“It’s a good job I’m in the Navy and you’re in the Army.”


This was supposed to have been a very productive weekend for our work. It…was not that, in the end.

Friday after work we managed to get a table at The Wren, one of our very favourite places in Toronto. Cool vibe, stellar food, top notch beer list. We split duck wings for a starter, then Lindsay got a burger and I had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. We started with the tap list (a Muddy York Haberdasher Hefeweizen and Bellwoods Jelly King for me) then we split bottles of the Bellwoods Weft & Warp 2017, the Bellwoods Dark Sour on Cherries, and a Boon Oude Geuze.




On Saturday the Bellwoods binge continued at La Carnita where we had a stellar brunch: chorizo verde, churro pancakes, and a couple of tacos to go with our bottles of Jutsu.


After brunch (and ice cream from Sweet Jesus) Lindsay went to find a quiet place to work; I went in search of a brand new brewery, Saulter Street, just around the corner. They appeared to just be opening for day #2; I took seat at the bar, sampled their Pilsner, and took home a howler (half-growler) for later. Nice little place.


After that Lindsay treated me to the deferred portion of my birthday gift: Dunkirk (imdb | rotten tomatoes) at the VIP theatre, followed by dinner at King Taps. I’d tried to get to King Taps before, after work once, but it was rammed. Like, lineup thirty deep out the door rammed. We figured it would be less busy on a Saturday night, but man…that place was like a pre-club hotspot. Weird crowd, most of whom seemed to be drinking cocktails or generic beer, not the absolutely outstanding rotating craft list or deep big-buy bottle list. We had a Duchesse de Bourgogne and a Bellwoods Jelly King and a Bench Simcoe Grove Dry Hopped Sour and a SBDL x Henderson Meyer Lemon Grisette and a Nickel Brook Redshift Cherry Sour and a very exciting bottle: a Cascade Brewing Noyaux sour. The 100 point rating on ratebeer was well-deserved — it was outstanding. Happy belated birthday to me! The beer, and the excellent food, made up for the douche-y vibe. Apparently craft taps are $5 on Sundays, so I think we have our game plan for next time.


We ended the night at Chez Nous, with plans for two glasses but only stamina for one. Boo.

Sunday we tried a place that’s pretty new at brunch: Eastbound. It was amazing. Lindsay had house-made sausage with eggs; I had an insane “sandwich” of maple bacon pancakes, eggs, and a piece of spicy fried chicken. Oh, and cheese biscuits with lobster butter. We rolled the fuck home.


In the afternoon we were very generously invited to the beautiful backyard of some of Lindsay’s colleagues; we brought over some Benjamin Bridge rosé and Grange cab franc, and drank a bunch of their wine and enjoyed the weather.


We got a little day-drunk, bought some frozen yogurt, ordered pizza, had a tiny nap, and ate pizza while we watched Game Of Thrones.

We’re trying to take it easy this holiday Monday. So far so good, but I have a lot of beer in the fridge right now, so I’m reserving judgment.

Return to the County

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Prince Edward County. I kept telling people I hadn’t been there in two years. I was wrong — it’s been three years. No wonder it felt like such a different place.

We left Saturday morning, arriving in Hillier around lunchtime. I reckoned our first stop should be wood oven pizza at Norm Hardie’s, but that plan blew up when the line of cars extended so far down the driveway we knew we wouldn’t get a table. We didn’t even stop, just did a U-turn and came up with a plan B.

Since we were right there we tootled down the road to Rosehall Run. I’ve had both good and bad experiences with that winery, so I wasn’t sure which we’d get. Turns out it was the latter. The tasting room was slammed. It was tough to get someone to pour for us, and when they did they handed us plastic patio glasses. You know, the ones with the thumb groove. We mentioned that to a few other wineries, who reacted with horror. We didn’t like much of what we tried, but did leave with a 2014 JCR Pinot Noir.

I figured we might as well start the journey down Closson Road, and we started at Hinterland. I warned Lindsay that there are often one or more woohoo-y bachelorette parties at Hinterland; sure enough, one was occupying half the tasting bar when we got there. The other half was subsumed by picture-taking tourists. This was not the county I remembered. This was not the peaceful experience I’d described to Lindsay over the summer. We contemplated leaving, but then managed to squeak into one corner so Lindsay could try the sparkling. She already knew she liked the Whitecap; she bought a 2013 Blanc de Blancs to take away. Suddenly, the tasting room emptied (after the bride forcibly extracted her future bridesmaid Caitlin/Caitlyn/Catelyn/Kaitlyn/Katelyn from the bar so they could continue their reign of terror) and the County was peaceful again.

