For 16 days we hit the coast

[Bonus points to anyone who gets the Thrush Hermit reference.]

Barring any travel hiccups, we’re just about to fly back to Toronto after 2+ weeks in Nova Scotia. Here’s the rundown.

SAT 13th

Just barely made our flight, but then we cooked on tarmac for a bit because of mechanical issues or some such. Guy in front of us wouldn’t keep his mask on. Read Pipette magazine on the flight. Landed in Halifax, met brother & sister-in-law #2 who generously provided us with a car for two weeks. Drove to Bedford, ate pizza, watched Bojack, and slept.

SUN 14th

Spent the morning being lazy. The four of us (me, Lindsay, Lindsay’s mom + brother) drove to Mahone Bay to visit Lindsay’s other brother, his fiancé, their dog, and two cats. We hung out at their place and had delicious pasta, garlic knots, and lemon tarts. I got my dog-petting and cat-snuggling fixes too. It was good for the soul, and I also realized I’d somehow never been to Mahone Bay (that I can recall, anyway).

We drove home, enjoyed the backyard, barbecued hot dogs, and played Taboo.

Mon 15th

Did as much nothing as was humanly possible. Only activity for the day was to drive the 2 minutes to the NSLC, load up on a case of wine, and drive back.

Lindsay’s grandparents came over for dinner. We played some more Taboo in the evening. THAT WAS IT.

Tue 16th

Somehow managed to do even less today than yesterday. Read a book. Watched TV. Loafed in the backyard. Drank wine. Major excitement was that we switched it up to Scrabble in the evening.

Wed 17th

Another day of chilling. More reading. Watched Goodfellas (finally after many years!) and The F Word (made Toronto look amazing!). Then — trumpet fanfare — the four of us actually did a dinner out, down the street at Il Mercato.

  • Cocktails
    • Negroni Fregola (Bombay Sapphire Gin, strawberry-infused Campari, Cinzano, orange bitters)
    • Pinky Promise (Amaro Averna, Vini dei Poeti Prosecco, raspberry purée, lemon)
    • glasses of L’Acadie 2017 Vintage Cuvée Rosé
  • Appetizers
    • Risotto Croquettes, San Marzano tomato, Prosciutto di San Daniele, fresh Mozzarella center, tomato, basil pesto sauce
    • Jumbo Shrimp, sautéed with roasted garlic, cream, white wine, Italian parsley
    • Bruschetta, brushed with garlic, topped with fresh herbs, chopped tomato, Montasio, Parmigiano
    • Marinated Grilled Vegetable Salad, organic greens, warm Goat cheese, basil pesto, balsamic vinaigrette
    • Bottle of Pieropan 2020 Soave Classico
  • Mains
    • Linguine Frutti di Mare, Mussels, Scallops, Clams, Jumbo Shrimp, tomato, garlic, fresh herbs, chilies, white wine
    • Gnocchi all’Aragosta, hand rolled gnocchi, fresh Atlantic Lobster, San Marzano tomato, garlic, white wine, cream, parmigiano
    • Handmade Ravioli, wild mushroom, roasted free range Chicken & Cambozola stuffing, Sherry cream sauce
    • Grilled Rack of Lamb, pistachio crusted, blackcurrant demi-glace sauce, rosemary potatoes, fire roasted peppers
    • Bottle of Banfi 2015 Brunello di Montalcino
  • Dessert
    • Coconut Chiffon Cake, layered with mango filling, lime zest, shaved coconut
    • Affogato al Caffè, vanilla gelato doused with Illy Espresso, splash of Baileys, fresh whipped cream, chocolate shavings
    • Port & cocktails

The 10 year Port on their menu was out, so they gave me a 20 year. I did not complain.

Thu 18th

Moving day. Left Bedford, drove downtown, checked into the Muir. Just as magical as last time — the view wasn’t as nice, but the room/suite was bigger. We relaxed for a bit before walking downstairs to dinner at Drift. Here’s what we ate, sitting outside on the patio near the water on a perfect evening:

  • Starters
    • maritime oyster w/ mignonette, lemon, horseradish
    • Maryann’s brown bread w/ organic honey butter
    • crispy mushy peas w/ malt mayo, pea greens, maritime sea salt
    • sustainable blue salmon tartare w/ salmon eggs, onion chip dip
    • Lightfoot & Wolfville bubbly
    • L’Acadie Vineyards cuvée rosé
  • Mains
    • roast chicken & rappie pie w/ parsnips, mushrooms, klondike potatoes
    • butter-roasted halibut w/ brown butter tartar, bubble & squeak, steamed greens
    • bottle of Leeuwin Estate, Art Series, Chardonnay, 2018, Margaret River
  • Dessert
    • Seafoam Royal Gin Fizz (Compass Royal gin, egg white, lemon juice, lavender syrup & bitters)
    • Penfolds Grandfather

It was all excellent, but the highlights were the brown bread, the crispy mushy peas (which basically tasted like falafel), the salmon tartare, the rappie pie, and the bottle of Chard.

