Posted in Dining, General

An Exciting Date

It was the 8th of September.

When did CoVID-19 really get going so that our normal disappeared?

Well, it seemed like eternity had passed when My Beloved and I decided to go out on a date to a restaurant – AT LAST!

Where we live, there is not much choice: Lefty’s, The Finer Diner, Wing ‘n It, Trellis or, a relative newcomer to the scene, The Rustic Crust pizzeria. Yes, just five. Our old friend, Smitty’s, unfortunately folded three years ago, and now Wing ‘n It. Well, we know what three of the four present for eating – and drinking – but we had no idea how this newcomer, The Rustic Crust, which had been open only since last Fall, had survived the CoVID crisis, nor what their menu was. I could have looked it up, it seems, but we thought we would go and find out for ourselves.

On arriving, we saw there were plenty of tables, as in picnic tables, available and we were told we could select any one. Our server took us to our selected table and placed paper menus on it. Only to see them being blown off. No problem once they were collected and placed under napkin and cutlery.

On reviewing the menu choices, we were very pleased: there were five Starters and a small or large Caesar Salad, fifteen different pizzas (after all, it is a pizzeria), and three desserts. While looking over the menu and trying to decide which of the pizzas we would share, our server brought us our chosen wines, a Tidal Bay 9oz for My Beloved and a Padrino Rosso 9oz for Yours Truly.

Parenthetically, for you wine snobs to whom I talked in my last post, Tidal Bay is a registered Nova Scotia appellation, just the same as Beaujolais or Gevrey-Chambertin or Sauternes. “A wine with Nova Scotian character, Tidal Bay brilliantly reflects the terroir, coastal breezes, and cooler climate of its birthplace.

“Officially launched in June 2012, Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and one-of-a-kind for North America. A racy, aromatic white wine, it displays the Nova Scotian characteristics of our cool climate region and pairs flawlessly with the local seafood we’re known for. The name Tidal Bay was inspired by the influence of the sea and being home to the biggest Tidal changes in the world.” (https://winesofnovascotia.ca/tidal-bay/)

As My Beloved and I sipped, we could not decide on a starter: Garlic Fingers or Wood Fired Pepperoni? We settled on the latter and chose a pizza entitled Salsiccia comprising San Marzano Tomato sauce , fior di latte mozzarella, fennel seed , sausage, roasted red peppers, pesto and aged Parmesan on a thin whole wheat base. Our server asked if we wanted the starter first or together with the main course: I responded ‘first’, but subsequently discovered that it was such a large starter that it would have accompanied the pizza beautifully. Next time.

Part of the large eating area with proper separation

The pepperoni was cut into numerous slices and sauteed in the fire oven. Very tasty, I might add. As for the pizza, it was simply delicious. We love thin crusts and The Rustic Crust pizzas are all very thin. We did not know what San Marzano tomato sauce was and I still don’t, but it seemed to us that it was like any other herbed tomato sauce.

We were hungry, so started on the pizza before taking pic.

While we ate, and while some parents were presumably chatting, some children were pleasantly enjoying themselves using chalk to make a hop-scotch route or just chalking a picture of something on what once had been a paved driveway. It was great to have them there close to us and see them enjoying themselves so much. Much better than having them run around inside a restaurant, as some are wont to do under uninterested parents.

Kids enjoying playtime – others playing hop-scotch to left unseen here.

Of course, there has to be a dessert and even more certain when the choice includes genuine Gelato. So, My Beloved preferred strawberry, I preferred chocolate and asked our server if that could be provided. “Well,” she said, “our ice cream always come with three scoops, so I’m afraid I will have to add our neopolitan scoop.” Oh, what a shame, we said! We’ll have to eat all three scoops.

Tri-flavoured Gelato.

So, our first visit to The Rustic Crust was a rousing success. We will certainly be going back. Before the cold weather comes and threatens to shut things down. Actually, we are meeting a couple of our best friends there tomorrow, Friday.

POSTSCRIPT
In my last post, I recounted (viz below) a story from my past, in which a certain then-colleague and I submitted ourselves to a plethora of wine. His response below:

“For those reading your delightful and informative post, the recounting (and that word was chosen deliberately) of consuming 5 bottles between 2 persons at dinner is accurate.  As to the wine referred to therein, that particular vintage comes from France when the Pope was living there because it was too dangerous to stay in Rome.  It literally means “The Pope’s new castle”.  It is located in Avignon (the bridge made famous in a children’s song) in the Rhone appellation.  The “Avignon Popes” were actually there for about 70 years, but I digress.
“The beloved author of the post/column/rant also introduced me to Barolo wines.  One of Italy’s finest wines.  Although well meaning, I cannot ever forgive him.  I am just a poor country boy and as I have frequently commented, “once you go to Paris it is really hard to go back to the farm”.  Having been seduced to try this wine forever changes you and one now are saddled with a refined palette or at least an addition to your oenophilic experiences.  It is not the education that I regret but the cost of the wine today.  In our liquor stores they range from $36.80 – $92.50 a bottle.  Like Mel, I am no wine snob but this pricing is just not sustainable if you want to enjoy wine in satisfactory quantities over the long haul.  
“In my not so humble opinion the author justifiably is critical of wine snobs, the verbiage around them and other related sins.  He refers to reds and whites, etc.  There is only thing you need to know and that is the best wines are the ones we drink with friends.  Yours very truly, Robert the Red.”

It was, as usual, a pleasure writing to you again, so, until next post, keep healthy, stay safe, keep your mask on, except when dining, and bon appetit.

Adieu until next From time to time….
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Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

Wine critiquing

This lovely wine’s nose of lavender with a shade of parsnips simply asks to be be sipped to enable you to balance the elegant forestry redwood nose with the delicate weediness of dandelions and stinkweed palate, all brought to your table from, since one year ago, our family-owned winery.

I am positive you have all read something along those lines when seated in a restaurant (when you could go there without a mask, which might have helped in covering the ‘nose’) and preparing to taste the wine the sommelier brought to the table.

Of course, it may not have been quite so caustic or drastic as that which I have composed as an example, but what I have read many times makes me almost want, to use a good old English word, to puke. Descriptions like, “lofty white floral aromas and fragrant minerality on the nose; while on the palate the wine is plush and full-bodied, superbly fruit-forward with generous mixed red berry fruit, mineral and earth tones, integrated sweet oak spice, augmented by sagebrush undertones with gritty tannins, zippy acid and a persistent finish,” (courtesy Vivino.com).

back wine label how to read

Of course, if you cannot read French, then the information on this back label, of which more later, will not help you establish of what the nose comprises.

There are a few of my friends who can tell the difference between a red and a white, except by colour. And having said that, I’ve lost my wino friends, save those many who don’t care which it is as long as it is a red or a white. Oh, well. I think they know whom I mean. One of them has had many an experience in the past with me, when we were much younger and could drink at least five bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape over a dinner and then be able to find our way back to the hotel. Of course, neither of us could – or would have wanted – to afford even one bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, but, in days of yore, we were on an expense account.

