Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Leave a comment

Kinky Boots on Halloween weekend

October 19 wasn’t only Election day, but was supposed to be the day I saw The Who in concert. Said concert had to be postponed until March due to Roger Daltrey coming down with a nasty case of viral meningitis. As it turns out, I was glad to be able to watch the election coverage instead.

But, we were planning to also take in the Mirvish play Kinky Boots when in Toronto for the concert, and that show will not be continuing until March [correction; It’s just been extended til March 6. But that wasn’t true until recently.] So when its tickets went on sale, we decided to do a weekend in Toronto built around just that play.

We often go to Toronto in February, so I kept getting thrown off by the unseasonably warm fall weather. I kept bundling up to go out then getting pleasantly surprised. It was quite the nice weekend.

Winston Churchill statue in Toronto

October 31 also happened to be the day that a J.M.W. Turner exhibit was opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This is a painter Jean is interested in, so we went there on Saturday. We started with a slightly extravagant brunch at their restaurant, Frank.

Lunch at Frank

I had a hankering for sparkling wine, which inspired Jean to order the same (Henry of Pelham’s Cuvee Catherine)…

Then some friends joined us for the actual exhibit, which was handy, as their being members meant we got in free. It was an interesting collection of Turner work—watercolours with an “evocative use of light” that foreshadowed Impressionism,

Dinner was supposed to be at an Italian restaurant called Aria, but they called us Friday with the mysterious news that their building had to be evacuated by 8:00 that night, which might not give us enough time to finish dinner. Though offered reservations at their sister restaurant, it was quite the hike to get to, so we decided to book with Ki Restaurant instead.

We’ve been to Ki a number of times—It’s kind of our go-to before rock concerts at the Air Canada Centre, in fact. But this was our nicest dinner there ever. It was much quieter than usual (I think it’s just more popular during the week), and the waitress was very helpful at steering us toward the best dishes on the menu: Items like maple-tamari Binnaga with pine nuts and wasabi crème fraiche, roasted Cauliflower with sesame tare and shiso gremolata, and Tai with truffle oil and cranberry ponzu. Lovely balance of flavours.

Tuna with maple

One of the amazing Ki dishes

It being a Halloween night of mild temperature, we decided to then go check out the Church Street Halloween party! We were not ourselves in costume, so were merely attending as gawkers. We weren’t entirely sure at which intersection it occurred, and it did turn out to be a substantial enough walk, but there were some pretty creative get-ups. And the crowd seemed to be in a very good mood.

Halloween party on Church Street

A photo of the event by someone else…

We walked back to the hotel on Yonge Street. This featured more of the club-going Halloween crowd, who weren’t quite as cheery as they waited in line to get in.

Sunday, after an overpriced hotel breakfast, we had some delicious dim sum with my sister before our matinee performance of Kinky Boots. Which was a fun musical.

Though I have seen the movie, that was long enough ago that I can’t tell you what was different about the play—apart from the fact that the movie is not a musical. And that both are built around the story of a struggling shoe factory that finds new life in making, essentially, boots for men who like to dress as women. It’s a good cast, particularly the star, Alan Mingo Jr. as Lola, and KW’s own AJ Bridel as the luminous Lauren. It moves along well, driven by the songs written by none other than Cyndi Lauper.

Jean commented, and I agreed, that Charles’ second act outburst, that creates a rift between him and Lola, isn’t entirely believable. It goes a bit too far. Ultimately, though, that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of the whole thing. Something has to set up the triumphant ending.

Halloween 2015

Finally, apropos of nothing, Jean did dress up for a Halloween party earlier in the week

Leave a comment

Wining and dining through three wine regions

All that hiking requires a little sustenance…


Highway traffic was unpleasant on Thanksgiving Sunday, so we diverted through the Beamsville wine area. We attempted lunch at the lovely Vineland Estates restaurant, but it was full. Fortunately I had noticed that nearby Ridgepoint Wines also had a restaurant, and even more fortunately, they had room for us.

Fall leaves

Finally time to stop and enjoy the foliage. (Though, to be honest, these are American leaves from later in the trip.)