We left the restaurant and walked over to the water, specifically to the steps leading down into the harbour, where we saw a school of little fish swimming around by the light.

Fri 19th

We slept in a bit (being back in a king bed felt like heaven) before ordering a big room service breakfast. Eventually we collected ourselves and went out to do a bit of shopping.

First up was Bookmark, where we bought three new books — two for Lindsay, one for me. Next up was The Port for a couple of gift bottles, then cortados at Coffeeology. In retrospect, ordering hot coffees on one of the warmest days of the year was a misstep. Anyway, we made it home, got showered, and prepared to head out to dinner. We were meeting Lindsay’s dad and brother…but first: wine.

We’d originally planned to have dinner at Obladee, my favourite Halifax wine bar, but decided to just have a little cinq à sept there instead. They have an intriguing-yet-delicious wine list, and it was a treat for a wine nerd like me. The list below shows what I drank before and after dinner (more on that later).

  • Glasses/flights I drank myself
    • Cederberg Bukettraube 2021 (Western Cape, South Africa)
    • Gruber Röschitz Grüner Veltliner 2020 (Weinviertel, Austria)
    • Domaine Gayda En Passant Blanc 2020 (Languedoc, France)
    • Holdvölgy Hold and Hollo Dry Tokaj 2018 (Tokaji, Hungary)
    • Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2019 (Ontario)
    • Petite Rivière Petite L’Orange 2020 (Nova Scotia)
    • Eileanan Brèagha Vineyards Rosé 2020 (Nova Scotia)
    • Chateau Ksara Reserve du Couvent 2017 (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
    • Bodega Aessir Bobal Tinto (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
    • Domaine Grand Pré Pomme d’Or (Nova Scotia)
    • Quevedo Special Reserve Tawny Port
    • Lustau Oloroso Don Nuño Sherry
  • Sips I stole from Lindsay
    • Planters Ridge Viognier 2020 (Nova Scotia)
    • Gustave Lorentz Qui l’Eût Cru 2021 (Alsace, France)
    • Longaví GLUP Rosado 2020 (Maule Valley, Chile)
    • Benjamin Bridge Small Lot Pinot Noir 2020 (Nova Scotia)
    • Judith Beck Ink 2020 (Burgenland, Austria)
    • Ochota Barrels Chardonnay (Coravin) (McLaren Vale, Australia)

One cool little story: that copy of Pipette Magazine I read on the flight down contained an article about Judith Beck…and now here we were drinking her wine.

For dinner we met said father and brother at the Black Sheep on Lower Water. I’d been to the previous incarnation off Dresden Row for brunch with brother #1 years before, but hadn’t tried this one. It was decent. We four shared calamari and brisket nachos; I had the pork chop for my main, and Lindsay had the lamb fettucine. We rejuvenated ourselves with coffees, and walked back into the perfect evening. Lindsay’s dad had had a long day, but her brother was up for another drink, so back we went to Obladee for a…uh, dix à une. We closed the place down, and rolled down the hill to our bed.

Sat 20th

Lindsay slept in while I got up for breakfast. I ate french toast and sipped coffee on the quiet Drift patio, looking out over the harbour. Eventually Lindsay arose, and we just relaxed in the room until noon-ish, after which we met her mom and brother at Café Lunette for brunch. It was a cute little place, and everyone seemed to like their food. Having already eaten breakfast I opted for the steak frites; the steak was especially delicious.

[Writing this several days later, I honestly cannot remember what we did for the rest of the day. Let’s assume we napped and/or watched something in the room.]