A ‘nose’, of course, means what the wine smells like, while a ‘palate’ could simply be stated as what the wine tastes like. In fact, to obtain the nose of a Chardonnay, a wine of which I do not like the palate, you have to stick your own nose so far into the glass to get the nose, you may cut the bridge of your nose open, or, at least, bruise it. And that’s the reason I don’t like the wine, the palate of it is, in my opinion, zero, tasteless.

Are you a wine snob? Oh, yes, such people do exist. But not I.
I think at one time in my life some years ago I must have had Wine CoVID-19, for my sense of ‘nose’ and ‘palate’ regarding wines seems to have disappeared. I can smell bacon frying and love the taste of salmon, but as for the nose of any wine and then the mandatory sip to get the palate, I may as well not waste the sommelier’s presentation and time. Oh, I can tell a good Malbec from an awful Malbec, but to tell a Malbec from a Pinot Noir, I would have to concentrate hard and come up with, likely, no decision.

But to get back to the wine snob, he, for I have never come across a she wine snob, always presents the bottle for inspection, I would say shows it, to his guests and announces what it is; he always then makes a show of uncorking the bottle and placing the cork on the table for examination before he decants his wine, or to put it in less snobbish tones, he always pours the wine out of the bottle through muslin or some other filter, but never a coffee filter for a wine snob, into a flagon or carafe. From there, he will ask who would like to taste it. Now, this is where the wine snob shows his snobbish expertise. He will watch you like a hawk to see how you pick up the glass, by the stem or by the bowl; how well do you observe the colour; how you take it to your nose to get the nose; how long you take to nose it; how long do you take to taste the palate; and, finally, how do you replace the glass on the table and mumble, ‘Yeah, that’s fine.’ Of course, you can tell whether he is a wine snob, too, for while you are doing your job, he should be silent, watching you, not making lame jokes with the rest of the table.

Now, if you come to chez moi (that’s a snobbish way of saying, my place), we will usually use my home made wine. No snob here. Unless it’s to use a bottle of wine brought by a guest. But my home made wine is of exquisite quality with a fine nose and noble palate. And, besides, you do not have to go through the rigorous business of being presented with the bottle or nosing or tasting it. No. Because, bottling is a waste of time and as soon as my wine is ready to bottle, I put it back into one of the plastic bags in which the concentrate comes, stick a rubber tap on it and shove it back into a box in which it or some other concentrate came. I call that boxing my wine. No snobbish procedure there. By the way, I get three 7-litre boxes (over 20 litres) out of the one box of concentrate. Works out about $3.50 a litre.

There is one other sign of snobbery, that being the labels. Here is one example:

and here is another:

Let us compare the labels.
Note that the former says it is from Brengman Brothers Estate.
My label says it is from Chateau Melville, and,
elsewhere on the label, at the home of Mel and Beryl.
The former specifically states it is a ‘white wine’, nothing special in other words.
My label states it is a Malbec.
The former says produced in 2016.
My label say this month, August, 2020. But it adds it is a Reserve. Oh, my, that’s almost being snobbish.
I have no idea what is on the back label of the former, but my wine does not have a back label, but simply states that it was made for two particular people, although it is quite likely that others will drink out of the same box. But my label also states that it was made with our own hands and no feet were used in the process.

So, you can see that there is a great deal to say about wine critiquing and, with these words of a wise man I leave you until my next post:

clever wine sayings


Posted in General, humor, humour

A Walk on the Rectangular Side

So there above you have it: since I have been self-isolating, about 4 pm most afternoons, you will find me walking the rectangular deck in the photo.

I don’t walk every day, but today I started at a couple of minutes after four in the afternoon with 1,100 steps on my pedometer. I walked for 25 minutes and 1,900 steps, giving me a total of 4,000.

Can I say I walked around our deck? I don’t think so, as it is rectangular, so I rectangularised our deck? How about, I walked rectangularily? Although I usually walk using my Nordic poles on a trail or along our road, being a bit of the lazy type, if I walk on the deck, I don’t have to lace on walking shoes, I can walk in my slippers. Oh, my Chiropractor won’t like that – but they do have hard soles, Andrew.

And while walking rectangularily, what do I think of? First in my mind is the Nordic pole instruction to hold your head up. Do not look at the ground ahead of you. On our trails that can lead to stepping on horse dung, but it’s nowhere near as sticky or messy as dog poop. You can even pick the balls up and throw them like snowballs at targets in the hedge so the next poler won’t step on them. Anyway, no horses on our deck. Although some might think there is an ass rectangularising.

Next, looking straight ahead, I see the trees separating us from our neighbour to the north. And I can hear the tchk, tchk of the black-capped Chichadees, giving me a good telling off for preventing them from coming to the feeders. So, I turn right and see some azaleas and our rhododendrons. Oh, they are not in bloom yet, but I have looked at the buds and know it will be a brilliant display – like these pictures of azaleas and rhodies from last year.

Some time in late November or early December, after hurricane season and I can be sure of no more wind damage, I wander around, yes, around, the rhododendron bushes – almost trees after forty years of growth, adding one or two little plants each year – and I check how many buds are on them. In the Spring, there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing all those buds bursting out of their winter hiatus.

Then I make another turn right and see the ocean and islands as shown in the featured pic at the top of this post. Pretty bleak, isn’t it? Not even a fishing boat out there. Who can blame the fishers? Fishers? Oh, yes, in this day of me too, you never know who will be on that boat you can see. In days of yore, it would always be men or boys on board, but today it could as easily be women and girls. Or it could be a mix of genders.

And that’s what I could be thinking as I continue my walk. Or, it could be making up drivel like this,
I wonder as I wander my rectangled deck
how birds at the feeders go peck after peck
and empty my feeders and bank account too
yet I love them and ne’er want to bid them adieu.

My, how low have you sunk, I think to myself, for dreaming up such stuff as I complete my 50th rectangle. (Could I sneak a word like circuit in instead of rectangle? Likely not or some smart Alec – and I know who he is and his name is not Alec – will come back to me saying circuit is a circular route that starts and finishes at the same place.) I reverse direction every 25 rectangles and I was surprised the first time I did that everything looks different. I don’t get to see the water as well; I see parts of my neighbour’s house through a thick barrier of trees; I get to see my reflection in the door to the sun room. What a sight, that is! The wind has been blowing my extra long hair and I look like a creature out of Harry Potter.

My mind also does a turn-around as I find myself saying, 50 in 16 minutes, that’s lets’ see…. Oh, I don’t want that, I want to know how many paces in one rectangle. So, it’s the number of paces divided by the number of rectangular walks. Or is it how many minutes in an hour? See how my mind shifts? No, it’s nineteen hundred divided by fifty…….hmm, there are two fifties in a hundred and I have nineteen hundred, so double nineteen. Hmm, after a moment or two, thirty-eight.

