Cover photo from the Burdock site

Back to the lake

Dinner last night (after a quick stop at Chez Nous) was at Lake Inez. As with our previous visits, the food and beer were outstanding.

In our eatholes:

  • honey garlic adobo wings w/ sesame seeds and chillies
  • BC salmon confit w/ yuzu vinaigrette, beet puree, pickled beets & carrots, and crispy salmon skin
  • spicy charred Brussels sprouts w/ chili jam, oyster sauce, lime, and crispy anchovies
  • market fish curry, grilled over Japanese charcoal in Thai-style curry w/ zucchini savoy cabbage, cilantro, and peanuts

In our drinkholes:

  • Burdock Leela (grape ale aged on Cabernet Franc skins from Pearl Morissette)
  • Burdock Auko (Sour Dark Ale aged a year in Cabernet Franc barrels with raspberries, sour cherries and Cab Franc skins)
  • Bellwoods blood orange Jelly King
  • Blood Brothers spiced cherry Paradise Lost

The salmon, Brussels sprouts, and fish curry were all killer, and the Auko is one of the best beers I’ve had in quite a while.

Also, as with our previous meals there, dinner cost about $60 less than I would have expected. Always a nice bonus when the food’s that good.

.:.

Cover photo from the Burdock site

One yeah short of Karen O

The last two nights have been about a return to familiar places, and a new friend from the east coast.

Last night Lindsay and I went back to the original Boxcar Social at Summerhill, and did our best to drink them out of sours. We had beers from Burdock, Trou du Daible, Burdock again, and the Guilty Remnant white chocolate white stout from Blood Brothers.

We also ordered a pepperoni pizza and garlic fingers (with donair sauce!) from YeahYeahs Pizza next door, the local incarnation of a Nova Scotia pizza joint. Damn good pizza. I’m a fan. And! They’ll pass it right through the wall into Boxcar for you.

Tonight we hit Midfield, where I haven’t been in ages, for a drink before Lindsay met up with friends for dinner. We shared winter squash salad w/ asian pear, hazelnuts & bleu d’auvergne and venison carpaccio w/ pickled mushrooms, smoked honey & pine nuts. Also: wine, naturellement.

.:.

Cover photo from the YeahYeahsPizza site

“Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot.”

Yesterday we saw what would have been a solid entry in my “best movies of 2017” list had I seen it when it came out: Call Me By Your Name (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It was exquisite. Amazing. Sensual, moving, luscious, mesmerizing…all of these things. The lead actors: incredible. The supporting actors: perfect. We both thought about it and talked about it all afternoon and evening, and it keeps running through my head a full day later. If Timothée Chalamet doesn’t win some kind of award for that, then something’s very wrong.

And then, from the sublime to the ridiculous, as we had lunch at King Taps. I forgot the NFL playoffs would be on TV. Check that: on TVs…so many TVs. It was also so full of bros as to beggar the imagination. At one point we saw a group of five of them talking and all five were wearing black baseball hats on backward, and the same black faux-leather jacket. Well done, fellas.

Anyway, the beer selection and food was as good as always. We had the Bang Bang shrimp w/ spicy miso and soy caramel, and the Stinging Bee pizza w/ soppressata, kale, mozzarella, and Calabrian honey. We raided their rotating local tap list, and hard. In the end, that food + nine (!) beers between us only cost $91, so it was almost worth the mind-numbing play-by-play and bro-downs.

Almost.

Cover photo from the Crowsnest Theatre site

Ellington

Last night we exercised the option on Lindsay’s last Christmas gift: tickets to see a play at the new & nearby Crowsnest Theatre. Lindsay flew in from Montreal and we dashed to Dundas & Carlaw as quickly as we could.

First, though: dinner. We had a reservation at Gare de l’Est, which they thoughtfully held for us despite showing up so late, and we managed to grab a few quick bites at the chef’s bar before the show: beet salad, french onion soup, steak tartare, and crème caramel. We bought beers for kitchen too, and they sent out come chocolate caramel sea salt bites, so…fair trade!

Then, the play: a tour de force by Torquil Campbell called True Crime, which he’s had on the road for a while now. A driving, biting 90 minute confabulation of true crime, personal reflection, and the occasional song lyric. Remarkable, after really only knowing his voice as a member of Stars, to see him deliver such an omnibus performance.

.:.