We did manage to negotiate schedules and sneak in a dinner with brother #1 at a place he’d not yet tried: Trattoria da Claudio, which funnily enough has moved into where Black Sheep used to be. The meal was quite good: picture authentic Italian cuisine using as many local ingredients as he could. All-Italian wine list, of course, and Italian opera on the speakers all night, so a little on the nose, but we didn’t mind. I had the Capesante E Prosciutto Di Parma (Seared Digby Scallops with Prosciutto di Parma fat, green pea velouté, crispy Prosciutto di Parma julienne, roasted cherry tomatoes rosemary emulsion) and Fusilli Al Pesto Di Noci (Speck, pecans pesto, sundried tomatoes julienne). Lindsay had the Caprese Pesche E Prosciutto (Grilled oregano white wine marinated peaches, arugula, tomatoes on the vine, Ciro’s local mozzarella, Prosciutto di Parma roses, balsamic vinegar of Modena gel) and Risotto Zafferano Ed Aragosta (NS lobster, white wine, thyme with saffron Arborio risotto). We had cold white wine (it was VERY warm in there) and cannoli and lemon-berry gelato for dessert. All in all, a very good find from brother #1.

Sun 21st

Moving day again. Phase 3 of the trip was to be spent on my family farm, so we got some breakfast sent up to the room, showered, packed, and checked out. We had one last lunch at Drift — where we saw Nathan MacKinnon, fresh off his Stanley Cup parade through Halifax — before leaving.

Our drive to the farm was uneventful, apart from a few dumb drivers, and we arrived in the early evening. It was weirdly quiet, as (a) it’s the middle of blueberry season, and (b) half the family was working at a nearby rock & mineral show. Eventually we collected everyone at home, hurriedly ate some sandwiches, and crashed.

Mon 22nd

Since my mom was free we decided to go on a daytrip: while mom did errands in Parrsboro, we chatted with the artists who were sculpting a log from my dad’s woods, then had lunch (including a big piece of butterscotch pie) at the Pier restaurant (or Harbour View or whatever it’s called) at low tide. After that we drove downshore toward Advocate, admired the view along the way, stopped at Cape d’Or and walked down to the lighthouse, and hung out at Driftwood Beach. It was a hot, sunny, beautiful day, perfect to revisit this area where two of my grandparents grew up, and which Lindsay had never before seen.

We picked up roast chickens and salads on the way home; brother #2 and 4/5 of the family (two kids are at home for the summer) came across the yard for dinner, along with the two pups. After dinner we took brother #2’s side by side out for a rip. Lindsay even took a turn on the back roads.

Tue 23rd

A mostly-lazy day marred by one incident: out for a walk around the home hill, Lindsay got something in her eye, to a very painful and traumatic degree. She was in severe pain for most of the evening, even as we tried to flush out whatever it was. She went to sleep with a warm facecloth across her eyes, hoping the next day would be better.

Wed 24th

It was better. Somewhat. Less pain than the night before, and more mobility in the eye, but far from fully healed. We decided to get on with our day the best we could anyway. We drove to Parrsboro, grabbed lunch from Tim Horton’s, drove down to West Bay (where, somehow, I’d never driven before) to get a great view of Blomidon and Cape Split, then backtracked to the beach at Partridge Island where we walked around, skipped stones, and enjoyed the sea air.

We got home and, within a few hours, were headed back to Parrsboro for dinner with my parents at the Glooscap. It was my first time there since it burned down a few years ago. We stuffed ourselves, drove home, and played a few games of crib. Lindsay’s eye was better, but still not good.

Thu 25th

We’d made an appointment with an eye doctor in Amherst for first thing in the morning where, it was discovered, something was still stuck in Lindsay’s eye. It was too hard to tell what it has originally been (my guess was an insect) but as soon as it was out, her eye started responding favourably. While we waited for a prescription to be filled we had a HUGE feed downtown at Breakfast at Brittney’s, then drove back to collect our goods and head home.

Later that afternoon, after everyone had taken off to different appointments and engagements, we packed up and began the drive back to Bedford. We drove the long way, along the old shore road, intending to stop at Diane’s for clams but somehow missing it, opting instead for dinner at Catch Of The Bay in Masstown (which involved a mediocre musician singing terrible songs, a nearby airshow, and the strong smell of cow manure) before driving to Bedford.

Fri 26th

After a slow morning we got on the road toward a cottage in the Annapolis Valley, but first we stopped at a couple of wineries. First up was Avondale Sky, which we’d never visited. It’s a lovely little spot away from the other wineries, and we really enjoyed our tasting. We left with two bottles of the Blanc de Noirs which just won gold at the national level, as well as a dry rosé and a weird 2012 white blend left behind by the previous owners.

The second winery was Blomidon, which I hadn’t been to in 12ish years. We did a hook around a freak rainstorm and found them at the end of a rainbow. It was too wet to sit outside, but we did a reserve flight and the reds flight; we were very pleasantly surprised with their Chardonnay and Pinot; we took two Chards (we got our mitts on a newer vintage too), a Pinot, and some bottles of Cremant to fuel our French 75 dreams.