Having solved that immense problem in my brain – wow, I still have one – what do I do with the answer. Answer: absolutely nothing. The answer is useless information which may just exacerbate the fact that my brain is retaining less and less because the storage room is diminishing.

Fifty-one, I say, as I pass go and do not collect a parking ticket; fifty-two I say; and a few seconds later, fifty-three. I see the crow waiting for me to go inside. I know he hates me. Even when I have been somewhere in the car and return to the parking lot, he sits on top of one of the tallest conifers and squawks at me. He thinks I hate him. He’s known me now for nigh on twenty years. Perhaps he’s right: I don’t hate him. Perhaps I just dislike the way he tugs on the large feeder and shakes it to make the seeds fall on the ground. And I don’t mind that too much, for the pheasants get to feed. But, he goes on and on until I chase him off.

I did 75 rectangulations today. It’s not a lot, nowhere near as far as when I am on the trail or road, but it is half an hour and it is almost two thousand steps. It kept me interested and discovering sights and sounds in my immediate vicinity. And I didn’t have to be aware of animal poop.

Adieu until next From time to time,,,,

Posted in General, humor, humour, Uncategorized

Oh, dear! Self-Isolating!

So, let’s start with a light-hearted story.

It had been snowing and we had been out shopping – oh, yes, this was before, what does Trump call it, the Chinese Disease? How ignorant! No, he’s changed to the Invisible Disease. Before COVID-19, anyway.

Not only had it been snowing, it had rained on the snow and then frozen some of it into ice. That slippery substance.

We got out of the car, not together: My Beloved out of her side and I out of mine. I said across the top of the car, be careful and follow in my footsteps. So, we edged towards the trunk which was open and had bags of foodstuffs – reusable bags, not plastic ones. Sobey’s nowadays has no plastic bags in the store, so you have to use your own. Reminds me of going shopping with my Mum before WWII where Mr. Fruen would cut some rashers of bacon off a slab, place it in a piece of newspaper and hand it to us to put into our bag.

I led the way very carefully across the icy patch where I could put one foot after another onto a patch of sand I had previously thrown down. The rain had melted some, however. Which again had refrozen, so it was a patchwork of sand patches. Hm! One step after another, I edged my way towards the steps where I could see safety, reminding My Beloved to step into the steps I had gone. I had almost reached the steps when a foot slipped and I couldn’t move forward or backward without fear of not only falling here, but sliding all the 50 metres down the driveway on my butt. I had done that on my front some years prior, much to the delighted chuckle of My Beloved. So, as I seemed to be temporarily stuck, My Beloved decided I was there in perpetuum. She tried to move around me, safe on her boots with spikes in the heels.

Nope! She was who ended up on her butt, sitting on wet ice, soaking up the water in her slacks. I must point out that My Beloved has knee and back issues which prevent her from getting up from the ground without support. I was the support.

Nope! I, or rather we, could not raise her from her decidedly cold, wet perch. Well, I said, there’s only one thing around here which will help. Silva, the car with the open trunk and rear-view camera. Oh, I had to shut the trunk on order to have the camera showing where I was going rather than up into the cloudy heavens.

So, I went back and put it into reverse and hoped the accelerator wouldn’t stick as I edged towards My Poor Beloved. And that the brake would work. Slowly, Silva backed up, even more slowly, as we approached the target. Well, perhaps that’s the wrong word: the supplicant, might be better. With her feet just about under the rear fender (bumper for you Brits), the brakes worked. Together, we were able to get her hands into the trunk and she could pull herself up. Then, by stepping very carefully on her spiky heels, she reached the steps and we got Silva unloaded and parked.

So you may be wondering what the featured pic is at the top of this post. One day, at the end of February a knock at the door meant the UPS man had brought a totally unexpected box. On opening it, we discovered all of the items shown: a bag of Liqorice Allsorts for Gramma, a Toblerone for Grampa, some caramels for both, two bags of seasonings, a jar of marmalade for both, I think, but it could have been for Grampa, and some photographs of her, ourselves with her, and a framed one with her between us. And additionally, a beautiful card telling us she had been passing by a store, went in and suddenly saw a number of items she knew would appeal to her grandparents. So she bought them, packed them and UPSed them. Out of the blue from a granddaughter – yes Cierra.
And we were so astonished we cried.

But, back to the present, two weeks ago, after shutting the door of the Commercial Enterprise Centre, where I volunteer, we went into self-isolation.

Actually, we have had lots of practice at this. For some forty years, our risk management consulting business has been run out of our home, so the two of us have worked very easily and satisfactorily side by side for all that time. We’ve never had an issue ending in a nasty argument. Reasonable discussion has always ended well. And we’ve never gone to bed without saying I love you – and meaning it. So, the only difference is that we cannot go out together and, say, shop. Or go to the theatre. Or go to church.

I say, only difference: however, it is not until the first two weeks have passed that we realise how large a difference it is. Previously, we have been able to go out together to shop, to the theatre, and to church. And to other places, like a friend’s place for dinner. One day, a week ago, it was Sunday, Saturday had been gorgeous, at least we Nova Scotians though it had been. It was; it was a pleasant eight degrees Celsius. So was Sunday. But the wind was strong and the anticipated pleasant walk along the beach would have been rather cold, so we sat in the car, opened the windows for fresh air – and fresh, or rather windy, it was – so My Beloved’s window got closed fairly quickly, and we took in the view from inside Silva.

Look at the beautiful blue sky in the photo; it looks so lovely. But the beach was empty except for a lady and her little child and they look huddled up. That didn’t surprise us. Nor you? Oh, you may see two others and a dog way down the beach. Certainly, those on the beach are maintaining their required 2-metre distance of separation.

I believe that only one person now is allowed to go out to get essentials, such as food or medicines, but we don’t: (a) for people of our age (87), it is much too lethal if you get it and (b) we order from the store, pay online, then, at an appointed time, go to the store and they put it in your trunk. So far, we’ve had to do this only once. Before we did that, a couple of friends had bought and delivered a few items, but we don’t ask them any more, as we consider it too dangerous for them to go to the store for us and we don’t want to put them in danger.

Yesterday, I phoned a large order of food at the Superstore and they have given me an appointment of Saturday, April 4th between 10 and 11am to drive to the curb and they will put the order in the trunk. Times are interesting. 

I have been taking the non-regular walk with my Nordic poles when weather allowed, say ‘Hi’ to the odd walker or dog-walker across the other side of the street, saying how sad it is we can’t stop and chat these days, and, two days ago, after returning, I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves and sat on the main deck in the sun for another good hour. This afternoon, I simply walked around the main deck 50 times, registering 1,600 paces in 15 minutes.

