Tag Archives: Wine

A Cure For Last Night

An amazing display on my way home from a great day wandering Toronto

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my friends Lorna and Rick – correction, Dr. Lorna1 and Dr. Rick – become Dr. Lorna and Dr. Rick, married couple. While both of them looked absolutely fantastic – she stunningly breathtakingly beautiful, he tall and handsome – the best part would have to have been the way they both lit up when they looked at each other.

The ceremony was short, included some tears, but was filled mostly with laughter and fun. Kudos to the couple for dropping an awesome high-five when the vows were completed.

The reception was held at Hernder Estate Winery, and it was absolutely beautiful; great atmosphere, fantastic food, and of course some delicious wines to sample. Thirty different types to be exact. And sample we did. I particularly enjoyed the Riesling, but there were some reds that seemed to be popular at our table as well.

Given all of the liquid courage, the party went late into the eve. The dance floor was full, the music was fantastic; at some point glow sticks made their way onto the dance floor. The party was definitely worthy of a wedding celebration.

And then I woke up this morning. Blargh. While I wasn’t terribly hungover, I was definitely feeling the effects of drinking too much. I was sluggish, my stomach was doing a most unfortunate dance, and my muscles were rather sore. Oh, and then there was the dehydration. I couldn’t drink enough water this morning.

Glow sticks. Every good wedding needs glow sticks.

Fortunately the weather was amazing, so after lazing in bed for an hour or so hoping my hangover away, I got up, had a really hot shower, and then got ready for my day. My mission – head into Toronto before coming home to Guelph2. The purpose of my mission – there was none. I was just going to store my bags at the bus station and wander about. And that, dear readers, is what I did.

I arrived in Toronto shortly before 2pm, ate some food, drank some more water, then got myself a walking coffee. A walking coffee, for those not in the know, is any coffee that you get to go, for the purposes of strolling a city on a beautiful day such as today. And today was a walking coffee kind of day.

I had no particular goal in mind, no particular thing I wanted to see. I simply wanted to wander and people watch3 and perhaps just breathe in as much of the beautiful autumn air as I could. To be honest, with every breath in I started feeling more and more human and less and less like the hungover zombie I was. Every exhale seemed to remove a tiny bit of the poisons I’d pumped into my system the night before.

It truly was a fantastic day to wander around Toronto.

And now I’m home and relaxing with the wee fuzzball – thinking how full my weekend was. I really am a lucky bastard.

1 The recently minted Dr. Lorna!

2 As there is no direct bus route from St. Catharine‘s to Guelph. Unless you call driving to Toronto first direct.

3 People such as the preachers and prophets preaching about Jesus or Islam or any number of other religious views. I believe on one corner there were three separate groups for Jesus, and I’m not quite sure they were all preaching the same thing. When asked if I wanted a pamphlet about Christ – which I turned down – I was promptly told that I was going to burn in hell. I simply smiled – chuckled actually – and carried on my way.


I’m Suddenly Craving Wine

I may or may not have told my students today that I enjoyed playing with this corkscrew as a child, because I thought it looked like E.T. doing jumping-jacks. True story.

Today was day 2 of teaching CIS*2170, also known as User Interface Design. Honestly, it was even better than day 1. I’m having so much fun teaching this course. Perhaps too much fun. Maybe I should pretend that I’m not having fun lest someone decide that I’m having too much fun to get paid. Because I’m having so much fun, I can’t believe I’m actually getting paid for this.

Perhaps the honeymoon will end soon. I hope not.

Today we discussed the evolution of form despite function remaining constant. I decided that the best way to demonstrate that was by bringing in several different types of corkscrews. Apparently I have a collection of them. I’m not sure why I have a collection of them. It’s not like I’ve actively sought out these particular tools. I just do. Don’t read anything into that.

An old-time-y corkscrew. This one makes it more of a challenge to get to the wine. Perhaps all the extra work makes the wine seemingly taste better.