It’s not as fancy as Vineland, but we had a nice meal there of squash ravioli and mushroom risotto, respectively, accompanied by meritage and Cabernet franc. (I tried Cabernet franc all over the place on this trip, and can now conclusively state that the Pelee region is really a superior one for that grape.) We did a little wine tasting afterward as well, purchasing of bottle of white Cabernet—something I’ve never seen before.

We’d made dinner reservations at The Epicurean near our inn, and were looking forward to a leisurely meal from their main menu. However, all they had on offer was a three-course Thanksgiving dinner. We masked our disappointment by dawdling over the wine selection, finally picking a bottle of Stratus 2011 San Giovese, which was good. And it turned out that the food was as well. We both picked the ham over turkey as our main dish, and it had lovely smoked flavor and came with terrific sides of green beans and sweet potatoes.

Furthermore, we got our fine dining experiences the next day, first for lunch at the Riverbend Inn, then with dinner at Peller Estates winery. It has a beautiful room, well-trained wait staff, a talented chef, and a menu with suggested wine pairings. We’ve often had the five-course “surprise” menu there, but this time we went with selecting from the menu. After the amuse, I had a smoked salmon and caviar with creme fraiche pearls appetizer, served with rosé. Jean selected their chicken pate served with their delicious ice cuvée (sparking wine with a touch of ice wine).

Appetizer wines at Peller Estates

Appetizer wines at Peller Estates

Jean then had a pasta “interlude”, a course I skipped, My main course was a delicious icewine butter poached lobster, served with Chardonnay. Jean had a bouillabaisse with a Sauvignon Blanc.

We then shared an amazing dessert of chocolate cream with freeze-dried mousse and cookies that was just amazing. And looked gorgeous. Unfortunately, our photos were lost on a damaged SIM card…


We visited two Niagara wineries for the sole purpose of wine tasting. First up was Caroline Cellars, which we’d quite enjoyed a few years ago. This time we were somewhat disappointed. None of the wines we tried were bad, but they weren’t very interesting, either. We did buy their Riesling and a rose, however.

We were more successful at the next, Between the Lines, a new winery whose description I found intriguing. They didn’t have a huge number of wines, but most everything we tried, we liked. And we were the only ones there, making for a fun and informal visit. We bought their Chardonnay reserve, the 2010 Pinot, and the Meritage reserve. And they told us to look out for lemberger grape in the Finger Lakes area… It’s common there, while in Niagara, only Between the Lines works with it. (They were already sold out.)

Finger Lakes

Dining in Finger Lakes started on well on Tuesday, with a lunch at Fox Run Vineyards. They offered wine flights along with cheese platters. We found the Riesling to be the best of the lot, but didn’t purchase any bottles here.

At dinner time, we discovered that a lot of restaurants in this area are closed on Tuesday! We rather arbitrarily chose an Italian place called Jerlando’s which wasn’t too bad, all things considered. Still, the next day we arranged dinner reservations for the remaining two nights here (once I was in cell phone range).

For lunch Wednesday, we aimed for a winery again: a repeat visit to Bully Hill Vineyards, which certainly has a nice location.

Keuka Lake NY

Bully Hill Vineyards view

It’s not a fancy place to dine, but the food is good. With the meal, Jean had an off-dry red that is characteristic of this region, while I tried a Chardonnay-Riesling blend.

at Bully Hill Winery, NY

Jean’s feast at Bully Hill Winery

Our dinner that night was at a funky organic place called the Stone Cat Cafe, near our Inn. (Inn at Grist Iron, which was just a lovely place to stay, by the way. They upgraded us to a huge room with an extra seating area.) They had a band that night, so it was a bit loud, but good food and service. I had a smoked salmon starter, followed by a puttanesca pasta. Jean started with an olive tapenade plate, then had a mac and cheese with duck crumble. (Mac and cheese is really big in these parts… Seemed to be on a lot of menus.)

Our Thursday lunch was in Ithaca, which didn’t have as many interesting-looking eating establishments as we’d hoped. We ate at Thai place that was basically fine. (And didn’t have wine!)

