Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Pair of Gems To Get You Through A Cold Prairie Week

Many of us in Western Canada will be hunkered down this week, or at least this weekend, hiding out from winter's angry return.  Sure, I braved the cold yesterday and hit the slopes at Mt. Norquay in Banff to take advantage of a rare good snow day (boot deep powder) up there, but now I've learned my lesson and retreated to my wood burning fire place, my music collection and my wine cellar.  That cowardly run from the cold has compelled me to dive into one of my favourite white wines and one of my favourite musicians, one of whose songs can now be found in the bowels of I-Tunes.  Just who is that? Billy Cowsill, that's who.

Awhile back, I pointed y'all to his work with the Blue Shadows, which is amazing by any standard.  This time however, I have stumbled across a gem on a compilation album from Tom Phillips & The Men of Constant Sorrow that is not the product of Tom and his gang but instead, of Billy Cowsill.  The track is "Vagabond", the lonely tale of a drifter, who has taken to the rails in the wake of a failed relationship.  As always, the song features Cowsill's stellar voice and showcases his ability to capture the human spirit in song.  Download this track and throw it on repeat for the balance of this cold and snowy stint.

While your at it, get yourself a bottle of 2008 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa.  This wine is extraordinarily drinkable and features an off-dry style with subtle citrus flavours, making it downright delicious with a variety of food pairings and particularly, Asian food, especially Thai food.  While Chenin Blanc remains one of the world's most underrated grapes and nearly all of South Africa's Chenin Blanc wines are outstanding values, this one is something special.  At $15-$20 in most wine stores, it will also leave you some money for a nice fresh tin of mint Skoal bandits, a marginal cigar, or a pack of cigarillos, whichever you fancy, to also help in getting you through this grim, grim, weather.

Hope this helps warm your souls as we gut out another fierce blast of Canadian winter.  Excelsior! 

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 30, 2011 in Canadian music, Food and Drink, Music | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Fall Spent Bird Hunting In Alberta

Finally, I taste of summer has hit Alberta.  Just in time for winter.   However, the timing of this Indian Summer has been just the thing for outdoor enthusiasts and bird hunters like me in particular.  With the weather in check, Knox headed East a couple of weeks, back to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, in search of sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge.

Our first morning out was promising.  We ran into a covey of partridge right away, followed by a fairly large gang of sharp-tails just down the road.  Birds were acquired and smiles were abundant.  Thereafter, the birds were a little more spotty, but we still managed to find our share.  Great luck considering that landowners we came across told us that the hatch was affected by a cold, wet June, so they hadn't seen many birds around.  While it was far from a banner year in terms of bird numbers, we ran into enough to fill our days and our bags and to give us sufficient reason to drink good wine at sunset, while cleaning our birds.

In addition to the amazing cover, there was water in every slough and pot-hole we came across.  Grass was green and tall as I said before, which should make for a barnburner bird year next year if we have a mild winter.

Anyway, get out in the sticks and chase some birds this year.  Your efforts will be rewarded.  Make sure to bring a sufficient supply of bird-cleaning wine, a bunch of Skoal bandits (I prefer Mint) and a few ice cold Miller Genuine Drafts so that you can use one to wash down your lunch hour sausage and pepper sandwich (one of Knox's old pals roasts his own peppers and they are first rate).

Oh, the wine - 2005 Cabernet Franc from Wing Canyon in Napa Valley and 2003 Jaffurs Syrah.  Both were dynamite and were suitable rewards for some hard-walking across the bald prairie.

Posted by Knox Harrington on October 16, 2010 in Food and Drink, Gun freedom, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Knox Will Drink *!#$ing Merlot

Unlike Paul Giamatti's character, Miles, from Alexander Payne's brilliant wine-soaked film Sideways, whose disdain for the Merlot grape bubbles to a boil while hollering at his best friend Jack for the mere suggestion of drinking this well-known red wine at a dinner party ("If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving.  I am NOT drinking any *!#$ing Merlot!!!"), Knox has always enjoyed a glass of Merlot from time to time. That's not to say that it's my favourite - far from it - and while Merlots can be downright delicious, they can also be as bland as a mouthful of Regina ditchwater on a hot July day.

Over the course of the summer, I've had the chance to try a few decent Merlots and thought I would share them with you in case you find yourself with a hankering for this now, post-Sideways, underrated grape. Here is a sampling:

1) Sumac Ridge - Black Sage Vineyard Merlot (2006) - Okanagan Valley (Oliver, B.C.)

As anyone who reads the Shotgun knows, I am rarely thrilled by Canadian wines.  This one is no exception.  However, it is a decent wine.  Especially for a Canadian Merlot.  The good folks at Sumac Ridge do not have a stunner here, but they have put together an interesting wine with a very good, albeit oaky finish, but one that takes FOREVER to develop.  At first taste, I thought this wine was another pleasant, albeit dull Canadian wine with understated fruit and little separating it from the pack.  Twenty seconds later though, a very nice, velvety fruit taste came to the surface.  While not the greatest Merlot to ever hit my palate, this one is worth a try.  At $19.99 a bottle, you can afford a flyer, right?