We decided to eat lunch at the County Road brewery/restaurant next door, which wasn’t even there in 2014, but was now packed to the gills. We shared tomatoes with sourdough and local mozzarella, and beer bratwurst with pickles, and Lindsay tried a few beer samples. While there we met up with our friend Duarte, who lives in the County now, bought some beer, and followed him to our next winery: The Grange of Prince Edward.

I’d been to The Grange before and hadn’t been impressed, but either their wine has improved or my palette has, because a few months ago we shared a bottle of their Estate Cab Franc and loved it. Duarte gave us the grand tour and we tasted through their wines; we eventually left with three bottles of the 2013 Estate Cabernet Franc, two of the 2012 Brut Rosé, a 2013 Estate Chardonnay, and a magnum (!) of the 2014 Pinot Noir / Gamay. The tasting room was mad — we were definitely getting the stinkeye from others who weren’t receiving the same personal attention, and there were no fewer than three bachelorette parties present — but it was a wonderful stop.

We drove down Closson with the intention of stopping at Closson Chase, but the swarm of cars out front warned us off. Instead we drove a little further to the peace and quiet (and delicious Pinot) of The Old Third. We chatted, reveled in the beautiful (and calm!) barn, and bought a bottle of their 2015 vintage. We were finally finding our County groove.

Our last winery of the day was one I’d never heard of until a few weeks ago (hot tip from Laura at Chez Nous Wine Bar) called Domaine Darius. The grounds look like a hobbit’s garden, while the tasting room, a small underground cave, does nothing to dissuade you from that comparison. But the wine? The wine was fantastic. So unexpected, and so different (for the most part) from what I’d expect in the County. We tasted all three they had on offer (2016 Gewurztraminer, 2016 Chardonnay, and 2015 Cuvée red blend), and bought two bottles of each.

Our plan was to head to our AirBnb in Wellington, but we’d been told about one last must-visit: Parsons Brewing, just north of Picton. We took the back roads and found a much bigger operation than I’d expected: a restaurant with a huge outdoor space, families milling about, a bottle shop, and a small bar where we parked ourselves. Lindsay tried a flight, but my favourite was definitely the Grandpa Miguel’s coffee stout. I ended up buying a bottle of that and the Rinda Rinda to take home with us.

Finally, we opted to retreat to our AirBnb, which sat right on Lake Ontario. We had an hour or so to relax, and spent most of it on the back deck. I was done driving for the day, thankfully.

Dinner that night was at Wellington stalwart East & Main. We split the salad and beef carpaccio. I had the pork chop; Lindsay had the pickerel special. We had all this with an outstanding Closson Chase 2014 KJ Watson Pinot Noir. Creme brulee and bread pudding and coffees to finish it off, and we were finished. On the way home we were robbed by a cab driver from Cronkie’s Cab Company, who charged us $25 for driving us 900 metres. So much for the county vibe.

Determined to have a good time anyway, we went back to driving ourselves the next day. First up: Norman Hardie, attempt #2. We arrived just a few minutes after 11, having skipped breakfast to make sure we were good and hungry. We each got a pizza (which meant we had far too much, and took a whole one with us in the car) and baked in the sun, because the kid who seated us didn’t understand that by ‘cover’ I meant ‘shade’ and sat us where there was decidedly neither. Only after we hurriedly finished, already sunburned, did we see the breezeway with shade. Anyway. We went to the nice, cool tasting room and bought two bottles: the 2015 Cabernet Franc and 2015 Cabernet Franc Sans Soufre.

From there we fumbled around the back roads a bit before landing at Trail Estate. The last time I was there they’d just opened; now they’re a bit of a fancy operations, having also landed Hardie’s former assistant winemaker as their own. We liked everything they poured, and took both a 2016 Wild Ferment Riesling and a 2015 Cabernet Franc.

Our last winery of the trip was Closson Chase, now happily uncrowded. We picked a few samples and sat ourselves the beautiful (shaded) backyard, enjoying the wine (we bought a 2014 South Clos Chardonnay and a 2014 Churchside Pinot Noir), playing with a dog named Bella, and taking in the beautiful view. It was a perfect note on which to end our County visit.

