Garde Manger – For Starters…..

“Keeper of the Food” is the meaning behind Garde Manger. Chuck Hughes and his team sure know how to do justice to simple ingredients by turning them into a  tasty delectable feast at this inconspicuous yet now infamous Old Montreal establishment

Cocktail du Jour – Lemonade with lime, cucumber infusion and Hendricks.

Apps : Lobster Poutine – sublime and decadent ; Salt-cod fritters, crisp on the outside, soft and tender on the inside ;  Jerk Crab – finger licking spicy/ sweet goodness ; Salmon Tartare – fresh, with avocado, crunchy lemon croutons and delicate herbs.

(a memorable meal, shared with memorable company, on a memorable day , July 12th, 2012)

© 2012 Ann Ivy Male

A Taste of Wine…

Crisp,racy,buttery,fruity,peppery,like petrol,grassy and oh so sweet. There are many ways to describe a wine and to each palate there is a different analogy. I like the scene in the movie  Sideways when Maya thoughtfully describes her glass of Pinot – wondering what the day was like when the grapes were picked , was the sun shining, whose hands touched that particular cluster of grapes that were then  crushed and left to ferment, in aged wood barrels, in dark,damp cellars. The experience of tasting a wine appeals to your senses –  Sight, lifting the glass up to the light, taking in the slight variations in colour from one red or white to the next. Smell, closing your eyes and inhaling the aromas that fully infuse the glass and then your nose. Touch, holding the stem of the glass, twirling the wine inside, letting the thin, cool glass rest on your lips as you sip. Taste, taking that first sip, swirling or perhaps, slurping and gargling the wine in your mouth so every part of your palate is awakened. Hearing – the descriptions of each individual sharing that same bottle of wine.

Wine tasting is an appealing way to get outside on a beautiful Fall day, to explore the character of the different vineyards, to meet the winemakers who work so hard and are truly passionate about their craft and to learn about the different grapes and wine-making techniques – this however, in my opinion, is not an activity to take too seriously though, it’s about being with good friends, sharing a laugh and taking the time to savour life’s simple pleasures….like……the aroma of a chilled Riesling reminding one of a soggy, canvas shoe that had been left to dry in the sun after a long day of picking grapes in a muddy, earthy field of dirt and clay.

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An autumn afternoon in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada :

Our tour started at SouthBrook Winery – Contemporary building, great lines, graphic plantings, gorgeous table for tasting with beautiful views. Poetic vintages – lovely poetry by Canadian writers on their bottles.

Five Rows Winery – Started with 5 rows of vines, rustic barn, warm, comfortable, picturesque, great aroma, built with pride and love. Very cozy table, chunks of Parmesan and earthy crackers, full reds and dessert in a glass Ice-wines. Lovely mother who described her son’s wines flawlessly.

Between the Lines – Simple, knowledgeable, passionate  young winemaker and educator. Truffles that burst in your mouth filled with Cabernet Franc Ice-wine.

After all the wine-tasting, we stopped at the Stone Road Grille for a bite to eat.The restaurant is very nondescript  from the outside and is easy to pass over but trust me – you want to dine here ! As you enter and pass through the dark curtained entrance-way, look up to find the flying turkey. The restaurant’s atmosphere is quite eclectic: gold-framed mirrors and whimsical artwork hang on the deep,cherry red and grey walls. Booths are covered in funky dotted fabric and invite you to relax and take in the vibe. Among the items we chose to sample was a velvety parsnip soup, mussels and frites (they were served in terracotta flower pots), steak/frites, creamy mushroom risotto and heavenly,warm chocolate mousse cake with salted caramel ice-cream,topped with sponge toffee – I would go back for dessert alone!

Check out the website for details.

© 2011 Ann Ivy Male

Spirited Manitoulin Island

“Manitoulin means spirit island in Anishinaabemowin (the Ojibwe language). The island is considered sacred by the Native Anishinaabe people, who call themselves the “People of the Three Fires.” They are generally known as the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi tribes.”

I have been visiting Manitoulin Island, the jewel of northern Ontario, for more than fifteen years now. Every time I visit this magical place, I come away feeling an overwhelming sense of peace and energy. Many people are not aware that Manitoulin Island is the largest island surrounded by fresh water in the world – it’s a quiet place with many rivers flowing through it and, the most scenic view of the North Channel is from the rocky Cup and Saucer trail. Every August long week-end, the First Nations reserve of Wikwemikong hosts a Pow-Wow. It’s a spectacular display of multi-coloured tribal dress, drum beating to mimic Mother Earth’s heart beat,ceremonial dancing, local crafts, a Sweat Lodge and traditional foods. The beach at Providence Bay, cools down the spirit as the sun, bright,bold and orange disappears behind the horizon.

© 2011 Ann Ivy Male