2) Tin Roof Cellars - Merlot (2006) - California (North & Central Coasts)

Here you have a pleasant "drink with anything and everything" Merlot that glides along the palate and beckons to be guzzled.  Nice berry flavours, with a balanced presentation.  A Wine Enthusiast "Best Buy" in 2009 apparently and a medal winner at several wine competitions.  That stuff never impresses me much as it is kind of like how everything in Vegas is the "best of" something to someone it seems and is all just meaningless commercial tripe.  With the Tin Roof Merlot though, it may be warranted.  Again, not the world's finest, but a nice bottle for a late summer night by the backyard fire pit or on the Prairies after a day of bird hunting.  A splash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel provide some depth and a price tag of around $15 makes this one easy on the green. 

3) Wing Canyon - Lolita Merlot (2005) - Mt. Veeder, California

Now here is one of my favorite Merlots on the planet, from one of my favorite wineries and one of my favorites winemakers, Bill Jenkins.  This tiny estate winery on Napa Valley's Mt. Veeder has been pumping out great estate cabernets (sauvignon and franc) and chardonnay under the radar in the utter seclusion of their treed winery site for quite a few years now.  Their Lolita Merlot is a plush, velvety wine. Soft and creamy with delectable fruit and a dynamite label, designed by Bill's wife, Kathy.  This one's a little pricer around $25-$35 in most Canadian wine stores, but it is well worth the investment.  You can find this one at J. Webb wine merchants and Richmond Hills wines in Calgary, if you find yourself there.

There you have it.  End of summer Merlots.  To quote Miles' friend Jack "no going to the dark side". 

Posted by Knox Harrington on September 6, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another Great Wine Find

If you find yourself bored this weekend with what you have in your wine cellar, or that dingy spot under your stairs where you keep your wine (probably just as good if you aren't storing $1000 bottles), swing out to your local wine store and try to get a bottle of Amador Foothill winery's 2005 Katie's Cote, a blend of 54% grenache and 46% syrah (red wine if those grapes are new to you) produced at this family-owned winery East of Sacremento, an area not well-known for producing outstanding wines. 

The wine is features a refined blast of blackberry and plum, with a little of the syrah's spiciness thrown in for balance and good measure.  This is a rustic wine, unfined and virtually unfiltered, yet it is has balance and was enjoyable from the first sip to the last.  The catch (as was the case with my previous Blue Shadows music post) is that this wine may be hard to find.  Only 300 cases of the 2005 bottling were produced.  I found mine in Calgary at Britannia Wine Merchants.  If you're in the neighbourhood, pop in and see if they have a bottle, or go to their website, where I note that the wine is still listed as being for sale at $29.95, whether or not that is still the case.

Off to open another new bottle......hhhhmmmmm......what to open?

Posted by Knox Harrington on August 21, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California Dreamin': Knox's Summer Sojourn To Southern California

Usually I hate to take trips during Canadian summers.  What's the point? Summertime is one of only two bearable seasons in this sometimes grim nation and a guy might as well stick around for it in my view. That has been my traditional view.  This year however, I was compelled to embark on a summer journey. A journey to sunny (usually) Southern California.  San Diego to be precise.  Promises were made to me involving great beaches, good food and drink, and a host of family amusement parks that while not usually my style, were said to provide countless hours of surefire delight for the little people making the trip with me - children that is.  Not the Roloffs of TV fame.  Sounded like some good 'ol family fun.  The kind that conjured up visions of Clark W. Griswold and his ill-fated trip to Wallyworld.  How could I resist?  

Flights to San Diego are reasonable and are short, if you live in Western Canada.  That is indeed a plus. The beaches, as promised, are nice - at least those such as Moonlight Beach in Encinitas or the various state beaches in Del Mar and Solana Beach.  The sand is soft and fine and apart from the typical North American bans on open-liquor, they provided a nice setting for a sunny afternoon.  Sure, the water is colder than in Hawaii or the Caribbean, but it's warm enough.  Beaches are packed, but not body to body like Waikiki.

The food and drink however, was surprisingly average.  In anticipation of my trip to California, I dreamt of endless restaurants serving the now well-known "California cuisine", centered around fresh, local ingredients and fantastic California wines, served by fantastic waiters under the watchful eye of a skilled sommelier.  Man, was I disappointed.  Much of the greater San Diego area, like much of the United States, is the land of box stores and franchise, fast food outlets (McDonalds to Chili's to Pizza Hut).  My first couple of days had me wondering whether it was possible that "California cuisine" was nothing more than a sham (like North American "Chinese food") and that Californians really lived off of burgers, pizza and mexican food.  Then however, I decided to try harder, and my efforts were rewarded.......sometimes.

The first legitimate restaurant we tried was Blanca in Solana Beach.  The attraction was that it was close to our hotel, but also that it was specifically said by some to represent "California cuisine".  Could this be it? Had I found it? Kind of.  Blanca features new chef, Gavin Schmidt, formerly of San Francisco's Coi, which is, or at least was, a Michelin two-star restaurant.  Promising.  It also features a nice room, adorned with a ceiling full of lanterns and cozy, yet fancy, booths, that an obviously "new" couple was making full use of.  I digress.  For dinner, I started with the Burratta Agnolotti, a pasta (ravioli) dish featuring smoked corn, guanciale, and epazote according to the menu.  I have to admit that I have no idea what those last two things are, but damn was the dish good.  Bursting with balanced flavour,  A great start.  My dinner mate started with the Albacore Tuna Sashimi, which I sampled.  Fantastic.  Ultra-fresh ingredients (the pickled radish was unreal) made the dish.  Then things went a little sideways.  My entree, the Willis Ranch Pork - A Day At The Farm was, again, well-prepared, but was overly fatty (just the particular cuts of meat) and was enshrined in an overly French style of preparation.  Well-prepared, good ingredients, but not my thing.  My dinner mate had the Crab Porridge, which she described as "ok".  Well-prepared, but just not her thing.  All in all, great ingredients, great cooking, in a great room, but not consistently a mind blower.  Maybe Chef Schmidt is still finding his way in his new environs.  Great service by the way.  Should have mentioned that.

