July 17, 2011

Tasting the County

Yesterday we joined our dear friends Ingrid & Edward for our regular tour through nearby Prince Edward County, Canada's newest wine region.

Designated as an official wine appelation in 2007, the County is now home to 37 wineries. It remains a rustic and peaceful region. The County is to Sonoma Valley as the Niagara is to Napa Valley. Of course, weekends in the summer are a little more crowded in the County but nothing like the hordes that hit the Niagara wine region.

The County has become a foodie destination as well, thanks to a locovore and slow food movements in its restaurants and eateries, not to mention the relocation of some celebrated Toronto chefs.

We feel so blessed to have such a vibrant and growing wine region within an hour's drive of Kingston. The County is primarily planted with vinifera varietals such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Riesling, with smaller amounts of Zweigelt, Gew├╝rztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot.  You will also find hybrids like baco noir, and vidal.

Yesterday we took in some of the best of the County, including wine tastings at By Chadsey's Cairns, Sandbanks, and, our favourite, Closson Chase. We also enjoyed tastings and then an incredible gourmet pizza at Norman Hardie Winery. We purchased a 2010 Dunes Vidal Reisling from Sandbanks for everyday sipping and a coveted 2008 K.J. Watson Chardonnay from Closson Chase for a special occasion.

We then headed to the eastern section of the peninsula to enjoy a pint of cider at the County Cider Company, which surely has the best views in the entire county! They have a lovely outdoor seating area with views of a vineyard that slopes downward to reveal a stunning vista of Lake Ontario.  We then make the quick trip over to the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, which makes cheese from locally sourced goat and sheep milk. They are a truly environmentally-conscious business, with a Platinum LEED certified facility and a commitment to using only fresh local milk and ingredients. We purchased a soft-ripened goat cheese called Operetta, made in the style of France's Crottin de Chavignol

July 13, 2011

Magnificent Montreal

We have just returned from a great getaway to La Belle Province, starting with a weekend in Montreal.

We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite at Candlewood Suites, where we met our dear friends Toni and Dave. It was a clean and huge suite, with a great corner living room. We had nice views across the city.

Friday night we took in U2 at the old Hippodrome site in the northwest of the city.  I have to say singing and screaming along with 80,000 fans to my favourite band was a wonderful experience. The band were in awesome form and the concert was one of the best  I have seen. The highlight was Bono's voice, which was amazingly strong and moving. After all these years the pied piper of rock can still wrap a stadium in his hand and send shivers up your spine.

My favourite area in Montreal is Le Plateau, strolling along St-Laurent, where we enjoyed fantastic food, vintage stores, and snazzy design shops. We had perfect brunch food at Laika on Saturday and and Bagel Etc., a favourite of Leonard Cohen and the late Irving Layton.  I just about passed out at foodie heaven La Vielle Europe, which stocks meats, gourmet condiments, coffee, and over 300 cheeses. 

On Sunday we bid goodbye to our friends and continued onto the Eastern Townships to stay at a cottage that my sister Angela and her partner Marie had rented for a week. We had a wonderful time, playing lots of badmington and lawn darts and I went canoeing with my nephew each morning.

July 7, 2011

Make the Whig great again

A group of concerned Kingstonians have a great campaign to try and get the Whig Standard, Canada's oldest daily, to reclaim its once proud status as one of the very best city papers in the country.

When I first moved to Kingston in 1989 the Whig was a truly local paper, with a dedicated staff of writers and a focus on the local perspective on national and international events. Reflecting its heritage, the Whig spouted a conservative voice and it was very well written and I think also very well read.

After decades of ownership by local Davies family, the Whig was sadly purchased by Sun Media/Quebecor and the dreaded changes came immediately. Local writers disappeared and most of the paper was filled with wire stories and syndicated columnists. Today, you are hard pressed to find articles written by local journalists, and there is no real sense of a voice or editorial vision. And we won't even get started on their appalling website.

Kingston wants and deserves a better daily newspaper. Learn more at greatwhig.ca.