it is the shape!

We had dinner with Rick, the owner of Sprague Foods and his wife, Jane at a restaurant with fresh, homemade, locally stocked produce (I’ve been watching too much Gordon Ramsey), the Dinkel Family’s “Paulo’s Italian Trattoria”.

High school sweethearts and married for 25+ years, Rick and Jane were one of the nicest, most sincere couples we’ve met in a long time and it was a pleasure spending the evening with them. The best part of the night was when Sanj noticed Rick and Jane were holding hands during dinner. How sweet is that? Seriously, how often do you see that in Toronto or Montreal or New York?

A small town with big surprises for us city folk! We learned about canning, the secret to staying in love, where to shop for bargains and how lovely small towns are down the 401. We’ve even been invited to the town bash in June, celebrating 30 years in business for the Dinkel family and 10 years for Funk & Grüven. We’ll certainly be back!

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