Dinner, though, was at Suzanne’s Fine Regional Cuisine, which has an unusual approach: They offer nothing but a single, set five-course menu for everyone. Your only choice is whether to have the matching wines or not. (You can pick your own wine as well, if you prefer. Or just drink water. That’s allowed, too.) The approach seems to be working for them—we almost didn’t get a reservation.

But the meal there was just lovely. Slow-paced, attentive service, nice room, quiet, and very fine food through all courses. The very handsome waiter also did a really good job of explaining about each wine we got—information about the winery as well as the wine itself—and about the preparation of each course. Next time out, we’re definitely going to have to visit Hector Wine Company, as their Pinot Noir just blew us away. We also quite enjoyed the two types of Rieslings we had.

At Suzanne's Fine Regional Cuisine in New York's Finger Lakes region

Scallops with (just delicious) cauliflower puree, at Suzanne’s

They change their menu weekly, but we got:

  1. Garden Tomato Soup, with Riesling
  2. Scallop on cauliflower puree, with Chardonnay
  3. Duck confit salad (probably the meal highlght), with Dr. Konstantin Frank (more on him later) lemberger red
  4. Coq au vin with Pinot noir
  5. Apple tarte tatin with a side of cidar and cinnamon ice cream, with Reserve Riesling
Dessert three ways

Tarte tatin like you’ve never seen it before! I wasn’t pleased with this at all! :-)


Dr. Konstantin Frank is one of the oldest and most renowned of the wineries of the region. When we got there on this trip, we recalled that we had stopped in here before, but had left because the wine tasting lineup was so long. That wasn’t a problem this time (on a Wednesday); we were ushered right in to start a tasting.

And we were glad we did, because they do make some fine wine here, and it’s not that expensive. Each person gets to try four wines in either the dry or off-dry style; Jean and I split up the options so we could try everything. They have really good sparkling wines, made with Chardonnay or Pinot or both, and quite a few good whites, especially. As it wasn’t that busy, they also let us try a few more afterward, including their lemberger.

We bought four bottles here: a Chardonnay-based sparkling, a barrel fermented Chardonnay, a semi-dry Riesling, and a Gewurztraminer.

Wine glass reflections

Had enough wine yet?

The other winery we made a point of returning to, a different day, was the one we’d regretted not buying from last time: Chateau Lafayette Reneau. We wondered if we’d like as much as the previous time—especially after Dr. Frank—but we did! Here you have to pay a bit for your tasting, but you can select any five you like from a list. They were pretty much all good, even the off-dry red made from concord grapes (the same ones you get in Welch’s grape juice).

But conscious of the import wine limits, we bought just three bottles here: A Pinot Noir rose, a Cabernet Franc, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. (These guys, as you see, were a little stronger on the red side.)

Prince Edward County

We had no trouble with the wine at the border stop on the way back into Canada, just as the Niagara wines were no issue on the way out. But it was nice, for this last part, to not have to even think about it anymore.

Though we didn’t take the pictures to prove it, we very much enjoyed our first dinner in these parts, at the Merrill Inn in Picton. It was a cozy, pretty room offering nice, quiet dining. I started with pickerel cakes and aioli that had this beautiful, light texture. They offered wine matching; that course came with a semi-dry Riesling. My main course was rabbit ragout with spatzle, that was very flavorful. Served with a Cab Franc. (Told you I tried that everywhere.)

Jean’s main course was a pretty spectacular gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles, served with Pinot noir. Sadly, we weren’t hungry enough for dessert.

Fancy dessert

Not from the Merrill Inn (could it be Peller?), though it could have been, theoretically…

Getting away from Wellington the next day was a bit challenging, as they were having a big pumpkin festival and parade! (Which explained the lady dressed as pumpkin in our cafe that morning. We’d thought it was a bit early for Halloween.) But once we did, we went over to Bloomfield to visit a shop that carried a whole lot of cheese from all parts of the world. Any of which you could try. We ended up with quite a stock.

Our final trip dinner was at East and Main, in Wellington (where we were staying). It’s fairly casual, crowded, and therefore somewhat loud. The food is quite good, though, with a focus on local ingredients.


Between the lack of border concerns and the area not offering as many alternatives, we visited more wineries here than in other parts.

