Photo by Subsetsum, used under Creative Commons license

If I was in a band, "Fahrenheit Bayonet" would be the name of our next album

About twelve years ago, while visiting an aunt (and my mother, who was visiting from out of province) we did a quick side trip to the Aberfoyle Market. No, I don’t know why either. While there, I decided to buy an old bayonet from an older gentleman selling war memorabilia. It was marked ‘1903’, which I took to be the year, and seemed to have a few Arabic characters scratched into the bottom of the blade. I’m not sure why I bought it; it’s possible I was re-reading books about WWI, or was just bored and saw something at the market that seemed interesting. I held onto it for all these years too, through two or three moves, even though there was never really anywhere to put it. I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it; there was craftsmanship to it, and it clearly had a story. I did hope it wasn’t a bloody one though. A little interwebby sleuthing tells me it was actually a British Enfield P-1903 1st Model SMLE bayonet.

A couple of weeks ago I walked into my favourite recent addition to my neighbourhood, Fahrenheit Coffee. I don’t even like coffee, but I like their coffee, and have become accustomed to drinking one of their Americanos each morning. They’re cool guys in there too — friendly and funny, and they remember my drink and mark my prepaid card for me so I’m in and out quickly. Anyway, that day a couple of weeks ago two of the staff were talking about collectibles, and one of the guys — Benny — said he collected bayonets.

O RLY?

A couple of days later I went back for another caffeine boost. Benny wasn’t working, but I left the bayonet with Benny’s colleague Brad. He thanked me and said he’d get it to Benny, who’d be pleased. Great. Cool. I went on my way, happy that Benny’s day would probably be made when he came in. A week or so later I was in and saw Benny behind the counter; he thanked me profusely and comped my coffee. Greater! Cooler! I made somebody happy and got a free caffeine burst. The universe works.

Yesterday I dropped in on the guys for my usual hit. I knew I’d nearly run out my prepaid card so, once they’d filled my cup, I made to buy a new card. Sameer and Brad smiled and told me it wasn’t necessary. Benny had bought me two prepaid cards to say thanks, and just not said anything. What a guy.

So yeah, I have a month of free coffee, basically. All for a bayonet that I’d held onto for years without really knowing why. The universe works even better than I thought.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to always buy your coffee from a local independent coffee shop. And to always have a spare bayonet.

.:.

Photo by Subsetsum, used under Creative Commons license

Photo by Anita & Greg, used under Creative Commons license

"A world of disproportion engulfs us, and we live in a universe that is absurd."

Not to get all book-snobby here, but I really never thought I’d read something by Stephen King. Given his wide audience I knew his books were accessible, but I never found myself interested in reading one. So I’d never actually cracked the spine on one until I read (on the Kobo, so no actual spine-cracking, I guess) 11/22/63 (kobo | amazon). I have a slight fascination with JFK’s assassination, not to mention the literary toolkit of time travel, so I bought it.

It wasn’t bad, really. Light, certainly, but it kept me entertained. I guess this is what people mean when they describe “summer books”. So on that basis, I guess I’d recommend it.

By the way, if you’ve read other Stephen King novels, then this connection flowchart may be of use:

.:.

Photo by Anita & Greg, used under Creative Commons license

Shouldn't the second Session99 be called Session100? No? Okay then.

“What better way,” we thought, “to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon than drinking Ontario craft beer?”

We couldn’t agree with ourselves more.

We returned to 99 Sudbury for the second annual Session99 Craft Beer Festival, and immediately found it to be far more busy than last year’s. Certainly it was easier to understand: last year there was a confusing — and, I think, fairly ripoff-ish — method of advanced tickets + per-beer tickets, whereas this year a single charge got you entry, lots of food, and unlimited beer samples.