Also, I have been preparing a PowerPoint presentation for every Sunday service for four years now and, as we have now gone to on-line ZOOM, I am still preparing it for every Sunday, only it’s changed to Morning Prayer instead of Eucharist. If you’d like to join us, go to our web site http://www.stnicholasanglican.ca/virtual-church/ and click on the church at 9.30am Atlantic Daylight Savings. In the UK that would be 1.30pm and in San Francisco, 5.30am so, note the time difference.

Other volunteer work includes being Chair  (Beryl is the Treasurer) of a large Adult Literacy/Numeracy network and up until a few weeks ago, too, we were still busy with it. Not now: it is basically totally shut down, but at least one of our teachers is maintaining contact with students virtually. 

Although I didn’t like our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he was elected and though he has started employing shut-down and financial assistance somewhat, in my opinion, a bit late, I have been impressed recently both by the new emergency programs enacted and his daily conversations with the nation followed by answering of press questions outside his residence. An American friend recently told us that Canadian citizenship is a certainty now simply because of the way he has been handling the COVID-19 issue and his daily reports – particularly as compared to Mr. Trump. And as for the economy: it will recover. That’s my prediction having seen “Black Monday in October 1987, in 1994 and 1998; the Latin American, then the Asian currency crises, then during 2001-2003; the Tech Crash, and of course, 2007-2009; the global financial system meltdown” to quote from a financial advisor friend. All of those My Beloved and I rode and came through safely, so I still believe the economy will recover.

A really big event occurred two weeks ago, before we were self-isolating: My Beloved applied for and got her Blue card to hang in the windshield, so we can now park in the best spots. Large benefit for an unfortunate life-changing mobility issue, which she has dealt with without complaint for well over a year now.

Our dining-in has been very varied, for our freezer has been overly-stocked for ages and it is about time we started using some of our comestibles. A daughter and son-in-law, Tanis and Robb, buy us a whole lamb from an old school and military friend, Sharon, every year. So far, every year, anyway. No guaranties, I guess. So we still have a lot of Brutus left. But, for lunch, I will vary it from yogurt and unsalted roasted almonds or cashews to peanut butter and tomato sandwiches to the plate below.

Lunch: beefsteak tomato, a pickle, pickled dill carrots, jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese; banana for desert.

And with that, I bid you keep safe and free from the COVID-19. By the way, you did know how it was named by the WHO, didn’t you? Of course, you knew it was from coronavirus disease of 2019.

Blessings on you all.

Posted in General, Sport

A Spectacular Day

What is the relationship between Madrid, Spain and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada?

You probably cannot answer that – in fact, I am positive you cannot answer that, but I can. I like all sports to some degree or another, but there are some I love. Now, my father taught me never to use the word love about inanimate objects, but I consider sports as very animated, so ‘love’ is the correct word for cricket, tennis, some forms of aquatic sports, Canadian football and soccer.

And yesterday, Sunday, 24th November 2019 was a spectacular day. Naturally, church came first after breakfast, followed by some nibblies and a cup of tea. Then My Beloved and I headed home, determined to spend the rest of the day watching our beloved sports. Yes, I say ‘our’, for we both love the same sports.

Tennis Canada was formed in 1890 and four years later, it started a program for training boys of eighteen years of age and under. In recent years, of course, that has been opened to both boys and girls and operates in three centres in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Beneath the level of these training centres are sixteen Training Development Centres, which are funded by grants, corporations and other sources. The result of all these developmental programs is that Canada has been producing young world class players.

The Davis Cup, named after a Harvard University tennis player in 1899, is the most preeminent tournament in tennis. Interestingly, Davis’ name was given to the cup, yet it is almost mythical for he himself had almost nothing to do with creating the tournament and his name dropped into obscurity. Nevertheless, the Davis Cup is something every male tennis player wishes to be part of and play for his country. (The equivalent for women is the Fed Cup.)

Canada has never won the Davis Cup, nor even reached the final, but this year our young team comprising Denis Shapovalov (20 years young), Vasec Pospisil (29), Felix Auger-Aliassime (19) beat some of 135 countries to get into the finals in Madrid. In the week before yesterday, Canada beat Italy, the USA, Australia and Russia to reach the final against Spain.

So, that’s why My Beloved and I high-tailed it home after nibblies and tea, to sit down and watch our young Canadian tennis players try to achieve the until now unachievable. Young Felix put up a great fight against the veteran Spaniard, Roberto Batista Agut (31), but lost in two sets, although the first went to a tie break. Next up, Denis Shapovalov against the world number one and only, Rafael Nadal.It was close: first set went to Nadel 6-3, but the second set went to a tie break and finished up 7-6(7) meaning after the score reach 6-6, the tie-break went to 9-7 for Nadel.

WOW! To quote Tennis Canada,
“What an effort. What a week. What a team.
“They won’t be coming home with the Davis Cup trophy but in reaching the final of the 119-year-old tournament for the first time in the country’s history, the BMW Canadian Davis Cup team will surely have inspired the next generation to pick up a racquet.”
Were we disappointed? Slightly, but to have achieved as much as the youngsters had was in itself a joy for us and the country, according to the sports news. Many are looking forward to achieving something like the USA and its 32 victories! Let’s not be greedy, winning as many as Spain’s 6 would be good.

But that was only the afternoon’s entertainment.
Did you know that the chair umpire of a match such as the final of the Davis Cup or a Grand Slam is paid £3,500 and could, through all major tournaments, earn an annual income of £170,000. The line umpires for the quarter and semi finals of a Grand Slam earn £1,500 with an annual maximum through all the major tournaments of £40,000. Hm!

Dinner, a new recipe of My Beloved’s, a ground pork meatloaf: very juicy with roasted sweet potato and sauteed broccoli.
And wine!

Then our eyes again went to the TV set at 7.30pm for the Grey Cup.

The Grey Cup is a trophy produced by Birks Jewellers that has been part of Canadian sports since 1909, when it was donated by non-mythical Governor General Earl – that’s not his name, that’s his royal title 🙂 – Albert Grey for the Canadian football championship.

Many years ago, when I was young and charming (Gilbert & Sullivan for those not familiar with G&S), My Beloved and I moved from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now it is said that Winnipeg is the coldest city in North America and perhaps we proved that by producing five children. You have to keep warm at nights. I have always said our son could and did play hockey on outdoor rinks from the beginning of November to the end of March. Besides being cold in winter, it can be very hot in summer. I loved our 18 years in Winnipeg, for the city had everything one could wish for to enjoy life: great restaurants, and you know that is us, multi-cultural events, an excellent symphony orchestra, a to-die-for live theatre, a world-renowned ballet, a lovely park with a zoo, and, best of all, wonderful people. (Despite what you have heard about the record number of murders this year.)

And a great football team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
However, the last time they won the Grey Cup was way back in 1990, 29 years ago.
And yesterday they were going to play Hamilton Tigercats, who hadn’t won since 1999.
So the game was called Break the Drought game.