On the way out of town we stopped for some dirty roadside ice cream (which is to say, the best ice cream) and made it back to Toronto without much hassle. All that was left to do was unpack everything and tuck away the age-worthy bottles for another day.




When your job requires you to spend a few days in Lisbon, you book-end that with a few days for yourself. And you ask your Lindsay to join you. We left on Saturday the 22nd.

After a little Uber hiccup we sailed to, and then through, Pearson. We ordered a bite at the wine bar near our gate (some of which went missing; RIP lox plate) and I had my last sip of Canadian wine — Southbrook Chardonnay — for a while.

We had to book economy class, so we knew it was going to be a cramped 7+ hours. We didn’t know quite the adventure we were in for through. Just before we took off the flight attendants switched someone into the window seat next to us, who’d originally been at the back of the plane. We crammed our legs into the seats and tried to watch movies to pass the time and ignore the German family behind us who kept bashing our seats. I managed to finish Hacksaw Ridge and we were trying to watch Office Christmas Party at the same time when the lady in the window seat had to puke. And puke she did, including in our row a little bit before she got to the washroom. The flight attendants cleaned it up before she came back and took her seat…and then puked again later. It made for a disruptive movie-watching experience, but hey…at least we weren’t puking. Or covered in puke. Still…not the best transatlantic flight I’ve ever had.


We landed in Frankfurt pretty early, cleared customs, and then hung out in that shitty airport for three hours waiting for our connection to Lisbon. It was too early to even get a decent currywurst. The less said about FRA, the better.

Our flight to Lisbon was MUCH better — no one sat next to us, so we could spread out a bit, and even got an hour or so of sleep. We arrived a few hours later in sunny, warm Lisbon. I’d arranged for a driver to pick us up, and he drove us to our AirBnB near Belem. We settled in, showered, made a plan for the day, and set out.


We walked to Enoteca de Belem to have lunch, but they were full up so we made a dinner reservation instead and kept walking. We walked past the Jardim de Belem, past the bustling Pasteis de Belem, past the huge & beautiful Jeronimos monastery, and along the waterfront past the impressive Padrao dos Descobrimentos. We finally stopped and had a drink and lunch at A Margem, in the shade because it was so sunny and warm. (Suck it, Canada.) After a while we walked back, wishing we had cash for the vendors who sell wine and and craft beer by the river.


We took a short nap, then got ready for dinner. We couldn’t have picked a better place for our first Lisbon meal either: Enoteca de Belem was amazing.

  • Tiger prawn
    • Sparkling wine
  • Grouper w/ clams rice, pato sauce
    • Uh…white?
  • Lamb
    • Red? Yes…red. Pretty sure it was red. (Surely.)
  • Creme brulee + coffee ice cream
    • Late harvest Moscatel
    • Some other dessert wine

That grouper will absolutely end up on my list of best things I ate in 2017. Anyway, we decided we needed more dessert. We were too late to buy any Pasteis de Belem, but got some other custard tarts nearby. We walked home, ate tarts on our little balcony, and looked up at the stars. Not a bad first day in Lisbon.


We needed a work day, so we got up pretty early and moved on to our second hotel: the Corinthia Lisbon in Campolide. We ordered a little room service, admired the place, and did a bit of work. Eventually we got hungry and went round the corner to a real, legit Lisbon feedbag: A Carvoaria where we ordered way too much food (veal short ribs with chickpeas and french fries, cod with boiled potatoes and boiled egg, aka bacalau, and so on) and a beer (our choices: “Beer, dark beer, or imported beer.”) before crawling back to the hotel and attempting more work. At least we were working outside where it was beautiful.

We decided to have dinner in Chiado, so we caught an Uber — which are incredibly cheap in Lisbon, by the way — to Sommelier Lisbon. It started out a little weird, with a slightly awkward server, but it picked up as the evening went on and a second host took over and taught us a lot about Portuguese wine. Besides, any place with a wall of 9 Enomatic machines has to be pretty good, right? I’ve captured our meal below; regrettably I didn’t capture our wines exactly, and their menu isn’t online to jog my memory.

  • Bread w/ served with carbonara, red peppers and olive oil mousses
  • Beetroot cream soup w/ orange and a coconut yogurt iceberg
    • Sparkling
  • Croquettes w/ slow-cooked oxtail and veal
    • Pinot Noir from Douro
  • Octopus tentacles w/ olive oil and garlic, garnished with brussel cabbage, baby carrots, pea sauce
  • New York Steak aged 23 days
    • Quinta Red Blend
  • Papo De Anjo w/ Moscatel reduction, goat cheese ice cream, and caramelized peanuts
    • Late harvest Moscatel

Another cheap Uber back to the hotel and we were more than done for the night.


