Matthew Danger

If you’re going to have friends, have friends who know wine and who can cook and who have access to a great cottage and who like to share and who are generally just the best. This was our weekend:

Matt smoked some ribeyes…

…while we opened the vertical of Bachelders Chardonnays we brought: the 2009, 2010, and 2011…

…and brought the last bottle down to the dock…

…to watch the sunset.

Seriously, look at that.

Couldn’t have asked for a better spot to enjoy a special wine.

Sunset turned from yellow to red as our night ended.

The next day we tallied the damage. Beer not included.

Sunset the next evening was almost as spectacular…

…and paired with beer this time…

…as the last of the clouds drifted away.

There was even time for a little fishing before dark…

…and the evening’s campfire.

Day 2’s consumption. Much of this went with a feast of lobster, shrimp, scallops, and squid.

All weekend we were entertained by chipmunks, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, and the odd hummingbird. We also did battle with a squirrel.

If there’s a better weekend than relaxing in that place, swimming in that lake, eating that food, drinking that wine, all with those friends, I haven’t found it yet.

.:.

Side note: all of these pictures were taken with our phones, sans filters.

Cover photo by Nedra, used under Creative Commons license

“The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve; Lovers, to bed; ’tis almost fairy time.”

As part of a work event Nellie and I got to see a play at Stratford for the first time yesterday. It was a modern, winking version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bookended by a semi-surreal round trip on a party bus. I’m not entirely sure the whole thing wasn’t an Inception-style nested dream dealie.

.:.

Cover photo by Nedra, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Mike Lau, used under Creative Commons license

“To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Last week was an insane week at work. Long hours, very busy, running around. Stressful. So while I heard the news about Robin Williams, I didn’t really have a chance for it to sink in. The guy had been famous and hilarious and manic for as long as I can remember. I vaguely remember watching Mork and Mindy when I was little. I distinctly remember watching Popeye with my dad many, many times…it was, for some reason, one of his favourite movies, and therefore one of the first we ever bought on VHS. I was always amazed by Williams, by how high-velocity he was, how funny he could be at absolutely breakneck pace, and then turn out serious roles with that mania just dusting the edge of him.

Last night, with Nellie out for a work thing I finally had a few hours to myself with the laptop off. I read the Grantland piece about Williams and Norm MacDonald’s story about their first meeting, and listened to Marc Maron’s podcast with Williams from a few years back. And, of course, I watched Dead Poets Society.

I know The Fisher King is probably his peak, but this is the one that always stuck with me. Probably because I was a teenager the same as these kids when I first watched it. I wrote nine years ago about how this is one of the few movies that really got to me, about how I could barely make it through the final scene without tearing up.

Last night I didn’t make it.

Rest in peace, captain.

 

.:.

Cover photo by Mike Lau, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license

Boxcar & Bellwoods & balcony

I will admit that I enjoy my team at work thinking that I have some kind of superpower for finding cool places. I introduced them all to 9 Bars and Monk’s Table, and have taken them to places like Dineen Coffee and Wvrst and Bar Hop, so they think I have some kind of talent. Truth: it’s just an internet connection and mild obsession. But when I brought them all to Boxcar Social yesterday after work, they really thought I had magical powers. Great coffee by day, good beer/wine/whisky selection by night, and relaxed backyard-feeling space all day.

My team drank cider and Muskoka. I, and others, drank Bellwoods: the Wizard Wolf, the Monogamy (Summit), the Omerta. The Omerta actually showed up while I was drinking the other two — nothing like just-in-time delivery.

More just-in-time: Nellie and I coordinated a pick-up order of some pizzas at Mercatto, which showed up just as I walked in the door, and which we enjoyed during a quiet night at home. We ate, and drank wine on the balcony, and started the kind of quiet weekend we’ve craved for a while now.

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.:.

Cover photo by Thiophene_Guy, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license

Nuts

When we visited Halifax last weekend we flew Porter. It’s great service and we like flying out of the island airport, so…yeah. We always fly Porter.

Anyway, just before both legs (Toronto -> Montreal, Montreal -> Halifax) the head flight attendant made an unusual announcement. Before closing the door she told us that someone aboard was so allergic to peanuts  that she had to collect any open containers of nuts before closing the door. Also, that no one could open any nuts during the flight, and they would obviously not offer almonds as one of the snacks.

First, let’s assume the flight attendant misspoke and conflated nut allergies with peanut allergies, and that the passenger was allergic to peanuts as she first stated. Let’s also assume that the afflicted passenger is one of the estimated 0.6%-1.0% of people with an actual peanut allergy, not the self-diagnosed sort.

Going by a quick and dirty estimate based on Porter’s Q400 aircraft spec, I’d estimate that this passenger sat in roughly 9,300 cubic feet of cabin space. Granted, the air in that cabin is pressurized and recycled for the 90 minutes of flight time, but that’s still a pretty big space to worry about a single package of nuts being opened, no? We’re talking about peanut dust which, having gone airborne and diluted in nearly 10,000 cubic feet, being able to kill you. That seems incredibly sensitive. What happens in a movie theatre? Or a school bus? Or a doctor’s office, where you must surely spend a great deal of time? An airplane crew chief aside, I’m not sure how you control for that in your daily life.

