Street Fight

What was this email in our inboxes? An event at a brewery? More to the point, a four-course meal? With both beer and wine pairings? Crowds of other people who also like both beer and wine? Bien sûr!

It was like someone custom-made this event for Nellie and I. We bought tickets as soon as we heard about it, and on Thursday rushed down to the Distillery District to enjoy the festivities. This was the second competition (well, third really, but the first wasn’t publicized) between the Mill Street Brewery and 13th Street Winery (hence the name of the event: “Street Fight”) wherein the beer and wine would be evaluated on how well they paired with each course by a panel of judges (officially) and the 60-odd participants (unofficially). Let the games begin!

The staff brought around several sample-sized glasses of beer and wine before the meal even got started. Eventually the appetizers arrived — artichoke and oka cheese fritters with tarragon aioli…tasty! By this time the tables were starting to fill in. Most people were attending in large groups, including the group of four to our right (who we talked to about good places in Ottawa, like the soon-to-be-open Mill St. Brewery, and Les Brasseurs du Temps across the river in Hull), and the group to our left who all work at Opera Bob’s, a pub on the west side of Toronto, and who entertained us for the entire evening. For example, there was a particularly humorous tale about a beautiful Indian lady and some snowballs. Et cetera.

Then the meal really kicked into gear. The first course was two huge chunks of wild boar sausage, paired with a Franconian Bock. And paired beautifully, I might add. By the time I finished mine (and a good part of Nellie’s) I was pretty much stuffed. Then came the main — a huge piece of duck with butternut squash risotto on the side, paired with a Gamay. I’m not the biggest Gamay fan, really, so while I quite liked the duck, I didn’t love the pairing.

I was stuffed, but there was a cheese course to eat. Three cheeses, one of which worked well with the wine (a Merlot; eep!) and two of which went better with the beer (an IPA). So…whew! Great. I’d managed to eat it all, despite being so super-full. All in all a very good meal, so have a good night everyone, and we’ll see you all next t…what’s that? What did you say? More? Seriously? There’s more?!? As in, more food? MORE food?!?

Yep. More food. Very well then. A soldier does his duty. It was an apple & rhubarb crisp and was actually quite good. The wine it was matched with (somewhere between a late harvest and an ice wine) was good, but the vanilla porter was excellent.

So…in the end, we both thought the beer got the better of the wine on the night. The judges, of course, ruled it a draw, but all the opinions I heard around the room leaned toward beer as victor. 13th Street does have some very good wine, but I’m not sure we saw the best of it in this competition. I look forward to them coming out swinging in the next match.

It's like spaghetti, except it's more square than round

What a goddamn enjoyable day. No one stellar thing to trump all others, just a collection of goodness. Examples:

  • Eating rosemary/olive bread and cloth-bound cheddar and pineapple for breakfast, which sounds disgusting but was awesome.
  • Getting some work done. (Okay, so this isn’t particularly fun, but it feels good to get it out of the way and not have to go to the office.)
  • Listening to the new Elbow album, which is excellent, and the new PJ Harvey, which I hated at first but now cannot shake from my head.
  • Lunch at La Bettola di Terroni which, despite being right around the corner from us, we’d never tried. It was fantastic. I had the braised beef agnolotti in a sage brown butter sauce; Nellie had the chitarra pasta in a lemon cream sauce with sausage & truffles. We also helped the couple sitting next to us, in town from North Carolina, to find a place to spend the day (the Distillery District) and eat dinner (Origin).
  • Gathering supplies at a less-crowded-than-normal St. Lawrence Market, as well as two bottles of Flat Rock (Riesling, Pinot Noir) for this weekend’s meals.
  • Espresso. For which I have apparently developed a taste (need?).
  • Submitting 2010 taxes avec healthy return.
  • Running 4.5km and feeling pretty good doing it.
  • Eating a fairly tasty meal from Golden Thai (after we found out the even-closer Thai place, Ivory Thailand, had been replaced by a French bistro some 3 hours earlier) along with the afore-mentioned Riesling.
  • Watching many episodes of Sons of Anarchy (imdb).
  • Admiring the supermoon.
  • Booking a kick-ass campsite for this fall’s excursion.

"I don't dance with naked soldiers."

Though Thursday and Friday were supposed to be a short vacation, we actually used them as get-shit-done days. Here’s what we’ve managed so far, the major points anyway:

  • Got my driver’s license and health card renewed in what must surely be the most efficient government-related service experience ever. Ten minutes after entering the Service Ontario office at Bay & College I’d completed both renewals and was on my way home. I was actually a little shocked, and left wondering if I’d done something wrong.
  • Watched all four Wimbledon semi-final matches, or at least parts of them.
  • Went to the distillery district with Nellie (who left work at noon) in search of a hopside down glass (since I broke one) but to no avail. We had a bite to eat and a couple of cold ones at the Mill Street brew pub, and managed to get home without being rained on.
  • Went for a run. Good one too.
  • Watched Passchendaele (imdb | rotten tomatoes), which I had really hoped would be good, but it wasn’t. At all. It could have been, but when a movie called Passchendaele spends the majority of its time in Calgary it wastes whatever potential it has.
  • Walked along the waterfront, checked out the new wave deck at the foot of Simcoe, despaired at the putrid wasteland that Queens Quay becomes east of Yonge.
  • Visited the LCBO to pick up some wine for tonight (simple, tasty Cab Sauv from J. Lohr) and a few bottles of the Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask, as recommended on the always-helpful Great Canadian Pubs & Beer blog.
  • Bought a new camera bag for the SX10 at Henry’s.
  • Finished off (more or less) some rearranging we started last weekend. Lots more room now, junk recycled, shelves put up. Time to finally hang that diploma I got last fall.
  • Picked up the new bench for our balcony at Andrew Richard Designs.

Now we’re getting ready to grill some Rowe Farms steaks, maybe watch a movie. It actually feels more like Sunday than Friday…I have to keep reminding myself that we have two more days off!


We needed a day like today. After all the hours we’ve been working lately it felt good to sleep in and then just spend the day doing relaxing stuff. I probably should have done some work, but I figure keeping my sanity intact was worth getting a little behind. After working the past couple of weekends I’ve somewhat lost track of what day it is. I’m lucky I remembered to call my mother this morning for her birthday.

After a quick breakfast snack we strolled down to the Distillery District. I mainly wanted to check out the sale at Lileo, but nothing jumped out at me (or rather, nothing under $400 jumped out at me, so…) so we strolled around a little more, had some lunch at the Mill St. Brewpub, and collected the components of a meal for tonight. Little shopping at St. Lawrence Market on the way home and that was that. Too bad it was so cold and windy today; I’m desperate for a warm, sunny patio. One thing at a time, though; I’ll enjoy my relative relaxation while I can get it.

OK, back to lying in front of the hockey game.