Big time sleep-in. Big time room service breakfast order. Big time work catch-up following. Once again we worked at the hotel until mid-afternoon or so. Our plan was to Uber back to Belem, to see the Museu Arte Arquitetura Tecnologia we’d not had time to see our first time in Belem. First, though, we got some pizza and sushi (!) with a view at Este/Oeste in the lovely Centro Cultural de Belém.

We walked back toward the MAAT along the main Belem drag, past the hordes at Pasteis de Belem, and finally arrived at MAAT — which was closed. It was a national holiday (Dia da Liberdade) but we’d thought the MAAT would remain open. We did sit and enjoy the view from the riverbank outside, and climbed on the roof for lovely views of the city, but left a little sad. This had been the one museum we’d both really wanted to see.

Sightly dejected, we got a taxi to Cerveteca, the oldest and highest-rated beer place in Lisbon. It was this amazing little room with a solid 12-beer draft selection, and a huge number of cans and bottles for sale, both drink-in or take-away. Apart from a really weird single mixer thing happening all around us, we had an amazing time. We had a tasting flight and three shared bottles, buying three more to enjoy over the rest of the week:

  • Flight
    1. Sahtipaja “Ich bin ein Berliner Passionista” Berliner w/ passion fruit
    2. Bax Kon Minder American Pale Ale
    3. Barona + Aroeira “Vila Morena” India Brown Ale
    4. Bersalis “Sourblend” sour ale
    5. Kompaan 39 “Bloedbroeder” smoked imperial stout
  • Moriau Oude Gueuze Vieille
  • To 0l Sur Yule sour
  • Oud Beersel Oude Gueuze





After that we needed some serious food, and a quick app-look suggested a walk uphill to A Cevicheria. There’s almost always a line; we only had a ten minute wait, during which we were served an enormous gin + tonic from the takeout window and chatted with another couple from Toronto. Soon we were seated at the bar, ordering the tasting menu. I only remember bits and pieces of what we ate, but I do remember that it was GODDAMNED OUTSTANDING.


I spent my Wednesday at the conference; Lindsay spent hers working. We met back at MAAT after, since my conference was nearby. Once again, luck was against us: it was open, but only one exhibit was on. Still, it was a good one: Utopia/Dystopia. After that we took a LONG walk to dinner, but that length paid off in a few ways: first, we finally walked past Pasteis de Belem when there was no crowd, so we were able to experience them fresh and warm and holy shit are they ever amazing when they’re fresh and warm; second, we walked past the beautiful Torre de Belem and Monumento Combatentes Ultramar.

Just past that was Darwin’s Café, a slightly odd and slightly stuffy (at first, anyway) restaurant. We ate SO much though: grouper wrapped in puff pastry with coriander, dried tomato pesto and salad; veal carpaccio with rocket and parmesan; black spaghetti with stewed squid, bacon, mushrooms and parsley; and Portuguese garlic sausage risotto with fried egg. There was no room for dessert. Just an Uber home.


Day two at the conference for me, and more work for Lindsay. Once the conference wrapped and I got back to the hotel we grabbed our bags and took off to our third and final hotel of the trip, the Santiago de Alfama in the oldest part of town. What a stunning little hotel: a beautiful room, cute little courtyards and a rooftop terrace with a beautiful view, even a glass floor looking down at old Roman stairs discovered during construction.






We thought we’d look around a little before dinner, and walked toward the Castelo de Sao Jorge. Along the way we stopped in at Winebar do Castelo and, well…we never made it to the Castle. This place was great: a handful of tables in a triangular room, with an extremely helpful owner who used samples to narrow in on what we liked and what we didn’t, and fed us glasses from there. We had a couple each, and left for dinner, promising to return the next day.

Dinner was at Restaurante Bastardo, a recommendation from Lindsay’s friend. It took a while to find, and then it took the service a while to find itself, but the food was good. We shared the “street food” (bao, pork confit, radish spaghetti, yogurt sauce) and ceviche (shrimp, octopus, coconut milk, corn cream). Lindsay got the catch of the day (which was a river fish I can’t remember) with clam risotto and coriander sauce; I had the “Mr. Piggy 2.0” (slow-cooked pork cheek, parsnip, garden cress, Port). We split the crumble (almond quindim, apple, strawberry, crème anglaise) for dessert.


