Le party

Last night we hosted a little dinner party for CBGB and the Kelly Gang. Good fun and great company all around, but I was so impressed with the meal Nellie whipped up that I had to record it here for posterity. We tried hard to make it a very Ontario-based meal, and with only a few exceptions, we managed that.



Wine (Fielding 2009 White Conception, Union Red)

Beer (Great Lakes Devil’s Pale Ale, Creemore urBock, Hockley Valley Dark)

Ice wine martinis (Grey Goose vodka, Lakeview Cellars vidal icewine)

Hors D’Oeuvres

La Quercia prosciutto

Crostini with chevre, honey and cracked pepper


Curried butternut squash soup with toasted coconut, scallions, cashews and pakoras

Daniel Lenko 2007 Old Vines Chardonnay

Hidden Bench 2007 Fumé Blanc


Cumbrae’s pork loin stuffed with apple & caramelized onion

Sea-salt roasted potatoes, green beans and fennel

Norman Hardie 2008 County Pinot Noir

Norman Hardie 2008 Unfiltered Pinot Noir


Ewenity sheep’s milk cheese: Beemster, Ermite, Parmesan and Brebette, served with honey, balsamic, red pepper jelly and apple cinnamon chardonnay jelly

Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate

Raincoast crisps

Daniel Lenko 2002 Vidal Icewine

Macallan 15-year-old Fine Oak aged single malt whisky


And now…we clean up.

"Here's to you, 1998 amalgamation!"

From Torontoist’s typically excellent visual summary of how Toronto voted for mayor, by ward:

Also, this more nuanced version:

You’ll notice that the actual city of Toronto voted Smitherman, while the suburbs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough all voted Ford. You’ll also notice that the purple area in the first map pretty much overlays with the subway lines.

While it’s not really sensible to blame the election result entirely on amalgamation, it’s fun to try. The subject of this post, “Here’s to you, 1998 amalgamation” is taken from the comment section of the Torontoist article. It made me laugh and made me angry all at once.

Bloody hell

  • Rob Ford: 47.1%
  • George Smitherman: 35.6%
  • Joe Pantalone: 11.7%

This is also how I felt on the 8 Nov 2000. Rob Ford may be far less powerful than George Bush was, but he’s much closer to home.

Calgary had their election a week before Toronto. One of those cities elected a progressive young Muslim, the son of an immigrant, to be mayor. The other elected a fiscally & socially conservative white guy from the burbs. It’s like we got each other’s leaders.

Yankee swap anybody?!

The lesser of 2.5 evils

Last year I pointed to the relationship between an Economist blog comment and a five-year-old clip from Real Time with Bill Maher. Specifically I pointed to the need for a third political choice and the general unhealthiness of reducing complex political acts to a binary Coke-vs-Pepsi race. I didn’t get into the whole moral complication of wanting to vote for a third choice (like Ralph Nader, in the 2004 example) but feeling the need to vote ‘strategically’ to keep the worst option from winning. I’ve never believed in voting that way; you should vote for who you think will do the best job.

However: I simply cannot have Peter Griffin running my city.

I want to vote for Joe Pantalone, I do. I don’t buy all the wailing about him continuing the horrible legacy of David Miller, mainly because I don’t think David Miller was a bad mayor. I see George Smitherman as benign and centrist, but I’ll gladly take inertia over the notion of regressing for the next three years.

Just think back. Nobody in America was excited at the idea of Al Gore being president, but look at where the other guy got them. And while they may have voted with their hearts, the Nader supporters inadvertently reaped a simple-minded whirlwind.

Tonight after work I’ll hold my nose and vote, and then go home for a stiff drink while watching the news.


I have now reached #34 out of 50 on the Project FiftyBrew list, after drinking a Dieu Du Ciel Équinoxe Du Printemps and a Tree Hophead IPA last weekend, and a Wellington County Ale just now.

I’m definitely going to hit a wall soon though. Volo has another four on the list, the LCBO has two more and there’s one (the Garrison Imperial IPA) in my fridge, but after that…it gets sketchy. Two are Dieu du Ciel beers that I never see anywhere and five more are Unibroue that are rarely if ever in Toronto. The other two are from Garrison (no problem, I’m on the east coast all the time) and the Wellington Imperial IPA, which I’m sure will rotate into local taps now that the weather’s turned cold. Both those seven from Quebec could be problematic.

Road trip to Montreal, anyone?

Voting with my wallet

Back in August I had one of the most frustrating customer experiences of my life. I won’t get into the great gory details, but suffice it to say Rogers really, really pissed me off. I told the unhelpful phone rep who spoke to me that I’d be canceling my (rather substantial) cable services in protest. He said he could do nothing. The folks manning Rogers’ Twitter account tried to help, and did solve one of the problems, but not enough to save my business. My white-hot rage had cooled to regular old anger, but I wasn’t staying with them after how they treated me. A few weeks ago I finally pulled the trigger.

