Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

  • Why is it that all of the erstwhile rabid defenders of the US Constitution Second Amendment are flipping out over the First Lady's exercise of these rights?
  • If it is International Women's Day AND Daylight Savings Day, does that mean my biological clock got moved up an hour?
  • Is it just me, or does anyone else find it a little unseemly for everyone to be discussing the size of Obama's package.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hunter Valley Wine Tour Saturday

Spent my first Saturday in Sydney on a wine tour of the lovely Hunter Valley - about 2 hours outside of the city. Sniffed around the innerdnets for a few days, and settled on these guys.

Morning almost got off to a rocky start. Part of the group (Sheena, couple of Irish couples, some Aussie newlyweds, and assorted Brits) were late because they missed a ferry. The Irish couple flipped out and started pouting that they wanted off the tour. It was then that I began to appreciate the charm, patience and steely seething wit of our guide for the day - Nigel.

The stragglers showed, the tempers soothed.. and off we went.

First stop - the joint complex of Rosemount & Lindemann's. Nothing special wine-wise, but a good place to kick off the day with a tutored tasting and quick tour. Learned a bit about the history of the regions, the brands. They're both owned by Foster's now.

For next year's Xmas party:

Fave stop of the day: Tintilla Estates. Reminded me more of the Niagara family estates. Poured an astounding 11 samples. Some quite nice. Hosts were very indulgent and let us stroll the grounds and play with the recently picked Shiraz.

License Inspector. No fun zone.

Tempus Two winery - has an on premise cheese shop that was good fun. Plenty of free samples of some of the local soft cheeses. Good international selection. Picked up a couple of small blocks of King Island cheeses to hide in the hotel mini bar for snacks during the week.

Lunch stop was at the Blue Tongue Brewery. For 12 bucks Aussie money, a tasting paddle of 6 beers, and you could go back for a pint of the one you liked best. I went for the ginger beer - very distinct ginger aroma and flavour - crisp and yummy.

Last stop of the day was a bit of a rip off. The Golden Grape was a bit of a stunt winery - doing the kind of goofy flavoured sticky wines you'd expect to find from the crazy guy at Niagara's Crown Bench. But I suckered into a Dragon's Breath - a chili flavoured sweet wine (actually Butterscotch schnapps, chilies and rosemary) that I think will make a kick ass lemonade cocktail this summer...

Great day. Met a great bunch of oddballs from across the world brought together for 7 hrs by a shared common love of vino and a sense of adventure. Recommended.

Stirring the Shiraz at Tintilla Estates

My favourite stop on the Hunter Valley wine tour did this weekend as a day trip out of Sydney.

The aroma of 3 day old shiraz being stirred is almost knocked me over. The fermentation just beginning... hard to see but the bubbling and crackling was pretty cool.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home - for the week.

SPF 45 on my face, but still burned my legs.

15 Hours of Prison Food in Econoclass Crush

Sheena's attempt to minimize an already massive Carbon Cuntprint led her to leave directly from Edmonton en route to Sydney Australia, instead of incurring an additional 3 hours flight time BACK to Toronto to enhance chances of an upgradeable Air Canada flight. United shits on Air Canada Elite members when it comes to upgrade priority, so I knew I was taking my back, my neck and my embryonic deep vein thrombosis into my own hands.

After a relaxing couple of hours connecting through the San Francisco Red Carpet Club - easily the nicest RCC I've seen ( and I'm not the only one...) - Sheena poured herself into Row 40-something, seat H on the 747 over to Sydney. Aisle seats are normally my 2nd choice. I can usually only sleep leaned up against the window.

The food quality in United economy class is profoundly shocking. I have a flight attendant friend who states unequivocally that airlines use the same tea as does the prison system, and I wonder if the same holds true for food. If it wasn't so squished in the seats, I would have taken pictures.

The dinner was an artifically hot salisbury steaklike item that would not have been out of place in a McDonald's drive through. It had a red sauce on top that I scraped off to see what I was eating. The side salad was 100% shredded lettuce.

Not my pic - but a very true likeness

Mid flight lunch was a roasted chicken / cheddar sandwich. Actually looked promising. Until bite #1 revealed that it was still partially frozen. I removed the wet cold bun-like substance from my mouth, wrapped it all back up and tried to go back to sleep and pretend it was all just a big bad dream.

