My dad turned 80 last Friday. We were all set to head home for a week of celebration and relaxation, but the travel gods had other plans.

Thursday May 18

I drove to the office and back in the morning for a board meeting, so I was a teensy bit on the back foot from the get-go. Still, we were all set and packed and ready to get to the island airport with plenty of time. I checked the commute times, saw it was ~8 minutes longer than usual (no worries; we’d left ourselves plenty of buffer) and told Lindsay we should get a move on. We did, calling shortly after. Even by the time we got our bags onto the sidewalk, we realized something was up – our expected arrival time had gotten much later. Still, we were set to arrive 40 minutes ahead of our flight which, at the island airport, is enough time.

Things really went south once we started driving across Front. Our driver’s Waze instructions told him to take Esplanade – which you can’t do. By the time we diverted back up to Front, it was gridlocked. It seemed accidents or construction had blocked every westbound route in the downtown. What should have been a 15 minute commute ended up taking over an hour. By the time we arrived at the airport and waited through the two slow customers in front of us, our flight had boarded. For the first time ever, I missed a flight from the island.

We asked about other flights that night. There were none. We asked about seats the next day. Again: none to be had. Between the long weekend and the looming Westjet strike, all the flights were booked. We tried the Air Canada desk, but their island counter doesn’t book anything other than Ottawa and Montreal. We were despondent. In our haze, I neglected to ask about flights going into Moncton, which is also close to the farm. Outside, I checked the Porter site on my phone, and swear to god it said there was only one flight earlier in the day. We took a cab home to regroup.

Upon arriving home, while checking other flight options, Lindsay noticed there was another Porter flight into Moncton that night (via Ottawa) and if we left right that second we might make it. We rushed out the door, but once again were foiled by traffic, and arrived just as they were closing that flight. At least we hadn’t pre-bought those tickets. Dejected, we took Uber #4 home to lick our wounds, and re-book. The only tickets we were able to get were business class seats (yay!) on Air Canada Rouge (boo!) out of Pearson the next evening. We ordered some food, drank some wine, and called my mom with the bad news that we’d miss my dad’s birthday dinner.

Friday May 19

We went about our morning, making sure everything was prepped, and picking up an extra gift + card for my dad. Our flight was delayed about 50 minutes, which – between Pearson congestion and a just-avoided Westjet strike – wasn’t too bad.

Flying out of YYZ meant we left earlier, so I picked up my phone to call an Uber that would get us there 2 hours (!) ahead of time. As I did, I saw a message from my EA that one of the other executives at my company, with whom I’d interacted Wednesday night, had tested positive for COVID. Fuuuuuuuuuuccckkkkk. It was at this point that I had my second meltdown in <24 hours. I grabbed a test kit, jammed a swab up my nose, and waited. Negative. OK. That was a good, if inconclusive sign. But we’d also just gotten our boosters, so our immune systems were probably in tiptop shape. We decided to proceed, and called the Uber after all.

We got to Pearson and checked in 90 minutes before our flight, so still plenty of time. Our Nexus cards got us around a HUGE security line, such that we had time for a drink in the Air Canada Cafe before heading to our gate. Our flight was delayed by another 30 minutes or so, but we got on, and our seats were good, and our flight was fine. Except for one thing: see they have free wifi on the flight, so I was able to receive an email telling us our bags hadn’t made it on the flight? What the? We arrived 90 minutes prior, AND it was delayed!! Anyway, they’d be on the next flight, which arrived at midnight, but we weren’t sticking around for that. We checked in at the luggage services desk, confirmed our bags would be brought to us the next morning, and headed to the rental car counter. At least we’d made it – no more hiccups, right?

Wrong. The rental car smelled disgusting. It was like being inside a hockey bag. I was so tired I couldn’t even complain to the rental counter. We also had to drive it home through a windstorm, but by 9pm we’d arrived safely at the farm. At last.

Sat May 20

Finally, vacation: a lovely, warm, sunny day. Walks around the farm. Drop-in community celebrations for my dad where I saw a bunch of old familiar faces of family and friends. Lots of food. Naps. Games of crib and Uno. A quick drink back over at brother #2’s house. It was just what we needed.

