Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Um, hello

Friday, October 18th, 2013

to the three people who still have this in feed reader, etc.

It’s been almost a year since I posted, and I’m making no promises, but I may have something to say in the next while, so I’m dusting off the site.

What I have I done in a year?

Some travel for work and for pleasure: to Italy, Denmark, England (below), and I’ll be back again to Denmark again before the end of the year.

As usual, some work got done around the house. The backyard is a work in progress – trees gone and fence is the next step. Also put in a new front door, that makes an awesome noise like a Star Trek door but smells faintly of petrochemical caulk (Dad only likes the old school stuff).

Went to 4 Stratford plays this year. Absolutely loved Waiting for Godot, and gained a crush on Scott Wentworth playing Jewish icons (Shylock, Tevye).

Saw Neil Gaiman give a reading, which was very cool.

Lots of meals with lots of lovely friends. Launched a huge project at work that ate up most of the summer (that wasn’t so nice). So much more that won’t be chronicled here.

In any case, we’ll see what happens :)

 

Straightup KW: Tequila!

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

It’s been a while since our last Straightup event (and since my last post), so it was great to get back to it last week. David Yoon is one of the Straightup hosts and he was our tasting guide this time around for tequila.

I don’t know much about tequila, except it pays to pay for the good stuff (as many a girls’ weekend has taught me). But this was the really good stuff, some of which you can’t get in Canada.

Tequila

Our selections for the evening

Our first bottle was Milagro Reposado. This one smelled the most like “tequila” – a bit of oil, with some vanilla and wood, though, so already I was in different territory. It also had the oiliest mouth feel, but an interesting briny/mineral finish.

Next was Tres Generaciones, an old family recipe of the Sauza family, as the name implies. It was a clear tequila compared to some of the others we tasted, and it is not casked in oak barrels. This one was my favourite of the bunch. Nice taste and very smooth.

Partida Anejo was really interesting. I pegged the aroma of this one as a cactus wearing nail polish, which doesn’t sound good, but it was. Taste was definitely of agave and bourbon with a light wheat colouring and long finish. This one is casked in Jack Daniels and that bourban taste came through for sure.

Then came Riazul Anejo, which is hard to find even in the States. The aroma on this one was of candy canes, or cotton candy or something, which was quite strange for a tequila. And it tasted sweet, which was also quite strange but very pleasant. Like a dessert tequila, should you need one.

It was interesting to hear about Lowland and Highland bottlings and the caskings, just like with whisky, and David assured us that tequila drinkers are happy drunks, so there’s that.

The venue this time around was at Center in the Square and it was perfect for the occasion. Every time we do one, I get excited for the next one. Who knows what’s next – sake?

Or maybe “quirky”

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

The other night, Melle and I attended a lecture by Robert Wittman at KW|AG in support of his book Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures. Wittman is a pretty jovial speaker for a FBI guy and he did a great job of getting in plugs for the gallery, the local police services, and his book, of course.

You could hear the collective gasp of horror when he showed us a priceless wooden tea caddy from the Penn family that was unceremoniously dumped in the river and lost when the “mastermind” asswipe who stole it got nervous and told his girlfriend to dump the goods.

Before I got there, I was playing TV ping-pong between Buffy “Pangs” and the Brier (that’s curling, folks) and was really torn on which thing was more exciting even though I’ve seen “Pangs” about 10 times now. “A bear. You made a bear!” “I didn’t mean to!” Seriously, if you aren’t laughing at that, you are a cold, cold person. Plus, Canadian curling championship which is chess on ice and you won’t tell me different.

It was a 10/10 entertainment experience in one night. If I could have worked in the Perimeter lecture as well, it would be an 11.

Upon sharing my delight at the TV choices, Melle said she worries about me sometimes, but I know she means that in the best possible way ;)

Though if I’m looking at the dating pool, this may be a telling sign as to why I’m single. Not *everyone* would think Buffy, curling and stories about art theft and recovery, with a wishful thought towards a physics lecture makes a good evening, but I think it makes me interesting. Or something like that…

Wherein I got to do a scotch tasting

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

At our latest Straightup KW, I was the taste host for “The Isles Have It”.

