Right, where's that key to the gym?

It’s been a week of long hours punctuated by extravagant eating. Nellie kicked off the week with a test dinner (she likes to test out potential dinner-party meals on me, which I’m just fine with) consisting of salad, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and gnocchi in a pancetta tomato-cream sauce, paired with bottles of Riesling and Pinot Grigio.

On Monday I had a work thing at North 44, still one of Toronto’s most consistent & solid restaurants. I didn’t realize it at the time but I ended up ordering the same meal I’d had there almost exactly a year earlier: butternut squash ravioli with oxtail ragout and sage, and the 12 oz. USDA rib eye. And then some kind of coconut thing for dessert.

On Wednesday night I met M2 at Volo to do some catching up. They have a particularly good tap list on right now; I had a Denison’s Dunkel and a Great Lakes Winter Ale, as well as the 38th beer on my Project FiftyBrew list: a Wellington Russian Imperial Stout. Most important, though, was a few hours spent with an old friend and, let’s face it, mentor. It happens far too infrequently for my liking.

Last night was another catch-up with old friends, this time with two old mates from university, including CBJ, briefly in town from Cincinnati with his wife. The other friend and his wife made beef bourguignon and poured us copious amounts of wine and port and limoncello as we sat in their beautiful apartment and talked into the wee hours. And to top the evening off, CBJ had smuggled three more Project FiftyBrew beers across the border — and the fact that I have to import Quebec beer from northern Kentucky tells you all you need to know about inter-provincial liquor import laws. Anyway, I now have bottles of La Terrible, Quelque Chose and Ephemere Pomme in my fridge. So…win.


I’m fortunate to cheer for a hockey team which has won six Stanley Cups during my lifetime. That’s right, Leafs fans under the age of 43: six. Suck it. Anyway, I’m too young to remember much about the first four of those Canadiens cup wins (in consecutive years from 76 to 79) except that it was during those years that I decided Montreal was my favourite team, much to my father’s chagrin. I only vaguely recall the arrival of St. Patrick (Roy) to win the cup in 1986, as I didn’t really start paying attention to hockey until I was fourteen. It was 1989, and Montreal had made the cup finals again in Pat Burns‘ first year behind the bench.

The Canadiens lost to Calgary that year, but it set a precedent for Burns: he had a habit of making a big impact in his first year with each team he coached. He won the Jack Adams trophy that year as best coach in the NHL. Making the traitorous move to Toronto in 1992, he led an underdog team of Maple Leafs to game 7 of the conference finals, before Wayne Gretzky eventually shot Doug Gilmour in the neck, peed on his corpse and threw the puck into the Toronto net with his bare hands. Or at least that’s how Leafs fans describe it. Nonetheless, Burns won the Jack Adams again for his role in turning Toronto into a contender. He would eventually be fired, but won a third Jack Adams trophy in his first year coaching the Boston Bruins. In 2003 he led the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup, his first and only cup win. A few years later he would step down because of the cancer that would eventually spell the end of him. Pat Burns died last Friday.

It was a fitting coincidence, then, that Montreal and Toronto were to face each other the following evening. Montreal — as is their custom — held a touching and tasteful ceremony of remembrance before the game. It is well the game was not set for Toronto; I shudder to think how that tribute might have gone. The Canadiens then went out and stomped all over the Leafs, winning 2-0 for Carey Price’s third shutout in six games. Price looked, as he has all season, calm and focused and confident. After the game Price revealed to reporters that his inspired play of late may have had something to do with the very man the fans celebrated last night.

“He was a special person and he did a lot of great things in this league for both teams,” Price said of the 58-year-old who had success as coach in Montreal, Toronto, Boston and New Jersey before his illness drove him to step down in 2004.

“He left me a message before the season started and I was really touched. He gave it to (assistant coach) Kirk Muller and he passed it on to me.”

Asked what Burns said, Price just said: “That will always be here with me.”

Thanks Burnsy.

And the final tally is…

16, not counting the two we’ve already knocked off.