Sun May 21

Brother #1, ever the ambitious one, was up to run a half-marathon in a windstorm. Good on him. We sat inside while the rain started, doing puzzles and playing cards, and eating leftovers. Brother #1 & fam left mid-afternoon; the rest of us continued relaxing and watching the Jays game while the sun emerged. We drove into Springhill to pick up Chinese food from childhood standby Jade Palace, one of my dad’s favourite indulgences. After downing that and playing a few games of crib (all wins for Linds and I!) we walked across the yard for one more drink at brother #2’s.

Mon May 22

We were really getting into the swing of things now: on a cool crisp morning, had coffee next door then read for a while before driving to Parrsboro for lunch at the Harbour View restaurant. Lindsay and I had a lobster roll; most others had flounder, now that it was in-season. After lunch we drove out to Two Islands to admire the view, then back through town and up Kirk Hill for more views, before driving home. There we found more card, more Chinese leftovers, and another walk around the home hill before settling in for one last drink at brother #2’s house.

Tue May 23

Our final day on the farm. We had a leisurely morning, though I did end up going through a bunch of farm paperwork.

We decided to take the shore road – almost getting smoked along the way by a dump truck who’d crossed the yellow line – to enjoy the weather and get some fried clams at Diane’s. Well, Lindsay had friend clams; I don’t like ‘em. But we sat outside in the warm sun with the cool breeze, and enjoyed every minute. On we travelled to the Masstown Market for supplies (pies, cheese, doughnuts), stopping briefly in Bedford on our way to Mahone Bay, where we’d decided to stay a couple of nights. We wanted to see and smell the ocean again, and settled in at a very beautiful AirBnB overlooking the harbour.

We turned on our heels, picked up some wine for later, and walked into Betty’s at The Kitch for dinner. We had such a delicious feast (wood-fired baked brie + haskap heat + rosemary; a “Davis” pizza; a bottle of Benjamin Bridge sparkling rosé; a warm cookie for dessert) that we resolved to come back the following evening. And with that, we went home for the night.

Wed May 24

We’d been hoping for a nice warm day to enjoy the deck and the cool ocean breezes. Alas; it was cold, windy, and foggy. Nonetheless, we persevered. We read our books most of the day, stopping to acquire some barbecue from Fireworks, and eventually heading into town to meet up with Lindsay’s brother #1, who lives about 20 minutes away. We had beers at Saltbox Brewing before walking down the street to Betty’s. There we sucked back dips (roasted red pepper, mushroom), lobster mac + cheese, a Broderick pizza, and a 2018 Lightfoot & Wolfville Chardonnay. They forgot to charge us for the bottle, but we made it right. Such a cool vibe in that place. He followed us back to the AirBnB since we’d forgotten to bring him some loot (in the form of cookies); we then bid him a good evening, and crashed. Ambitions for a soak in the hot tub were done in by too much pizza and sweets.

Thu May 25

The close of what ended up being a super-relaxing and celebratory week of vacation. We figured the morning would be one of getting ourselves together and driving to the airport, but the travel gods weren’t quite through with us yet. Lindsay’s mom called with some family health news that convinced us to change our flights. So as I write this, we sit here in Bedford for the next couple of days, hoping everything goes well.

Retro booster

We finally got our bivalent boosters on Friday. We were scheduled to get them back in October, but then we got COVID again so we had to wait six months for this. I felt relatively okay Friday night and even first thing Saturday morning, but by noon I felt gross. By mid-afternoon I felt sick. By evening I felt real sick. A good measure of how sick I am is how much work/puttering I did that day (absolutely nothing) and how much wine I drank (absolutely nothing). I was flat out on either a couch or a bed the whole day, watching most of season 2 of Borgen and all of season 1 of The Good Place.

Today I’m feeling somewhat better — I’ve already cleaned up a disastrous kitchen, done some laundry, gone to Shopper’s Drug Mart, and answered a dozen emails; I’m also pretty sure there’ll be wine later — but ended up not driving down to Hidden Bench for their wine club release day. Couldn’t handle the idea of the drive, let alone lose another ~3 hours.

Not so big week

The brief spate of summer-like weather seems like a fever dream now, as the turn from April into May appears to be mired in a forecast of cold & rain. Things may turn again by the middle of next week, but until then we’re mostly sheltering in place, watching TV.

Of course, with neither the Canadiens nor the Raptors making the playoffs (the first time since 2012 that’s happened) my spring evenings have been relatively sports-free. I’ve been filling them, and rainy days like this one, watching Ted Lasso and The Diplomat and Single Drunk Female and Borgen.

I kind of forget that in recent months we also watched a few more movies — Nope (very good), Blue Jasmine (also very good), and The French Dispatch (excellent).

