Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sexy Veg

He draws asparagus and cabbages, but he's obsessed with artichokes. He draws them more than any other vegetable. Why artichokes?"

George drained his glass. "The artichoke is a sexy beast. Thorns to cut you, leaves to peel, lighter and lighter as you strip away the outer layers, until you reach the soft heart's core.

Allegra Goodman, American author, in The Cookbook Collector (2010)

Last night presented an opportunity for a culinary adventure. The beauty of the artichokes called out to me across the aisle in the grocery store: "Take me home." 

This first attempt involved steaming. A subsequent adventure is planned for the grill. I love these adventures!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


Autumn's the mellow time.
William Allingham, Irish poet (1834-1889)
Looking into the seemingly endless depths of the birds' pool is intoxicatingly mellowing.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Home Schooling 2

How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?
Charles de Gaulle, French army officer and President (1890–1970)
While in de Gaulle's time France may have had 246 cheeses, imagine Marcon's current challenge to govern as we learned that there are more than 1500 nowadays. The 3 Winos relish the diversity!  
Our teacher for Saturday's Context's Zoom class "From Camembert to Chevre: An Exploration of French Cheese", Jennifer, is on a mission to taste each and every one of them. She introduced to us the seven families of French cheeses and taught to taste first with our noses. 
Once again our local cheese shop, Mickey Mcguire's delivered the tasty samples direct to our door -- how wonderful is that! We revisited the Brie de Meaux, Comte and Roquefort from last week and were introduced to Poitou Chevre and P'tit Basque, an aged sheep milk cheese. 

Although COVID curdled our travel plans, we are enjoying tastes of France throughout the pandemic.
S-I-L cooked up Julie Child's coq au vin. Delicious! What could be more delectable than coq au vin by the fire?! Life is good.

à votre santé!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Unexpected Gifts

As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.
Etty Hillesum, Dutch writer killed in Auschwitz concentration camp (1914-1943)
As we face the threatening swell of COVID's second wave, Mother Nature presented us with an unexpected gift of summer warmth. Her gift, so welcome after a period of chilling temperatures, meant I could once again enjoy post-prandial repose in the backyard. Such a pleasant relief!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Of Sunshine and Smiles

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet, playwright and politician (1672–1719)

We all felt the warmth of today's autumnal sunshine. The hibiscus is transitioning from the garden, spending cool nights and early mornings indoors. Cat yowls demanding the backdoor be opened so that she can bask in the sun. The two of them together created such a beautiful sight.

While these might seem but trifles, they brought the brightest of smiles to my soul.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Home Schooling

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. 
Henry Ford, American industrialist (1863-1947)
Learning should always be this much fun! The 3 Winos participated enthusiastically in a webinar produced by Context Travel called, "French Wine: From Bordeaux to Burgundy". Our sommelier took us on a tasty virtual tour from Champagne to Alsace, to Burgundy, to Bordeaux and on to the Loire. 

Preparing for the class required a trek around the city to four of our local LCBOs to find representative wines for the regions on the course syllabus. COVID and a longshoreman's strike in Quebec have reduced the stock on the shelves. Nevertheless, we nosed, swished and otherwise imbibed some great wines: Gardet Cuvee Saint Flavy (CHAMPAGNE); Baron de Hoen's Gewurztraminer (ALSACE); Louis Jadot Chardonnay (BOURGOGNE); Famille Bougrier Vouvray (LOIRE); Larose Trintaudon Cru Bourgeois (BORDEAUX) and Famille Perrin Cote du Rhone Villages (RHONE VALLEY). 

Our local cheese shop, Mikey Macquire's, provided a selection of six French cheeses to pair with the wines. All were exceptional and a couple rank as 'swoon-worthy'. Only a few small bits remain for the mice to enjoy later this week.

Thanks to a little home schooling, our grape horizons have widened. And we look forward to further exploration!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Backyard Travel

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Dr. Seuss (a.k.a., Theodor Seuss Geisel), American children's author, illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter, and filmmaker (1921–1990)

Multiple recipe books are stacked up beside my bed ensuring sweet (and savory) dreams. Looking to expand my horizons, I found "Dirt" on the website of a local bookseller. I got a wonderful surprise in their willingness to deliver the book to my door -- the same day. Amazon Prime can't beat that! 