Here’s what we tried, round by round:

  1. Two Augusta Ales from Kensington Brewing
  2. A Blueberry Wheat and an Ambre de la Chaudiere from Mill Street
  3. F&M’s Pepperazzi (made with jalapeno) and a Kensington Watermelon Wheat (Nellie seemed intent on trying the fruity wheat beers)
  4. From the new Bellwoods Brewery, the Picket Fence Wheat for me and the Sharkwitch IIPA for her
  5. My first of two Spearheads, the Moroccan brown ale, and the first of Nellie’s two collaboration brews, the Black Oak Daily Bread (w/ Sawdust City and Cheshire Valley)
  6. I had the second of my two Spearheads, the Belgian Stout, while Nellie hit the head
  7. Our first stop at Sawdust City yielded two fantastic beers: a very hoppy Golden Beach Pale Wheat for me, and a mixture of the Cockpuncher (seriously, cockpuncher!) IPA + Belgian witbier for Nellie
  8. I had a Hogsback Brewing traditional Scottish ale, but was annoyed with myself ex post facto for having visited a booth manned mainly by hoochies…I just didn’t notice until after they’d poured the sample. I have a general no-hoochie-booth rule at beer events…it’s a good indication that their beer will suck. I’m looking at you, True North Brewing. Meanwhile, Nellie had her second collaboration beer, but for the life of us we can’t remember what it was. Something from Amsterdam maybe?
  9. Perennial favourite Great Lakes gave us two new ones to try: the Lake Effect IPA for Nellie (even though I thought she should have tried the Armadildo) and some kind of porter for me…I forget which, but it definitely wasn’t the 25th anniversary Robust (which I have in my fridge, just waiting for me)
  10. Still ahead of Nellie, I had a Wellington Iron Duke, mainly because I can now officially say I got to 49/50 of my Project FiftyBrew beers
  11. Flying Monkey’s sample list had something called the Raped By Grapes, which was too sweet for Nellie (and also about which I suspect they received a few complaints) while I had the scotch ale, which was decent but not great
  12. Back to Sawdust City for the straight up Cockpuncher IPA (me) while Nellie had the Belgian Dubbel IPA (which I think was made in conjunction with Black Oak and Microbrasserie Charlevoix)

At this point it was nearly 4PM — the end of our session — and it was only then that we really figured out the food situation. We managed to squeeze in a few tiny cupcakes from The Sassy Lamb, including the peanut butter + maple buttercream icing + bacon “Canadian Mancake” which I so loved last year, and a pineapple-y one made with Spearhead’s IPA. We didn’t get burgers from Burger Bar, or gourmet corndogs from Cowbell, mainly because we’d stuffed ourselves before heading to the festival. Lesson learned for next year.

Highlights: Bellwoods, the two new Spearhead beers (for me), and the two collaboration beers (for Nellie), but most especially Sawdust City. I loved everything I tried from these guys. And to my earlier point about the relationship between beer quality and booth personnel hotness? Sawdust City was manned by a guy sporting a handlebar mustache and a giant dude with a mullet. That drew me like a magnet, and now we will never not order their beer if we see it on a menu.

By the time we walked down to King, I needed two things: a little more food in my belly, and a urinal. Beerbistro fit the bill on both counts (bonus: at Beerbistro you can watch vintage beer ads on screens above the urinals, and marvel at just how racist advertising used to be!) and we turned out to be hungrier than we’d thought. Then we walked home, drank a Muskoka Summer Weisse on the patio. Not long after that we nodded off and slept for ten hours. Summer!

Image from j_philipp, used under Creative Commons license

"That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn't notice. But we did."

Somehow, in the couple of months that it’s been in theatres, we’ve managed not to see The Avengers (imdb | rotten tomatoes) even once. Finally, with a little bit of time to spare during the week, we rectified that error.

But first, a bite to eat: I met Nellie at The Oxley, which has quickly become my favourite watering hole in Yorkville, mainly because all other Yorkville watering holes suck huge, save the flight deck at The Pilot. It has a smashing burger and interesting beer and a fantastic back patio, which is more than enough to make it my new work local. Anyway, when I arrived Nellie had staked out a position on the patio…which would have been fine, except that Toronto has been hotter than a marathoner’s armpit all week and I was wearing a dark suit. Anywayanyway: food good, drinks cold, back to theatre.

So we were a bit dawdly getting there and actually had the time wrong, so we got there five minutes late…or, in today’s theatre-going experience, just before the ads finished playing and just before the previews began. We each had time to pee out all remaining beer before the movie even started. Unbeknownst to us, though, we had elected to see it in 3D. Which I hate. Super, super-hate. But I’ll try not to let that ruin my impression of the movie.

That impression: it was great. Lots and lots of fun, and funny. Especially The Hulk; he had a couple of classic comedy moments, which I appreciated far more than Tony Stark’s non-stop sarcasm. But it was everything a comic book movie should be, and the special effects were stellar. I don’t know if I’ll bother buying it when it comes out on DVD — there’s not a lot of heft to it, if you know what I mean — but I’ll certainly watch it over and over when it comes on TMN. You know, two years from now.