We drove along side roads, admiring the trees and farmland, and met the rest of the family at the cottage. They’d ordered donairs in advance from Mama Sofia, and when they arrived…oh man. Consensus in the cottage was that they were among the best donairs we’d ever eaten. Messy as hell, but frickin’ delicious. We threw those down, got in a quick game of washer toss, had a campfire, played Balderdash, and drank A LOT of wine on the deck into the wee hours. Luckily, there was ample donair to soak everything up.

Sat 27th

No one was in any rush to activate on the day, so we slowly mobilized, had some coffee, ate some eggs benny casserole (it’s a thing), and decided to drive to a nearby beach, just over the mountains at Margaretsville. Not a sandy beach, mind you; this was a rocky beach just across the Minas Basin from the beaches we’d visited earlier in the week near Advocate. We spied the lighthouse and some beautiful early afternoon fog. We walked along the shoreline and found the waterfall of a stream cascading onto the beach. We spotted a seal who kept bobbing up and keeping an eye on us. It was a lovely little excursion.

Back at the cottage we had some hot dogs for lunch (summer!), played a few rounds of washer toss, did a little lying around and reading, drank the fancy Avondale Sky sparkling, and then got to work on dinner: steaks, potatoes, and salad. By then we’d switched to red, and — after some cleanup — carried on right into a long game of Taboo. We didn’t go as long as the night before; everyone knew we’d be on the move the next day.

Sun 28th

Lots of coffee and a breakfast sandwich later we set to the task of cleaning the place up, and got on the road.

We drove a half hour or so up the valley and gathered for lunch at Lightfoot & Wolfville. We had a pupper with us, so we sat at a picnic table and ate oysters and pizzas and drank glasses of wine. There was some management of dogs and fending off of hornets, but the food and the view made it all worth it.

We had arranged to give our borrowed car back to brother #2, so after dumping our stuff back in Bedford, we drove to Truro to meet he and my mom, who had driven him there. It was good to sneak in one more hug. 🙂 We drove back a new way, avoiding an accident, and saw some really nice homes along a nice lake. So much NS exploration in this trip!

Back in Bedford, on our last night before flying home, Lindsay, her mom, her brother, and I opted to maximize our east coast food exposure before leaving, getting both donair pizza and garlic fingers for dinner, and drinking the 2020 Blomidon Chard. We moved our Monday flight back a few hours, both to avoid a stopover, and to give ourselves a little time and space in the morning.

Mon 29th

Naught left to do but pack up and go. Thanks Nova Scotia, you were a delight.

Post-Crime Redstone

Brother #2 and his wife were in town this past week-ish. We’ve had quite a good time, even if it went by really quickly!


Flight delays held up their arrival, but we had some lunch and enjoyed the backyard before walking down the street to Reid’s Distillery for a drink. (I had the afternoon off.) Later we had dinner outside on the patio at The Roy.


Since I had the morning off, we just took it easy before heading to White Lily for lunch — both brothers have now had the pastrami sandwich. We went back to the house where Lindsay and I worked for the afternoon, and they went to pick up their daughter for a visit. Once they were all back in town we ordered BBQ from Beach Hill Smokehouse, which has quickly become our favourite.


I was in the office all day (and had a brutal commute home) but our three guests entertained themselves in the city. By the time I got home we needed a bit of leftover BBQ to tide us over, but later that night we ordered Maker Pizza so they could sample the garlic fingers. (Verdict: not bad.) We shut down the night with a bit of Mario Kart.


I went to the office in the morning, but came back for the afternoon. After work we went to see Thor: Love And Thunder (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was not great, but was entertaining enough for a Friday night. After that they drove the kid back home while we ate some roti and caught up on Drag Race.


The four of us were out the door by ten, aiming to get down to Niagara in good time. Unfortunately, traffic and an ill-fated coffee stop put us behind schedule, and we didn’t get to Leaning Post until noon. Still, we had a great time tasting outdoors on their patio, and left with quite a few bottles.