I know some day the weather will turn nice again and I’ll detach myself from the TV. But today is not that day.


Last night, after many foiled attempts, we had dinner out with M+LK at old neighbourhood haunt Carisma. It was a nice little catch-up, with excellent service (including a discovery that our server was an active birder who also just got back from Costa Rica, like M+L) and very-nearly-too-much delicious food.

After some cocktails and a glass of Falanghina for me, we dug into the burrata special, some pan seared scallops, and hand-rolled ricotta gnocchi in a four cheese sauce. Our mains were lamb, tuna, truffle pasta, and a ribeye special — the latter being mine, and being superb. We washed it down with an excellent bottle of Sangiovese.

We somehow managed dessert, which came to us just as a cheer went up from the bar as the Leafs scored to tie their game late. Lindsay and I had affogato; the others went for strudel and cheesecake. Three of us got a little sip of Vin Santo; Lindsay got a glass of Brunello.

No surprises expected, none delivered. Just a fantastic meal with old friends.

And with the warmer weather come the visitors

It has been — and continues to be — a week of visitors. Petite mainstay friend N (sans J, this time) is in from Montreal and has hung out with us a few times. Then Lindsay’s brother and his girlfriend arrived Friday. The five of us had a later dinner around the corner at Frankie’s, our first time back there in yonks. Their servers did yeoman duty, bravely surviving a lot more traffic than they expected, and helped us through a menu in transition for our first patio meal of the year. Felt nice.

The next day was another lovely one, so after dealing with a minor plumbing emergency, we walked to Eastbound for brunch, then took a streetcar up to Riverdale Park east where half the city seemed to be gathered. We sat under a tree and drank beers & pet nat. I got to throw a ball with a cute dog a few times.

Today was a bit more sedate — I did contemplate a Jays game but had too much to catch up on, so watching on TV sufficed — but we did squeeze in a late dinner at Richmond Station:

  • Cocktails
    • Black Walnut Old Fashioned
    • Cardi P
    • Spring Fling
  • Appetizers
    • Brigid’s Brie w/ truffled wildflower honey, brown butter, petits croutons, grilled sourdough focaccia
    • Pain Au Lait w/ grass-fed butter, Vancouver island sea salt
    • Spanish Mackerel Sashimi w/ granny smith apple, horseradish, pickled celery, buttermilk sauce
    • Smoked Cookstown Beets w/ whipped ricotta, aged balsamic, roasted hazelnuts, endive
  • Mains
    • Berkshire Pork w/ Brussels sprouts, caramelized apple, potato rösti, apple cider vinaigrette
    • Duo Of Muscovy Duck w/ dry aged breast, grilled endive, confit Cookstown rutabaga, orange-cognac jus
    • Cave-Aged Comté Agnolotti w/ grilled wild spring onions, morel mushroom jus, ramp oil, verjus butter
    • Grilled Leek & Chickpea Burger w/ beet chutney, aged cheddar, green chili & coriander mayo, iceberg lettuce, rosemary fries
    • 2020 Domaine Breton “Trinch” Cabernet Franc

Dinners not delivered by Goodfood or Uber Eats

It’s been exciting to get some decent meals scheduled again. A few weeks ago I had a work dinner at George:

  • Scallop w/ carrot dashi, spaetzle
    • Charles Baker 2019 “B-Side” Riesling
  • Beef ribeye, golden beets, fermented radish
    • Precision Wine Co. 2020 “Introvert” Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chocolate Basque cake, pear, pomegranate

On Friday Lindsay’s friend K came over and make a lemony pasta for lunch. We provided the wine.

Then last night, after having to defer it a few times, we returned to Greta Solomon’s for dinner. Our table had not yet been cleared, so we squeezed into a corner and made ourselves as unobtrusive in the tiny space as we could while the lingering patrons…just sat there, basically. Anyway, we eventually got to sit, and eat a delicious dinner:

  • Pain avec Beurre | sourdough + cultured butter
  • Charcoal Shishito Peppers | smoked sturgeon caviar butter
    • Cocktails: Mezcal Paloma Sour (Sombra mezcal, ruby red grapefruit, egg white, Angostura bitters) and French Gimlet (Citadelle gin, St-Germain elderflower, fresh lime)
  • Escargot de Bourgogne | wild mushrooms, tarragon garlic cream, vol-a-vent
    • Glasses of Chablis & Pinot Blanc
  • Magret de Canard | duck breast, swiss chard, lemon dijon herb, soubise, red pepper mojo sauce
  • Steak Frites | 6 oz bavette + compound butter, duck fat fries
    • Bottle of Chateau Barrabaque
    • Dessert drinks: Sauternes for me, Café Brûlot for Lindsay

The winter that won’t end

I know, I know, it’s Canada and it’s still March. I have no right to expect warm weather, or even decent weather. But usually by the time Spring has officially sprung things have started to turn to the brighter & warmer. This year, though — nyet. Rainy, grey, cold.