So, while I may not be in Lyon physically this year, I am being transported there in my imagination courtesy of the humorous word pictures of Bill Buford.

Only a few pages into the book, this is already shaping up to be a fun journey!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Bending and Rebounding

The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.

Aesop, Greek fabulist and storyteller (c. 620–564 B.C.)

Deep rumbles of thunder, skies so dark the house lights had to be turned on, and rain so heavy it seemed like a snowstorm: a thunderstorm rattled us out of summer indolence. I watched fascinated by nature's power. In the aftermath, a few of the garden plants look trampled but I have hope they will stand upright again, just like Aesop's little reed.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Quiet Morning

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet (1803–1882)

The loudest sound was that of bird wings flapping in the water of the bird bath and later of leaves rustling in the breeze. The cooler temperatures of mid-August require turning up my housecoat's collar as I take my morning coffee al fresco

It is a fresh start to a new day.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Rock On

Were it not for music, we might in these days say, the beautiful is dead.

Benjamin Disraeli, British politician and Prime Minister (1804–1881) in Lord George Bentinck. A Political Biography (1852)

Music and the garden – music in the garden – have carried me through these upturned times. As I wrote to a friend, "1 Negroni, 1 Beethoven, 2 Schuberts, a robin and a couple of sparrows and I am completely calm" after a stressful day at the Home Office. Throughout the summer I have relished a virtual feast of melodious sustenance. This evening I caught an on-line flamenco concert while contemplating the flourishing baskets of flaming geraniums and catching the sight and trills of a female cardinal high in a distant pine tree. Beauty lives on. Rock on. Olé!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Staycation | The Final Days

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.

Lucille Ball, American actress, comedienne, model, studio executive and producer (1911–1989)

The final days of my staycation have been memorable with great food, great wine and great love.

With memories of connections with friends, a picnic lunch and a barbecued steak dinner, I can now return to work refreshed, content, . . . and a few pounds heavier. 

I couldn't be happier. :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Staycation | Day 10

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.
Jane Austen, English novelist (1775–1817) in Mansfield Park (1814)
The afternoon brought perfect refreshment as a friend visited bringing an al fresco lunch. Happily gabbing through the hours, we shifted our chairs as the sun's path crossed the lawn. The birch tree's arbour bespeckled the lush carpet beneath our feet with lovely shadows and light. Pure relaxation!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Staycation | Day 9

Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.
Jane Austen, English novelist (1775–1817) in Emma (1815)
Cat and I enjoyed a quiet day, relaxing and letting out big, long, pleasurable yawns of contentment.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Staycation | Day 8

Bloom where you are planted.
What a surprise to glance over at the trellis today and find a stunning fuschia blossom peaking out from behind the foliage. For months we have been coaxing along an aged clematis vine. At times, it seemed half dead. Then it seemed that we would have foliage only. Then the appearance of a few white buds seemed hopeful. Now it seems that our care and attention have been rewarded: our clematis is blooming where she is planted and she's brilliant!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Staycation | Day 7

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.
William Wordsworth, English poet (1770–1850)

Following the past few days of stormy weather, Lake Ontario blossomed blue and clear today. Water has the ability to flow through my soul carrying away concerns as I gaze across it. How fortunate I am to have such a beautiful resource so near and so accessible.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Staycation | Day 6

Nature births raindrops so the soul can grow.

Today's rain gave the garden a Japanese look, perhaps on account of the mistiness. The air freshened. The plants thrive. It looks to me like they are sticking out their tongues to catch the raindrops. :-)

I'm remembering wet cobblestone streets in Italy and the oscillating thrum on a cabin's tin roof, and I grasp that rain on vacation is to be counted among its pleasures.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Staycation | Day 5

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
Anaïs Nin, French-Cuban American diarist, essayist, and writer (1903–1977)

The child in me clapped with joy this morning at the sight of new shoots of grass. I didn't have much hope but was thinking about the Parable of the Sower as I worked in new soil, seeded the earth, and watered the uninspiring blank patch.