Our second attempt at finding a great restaurant on the San Diego coast was aimed at Market - San Diego chef Carl Schroder's Del Mar outpost, said to be a "contemporary American bistro".  Now this is a cool room.  Half sushi bar and half bistro and full of beautiful people.  We got right at it upon arriving.  For me, the Organic Local Corn Soup.  Probably one of the Top 3 soups of my life.  Unbelievable.  Fresh, fresh, fresh.  Delicate, yet full of corny goodness.  My dinner mate had an equally good soup and followed it up with a King Salmon and Asian Noodle dish that was featured that night.  She loved it.  Despite my pro-Alberta beef bias, I had a dynamite beef dish with a great glass of Washington Cabernet suggested by Market's amazingly friendly and talented sommelier, Elias.  All in all, a great night, a great meal and a great expression of California cuisine.

Finally, we hit Kitchen 1540 at the L'Auberge Del Mar resort in Del Mar.  A lot of hype about this one.  As it turns out, undeserved hype.  A room full of trendoid people desperate to be seen, a terribly paced meal (3 courses in 40 minutes), terrible wine service (glasses of wine took forever, such that they missed their intended courses - strange given the overall duration of the meal, but true nonetheless), a clueless waiter and cold, seemingly pre-prepared food (at the pace it was whisked out of the kitchen, it couldn't have been made to order - could it?) made for a disappointing last meal.  Avoid this one and don't be sucked in by false praise.

Oh, before I forget, it might be worth airfare just to hit the Leucadia Donut Shoppe in Encinitas.   Simply put, apart from a now closed donut shack run by a couple of Mennonite kids who lived across from the Pheasant Release Site in Millicent, Alberta, these were the best donuts of my life.  Fresh and tasty enough to run naked through Encintas for.  1000 times better than the freezer burned "donuts" that Tim's is selling these days (more on Tim's later).

Speaking of Encinitas, if you were once a hardcore, old school skate punk like I was, check out old school skateboard legend Mike McGill's skate shop in Encinitas.  Great shop.

In closing - the amusement parks.  Apart from the San Diego Zoo's Wildlife Park outside of San Diego, don't waste your time.  $80 per person to enter and unparalleled lameness once inside.  The only highlight was the beer everywhere at Seaworld, driven by Anheuser-Busch's ownership of the park I presume. Damn, I love those new aluminum beer bottles. 

Moral of the story? If you're Canadian, stay home in the summer, and don't waste your time visiting San Diego - even in the winter.  There are many better places in this big old world of ours.  Knox out.

Posted by Knox Harrington on August 10, 2010 in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 09, 2010

A Summer Wine For Stampede? Check Out "The Show"

Back in 2001, 3 well-known winemakers, Joel Gott, Charles Bieler and Roger Scommegna, formed "Three Thieves" a value-focused wine company aimed at producing quality wines at rock-bottom prices.  How would they do it? By sourcing the excess wine and grapes from good wineries and growers and transforming those outstanding leftover raw materials into something new, imaginary and easy on the pocket book.  To add to the value mystique, the "Three Thieves" packaged their wines in jug format (old "Paul Masson" type glass bottles with the circular holder on the side), in highly transportable tetra/foil packs (ideal for hunting coolers and end of day bird-cleaning sessions) and in good 'ol wine bottles for the traditionalists in the crowd.  Add in screwcaps, cool label art and a damn fine motto ("Liberators of World Class Wine") and you have something interesting - but is the wine any good?

Having read numerous reviews in the Wine Spectator and other wine publications (who nearly all provided decent reviews), and having enjoyed some of Gott's zinfandels from his own label over the years (they sell them in a general store on the way up the Haleakala volcano on Maui, Hawaii oddly enough), I first gave the Three Thieves jug zinfandel a shot a few years back.  Solid.  Not the most mind-blowing zinfandel I had ever had, but at $10.00, it was unreal. 

What I came across a couple of months back was even more interesting.  A wine purportedly made by the Rebel Wine Company/Bieler*Gott*Scommes Productions (read - the Three Thieves) and entitled "The Show" - a 2007 cabernet sauvignon with a bucking horse and a cowboy set against a rising sun on
the label (which is a story onto itself given that it is a "Hatch Show Print" label).  The winemaker on this bottling is Gott himself, who apparently gathered grapes from all over California to put "The Show" together.  I ran into the wine somewhere and bought a couple of bottles, then received another as a gift, and all 3 remain in Knox's cellar.  However, I had the good fortune of being in Calgary this week for a spell of Stampede revelry and wandered into Murrieta's West Coast Grill on the Stephen (8th) Avenue walking mall downtown and found out that they were featuring "The Show" as part of a Stampede promotion.  I ordered a glass, then another and another.

The wine is downright delicious.  A backbone of cabernet, and support from some petite sirah and some other rhone-style grapes for chartacer, make for a very drinkable, laid-back wine with easy tannins, a fruity accessibility and just a bit of a jammy bite.  It's also a "steal" (Three Thieves pun intended) at $15 - $20 a bottle (CDN).  While being a great backyard summer BBQ wine, this wine may also be the ideal Calgary Stampede wine, given its honky-tonk mojo and drinkability.  So, if you get tired of flat, warm draft beer served by a tattooed bikini-top and chaps-clad woman amidst the smell of urine and sweat in one of the many Stampede beer tents around Calgary, maybe give this a shot?  MMMMmmm.......urine and sweat.  Off to the Stampede I go.........