Back in February, when I was lamenting this particular winter, I detailed how I was pushing myself to get up and out of the house. “Lord knows, I can’t keep drowning myself in TV,” I said. But then I proceeded to drown myself in TV.

Luckily, there remain plenty of TV shows of superlative quality. I finished both seasons of Slow Horses, the first season of The Last Of Us, and the second season of Only Murders In The Building. I’m in the midst of watching the latest seasons of The Bad Batch, The Mandalorian, Yellowjackets, Party Down, and You. The final season of Succession starts tomorrow, and we haven’t even started the new season of Ted Lasso yet.

And in a purchase that combines two of my other favourite media (movies, books) I recently picked up Heat 2 (amazon) which apparently covers both the period immediately after the movie Heat concludes, and some origin story behind the movie’s characters. I’m pretty excited to read it.

It actually was Ibsen

We spent the past four days in New York City, my first time back there in years, and even longer for Lindsay. We were there for a couple of Lindsay’s research visits, but decided to extend it a bit and have some fun.


We were up early and out the door two hours later. At the airport in plenty of time, no issues at security, had an easy flight, practically sailed through Newark Airport…but our luck ran out when we tried to get into the city. The St. Patrick’s Day parade runs down 5th, right around the time we were arriving, and bisected the city. Our cabbie didn’t know about it, so we got caught circling the upper west side until I just told him where to go. What should have been 45 minutes turned into 2+ hours.

By then we had no time to get to the hotel and eat lunch, so we dropped Lindsay at her first appointment and I took the bags to the hotel in the ricketiest Uber that ever there was. I unpacked our suitcases, drank a beer, and ate some cookies. We were here.

We stayed at The Mark Hotel on the upper east side (near Lindsay’s two research appointments). It’s a very chic hotel, probably too cool for the likes of us. The room was big by NYC standards, even if the description of a “courtyard view” was a massive stretch.

[UPDATE: whilst watching the season opener of Succession Lindsay noticed that Tom was having a drink at The Mark. We then felt even fancier, and possibly more douchebaggy.]

So while it wasn’t the smoothest entry, at least the weather was nice: it was sunny and 14 degrees, so my walk all the way up 5th Ave to 103rd street – passing the dying remnants of the parade – was beautiful. I collected Lindsay and we walked slightly east, into East Harlem, to a wine bar called Alison. We were early so we circled the block and took a load off for a bit, before taking one of their patio seats and taking advantage of happy hour.

Considering we hadn’t eaten all day, we were pretty restrained. We ordered a dozen oysters & a bottle of Provençal rosé, lamb sliders, and some Old Bay fries before wrapping up with glasses of Rioja and Minervois. The food was good and the vibe was chill, but we had dinner reservations elsewhere. As it turned out, we would have done better to stay put.

After stopping in briefly at the hotel to recharge, we walked down to a restaurant called August, which we’d identified earlier in the day. The menu sounded good. The vibe sounded good. We were excited. But we were pretty quickly disappointed – we waited 25 minutes for our cocktails, which were both rubbish. (Like…how do you screw up a Negroni?) 

Our apps were decent – charred octopus w/ fennel-herb salad, crispy potatoes & preserved lemon caper dressing and tuna tartare w/ avocado, waffle potato chips & soy ginger dressing, with which we ordered glasses of Gruner Veltliner & Chardonnay – but when the apps came we were told the kitchen was closing soon. So much for the city that never sleeps, I guess. So we walked home, still a tad hungry.


We slept right the hell in, we did. It was a long couple weeks.

We finally mobilized around noon. We got coffee from Handcraft and tried to eat lunch at Pastrami Queen but it was too busy. This city did not want us to eat. Frustrated, we decided to eat whatever we could find at the café at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Lindsay’s second site visit. We ate prosciutto sandwiches and drank glasses of wine and gathered ourselves. We took in a few exhibits; my favourites were Design And Healing: Creative Responses To Epidemics, Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois At The 1900 World’s Fair, Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves, and Designing Peace.