Our last full day in Lisbon. It felt like we’d been there for a month, and also like we’d just arrived. We started slow: breakfast in the hotel, working in the room for a while, and drinking a bottle of sour ale in the hotel’s courtyard during a break.

Finally we went out to see the city a bit more. We were hungry, so we headed out for lunch. All the places marked on my map were closed, though, so we ended up at a place called Maria Catita. It was definitely touristy, but still worked out pretty well: our shrimp starter was tasty, and then we shared this enormous seafood feast cooked in a copper pot called a cataplana. We split an order for one person; it ended up being too big for us to even finish. Our server gave us some ginja and sent us on our way.

We walked to the Praça do Comércio, hid in the shade for a bit, got some gelato, and then hired a tuk-tuk to take us up the hill(s) to the castle. There, or more accurately at the shops just below, we bought a few things to bring home, and then returned to the Winebar do Castelo. We intended to bring wine home with us, and thought it better to buy it from a place where we could taste everything first. We spent a long time working through tasting flights; even knowing what wine we’d like the day before he still brought us nine samples, of which we decided to buy five. He thanked us with a glass (okay, two glasses) of Taylor Fladgate 40 year old port. My god. What a beauty.

We continued the pre-dinner drinking on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, finishing off one of the bottles we’d brought from Cerveteca, before getting ready for dinner at Tágide. God, what a lovely restaurant, what excellent service, what a beautiful view, and what a final meal in Lisbon:

  • Amuse Bouche (veal terrine)
  • Couvert (bread, butter, extra virgin olive oil, salmon and dill paste)
  • Foie-gras terrine with chocolate, rhubarb textures and honey sand
  • Quail lollipop, papaya and furikake
    • 2003 sparkling rose
  • Veal sirloin matured for 40 days, potato and morel (Lindsay)
  • Duck Magret, carrot and more carrot (Dan)
    • Douro old vines red blend
  • Chocolate trio, caramel and pear

I really wish I could remember the wines we had, or would stop trusting restaurant websites to carry them. They were both spectacular. Anyway, back at the hotel we finished off the night back on the rooftop terrace, drinking the final Cerveteca beer.


Somehow I mis-set the alarms (both of them) so nothing woke us up. Luckily I woke up around 7:15, and we scrambled to get ready. I checked out; Lindsay grabbed croissants and a turnover from the restaurant. We met our driver who dropped up at the airport. Not long after we were checked in and on our way home. A stop in London, a much-needed visit to the Park Plaza lounge at Heathrow, and then the long flight home. No puking this time, mercifully. We watched Miss Sloane, I watched Silence while Lindsay worked, and then we watched the brilliant first scene of Inglourious Basterds as we landed in Toronto. Customs, luggage, taxi, yada yada, and we were home. The wine, thankfully, made the trip unscathed.

All in all, it was an incredible trip. Honestly, I didn’t have terribly high hopes for Lisbon, but it was amazing. I’d place it in my five favourite international cities.

Boa noite Lisboa. Nos veremos novamente.

Cover photo from the Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg site

Until the fall, Montréal

Once more, and probably for the final time this spring, I spent the weekend in Montreal.


Work. Flight. Pizza. The usual.


I spent the morning in our Montreal office after picking up a capp and croissant from the nearby Café Myriade.


After that I made a quick stop at Le Creuset, then had a burger at La Belle Et La Boeuf and grabbed a shit-ton of sweets at Cocobun before heading home. Then it was back downtown for a talk, followed by a snowy cab up to Maison Publique where we had a typically excellent meal:

  • tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni
    • with Closson Chase Chardonnay and a cocktail
  • fresh scallop crudo, smoked celery, squid ink + onion sauce
    • with Tawse sparkling Riesling
  • cappellacci pasta with veal
  • herbed roasted bass
    • w/ Sperling Pinot Noir
  • pôt de crème, pear ice cream

It was all good, but the scallop dish was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.


A day of complete relaxation: we slept in, relaxed, laid about, watched Arrested Development, and ate leftover pizza and cocobun treats. Really, we had no plans until dinner at Le Filet. And, holy shit: what a dinner. The food was stellar, and the wine (a bit of a splurge) was transcendent.

