Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Full Pink Moon - April

She's a beauty!

I watched her high in the sky this morning as I was driving to my early morning yoga class. Couldn't ask for a better view as she followed the car all along Eglinton Avenue to Yonge, peeking through the bare branches of trees and bouncing off chimneys and rooftops. So much more energetic than me at 5:45 a.m.

The moon was officially full on the 15th, at 3:42.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cab Sauv tasting

Kaarina and I poured 4 different cabernet sauvignon for a blind tasting:

  • Painter's Bridge, California ($15.15)
  • J. Lohr Seven Oaks, California ($21.95)
  • Beringer California Collection, California ($9.95)
  • Catena, Argentina (19.95)
....and no, we didn't finish all the bottles the same evening, lol...

Even after a number of blind tastings, I find myself sometimes unconsciously falling into the trap of thinking 'this is the most expensive wine' or 'this is the best wine,' when what I am trying to do is experience the appearance, aroma, taste and finish for each WITHOUT the influence of a label. Not necessarily attach a quick number to it, but observe whether it is sweet, spicy, balanced, tannin.

And most importantly, which wine did I actually enjoy the most? I found myself returning to glass #5 and enjoying it more with each sip. It seemed the most balanced of the four. Kaarina agreed. When we removed it's generic jacket, it turned out to be the J. Lohr.

The least favourite? Again we were united. Painter's Bridge. This was made by J. Lohr, so we were expecting it to be a 'good value' wine. I found it quite tannin and not improved when served with food.

The best value? We agreed on Beringer. Not only was it the lowest price, it had a great finish. It also seemed to be the the most improved with food. We were both guessing this to be the Catena from Argentina, because it had such nice colour, spicy notes and distinct taste.

The prettiest? Okay, not a real category. But Catena was the darkest of the lot, with great legs. Lots of sex appeal.

Interestingly, Natalie MacLean scored two of our choices for the evening, but not all. Although I agree with her ranking, I'm not sure Painter's Bridge deserves such a high score.
  • Painter's Bridge 88/100
  • Catena 92/100

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Really, really slow food

I love this photo. Maple syrup bubbling on the stove, reducing to a hot chewy toffee that will be poured over snow to caramelize instantly into a delicious candy concoction.The reflections caught in glass: the red-checkered tablecloth composing the other half of the pot, Lois and I with our cameras. Everyone waiting for the moment when the toffee will be ready to pour on the snow. 

It was quite a wait from the time the syrup was poured into the pot.  But really, even longer still... the long months of winter, the gathering of the sap, dripping slowly into buckets and taking hours to fill to the rim. Then gathering the buckets, pouring the sap into tanker, stoking the fire, tending the fite, and boiling it all down to syrup, hours and hours more.  With a 30:1 ratio, that's a lot of sap to make a bit of syrup. A lot of waiting.

Later,  back to Lois' and Mark's place on the Hill for a wonderful dinner. Not so easy getting up to the house. We parked our car and then all hopped in the 4-wheel drive, with chains on the tires, to get us up to the top. Not a trip easily made. I got to thinking what it must have been like two hundred years ago, winters all the more isolating. Maple syrup time demanded families get together to share the labour. Warmer days and sweet time spent together.

Great to share it with Lois and Mark.

For just a few weeks, maple syrup time.
We boil and boil and boil and boil it all day long,
Till ninety sev’n percent of water evaporates just like this song
And when what is left is syrupy don’t leave it too long -
As in life or revolution, rarely is there a quick solution, 
Anything worthwhile takes a little time. 
We boil and boil and boil and boil it all day long. 
When what is left is syrupy, don’t leave it on the flame too long. 
But seize the minute, build a new world, sing an old song. 
Keep up the fire! Maple syrup time. 
- Pete Seeger singing Maple Syrup Time at 90


I have been looking for this spring spark since I planted 'Magic Fire,' back in May 2011.

If I wasn't peering closely I might have missed the budding of the witch hazel. Crumpled curls.
Such vibrant colour, and so welcome in the back garden.

I also love the snow drops this time of year, poking up through the dry leaves. All the seasons evident  - spring in the present moment, the dry leaf offering summer and fall, the snow of winter still sparkling.

Witch hazel (April 6)

April 5
April 10