Our string of harsh/depressing docs continues

We have made our picks for the upcoming Hot Docs documentary festival:

  1. Better This World
  2. If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
  3. The Bully Project
  4. How to Die in Oregon
  5. The Hollywood Complex

Just to recap, then, that’s:

  • domestic terrorism and government entrapment;
  • arson and (more) domestic terrorism;
  • bullying;
  • euthanasia;
  • fame-whoring of children.

La la la springtime happiness la la!

Better This World


We tried a new restaurant last night: Paese. I’d heard good things about their Italian food with a Canadian influence (their tagline is “Inspired in Italy, Made in Canada”) and we decided to give it a whirl, bypassing the endless nondescript eateries lining King Street west of John.

The Canadian-Italian theme really came through, to good effect. Our scallops wrapped in pancetta were excellent; I had a glass of Tempranillo, while Nellie had a Canadian Chardonnay. Our mains were certainly Italian — margherita pizza for me, linguine with sausage and rapini for her — but our wine (an 07 Daniel Lenko Syrah) was oh so Canada.

We had no room for dessert, opting instead for a beer or three at Smokeless Joe, but the menu we looked at seemed enticing. I think we’ll be back; it’s one of the few decent options in that swatch of King West, along with Luna across the street in Festival Tower.

It's like spaghetti, except it's more square than round

What a goddamn enjoyable day. No one stellar thing to trump all others, just a collection of goodness. Examples:

  • Eating rosemary/olive bread and cloth-bound cheddar and pineapple for breakfast, which sounds disgusting but was awesome.
  • Getting some work done. (Okay, so this isn’t particularly fun, but it feels good to get it out of the way and not have to go to the office.)
  • Listening to the new Elbow album, which is excellent, and the new PJ Harvey, which I hated at first but now cannot shake from my head.
  • Lunch at La Bettola di Terroni which, despite being right around the corner from us, we’d never tried. It was fantastic. I had the braised beef agnolotti in a sage brown butter sauce; Nellie had the chitarra pasta in a lemon cream sauce with sausage & truffles. We also helped the couple sitting next to us, in town from North Carolina, to find a place to spend the day (the Distillery District) and eat dinner (Origin).
  • Gathering supplies at a less-crowded-than-normal St. Lawrence Market, as well as two bottles of Flat Rock (Riesling, Pinot Noir) for this weekend’s meals.
  • Espresso. For which I have apparently developed a taste (need?).
  • Submitting 2010 taxes avec healthy return.
  • Running 4.5km and feeling pretty good doing it.
  • Eating a fairly tasty meal from Golden Thai (after we found out the even-closer Thai place, Ivory Thailand, had been replaced by a French bistro some 3 hours earlier) along with the afore-mentioned Riesling.
  • Watching many episodes of Sons of Anarchy (imdb).
  • Admiring the supermoon.
  • Booking a kick-ass campsite for this fall’s excursion.

In absentia

My blog host had a little hiccup on Sunday, which means two things:

  1. Accented characters are displaying strangely right now. Not sure why just yet. Character code set something or other. Fix is coming forthwith; in the interim please don’t report me to the Ministry of Bilingualism.
  2. The post I’d written on Sunday about Sons of Anarchy has disappeared, as the hosting service went to last good backup, and I’ve spent more time fixing than writing, so it’s been — ye gods! — 10 days since my last blog post.

Have you heard about big red?

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been ten months since our first trip to visit Niagara wineries. It was there that I started to learn about, and fall for, Ontario wine. Since then we’ve made another trip, as well as a run to Prince Edward County, and the majority of my LCBO purchases in these ten months have been from Ontario. It’s safe to say that I’m hooked.

On Friday a colleague (teasingly) mocked my love of Ontario wine. He claims to like bigger, fuller reds, and suggested Ontario wine was “fine if you like [makes disgusted face] Pinot Noir.” To which I say: phooey.

Listen up, kids: there is some excellent Ontario wine out there, some of which are substantial enough to be mistaken for Australian or Californian. Granted, a lot of them are pricey, but there are certainly affordable ones out there as well. Here are some suggestions for people who actually want to give it a try:

  • My favourite Ontario wine, and maybe my favourite wine overall: the Thirty Bench Cab Franc ($40). This wine also just won the top prize at Cuvée 2011, Ontario’s ‘wine oscars’. If $40 is a little rich for your blood, then the Thirty Bench Red blend ($24) carries quite a bit of the Cab Franc and is more accessible, and nearly as full-bodied.
  • If the Cab you want is not Franc, but Sauv, then Thirty Bench also does an excellent one of those for $40. However, biodynamic producer Southbrook also does a fantastic one in their Whimsy line ($35). Meanwhile, the Strewn Cab Sauv is just $20.
  • I was never a big fan of Syrah, but Southbrook’s bottles turned me around. Peppery, substantial, but still easy to drink…well worth the $25. If you’re looking to spend less, the Creekside Shiraz costs $16, rates a healthy 88 points and can be found in practically any LCBO.
  • The Tawse Meritage ($58) almost knocked me over when I tried it in their tasting room. A bottle of it is sitting in my cellar, waiting for a special occasion. For a lower-cost, equally-ass-kicking Meritage I really, really wish I could tell you to go buy the 07 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché ($35), but as far as I can tell it’s sold out. We’ve drunk two bottles of it to date, and — because we were greedy and opened it a few years too early — had to decant it for hours before drinking it. Now our final bottle is lying in wait for at least two more years, and I’m not sharing.
  • And yes, Ontario does have good Pinot Noir. And I like Pinot Noir. But I didn’t really like it until I tried the real — in my opinion — local champs of the grape: Le Clos Jordanne ($25-$75, depending on the vineyard) and Norman Hardie ($35-$39). Flat Rock does a great lower-cost bottle($20) too.
  • If you’re not particular about varietal and just want a serious red, I can recommend either the Stratus Red blend ($44) or the Chateau des Charmes Equuleus ($40). If that’s too rich, the Creekside Laura Red ($20) is a worthy substitute.

I’ve missed plenty, but hopefully that’s enough to convince a few people that there really are some great Ontario reds available at a variety of prices. Besides, drinking local never hurt anybody!

"The KA program is a myth."

Since Nellie’s sick and not able to get up to much we stayed in last night and watched a movie: Salt (imdb | rotten tomatoes). I’d never intended to see it, but it seemed like dumb Friday night sick-wife fun. It actually started off reasonably well, but got pretty dumb toward the end. I can’t say much without giving away key parts of the movie, but suffice it to say Angelina Jolie now looks like some kind of puffy-lipped upright dragon.