The point is that they all perform the same function. That is, they allow those of us that require a thirst quenching glass of the vino access to the container that houses that sweet, sweet adults-only grape juice. Sure, some corkscrews come with a few extra bells and whistles; such as the additional functionality of beer-bottle-opener (praise the designers for that added B&W), or possibly a fancy blade to slice through the wax or other sealant that protects the cork.

Despite essentially the same functionality, some corkscrews are better designed than others because someone out there realized that the old-time-y cork screw just wasn’t good enough. I imagine the levered varieties were developed because someone was trying to open a new bottle, having already consumed the first, but was too drunk to get enough force behind them to open it. Then, in a drunken stupor a bolt of inspiration hit and the levered corkscrew was born.

I love this corkscrew. So smooth. It helps me get to the wine faster, and with less effort.

The good thing is that the students connected to my stories (which included the evolution of the corkscrew, selecting a Calorie counting app, and a discussion of not knowing how to wash my hands because a sink was poorly designed – at least to me – who may have been under the influence of several beers when trying to use it).

It’s easy to tell when the connection happens. The students are more animated in their responses, they contribute more (sometimes a lot more than what I might expect), they laugh where I hope they will laugh, and they ask questions. A lot of good, well thought out questions. And they engage in debates with each other.

And this is why this class has been so much fun. I really hope that I can keep this energy going, because it’s awesome.

Anyway, moral of the story: I’m pretty sure my class thinks I’m a drunk.

Note: corkscrews are not the only way to get to one’s wine. There’s also this way:

Adventures In Gastronomy

All those glasses of wine were mine.

While I have spent the last eleventy-billion days writing about my recent trip to New York, I’ve failed to adequately describe the portion of our trip that would make any gastronomist jealous. That of course, was our adventure in food. I can say without a doubt that there is just so much to try in NYC, one could never cover it all. Granted, we gave it the good wholesome college try.

Our breakfasts included stops at Good Enough To Eat, Crumbs, and a random Irish Pub whose name eludes me. I opted for traditional irish oatmeal at Good Enough To Eat, a non-dairy cupcake at Crumbs (also known as the breakfast of champions), and the most perfectly poached eggs I’ve ever had at the irish pub. All were quite delicious, but I’m pretty sure that I slipped into a sugar coma after the cupcake. I honestly couldn’t eat it all – it was just too sweet.

Lunch at the Habana Outpost - fish tacos, Diablo chicken, and roasted corn on the cob.

My favourite lunch was definitely at Cafe Habana. Traditional Cuban food, a great environment, and did I mention the food? I had the Diablo chicken, while Steph and Gerarda both opted for the fish tacos. They also enjoyed a Cuban version of corn on the cob – roasted, with mayo and cheese. I am assured it was worth the clogged arteries. Of the lunch places to go to in NYC, I highly recommend this one. It’s the original Cafe Habana, and the one that spawned the Habana Outpost in Brooklyn – the same Cafe Habana that I was introduced to by my friend Mark during our visit last year. Seriously – you really need to go to this restaurant. Phenomenal.

This is about midway through dinner. Clearly I'm feeling no pain.

There were several dinners that require mention. First was the Argentine restaurant (Sosa Borella) that I chatted about here. I had the ceviche, and really would love to go back to try their other food. It was one of the better ceviches that I’ve tried. The atmosphere was great; probably a great place to spend a romantic evening with a loved one.

The next dinner that requires mention was of course the visit to Maloney & Porcelli’s for the weekend wine dinner. I started my meal with raw oysters, then followed that with rack of lamb. Finally, dessert included home-made fig newtons with amaretto and a coffee. Clearly that is more food than I can eat in one sitting, but I did the best that I could. The dinner was also paired with four wines: a bubbly, a very nice Chardonnay (which I’m not normally a fan of), a Cabernet Sauvignon – which I didn’t try, and a really delicious Malbec. Sadly, I didn’t get the name of any of them. Likely because of all the wine.

