Sunday, November 25, 2018

Wrapping Up another Wrapped Up

When it rains,
you should pour.
Unknown wino

The Three Winos didn't let the weather dampen our spirits when the ever-changing temperatures allotted us a rainy Saturday for our annual Wrapped Up in the Valley tour. Twenty Valley's wineries warmed our bellies with good food and our souls with good wine. Our friends at Kacaba with Zooma caterers presented yet another winning combination with a pulled pork crostini and their 2016 Cabernet-Sauvignon. 

We definitely intend to cook up a pot of the spicy chili following 13th Street's recipe.

Stoney Ridge also served up delicious comfort-in-a-bowl.

Greenlane Estate Winery can be counted on to serve a fresh, mouth-tingling combo. We wanted seconds of their jalapeno chicken wings -- so we need to get cooking!

The pumpkin cupcakes at Henry of Pelham are swoon-worthy. I would never have thought to pair a dessert with a red but their Gamay works. S-I-L tried to coax the chef to let us buy a half dozen delectables for the convivial family gathering that followed our wine tour but alas we must wait we bake up our own batch.

I am looking forward to today's pairings and the ever-warm camaraderie of the Three Winos on tour.
Stay tuned!

6 p.m. Update

The Three Winos have returned to their dens well satiated. The day began with The Foreign Affair Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon. While extremely good, we are looking forward to receiving their Apologetic Red that will be launched December 8.

Harbour Estates Winery topped their Cremy Butternut Soup with sour cream laced with Vidal Icewine. Yum!

The presentation and flavour of Vineland Estates' pairing of Pork Belly Tacos with their Unoaked Chardonnay marked one of the high points of this year's Wrapped Up passport.

At our final stop we raised our glasses to another great Wrapped Up discovery tour, which launches us into the Christmas season with a pantry full of good cheer. Cincin!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Autumn's Cheer

From dewy lanes at morning,
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here.
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.
Helen Hunt Jackson, American poet and activist (1830–1885) in her poem “September”

Sweet scents of fermented grapes wafted over a hidden glade within our local woods as Bro and S-I-L treated me to the Ancaster Autumn Stroll. Wine and brews joined delicious food provided by renowned local eateries as the Rotary club hosted its annual fundraising event. Having spent the afternoon in the fresh air foraging in the woods while singing along to classic tunes crooned by the terrific Dunn Brothers band, I certainly feel satiated with autumn’s best of cheer. What a wonderful feeling!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Beauty of Storms

. . . I don’t just wish you rain, Beloved – I wish you the beauty of storms . . .
John Geddes, Canadian journalist and author in A Familiar Rain (2011)

After a morning of heavy rain and with the forecast putting the chance of rain at 5:00pm at 50%, I decided to duck out of work thirty minutes early. And so it was that at 5:08pm, as my commuter train had only just left the station, I could enjoy the beauty of the deluge from a dry perspective.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Friendship Jaunts

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans;
In one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.
Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American writer, poet and artist (1883–1931)

Dear friends treated me this week to excursions into realms beyond my normal frame of reference. Our adventures led to new findings and lots of fun.

The weekend's junket included a picnic in a shaded, magical garden complete with gargantuan knobbly elms and a pink-garlanded gazebo, a visit to a non-Irish Dublin, and a vast waterscape of the mighty Lake Huron with boats returning to a protective harbour.

As we journeyed we shared past memories (including an old photo from my first trip to the Rocky Mountains) and made new ones (e.g., giggles and tears over trying to remove cowboy boots in a local consignment shop).

I’m truly thankful for friends who add such rich dimensions to the aspects of me.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Smiling Sunflowers

We’re all golden sunflowers inside.
Allen Ginsberg, American writer, philosopher and activist (1926–1997)

As the calendar moves far too quickly into the last days of summer, the smiling faces of sunflowers in the grocery store cheered me. They and gladiolas are Mother Nature’s best birthday gifts. Bring on the smiles! ☺

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Uniquely Canadian

Red meat and gin.
Julia Child, American chef and author (1912–2004), providing the reasons for her longevity.

I’m an apprentice of the spirit of Julia Child, and I certainly enjoy my G&Ts on warm afternoons. A chance conversation introduced me to a gin that found inspiration in the Canadian north. Thoroughly intrigued by the listed ingredients I carried a bottle home from my western wanderings and had the opportunity to taste it this evening.

Ungava gin boasts Nordic juniper, Labrador tea, crowberry, cloudberry and wild rose hip that produce a gentle and refreshing flavour that needs nothing more than tonic to carry it. The mildness of its flavour belies its 43% alcohol content.

I foretell a future television ad similar to that of the Tetley Red Rose tea commercials of the 1970s: “Only in Canada you say? . . . Pity.” ;-)


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Chasing Sun and Pyramids

When you can't find the sunshine
be the sunshine.

The forecast for my lakeside refuge called for a day of rain so my friend advised chasing the sun to the mountains and pointed out Pyramid Mountain on the map. Chasing sun and pyramids (mountain and lake) made for a wonderful day.

A little island in the middle of Pyramid Lake provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

Pyramid Mountain stands proud over it all.

The sacred force of nature is powerfully felt when surrounded by these mighty living edifices.

The urban environment didn't beckon me to stay but Japser's Bear Paw Bakery provided the key fixings for a mountainside coffee break on my return trip home.

Driving eastwards, the weather front formed a magnificent tsunami tumbling over the mountains.

Arriving safely back at the refuge, where it had rained during the day, I was fortunate to catch a lovely evening break in the weather front.

Taking up my waterside perch, I watched the magnificent artistry of the shifting sky patterns on the water.