And of course if that person was so massively allergic to peanuts we should accommodate that, and of course the airline was right to protect the passenger.

But maybe

.:.

Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Just got back from a weekend of fun in Halifax to celebrate my birthday. I’m kind of tired, so no prose this time. Just the highlights of places we hit, both new and familiar.

BAR AT THE PRINCE GEORGE HOTEL
Since we stayed at the Prince George hotel we decided to have a lunch at the new bar downstairs. The fried chicken sandwich was pretty tasty, and they had a surprisingly good beer selection; before I started on the locals I had two from Dieu Du Ciel: the Blanche du Paradis and the Aphrodisiaque.

FIELD GUIDE
After meeting up with our friends we tried to hit this place, but they don’t open ’til 6pm. Next time, then.

STILLWELL
This was the one I was really excited about. It’s a new(ish) place modelled after places like Volo and Pony Bar, and I’ve been following their progress and Twitter account since they were under construction. We all started with samplers; I got the PEI Brewing 1772 IPA, North Brewing Belgian IPA, Boxing Rock Sessionista, and Picaroons Dark and Stormy Night. Our entire group then split a stellar bottle of Brooklyn Sorachi Ace — what a treat. I wrapped up with the Uncle Leo’s Smoked Porter, which tasted like bacon. By the time I left this was my new favourite place in Halifax.

AUCTION HOUSE
This was another new stop for us. There’s a gimmick where they raffle off special appetizers and desserts and such, and people bid using paddles at their tables. We only took part in one auction and weren’t quite willing to part with $20 for a dessert, but it was still kind of fun. We split half a dozen appetizers and I had a Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale.

CARLETON
This was another first for me, even though the Carleton has been there for years. See, when I lived in Halifax, the Carleton was a SMU bar, so I didn’t go there. And old habits die hard. Anyway, it’s gotten a bit swankier inside, and the live music was pretty good. Not a great beer list, but they did have Unibroue Blanche de Chambly and cocktails named after local 90s indie bands like Thrush Hermit and Eric’s Trip. So there was that.

MAXWELL’S PLUM
Yet another Halifax institution which had never had the pleasure of my company. We were getting pretty silly by this point. I remember starting with a Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale and ending with a Big Spruce Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout; there may have been another in between those two but I can’t be sure.

STILLWELL
That’s right, we went back. It was that good. And before I left I’d noticed they had bottles of Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel in the fridge, which our friend Becky had never tried, so I ordered two (and some delicious Atari fries). After this magnificent reprisal the girls dragged us somewhere awful. I won’t even discuss it here. Awful.

PIZZA CORNER
Aaaaaaaaaaand the evening was back on track. And by “evening” I mean 2am. And by “back on track” I mean covered in donair sauce.

EDNA
After a very slow start to Sunday morning we dragged ourselves over to EDNA for brunch. By the time we left it had joined Stillwell atop my list of favourite Halifax places. The food was outstanding — I had a smoked pork chop, eggs, beans, toasted sourdough baguette, duck fat potatoes, and a cappuccino. The space (rustic, open) felt completely welcoming, the music (folk, blues) was perfect, and the clientele was almost universally happy and attractive. I can’t wait to go back for dinner some day.

TWO IF BY SEA
We braved the drizzela and walked down to the waterfront, stopping at TIBS for some fuel: capp #2. From there we threaded the needle of Buskerfest crowds down the waterfront, past a superyacht, all the way to the market.

GARRISON
The rain had let up and the sun was out now, so we stopped for two wee samples on the Garrison patio. I had the Raspberry Wheat and the Nut Brown.

HENRY HOUSE
Since we were just around the corner and felt we needed just a little more food in our stomachs we visited an old familiar haunt for some spicy calamari and a Granite Brewery Best Bitter on the patio. Nellie got one of her new favourites, the Ringwood.

STUBBORN GOAT
Sunday night’s plan was to have a proper dinner at another new stop, the Stubborn Goat. The Murphy girls rejoined us, and we added three others, but none of us had much in the way of energy. Even Nellie and I had to power through a few drinks, but we couldn’t leave that beer selection untouched. I had a Boxing Rock Sessionista, a Picaroons Best Bitter, and a Dieu du Ciel Pénombre. The menu looked impressive, though it didn’t really blow us away…or maybe that was the service, which was pretty amateurish the whole night. Still, I want to go back — our friends assured us this was out of character for the Goat, so we’ll keep it in mind for next time.

No Pizza Corner on night #2; we all rolled out of there and made for home. I crashed into bed immediately; Nellie insisted on watching The Other Woman, which even Kate Upton in a bikini couldn’t save. Our travel back to Toronto was unremarkable except for the limo driver who had spent his childhood working on a blueberry farm only a few miles from our own. Small world.

Thanks for the 46 hours of fun, Halifax. It was a hoot.