Wellington, Prince Edward County.

Pretty Prince Edward County. Mainly, we were here for the wine. (With a side of cheese.)

Karlo Estates Winery was the first target, as we’d quite enjoyed a previous visit there. They did as good job this time out as well, offering bits of matching food with each wine we tasted. We were surprised to discover they grow a lot of their grapes in the Niagara region. We tried about seven wines here, and bought four of them–an unoaked Chardonnay, a Sangiovese, a petit verdot, a barolo, and a port style. They were quite delicious, though I would note they were also notably more expensive than ones we’d bought elsewhere.

We then asked for suggestions of which other places to visit, as the number of wineries here is pretty extensive. They suggested Traynor, just down the street. That was a nice stop. The winemaker was there, explaining his process. It’s a small operation with only a few wines. His Sauvignon Blanc was delicious, very much in the New Zealand style. We also picked up the Alta Red blend, with the idea of letting it sit for a bit, as it tastes a bit young now.

.He then suggested Stanners Vineyard for their Cabernet Franc, but they were sold out of that. We tried their oaked Chardonnay, but weren’t really into it. Their Pinot Noir was nice, though, so we bought a bottle of that.

Lunch options were a bit limited, so we headed to Norman Hardie for pizza. We weren’t the only ones with that idea; it was a zoo! But they had a nice, app-based system for notifying you when your table was ready, and we only had to wait about 15 minutes. The wild mushroom pizza was quite delicious, as was Jean’s glass of Pinot Noir. My Cab Franc was just so-so.

Norman Hardie sign

Not our photo, but Jean did mean to take one like this…

Our last wine-tasting stop was at Hinterland, where they make nothing but sparkling wine, using both the traditional and the charmat method. We came away from there with a Riesling-based sparkling, reminiscent of France’s Crémant.

So yeah. We won’t be needing to hit the LCBO for a while. Indeed, we have a bit of wine storage issue right now… Time for a party?

1 Comment

Three recommendations

In no particular order… But brought to you by the letter C.

Chef (movie)

This Jon Favreau movie (he stars and directs) is about a talented chef whose restlessness with the owner-imposed constraints of his restaurant come to a head in spectacular fashion when a prominent food critic gives him a bad review. In the aftermath, he starts a new chapter of his life—in the unlikely confines of a food truck.

This movie features three things I love: well-prepared food, travel, and Twitter! And they’re all wrapped up in a funny and endearing story, chock full of great actors in parts big and small. I didn’t buy that—even with his great cooking—Jon Favreau’s character could attract not only Sofia Vergara but Scarlett Johansson, but I’ll forgive him that, as I found everything else so wonderful.

Available on US Netflix (among other places, I’m sure)

Chef trailer

Catastrophe (TV show)

CatastropheAfter a hookup that leads to a week of wild sex, irish teacher Sharon is horrified to find that American Rob has impregnated her. So the two make an attempt at having a real relationship despite the challenges of immigration visas, unsupportive family members, dubious friends, and the health problems that can occur when a 42-year-old gets pregnant. Fortunately, they really like each other…

This is one of the funniest series I’ve seen in a long time. Often crude, but we’re all adults here, aren’t we? And it was nice that the backbone of the series was a couple who are growing in fondness for each other in the midst of considerable craziness and stress.

Also great, in the world of “peak television”, was that this series has only six episodes, and each is only about 25 minutes long! Mind, it did end on a bit of a cliffhanger. But apparently season 2 is on the way soon.

Available on Shomi (Canada), Amazon (US), and BBC4 (UK)

Cabernet Franc (wine)

Sometimes, when at a winery tasting, you get caught up in the fun and excitement—and the effects of alcohol—and you buy and bunch of bottles. But when back at home, with the daily grind, you open them… And you can’t remember what the big deal was. They’re fine, but kind of meh.

Well, that just hasn’t happened with wines we were most impressed with on our Lake Erie winery trip this summer: the Cabernet Franc. We’ve by now had one bottle of the Aleksander (2012) and one of the Cooper’s Hawk (2013) and remain rather wowed by both. Fruity, delicious, vanilla accents, maybe? But not overwhelming. “Can be eaten with food.” Thing is, I don’t remember Cabernet Franc being such a wow grape. Has it improved, have my tastes changed, were those just especially good years?