We came full circle this time – back to the KW Art Gallery and back to scotch. MamaPapa Catering provided fantastic food that was well-matched to my final selections:

  • Tasting #1: Tobermory 10, served with maple roasted walnuts with black pepper and orange salt. The nuts and salt brought out the nutty and spring mint taste of the scotch, with a bit of the sea creeping in on the finish.
  • Tasting #2: Ardbeg 10, served with panko crusted sea scallop with bacon shallot relish. Seriously, these two things are a culinary delight. The Ardbeg is fantastically balanced even though it’s the biggest peat going, and the scallops gave it a mellow sea salt, leather wonderful finish. There were also trout rillettes alongside. Taken all together, one of the best pairings ever.
  • Tasting #3: Highland Park 15, served with slow roasted pork belly with honey gastrique and cranberry fry bread with triple cream brie and apricot ginger chutney. Highland Park is famous for its heather honey smoke and the pork served it really well. Highland Park 12 is many a person’s standard scotch, so the 15 was an interesting step up on the palette – very alike, just more so.
  • Tasting #4: Bowmore Darkest 15, served with a dark chocolate ganoche wifth sea salt and a sprig of candied orange. And let me tell you, that orange/salt/choco combo send the Bowmore to new fruity depths. Especially the orange.

Alongside the tasting notes, I had a chance to tell a few tales about the Isles of Scotland where these whiskies came from. I think everyone enjoyed the legend of the Selkies (from the Orknies, where Highland Park is) – most likely cuz it’s about seduction, of course.

The gallery exhibit that we toured comprised of some interesting installations on loan from the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Since many of the installations are to do with sound and light, the gallery itself was dark. I think the interrogation glass cube was the favourite, but there was also a cool lightbox presentation of bugs that caught my eye.

This was a great experience for me – I like scotch a lot, but I’m no professional, so the research and taste pairings were a lot of fun. I enjoyed the process of finding out more about the whiskies and the isles and the legends that go with them.

 

Bring back the funk

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

He’s small, genius, and a lover of spandex and heels. It’s Prince!

We saw the 2nd concert at the ACC last night and it was fabulous. No openers, just Prince, the backup singers, a drummer, a keyboardist and a bassist (who also came out to do some singing), and his guitar (that he insisted on introducing to us when it was brought on the stage).

Prince with sparkles

Stage is former known as, sparkles falling from the rafters

And you know what? At the age of 54, the man still has the pipes, the moves and the musicianship. It was a totally FUN kind of vibe–he seemed really relaxed and he was very engaged with the audience. Came out swinging with “Purple Rain” right off the top, which got notoriously reticent Toronto butts out of the seats and then kept it going from there.

He played a lot of the hits, and in Princely fashion, reminded us several times that he had a lot of them (174 I think he said :)

The backup singers did a stellar gospel version of “Arms of an Angel” by Sara McLachlan while he was offstage, presumably for a costume change, of which he had many. We wondered if they picked this song for the Canadian tour, and maybe did another one in the States.

There were some amazing guitar solos and drum solos in the middle of songs, and he kind of medleyed up some groups of songs in some really cool arrangements. Also, we got the Prince version of  ”Nothing Compares 2 U”–very gospel funk and very good. He was definitely in a funky mood, in fact–his cover of “Play That Funky Music” was an audience favourite, as was the funk beat in “Controversy”.

However, for MY money, the absolute BESTEST part of the show was the second encore: “When Doves Cry” on the piano, basically him playing and the audience singing the whole song, and then “Kiss” which is my favourite of all Prince songs. He teased us with the riff a few times and I was a little worried that we were only going to get that, but nah, he made my dream come true.

Check this one off the bucket list. If you get a chance, go see him. Definitely a great show.

 

Whiskey

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Our second Straightup KW event – the Great Canadian Whiskey Tasting was a most excellent night. We had it at the Clay & Glass Gallery this time around and the theme was Canadian Whiskey (duh).

Gord Tanner was our tasting host, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter was evident. He opened with a kind of “shout it out” poll on our favs – quite a few 40 Creek fans, one or two Chivas guys, but no one with the guts to mention CC (though we did refer jauntily to our collective experience with replacing pilfered CC with tea during the teen years). Gord talked about mashes and coopers and oaks and such. He was entertaining and passionate about his subject.

Of the four whiskeys, my favourite was the 40 Creek Confederation Oak (one of a very few whiskeys done with Canadian Oak), but the Alberta Premium 30 year-old was probably the darling of the night — my second choice, but first for many of the people there. The Alberta Premium is a 100% rye mash, which is actually very unusual, for a drink that is regularly called “rye”.

