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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Elusive Rice Ball

When I say "rice balls", I'm sure that for some of you readers out there it summons the image of Onigiri, the delicious Japanese rice and seaweed snack (which is also, incidentally, the definition that comes up if you wikipedia the phrase 'rice balls'). However, if you live on Danforth East or are familiar with Italian fast food, you know that the version of rice balls that I'm eluding to is that of the crispy, deep fried, artery clogging cheese ball type. If you live on Danforth East, you also know that these delicacies are basically similiar to an elusive unicorn - a creature of myth and legend.

A few weeks ago, I was ironically sitting next to two readers of East End Pioneer at a friends wedding, and the rice ball topic came up. They confirmed what I had been told by many: that North Pole Bakery, at Greenwood and Danforth, makes the best ones. The problem is, I have now made four trips to this semi-hidden mom and pop shop and still have not been able to get myself one tiny rice ball. They have been either closed for a long, long summer holiday or I've arrived too late in the day.

I came close the other day - it was 11:30 a.m. and I could see through the window that there were seven of them glinting in the sunlight. I clumsily pulled my huge jogging stroller into the store, only to see the woman behind the counter putting ALL of them in a takeout container. I point, and gape, in frustration - she just shrugs and says "prego, someone called and put them aside". Tears almost came to my eyes. So close, yet so far away.

An older Italian gentleman takes pity on me and once outside on the sidewalk gives me some "fatherly" advice. Go to Columbos, he says. They make 400 of them a week and you're sure to get one. "But these are the best," I sputter. "I know," he shrugs, and waves a retreat.

Moral of the story - you're guaranteed a rice ball at Columbos (1794 Danforth), but if you want "the best" you might as well get up at the crack of dawn and stand in line, because that might be the best strategy!

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