At any rate, if you’ve been dismissive of Cabernet Franc, you might want to give it another whirl.

Leave a comment

Guanaquita! We tried something new

Guanaquita is a Salvadorean restaurant. The second and fourth Tuesday of every month they have a salsa night. Friends of ours suggested we go check it out.

It was our first time for Salvadorean food—we couldn’t tell our papusas from our pastelitos. Fortunately, the waitress was helpful in guiding us through and pointing out the most popular options.

Salvadorean food is something like Mexican; indeed, part of the menu was “Mexican with a Salvadorean touch”. Jean and I shared the Guanaquita platter of pork papusa (a stuffed, Naan-like bread); zucchini pastelito (similar, only deep fried); a chicken enchilada, and corn tamale (corn in a soft tortilla-like bread). That was actually a one-person sampler ($10.95), so we also shared Mexican pork enchilada entree, served with rice and beans ($8.95).

Food of El Salvador

Picture of Salvadorean food taken by someone–not us

It isn’t gourmet cooking, but everything was quite good, really. They said they made it all fresh and we believed it, as it took a good hour to get our food! In the meantime, we enjoyed the decent bottle of off-dry Pinot Grigio ($28) that we shared.

Then it was time to shake our booties. It started with a lesson in a Latin dance called, I think, the Kizomba. To me, it seemed similar to the Merengue. He started by showing the basic steps to everyone in a line. (We missed some of that, as we were finishing dinner.) Then we paired up to learn a couple’s routine.

Keep Calm and Dance Kizomba

(Or whatever the heck dance it actually was!)

At first I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the instructor’s plan for us to move around the room, switching partners til we danced with most everyone. Did I mention that one of the moves involved the guy raising your arms above your head, then sliding his hands down your arms (which you have raised, at this point), your sides, and onto your hips?

But I decided to get with the program—it didn’t hurt that there were a number of young and frankly quite good-looking men participating. (There were also a good number of people our age and older, so didn’t we feel like we had crashed a university kegger or anything.) And it was interesting to partner with people of such varying skills: those counting the steps out loud, the many staring down at their feet —contrasted to those who actually knew how to lead!

The instructor was quite good, though, and whatever the level each person started with, it seemed that everyone could keep up, basically.

Then it was lights down, music up, and time for free-range Latin dancing. We learn some styles as part of ballroom lessons, but this place offered a wider ranges of beats, so we had to improvise on that. Some people were really good! One guy asked me to dance while Jean was settling the dinner bill, and he was an effective enough leader that I could pretty easily follow even though it wasn’t in the dance style to which I was accustomed. (Though it did seem as though that song went on forever… Maybe it was a medley of songs.)

The place was very hot (temperature-wise I mean, this time) on this steamy September night, and it was a school night, so we didn’t stay out that late. But we had good time. Good enough that we’d like to try it again sometime…

1 Comment

Recipe: Roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Though yesterday’s supper featured pork chops (certified humane raised) in a buttery, wine shallot sauce, Jean declared that the vegetables were really the highlight of the meal. Quite easy to prepare, and Ontario broccoli and cauliflower are in season now.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

  1. Toss 750 g broccoli and cauliflower florets in 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. Roast on a baking tray at 400° F for 20 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the zest of ½ lemon, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, 2 Tbs. each extra-virgin olive oil, Parmesan, hot water, and chopped toasted pine nuts. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Toss with the roasted florets.
Roasted brcccoli and cauliflower

Not our photo! But a reasonable facsimile.

Recipe from the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Newsletter. Their recipes are nearly always excellent.

Leave a comment

Three cities, three suppers, one price

“What? Where is this place?”

Timmins, Ontario is not exactly known as a fine dining destination. So when jean posted photos of us eating items such as lobster bisque, caprese salad, rack of lamb, and crème brulée, some of the locals couldn’t believe the meal was had in Timmins.