Breakfast, at least, provided enough sustenance for me to pull myself out of the pretzelish contortion I had adopted in the 15 hours hence, and drag myself into the warm nourishing sunshine. Edible omelette, some sausages of questionable composition, but fully cooked, so I went for it. Could only bear 1 bite of the sickly sweet fake banana flavoured 'banana bread', but oh well. Maybe I'll do a low carb week...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SuperBowl Sunday in NYC

Booked an early Sunday flight to NYC to make sure I had time to catch something on Broadway. Sheena has never been disappointed by the TKTS booth in Times Square. Part of the fun is the random nature of what spectacle one will end up seeing. Play? Musical? Serious? Silly? Keeping an open mind right up until it's your turn at the ticket window. Had 3 options in my head. All 3 were still available once the line turned the corner.

Sheena said "Equus". It was a good choice. No, not just because of the hoopla over Harry Potters peen. (Full disclosure: Sheena has never read a Harry Potter book, has never seen a Harry Potter movie, has not purchased any Harry Potter merch, and likely never will).

It was a friggin intense production. Very sparse set, dazzling casting of the horse-men. The 3 leads, Richard Griffiths, Daniel Radcliffe and Kate Mulgrew were fantastic. Especially Griffiths and Radcliffe.

Though I did wonder about just how much psychological damage was done to the legions of pre-teen girls hoping to see their pinup boy hero, and instead being subjected to some head trippy raw sexuality and violence. Their moms must be so proud of themselves.

And now, into the night in search of grub...

Had the BBQ meat platter at Virgil's. Kinda hate to say it, but this yankee joint had some of the best pulled pork EVER.

SuperBowl started while I was eating over in the lounge area. I didn't intend to stay to watch the game, but Sheena got goosebumps watching Jennifer Hudson belt it out... and the entire bar clapped when she was done. I think America likes itself again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things I Bought In Winnipeg Junk Shops Over the Holidays

Die of jealousy. Now.

Holy Fuck Where's the Time Gone

New Year's Eve retro flashbacks.

Had a kick ass night at Lee's Palace. Great fun after a precarious cab ride from The Grand where The Driver and I had an adequate round of sushi after too much Scream TV and Trius Brut earlier in the evening.

The Stills
from the Dirty 'Shwa opened up and Elliott Brood was headliner.

As much as I have adored Elliott Brood since first discovering "Second Son" on the jukebox at the Stinky Duke on Yonge Street a couple of years back, seeing them live for the first time kicked severe ass.

And The Stills cracked me up with their hockey stick bass...

And then oh yeah... forgot about this one.

Sorry Raymi. It was the Sleeman's talkin.

"Way Cooler Than Its Uppity Neighbours"

Dinner after about an hour of cold wandering around in Manhattan dusk, looking for something interesting - but not expensive... authentic - but where my jeans and layered sweaters would fit in...hearty - without being a chain tourist trap....

The weather scuffed neon sign sucked me in. The no-nonsense menu and "No Credit Cards" handwritten sign made me sit down. The Tribeca Tavern was it.

A neighbourhood hangout that reminded me of some of my favourite Queen W divey spots like Sweaty Bettys or Communist Daughter. 4 generations represented around the bar, comfy broken down couches in the corners for gab fests. Solid wooden chairs and tables with good view of the big screen TV (it was NFL playoff day...)

Fantastic selection of American microbrews and good international mix too. I had a pale ale - don't recall which one. But thoroughly enjoyed the crusty curmudgeon of the day bartender as he lectured a 20-something art student. "No we don't do bloody marys. ever. we're not that kind of bar". I think she said "God Bless you" and ordered a Delerium.

The steak sandwich was good, the fries spectacular. No pictures because I killed my camera battery at the USAirways wreck site.

Ladies room scared the bejesus out of me. I don't know if this used to be a subway stairway or they just made it look that way, but I kept expecting to have to slide a token in the slot to get toilet paper.

Manhattan Weekend

Landed around 3pm at LaGuardia last weekend and jumped into taxi. Destination Financial District in Manhattan. Cabbie had the radio on and suddenly the pieces began to click together in Sheena's head. Battery Park? Hudson River? Throngs of tourists? Crumpled A320? Giddyup.

Less than 10 minute stroll from hotel. Sheena presents the inauguration of USAirways Cruiselines...

Hung around until the light faded and my toes turned cold. Then hoofed it up to Tribeca in search of some grub...