After leaving there we walked across 91st for an early dinner at Kaia, a South African wine bar. And there, we had the kind of meal we’d been seeking in NYC since we landed. The wine, the food, the vibe, the staff: all exceptional. We felt like we bonded with our server Ayo. At the end of our meal we brought us glasses of Amarula, which I haven’t had since I was in Botswana ten years ago.


  • Dukka Hoender slider (dukka spiced chicken with onion marmalade & kaia aioli)
  • Gebakte Suurlemoene (baked lemons with artichoke, cherry tomato, green olives & goat cheese)
  • Eend Vlerkies (duck drumettes with kaia’s sticky mango chutney sauce)
  • ‘Elk’ Carpaccio (elk carpaccio served with the owner’s mother’s mustard and a peppery arugula salad)
  • Rooibos Tee en Bosbessie Vark Ribbetjies (rooibos tea & cranberry baby back pork ribs, with coleslaw)

The wine was obviously all South African, and we recognized a few – Raats Jasper, Kanonkop Kadette, HER Shiraz – and loved the rest of what we tried:

  • La Brune Pinot Noir
  • The Foundry Grenache Noir
  • Bosman Nero D’Avola (x2; Lindsay loved it)
  • Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon
  • I asked Ayo to pick something for me, and he went for a Bordeaux blend, which was terrific.
  • He also brought us a De Toren Malbec called Délicate to try, which wasn’t even on the list. What a guy.

Anyway, we’d bought way too much food, and took the ribs back to the hotel for later.

We turned on our heels, and took an Uber to Broadway. Our driver made a heroic move that got us there on time. We were seeing A Doll’s House at The Hudson Theatre, and as we arrived Jessica Chastain was sitting, expressionless, on the stage as it slowly spun around. It was exceptional. Ibsen’s play, adapted for modern times, with a wonderfully stark and minimalist set, just chairs and shadows and that rotating floor. Jessica Chastain was her brilliant self; the remaining cast killed it as well. The ending was just the coolest thing. We left, Ubered home, and let our brains process it all.


We slept in again. Vacation! I’d accidentally frozen the ribs the night before, so that breakfast plan went out the window into the non-courtyard courtyard. We eventually left in search of food. It was much colder than the previous days, we we used sun and shelter strategically. 

We decided we needed proper New York bagels, so after a bit of research we went to Bagel Shop on 3rd. We managed to get a table, and scarfed our enormous bagel sandwiches amongst the deli chaos. After that we decided to have a beer or three, so we crossed the street to the Third Avenue Alehouse. I ordered a Threes Brewing Volition Schwarzbier that was so flat I couldn’t drink it, but my Fifth Hammer Brewing Co. Smooth Jazzmin’ American Pale Ale, Aslin Beer Company Volcano Sauce Sour, and Who You Callin’ Old (Fashioned)? Cocktail w/ Old Forester Bourbon, cinnamon-rosemary maple syrup & cardamom bitters were all very good. Meanwhile Lindsay had a Delirium Tremens Belgian Strong Golden Ale, an Ever Grain Brewing Co. Vivify Red Ale, and a 3 Floyds Brewing Aggromaster Scottish Ale. Full of beer, we walked back to the hotel to chill (but also warm up) for a bit.

We decided we needed a reason to check out another neighbourhood, so we went to the Lower East Side. We were in search of a great pizza slice, and had heard Scarr’s was the best. We waited in line for about ten minutes and got a slice each and, yup. They were amazing. I want another one right now. Anyway, we scooted around the corner to a wine bar called Le Dive. We plopped ourselves at the end of the bar and split a bottle of Baga, then Raclette and some Bibb lettuce salad, then glasses of Barbera and Pineau d’Aunis – a new one for me. It was a cool little spot.

Back in the hotel room, we finally finished off the ribs from Kaia, and washed them down with some in-room cocktails.


One last thing on our must-do list: that sandwich from Pastrami Queen. They were, as advertised, delicious. We scarfed them down and packed up; after checking out Lindsay ran a half-errand, while I plopped myself in the hotel bar and held the fort until she came back. We drank our way through the by-the-glass list, gnoshed some fries, and Ubered to the airport. Security sucked; our flight was fine; our house was cold; we missed coming home to Kramer.