We had lunch down the road at Redstone, and once we got situated in a table where we wouldn’t cook, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Collectively here’s what we had:

  • Cured Pacific Salmon w/ Cucumber, Green Goddess, Dill
  • Sweet Pea Cavatelli w/ Smoked Ham Hock, Egg Yolk, Breadcrumb
  • Meat Pizza w/ ‘Nduja, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Spicy Cacciatore, Mozzerella, Arugula
  • Fogo Island Cod & Chips w/ Celeriac Remoulade, Tartar Sauce, Hand-Cut Fries
  • Pan-Fried Pork Schnitzel w/ Mustard Spaetzle, Fried Caper, Crème Fraîche, Dijon
  • Various cocktails, ciders, and wines

We realized we were running out of time, so we only visited one more winery: Organized Crime. I hadn’t been there in ten years, and it’s really changed a lot. The chairs and tables on the front lawn — with a gorgeous view — were all either full or directly in the sun (and it was too hot for that shit) so we tasted under cover near the house. We left with several more bottles, and began the trek back to Toronto. Traffic was bad, but just usual-bad, so…not that bad.

We relaxed/napped for a bit, then went to dinner at Ascari Enoteca. We were sat indoors, which normally I wouldn’t want, but yesterday? Give me that air conditioning. Anyway, our meals were great:

  • marinated olives
  • broccolini fritti w/ tuscan battered broccolini, lemon zest, pecorino romano
    • 2020 Agricola Molino Sibillia Arneis
  • pea and mascarpone filled hand made agnolotti di piselli w/ mushrooms, crispy chicken skin, pea tendrils, butter sauce
  • three of us had the linguine special with octopus and ‘nduja and caper breadcrumbs, and it was on the whiteboard not the website so I don’t remember much more than that
    • 2015 Tenuta Di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva
  • desserts of rhubarb tart, lemon sorbetto w/ melon, port, and late harvest semillon

By the time we finished that we didn’t have much left in us but to walk home and enjoy the evening with a bottle of Piquette from Leaning Post.


We dragged ourselves up and out of the bed for coffee and a trip to the Leslieville Farmer’s Market. We hadn’t been in quite a while (and obviously they’d never been) so it was nice to walk around, check out the vendors, drink some fresh juice, pick up some flowers and fruit and bread and a bottle of wine from our Leaning Post friends, and head home. Having a car certainly made it an easier situation to wrangle than last time when we were crashing into an Uber with too many bags.

We ate a lunch comprised of market finds, and they took off to spend more parent-daughter time before leaving tomorrow.

Like I said, it felt too short, It’ll be good to get back to NS next month and pick up where we left off.


I’m just about to leave Halifax after a little milestone celebration. About 18 months ago my friend Brian started organizing a 25th reunion of our Dal undergrad class, and it was held this past weekend. I was a little nervous headed into it — I wasn’t super-close with more than a handful of people in the program, and I knew a lot of them wouldn’t know me — but it turned out to be a good time nonetheless.


I flew Porter from the island airport to Halifax, which I’d normally do anyway, but especially now that Pearson is a gong show. CBJ was on the same flight, by coincidence, so we could share an Uber to downtown Halifax.

Unlike most of the reunion attendees (who stayed at the Westin) I stayed at the new Muir Hotel on the waterfront. It’s part of the stunning new Queen’s Marque development, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my new home when in the city.

I knew I’d be hungry, so I’d made a reservation at Drift, the hotel’s restaurant. My sister-in-law was able to join me, and we got a table outside next to the crowds and harbour. We shared the Maryann’s brown bread w/ organic honey butter, and I had the iced digby scallop crudo w/ charred dill pickles and sherry and slow-cooked sustainable blue salmon w/ Nova Scotia oyster & bacon dashi, fried butterball potatoes and roasted radishes.


I woke up early-ish, considering I was on vacation. It was for a work reason though — I drove around with my company’s regional head to see some of the local store formats and understand the market a bit better (from our company’s perspective of selling wine; I’m something of an expert on actually buying it here). I bookended that activity with breakfast (blueberry pancakes w/ fresh blueberries, espresso crumble, chantilly cream and maple syrup) and lunch (fish & chips w/ frites, tartar sauce, malt vinegar and mushy peas) at Drift.

That afternoon I went up to the Dal business school to meet up with the other attendees and have a small ceremony for a new scholarship our class created. It was fun to see the new building (though I’d seen it before; I finished my last MBA class there in 2008) and awkwardly re-connect with people I hadn’t seen in 25 years and who barely knew me then.

After that, we made our way down to the patio at Garden for drinks, and a few more folks showed up. We were there for quite a bit, enjoying the perfect weather, before heading downtown to…Pacifico? Seriously?? We all remembered it as a…um, less than classy place in our youth. But it has (a) moved to where Merrill’s used to be — a bundle of memories unto itself — and (b) become a fairly classy live music venue. We took over a little corner and caught up, and more people arrived. We wrapped up sometime after midnight and wandered up the hill to Pizza Corner, for much-needed Sicilian slices.


