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.

Dieu du Ciel Aphrodesiaque / Mill Street Coffee Porter

Yesterday, on our way to TIFF10 film #2, we stopped in at Beerbistro. They had two Project FiftyBrew beers on their list: Dieu du Ciel Aphrodesiaque and Mill Street Coffee Porter.

The coffee porter was okay…what can I say? It tasted like coffee, and I don’t really like coffee. I was also very full from lunch and my previous beer. I should probably give it another go some other time, but…meh.

The Dieu du Ciel Aphrodesiaque, on the other hand, was fan-freaking-tastic. As in, one of the best stouts I’ve ever tried. It somehow tasted like chocolate AND vanilla simultaneously. It wasn’t heavy or chalky, it was just…tasty. This will not be the last time I drink this beer.

Quel weekend

Oooh, that was nice. Every weekend should be a 4-day long weekend. I know, I know, then they wouldn’t seem as special, but think of the bar sales!

Wednesday night we picked up two bottles of Rosewood Estates wine (the 2008 Semillon and 2008 Süssreserve Riesling) and some Cumbrae’s steaks by way of provisions, before kicking off our long weekend at Beerbistro (too crowded inside, too cold outside) and Duggan’s (just right). Not a long night, though…we were pacing ourselves.

I’ve already talked about Thursday — Canada Day — over here.

By Friday the weather was really picking up…good timing, as we’d decided to take the day off work. We began the day watching the orange jerseys parade along King Street toward Betty’s for the Netherlands-Brazil match before finding a less crowded seat at the Jason George from which to watch. Holland won and King Street went mad; we did a little furniture & art shopping, raided St. Lawrence Market, cleaned up our place (finally!), went for a run, made some ploughman’s lunch and drank a bottle of Firesteed Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Saturday started much like Friday: back to the Jason George to watch the Germany-Argentina match before hitting the farmer’s market and taking a stroll to the Distillery District. I needed a walk, Nellie needed wine glasses, and we both wanted to check out some art. Naturally we ended up sitting in the Mill Street brew pub, watching the excellent second half of the Spain-Paraguay match. When we arrived home Nellie completed her preparations for barbecued ribs, which were a tad on the spicy side…by which I mean they tasted like Satan had pissed hellfire in the sauce. Tasty, but they hurt my ever-so-delicate mouth.

Somewhere in there, between enjoying the outdoors at ground- or balcony-level, we watched a bunch of mediocre movies: My Best Friend’s Girl (imdb | rotten tomatoes), Green Zone (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and Thirst (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Actually, My Best Friend’s Girl was shit, but it was free, so I feel less bad about watching it.

Sunday was, sadly, the beginning of our return to reality. While we had fun taking pictures of all the hubbub of the Queen’s visit to our neighbourhood cathedral and relaxing on our balcony for the morning, it was back to work for me in the afternoon.

"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!