  • oysters: 2 plain, 2 jalapeño & maple crisp, 2 baked in miso gratin
  • hamachi w/ sesame, sumac
    • with Francis Boulard brut rose Champagne
  • tataki of Wagyu w/ eggplant, miso
  • maple-glazed smoked duck w/ topinambour, chestnuts, Cremona mostard
  • cavatelli w/ foie gras, veal cheek
    • with Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Pinot Noir
  • maple syrup square w/ whipped cream, pecans
    • vin Santo
    • cognac


Like the last Sunday I spent there, we had brunch in Mile End and grabbed beers after.

Brunch was at Nouveau Palais, a diner reformed into…well, a slightly more fancy diner. The brunch was outstanding though — Lindsay had eggs benny and I had the smoked meat hash with fried eggs. There were some service hiccups because they were so busy, but overall it was very solid indeed. Relatively cheap too.

After that we happened upon SW Welch and bought some used books, bought some coffee at galactic hipster nexus Le Cagibi, and walked to Vice et Versa, which we’d tried and failed to hit on a previous visit. It was terrific: Lindsay had a Bière de Coin d’Rue, I had a Dunham LaPatt robust porter, and we split a bottle of Dunham Oro Zurr (Batch 1 – Mosiac).


We left there and made delicious nachos at home before my flight. Au revoir Montreal! See you in…the summer, maybe?


Cover photo from the Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg site


Cover photo from Goodhood

Good hood

Last night I took a quick jaunt over to my (almost) new neighbourhood, met up with M2, and enjoyed a few more of the places which will soon be mine. Like KABOOM, a Korean fried chicken joint. And Hi-Lo, a dive-ish bar with decent beer and excellent music (Seriously, they played The Amps and Jay Reatard and a lot of other great stuff.) and we got all caught up. We also walked by Chez Nous, an all-Ontario wine bar which seems to have soft-opened.

I’m going to like it there, I think.


Cover photo from Goodhood

Going left

For various work reasons I found myself in Vancouver for three days this week. Never a bad thing, I says. In between meetings I found a few opportunities to entertain my taste buds.


I used my last AC upgrade to get myself into business class, so I was well-fed on the flight from Toronto to Vancouver. A little spicy chicken, a little basmati rice, a little white whine. Actually, a lot of white wine, and terribly oak-ridden at that. I struggled through though, whilst watching Jason Bourne (meh), Ghostbusters (fun), and The Wrath Of Khan (which was under the Classics section, naturally).

I landed at YVR, checked into my modest little hotel (the St. Regis), grabbed a capp from Caffè Artigiano, did some work, and had a killer steak dinner at Gotham:

  • dungeness crab cake w/ lemon dill mayonnaise, paired with Pascal Bouchard ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Chardonnay 2014
  • New York strip steak w/ steamed broccoli, paired with Casa Silva ‘Quinta Generacion’ Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2011
  • 16-year-old Lagavulin

Not surprisingly I fell asleep on my hotel bed, trying to watch Netflix.


Giant breakfast downstairs, a coffee meeting with my work friend William, lunch at the spectacular Hawksworth restaurant (a burger and glass of Freemark Abbey Cab Sauv), an espresso at a different Artigiano, a meeting at our Vancouver office, and then more work and more coffee back in my hotel room.

That evening I had drinks at Chambar with my old friend Amy. At first we tried the Reflections pop-up at the top of the Hotel Georgia, but it was about seven different kinds of awful. Luckily I know and love Chambar (or the previous incarnation, at least); I had a Timmermans gueuze and a Grimsbergen dubbel and we shared some charcuterie and over-truffle-oiled bison carpaccio, and got caught up on…I don’t know, seven years?


All-day meeting. Flight was delayed; I killed at time at Vino Volo wine bar in YVR and then got home in the middle of the night.

The bitter drink

Another weekend. Another epic weekend.


Christ, it was impossible to get out of Toronto. I’ve never seen Billy Bishop airport like that. A lot of commuter fliers + a few canceled flights = chaos on the island. My flight was an hour late leaving, and sat on the Montreal tarmac for fifteen minutes while we waited for an open slot. I didn’t have much in me but to get in a cab, drop my bags, listen to music, play some poker, and drink some beer.