 And then the rain came and threatened to continue so we took our leave from the lakeside refuge, which gave us a big, wet, grandmotherly farewell kiss.

And we were warmly welcomed by Suki the Cat. I am truly in the presence of a star. If you don't know Suki, check out her website and follow her stunning adventures.

My own adventures on the road come to a close tomorrow but I am already planning the next trip.
Stay tuned. ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Road Trip

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
Jack Kerouac, American poet and novelist (1922-1969)

My 2018 road trip began with broad unbounded horizons and ribbons of country highways lined with golden fields of canola.

For several days I was treated to a warm farm welcome accompanied by delicious farm fresh hospitality featuring eggs that tasted like eggs and lamb that I would venture is the best in the world.

My adopted family took me for a glorious day at the beach complete with a barbeque picnic and a game of bocce (for which I turned out to be a natural).

My rented VW Jetta then took me westward on the Yellowhead Highway to a special place that has offered me a soul-restoring refuge over the years (read decades).

I lose myself in the divinity of nature. The world beneath the lake’s surface mesmerizes me while the grandeur of the ever-changing cloudscapes fill me with awe.

And those heavens rumbled during my away time. On the first night, following a dramatic simultaneous strike of lighting and thunder, I fell asleep to the sound of a waterfall on the cabin’s tin roof. The following afternoon they hurled hail missiles that were quickly spent so that the skies shone glistening rays onto the lake’s rippled surface.

During a beautifully sunny afternoon, a canoe trip revealed multiple micro worlds along the lake.

Surely Monet would appreciate the damselfly among the waterlilies as much as I.

There is nothing like the call of the loon to calm the soul.

From the bow I peered into the watery worlds, fascinated by the textures of life and detritus.The ever evolving life cycle goes on and on and there is beauty in all of it.

My road trip continues westward today – into the mighty mountains near Jasper. Stay tuned. :-)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blooming in the Vineyards

Wine is like rain: when it falls on the mire it but makes it fouler,
but when it strikes the good soil wakes it to beauty and bloom.
John Milton Hay, American statesman and poet (1838–1905)

Memories of last weekend's ice storm and our long winter dissolved with the blooming colours that greeted The Three Winos in the vintners' shops as we wandered the trail of Twenty Valley's Get Fresh passport programme. What a cheery welcome we received at our first stop, Good Earth Food and Wine Co., where we enjoyed its spring-fresh Riesling along with a Spring Scallion, Pea and Ricotta Quiche.

While I won't make a habit of pairing my vintage with candy, the burst of sweet colour at Creekside Estate Winery was irresistible.

Perhaps the tastiest pairing was the Spicy Thai Shrimp Bites that accompanied Di Profio Wines' Kitchen Zinc. The vintner's blend of everything but the kitchen sink is a personal favourite. We have promised ourselves to put the passport's recipe book to good use this summer and recreate this scene on Bro's patio. And we certainly look forward to sharing today's experience with our fourth companion oenophile who inspired our memorable foray among Niagara wineries a fortnight ago.

It seems that Twenty Valley wineries consistently aspire to present ever more superlative food pairings. I won't be shucking oysters at home but I certainly enjoyed Redstone Winery's East Coast Oyster with Mango and Tarragon Mignonette.

I was certainly blooming yesterday and can't wait to see what's on the menu today. Stayed tuned for an update. :-)

7 pm Update

With evidence of spring bursting out of the ground, the bees and oenophiles alike were feeling quite chipper today.

The crocuses bloomed at the soon-to-be-former Mike Weir Winery. The Three Winos took a detour from the passport route to sit on the balcony and toast our favourite view over vineyards to Lake Ontario before the winery's doors close at the end of the month. We will watch to see what happens next at this spectacular site.

The passport programme always offers a surprise or two. This year, we were pleasantly surprised by Rosewood Estates Winery's "Locked & Loaded White" that was paired with Onion Bhaji and Chana Masala. Both were delicious and brought out the best in each other!

We knew we would enjoy Sue-Ann Staff's Fancy Farm Girl Flamboyant Red but what thrilled our taste buds was its pairing with a Mexican S'more. The marshmallow included a hint of cinnamon while the dark chocolate was perked up with cinnamon and crushed chilies.

The Tawse pairing of an arancini with a sparkling rose was dressed up with a spring-like bottled bouquet and fairy lights. The temperatures today reached a lovely 17 C. My spirits rose too thanks to the camaraderie and another fantastic Get Fresh event.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Comforting Hymns

Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.
Plato, Greek philosopher (424—348 BC)

I take much comfort from Sunday worship: from the scripture readings, the sermon, the songs, and the community. Something will touch an inner chord, perhaps one strung too tightly or one that has been silent too long, and I am taken by surprise by an unexpected visceral or cerebral response which can be cathartic or stimulating.

Hymns have the power to soothe and inspire. As Plato perceived, their rhythm and harmony transports meaningful lyrics deep within. Today's hymn reminded that there is eternal light and love. Their confirmation inspires hope during gray times.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Music's Lessons

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.
Plato, Greek philosopher (424-348 BC)

The lulling sonance created by Julia Seager-Scott with her Italian baroque triple harp and Gaelic harp (a clarsach) relaxed me from all concerns of this realm into a higher, peaceful plane. I closed my eyes and let my mind be soothed by the gentle music. Wise old Plato might say that my soul's character was enriched by the music -- and I would agree. That such intimate concerts by high calibre artists can be enjoyed for a mere $15 is a blessing. Realizing that I need to educate my soul with more of Julia's harp and clarsach, I bought her CD.