Rack of lamb at 1800

Rack of lamb

Creme brulee at 1800

Amaretto crème brulée

The restaurant is relatively new. It is called 1800 Restaurant, and it is located in the somewhat tired-looking Ramada Inn on Riverside. (When we went for dinner, the hotel seemed eerily quiet, as though almost no one was staying there.) But they’ve done a reasonable job of sprucing up the dining room, even if the cushioned seats were a bit low for the vertically challenged.

And the food was… pretty decent, actually. Jean’s lobster bisque had a good base, but was too salty for our taste buds; it might have been fine for some people. Caprese salad is admittedly an easy dish (as long as you have good tomatoes), but some restaurants still manage to get it wrong. This one didn’t. Our dining companions seemed to enjoy their appetizers of seared scallops and fried rice balls, respectively.

As my main, I had pickerel almandine—pickerel being a local fish. My brother reported that on an earlier visit, that dish had been too salty. They have rectified that problem. My only issue was the lemon seasoning not being applied consistently to the fish, so in some spots being too intense. Overall it was still a good dish, though, with crisp vegetables and mashed potatoes. (Will note that one diner judged the mashed potatoes too dry, but I was fine with them—matter of taste, I guess.)

Seafood cappelini and goat cheese at 1800

Two people had the seafood cappelini with goat cheese, which was quite nicely executed.

The house-made desserts of creme caramel and creme brulee, each infused with a different type of alcohol, were successful, the brulée slightly more than the caramel.

The service was acceptable, but by no means fine dining levels. For example, the bottle of German Riesling we ordered (just $35) was opened for us, but not poured. Just plunked on the table. That seemed really odd. And getting our bill at the end took ages—a good 45 minutes after we were done—as staff kept disappearing into back rooms. Our waitress was perfectly pleasant all evening. But the service was just… not refined.

Still, I do hope this place survives, particularly if they keep improving, as they seem to be.

On our drive back from Timmins, we stayed in the sleepy town of Singhampton and dined at Haisai. We’ve been to Haisai several times before, but hadn’t been for dinner in several years. All the dim sum items available at lunch are also on offer for dinner (though the wood-burning oven pizzas are not), but since we’d already tried a number of those, we decided to go the more traditional appetizer / entree / dessert route.

Jean declared his zucchini soup the best ever and—I can’t remember what my appetizer was. But I’m pretty sure I liked it as well. They had only three entree items on the menu. I went with the white fish, while Jean had the suckling pig. Both were well-prepared, seasoned, and arranged. Delish, For dessert we shared the peach and almond tart with chantilly cream.

Suckling pig entree at Haisai

Our mains at Haisai, as always built around local ingredients

Talking with Hermann Stadtlander, restaurant host, we found out that the future of Haisai is somewhat in doubt. Several of the kitchen apprentices are moving on, and Hermann himself is off to apprentice in Europe for about a year. So it’s far from certain that the restaurant will even be open this fall and winter.

Le sigh.

My hairdresser had mentioned a new restaurant called Fork and Cork that she thought was downtown Kitchener. When I looked it up, though, I found that it was actually on Weber East, near Fairview Mall.

But it sounded kind of promising: Chef trained at Stratford cooking school, with past experience at Toronto’s Buca, offering a menu with a focus on local foods. So we rather spontaneously decided to go eat there on Friday.

The place was larger and busier than we were expecting. It also had those wonderful open ceilings that make rooms noisier than they need to be! Yay! Jean described the overall atmosphere as somewhat industrial. (Nice detail, though: They seem to have their own water spritzer, so you can get carbonated water without paying San Pelligrino prices.)

But they do know how to cook here. Jean continued his soup run, and declared the corn chowder with pork hocks the best he’s ever had. (That’s two “best ever” soups within two weeks, if you’re counting.) I had the lamb skewers, which were nicely seasoned and cooked. It is a bother to have a pull meat off sticks, though.

Best corn chowder I've ever had :)

Fork and Cork appetizers

We are all about the pasta for our mains. Both the spaghettoni with braised duck leg and the ravioli stuffed with peas and goat cheese were pretty amazing, really. And the Italian ripasso we picked out went well. (They have quite a few local wines also, and pretty reasonable prices—many bottles around $40. The ripasso, at $62, was one of the most expensive.)