Cover photo from the Crowsnest Theatre site

The Last Syrah

Last week Laura, the owner of Chez Nous wine bar, was nice enough to let me know that she was down to her last two bottles of Leaning Post 2013 Keczan Syrah, my favourite wine on her (current) list. It’s Leaning Post’s last Syrah for some time, apparently.

She put aside a bottle of it for me, and I swung by in Friday’s snow and cold. It’s just so good — all pepper and fruit and dusty delicacy. I’ll miss it. I enjoyed it with a board of meet and cheese, and ended the night with a glass of Malivoire Old Vines Foch, which might just be my new go-to big red on Laura’s list.

{*sniff*}

Cover photo from The Broadview Hotel's website

The Civic

Last night Lindsay and I had a going-away dinner before her short excursion to Montreal, and we had it at the newest restaurant inside the Broadview Hotel: The Civic. Cool vibe in that place…fancy, but relaxed. Feels old, but modern at the same time, just like the menu. We had:

  • cocktails to start, including a Monty-Python-and-the-Holy-Grail-themed one for Lindsay
  • half a dozen PEI oysters
  • red deer tartare w/ shallot, caper berry, house prepared mustard seeds, juniper, black licorice
  • beef for our mains, a Black Angus 14oz ribeye for me and an 8oz PEI grass fed tenderloin for Lindsay, covered in house-made chimichurri, accompanied by roasted heirloom carrots w/ caraway cream
  • we paired all this with an Argentinian Malbec that I can’t quite recall
  • dessert was a shared piece of lemon pie

There were so many things on the menu we can’t wait to try. I’m wondering how long it’ll take us to visit once Lindsay’s back in town.

.:.

Cover photo from The Broadview Hotel’s website

 

Cover photo by B Smith, used under Creative Commons license

Warm & Dry

As I write this Lindsay and I are tucked snugly into our loft, waiting out the cold (for Toronto) snap, thankful we’re not dealing with the same cleanup as our family back east. We have leftovers and meat pies and snacks, so our plan is to do some work and stuff and then finish the new season of Black Mirror, which sounds like a pretty damn good Saturday by any measure.

Apart from a brief visit to work yesterday I’ve taken the remainder of this week off, focusing on doing and fixing things around the loft. Even though we moved in 8 months ago I still have books and glasses in boxes, and have been meaning to fix some busted things for ages. I finally tackled some nagging issues over the past few days (medicine cabinet hinge whoo!) and now feel a little less useless around the home than before.

We’re also trying something new in January: easing back a bit on the booze consumption. It’s not a new year’s resolution — I’m already storing beer and choosing wine for February — so much as just slowing down what had become almost reflexive drinking. The small glasses of wine we had at the Halifax airport before our flight home were our last of January. We haven’t decided whether we’re going to aim for cold turkey (save social events we already have on the calendar) or just limit ourselves to a certain amount on weekends, but it seems a worthwhile venture. At the very least, our bank accounts and waistlines should benefit.

.:.

Cover photo by B Smith, used under Creative Commons license

 

Cover photo by Alexey Kljatov, used under Creative Commons license

The quiet, delicious death rattle of 2017

We’ve just gotten back from two weeks in Nova Scotia, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with our families. Since we’re still recovering (my kingdom for a salad!) I’ll keep this brief.

Wed 20th

We flew to Halifax after enduring a kooky passenger in the Porter lounge who mercifully got on an Ottawa-bound flight before we left. We landed, grabbed a car, and got to Lindsay’s dad’s place in time for her brothers to show up with pizza and garlic fingers.

Thu 21st

Lindsay and I had shopping to do, so we zipped into the Hydrostone, bought some stuff, had sushi at Hamachi Kita, and bumped into the aforementioned kooky passenger from the Porter Lounge. Small world. We dashed around the corner to grab coffee from Java Blend and beer from Unfiltered and Good Robot. Good Robot was a fun vibe, and their beer — especially the Yas Queen chocolate porter — was outstanding. Unfiltered, on the other hand, was a gauntlet of douchbaggery: the employee wore Aviators (inside on a cloudy day) and shouted to us over the AC/DC blasting on 10 that we probably wouldn’t like any of the beers because they were too hoppy. Turns out we didn’t like the ones (the flat black jesus stout and double orange ale DIPA) because they were shitty beer, and ended up dumping most of it down the sink. I get that being assholes is sort of their brand, but your beer needs to back it up. Anyway, that night we had dinner at Lindsay’s mom’s place.