Chocolates and martinis at Ayza

Finally, there was the dinner at the Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar – a restaurant with a name that we couldn’t resist. The restaurant specializes in wine, and chocolate obviously, but also in other things like cheese, and martinis (as if this wasn’t heaven enough for me, what with the wine & chocolate, they also had to throw in martinis?) I thoroughly enjoyed a really delicious smoked salmon tartine, paired with a chocolate almond martini and several dark chocolate chocolates. Be warned however, the serving sizes here were perfect for me. That is, I actually ate an entire meal! This clearly means that the servings are on the smaller side. But fear not, what they may lack in size (for some) they more than make up for in flavour. On the bright side, the meals definitely leave you ample space in your belly to sample the various chocolates; which I have to say were some of the best I had on the trip.

Of course, the trip also included multiple other chocolate stops that I’ve previously mentioned, as well as random coffees here and there. And there was a requisite visit to The Dead Poet so that I could continue on my quest to drink 100 pints of Guinness (item #185 on my Not-So-Bucket-List).

Amazingly, despite all of the food and beverages consumed I’m pretty sure I didn’t gain any weight. I bought some new pants from Hugo Boss and still comfortably fit into a size 28. I assume this is related to all of the walking, and the fact that I didn’t actually consume a large quantity of any one thing – just tastings of as much as I could.

Anyway, I’d love to say that it’s nice to be home and back to my regular food schedule, but honestly I miss New York and I can’t wait to go back. But don’t worry folks, that’ll be sooner rather than later.

Péché De Gourmandise Tastes So Good!

Steph and me being, well, Steph and me.

Monday in Montreal was fantastic. Steph and I woke relatively early in order to work on a project that we hope we’ll be able to submit for peer review and publication in the very near future.

Amazingly, the apartment we were staying in just so happened to have a blackboard. Clearly, the gods of math and stats wanted us to work. And we did. After some initial discussion regarding the general project outline, Steph gave me a bit of a refresher on survival analysis. You see, while Steph and I both have PhDs in Statistics, she focussed on survival analysis, while I focussed on spatial analysis. Thankfully, having worked together for so long, and having taken an interest in each other’s work, we aren’t complete n00bs when it comes to what the other is doing.

But enough about that nerdery.

Following a morning full of getting our nerd on, Steph, Jamie, Kathy, Jon and I headed out for lunch. After a short adventure on the Metro, we made our way to Limon, a most awesome Mexican restaurant.

My glass is no longer empty. Hurrah!

Given that the weather was sunny and beautiful, we had hoped to have lunch on the patio. However, being full we opted for an indoor sit down and a pitcher of sangria for which to drown our sorrows. Appetizers and mains were ordered, and we then past the time chatting and laughing, as per usual. Having a small appetite still, my appetizer was shared with Jon – calamari. Simple, but delicious. It also came with a sauce, but it looked to be full of dairy so I bypassed that. I also may have stolen a few of Steph’s corn chips and guacamole. And can we talk about the guac? Holy cripes on a cracker that stuff was AWESOME. Refreshing and light, just enough garlic, and so good it may have demanded that I steal more. Demanded I say.

At first I was torn with what to order for lunch, as everything looked so good. But then something jumped out at me and everything else faded from memory. The attention-grabbing foodstuff was, in fact, ceviche camarones; shrimp, cooked with lime juice, and served with cilantro and oh so refreshing. It was also served on avocado (which in my opinion was a brilliant way to serve it) with corn chips. I definitely squeed when I tried it. It was light, and refreshing. The citrus and cilantro complementing each other perfectly. I think it may have also had a slight sprinkling of sea salt on top, but that might have been the salt flavouring from the corn chips. Regardless, the combination of flavours was excellent. My taste buds and my belly were very happy.

Patron XO Cafe. You should buy this. DO IT.

After lunch, Jamie recommended that I try the Patron XO Cafe on ice. It’s tequila, but with coffee flavours infused within it. If you like Kahlua or Tia Maria, I guarantee you will like this. In fact, I enjoyed this so much that I immediately jumped on the LCBO website to figure out if they carry it. And they do! As for Jamie, she gets +1000000 interweb points for that recommendation.