I had a plan. A plan for beer. After driving in a delicious breakfast sandwich it was off to Le Saint Bock — tremendous beer, and tasty frites, but a weird vibe…I’m not used to craft beer places also being sports bars. Anyway, after pints of Hefeweizen and Saison, this was the sample lineup:

  • Malédiction Milk Stout
  • King Kunta Shiraz Saison Noire Impériale Vieillit en Fût de Shiraz
  • Pénitente Blanche Épicée
  • Harvest Ghosts American Brown Ale au Piment Bhut Jolokia
  • Jésus Chéri Ale Brune Impériale Aux Cerises
  • Black IPA (Brasserie Dunham)
  • L’ambiguë Rousse Bitter (La Voie Maltée)
  • Cidre à la Cerise (Vergers de la Colline)

Next up was L’Amère a Boire, just up the street. While the beer here was less impressive (the stout and red were fine, but…just fine) the food was very tasty. Rabbit dumplings? Lamb spring rolls? Yes please. Also: hot butch servers. Anyway.

A delicious, colourful stop at G&G Patisserie and a much-needed americano at Café Sfouf later and then it was time for Station Ho.st, the home bar for Hopfenstark.

It was fricking rammed with beer nerds and stressed servers, so it started off rocky, but got a little better — especially when the flammekueche w/ crème fraiche, oignon, lardon, and emmental cheese showed up. The beer was almost too nerdy, if you know what I mean.

  • 7 Sisters: Mérope Belgian Pale Ale
  • Baltic Porter de L’Ancrier Baltic Porter
  • Saison Station 55 Saison amère
  • Berlin AlexanderPlatz Berliner Weisse

Clearly that wasn’t quite enough booze and food, so after a brief respite it was off to Pullman wine bar for some late-night charcuterie and fromage, and glasses of pinot noir and cab franc and more cab franc and barolo.

I barely remember getting home.


Sfouf indeed. Pastries and coffee please. Honestly, not much happened on Sunday apart from some delicious relaxation, until it was time for dinner at Maison Publique…and mon dieu. What a dinner.

First of all, the wine list: it’s entirely Canadian, and it’s easily the best Canadian wine lineup I’ve ever seen. Not the biggest, but certainly the best-curated. When I first walked in I saw bottles on the bar from TH Wines, Tawse, Pearl-Morissette, and so on. I ordered that TH Wines Cab-Merlot by the glass to start.

And then there was the food. Gawd. It was…well:

  • octopus & lentil salad
  • beets in marjoram, aioli
  • ricotta gnocchi in duck + pork ragu
  • magret de canard
  • olive oil cake

For the main meal the sommelier suggested a bottle of 2007 Southbrook Poetica Cab Merlot, which was amazing. After dessert he recommended glasses of Closson Chase chardonnay and Southbrook Triomphe Cab Franc.

The wine, the ambience, the service…it might be my new favourite place in Montreal.


Time to head up to my work conference in Mont Tremblant. A ginormous yummy breakfast, mimosas, and a péché mortel filled me up until I made the long drive up. Mercy.

Montreal, je t’aime.



Ba Rizabell

Last night I had dinner with T-Bone at Bar Isabel. I forgot to write anything down or take any pictures. There wasn’t much break in the conversation; our server could barely get our order in. I remember an Isabel Fashioned, a cured meat plate, jamón croquetas, shishito peppers, tostadas with tuna and pig’s ear, a big pork dish, a quarter octopus, and a bottle of English sparkling…Coates & Seely, I think? And some 1962 Don PX to end off. It was all veeerrrrrrrrrrry tasty.

Afterwards we walked off some of that food and had a drink at Archive. T-Bone had a Sancerre. I had a Pearl Morissette Pinot from Sonoma. We planned our next dinner and hugged goodbye and caught Ubers in oppositely directed vectors.

Cover photo by Chris Connolly, used under Creative Commons license


Since going to Cava a few weeks ago I’ve been meaning to return with Nellie, and Wednesday night we did. We had to meet friends nearby around 8 anyway. It wasn’t as epic a meal as last time I was there, but we did just fine:

  • pincho of valdeon with sherry-roasted figs
  • croqueta of jamón with caper-sultana sauce
  • roasted beets with honey, valdeon, and grilled escarole
  • jamón iberico, salchichon, chorizo, and idiazabal cheese

Had some good wine too, obviously.

I will say, though, that both in terms of the food and the value for money, I’d have to say that I prefer Patria. Twice now we’ve gone, both times being blown away by the food, and both times come away paying less than we’d expected. So while Cava’s a good midtown option I think Patria will remain at the top of my Spanish craving list.


Cover photo by Chris Connolly, used under Creative Commons license