Until yesterday, Blue Bombers had made 24 trips to the Grey Cup and won 10 times, so the interest was exceptionally high throughout the country. I recall one very odd Grey Cup win for the Blue Bombers. The game took place in Exhibition Stadium in Toronto in 1962 over December 1st and 2nd. Over two days, you say? This is not cricket. Football lasts only four 15-minute quarters, not days. However, I will never forget watching the game on TV. As it progressed, a fog began to descend over the field and, as time ticked on, the goal posts became hidden, then the players at the ends furthest from the cameras disappeared into the gloom. Finally, it was difficult to see anyone, so the Football Commissioner pulled the game with 9 minutes, 29 seconds remaining and the score, Winnipeg 28 and Hamilton, yes the same Hamilton – different players, though – as we played yesterday, at 27. The game resumed the following day, but the score remained the same. A game never to forget.

Could our team yesterday, after 29 cup-less years break the jinx and win an eleventh?
Hamilton were favoured to win by 4 points. But what do the bookies know? I, however, in my gut felt that they might be right.

No, no, no! Right from the opening play, Winnipeg got a turnover and never looked back as they added touchdowns and field goals and My Beloved and I added more fluid red calories.

So, we were worn out, exhausted from the stresses provided by superb aces, double faults, great backhands down the line, then switch games to turnovers and just inches to go with Winnipeg stopping them more than once and touchdowns and conversions. Wow! What a day!

From Madrid to Winnipeg.
Yes, A Spectacular Day!

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

I’m Retired

I’m retired – at least, I thought I was

When My Beloved and I finally retired, some few years ago, we thought we would be able to relax, take life at a more sedate pace, even lie in a little – not too long or we wouldn’t be able to do our exercises.

But, take this morning: I had set the alarm for 6.45am, so when the appointed minute arrived, my phone softly woke us. Up, out of bed, shave, bodily functions, shower, dress (that was easy, since I had left the clothes I had on for church yesterday ready for me to jump into), went downstairs to weigh myself and do some easy exercises on our Wii, had breakfast, made sure I had my laptop in my computer bag along with some papers I needed to work on………… hey! Stop right there!

I said I was retired, yet here I am taking some documents to work on. Work. Taking. Where am I going? Oh, to one of my volunteer jobs, at the Reception Desk of the local not-for-profit Commercial Enterprise Centre for four hours every Monday from 8.30am to 12.30pm. I also sometimes assist in another area of the CEC.

But, I also said I was taking some work with me. That’s because we still have one client for whom we provide risk management counsel and Monday mornings at CEC are notably quiet, so I am sometimes able to do real “work”. It keeps the grey cells working, too.

When I get home, it will be lunch time.
Then nap time.

This particular Monday, will be free the rest of the day, so I will do the PowerPoint presentation for next Sunday’s church service. That entails doing the whole service, including the hymns, which the Music Director will have given me, and finding interesting, often humourous, slides as openers and closers. Oh, yes, God has a sense of humour!

The third Monday of every month entails both My Beloved and me attending the church Finance Committee in the evening from 7pm to whenever, but our chair runs an efficient meeting and we can sometimes be away in less than an hour. And if you don’t believe God has a sense of humour, come to a Finance Committee meeting and listen to the discussions about the state of our church.

Tuesday, of course, starts off the same way, although, I admit we may be an hour later arising. I might have to make wine or box it, so that takes most of the morning. I box it, not bottle it: meaning I put the finished wine back into the large 7-litre bags in which the concentrate comes, attach a tap and stuff the bag of wine back into the box in which it came. Oh, it’s much easier than having to wash and sterilise bottles, which, before I became wise, I used to do.

Then comes lunch, but no nap, for this Tuesday, it is our regular Adult Literacy Board meeting, of which I am Chair and My Beloved is Treasurer. Both of us for one more year. 20 years of that is enough and two people are prepared to take on these duties. For the next couple of hours, I try to keep eight or so people, each with his or her individuality, on the Agenda. It’s really strange how quickly we can get sidetracked, sometimes with totally extraneous issues, such a have you tried the new restaurant?Nevertheless, they are a great group of people who become friends over a period of time – and the occasional item of business does get attended to. So, a couple of hours later, back home to get dinner.

Wednesday starts the same way, but we have to get out for My Beloved’s appointment with our family doctor at 9.30am. She’s a hoot and we love visiting her. She is excellent as a doctor, just the very best, but we love the humour with which she is endowed – often at our expense.

After seeing the doc, we drive to the Bulk Barn. Oh, you can spend a complete day there looking at all the different flours, nuts, seasonings, spices, pastas, pastas with no wheat, candies, chocolates, chips and crackers for dipping, dried fruits……..
After we pick up our items, we head for home and lunch. And nap.

Thursday, after the usual program, we head to the chiropractor for adjustments and some bone-cracking. He is very good and we invariably feel our spines are still able to keep us up and walking. Speaking – or writing, rather – about walking, a week or so ago I bought a pair of Nordic Pole walkers and I have found that they are really, really good, once you get the hang of planting each pole alongside the opposite foot. Going up hill is much easier now.

Normally, choir practice would be in the evening, but as our church is putting on two weekends of 3-course dinner theatre, they are rehearsing every day of the week, so no practice . We were told yesterday that performances this Saturday, next Friday and Saturday are totally sold out; only this Friday’s opening night has some seats left.

So, now we get to Friday. Every Friday morning when I do not have another appointment, I attend a Friday morning sort of prayer and book club. It’s fun and we get into all sorts of discussions, most having little to do with the book we have been reading. Sort of like the Board Meeting on Tuesday. Quite often on Friday afternoon, after lunch and nap, we do our weekly grocery shopping, spending all that hard-earned money the government is so generous to give us oldagers – sic with sarcasm.

This coming Saturday, we have volunteered to get to church by 9am to prep the meal for the dinner theatre show that evening. I know I will be spud-bashing, as we used to call it in the RAF, peeling and cutting potatoes. And maybe peeling and cutting carrots in preparation for putting them in the food processor. But it comes with lots of fun and laughter, so it’s a very enjoyable time.

Then lunch and nap. Maybe a long nap. Yes.

Some Saturdays, we go to the theatre, the Neptune, as excellent a professional theatre as one can see anywhere. And, as we always choose the matinee performance, after that, we go and eat. Yum!

Sunday, of course, means we have to get to church to sing in the choir by 9.30am and afterwards, we get together for coffee and nibblies. Then, if you like, you can stay and sit to discuss some bible reading. We don’t like, so we skedaddle. I guess we may pay for that in the next world!

And that’s our week.

Except this past week, we had to go to visit our last and only client in Prince Edward Island (one of our three Maritime provinces). So, that took from Tuesday noon to Thursday late afternoon.

However, some of my fans have been asking about food and telling me I haven’t given any descriptions recently. Well, no, because there haven’t been any posts recently. The last one before this was w—a—a—a—a–y back in mid-July of this year.

So, here’s how we fared with our client last Wednesday evening at a restaurant in Charlottetown called the The Brickhouse Kitchen.