We wandered the city following lunch so that we might walk off some of the food that we just ate. We all felt painfully full. We also headed to the market so that necessary supplies could be picked up. Supplies such as cheese and fruit.

Eventually we made our way to the Latin Quarter and ultimately to the Sainte Elisabeth pub, which has one of the best, most unique patios I’ve been on in a long while. We sat there for a few hours chatting, laughing, and drinking a few pints, all while surrounded on all sides by the high walls of the whatever-the-building-used-to-be. I think it was probably a factory or old apartment building, but I’m honestly not sure. The walls were almost overgrown with ivy, making them appear alive. Ever time a breeze came through, the walls would respond as if they were breathing. Amazing. The walls also served to keep out the noises of the city, creating a rather sheltered spot for which to enjoy the day, and the company.

This wine surprised me. At first, I wasn't a huge fan, but it went so well with my venison that I'd definitely get it again.

There was a quick return back to the apartment where we enjoyed some bad TV together, and then we were off again. This time for a late dinner at La Salle a Manger. In a word – unfreakingbelievalable. Dinner was amazing. It started with an appetizer of oysters and some sparkling wine, followed by a sweet bun stuffed with pulled duck. My main was venison steak with mixed veggies, and that was paired with a very light red wine. On its own, I wasn’t overly impressed with the wine, but served with the venison and it suddenly changed. It was light, but the perfect accent for the richness of the meat. Honestly, it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time, and I highly recommend anyone that is in Montreal to check this place out. The service was great, the environment was awesome. I’m going to make sure to return when I’m next visiting the city.

Once dinner ended, we sauntered back to the apartment, very full, and very happy. Steph and I stayed up chatting until the wee hours of the morning which is why my early morning wake up to fly home was less than awesome. Regardless, it was so worth getting to spend time in an awesome city, with great friends, great food, and most importantly, a chance to see both Rick and Steph in one weekend. Amazing!

Thanks Rick and Steph for an awesome visit. And thank you Kathy, Jamie and Jon for introducing me to so many great new restaurants. Hopefully next time I won’t have to leave so early.

Note: I believe that péché de gourmandise translates to the sin of gluttony

A Banquet Of Nerds

So where did I leave off? I think the last we spoke I was describing the joy that was presenting at the SSC on Monday.

Anyway, since then I have attended several more talks. I think the two that had the biggest impact were not statistical in nature. Instead, they were talks about funding opportunities. That is, talks by NSERC and Mitacs. Thanks to both of these talks, I believe I have the necessary information to put together some seriously awesome grant applications. I may also try to recruit some colleagues so that the applications are just that much better.

After the talks, I wandered the town with Almost Dr. Lorna. We ventured down to the red mud; part of the Bay of Fundy. A few obligatory plank and jump shots were captured for all eternity, and then we met a little fury friend. Following that, we stopped off at a local art shop, and finally grabbed a coffee before proceeding to the Annual General Meeting of the Biostatistics Group of the SSC. Good times. Good times indeed.

Regardless, the conference hasn’t been all nerd-related talks and an orgy of statistics. It has also been a lot of fun. Tuesday night was no exception, as that was the night that all the stat nerds let their hair down to celebrate our common interests. That is, we came together to celebrate the past year at the Old Orchard Inn for the SSC banquet. And as usual, the banquet was awesome. It probably didn’t hurt that each conference attendee had a free drink ticket. It also didn’t hurt that each table had 4 bottles of wine. And it really didn’t hurt that the waiter kept bringing us more wine as he realized our table was one of the only tables drinking wine (I’m so proud of Guelph).

Needless to say, the banquet was great. The food was awesome, and there were several awards handed out to outstanding new statisticians, and to other statisticians that had contributed in some way over the previous year.

After the dinner, some of us decided that we needed to venture to Paddy’s for a night cap. Clearly that was probably not the best idea, but we went anyway. Some guy who went by the moniker of BLUE (best linear unbiased estimator) decided that we needed to drink scotch. I did not object. That was likely dumb.:)

Ultimately, it ended up being a great but late night. Fun was had by all, especially those of us that didn’t need to present the following day :)