Fri 22nd

Somebody (cough cough Lindsay cough) still had shopping to do, so we drove around Bedford to get it done. Luckily our errands took us a past Off Track, a new craft brewery which opened that day (!) so we stopped in. We sampled a few and decided to buy grunters of their Good Grief Charlie Brown ale and Damn Skippy Peanut Butter stout, which ended up taking half an hour because of problems with their lines. By the time we left the line was out the door…not bad for a place that had only been open 90 minutes! Anyway, we took all that to Lindsay’s dad’s place, where we watched Die Hard (yas!) and Office Christmas Party.

Sat 23rd

I left Bedford to drive to my family’s farm, and arrived by mid-afternoon. I found my mom baking cookies, which is about as Christmas as it gets. I sniffed the tree, drove to Parrsboro to pick up my niece and the Mexican exchange student who lives with them, and got my butt back to the farm to just relax. That’s what I was there for. That night brother #2 shared a bunch of local beer he’d picked up for me, including a killer dry-hopped sour from Tatamagouche Brewing.

Sun 24th

Apart from wrap gifts, play crib with my dad, and help peel/core/slice apples for my mom’s apple pie, I can’t think of a single thing I did that day. Which means I nailed my target.

Mon 25th

Christmas! A lazy morning opening a few gifts with my parents, then a big lunch next door at brother #2’s house, then being lazy for most of the day. That night the Mexican exchange student and I beat the family at Trivial Pursuit.

Tue 26th

Boxing Day is always my dad’s family’s reunion, but the reunion is more of a 2-hour pot luck lunch. We drove there through a snow squall, met up with Lindsay who got to meet the family all at once, then drove back to the farm with brother #1 in tow. We all settled into farm relaxation mode. That night Lindsay and I beat my brothers and their wives at Trivial Pursuit.

Wed 27th

A quick jaunt into Amherst where I bought some Blundstones at Mansour’s, then back to the farm for more downtime. Trivial Pursuit on this night went less well, as my sisters-in-law and I lost to Lindsay and my two brothers.

Thu 28th

Again, not much happening (success!) but I did watch Hidden Figures (imdb | rotten tomatoes) with Lindsay and a room full of Dickinson women, which was pretty nice. My mom had made maple glazed ribs, and we destroyed them. That night, over at brother #2’s house, we switched it up and played Cards Against Humanity. I think brother #2 won, which surprised everyone, because we know brother #1 is the most depraved.

Fri 29th

Brother #1 left that morning and, after a little lunch, so did we. We were back in Bedford in time to watch the Canada/USA World Juniors game (shootout loss boo) and eat like starving animals for hours. We ended up watching Inglourious Basterds and I crashed out just before the tavern scene.

Sat 30th

Lindsay and I took a day for ourselves in Halifax, checking in to the Prince George Hotel, grabbing some exceptional beers at Stillwell, then heading to dinner at The Press Gang. We shared oysters, and loved them so much we got another half dozen. Lindsay had lobster gnocchi; I had a terrific duck. The wine list was mediocre, but the food made up for it. Not the best Halifax meal we’d ever had, and not where we’d intended to go (our reservation at Lot Six was cancelled at the last minute, and Highwayman looked too full), but I’m glad we finally tried The Press Gang.

Sun 31st

After grabbing breakfast at the hotel we ran out for a quick coffee at Weird Harbour, then drove to Dartmouth to meet up with brother #1 at Battery Park, North Brewing’s gastropub. We had lunch there (pig mac burger for Lindsay, fried chicken sandwich for me) and sampled some of their beer before buying more from the bottle shop. We drove back to Bedford, went to a group dinner with a bunch of Lindsay’s uncles and aunts, then came back to her mom’s place to ring in the new year over Benjamin Bridge sparkling and party games. Happy 2018 everyone!

Mon 1st

Moooooooostly nothing, except over-eating. Croissant eggs benny in the morning. Grazing all day. Lasagna for dinner. Oh, and we watched an episode of the new season of Black Mirror.

Tue 2nd

Got up, said our goodbyes, packed, drove to the airport, had a little wine at the new Vino Volo, few home to Toronto, got some Korean fried chicken and kimchi cheesy fries for a late lunch, and are now relaxing.

.:.

Cover photo by Alexey Kljatov, used under Creative Commons license