Photos By Winemakers Fighting Mid-May Frost





Some amazing photos came out of last night’s efforts in nearby Prince Edward County with the risk to early tendrils which will, with luck and skill, become the vines that make the grapes that make the wine. The photos above are from a collection posted on Facebook by Norman Hardie, makers of excellent pinot noir loved by Joe Beef which means likely enjoyed, in turn, by Mr. Bourdain. And me, of course. Three degrees of vineous bacon… or beef… or something. Below is a shot posted on twitter by Harwood Estate in the western end of the county.


What is going on? Bales of hay are lit when the temperature sneaks down towards freezing in the spring when the buds have just opened or in the fall when the grapes are just about right. The smudgy smoke takes advantage of an inversion layer holding just enough warmth to push up against the dropping cold. I think. See, I learn about stuff like this from the internets. If twitter is to be believed, success all around on the ground with the cold beaten off.


As Pleasant A Snow Day Lunch As Ever I’ve Had

Ron as Švejk caught in a beam of angelic light.
My favorite place to have a beer is a block from work and two from my folk’s place. Today, during today’s Snowmageddon, I looked outside at noon, then looked at my workload and realized an impromptu declaration of a half day vacation was in order. Five minutes later saw me within minutes stomping my snowy boots and brushing off my coat in the vestibule of the Kingston Brew Pub. I’ve been going here for coming on 20 years and love the place. Owner Van was settled into the corner of the bar. I joined him to chat and also try Beau’s Dubbel Koyt released today. Helping them brew the 1500’s gruit beer was something of Ron Pattinson‘s, as illustrated on the day, gift to Beaus for bringing him over for last fall’s Oktoberfest as the Vassar was mine, Craig and Chad’s… and Ron’s.

Like their Vassar with it’s unexpected mango tastes, the Koyt was surprisingly moreish. Slick even to the point of glycerol, I have yet to have a gruit beer until today that managed to place the herbal counterpoint as neatly in the back as this did. Honey and mineral tones in the front end reminded me of Mosel in a way. Others at the bar took tasting glasses on offer, too. With a well hidden 6.8%, the beer went down well with a strip loin and arugula sandwich.

Towards the end of the pint, I was reminded by something that Anders Kissmeyer, traveling Dane about the fest, shouted out at the end of a seminar at the fest. He said that there was no chance that the Vassar tasted anything like a beer from the lower Hudson Valley in the 1830s. Likely true. The same is likely the case with the Dubbel Koyt as well. The techniques and equipment used by Beau’s are too fine. The malts and gruit employed too well made. It’s all phony fun after all. This age’s consistency and top quality are something of a curse to the culinary archaeologist whether looking back to 1830 or 1530. But what can you do?

But does it matter? Never had a pale beer made with 50% oat malt and 20% wheat malt before. If something in the past inspires that experiment, why not? After all, it’s just a bit of relief here in the deep end of winter.

Garden 2012: Been Away And Back And What Survived?











The drought has had its effect. Something of a shut down by the onions. A refusal to go on. Squash and zucchini did not make it for a couple of reasons well studied already. But the leaves are booming. I have two sorts of mustard green as well as beet greens, red and green oak leaf lettuce as well as spinach. The salad bowl is full nightly. Beans boom. We are between flowerings so may well be looking at a late August harvest mirroring the mid-July one. A second planting of peas is taking off, too. Basil is booming. It will be pesto week. Collards have formed a blue green wall. All but two of the grave vines have excelled. Location is everything apparently. Having a yard full of berries now makes sense. There is nothing wrong with a yard full of berries. The rabbit has taken up residence. Were this 1870, he would make a swell stew along with the purple and yellow carrots. Starting to think about next year already. Five month to seed catalog ordering you know. Soil will need shifting, too. Much depends on soil quality.

Friday Bullets For Vintage Base Ball Weekend

It’s Sacket’s Harbor weekend and we are past the point of no return. I think I the team will actually have enough players and, except for playing from 10 am to 2 pm in the 90F heat with 100% humidity, it should be great. I will park on the bench. Shouting things. Waving my hands at outfielders who ignore me. I may chew on a cigar but all of mine are Cubans. Filthy habit anyway. Bought some before the RMC game and couldn’t give them away. Shared on a few nights later and felt like crap the whole next day. What the hell has happened to me?

