What is better on a slow summer Saturday afternoon waiting for the Yankees to face the Red Sox, a BBQ pork shoulder slowly sweating away its fat, than a tale of shadowy intrigue, corruption and Bulgarian beer?
The prosecutors will probe now if Borisov has obstructed a Customs check in Mihov’s “Ledenika” beer factory and evidence of trading influence, Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Borislav Sarafov told “Sega” (Now) daily. He says Borisov, Tanov, and former Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, who is mentioned in the conversation, will be questioned. Until now the authorities limited themselves to searching for the person who leaked the recording, which was made with Special Surveillance Devices, SRS. 47-year-old Mihail Mikov was the owner of the three Bulgarian breweries, (hence his nickname “Misho Birata” – i.e. “Misho the Beer”). Mihov was also head of the Bulgarian Basketball Federation since 2008 and the Honorary Consul of Brazil in Varna.
Now that’s some old school brewing industry influence and skull duggery going on. I hope you didn’t expect any particular insight beyond that. And who could want more? A Bulgarian body. An allegation of an injection simulating heart attack. And three breweries. It’s like an eastern European version of Murder She Wrote. Where is Angela Lansbury when she is needed?
Another great day in the nearby setting of Prince Edward County. We left the house around 10:30 am and returned at seven having hit a cidery, four wineries, a cheese maker, two beaches as well as a BBQ smoke house on the way home. Highlight? I ate goat milk strawberry ice cream with chèvre chunks built right in. Less buy in on that treat with the older kids but the six year old gulped it back happily. Family: those who scorn your habits… with the evidence to back it up.
Needless to say the stash is tightly packed. I dropped into Devil’s Wishbone at the north-east of the county again, this time for a couple of their Rieslings and a 2010 Pinot Noir. The vines above are the same ones seen nicely sleeping last January. After dropping the others at Wellington Beach, I bombed through what might just be the greatest trio of wineries up a back road in Ontario. First up 2.5 km out of the village was Karlo Estates, new to me but immediately exuding a welcoming comfort in the re-purposed barn. I found a straight up petite verdot called 5th Element, a Bordeaux inspired blend name of Quintus as well as their 2010 Pinot Noir.
Sooner or later I am having a Pinor Noir fest in the back yard. Chatted a bit and learned that their Riesling is made withe grapes from Devil’s wishbone. Best in the area I was told. Next, I got on to the Chase Road and headed north. I wanted to visit Lacey Estates for their Gewurztraminer as well as another Pinot Noir. Had a quick chat with an owner and the wine maker. I was on the clock but very cheery folk. Last, the most excellently named Closson Chase which sits at, you know, the corner of Closson and Chase roads where I picked up a couple of their County grown Chardonnay as well as, yes, a Pinot Noir called Assemblage. More Pinot Noir.
Living so near hitting the County hard at least a couple of times a year is becoming a habit. Most of today’s finds will sleep for months and maybe years for big dinners and family gatherings. Took a heard look at a lot of small older back road farmhouses along the way. Could do worse than a cottage in wine country.
Just so you can plan your Father’s Day shopping for 2014, the book contracts have been confirmed with the publisher History Press, aka our reputable publisher. Never thought I’d have one of those.
And, as befits a birthday, it has a name: Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay. I noticed something about the name. It goes against the regular direction of things. The general theory goes that Ontario grew east to west. But it really grew west to east after the last Ice Age, then later south to north with the Five Nations and their neighbours, then a blip in the east with Cartier… but then north to south-westish with Henry Hudson followed two generations later by the first outposts of the Hudson Bay Company, then a blip in the far east with Lasalle and Frontenac followed by then a little continuing action at the very southwest across from Detroit until the Loyalist surge south to west at Niagara along with south to north along the St. Lawrence, then very far east to west after the War of 1812 and west and west and north and north-west and west until… now.
Better get at it.
So, there are beans. A patch of soldier beans from Johnny’s seeds that should flower and pod, then fade and die before any are picked. Dried beans for winter to be slow baked with molasses and bacon. Bombastic bowel-tastic beans waiting for an evening with Hockey Night in Canada as a blizzard howls outside. The bok choi and mustards have flowered with the advent of heat. The lettuces are still coming on with new sowings. Grapes are looking very good as is the tower of potatoes. There are hundreds of sugar snap pea pods waiting to be picked now. The lad ate a raspberry from his own property today.