.:.

Image from j_philipp, used under Creative Commons license

SoHot Climaxxx: not a porn star

After last weekend’s trip to PEC and the subsequent week of eating rather poorly, Nellie decided to undertake a wee project this past weekend: make fantastic meals all weekend and eat them at home. It sounded good to me. I’d been away at meetings for three days and wanted some real food. We decided we’d (finally!) set up the balcony for summer, take care of some shit around the condo and enjoy our meals at home all weekend long. So naturally we started off with drinks and snack down the street at Origin.

What? Look, it was Friday afternoon, the sun was out, we got out of work/meetings early and I wanted to have a bite and a glass of cold wine on a patio. So we ate overpriced snacks and drank some good wine (Norm Hardie Melon de Bourgogne and Riesling; Hidden Bench rosé, and some Vinho Verde that I can’t remember) and soaked up the day’s remaining sun.

Friday night we aimed low: nachos, beer (Denison’s for me, Coors Light — seriously — for her) and Project X (imdb | rotten tomatoes) on TV. We were saving our strength. The next morning we got up early, bought seventy pounds of stuff at St. Lawrence Market, had bacon and eggs and tomatoes for breakfast and got to work on the balcony. We got the tile down and the benches cleaned off just in time for us to have lunch: prosciutto on fresh ciabatta (mine: pecorino cheese, spicy bordeaux mustard; Nellie’s: parmesan, honey, black pepper) and grilled veggies, with the bottle of Lighthall rosé we picked up in PEC the weekend before. I don’t normally like rosé, but this one (a Cab Franc) was pretty good.

Not a bad setting either, right?

While we continued to work around the condo and begin the prep for dinner Nellie made us a fantastic batch of lavender lemonade, with lavender from our stop in PEC. We also opened a bottle of Le Clos Jordanne 2009 Village Reserve Chardonnay. Between that and knowing we’d have more Chardonnay with dinner we found ourselves in the mood to watch Bottle Shock (imdb | rotten tomatoes) so, with a little downloading, watch it we did.

Dinner that night was a new one: saffron chicken & basmati rice. Admittedly it needed a little extra flavour, so we threw in a little SoHot Climaxxx sauce (lime, garlic, cayenne) to perk it up. But the real star of the show was the Hidden Bench 2008 Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay. It was beautiful and creamy and buttery like a California chardonnay, but somehow still tasted like Niagara. We both wanted to marry it. Marry it hard.

Apologies for the poor-quality photo…I wasn’t paying attention to the exposure on my Android and had to use a pic from Nellie’s old iPhone. Anyway, there was no dessert — unless you count the rest of that bottle of Clos Jordanne. Which we did.

Sunday I was up early and availed myself of the St. Urbain bagels, strawberries and raspberries we’d bought at the market the day before. Then, by the time Nellie was up and we’d run a few errands, it was time for lunch: maple & chili glazed trout with a thai cucumber salad (w/ lime & fresh basil). I’d decided to pair it with a Clos Jordanne 2009 Village Reserve Pinot before I knew the trout would be in that kind of sauce, so admittedly the wine didn’t go at all. Still, all components of the meal were tasty on their own, so we toughed it out.

Note that Nellie needs a napkin, whereas I am generally able to not spill food on myself. Anyway. Partway through the afternoon I realized that lunch hadn’t been very substantial, and so made another prosciutto-on-ciabatta. It was just too good to let go.

Some cleaning up and bedroom-rearranging later, it was time to start prepping the final meal of the weekend: pizza two ways (the rest of the prosciutto with a shredded pecorino cheese, and a spicy genoa salami with a softer, melted pecorino), both done with Nellie’s homemade dough and marinara sauce. I’m never sure what wine goes with this kind of pizza, so we just had the bottle of St. Laurent we picked up at Harwood last weekend. I’m not sure it matched, but it didn’t not match either. So we’ll call that a draw.

So how did we do? Well, first and foremost it was all delicious. What’s more, a little math suggests that we spent about $90 on all the ingredients that went into all seven meals, notwithstanding the wine (which was paid for long before Nellie decided to do embark on this adventure). That’s less than we’d spent at Origin for a link of chorizo, four curry shrimp and two glasses of wine apiece, before tip. So yeah, there might be something to this whole eating-at-home thing after all.