I slept in a bit and missed breakfast, but that pizza slice was still holding court. The Canada Day crowds on the waterfront were already plentiful, so I had a throwback lunch at the Split Crow, walked around for a bit, went to Weird Harbour for a coffee, and retired to the room where I watched the new Stranger Things episodes.

That night I went to more reunion stuff, starting with dinner at the Agricola Street Brasserie. I had seared scallops w/ fennel, lemon slaw, radish & maple, and dry aged duck w/ duck fat confit, fingerling potatoes & duck jus. I’d wanted to try that place for a long time, so I’m glad we finally had the excuse.

After dinner we went down the street to Chainyard Cider, where we drank mostly beer. After last call there a few of us somehow ended up at an awful joint called the Roxbury. I bolted almost immediately.


I crawled out of bed and caught a ride over to brother #1’s house for waffles and coffee and some nephew hangout time. I got a ride partway home and walked the rest, in light rain, grabbing another capp from Weird Harbour before getting back to the room. I watched The Boys, read my book, ordered room service lunch (the Drift burger: a 200g chuck patty, Avonlea cheddar, thousand island sauce, iceberg lettuce, Branston pickle, brioche bun & onion ring w/ frites, and a glass of cab sauv) and generally relaxed.

Later on I went to dinner at Rinaldo’s with brother #1 where we shared crispy brussel sprouts tossed in a lemon aioli w/ chili crisp & pecorino, and a Detroit-style pepperoni pizza. We drove around a bit, then headed downtown and walked along the waterfront before deciding to check out BKS, the Speakeasy in the hotel. It’s a cozy spot inside, and a spectacular waterfront patio outside. I was rather smoothly upsold a pricey glass of Little Book bourbon, but the beautiful view & great weather more than justified it,


Up early again to meet brother #1 for breakfast, this time at Robie Street Station. Stuffed completely full, I got dropped back at the hotel for one last bit of chilling in the room before strolling around the Queen’s Marque area a bit more and then heading to the airport.

We’ll be back in Halifax next month. Hopefully it won’t be another 25 years before I see this class again.


A few scant weeks after brother #2’s visit, brother #1 and his family were in town yesterday. They came over for a bit of a hangout before said brother and I went to see Sigur Rós play at Meridian Hall. It was my first time since seeing them in September 2001 and October 2002.

It was worth the 20-year wait. They played for a combined 2.5+ hours, and had all the magic I remember. They swung from delicate to punishing with little warning. They seem as tight as ever, with the maturity that comes from two additional decades of touring. Jonsi still emits alien whale song from a slender body in such a way that it beggars belief. I got choked up during “Svefn-g-englar”, but the final movement of “Popplagið” was so overwhelming that I teared up.

The setlist, according to

  1. Vaka
  2. Fyrsta (>)
  3. Samskeyti
  4. Svefn-g-englar
  5. Rafmagnið búið (>)
  6. Ný batterí
  7. Gold 2
  8. Fljótavík
  9. Heysátan
  10. Dauðalagið
  11. Smáskifa [followed by intermission]
  12. Glósóli
  13. E-Bow
  14. Ekki múkk
  15. Sæglópur
  16. Gong (>)
  17. Andvari
  18. Gold 4
  19. Festival
  20. Kveikur
  21. Popplagið

Today the brother + fam are wrapping up their visit to Toronto, and we’re off to Montreal for a week. It’s my first work break since December and and our first time back in Montreal together since Lindsay finished her Masters there. À bientôt!


Brother #2 was visiting this weekend. Amidst the hangs and watching The Matrix: Resurrections (imdb | rotten tomatoes) — which wasn’t great — we drove out to Oshawa a couple of times to visit the niece. The first time we had steaks at The Keg; the second time we drove up to Port Perry, ate lunch (including a pulled pork sandwich where they massively overstuffed it and apologized for “overporking” me) at The Pub while looking out at Lake Scugog, went for a little random drive and ended up at Pleasant Point Park where we saw pups and an osprey and a water snake, then had a hankering for ice cream which led us to the nearest Kawartha Dairy. A nice little swing through Ontario.

Cover photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Xmas 2021

Well, we made it to Nova Scotia. We thought hard about not going, given Omicron, but decided NS was a better place to ride things out than Ontario. After a fun few days & two negative tests in Bedford I’ve come to the farm (Lindsay stayed there; we’re trying to limit the household interactions) where it has been perfectly quiet and still. Lots of reading, eating, watching TV, crib…and not much else.