More seeds will be planted before work this week. Tender carrots for September and October need to get in the ground now. You mail order seeds in February to plan for spring. You sow seeds in July planning for autumn. It’s never about now.
A puzzle. As has been noted, Jordan and I have accepted the offer to co-write a book on beer and brewing through Ontario history. It is part of the series put out by The History Press series on regional brewing histories. Which leads to lots of questions. Like… how does one write a history? But that is a big question. A more specific question is what was the first beer consumed in what is now Ontario. One candidate is the beer found in the hold by the mutineers of Henry Hudson’s ship in 1610 who set poor Captain Hank and a few others adrift in James Bay and then set to ripping the Discovery apart as recounted in 1625 by one sailor who was present:
…there were some of them that plyed their worke, as if the Ship had beene entred by force, and they had free leaue to pillage, breaking vp Chests, and rifling all places… In the Hold they found one of the vessels of meale whole, and the other halfe spent, for wee had but two; wee found alſo two firkins of Butter, some twentie seuen piece of Porke, halfe a bushell of Pease, but in the Masters Cabbin we found two hundred of bisket Cakes, a pecke of Meale,of Beere to the quantitie of a Butt, one with another.
The trouble is that while it is clear that the mutiny was in James Bay but not clear that the mutineers drained the beer at or near the western half of the bay’s shore line that later becomes Ontario as opposed to Quebec. They do keep the eastern shore in sight on the way home after they abandon Hudson and the others left to their own devices. But that was after they gunned the beer. Where did they do that? Such problems I have. Well, not the sorts of problems these lads me but, you know, modern problems.
Did I write wrong up there? I meant “western” or at least “other” I suppose. Having a house emptied by the call of a cottage as I stay home to work next week, I needed something to do. And I had a bit of business to take care of with Jordan. That thing I didn’t get into any details about a couple of weeks ago. Book deal. Or rather a “promise to write a book” deal. We had to sign some papers and what better way to celebrate than a short tour of some beer spots around his hometown.
Once I got to the hotel, I got directed out of the downtown that I am most familiar with to head out in a taxi, past the protesting Egyptians at the legislature, around the mass of celebration that was the PRIDE event and north to The Rebel House, a pub celebrating its 20th birthday this year. I found Jordan out back in the beer garden. Well, he called it a beer garden but I would have called it a back patio. Which was about the only point over the next six or seven hours that I did not raise with him. I deeply don’t care about the difference but wonder why I think things like that. I had tweeted as I drove west that I wanted a Left Field Eephus and the spot was picked well as it was in very good shape for a dappled table in a backyard on a perfect June afternoon. I am not used to Toronto being this pleasant. At this point of the afternoon I attributed it entirely to the gem of a drinking spot.
Finished up and then jumped into a taxi for another flying trip back south to the Queen and Beaver on Elm off Yonge for a few more pints and a bit to eat. I was there by myself back in late 2009. Supper ended up bring a variety of minor cuts of meat. Cured and dried lamb, ox cheek and deviled lamb kidney that Jordan reported gave him dreams of zombies. Note the action photo of beer nerds at a feeding to the upper right pausing not to pray but to take digital photos. I suspect the great moral order gave him nightmares for that alone. The best thing – or a best thing – was the dimpled mugs of County Durham ale, the quiet capable and utterly unmarketed brewer to the west of Toronto. Black tea hopping did a great job cutting the rich bits of mammal and the accompanying sauces. Quiet downstairs as the place was packed watching the fitba upstairs. First time I encountered one of these, too.
After dinner, we marched south down Yonge through the PRIDE celebrations during which I realized what was going on in my mind. Toronto did not smell Toronto-ish. With so much of the downtown shut to cars and with it being Sunday not to mention one free from the heavy heat the city gets in summer, well, all the towers were washed with cool sweet lake air. One last stop at beerbistro! where a third local Ontario ale was the focus, Peterborough’s Publican House Square Nail pale ale. We passed on the Baladin investment opportunity as I suspected the owners might have wished they had. Baltimore slapped the Yanks on the big screen behind the bar.
On the way home, I hit Churchkey 40 km north of the 401 picking up a White IPA and a few strong brown ales, then carried on to Sharbot Lake for a few packs of bacon and sausage at Seed to Sausage apparently in celebration of my ale and meat themed trip. Or thus themed life. Drank many ales, ate many meats. Call the headstone carver.