"Honk if you've come for wine"

Sometimes your first trips to a place aren’t great, but you learn enough to make a fantastic repeat visit. Other times your first visit is a great one, and no return trip ever lives up to your first memories. However, once in a blue moon a first trip to a place so good it doesn’t seem repeatable is followed by a second trip that’s very nearly perfect. This past weekend, our second time in Prince Edward County (after a very good first visit in 2010) was just that: very nearly perfect.

Friday

That’s right, kids: we took the day off work to go drink wine. The night before we left we decided to have some extra fun on the way: we met our good friend Kaylea for lunch in Port Hope. She gave us a box of chocolates made right there in Port Hope and treated us to a tasty meal on the patio at Gusto overlooking the river, where we drank some Closson Chase Pinot Noir, gave her a bottle of Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 and her fiancé Matt’s USB charger (which we’ve had for months), and saw a deer run up-river.

We said our goodbyes and returned to our car not ten seconds before it was about to get slapped with a parking ticket. We hadn’t even noticed the meter behind a large sign. Or maybe the cop had seen our rental sticker and given us a break. Either way, it was an early bit of luck, and luck like that is what perfect weekends are made of. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We drove a little further and entered Prince Edward County at its west end, making our first stop By Chadsey’s Cairns. We’d never been before, and hadn’t planned on going this time either, but a friend’s request via Facebook to pick up a bottle swayed us. We pulled into the farmhouse, met Richard, and walked around the lane to the little apple house where they now sell their wine. We spoke with him a while, picked up a few atypical bottles (like their Gamay/Pinot blend) for ourselves and the friend-requested Chenins, and continued on down the road. Just then, it felt like a switch had been flipped: we’d been in the county less than ten minutes and already we felt right at home at this pace, among this scenery, with these people.

Our next stop was a favourite from the first visit: Keint-He. As we got out of the car we saw a deer, the second that day, on the edge of a field across the road. It stood stock still, and we wondered if it was a decoy the locals put up to make the tourists gawk. Self-conscious, we walked into the tasting room and ran their table, walking out with four bottles. The deer was gone. We sighed with relief and tried to look confident.

A few minutes later we checked in at the Newsroom Suites, our killer lodging find from the previous visit. Seriously: a roomy, convenient, non-frilly suite with free wi-fi situated directly across the street from the best restaurant in PEC. There wasn’t even a question of staying anywhere else. We dropped our bags and turned right back around, though — we had more wineries to hit.

We’d planned to visit Closson Chase next, but realized we’d drive right past The Old Third on the way. This had been a ‘maybe’ on our list, but a tweet from Rick Van Sickle (“Please don’t take all the Old Third Pinot!”) had piqued my curiousity, so in we pulled. And Rick wasn’t kidding about the Pinot…it’s all they sell (the sign outside didn’t say “wine” or “tasting room open”, it said “Pinot Noir”) and they do a magnificent job of it. We walked out with two bottles of their 2010 Pinot, got to the car, then realized we needed to go back in and get one of the few remaining bottles of the 2009. There wasn’t even a label on that one. I loved that.

Then: back toward Closson Chase, as planned. We loved everything we got there on our last visit, and all their wines we’d tried since. We left with four things: three bottles, and their opinion that the 2001 Chardonnay I won at auction a while back should be drinking beautifully right now. Thank heavens; I was worried I’d won some vinegar.

We had one more new winery to visit: Stanners. It was good. Not great, but good. And not expensive either, which is always welcome in PEC. We left with two bottles.

Our final stop of the day was the one most likely to be the busiest: Norman Hardie. We bought four bottles for ourselves and one for a friend, and dished some dirt with the employees about our mutual friend Duarte.

We had an hour or so to unload the car and relax in our suite before dinner at East & Main, definitely our favourite restaurant in the county, and right  across the street. We had a fantastic meal, even if we (okay, I) probably annoyed our server a little. Pro tip: don’t ask the vegetarians where they can buy cured meats. Anyawkward, here’s what we ate:

  • Dan
    • seared scallops w/ double smoked bacon, onion soubise, crispy parsnips
    • breast of moscovy duck w/ frites, fresh berry demi-glaze
    • maple crème brûlée
  • Nellie
    • fresh ravioli w/ braised beef, highline mushroom
    • 10oz grass fed striploin w/ celery root & potato purée, caramelized onion sauce
    • lemon tart w/ fresh fruit
  • Both
    • Biale 2007 “Party Line” Zinfandel from Napa (I know, I know: it was sacrilege to leave the County’s bottle list, but we couldn’t find a Pinot that we thought would hold up to Nellie’s steak. So we went with an old favourite from our Napa trip)

After dinner, relaxing in our room, all we could think was: that was one badass first day of vacation.