  • Why does some kid blowing of his job warrant 1,295 comments? 24 year old quits job hardly deserves that kinda attention. But maybe there was an earlier post I missed – 23 year old slacks off at work.
  • A greed. fancy schmansy tiny portions are pure evil. “Would you like some more?” is not.
  • Best description of Harper I have ever seen – he’s a centrist like 80% of Canadians. The power of the centrists is so strong is makes conservatives and socialists think they are in charge. Mental mind control of their brains… that’s what’s going on.
  • PEI is spending $500 per person to bring tourists there. Think of the underlying economic policy thought that requires. Even HB weeps now.
  • I love the beer nerd as record store clerk circa 1982 imagery. The slight rush when the guy taking your paper money nods in approval at your purchase. “Their best album… definitely under rated…”

There. Another week gone. Summer. Steak tonight. Bad banjo playing by the pool as I sip Belgian beer. That’s what I’m talking about.

Friday Bullets For Tra-la It’s May!

I was not so much in a production of Camelot as I was part of the production. OK, I raised curtains. I sat in a closet for a week’s worth of evenings when I was 14 and raised curtains. But I heard the “tra-la, it’s may song” more than most humans have and I really don’t mind it that much. I bet Iggy is saying tra-la this weekend. It is sort of like listening to Robert Goulet, so manly and mapled. By the way, when preparing for a conference I spoke at this week, I was quite pleased to learn that, no, I did not have a head shot for the materials. Why do people lean at a 17% angle for promotional head shots?

  • I am not sure whether buying a bit of Chrysler is a good idea for us all. I mean, I have not been in one since the old Dodge Diplomat died around 1993 – no, not true – I drive an inherited van here in 2003 before trading that in at Ford.
  • How to deal with invasive species – eat them. Shows them who’s top of the food chain.
  • I had no idea that the Edwards Opera House was so close. Now that I have a passport I may nip over for a bluegrass Saturday night sometime. Which reminds me – we are weeks away from the Watertown Wizards.
  • Stephen Fry on something other than Twitter – thinking about himself at 16.
  • Ted Reynolds, CBC 70s and 80s sports reporter and part of my youth passes away.
  • Why isn’t PEI just a column in the paper every day like “your daily smile” except it would be “look what happened in PEI today!” and it would have a story like this one about the Environment Minister telling everyone how great it was when he was a kid and dynamited beaver dams. And they sell citizenships for profit, too!
  • The season finale of Private Practice last night was the worst hour of TV ever but it was like watching a shopping mall burn – can’t stop staring as careers are destroyed.

That is it. Vintage base ball tomorrow. A three team event, too. We even have hats this year. And I will be sporting a hurlihee and a part well to the side. Huzzah.

A Trip To The Snowy South

A few months to go yet.

A nice bomb down to the great state of Ithaca where we had diner at Moosewood with Gary and Maude as the greatest Charlie Brown snow in history fell outside. I wanted to sing “Hark the Herald” to loo-lo-loo-lo-looooo as roundheaded cartoon kids skated. We split a jug of draft Cascazilla which was entirely the right drink at the right time. The Ithaca Holiday Inn has solidified itself as the place to stay. We are down in Ithaca there a lot and others have thrown everything from the hallways that smell like a nursing home, to a “pool” that was about 15 by 22 feet, to that light that flashed all night, to the other pool with the green water and the sandbars forming naturally in the deep end. Go with the Holiday Inn. Room 265 works for kids if you are not in the Room 1000 bracket.

We ended up at State Diner on, no question appropriately, State Street and had a great breakfast. We often end up at Ithaca Bakery for breakfast where I have a bagel with sprouts, guack and a formed veggie patty so between that and Moosewood I have to make sure I balance my man-drum pretend-Ithacan with my townie pretend-Ithacan. State Diner can do that for me now. I eat corned beef hash and poached eggs but only on the road. This was a good one. Solid move on the toast as well with 3 slices per order and a light touch on the butter. But it was butter. Coffee is better at the Ithaca bakery but not by much. The staff are kind and helpful at both.

Next time, we hit the Shortstop Deli.

Fire At 9:00 PM

I just took these images from the roof of our building looking east to the other side of the City. I have not been able to find any local news service this Sunday evening to find out what is going on. I would estimate the fire to be at least 5 km away so it is pretty big.

