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...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Must see YouTube channel. Unless you like God. Then please don't look. You know who you are.

Really - just watch one. You'll go back for more...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sad News From Niagara Wine Country

Sheena credits John Marynissen, and his daughter Sandra, with igniting a passion and respect for good wine - wine made with hard work, with care, with respect for nature and for the labour that goes into it. He taught that wine is made to be shared, with love, with family and friends, with good food and never without inspiring conversation.

It was 1994 and Sheena was on her honeymoon. A Niagara wine tour. We drove and tasted all weekend, keeping notebooks of scribbles and maps and ratings, going back on the very last day to buy the best of the best and drive back home to Ottawa. The cases we bought at Marynissen that weekend formed that foundation of our now-dual cellars to this day. Year after year, we went back, sometimes together, sometimes apart, introducing new friends and visiting family whenever we could. New places popped onto the radar, as incomes rose so did the taste for Aussie and Californian wines, but every single year came back for John's and later Sandra's handiwork. Some of the most beautiful reds in Ontario: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, the Cab-Sauv/Merlot blend by the case as the house red Chez Sheena for so long.

The handwritten scribbler under their tasting counter. You had to be nice and polite at the shop to get on "the list". The special small batches of Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sandra's first solo Baco Noir, the unfiltered experiments that may or may not ever see the light of day...

The 5-year vertical tastings at their anniversary party where only Sheena scored 100% pegging year to the blind samples. I did it because they taught me well - about colour and nose and legs and how they reflected harvest and weather... and it all stuck with me. I started to develop a near photographic memory for wine because of the pictures they painted for me.

Through picnics in the vineyard, to the grouchy mean cats and overly friendly dogs... this place was one of Sheena's happy places among happy places.

Rest in peace, Mr. Marynissen. You touched lives across the continent with your love of nature, family and hard work.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

It's been a Year...