Saturday

We slept in a little, despite the bird outside our window that sounded like a car alarm, then got up and had breakfast just down the street at the Tall Poppy Cafe. Nellie had a “Bob”, which was kind of like a McMuffin for grown-ups, while I had some killer French toast. Suitably powered up, we resumed our winery pillaging.

We aimed for the southern part of the county, to some less-frequented but well-regarded wineries. The terrain changed again here: more twisting roads, more rolling hills. It felt a little bit like home…there was even a community named Athol. Along the way we saw yet another deer sitting calmly in a field, with only its head and neck sticking up, looking at us like we were interrupting brunch.

Our first stop in the area was Lighthall, a winery we’d never heard of until Kaylea recommended it earlier in the week. We weren’t expecting much, but…wow. Great find. Glenn, the winemaker, was so friendly, so informative, so helpful, so funny. And the wine was terrific: we left with two bottles of wine and two, ahem, bundles of top-secret material about which we’re sworn to secrecy. We’d thought about picking up a bottle of the 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir, but it was slightly pricey for something we couldn’t taste, especially when we’re already so well-stocked for pricey Pinot.

We finished our time in that part of the county with a visit to Exultet (where we got a nice crisp white and a top-flight Pinot that’s going straight into the wine fridge) and Long Dog (where we found zero dogs, sadly, but one very affectionate cat, a loud and somewhat annoying tour group, and a few nice bottles of plonk) before turning back to the north.

Since Fifth Town Cheese is now out of business we stopped in at Black River Cheese, but — apart from the ice cream-loving biker convention outside — it was pretty disappointing. As was Waupoos, by the way: it certainly offered a pretty venue, but when we parked the car and looked inside the tasting room we just…we couldn’t do it. It was too crowded, too touristy, too much. We started the car and got back on the road. Nearby tourist attraction Lake On The Mountain wasn’t terribly impressive either (looks-wise, at least…it’s still kind of interesting), but the views of the Bay of Quinte from up high were worth the stop.

At this point we were getting hungry, so we stopped for lunch in Picton at Buddha Dog, a magical place where tiny hot dogs come covered in interesting sauces like jerk and red pepper jelly and beef chili. We listened to 80s music (Frankie Goes To Hollywood!) and drank local root beer, and had three dogs each, and it all hit the spot perfectly. Full of mini-dog, we rescued our car from the Giant Tiger parking lot and pressed on.

We stopped briefly at the Marshmallow Room in Bloomfield to arm ourselves for dinner that night: meat, cheese, bread, and preserves to go with the dessert we’d picked up that morning at the Tall Poppy. Our plan was to have a simple meal at our place that night along with some of the wine we picked up that day.

But first, we had three more wineries we wanted to visit. Hinterland was all about sparkling, so not my bag, but certainly right in Nellie’s wheelhouse…and also appealing to the bachelorette party that came in after us. Grange of Prince Edward was disappointing — busy, touristy, and with lacklustre wines. Frankly, when we pulled into Karlo next we were expecting more of the same given all the cars and tour vans, but we were pleasantly surprised — we left with three bottles (though they charged us for only two, for some reason) including a Petit Verdot. And this helpful crowd control tip:

We passed a few hours back at our hotel, snacking and drinking wine on the porch. We watched the staff of East & Main get ready for their dinner service across the street, thinking back to how great our meal had been the night before. We kept thinking about it, and thinking about it, and comparing it to how our compilation-of-the-county dinner was going to be, and before long we said “fuck it” and called East & Main to make a reservation for that evening. That’s right, the same restaurant two nights in a row. Don’t judge us.

Our second dinner there was even better: the food may actually have not been quite as good on the second go-round, but two other things really made the night: first, they had the Lighthall ’09 Reserve Pinot that we’d eyed earlier in the day; second, our server was amazeballs.