So, as I sit here typing this, I’m watching the Montreal game in the corner of my monitor, piped through Bell’s new Fibe TV. Nellie’s in the other room playing with the new PVR, which uses the same interface as Windows Media Center. It’s all pretty slick and it looks great, so…so far so good. Meanwhile, I’ve just called Rogers and explained to them that I’m canceling my service…this agent seemed horrified that I’m leaving after thirteen years with Rogers, especially when I pointed her to the history of that conversation in their CRM system.

Of course, even though they’ll shut off my service in 72 hours, they’re still going to charge me for a full 30 days. Just because they’re douches. And so, one final time: eat a dick, Rogers.

"Did I adequately answer your condescending question?"

Yesterday we visited a movie theatre for the first time in three months (TIFF screenings notwithstanding) to see The Social Network (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Since I first heard about the film I’d been torn: the subject matter seemed ridiculous, but the team working on it — David Fincher directing, Aaron Sorkin adapting the screenplay, Trent Reznor scoring, Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg — was an all-star lineup. So when early reviews came back extremely positive I was excited, but still a pit perplexed as to what I’d be watching.

I needn’t have worried though. The movie owned me from the first scene, with dialogue written in the same smart, rapid-fire manner that got me hooked on Sports Night and The West Wing, with the White Stripes‘ “Ball and a Biscuit” playing in the background. Fincher briefly took over with his shot of Eisenberg running through the Harvard campus, which was probably CGI but gave that feeling of supernatural realness that Fincher perfected with Zodiac, but generally just stayed out the way of the script. Reznor added some perfect color to a few scenes (the bar in New York where they meet Sean Parker) but, again, didn’t overwhelm the film.

It did drag a bit toward the end (I could have done with a little less Winklevii) but I was still liked it a lot. I don’t know if I’ll buy it when it comes out, but I could probably watch the first hour over and over again.

Exeunt Dickinsons

Sadly, our vacation has (more or less) come to an end. We had a great send-off last night, dinner down the road at Saffron. Great food, wonderful decor and excellent service. We packed, crashed and slept the sleep of happy travelers.

In the morning we drove down to San Francisco, an unremarkable trip except that we saw a fog bank creep in over Sausalito like the fingers of a giant hand. We drove right into it, which made our second drive across the Golden Gate bridge somewhat less scenic than the first. Without too much difficulty we reached SFO, had a nasty burger and some Anchor Steam, and prepared to board our flight.

When all is said and done this will likely go down as one of our best trips, but right now all we want to do is get home, relax a little and sleep in our own bed.

Bye California!!!


Vowing to get the trip back on track, we arose early (despite a night of brutal pain in my knee and thumb) and had some very tasty breakfast. Nellie decided to take another stab at being the designated driver and began to shuttle me around to some Sonoma wineries. We tried Loxton Winery, which was highly enjoyable. I was determined to take home a Pinot Noir, and theirs was quite good, so we bought one of their last bottles. When our server heard it would be one of the four we’d bring back to Canada with us out of the dozens we’d tried, she had the winemaker sign the bottle. We drove past the cheeky little road signs on their driveway with our fourth of four and felt good about the start to our day.

Our next stop was down the road at Kaz Vineyard & Winery, which our little Back Lanes book described as being very laid back. It came exactly as advertised. Their tasting room was already decked out for Hallowe’en, and they had plenty of different wines. I don’t just mean a variety, I mean they had blends and varietals we’d not tried anywhere on this trip. We eventually settled on a 100% Lenoir, partly because we thought it might be the only one of those we ever see, and partly because we thought it would go well with lunch. It did, as it turns out — we picked up some pasta from Cafe Citti on the way back to the hotel, found ourselves a picnic table and ate lunch on a perfect California day. Oh, one other awesome point about Citti: they sell several Russian River beers. They had a few in bottles, but not Pliny The Elder (the #2-ranked beer in the world). Nonetheless, the guy behind the counter just pulled me a little sample while we waited for our order. Awesome! Between the food, the beer and the service I can pretty much guarantee we’ll be back to Citti on our next trip.

Thus ended the busy part of our trip. We spent the entire afternoon swimming, drinking wine under a tree, reading by the pool, rescuing a drowning honeybee and generally relaxing on a perfect afternoon. We even saw a family of deer grazing across a dry riverbed. It’s not often I could describe a hotel as being idyllic, but…this might just be.

It’ll be hard to leave tomorrow, but at least we’re leaving Napa and Sonoma on a high note. It was looking bleak for a while there.