For me these little shoots shout SUCCESS and HOPE that this little barren patch will be verdant some day.

Like many others, the COVID quarantine motivated me to get down into the dirt (and the weeds) to plant flowers and a little grass. Mother Earth has responded kindly: even without a 'green thumb', her polymorphous raiment shines. And my heart sings.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Staycation | Day 4

The best travel is that which one can take by one's own fireside. In memory or imagination. 
George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans), English novelist, poet, journalist, and translator (1819-1880) in Letters from George Eliot to Elma Stuart, 1872-1880 (ed. 1909)

I am channeling Italian porticoes and sunshine as I tele-transport myself to Italy during my 2020 staycation.

Context Travel, which (speaking from experience) offers great tours in Europe, has pivoted during these staycation times to offer internet lectures. Its recent posting for "The American Renaissance" evoked a visceral response in my being. How I long to step into that 19th-century "Italian dream"! To take breakfast in the loggia as John Singer Sargent has captured here.

For myself, I conjure up a 4pm aperitivo, trying different recipes each day and I relish my apricot torta with my morning coffee in the garden. And I will find the shelved CD of "Enchanted April". That will certainly sing to my soul.

What would we do if we didn't have our imaginations?!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Staycation | Day 3

I love the feeling of the fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my air.
Evel Knievel, American stunt performer (1938–2007) 

Perhaps you need to be of 'a certain age' to remember the daredevil Evel Knievel. And I suppose there may have been a bit of guarded daring in the Three Winos taking a jaunt to a favourite winery in the Niagara penisula. This marked our first outing after months-long quarantine and I can tell you the mix of fresh air and wine felt gooooood. All precautions were followed with our socially-distanced wine tasting outdoors. We relished our food pairings sitting under a lovely umbrella table with the vineyard on the hill above us.

The bubbles of the Effervescence Sparkling could make a person positively giddy. :-)

Friday, July 31, 2020

Staycation | Day 2

Make your heart like a lake,
with a calm, still surface,
and great depths of kindness.
Lao-Tzu, Chinese philosopher and writer, c. 500 B.C.

The depths of the reflections on the birdbath this morning inspired a peaceful quiet. I top up the water very morning and then take immense delight as the bath is visited by sparrows, robins, and starlings. They seems to enjoy the water as much as a child splashing in the waves along a lake's shore. The surprise visitor today was an awesome blue jay. I am enjoying my staycation perch. ;-)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Staycation | Day 1

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.
Spanish Proverb

As the 21st century's plague turns our worlds topsy-turvy to the point that nothing seems sure, glimmers of silver shine through the turmoil. Plans for a foreign vacation have morphed into the multi-hued greens of backyard grass and the reds of geraniums and robin breasts. I raise my glass of Franciacorta to the first day of my staycation, to the cheerful coneflowers, and to the tranquility shimmering in the birch tree's bower over my head. Peace of mind is here.


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Words of Encouragement

A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.

A nasty case of laryngitis has plagued me for the past five days. For better or worse, I decided to head to work today. To ease my throat I brought along a bag of Halls lozenges. Being on the commuter train with nothing better to do I actually looked at the wrapper and found it full of words of encouragement: Keep your chin up. Conquer today. Be resilient. Elicit a few “wows” today. You got it in you. Dust off and get up.

While I rather prefer the Baci chocolate wrappers with their words of love, nonetheless I appreciated Halls’ words of encouragement.

Sharing my new discovery with my commuter buddy across from me, he read all the texts, took out his pen and added his own:
He had a point.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
for me,
And I’m feeling good.
Nina Simone, American singer and songwriter (1933–2003)

2019 ended on a fine note with Franciacorta beside a warming fire. How nice is that?!

And S-I-L’s beautiful and abundant charcuterie board nourished us ‘til midnight. (Yes, surprisingly, I stayed awake to count down the ball in Times Square.)

As for resolutions, mine was set on Christmas morning when I opened a gift from a work friend:

While I may lack ‘Sophia’s’ looks and youth, I can certainly channel her passion for living.
That's my resolution. Look out 2020, here I come!
Now, I just to find a Vespa. ;-)

Wishing all my kind readers a year — nay, a decade — full of good health, happiness and passion!