Ze lineup:

  • Dan
    • fresh ravioli w/ braised beef, highline mushrooms (yup, we just flipped the apps from the night before)
    • pork loin w/ grilled vegetables and lentils in a mushroom and merlot reduction sauce
    • cinnamon apple pie ice cream
  • Nellie
    • seared scallops w/ double smoked bacon, onion soubise, crispy parsnips
    • fresh rigatoni alfredo w/ shrimp, grilled red onion, highline mushrooms, spinach, garlic white wine cream
    • lemon sorbet (but only because they were out of the lemon tart)
  • Both
    • Lighthall Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir Réserve (Having visited Lighthall earlier that day and seeing what this bottle cost retail, we knew that it was a STEAL here)

Like I said, our server — Laura — was sweet, and seemed to find us amusing, and really looked after us. At one point we forced her take a bite of my dessert even though it’s against the rules, just because it felt like we should. Years ago we realized you get far more out of being great to the people looking after you in bars and restaurants (sometimes they buy you lunch and give you chocolates and invite you to special occasions) than you do by being mean or bossy, and this was a perfect example of that tenet. Even though the meal didn’t quite measure up to what we’d had the night before, I’d rank it among the best dining experiences we’ve ever had.

Sunday

I let Nellie sleep in Sunday morning while I went for a somewhat greasier breakfast back at the Tall Poppy. Bacon, eggs, toast, cappuccino: everything a growing boy needs. We took our time getting ready, packed, and loaded up the car with our wine purchases (at this point we were pretty close to the three dozen mark) and took off. Our only plans for the day were to visit a lavender farm (seriously), eat some pizza, make one more winery stop on the way out of the county and make haste back to Toronto.

We stopped at PEC Lavender, where they had lots of (brace yourself) lavender, as well as a well-maintained Farmall that reminded me of my youth, even if it wasn’t quite the same model I grew up with.

Not long after that we were sitting outside at Norm Hardie’s winery, eating thin-crust pizza baked in wood-fired ovens, drinking glasses of his Chardonnay, chatting with a lovely British gentleman named John. The pizzas were superb, the weather was perfect, and the wine was — as always — immaculate. We bought a lone bottle of the Melon de Bourgogne, re-packed the trunk to minimize bottle-sliding and bid John and the rest of Hardie adieu.

Nellie did have a few more sips of wine, at Harwood, a winery on the way to the 401. Our main reason for stopping was to pick up a bottle of Pinot Gris for our friend but Nellie also decided to take a bottle of their St. Laurent, something you don’t see every day. I opted not to sample — I was driving, and anyway, I couldn’t think of a better final taste of the county than the Hardie chardonnay I’d paired with lunch.

Our drive home was easy, and we listened to Allo Darlin’ and Sloan, and made fun of other drivers, and talked our next trip. Woofstock caused a minor inconvenience when returning the car, but it was worth it for the rampant cuteness we saw on the way home. And then came the unpacking:

In total, that’s 32 bottles from 13 different wineries:

  1. By Chadsey’s Cairns 2009 Gamay/Pinot Noir
  2. By Chadsey’s Cairns 2011 Muscat
  3. Closson Chase 2009 Churchside Pinot Noir
  4. Closson Chase 2009 S. Kocsis Chardonnay
  5. Closson Chase 2009 K.J. Watson Chardonnay
  6. Exultet 2009 Pinot Noir
  7. Exultet 2011 White Light Vidal/Pinot Noir
  8. Grange of Prince Edward 2007 Victoria Block Chardonnay (which we drank last night)
  9. Harwood 2009 St. Laurent
  10. Hinterland 2009 Rose
  11. Karlo 2010 Choa Chardonnay
  12. Karlo 2010 Cabernet Franc
  13. Karlo 2010 5th Element Petit Verdot
  14. Keint-He 2008 Pinot2 Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier
  15. Keint-He 2008 Pinot2 Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier
  16. Keint-He 2009 Little Creek-Benway Pinot Noir
  17. Keint-He 2008 Pineaux Sauvage Pinot Noir (Botrytis-affected)
  18. Lighthall 2009 Cabernet Franc
  19. Lighthall [**REDACTED**]
  20. Lighthall 2011 Progression Vidal
  21. Long Dog 2007 Otto Riserva Pinot Noir
  22. Long Dog 2008 Bella Riserva Chardonnay
  23. Norman Hardie 2008 Cuvee “L” Chardonnay
  24. Norman Hardie 2009 County Pinot Noir
  25. Norman Hardie 2010 County Chardonnay
  26. Norman Hardie 2011 County Melon de Bourgogne
  27. Norman Hardie 2011 County Pinot Gris
  28. The Old Third 2009 Pinot Noir
  29. The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir
  30. The Old Third 2010 Pinot Noir
  31. Stanners 2010 Cabernet Franc
  32. Stanners 2010 Lincoln Lakeshore Chardonnay (which we drank on our front porch Saturday afternoon)