My Beloved and I arrived first, having walked from the hotel in which we were staying, so we chose our seats at the back of the booth and immediately ordered a Pinot Grigio. “Sorry, madam, but we seem to be out of that. ” We jokingly said, well the liquor store is immediately around the corner. Some of our guests arrived and one also would have liked the Pinot Grigio. However, she chose the same as My Beloved, a Spanish white Verdejo. Minutes later one of our guests saw a fellow carrying four bottles of wine crossing the street and into the restaurant. I guess they took us at our word.

Me? Well, you know I would not grace myself with a white, so I ordered a bottle of Argentinian Don David Malbec, after checking they had at least one other bottle in reserve.

We had a shared calamari platter for all of us, one guest having Chowder, My Beloved had half Caesar Salad and blue mussels (obviously PEI mussels); another guest had a Scallop paella; and another the Steak and Fritz; and I, the Salmon Carpacci as a starter followed by the Special of the day, bacon wrapped scallops with brisket and one of the most delicious meat sauces I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, a dish another of our guests also had and she declared it excellent.

Bacon-wrapped scallops and Brisket
Steak and Fritz



And how did we get back to the hotel? One of our lovely guests gave us a ride back, with me in the back seat along with the baby seat.



But, if that is retirement, then it is definitely not quite what a large Life Insurance Company used to imply when advertising Freedom 55.
But I love it.

Bon appétit – for food and retirement!

Posted in General, humor, humour

Teddy Bears

Of course you have a Teddy Bear. Don’t be ashamed to admit that somewhere in your house is that wonderful little bear someone gave you soon after you were born.

Is the bear in the basement in some old box? Or even in the attic? I surely hope not. That bear of yours should be in your bedroom. After all, bears are given to you to comfort you in your childhood: just after Mum or Dad had lectured you on not closing the screen door, or your teacher told your mother you wouldn’t share toys at your kindergarten. And your bear did just that, right? And I am certain your bear is ready at any moment to offer you a little bit of a lift.

Multi-coloured Teddy Bear

Bears come in all shapes and sizes and, indeed, often in colours one would not think a bear bearing (pun intended). There are brown bears, black bears, orange bears, blue bears (but that’s almost sacrilege), and certainly dirty and worn bears. Perhaps the worn bears are the most valued: they could be the most valuable item a person can have. At least to their owners.

Bears certainly have character. Bears can look friendly and seem to smile upon whomsoever gazes on them. They can look grumpy, but no bear is truly grumpy, so it’s just in the beargazer’s eyes that a bear might look grumpy. Bears can look happy. But, because bears have character, bears are not neutral, they are not an ‘it’: no, bears are a he or a she. Did you read that? Bears are either ‘he’ or ‘she’.

Many of you know the story of how Teddy Bears came to be: Margarite Steiff , a German business woman, was stricken with polio early in life, but still got a good education as her friends used to put her in a hay cart and take her to school. Although one of her arms was also affected, she was able to sew and became a tailor, eventually owning her own shop. One day, she made a stuffed elephant as a pin cushion and, subsequently, started giving them to her customers. However, the customers’ children like them so much, as a stuffed toy, they came back for more.

Steiff with one of her bears

Soon, Steiff started making all sorts of stuffed animals from cats and dogs to pigs, some of them had articulating arms and legs. So, in 1880 the Margarite Steiff MbgH was registered in Germany and her nephew, Richard, joined her in 1887 and became a major figure in the company. He would go to the zoo and make drawings of animals from which stuffed animals evolved.

In 1902, President “Teddy” Roosevelt went on a hunting trip in Mississippi and, after he called other hunters ‘unsportsmanlike’ for jeering him for refusing to shoot a bear they had captured, the event became a cartoon subject in many American newspapers seen by thousands. A shop owner in Brooklyn, Morris Michtom, had a great idea and he and his wife had stuffed bears placed in their shop window, selling them to many people. By permission of President Roosevelt, the Michtoms were allowed to name their bears Teddy Bears and they sold as fast as they could make them, women and children carrying them proudly in the streets. The President himself used one as a mascot in his next re-election bid.

A year later, in 1903, an American gave an order to the Steiff company for three thousand bears, as his adventurous response to the “Teddy” bear craze.

The Steiff company, which is still in operation, has a motto as styled by Margarite Steiff, is “Only the best is good enough for children” and their products are subject to meticulous testing and inspection. They are required to be highly flame resistant and, among other things, smaller pieces such as eyes must be able to resist considerable tension, wear and tear, as only children can give.

In coming up with this post and telling of My Beloved’s and my bears, I realised I would likely become the subject of laughter, perhaps, smirking, or, like President Roosevelt, the object of mockery. No matter, My Beloved and I are proud of our own bears, each of us having kept our bear since they had been given to us some time in or after 1933 . They, as you can see are very well worn, although her Teddy ( right) has withstood the passage of time better than my Teddy. (Just like My Beloved and me.) Nevertheless, they sit by our bedside and represent a lifetime of living together.

Many years ago, before WWII, as I was trying hard to recover from a serious bout of pneumonia, my Nanny taught me to knit. And, of course, the first of several items I knitted was a pair of shorts and a pullover for my Ted. They were around for many a year, but I believe the moths loved them so much while he and I were separated for several years, that when I last saw them, they were nothing but strings of wool around my Teddy. He doesn’t seem to mind not having them, however.

Bonzo and Friends

Now, we have many more stuffed friends. In the chair beside our bed, and on the left hand side of the photo above you can see a little piece of Bonzo, my dog. And here is Bonzo, along with a multitude of other stuffed friends. Oh, yes, Bonzo has always been with me, too, but has withstood the passage of time somewhat better than Ted, perhaps because he was a guard dog, sitting there protecting me, whereas Ted was a comforting cuddly friend.

Sometimes I wonder what they do while we are away.

Do they enjoy being left alone for months at a time? Do they have parties? I must say that, particularly when we have guests staying at our house, my wine seems to disappear quite rapidly: could they possibly be doing a little sipping even while we are out on a day trip? And yet, when we return, be it later in the day or several months later, they are all in exactly the same positions as when we left. They really are good at not leaving any evidence of partying. It really is quite likely though they do party, as Pooh Bear has shown over a number of years, that bears can get into mischief.

Bears do travel quite well. Although neither of our Teddy Bears does any travelling, there is one bear who has traveled to many places in the world. I cannot reveal which of our children has this fine Teddy, who has been to such places as the UK, Egypt, Israel and several countries in Europe, Barbados, Cayman Islands and all over North America. He has occasionally had to go to the ER, where My Beloved has been able to repair the dire wounds of being stuffed in suitcases and inspected by unimpressed Customs agents. But, as you can see, this very valuable and totally irreplaceable Teddy Bear is a girl bear. You see, I said Teddy Bears can be of either sex, but never, no never, an ‘it‘. However, a Teddy Bear can be androgynous and still be a he or a she.