Posted by Knox Harrington on July 9, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Necessary Retreat?

Being the reasonable, self-aware man that I sometimes am, I can admit when I am wrong, or at least - partly wrong.  My recent review of the Organica California Cabernet Sauvignon was somewhat glowing. Particularly attractive to me was the approximate $15 price tag and widespread availability of this bottling at the Real Canadian Superstore liquor store.

However, having now had the opportunity to open and taste a number of bottles, I have come to the conclusion that at best, this wine is wildly inconsistent, even across bottles and at worst, perhaps it is nowhere near as good as the first bottles I tried lead me to believe.  Maybe the blame for this problem isn't with the winery itself (if there even is a "winery" and not a warehouse production facility somewhere) but rather, with the distributor or storage location.  In any event, my carte blanche endorsement is hereby revoked and my advice at this point would be to proceed with caution, although at the $15 price, it may still be worth a gamble. 

Posted by Knox Harrington on May 29, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Experiences In The Wide World Of Wine

With spring upon us (at least officially, despite the grim weather in Western Canada over the last little while), it is high time that we flee the now restrictive surroundings of our homes and venture forth into back yards, onto lakes and out into the great outdoors at large.  In Knox's eyes, no such trip is complete without a bottle of wine, to enhance already-great or to transform sometimes dull experiences into something memorable.  For me, wine is like a great song that you hear during a memorable event, the memory of which then stays with you forever more.  Hence, it is time for a few wine picks to start the season off right.  The reds are:

1) Ceago - Field Blend (2007 - California) - this "field blend" of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is a fruity and delicious example of biodynamic wine-making gone right.  It is a summery wine, ideal for a backyard barbeque, or an evening spent sitting around your lakeside fire pit.  It's also one helluva deal at $21.00 (www.zyn.ca) or less.

2) Snapdragon - Cabernet Sauvignon (2007 - California) - a straightforward Cabernet Sauvignon with presentable fruit at the front end.  An everyday, all summer wine, whose $10 - $15 price allows you to buy it by the case.  Do so.

3) Organica - Cabernet Sauvignon (2007 - Mendocino) - a great and inexpensive organic wine from Mendocino County in California.  This wine is somewhat of a mystery.  They sell it at the mighty Superstore Liquor Store (great, cheap wines), but there is very little about it online.  I will have to seek out the Alberta distributor.  Anyway, a good solid cab that is easy on the wallet around $15.  That is cheap by any measure, but is especially good value for an organic wine (which is all the rage although somewhat lost on me).

Stay tuned for some great white wine values.  Over and out.

Posted by Knox Harrington on May 9, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The World's Best Wedding Singer? Maybe

After hearing a lot of buzz about the top notch beer and pub food offered at Calgary's Wild Rose Brewery, I had an opportunity to check it out last week and leaped at the opportunity to cross another much-balleyhooed Western Canadian haunt off my list.  

As I walked through the door of the quonset-like structure that houses the brewery and taproom/pub at the old Calgary Currie Military Base (next to the Calgary Farmers' Market), I was struck by a number of things. First, the crowd was.....well.....let's just say, eclectic.  The young, the old, the blue-collar, the artsy; all had come together to sit together and enjoy Wild Rose's micro-brewed offerings fresh from the taps. Second, the aroma of pub food wafting through the place. In particular, the smell of ribs hung heavy in the air. Last, and perhaps most surprisingly, a band was setting up on some kind of raised platform in the brewery portion of the room. A band? In a brewery? Strange. So I asked one of the many friendly staff who the band was. "I don't know. Some wedding singer who is playing for free to get some exposure. They're supposedly the best wedding band of all-time and claim to play 'everything good'." Hhhhmmmm. Was it possible? That not only was there a decent band in a brewery and a band that could really be in contention for the "best wedding band" around? I decided to order up some beer, ribs, meatballs and wings and to listen to The Ben Rose Wedding Band to decide for myself.

Into about my 3rd rib (which apart from a need to be a little more browned and less soggy were pretty damn good), I heard the band rip into Weezer's "Island In The Sun", one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.  Great job, and made better by a pint of Wild Rose's "Velvet Fog" (delicious, but the cause of a subsequent Herculean hangover). Then it was Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", which is really not a number that a lightweight singer would want to quarrel with. Great job again. Could it be? Could this be the best wedding band of all time? A few songs and pints later, I received my confirmation that this was certainly the best wedding band and maybe, one of the best cover bands I had ever heard, when I heard their version of the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love". The Ben Rose version was a mildly rocked up version of the original, not the tripe-wrapped Phil Collins bastardization from a few years back. As the evening went on, song after song exhibited a well-chosen and well-played version of great songs crossing many genres. I should note that the female singer in the band added particular flair to the set, as did Ben's red smoking jacket. Upon further investigation, I see that Ben and the gang have a CD out (Cowtown) that is available through links on their website, or iTunes.  'Ol Knox will be grabbing it shortly.

As for Wild Rose, great beer and decent, yet not earth-shattering food (the "under-crisping" of the items, the wings in particular, was a bit unpalatable to me). Anyway, grab a 6 pack of "Velvet Fog", Ben's CD and order some of those over-baked, soggy wings from one of the pizza chains and you have yourself a pretty good night and something like I experienced last week in Cowtown.