We also picked up a few bottles for friends: 2010 & 2011 Chenin Blanc from By Chadsey’s Cairns, a Harwood 2010 Pinot Gris, another [**REDACTED**] from Lighthall, and a Norman Hardie 2010 County Chardonnay.

So yeah…this might just have been the perfect weekend getaway. We had amazing weather. We had incredible dining experiences, on and off the table. We picked up plenty of our favourite wines and were surprised with some fantastic new finds. Our car & hotel rentals were problem-free, which is pretty much all you can ask for. We saw beautiful scenery, and felt relaxed practically the moment we arrived. We even managed an impromptu visit with a dear friend. Best of all we returned refreshed, relaxed and loaded down with tasty wine. What the hell else do we need out of a weekend, I ask you?

Rien. Absolument rien.

Photo by kata rokkar, used under Creative Commons license

Multifarious

The best music I’ve bought lately, in no particular order:

  • Japandroids . Celebration Rock
  • Shearwater . Animal Joy
  • Sharon Van Etten . Tramp
  • Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny . Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
  • Cannon Bros . Firecracker Cloudglow
  • Jack White . Blunderbuss
  • The Kills . Blood Pressures
  • Perfume Genius . Put Your Back N 2 It

OK, I may have fibbed just now. There was a tiny bit of order: the new Japandroids was at the top of that list because in sheer rawk-awesomeness it outshines the others on the list.

.:.

Austerity pushers and vaccination kooks are giving kids in Washington State whooping cough. Or something. Warning: contains the eye-meltingly great line, “I hope there’s a hot place in Dumbass Hell for Jenny McCarthy.”

.:.

Recent movies we’ve watched:

  • Here’s how to tell when Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment has run out of movies I’m willing to watch: I watch Contraband (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It was rubbish.
  • The Guard (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was superb. Fun, and funny. It didn’t disguise the fact that it was a standard cop movie trope (big crimes in small towns, kooky townspeople, fish out of water big shot from the FBI, etc.) and it took me a few minutes to understand anything anyone said, but once it got going Brendan Gleeson was terrific and people like Don Cheadle and Liam Cunningham filled in the rest nicely.
  • Triangle (imdb | rotten tomatoes) came out of nowhere. I don’t remember where I heard about it, but it sat on my hard drive for more than two years before we finally watched it. And it was pretty good…a decent little thriller that worked just fine as long as you didn’t think too hard about the sequencing (and sequencing, and sequencing) of events.

.:.

I’ve been sending this article to just about every extrovert I know. Specifically the ones who think introversion is something they think they can help people “get over” by forcing them into social situations. Which is to say, all of them.

.:.

OK, so…the Eaton Centre shooting yesterday. Brutal. Tragic, obviously. Stupid.Worrying, sure, due to the premeditated gun violence carried out by multiple attackers on someone who is probably, at least according to early signals given by the police, directly or indirectly linked to a gang…worrying in the same way the Jane Creba shooting was. But not scary. Not to me, at least.

We know the questions will come about whether we’re worried about living five minutes away from the Eaton Centre (well, ten minutes from the end of the mall where this happened), but honestly it doesn’t feel that close. To be honest, I don’t even consider the Eaton Centre to be part of Toronto. It’s like this weird suburban amusement park wedged between the tackiest corridor of Yonge and ugliest stretch of Bay, in which no non-teenager valuing their sanity would set foot for more than a few moments, and into which no actual Torontonian would walk of their own volition. So that underground food court where the shooting took place seems to me like a far-flung, unknown corner of the city.

As it happened, Nellie and I walked through the mall (straight through, actually…there’s a shortcut from Yonge to the Mercatto abutting Trinity Square) about five hours before the shooting. Had we chosen to eat dinner there instead of a late lunch we would have been there for the shots (albeit two levels up) and would have rushed out with the rest. But even knowing that, there’s no feeling of fear due to proximity. It happened somewhere else.

.:.

Featured image by kata rokkar, used under Creative Commons license