In an antepenultimate paragraph about Teddy Bears, psychologists say that in today’s society, more so than in previous generations, mother and child are frequently, very often daily, separated, the mother having to go to work. This separation is stressful to the child, so the child looks to something very familiar, her Teddy Bear, with his soft cuddly structure. From infancy, she has had her Teddy Bear and he or she has become part of her life. She has cuddled him, petted him and she has talked and will talk to her Teddy Bear, just as her mother talks to her. Both she and her mother look for ways to smooth over the daily separation; and the Teddy Bear, known to psychologists as a transition object, serves them both well. In fact, the Teddy Bear is almost a magician in making her feel less lonely and separated from her mother.

So, tonight, if, horror of horrors, your Teddy Bear is not at your bedside, go and hunt for him or her and resurrect him or her, then, at dinner, raise a glass of wine – or water, or whatever you drink – to your very own beloved Teddy Bear!

And in a final word, or should I say, image, my Teddy Bear wishes you all the very best for you and knows that your Teddy Bear and he will meet one day in Teddy Bear Heaven, for as sure and as long as Teddy Bears are comforting children, they will all meet and have one gigantic continuous party in that Teddy Bear Heaven!

Posted in General, History

A Little Bit of History

Here is a little bit of history of which I knew nothing. All right, I’ll admit that I do not know everything – yet.

For those unfamiliar with Canada’s geography, we live in Nova Scotia, a funny-shaped province almost entirely surrounded by water, the Atlantic Ocean. Look carefully on the left hand side and find ‘Digby’.

Digby is the port from which a car ferry sails across the Bay of Fundy (also marked on the map) to Saint John, New Brunswick, our sister province. It is a voyage of just over two hours in length and, on a good day, you may see whales, sea birds and, frequently, dolphins.

The name of the vessel is MS Fundy Rose. And this is where the history lesson starts.

It is obvious, of course, from whence came the name ‘Fundy’, as the ship crosses the Bay of Fundy on every trip to and from Digby and Saint John. But where did the second part of the name, ‘Rose’ come from?

On 13th March 1774, Rose Fortune was born into a family of slaves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but her family was later relocated to Virginia by the Devones family. Her family were Black Loyalists: slaves who gained their freedom for supporting the British in the American Revolutionary War, and were resettled in British territory.  During 1783 and 1784 some three thousand Black Loyalists came to Nova Scotia. The family settled in Annapolis Royal, some 35 kilometres north of Digby.

In 1825, Rose started her own business, something very rare for a woman, and a black woman as well, to do. She used a wheelbarrow to cart people’s luggage from the wharf to wherever they were staying in the town and, additionally, Rose started a ‘wake-up’ business, whereby she would notify people if their boat was about to sail. She became very well known, not only locally, but all over Nova Scotia and even as far as London, England, as a result of many letters and accounts which have survived to provide the record. They described her carrying bags, rousing her clients to catch their boats, and disciplining local boys who might get in her way.  Rose became a very popular person in the docks and around the town and residents of Annapolis Royal remembered her with great affection as an iconic representative of their town and a determined keeper of order on not only the wharves, but also the town streets. Her baggage business fared so well that she was able to buy a horse and wagon to replace the wheelbarrow. Eventually, her grandson-in-law, Albert Lewis, took over the business from her under the name ‘Lewis TransferCompany’ and his descendants continued it until 1980.

As mentioned, she kept the docks and streets in order and became the self-appointed first woman police officer in North America – or anywhere.

There are very few pictures of Black Loyalists, but an anonymous person made a watercolour of Rose Fortune, and it has survived. Rose certainly left her legacy firmly imprinted in the history of, not only Black Loyalists, but simply as a wonderful person. Rose Fortune died on February 20, 1864, in the small house she owned at the engineer’s lot near Fort Anne, a fort built to protect Annapolis Royal harbour. In 1999, a plaque in her honour was installed near the location of her house in the Petit Parc on the Annapolis Royal waterfront and she was acclaimed as a National Historic Person on 12 January, 2018.

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

Ramen

Ramen. Or Ramen noodles. I had heard of it: it was even mentioned on CTV’s Your Morning today. But what actually is it. Not being a pasta lover, I had never really thought about it.

Today, we were to have lunch with Charlie and Shirlie. Finally. Yes, there had been at least two previous attempts to get together for lunch at a particular restaurant in the Dartmouth side of Halifax, but because of (a) the first time last year, instead of driving to the restaurant, My Beloved drove me to the ER; and (b) the second attempt just last week, either he or I got the date mixed up and My Beloved and I did not join them in their lunch at Moxie’s.

But today, all four of us made it to Moxie’s. Believe it: a new item on the menu is a bowl of Miso Ramen. I know what miso is, but not knowing anything about ramen and always having been
adventurous, I opted for that with added shrimp. My Beloved opted for the Loaded Hamburger, but iceberg lettuce supplanting the bun, along with a side Caesar salad. Least said about Charlie and Shirlie’s choices the better.

As it was Wednesday, Moxie’s has their wine on at half price, so a bottle of Trapiche Malbec served My Beloved and me during the lunch, 66% for her and 33% for me.

Loaded Lettuce Burger with Caesar Salad

After a special grace, since I didn’t know whether I would survive this, I dived into the noodles with my chopsticks and pulled up a load of them mixed with some Chinese broccoli and a piece of green onion. Mmmm! That sure tasted great. But what was in the sauce which made it so tasty? There definitely was some Sriracha, since a plate accompanied the dish with a bottle on it, should I wish to hotten it up. There were also some mushrooms. And, sitting proudly atop of everything were two half soft-boiled eggs. Have you ever tried to pick a slippery half an egg up with chopsticks? I did it: twice.

Having devoured every solid piece of food in the bowl, I was left with one of the most delicious thin soups I have ever spooned into my mouth. There was plenty of it, but I could have gone on drinking more. But that would have been greedy and I try not to be a gourmand.

My Beloved deconstructed her lettuce burger, as there was no possible way for her to get her small and dainty mouth around it. As it was, the burger was voted just an OK; she could not finish her lettuce nor the salad. As for our friends, they did devour the substantial items on their plates and, as they and I still had left room for dessert, they shared the Fiasco Gelato, two scoops of mint chocolate chip with chocolate sauce – gluten conscious . My Beloved and I shared, 90% me and 10% her, (I let her steal some as I was still trying not to be a gourmand) a luscious flourless dark double chocolate cake, moist & rich, with almond & coconut crust, also with one scoop of the fiasco mint chocolate chip gelato – gluten conscious.