Funny story: the day before I arrived at the farm my parents had to get the septic tank fixed. The last time it was fixed was the day I was born.


Cover photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

It was one of the moms from Bend It Like Beckham

It’s been a busy ten days. Last week I got to go to the Leafs home opener against the Canadiens. It was my first sporting event in a crowd since…I have no idea when. The Canadiens lost — they’ve only lost so far this season — and after the game I saw a drunk Leafs fan get hit by a car. So there was that.

Earlier this week Lindsay’s mom was in town. On Tuesday we had a tremendous birthday dinner at Ascari Enoteca:

  • cocktails
  • bread
  • olive oil poached tuna w/ apple, fennel, cashew, and chili emulsion
  • Wisconsin burrata w/ heirloom tomatoes, romesco, pine nuts, and focaccia crisps
  • arancini w/ nduja sugo, basil, and grana padano
  • glasses of La Rondinina Lambrusco
  • linguine w/ octopus, nduja, tomatoes, red pepper, and caper bread crumbs
  • spaghetti alla carbonara w/ house made guanciale, grana padano, pecorino, egg yolk, and black pepper
  • ricotta gnocchi w/ hen of the woods mushrooms, sunchoke, chives
  • bottle of 2017 Palmento Costanzo ‘Mofete’

On Wednesday we went to see Blindness, my first play, or something resembling it, since…I really have no idea when. It was a very intense sound & light experience, to the point where I was worried I might pass out or be sick. But still really interesting and good.

Nova Scotia 2021

I’ve just spent the week in Nova Scotia, my first time home since December 2019, and my first time anywhere outside of Ontario since January 2020. It was a quiet, chill time…exactly what I needed.


I waited until Porter was flying from the island again before I flew, to avoid Pearson. I wasn’t sure how messy the check-in experience would be, so I went early. Too early, as it turns out — I had about 45 minutes to kill in the lounge. Oh well.

I expected flying to feel weird, but it didn’t really. The old muscle memories kicked in, and apart from the fact that I had a mask on the whole time and the plane was mostly empty, it felt like the hundred other times I’d taken that flight to Montreal. (And, sometimes, onward to Halifax.)

After landing in Halifax I had to contend with a pretty ferocious rainstorm for most of the drive home. It was tough going, but the sun broke out just before I reached the farm. I hugged my mom and dad (for the first time in 21 months) and my brother and sister-in-law, and scratched their dogs, and immediately felt relaxed. We ate dinner together, and then my mom and dad and I played crib. I finished second both times while they traded wins.

Because I’d been traveling, and because I hadn’t had coffee all day, and because it’s the farm, I fell asleep by 9:00.


Early to bed, early to rise, it seems, so I was up and about by 7am. I felt pretty accomplished until I realized by dad already had an hour of work under his belt by that point. Thus began my day of perfect nothing.

I mean, not nothing, but…pretty close to nothing. Dad and I went for a short drive in the woods, to see a dead tree occupied by bees, and to grumble at a beaver dam. I walked around the farm a bit. I did crosswords and ask my mom a bunch of questions that I got from PostSecret. This was incredibly interesting, and I asked my dad some of them too, learning the amazing story of Rathburn Lovely and his twin daughters Shirley and Lurley. Yeah, it sounded made-up to me too, but I’ve verified it.

The five of us went to dinner in Parrsboro at the Pier restaurant (or whatever it’s called now) at high tide, then retreated home for more crib (I won both games this time) and a Leafs-Habs exhibition game.


Another day of serious chill: crosswords, more questions for my parents, a couple more walks around the yard, more dog scratches, dinner at home, and a Jays game.


I packed up, said my goodbyes, and started a long drive. I wanted to stop off at some wineries on my way to Halifax…which, if there was a bridge across the Minas Basin, would be exactly what would have happened. Alas, there is not, so I drove 220km around it. But I drove the scenic Glooscap Trail both ways, so it wasn’t all bad.

I had a 2pm tasting appointment at Benjamin Bridge, and pulled in just in time. Kyla led me through a tasting, letting me try some of the newer things that have been released since I left the wine club, showing me the vines and the barrel room (badass barrels too!) and just indulging my wine nerd questions. It was a lovely time…not the warmest, sunniest day, but when there’s no rain or fog, you just shut up and enjoy it.

