Sunday, April 29, 2012

Montreal or Bust... (Day ONE)

      So have you been looking for a getaway that takes you to a place that makes you feel like you must have spent a thousand dollars on airfare.  Welp you dont have to spend all that money to fly, just take a long weekend off from work and hop in the car with your favorite person and drive through the majestic white mountains...over the green hills of Vermonts Northeast kingdom and cross that border !  From there you will enter into North America's little version of France... following Autoroute 10 Ouest (west) yes everything including traffic signs switch to French... dont be scared though we didn't speak a lick of french and did just fine !  It amazing how far a nice smile and a head nod will go !  Anyhow we found the trip quick and easy without hitting any traffic as we chugged along the Canadian autoroute that was packed with farmland on both sides of the road... no sprawl ?  Huh... Anyhow we arrived at our destination Le Centre Sheraton right in the heart of downtown Montreal. We found the room via hotwire and it only cost about $90 a night... here was our view:

the hotel was clean and well represented with a very well spoken English concierge, that was a great help to get us where we wanted to go with the quickest and cheapest method.  We left Portland at 8am and ended up arriving at our hotel around 1:30pm... we kicked back and relaxed for a couple hours because it was going to be a late night.   You see the main reason we planned this trip was because Cognizant Sound had booked a gig, thanks to Geofferson and Alpha D, at Le Code Bar.  Anyhow we jumped at the chance to play an international gig but after a little research we realized last call in Montreal is at 3am... hence the "gonna be a late night" !  So after putting away our luggage and cracking open a bottle of Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Reserve...we decided it was time for a walk around the city to catch our bearings... we put quite a few miles on our feet heading up Rue Sainte-Catherine down through china town and old town.  We ended up back at our hotel hungry and ready to polish off the opened wine.... dinner was on our mind and I had highlighted a well rated place just around the block from our hotel called Decca 77 .  We decided to check it out and see if they had a table, success !

 (photo used from
The atmosphere and service was great, they didn't seem to mind that we were using the English terms off the menu and we decided to both get the prix fixe for $35 per person... the wine list was daunting, close to 15 pages front and back with alot of great selections but most of the bottles were priced $75-$1000.  A little out of our price range considering it was more of a lunch for us and we had a long night ahead of us.  They had a sommelier on staff and if I were to go back I definitely would like to take advantage of the vast selection... as you can see in the picture above they had a glass elevator lined with a temperature controlled wine storage unit, makes you kind of hope if your ever gonna get trapped in an elevator Id hope this to be the one !  Anyhow back to our dinner... Cassi started with a beautifully constructed beet salad that was served over two styles of goat cheese with fresh microgreens and a strawberry balsamic gastrique, very tasty. I had a root vegetable soup pureed with a dollop of creme fresh and a drizzle of smokey truffle oil, also made to perfection... from there we ordered our main course which Cassi got Maple Smoked Ribs served with a well seasoned brussel sprouts and root vegies and I got rabbit for my first time, that was wrapped in bacon, served with a mustard sauerkraut and cauliflower... cooked perfectly !  Sorry we didn't take pictures... we were so excited about discussing what we were going to do while in Montreal that we forgot about them... but we did get a chance to snap a few of our dessert course....
Cassi's Selection 
(apple mango caramel salsa served over chocolate mousse and hazelnut nougat)

Luke's Selection 
(Chococlate Dream; chocolate brownie served with butterscotch pudding dollops a sweet vanilla creme chocolate pudding and sea salt caramel fudge to top it off ! YUM )
From dinner we returned the hundred yards back to our hotel where we touched base with Geofferson and Hannah... they were staying at another hotel about a 20minute walk way.  We got ready for the gig and met up on their high rise balcony just in time to get the party started with a few beers overlooking the bustling city below.... then it was off to the club.
(photo by Geofferson)
Not a whole lot of pictures because the lighting was very low and the lightshow was a bit overboard, but a good time was had by all and we took a little lesson from the bar on typical Montreal bar beer.... cant even really remember what they were but they had some decent bottles.  Late night back to the hotel.... lot of exploring and some already made dinner reservations for day two !

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2011 in Review... Beverages !

A quick glimpse of some of my favorites from 2011 tastings.... many many more posts about beer are well on there way including a recent trip over to Brasserie Dieu du Ciel in Montreal as well as Hill Farmstead in Vermont.... stay tuned.

Stillwater Barrel Aged Cellar Door
Stillwater Debauched
Stillwater Folklore and the Barreled Age Series
Bronze Age
Gueuze Tilquin
Allagash Coolship Series
Mikkeller Single Hop Series
and many many more.....

2011 in Review... Omnivores !

Ok its later... why you may ask did we make the decision to become omnivores ?  There are alot of factors that swayed both of us back towards the addition of livestock and wild game...

I do not want get preachy and long winded but I feel after 10+ years of being a vegetarian I should touch on a few of the major factors. To start the addition of meat to our diet has created more support to the farmers that work so hard to supply us with our food.  Not just financially, through the exchange of currency, but also toward the health and sustainability of the farm itself in terms of products such as eggs, meats, cheese, milk, stocks and manure.  I see it somewhat unreasonable to restrict your diet to certain aspects of the animal product but not support the final product of this circle.  That being said we have jumped in head first to the omnivore lifestyle and have taken pride in
exploring all aspects of this process.  Whether it is ordering the stranger cuts and bits of the animal to make sure its life was not taken for granted or saving bones and juices to create sauces and stocks for a future meal.  We also remain steadfast in knowing and visiting the farms in which our meats are coming from to ensure the proper care is being taken to provide the animals with a high quality of life.   Its not only better for the animal but it is reflected in the quality of the end product. In fact I was able to help in the harvesting of 32 turkeys and 6 ducks for the thanksgiving feast this past November at Frith Farm in Scarborough and got to understand and appreciate the reality of this process.

Below is my reward for the help and I was happy to receive a very good education from Daniel and Courtney.  This duck died in my hands and I spent hours upon hours to see that no part of this bird was wasted.

Rubbed with raw butter and a handful of dried herbs from the garden....
From there all the organs and trimmings went into a pot with more herbs then covered it with water to simmer into a magical gravy that was sweetened with a splash of pinot noir and some wild maine blueberry jam...
Paired with Brussel Sprouts roasted in bacon fat, Wild Mushroom Stuffing, and Roasted Potatoes that were cooked off with the rendered duckfat....
Mmmmm what a feast paired with Argyle Nuthouse Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 and shared with a couple of friends.
(more on this wine in an upcoming wine review)

Another Frith Farm product that made it onto our plates this past winter was this roasted chicken.
another classic American style dish paired with Wild Mushroom Stuffing and Roasted Potatoes
paired beautifully with this Feliciana Felugan that had the perfect balance of acidity and minerality to cut through the buttery warm meal... 

Stay tuned for more ramblings on wine, beer and some visits to local breweries and farms !

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