We departed still good friends and looking forward to the next lunch together. At home, I delved into Google to try to find out about ramen. The first thing I learnt was that the word ramen is a Japanese transcription of the Chinese lamian (拉麵) and the noodles are made from wheat. But here is some of what I read:
Ramen noodles contain a preservative called tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which extends their shelf life by quite some time. TBHQ is a byproduct of the petroleum industry and is often listed as an “antioxidant,” but it’s important to realize that it is a synthetic chemical with antioxidant properties — not a natural antioxidant. The chemical prevents oxidation of fats and oils, thereby extending the shelf life of processed foods. You’ll find it in Chicken McNuggets, CHEEZ-Its and Taco Bell beans. You’ll also find it in varnishes, lacquers, and pesticide products. Yuck!  They also contain other horrible additives such as MSG .

Oh, no, you gourmand, you! What went into my stomach?

BUT then I realised they were talking about the instant stuff college kids use as a quick go-to meal and those packages have another package inside, which contains the offensive products.

Should you wish to see something revolting, check out the video in the article at
https://www.littlethings.com/ramen-noodles-inside-stomach-digestion/

But I still asked what did I put in my mouth?

So, I went to Moxie’s web site, Moxie’s.com, and, lo and behold, ALL IS WELL, for this is part of what I found there:
Inspired by the rich culinary landscape of Japanese cuisine, Executive Chef Brandon Thordarson has created a hearty, belly-warming Miso Ramen. Our version is made with vegetarian miso broth flavoured with roasted garlic, nutty sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds. We then stir in sambel oelek—a hot paste made from chili peppers, ginger, and shallots. After the broth is perfected, we add gai lan, or Chinese broccoli, fresh green onion, a marinated soft-boiled egg, shiitake mushrooms, and, most importantly, authentic ramen noodles. We invite you to try it with Chasu—fatty slices of braised pork, or sautéed prawns for a boost of protein. And, if you like it spicy, we serve our Miso Ramen with a bottle of Sriracha so you can turn up the heat!

Although I said, all is well, it really is a good meal only on very rare occasions. For, if you explore Moxie’s web site further, click on Food, then Bowls and scroll down to Miso Ramen. Alongside to the right is an (i); clicking on that brings up the Nutritional Information. Although there are good vitamins A and C and also calcium and iron , there are 3650mg of Sodium – salt. A daily value according to Health Canada should not exceed 2300mg, so ………….

…………….I will go back to one of Moxie’s locations – often – but I’ll stick with a Caesar Salad.
Maybe. That ramen was really good.

Posted in Dining, General

Food at the Beginning and at the End

I
t is very odd that I start a post with a food item.
It, customarily, is at the end.

But yesterday, Friday, was unique. We had been eating left over Easter barbecued duck, Chinese style, and we needed fish. Well, we had had fish on Wednesday, but we really needed some more. So I offered to pick up some sushi style tuna and make tuna tartare.

The result was magnificent. Delicious, succulent tuna in light soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, finely chopped green onions (or scallions or spring onions, depending on where you were brought up), grated ginger, lime juice and zest, and, of course, wasabe paste to give it a bit of zing. The mixture, best mixed by hand, set on some lettuce leaves, was enjoyed by My Beloved and me.

Ah! Sumptuous, luscious, delicious sushi-like tuna.
With a glass (or two) of Chateau Melville Malbec.

In the fridge was a lovely wedge of that royal cheese, Stilton – oh, blue cheese is not too bad, but Stilton is the epitome of cheeses – and along with a bottle of Warre’s Warrior Finest Reserve Port (not the best, but affordable – and in any case, it was a gift from someone, so it didn’t cost me anything), we started on dessert.

However, first things first: a toast to Her Majesty, the Queen.

To Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth!

Oh, yes, my dear readers, one cannot let Stilton slowly melt in your mouth (say that s-l-o-w-l-y and isn’t it aphrodisiacal?) and sip Port without acknowledging a fine British tradition. Way back several centuries ago when Britain truly did rule the waves, the Captain on board a Royal Navy vessel might entertain his officers in his cabin with a meal followed by dessert of Stilton and Port. The rule was that the Captain would pour some Port into his glass first and hand the bottle to his left. That person would then pour into his glass and pass on to his left, all never allowing the bottle to touch the table – or a glass! Imagine that in a rocking ship. But that was why tables were constructed with something like a fixed lazy Susan with holes the size of a wine bottle above the actual table: the bottle could be set in a hole so it would not fall off the table. When the bottle had been around and came back to the Captain, he would set it in the hole, pick up his glass of Port, rise, as would his guests, and toast Her Majesty.

So did your ‘umble scribe and My Beloved.

I remarked earlier on having to eat leftovers of Barbecued Duck. Which brings me to the real item.

I had intended to use an old recipe of mine involving a duck marinated in a Chinese marinade of soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger and some five-spice or anise or some other spice, all of which required an overnight marinating of the duck. However, Friday was Good Friday and, after church, it was not a day, in my opinion, maybe not yours, on which to celebrate and barbecue. So, why not Saturday? Well, because on Easter Sunday we had a sunrise service at church, following which our Men’s Breakfast Group, under my direction, was to provide a real breakfast. That meant getting up at 4.45am in order to be at the church by 5.30am to get things started. The service would end at seven o’clock or soon after and breakfast had to be ready to eat at that time.

Well, after the breakfast, we men had to clean up, dishwash and put tables and chairs away. At 9.30am, I and My Beloved had to be in the choir singing the Lord’s praises and hopefully not fall asleep during the service. After the service, we went home and I was in no mood for barbequing the duck. Besides, it had to be marinated overnight. So, I did prepare the marinade and put duckie in the fridge to suck up the juices and spices.

Which meant we ate the duck on Easter Monday.

Now there was another problem which I had to solve. Two or three years ago, I replaced a barbecue with a new one. But, apparently, I did not give much thought to the purchase. The previous barbecue had an infra-red back burner and a rotisserie on which I had stuck another one or two or three ducks. I had thought the expression ‘hoisted on your own petard’ meant something like that: but I found out that it meant, courtesy and copyright of Grammar Monster, “The term hoisted by one’s own petard means to fall foul of your own deceit or fall into your own trap. This term has its origin in medieval times when a military commander would send forward one of his engineers with a cast-iron container full of gunpowder, called a petard, to blow up a castle gate, obstacle, or bridge. The fuses on these bombs were very unreliable, and sometimes the engineers would be killed when the petards exploded prematurely. The explosion would blow (or hoist) the engineer into the air.” Just like if you turn the propane on and wait too long before igniting it.

Anyway, the new barbecue did not have a back burner nor a rotisserie and of the three I had from previous barbecues, none fitted the current one. So, I had to reimagine the rotisserie and, in fact, it looks nothing like it: simply a duck hoisted on a high rack so heat can circulate.

But it does look good, doesn’t it?

And the finished product looks – and tasted – even better!

BBQ’d Duck, Roasted Parsnips, Peas and Scallion Pancake

So that’s how I ended up starting with a food item and still getting a food item to end the post.


At the moment, as I sign off, it’s pouring with rain – not Port – and I hope you all fare as well with your fare as My Beloved and I do.