Cover photo by JD Lasica, used under Creative Commons license


Finally watched Spotlight (imdb | rotten tomatoes) last night. Totally gripping…didn’t feel like a 2+ hour procedural at all. I actually love that this won the Oscar. The performances were all very good (especially Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo) but not over the top in the kind of suffer-tastic role the Oscars love to reward. It didn’t get saccharine or exploitative, but didn’t gloss over much either. It was, itself, a measured piece of reporting for those of us who didn’t get to read the Spotlight work firsthand. Highly recommended.

That reminds me: I watched a bunch of movies on the way to/from Costa Rica. In short:

  • I liked Coriolanus‘ modern take on Shakespeare, especially Ralph Fiennes’ ferocity, but it needed someone stronger than Gerard Butler in the secondary role.
  • Adult Beginners wasn’t exactly a novel idea (brother screws up, moves in with sibling, awkward growth ensues for all) but was still worthwhile on the strength and charm of the three main actors: Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, and Bobby Cannavale.
  • Nellie was enthralled with Burnt on the flight down (not surprising: it’s Bradley Cooper cooking and speaking French) so I watched it on the way back. Good distraction for a few hours, but not a very good movie. More like food porn.
  • Sin City: A Dame To Kill For was rubbish. Even gratuitous Eva Green nudity couldn’t save this movie.


Cover photo by JD Lasica, used under Creative Commons license

Posting this at Mockingbird:Robin am

Uh…so, we went up to our friends Kaylea + Matt’s Bat Lake cottage last weekend, but I’ve waited so long to write this that I’ve forgotten all the clever things (or, all the things I thought clever at the time) I’d planned to use for the title, or interesting color for the weekend. I just remember that we ate well (obviously) and drank even better (still obviously) and relaxed and played some Cards Against Humanity and did a Pinot Noir blind tasting and ranked the Canada Heritage Minutes and spotted birds and visited Boshkung Brewery and I made everyone watch basketball and Nellie barely made it home.


Back in 2006, before we even moved downtown to this neighbourhood, we tried out a new restaurant at Victoria and Lombard called The Strand. It had been born into the space left behind by Growler’s brewpub and the Denison’s brewpub. The Strand didn’t have their liquor license set up yet so it was a quirky (and empty) first visit. I’m not sure they ever recovered; they closed before we moved down here in 2007.

Since then the space had a decent run as Duggan’s (which we really liked) and Beer Academy (which was just okay, but made a weird use of the space). Beer Academy had been an offshoot of Creemore (itself owned by Molson), so when they announced they’d be shutting down and re-opening as a new Creemore brewpub named Batch, that kind of made sense. It opened last weekend, and we finally tried it last night.

Gotta say, I’m excited to have it there. The beer they brew on premise was solid, especially the Pale and the Porter. They have guest bottles as well. They also sell Creemore and Granville products on tap, and sell everything in bottles from their fridge. So that’s a good option on our way home.

The food was good too, maybe a little better. We split a dense, tasty pretzel to start. My fried chicken was delicious, if a little sticky/saucy. Nellie’s pierogies were just okay. Luckily there are about a dozen other things on the menu we want to try, and we’ll have plenty of opportunity.

Maybe most surprising was the wine list. 12 by the glass (or bottle) and all Canadian: 11 from Ontario, 1 from BC. Good wineries, too: Creekside, Pearl-Morissette, Tawse, Keint-He, Hinterland, 13th Street, and so on.

I’d say this place has a serious shot at becoming our new local. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Batch.

Cover photo by sersen, used under Creative Commons license

Blackball: blackballed!

A while ago we joined the new wine club for one of our favourite wineries: Pearl Morissette. It’s called the Black Ball Wine Society, named after their Riesling, so named because of a story involving the VQA. We got early access to some new wines (which I bought) and will certainly take advantage of more early ordering in years to come.

A couple of days ago I got an email telling me that Pearl Morissette had “paired with 11 phenomenal Toronto restaurants to offer you a preview of our just released 2012 Cabernet Franc Cuvée Madeline”. All you had to do was show your society card and they’d give you a glass. Now, I have six bottles of that Cab Franc at home, but I still thought this was a cool idea. One of the restaurants on the list was Richmond Station, which I love, so I hit it on the way home. Sat at the bar. Got some food. And laid out the card.

My server looked totally confused, but she handled it well. “Okay,” she said, and disappeared upstairs to find someone who knew what this card was. The wine director (I think her name is Julia? Can’t quite remember.) came down and explained to me that, uh, unfortunately Pearl Morissette hasn’t dropped off any Cuvée Madeline yet. So no perk for me. Alas.

Fortunately, it didn’t hurt my meal at all. I started with an exceptional glass of 2013 Sohler Pinot Gris Grand Cru, and layered in the smoked chicken bratwurst w/ fingerling potato salad, cucumber relish, onion ring, grainy mustard, and dill. Then I had the special, a seriously delicate and delicious duck breast, paired not with Pearl Morissette Cab Franc, but with Pearce-Predhomme Pinot Noir.

While proposing the Pinot, Probably-Julia had also opened a Pearl Morissette Cuvée Métis Pinot/Franc blend for comparison. I went with the P-P Pinot, but wanted some dessert, so I ordered a glass of that Métis which had so kindly been opened earlier. That, paired with a little coconut chocolate fudge, made for a brilliant end.


Cover photo by sersen, used under Creative Commons license