Coney Island Parachute Jump

Just got back from a weekend of fun in Halifax to celebrate my birthday. I’m kind of tired, so no prose this time. Just the highlights of places we hit, both new and familiar.

Since we stayed at the Prince George hotel we decided to have a lunch at the new bar downstairs. The fried chicken sandwich was pretty tasty, and they had a surprisingly good beer selection; before I started on the locals I had two from Dieu Du Ciel: the Blanche du Paradis and the Aphrodisiaque.

After meeting up with our friends we tried to hit this place, but they don’t open ’til 6pm. Next time, then.

This was the one I was really excited about. It’s a new(ish) place modelled after places like Volo and Pony Bar, and I’ve been following their progress and Twitter account since they were under construction. We all started with samplers; I got the PEI Brewing 1772 IPA, North Brewing Belgian IPA, Boxing Rock Sessionista, and Picaroons Dark and Stormy Night. Our entire group then split a stellar bottle of Brooklyn Sorachi Ace — what a treat. I wrapped up with the Uncle Leo’s Smoked Porter, which tasted like bacon. By the time I left this was my new favourite place in Halifax.

This was another new stop for us. There’s a gimmick where they raffle off special appetizers and desserts and such, and people bid using paddles at their tables. We only took part in one auction and weren’t quite willing to part with $20 for a dessert, but it was still kind of fun. We split half a dozen appetizers and I had a Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale.

This was another first for me, even though the Carleton has been there for years. See, when I lived in Halifax, the Carleton was a SMU bar, so I didn’t go there. And old habits die hard. Anyway, it’s gotten a bit swankier inside, and the live music was pretty good. Not a great beer list, but they did have Unibroue Blanche de Chambly and cocktails named after local 90s indie bands like Thrush Hermit and Eric’s Trip. So there was that.

Yet another Halifax institution which had never had the pleasure of my company. We were getting pretty silly by this point. I remember starting with a Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale and ending with a Big Spruce Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout; there may have been another in between those two but I can’t be sure.

That’s right, we went back. It was that good. And before I left I’d noticed they had bottles of Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel in the fridge, which our friend Becky had never tried, so I ordered two (and some delicious Atari fries). After this magnificent reprisal the girls dragged us somewhere awful. I won’t even discuss it here. Awful.

Aaaaaaaaaaand the evening was back on track. And by “evening” I mean 2am. And by “back on track” I mean covered in donair sauce.

After a very slow start to Sunday morning we dragged ourselves over to EDNA for brunch. By the time we left it had joined Stillwell atop my list of favourite Halifax places. The food was outstanding — I had a smoked pork chop, eggs, beans, toasted sourdough baguette, duck fat potatoes, and a cappuccino. The space (rustic, open) felt completely welcoming, the music (folk, blues) was perfect, and the clientele was almost universally happy and attractive. I can’t wait to go back for dinner some day.

We braved the drizzela and walked down to the waterfront, stopping at TIBS for some fuel: capp #2. From there we threaded the needle of Buskerfest crowds down the waterfront, past a superyacht, all the way to the market.

The rain had let up and the sun was out now, so we stopped for two wee samples on the Garrison patio. I had the Raspberry Wheat and the Nut Brown.

Since we were just around the corner and felt we needed just a little more food in our stomachs we visited an old familiar haunt for some spicy calamari and a Granite Brewery Best Bitter on the patio. Nellie got one of her new favourites, the Ringwood.

Sunday night’s plan was to have a proper dinner at another new stop, the Stubborn Goat. The Murphy girls rejoined us, and we added three others, but none of us had much in the way of energy. Even Nellie and I had to power through a few drinks, but we couldn’t leave that beer selection untouched. I had a Boxing Rock Sessionista, a Picaroons Best Bitter, and a Dieu du Ciel Pénombre. The menu looked impressive, though it didn’t really blow us away…or maybe that was the service, which was pretty amateurish the whole night. Still, I want to go back — our friends assured us this was out of character for the Goat, so we’ll keep it in mind for next time.

No Pizza Corner on night #2; we all rolled out of there and made for home. I crashed into bed immediately; Nellie insisted on watching The Other Woman, which even Kate Upton in a bikini couldn’t save. Our travel back to Toronto was unremarkable except for the limo driver who had spent his childhood working on a blueberry farm only a few miles from our own. Small world.

Thanks for the 46 hours of fun, Halifax. It was a hoot.

A week of drinking well

Our recycling pile and credit card bill would suggest that we drank very, very well this past week:

On Sunday we had a bottle of 2007 Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay. On Monday we had a 2009 Twenty Twenty Seven Featherstone Vineyard Riesling. On Tuesday it was a 2009 Thirty Bench Triangle Vineyard Riesling. Wednesday was a 2009 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir, and on Thursday (after I had two pints by Great Lakes at Volo, the Katy Brown Ale and the Karma Stoutra) we had a bottle of 2009 Tawse Misek Riesling to go with our Thai takeout.

By Friday we’d decided we’d done our part for the Ontario wine economy and branched out somewhat. We had a few glasses each at REDS (2008 Foreign Affair Conspiracy, 2009 Nuestro Ribera del Duero and 2009 Jean Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone for me; 2008 Flat Rock Chardonnay, 2008 Foreign Affair Conspiracy and 2008 Rubrato Aglianico dei Feudi for Nellie) before strolling down to Wellington Street and trying Trevor for the first (!) time. We appeared to be the only non-Winterlicious people in the place, and the bartender expressed his appreciation when we ordered a full bottle of wine; I think we may have been the first to do so that night. We warmed up with a 2008 Bogle Zinfandel (me) and 2010 Bogle Chardonnay (her), and drank a bottle of 2010 McManis Petite Sirah with our mini Kobe burgers, tempura shrimp and truffle goat cheese poutine.

Yesterday we slept in (obv) before picking up supplies for the week, including a bunch of Garrison beer, one of our Halifax favourites which happens to be on feature at the LCBO this week. Last night we had a pretty disappointing dinner at a pub near the theatre where our movie was playing, so we made it up to our taste buds with a visit to Paese before the screening. I know I had a Malbec and a Foreign Affair Cabernet Sauvignon, while Nellie had an Amarone (in fact, they recognized her from the last time we were in and, remembering her affection for the last Amarone they sold by the glass, immediately poured her their new one) and a California Chardonnay; I don’t recall the details beyond that.

All in all it was a smashing good week of wine drinking, punctuated by the odd burst of beer and decadent food. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the gym.