Posted by Knox Harrington on April 3, 2010 in Canadian music, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wine Musings From 2010

I like a good "Best of 2010" list as much as the next guy, but when you go through as many wines as I do in a year, it is difficult to record and remember with any clarity, which ones were truly "the best". Also, there is the troubling impact of circumstance, context or backdrop and the influence that the time, the place and the company have on your impression of a wine.  Or at least that's the case with me.  If I drink a wine at sunset on the edge of a coulee in the Alberta fall after hunting, and do so with some of my best friends, I am maybe inclined to have a more favourable impression of a wine than when I am simply hunkered down in my house avoiding the cold on a winter Tuesday night.  I'm never fancy-pants enough to do blind-tastings, so that's just the way it is.  Hence, what seemed to make sense to me was to simply provide a few of my 2010 wine highlights or memorable wines that I tried last year, and that I thought all of you might enjoy.  Here they are:

1) Taurino, Salice Salentino, Riserva - 2004

This wine was given to me as a gift and what a gift it was.  A mineral-tasting red wine from the little-known and unheralded Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes that really was a delight and a surprise. Precision in the vineyard (no training and severe pruning) and the use of small oak barriques have given these grapes and there resultant wine a character and style that are unlike any other wine.  Also a great value at around $20 a bottle.

2) Villa Creek, Tempranillo/Grenache/Mourvedre, "Mas De Maha", Paso Robles - 2005

Another unusual wine that I enjoyed at the Kazimierz World Wine Bar in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This earthy, yet fruity, wine is a little harder on the pocket book (around $60.00) but worthwhile, especially if you enjoy the California "Rhone Ranger" style of wines.

3) Wing Canyon, Merlot, "Lolita", Mt. Veeder - 2005

With a winery track record like Bill and Kathy Jenkins, who have been pumping out fantastic Mt. Veeder cabernets for years, it should come as no surprise that this velvety soft Merlot is another home run wine. Supple, comforting and down right drinkable, this wine is a real palate-pleaser.  Add in Kathy's beautiful artwork on the label and you have a real treat.  Around $30.00, which while not cheap, represents pretty good value.

4) Justin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles - 2007

Like the Isosceles and Orphan cabernet-based bottlings from Justin (one of my favourite California wineries, or wineries period), this is a fruit-forward bombshell of a wine that is just grand.  However, this one and its $25 price tag really stands out and represents one of the best wine values around today. 

5) S. Anderson, Cabernet Sauvignon, "Richard Chambers Vineyard", Stag's Leap - 1999

I seldom splurge on wines in restaurants given the big mark-ups and heavy list prices that you see these days, but on a recent trip to the Post Hotel in Lake Louise (where their 30,000 bottle cellar gets a guy to push the envelope of his wallet) this one called out to me.  It was well worth the reach.  A well-aged and well-structured red, this cabernet from this now long-gone winery (it was purchased by Albertan Cliff Lede who is now making great wines himself under the Cliff Lede label) was worth every nickel and many nickels were required.  Let's ignore the price, but splurge on this one if you ever win big at bingo and have nothing to do with your winnings.

6) Barone Ricasoli, Chianti Classico, "Brolio", Tuscany - 2007 

Truly the best wine value in 2007.  This 2007 Chianti from sangiovese master Barone Ricasoli is just a well-balanced, fruit-forward wine that pairs well with almost any food.  Throw in that you can usually find it from $15 - $20 at the Safeway liquor store and you have a wine that can be your real household standby for those above-mentioned basement Tuesdays and "Entourage" re-runs.  

There were many other great wines that I should have blogged about, but failed to.  Grab any of these, pull the cork and enjoy.  I sure did.

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 16, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Canadian Constitution Foundation to defend freedom to sell raw milk

Here's the press release form one of our favourite pro-liberty organizations, the Canadian Constitution Foundation:

At a press conference at Queen’s Park today, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) announced its support for a court case involving consumer choice, freedom of contract, and the right to earn an honest living free from government regulation that is arbitrary, unreasonable, unnecessary and unfair.

The case concerns Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, who has been providing unpasteurized milk to consumers for approximately 20 years without a single incident of illness attributable to milk borne germs.

Mr. Schmidt was charged in 2006 with numerous violations of the Milk Act and the Health Promotion and Protection Act, Ontario legislation that requires milk to be heated to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be marketed.

Mr. Schmidt has contested both his guilt under the legislation, and the constitutional validity of the legislation itself. He argues that the ban on raw milk sales violates the guarantee of “life, liberty and security of the person” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ban also violates the Charter’s equality and non-discrimination rights.

His six-day trial ended in February, 2009. The court’s judgment is scheduled to be released on January 21, 2010.

Since Mr. Schmidt was charged in November, 2006, the size of the herd he manages has doubled. There is also a waiting list of consumers wishing to participate in Mr. Schmidt’s raw milk dairy.

The CCF has announced that it will represent Mr. Schmidt in ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of the raw milk ban.

“This is about the rights of Canadians to choose a product that is safely consumed by tens of thousands of people around the world. It’s also about the right to earn an honest living free from government regulations that are unnecessary, unreasonable and unfair,” said CCF Litigation Director Karen Selick.

“There have been huge technological improvements in refrigeration, transportation and pathogen testing, in addition to the entrenchment of individuals’ constitutional rights. Consumers who want freedom of choice expect their government to make the transition to the twenty-first century and to respect their rights,” added Selick.

