Category Archives: Diversions

B is for Beer

So like I said in the Main B post I went outside my comfort zone and bought a new beer: a limited edition release barrel aged kriek from Big Rock brewery. Which is basically a cherry sour beer. I shared the first bottle with our friend who was kind enough to make a pit-stop that day to pick them up.

enjoyed at the Hotel Cavell

An amazing colour. A wonderful smell. Not something I could drink. So one of the bottles made it to our best friends and another to our piano teacher. Which leaves the fourth. Which randomly ended up having the same number as our house. I’m holding on to that one!

Then there was a pint (another barrel aged) and the Big Sleep before our dinner out at the Fifth.

at the bar hop bar on Peter Street

And the new-to-me brewery Muddy York – an old nickname for Toronto.  And yes, while they have a few IPAs (my favourite style), they also make porters, lagers, and stouts and more!

The website lists 19 current beers (and 5 retired ones!) although not all the current ones are available right now. In any event, they list:

  • 6 pale ales
  • 3 IPAs
  • 2 lagers
  • 2 porters
  • 1 amber ale
  • 1 bitter
  • 1 double IPA
  • 1 hefeweizen
  • 1 hoppy wheat
  • 1 stout

I’ve had two IPAs, a bitter, the hefeweizen (which is one of my new favourites!), a pale ale and a lager. And one smoked beer they don’t currently list on the website (drinking something that tastes like smoke is a little weird for me). I’m likely only to have a taste of the porters and stouts, or maybe I’ll head to the brewery for tastes of them. But I’d love to work my way through them all. Hmmmm I wonder if they do flights in the bar! I’m trying to do low carb now for a bit again so it’ll all have to wait.

February – B

Well, the alphabet continues 🙂

No movies were watched actually, for the very good reason that I have a HUGE winter Olympics obsession.

from the CBC

We’re pretty multi-cultural in our house – well, mostly within Europe in any event. While Q and I were born in Canada, Toby and his dad were born in Great Britain, my mother-in-law is from Denmark, my maternal grandmother was born in Poland and my maternal grandfather was born in Latvia. Heck, there was even a Maltese skier this time! Also, that’s a HECK of a lot of red and white (and some purple and some blue):

There was some reading though: Bellweather Rhapsody (mostly thanks to reading a months’ old NYT book review Dear Match Book article) and also the Big Sleep – the first Philip Marlowe book by Raymond Chandler; which would have been a great movie to try and watch but such was not to be.  And a translation of Beowulf (which I wrote about a bit here).

And of course, there was some LEGO: Buckingham Palace, and Berlin and the Brick Bank! Lots more pictures will be posted here: [insert February LEGO post] but first I have to take them!

And beer! First, trying something completely new and out of my comfort zone, I bought four bottles of a barrel aged kriek beer from Big Rock brewery. And was introduced to another Brewery closer to home: Muddy York Brewing. You can read more about the beer part here.




Beowulf, or that time I was proven right by Anglo-Saxon poetry

One of the books I read starting with B for February was Beowulf. It was suggested by my boss. It turns out the Toronto Public Library has a bilingual edition: Anglo-Saxon to modern English. The introduction was fascinating. It set out how Seamus Heaney approached the task of translating this ages-old poem. Which lead me to some unexpected support…

One of the things I have always done that apparently drives Toby a little batty is change topics of conversation, either immediately or after a lull, by using the interjection “so.” Toby considers “so” as more a conclusion indicator word as opposed to a new topic indicator. This has bothered him for some time. 😉

What does this have to do with Beowulf? Well, Mr. Heaney writes about the voice of some “relatives of my father’s, people whom I had once described in a poem as “big voiced Scullions.” He explains they were big-voiced as everything they said came out more like a declaration as opposed to a statement. “A simple sentence such as “we cut the cord to-day” took on immense dignity when one of the Scullions spoke it.” and that was how he wanted Beowulf to sound.

The first lines read:

Usually, hwaet is translated in a literary fashion as “lo” or “hark” or “behold.” But in “Scullionspeak, the particle “so” came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom, “so” operates as an expression which obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention. So, “so” it was.”

Two letters. Occasional snarky remarks. All put to rest by a thousand-year-old poem.

I remember red…

When I was younger no trip to, or through, London England was complete without a trip to Fortnum & Mason. There wasn’t a lot there we could afford I would imagine BUT they still, in the 1980s at least, sold red food colouring made from cochineal. And my mom loved it and prized it above all others. I wonder if they still make it?

from the fortnum & mason website

This all came back after I stumbled across this article from the BBC: The insect that painted Europe red. Yep, a cochineal is a bug and an acid in the female is used to make a dye. Originally it was used to colour fabrics, and then paints, and eventually a “natural” food colouring. Natural yes; but still a bug!

Dinner at the Fifth – take two

Sometimes things don’t go as well as you expect. And it really did start out as a first world problem: I was the high bidder on a bunch of restaurant gift cards and experiences at a fundraising event for the National Ballet School.

One of the experiences was a dinner for four at the Fifth Grill & Terrace. I had heard such great things about the food and it turns out Toby sang at an event there once! So we invited a couple of friends to come with us at the end of October last year. And after a welcoming start, nothing went well.

When we got there we were asked for any allergies and how hungry we were. We all replied enthusiastically! We were also asked whether we wanted just a “meat” menu or just a “seafood” menu or a mixture of both. Three of the four of us said a mixture and one said meat. It was a fairly involved conversation.

The first dish was lobster bisque. It was very nice. But we had no idea what it was. Two servers came, put the bowls down and walked away. The same happened with the salad. No description, we had to wave someone over.

Then I asked what beers there were and had to explain to the server that “Granville Island” was a brewery that made several beers and he kept saying the beer was called “Granville Island.” I asked him to go get it for me. You get the idea.

So I emailed the restaurant a couple of days later and set out everything and, after a bunch of emails back and forth, we were invited back to try again. We were all a little nervous but game to give the Fifth another chance. And we are so glad we did!

We went back the other night and the entire evening was amazing; everything you’d expect a chef’s tasting menu to be! The food was fantastic – from a delightful amuse-bouche to that wonderful lobster bisque to an amazing steak tartare with a fried quail egg and possibly the best beef cheek I’ve ever had. And, amazingly, they also added wines to each course for us and accommodated my red-wine aversion with aplomb. In fact I really need to figure out which white Burgundy they gave us. I _need_ that wine.

The service was wonderful, the room is beautiful and the food incredible. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a special evening out.