Update: it was the reed march at the river on fire according to reports Monday morning.





And here is the article in the Whig:

Kingston Whig – 30 May 2005 “Firefighters suspect arson in massive marsh blaze”, by Ian Elliot

Firefighters suspect a major fire that burned a huge swath of the Great Cataraqui Marsh was deliberately set. Kingston firefighters were initially called to a large and fast-moving blaze just east of Weller Avenue right before 8:30 p.m. While they were battling that fire, which appeared to have started near the shore and burned out in a concentric ring, another blaze started about a kilometre north of the original fire and burned its way northeast towards Highway 401. “Field mice don’t usually carry matches,” observed Kingston Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Les Meers dryly after the second blaze broke out.

Kingston Police Staff-Sgt. Greg Sands said last night the fire will be investigated, although no one was in custody last night. “There were reports that two youths were seen running from the area shortly after [the fire] and that will be investigated,” he said. There were no reports of property damage as winds blew the fire away from the shore of the Cataraqui River. Nearby homes are protected by the CN Rail track which acts as a firebreak. “The winds were in our favour this evening,” said Meers. “They were blowing east and pushing the fire towards the river.” More than 20 Kingston firefighters were called out to fight the fire yesterday evening and it had been largely extinguished by press time. Several firefighters were to have been posted on the scene overnight to guard against flare-ups. Much of the firefighting was done by crews with backpacks holding several gallons of water, which they refilled from a tanker some distance from the fire. As the fire spread, they tapped into a hydrant on Shaw Street and ran the hose through a trench they’d excavated underneath the railway tracks. “It’s something we don’t like to do, but we have to,” explained Meers.

The fire was intense, and people watching it from their back porches along Montreal Street said, at its height, they could feel the heat from the flames on their faces from a distance of several hundred metres. The fire also drew hundreds of curious spectators, who clogged area roads and bridge overpasses that offered a view of the fire. A number of people also drove to a quarry on Highway 15 in the former Pittsburgh Township that offered a panoramic view of the marsh. There was a street-party atmosphere at the scene as people brought babies in strollers and carried digital or video cameras to snap pictures as the massive blaze spread. Cars also slowed or pulled over on the shoulder of Highway 401 to watch the fire burn and Kingston firefighters were ready to close that stretch of highway if the fire drew too close and interfered with visibility. Train traffic was slowed but not stopped as crews fought the fire. Several slow-moving trains passed through the area during the fire, with passengers on the trains pressing against the windows to see the blaze, which shot flames and embers 10 metres high at its peak and whose plumes of smoke could be seen for miles.

Bystanders lined the tracks and had to be shooed off by police and firefighters as trains passed through the area. The fire department has a boat but didn’t call it out last night. The fire department has been called to the marsh a half-dozen times already this year as a lack of rain has left it tinder dry, but yesterday’s fire was by far the largest this year. The marsh burns regularly in the spring and fall. While the spectacular fires rarely threaten houses, they do pose a threat to the phone lines that run along the east side of the tracks. They weren’t damaged in last night’s fire. In 1995, a particularly large fire destroyed 250 hectares of marsh and burned for almost 24 hours.


Line Up For The Photo!!

....must grill...must...grill...

On Saturday afternoon, the four year old cousin had her birthday. Lots of family photos. Many Canadian men begging for grilled meats causing much shovelling of snow from around the gas BBQ at brother-in-law’s.

March is clearly the snakey, cabin-fever month after the glum of February. The maple syrup shacks are opening up in defiance of both Lent and winter, making the first agricultural crop of the year, boiling tree sap down something like 1/20th. Through the spring the sugars made by the tree shift from the first light runnings to dark.

As it roasts, baste a leg of lamb in dark maple syrup after poking it full of garlic and rosemary.

Winter Harbour

I snuck up to the top of the dome this morning and got this shot of the harbour. To the right is one of a set of Martello towers built to guard the opening of the Rideau Canal from the US navy. The headland across the water to the left is Royal Military College, a military university, with Fort Henry, our historic British army fort, on its own separate point of land behind. Wolfe Island is entirely hidden on the horizon by the lake effect clouds, no doubt getting a dump of snow. Lake effect snow is a conveyor belt picking up moisture out on Lake Ontario, dropping it downwind a few kilometres later at first landfall.