Since you can’t see them all, that’s:

  • Casa-Dea CD Rosso 2008
  • Closson Chase Aberdeen Chardonnay 2007, CCV Chardonnay 2005 and S. Kocsis Chardonnay 2007
  • Huff Estates Riesling Medium Dry 2009 and Huff Estates Vidalesco Sparkling 2009
  • Keint-He Little Creek Pinot Noir 2007 (x2)
  • Lacey Estates Gewurztraminer 2009
  • Norman Hardie Chardonnay Sans Barrique 2008, Unfiltered Chardonnay 2008 and County Pinot Noir 2008
  • Rosehall Run Cabernet Franc 2007 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
  • Sandbanks Dunes Vidal 2009 and Foch Reserve 2008

Of all those we tried I’d say Norm Hardie, Closson Chase and Keint-He were the best and worth visiting again. Not that the others were bad — they’re still far better than most of the plonk you find in the LCBO — but those three really stood out.

The county

In keeping with our recent tendency to only visit wine regions we took today off and drove east to Prince Edward County. Friends of ours had visited and liked the laid-back feel, so we made some reservations, picked some wineries to visit and got underway.

Today we visited Huff Estates, Keint-He, Rosehall Run, Casa-Dea, Norman Hardie and Sandbanks. All told we cam away with 13 bottles, at least two from each, but Keint-He and Norman Hardie were far and away our favourites.

We also had two very good meals: a nice little lunch at the Bloomfield Carriage House, and an exceptional dinner at East and Main. My duck, and Nellie’s pasta, were spectacular, especially since they were paired with a bottle of Norm Hardie’s County Pinot Noir. And the beautiful finishing touch: the restaurant is literally across the street from our hotel, the Newsroom Suites. The place is hard to describe, really…it’s a 4-room suite above the local newspaper office, and when the newspaper stops operations for the day we’re left all alone in the building. Weird, but quaint, and the suite itself is really quite nice.

So far it’s been an excellent trip. For tomorrow we have a good-looking local breakfast place lined up and a few more wineries, then back home.

The way to gone

Before we dash off on another weekend excursion (Prince Edward County…yet another wine trip) I thought it prudent / inoffensive / who cares? to do a brain dump of recent consumption:

  • The new albums by Best Coast, Swans and Junip are really quite good
  • Speaking of Junip, I’m pissed at the internet for taking so long to tell me about Jose Gonzales‘ brilliant cover of “Born In The USA”
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was better than The Girl Who Played With Fire, but still wasn’t great
  • Corin Tucker‘s new album 1,000 Years is quite something, especially “Doubt”. If Wild Flag‘s debut album is this good it’ll be almost as good as a Sleater-Kinney reunion
  • Neil Young‘s new one Le Noise sounds like he’s trying to sound as loud as Neil Young & Crazy Horse all by himself. And I kind of like it.
  • Iron Man 2 (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was okay.
  • New albums by The Black Angels, Japandroids, Robert Plant, Sleigh Bells, Sharon Van Etten, Black Mountain, The Walkmen and Wolf Parade weren’t quite good enough for me to buy them, but I did pick up some excellent songs from each one.

An excellent beer night

He said, as if there was another kind.

Two good pieces of news from Troy Burtch’s excellent beer blog: first, that the Ontario Craft Brewers have released an iPhone app (which I have dutifully downloaded to the wife’s device) telling me where I can find tasty local beer. Second, that the LCBO will soon be carrying Dieu Du Ciel Solstice D’Hiver (which is on my Project FiftyBrew list) and the Traquair Jacobite Ale, which I lurved when I first had it back in September.

Meanwhile, as I type this, I’m drinking a Creemore Springs urBock, taking me up to 35/50 on Project FiftyBrew. It may come to pass that I take care of #s 36 and 37 tonight as well if the Canadiens keep playing the way they have been tonight…

[UPDATE] Yeah, I drank #36: Garrison Imperial IPA.

[UPDATE Nov 4] Yeah, I drank #37 too: Dieu Du Ciel Rigor Mortis.