After that it was on to Halifax, driving downtown and depositing the car at the new Sutton Place Hotel. I unpacked, cleaned up, and went over to brother #1’s place for family dinner. After that we went for an evening constitutional, in which he showed me some of the new developments downtown since I was here last. We ended up having a drink at Lot Six, where a server misheard my request for “Chenin” as “Chambly”, so I drank a Blanche de Chambly for the first time in yonks.


My suite, and bed, were pretty comfy, so I slept in to the decadent hour of 8ish. I decided to enjoy said suite fully, hanging out, watching TV, doing some work, reading, etc. I picked up a lobster roll from Gahan House and ate it with a bottle of Cab Franc rose I’d snagged from BB the day before. I tried to work more in the afternoon, but ended up watching more TV. Then brother #1 called and said they were heading to an event at the Grand Parade to commemorate the first annual Truth and Reconciliation Day. I joined them, and enjoyed the drum circle, as I always do.

After cancelled (though no one told me) reservations at Obladee, I had a quiet dinner by myself, thinking and making notes, at Barrington Steakhouse. My steak, the veg, and the ratatouille were all quite good, my wine was just okay, and the piano player singing mostly-Canadian classic rock was exceptional.


I met brother #1 at Cheeky Neighbour Diner for breakfast, an enormous collection of food that I didn’t nearly finish. After almost running over our nephew (!) he dropped me at my hotel where I did my one meeting of the (vacation, mind you) week. After that, I really got to enjoy Halifax: walking down to the waterfront, enjoying the sunshine, checking out all the new developments, sitting down at the Stubborn Goat / Garrison Brewing beer garden for a Hefeweizen and milk stout and currywurst, and grabbing a cappuccino from Weird Harbour on my way back to the hotel.

I met back up with the brother in the late afternoon, strolling around a bit again until visiting Obladee, where I was overjoyed with their wine list. So much stuff to try, so little time. But I did my best, running my way down their list:

  • L’Oiselinière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
  • Meinklang Burgenlandweiss 2020
  • La Baronne Le Grenache Gris de Jean 2018
  • Caruso & Minini Frappato Nerello Mascalese
  • Lustau Oloroso Don Nuño Sherry

I could have spent all night there, sampling stuff I don’t know well. By a country mile, this is the best wine list in the city.

We walked back to his house, where we ate sushi and just hung out. Halifax, which I’ve always loved fiercely, is made that much better by the family presence here, vs. just university memories. I walked back to my hotel after, enjoying the cool air and dodging the usual Friday night Halifax silliness.


Bad news to start the day: our flight was cancelled and we (my mom flew back to Toronto with me) were moved to a flight 3 hours later. We had some time to kill so we drove back to Wolfville just for kicks; Lightfoot & Wolfville was packed for a private event, and the downtown was manic for…homecoming, we guessed? Anyway, we had brunch at some non-descript pub, drove back to the airport, checked in, and flew home. I forgot how long Porter flights can feel, and our leg from Halifax to Ottawa was sardine-crammed. We got in late, and crashed. A day, but a wonderfully chill week overall.

Cover photo by Barbara Courouble, used under Creative Commons license

An early preview, hopefully

Brother #2, his lovely wife, and (temporarily) a niece — the same niece we brought to school last year — were in town this weekend, transporting said niece to university. We had a short but fun visit, eating at Brickworks Cider House‘s curbside patio, hanging out in the back yard, playing Exploding Kittens and Bananagrams, ordering from Chula Taberna, coaxing Kramer into the living room for a visit, and — after the uni drop-off — sabering open some sparkling out back before going out for dinner at Gare de L’est.

They’re gone <48 hours after arriving, but it was still good to see family again. Fingers crossed, we’ll see more in a few weeks.


Cover photo by Barbara Courouble, used under Creative Commons license

The switch to repose

Now, a week after I posted about starting vacation, it feels like we’re probably able to relax. On Sunday of this week we drove out to Oshawa to pick up my niece, as she can’t fly home to NS. The early part of the week was filled with errands and Christmas prep (and a bit of work) but also some games, like Pandemic and crib and Snakes & Ladders / Climb to Emotional Maturity.

On Christmas Eve we made sugar cookies from XO Bisous, then roasted a duck & sides that came in a kit from Avling Brewing. I didn’t get the duck quite right, but the Bouchard Père & Fils 2011 Premier Cru Pinot Noir almost made up for it.

On Christmas Day (a white Christmas, for the first time in recent memory) we baked scones, opened gifts, chatted with our families, played Mario Kart on the niece’s new Nintendo Switch, and roasted up a pretty damn good chicken.

Today we did…nothing. Pretty much, anyway.