The CCF will also represent consumer advocate James McLaren, who has sought for many years to persuade federal and provincial authorities to revise the regulatory regime so that inspected and tested raw milk can be sold to consumers. Mr. McLaren will argue on behalf of consumers that the legal prohibition on raw milk violates their constitutional right to “security of the person”.

Mr. McLaren has recently established an on-line petition for consumers who want the government to conduct a policy review for the purpose of establishing safe protocols for the production and distribution of raw milk.

The press release ends with some additional, and interesting, information:

A study published in 2006 in the medical journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy demonstrated that raw milk has a beneficial effect on children’s health. Scientists from prestigious American and European universities and children’s hospitals studied 14,893 children aged 5—13 years. The children who consumed raw milk had a significantly reduced incidence of asthma and allergies, compared with those who drank pasteurized milk.

Certified or government-authorized raw milk is sold in many European countries, including: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. Raw milk is also available legally in about half of the U.S. states.

Canadian authorities justify the mandatory pasteurization of milk on the grounds of food safety. However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control has documented at least a dozen outbreaks of food poisoning from pasteurized milk over the past 25 years. Some outbreaks affected hundreds of thousands of people, and some resulted in death.

You can sign a petition to legalize raw milk in Ontario, visit Michael Schmidt's website here, or James McLaren's Natural Milk website here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski

Posted by westernstandard on November 17, 2009 in Economic freedom, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (25)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dispatches from B.C. - Is There A Good Restaurant In Revelstoke?

A recent visit to the mountain town known for its mountain scenery, skiing and lakes would seem to provide a quick and easy answer - no.

As a kid I would often travel through Revelstoke when I was headed West on Griswold-esque family driving excursions to the West Coast.  Without fail, my parents would begin drooling over the prospect of enjoying a beef dip sandwich in a wooden booth at the Frontier Family Restaurant on the Trans-Canada highway.  Like them, I too enjoyed the beef dip that lurked therein and often marveled at my Dad's refined beef dip palate, that had him call gravy audibles (he insisted that the au jus be taken away and replaced with real gravy) while I just enjoyed what was put in front of me.  The beef dip at the Frontier was a treat, and I have always been a fan of this longtime Revelstoke standby.  Incidentally, the "new" short rib beef dip at Earl's is a killer and should be tried immediately, but there I go getting off track again.

Back to the tale at hand.  This trip, my travelling and dining companion who fancies herself to have more sophisticated tastes than roadside beef dips insisted that we head into town.  I must say, downtown Revelstoke is a a real surprise - small town charm and mountain ambience and a really great experience.  However, there appears to be a real dearth of restaurant choices.  After consulting the local tourism bureau (rarely helpful), we struck out on our own and tried Bad Paul's Roadside Grill in the heart of downtown Revelstoke.

Paul's is a pretty nice room.  Clean, with neutral decorations and an unoffensive vibe that would be welcoming to almost anyone.  We decided to sit on the quiet, secluded rear patio, which only helped build expectations that we were in for a dining treat.  Our server was prompt and pleasant and while the wine list was limited, we ordered and were hastily brought a pair of glasses filled with average BC wine.  So far, so good.  Then we ordered.  We decided to share the veggie spring rolls and then to each have the Paul's fajitas.  Incidentally, the breadth of the menu is bizarre - Italian, Mexican, German and North American food among others.  Anyway, the spring rolls arrived and while they were obviously fresh out of the deep fryer, they were still frozen in the middle.  Two strikes - frozen food served at a frozen and less than palatable temperature.  We each licked up another glass of wine and crossed our fingers for the fajitas.  When they arrived they were huge (each order is enough for two people), piping hot and really pretty solid yet somehow, extraordinarily bland.  Overall, the service was good, the food average and the prices fairly steep for somewhere other than a flashy resort town.

Hence, unless I (or more accurately my dining companions) am in the mood for one of Frontier Fred's beef dips the questions remains - is there a good restaurant in Revelstoke?

Posted by Knox Harrington on September 2, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Alcohol Prohibition Still Alive

Remember in the 1920's when alcohol was prohibited by the government? You probably weren't there yourself, but we know it happened. It was supposedly ended back then, but alcohol prohibition is still alive in Canada.

Some enterprising folks were delivering alcohol products to the northern Manitoba reserve of Pukatawagan by boat. Pukatawagan isn't a dry reserve, where alcohol sales are banned, but it is an isolated community and there isn't a place to buy alcohol there, and the band council has restricted how much alcohol residents are allowed to have.

The bootleggers were stopped by police and their bootleg booze was seized.

Separate from the issues of the problems with alcohol abuse, this raises the question, why is it that alcohol would be legal to bring into Pukatawagan for a company like Labbatt's, but not for private citizens who make their own brew?


The government doesn't gain from private citizens interacting with each other on a voluntary basis for good and services unless they take a cut. Taxes increase the cost of alcohol, so some people decide to go around the government system to make and distribute "bootleg" booze, and we see the same thing happening with tobacco. It creates a grey market for so-called legal products, which inherently brings a risk to the people involved in the trade.

Some people want to alter their state of mind with booze or pot, and if they can't get those then they may turn to other, more dangerous methods of doing it. Prohibition doesn't stop this desire, it makes it more dangerous for the people involved.