Main courses at Fork and Cork

Not sure what I’m pointing at here…

The only slightly disappointing item was one of the desserts. The peaches with ginger ice cream and sesame brittle sounded great in theory, but the ingredients didn’t work together in practice (though they all tasted fine on their own). The flourless brownie was just delicious, though.

The service was good, our waitress attentive and knowledgeable. The pace of the meal was a bit fast, though. Each course came out a bit more quickly than we were expecting—albeit never before we were done with the last. So this is no place for a long, leisurely romantic dinner or catch-up with friends.

My title says one price, which is a bit of an exaggeration. Of course the totals of each meal weren’t identical, but they were all in the same ballpark for two people, three courses, one bottle of wine (likely the biggest variable). The totals for each including tax and tip: 1800 was $162, Haisai was $176, and Fork and Cork was $185.

Leave a comment

10 things we learned on our Civic Holiday getaway

Mettawas Mediteranean Grill, Kingsville Ontario

Mettawas Mediteranean Grill, Kingsville, Ontario

  1. Even at fairly late date, it’s not that hard to get a hotel room in the Leamington / Kingsville area for the August long weekend, and they accept one-night stays.
    However… when your hotel says it has free wifi, that doesn’t necessarily mean said wifi will actually work. (Too bad, as otherwise we have no complaints about King’s Hotel, which had nice rooms, was a good deal, and conveniently located.)
  2. M.E. and Suzie’s, a wonderful restaurant in Port Stanley, has closed.
  3. The restaurant now residing at the former M.E. and Suzie’s location has some of the worst food we’ve ever had. The lowlights were the supposedly “lighly breaded” smelts that actually were deep-fried mush and the “pork” dumplings that contained something brownish that didn’t really look or taste like pork.
    The highlight of that meal was the wine. (Malivoire “Guilty Man” white.)
  4. Aleksander Winery is fun to visit. They don’t really limit how many wines you can taste. You can opt to have cheese with your wine. (Jean filled up on that after our poor lunch.) The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. And the wines—pretty good! We ended up buying a case of various types. The highlights were:
    • Chardonnay Barique, an oaked Chardonnay that didn’t taste very oaked. It improved as we tasted it. (And it was the first one, so drunkenness wasn’t a factor in our judgment.)
    • Charmbourcin, a less-common, light red wine that originated in France, but isn’t much respected there. Very food friendly.
    • Baco Noir, full-bodied and delicious.
    • Cabernet Franc, lighter than the Baco, heavier than the Chambourcin, and well-balanced all around.
  5. During this last tough winter, Aleksander Winery lost 90% of its grapes. So don’t look too hard for their 2014 vintage in the future.
  6. Cooper’s Hawk winery is also pretty fun to visit! It was busy when we got there so they took longer to get us set up with wine, but then were quite friendly and knowledgeable and not too strict on tasting numbers. We had been here before, and found they were still really good with their off-dry whites. We left with several types of those: a Gewurtz, a Riesling / Gewurtz blend called Touché, and a Chardonnay Musque. But we also quite liked their Cabernet Franc, and the Pinot  Noir Rosé that our server confessed was a really hard sell for them. “People just don’t like it!” It is very dry, which might not be what people expect in a rosé, but I think it’s going to be fabulous with food.
  7. Mettawas Station in Kinsgville is, fortunately, still a good place to have a meal. Very casual, but nice pastas with fresh ingredients, and a decent list of area wines by the glass.Eyeing my Gnocchi!
  8. Thunder can be so loud it rattles your hotel room. The #onstorm that hit KW earlier arrived after midnight there, waking us with a start.
  9. Mango Rock Cafe in Kingsville is great place to have breakfast. Very friendly staff and quite decent, creative cooking here, like whole-grain pancakes with glazed walnuts and steamed apples. Yummy coffee also.
  10. Kingsville is kind of far. It’s a good three-hour drive. It’s really too far to go away for a one-nighter. Be a good destination if you can spare two nights, though. Then we would have had time for more than a brief look at Point Pelee National Park.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 302 other followers