Wiser’s Legacy was the first one we had, and it really set the tone for “old school Canadian whiskey”. Gord says it’s made from an original recipe. It definitely was voted “most likely to go well with mix”, not because it was bad, but because it had that mixy kinda taste.

The last whiskey we tasted was the Crown Royal Cask 16, which is a special release from the new master blender over there. The Cask 16 has a cognac finish on it, and though it was the most expensive one of the bunch, it definitely wasn’t the most popular one. …Until people got hold of the apricot puff pastries with whiskey glaze that Steph from Little Mushroom Catering served as an accompaniment.  Then all of a sudden the world made sense.

In fact, the food was delicious. Splendid cheese selection, cheese-wrapped meatballs in a 40 Creek glaze, really yummy-spicy chicken skewers with avocado puree, this smoked salmon & wasabi cream thing that people attacked AND grilled asparagus with proscuitto & mango. Bonus points awarded for Steph’s inspired choice to put some Hickory Sticks out, cuz, really, could it be more Canadian rec room?

The gallery exhibit was a look at Mother Nature, and her complete disinterest in the arc of human existence. Seems a weighty subject to approach with glass art, but there were some interesting pieces. Several of us got a bit mesmerized by the changing rings of colour and fire in the “round room” (and it wasn’t the drink).

Plans are afoot for another event in the Fall. Bourbon, anyone?

40 Creek Confederation Oak

40 Creek Confederation Oak

And then we drank

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Fabulous time had by all at our first Straightup KW event–a scotch tasting at KW Art Gallery. Little Mushroom Catering provided some fabulous food to go along with the scotch presentations led by Matt Howell, a local brewmaster and scotch expert with training in Edinburgh.

My able and affable co-host was Daejin.

It was a bit touch and go as to whether or not we would get our quota of 30 people, but in the end, we did, and it was an excellent mix of locals, and a few Brantfordonians! I was totally thrilled that there were several women as well.

We got some great feedback, and already have a tasting menu in place for our next celebration–Canadian whiskey, anyone?

Here’s the write-up: http://www.straightupkw.com/?p=15. You’re all invited.

Good tips for a girl’s weekend

Monday, February 28th, 2011
  1. You can’t have enough cheese. Smoked. Onionized. Tart. Sweet. Spicy. Eat it all.
  2. If you have really good tequila, you can get through three bottles in a weekend with no hangovers (and if you do have a hangover, it’s most definitely the beer’s fault).
  3. It’s more likely that you can sing karaoke to a Yiddish folk song well, than, say, “Barracuda” by Heart.
  4. Dogs don’t like karaoke.
  5. Put a bunch of software/marketing types together and you can have a business plan inside 2 hours for a “party in a box”.
  6. Always make plans for some sort of physical activity then start drinking too early to actually carry them out. You still feel virtuous.
  7. Girl’s weekends should be mandatory at least semi-annually.

On friends

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

You know you have great friends when you ask them to wish you luck and they don an assortment of lucky charms, necklaces and underwear in your honour.

Intense. Spanish. 263.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Jean screwed up his schedule so I got to be his last minute replacement to accompany Cathy to an evening with Daniel Levitin and the K-W Symphony.

Part of the Intersections series, Beethoven and Your Brain is a collaboration of music and commentary — I think coming out of a long-time conversation between Levitin and Edwin Outwater that resulted in Levitin’s book, This is Your Brain on Music. And we used clickers!

Basic premise of the evening was that these two exchanged some banter (fabulously stilted as they read from the scripts) and then Outwater and the orchestra played a bit of Beethoven’s 5th to help us notice a pattern or hear an emotion and so on, and then Levitin would get us to answer a multiple-choice answer and/or told us a bit about how the brain processes music.

The Overture to Egmont op. 84 was the intensity and the Spanish. Apparently, Beethoven was trying to impress a count and was referring to Napoleon but somehow Spanish influences were involved. In any case, most of the participants got the right answers.

Then we followed the bah-bah-Bah-bah of the overture and we had to count how many times the pattern showed up (263), and again, most people were pretty close. They also showed how most of us know pitch, even if we think we don’t, by playing the opening in different keys and asking us to pick out the right one, and I think 97% got that one right.

Then we got to sit back and just enjoy some music for a while, made especially awesome by the presence of my favourite tiger bassist.

A very pleasant evening.