The more compassionate choice is to end prohibition.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on July 8, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (29)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Yummy Mummy Sushi

Sometimes Knox craves fish. Raw fish. Sure, once in a while I liked a well-prepared piece of cooked fish, especially in an island atmosphere where a chef who knows what he's doing can put together some great, fresh island fish, but I always prefer my fish raw. Sushi or sashimi in virtually any and every form tickles my fancy. Hell, even Costco ahi sashimi in Maui makes my palate dance.

However, with the exception of the West Coast (read Vancouver), Western Canada can be a grim place when it comes to fresh, well-cut raw fish. Lac Le Biche has a commercial fishery, and I don't mind the pickerel that comes out of there and is for sale at the Calgary Farmers' Market, but you won't find a good sushi joint on the main drag in town. You will however find fantastic food at the rear dining room in the Le Biche Inn, but I digress.

Calgary has a few solid sushi places though. Sushi Hiro, Zen 8 and the overrated Globefish all provide a decent inland sushi experience. Edmonton's Mikado and the Tokyo Noodle Shop on Whyte Avenue can also satisfy a fish craving. None of these places are anything to write home about though, so when a friend told me that he had a secret sushi place in Calgary that served some of the best and oddly, cheapest, sushi in town I was skeptical. When I heard that it was located in a Glamorgan strip mall (beside the famous Mountain View Bowling Alley) confidence did not flow. When he said that the place was called something like "Yummy Mummy Sushi", I must say that I was intrigued, but still not optimistic.  That said, I agreed to go and indeed, I am glad that I did.

Momoyama Sushi (sadly, not "Yummy Mummy Sushi") is a small space in the previously mentioned strip mall that is neither fancy, nor terribly well-appointed. There are a handful of tables and a small sushi bar that seats about 10 if I recall correctly. Upon being warmly greeted and sitting down I caught a glance of the sushi chef (and owner I believe), hard at work with his dyed blond mane fluttering as he worked on the fish before him. The man showed prowess and bore a striking resemblance to a Japanese Bruce Hart, who was one half of the legendary Stampede Wrestling tag team "Bad Company" (the other half being the deceased former Calgary Stampeder - "Flyin'" Brian Pillman). It was an unconventional, but sharp, look.  We ordered our sushi, a mix of sushi and sashimi, both conventional and on the edge.

All of it was fan-damn-tastic. The fish was super-fresh, the cuts were generous and expertly done and the service was near perfect. It was as good of a sushi experience as a guy could expect and dare I say, was as good as any sushi that I've had on the West Coast (modern jet planes are a seafood miracle). Without question, this is Calgary's best and true to my friend's word - among the cheapest - sushi that your man Knox has had the pleasure of sampling.  I will be back to Yummy Mummy Sushi often and, like Homer Simpson, will wear my "eatin' pants". 

Posted by Knox Harrington on May 2, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Celebrities and Wine - Volume 2: The Wines of Dan Ackroyd

You may recall that a while back I had the pleasure, and displeasure of trying two celebrity wines--the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" Cabernet and a Graceland/Elvis-themed Cabernet whose full name I have forgotten. The former was a pleasant surprise, while the latter was a grim disappointment. Back then, I put forth a harbinger of wine tastings to come and I was far from optimistic. I boldly stated that I intended to try Dan Ackroyd's celebrity wine. You know, the one made from "snob-free" grapes, and I told y'all that I sincerely hoped that his wines were better than his big government, census-loving politics. 

Friends, a few nights back, I bought a bottle and brought it home. A bottle of Dan's 2007 "Discovery Series" Cabernet Merlot to be exact. I pulled the bottle from its bag and placed it on the table. I read the informative label on the back. It told the tale of how Dan developed his love of wine while working on Saturday Night Live and the first "Blues Brothers" movie (maybe to distance himself from the awful sequel?). This was no surprise, as I suspect that all manner of intoxicants were sampled by Dan and his cronies back in those days. What did surprise me though was the statement that Dan was introduced "to Bordeaux Premier Cru and other premium vintages". Better yet was his proposition that "Canada makes some of the best wines in the world and this Cabernet Merlot is a reflection of that belief". Just imagine - a made-in-Canada wine from the usually awful Niagara Penninsula (except some ice wines) that was as good as a Bordeaux Premier Cru and that you could pick up at the Superstore Liquor Store for about $13.00. Wine nirvana, right? Not quite.

I'll admit that after the big lead up on the bottle and the price paid, I was expecting to have a grisly elixir splash around my mouth when I finally tasted the wine. The usual unbalanced Ontario plonk that typically oozes forth from its sometimes-hyped wine region. I wanted to hate this wine and write a tirade here about just how hideous it is. However, I cannot. While the wine was a far, far cry from a Premier Cru, it was ok. Not great, but ok. The wine really lacks a start, a middle and particularly a finish, but is unoffensive and actually drinkable. Much like many of the uninteresting, low-end Shiraz offerings from Australia. Perfectly ok, but nothing more. 

So there you have it.  A great celebrity wine, a terrible celebrity wine and now an "ok" celebrity wine.  Wow. On some level, I have mildly endorsed something associated with Dan Ackroyd (ok, I also liked "Ghostbusters," "The Great Outdoors" and "Spies Like Us" in particular). What next? Maybe I'll volunteer to take the long form census and discuss the ethnic heritage of my parents with a complete stranger for 15 minutes...

