Cultureguru's Weblog

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

The incredible shrinking vacation


Jean hadn’t had any time off since October, and the last week of April was appearing to be the first opportunity to take some. Clearly we weren’t going to be traveling to any distant shores, but this long enough ago that we at first thought we might be able to visit some family. When doing that started to seem unwise (even despite our vaccination status), it still looked as though we could take ourselves somewhere in Ontario.

And then, given increased restrictions amidst rising case counts, we thought maybe just staying over at a local inn (that has great food, to be served in our rooms) for 2 or 3 nights could be possible.

And then, there was the stay-at-homes order amidst still-rising cases, and the inn moved to offering takeout only, and we thought, well… Time off work would still be nice. We can do day trips to hike. We can get some interesting takeout.

And then…

But I’ll get to that.

Things started off well, as I had some time ago signed up for a virtual wine tasting offered by BC’s Mission Hill winery on the Friday night. They shipped the wine to us in advance, and encouraged us to put together a charcuterie plate for the event. We lazed out on that part a bit, and ordered a charcuterie plate from the local La Fromagerie.

Three Mission Hill wines and one charcuterie board for two

Overall, the event was fun. People joined in on Zoom from across the country. They had a chef going over charcuterie options (a little longer than we would have liked it, but…) and food matching ideas, then a sommelier presented each wine. Which were all fantastic! The Viognier (white) was part of their Terroir collection, single-grape varietals made in very small quantities using the top 3% of the fruit. It was lively, fruity, delicious, and complex. The Prospectus Pinot Noir is normally available only to winery members. It was delicious, everything a great Pinot Noir should be. The Meritage was a Reserve wine, so a blend, also made in small quantities—but not quite as small as the terroir. It was neat trying the very different styles of wine with the various charcuterie board options.

Then on Saturday, we did get out hiking, in Schneider Woods—a place off-limits to us in winter, as they only allow cross-country skiiers then.

And that night we got special takeout from Borealis Grille and Bar. For their tenth anniversary, they were offering a three-course dinner for two, with matching wines. It was the type where you finished the preparations yourself. When we got there to pick it up, they noted that we’d have to chill a couple of the wine bottles ourselves, so they added as a bonus a small, pre-chilled bottle of sparkling rose from Pelee Island, along with some crackers and cheese.

A pleasant start to the evening

Now, we still had the Mission Hill wines available (what, you thought we drank three bottles in one night? We could barely manage three glasses!), so we had those with dinner—except for dessert. But we did try the Charlie Barker “Riesling in a can” (literally) the next day, and it was lovely. And we’re looking forward to trying the Vineland 2010 Cabernet Franc later.

The food was just terrific, up there with the Loloan and Langdon offerings. The first course was beet-cured trout with arugula and fennel salad, served with mustard and crème fraiche.

The main course was sous-vide wild boar loin, with a side of “fat chips” and glazed carrots, garnished with micro greens and chutney.

And dessert was a chocolate ganache in a vanilla tart shell, covered in chocolate soil, blackcurrant leather, and edible flowers. Oh my God! We did open the dessert wine with that, a nice late Harvest Vidal from Vineland.

And Sunday we got in another walk, at the Columbia Forest.

Though this is from another neighbourhood walk, in a different location, on another day… But is still a cool photo

And then Monday.

Without getting into any specifics of what Jean does (or who he works for), there is a healthcare crisis going on, and vacation booked or not, on Monday, he had to help.

And also on Tuesday.

And Wednesday.

Thursday? Bingo!

It hasn’t been a total loss, I guess? He points out that theoretically being “on vacation” meant that he could leave aside some of his usual tasks and just focus on the most important work that needed doing, which was overall less stressful.

We also have been managing to get out for walks during the day. We’re staying awfully local (the incredible shrinking vacation), but still doing some new trails. Petersburg Bush was quite lovely. We tried some other options near Columbia Forest / Schneider Woods, which weren’t quite as nice as those two, but at least now we know.

The neighborhood Pileated woodpecker (photo taken recently, but not this week)

And… We walked to Starbucks. And the library…

And the possibility still looms for another day hike on Friday, though it will be cool out. (Today it is rainy.)

Oh, and Wednesday we got takeout from Swine and Vine—pulled pork tacos. Tonight we’ll try Loloan’s barbecue offering. Takeout from Langdon Hall is booked for Saturday.

But yeah. Overall this isn’t so much a couple’s vacation as me practicing what it might be like to be retired—before Jean retires. (Which is not so bad, actually. Kind of relaxing… Who knew there’s be this much takeout, though!)

4 thoughts on “The incredible shrinking vacation

  1. So many wines, so little time.

  2. It was like watching an episode of “Someone Feed Phil,” except …”Cathy and Jean, before Jean has to leave again!” Good for you two. This too will pass… they keep telling me. Be well!

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