Posted by Knox Harrington on April 9, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Celebrities and wine: a bad combination

Most times when I think of movie or TV celebrity-made wines, my palate pictures some soulless stew of second (or third) rate grapes mixed together and thrown into a bottle with the name, or a caricature, of the celebrity in question on the bottle. As a whole, these wines seldom impress -- and they hurt the wallet to a far greater degree than they should.

So I thought to myself, maybe rock stars are different. Maybe, in particular, vintage rock stars or bands with a proven musical track record are somehow better when it comes to making wine, or at least they care more about the products that they ultimately lend their names to.

With these thoughts in mind I decided to try two such wines -- “The King (4th Edition),” a 2005 California Cabernet Sauvignon from Graceland Cellars that features the likeness of a jumpsuit and acoustic guitar-clad (but not played, as was often the case) Elvis Presley on the bottle and boasts a “lush, ripe and juicy” character with “intense black cherry, currant and blackberry fruit,” and the 2005 version of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” wine, also a Napa Valley blend centered around Cabernet Sauvignon, that is said to boast aromas of blackberries, black currants, violets and vanilla and offer flavours of chocolate, black cherry, cassis and a hint of mocha.

As I prepared to sample “The King,” I hoped for either something resembling that taut, muscular version of Elvis circa the 1968 “comeback special” and his black leather suited performance (which from a wine perspective would involve a version of Cabernet with firm tannins and maybe a powerful minerality like the Cabernets from Mt. Veeder) or maybe even something resembling the bloated, drug-addled sweaty Elvis of his later days (which in the wine world might be an overly ripe “fruit bomb” of a wine, which while unstructured, offers the wine drinker a delicious up-front blast of fruity deliciousness).

As I raised the glass to my lips and let the wine slide into my mouth, I waited...and waited…and waited.  Nothing! This was neither the bloated, sweaty Elvis, nor was it the taut, focused, yet interesting Elvis.  Instead, there was no start, middle or finish to the wine. It was akin to drinking a glass of watered down grape juice. An Elvis somewhere between skinny Elvis and fat Elvis that might be referred to as a “transitional Elvis,” when Elvis was neither at the peak of his career, when his music was rocking the world, nor at the end of his career, when he was interesting for his late career gunplay and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  In short, this wine is awful.  Bland, uninteresting and hardly worth the $18.95 I paid for it. Similar to all other celebrity wines I’ve had the misfortune of tasting.

This did little to boost my enthusiasm for sampling the Stones’ “Satisfaction,” which I now expected would taste something like Keith Richards’ head band after a 3 hour show.

Knox is a man of valour though, so I decided to give it a whirl. Jumpin’ Jack Flash! It was fantastic! This was no poser celebrity wine where the artist was out to expand his business portfolio. This was a REAL wine. Sure the $30.00 price tag is no meager asking price, but this wine delivered. Fruity, yet structured, with a long smooth finish like that of its higher-priced Napa Cabernet brethren. This wine resembles the Stones at their peak, which like the wine’s finish, lasted a long time (up until about “Tattoo You” after which they reached “sellout” proportions of nearly Biblical magnitude).

Well, 50/50 for two celebrity wines ain’t half bad. Now I have my sights on Dan Ackroyd and his supposedly “snob free” Ontario wines.  Let’s hope his wines are better than his politics.

Posted by Knox Harrington on February 21, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Knox Harrington: 21st century honky tonk man

Admittedly, 'ol Knox loves fancy restaurants, rock-solid wine lists and sparkling stemware. Sometimes though, I crave the warm and cozy confines of a good 'ol small town Prairie bar, or as the Americans call it -- a Honky Tonk. Sure, a real Honky Tonk, by definition, has live music and a particular brand of live music at that. Some form of country music. However, Western Canada has its own version. Live music is rare, but truly Canadian trappings are added in its place. Terry-towel table cloths, Old Dutch potato chips, Lethbridge Pilsner beer (as they used to call it) and rye, rye, rye.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and to a lesser extent B.C. have many such establishments, but Alberta seems to have the most and arguably the best. In my view, the best of the best is a little-known (to most) watering hole known as the Patricia Hotel in the tiny town of Patricia, Alberta, found just north of Brooks and about 2 hours east of Calgary.

The Patricia Hotel has it all. Cold beer, a fantastic rough-shorn wood interior, stuffed animals, pictures of regulars and local legends, a pool table and most importantly -- a jukebox. 

Not just any jukebox either. Probably the best-stocked jukebox in rural Alberta including Steve Earle's Copperhead Road album and some other Earle tracks on mixed CDs, Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits, numerous Johnny Cash albums, the best of Bob Seger, CCR's greatest, a fantastic and little-played Blue Rodeo song (3 Hours Away), plenty of George Strait (old and new) and yes, Elvis Presley. There are the lurking country cheeseballs like Kenney Chesney and Toby Keith too, but a guy could play solid selections all night (and have them sound better with every passing beer) without ever having to go there.

Ah, in my intense ranting above I forgot to mention the food. The notorious Patricia Hotel Steak Pit, tucked in the back corner of the bar, features a flame broiler and a menu that features locally acquired beef and bison (from a mile up the road) in the form of burgers or huge steaks, served with baked potatoes, salad and house-made soup. During hunting season, more times than not, there is also freshly prepared complimentary duck, goose or pheasant, prepared on the broiler by one of the in-house hunters and served to the patrons within. Also worthy of mention are the huge, fresh made-to-order breakfasts served in the adjacent hotel cafe. Fan-damn-tastic. They've saved my life after many a long night hanging from the jukebox and swapping tales with the other dwellers within.

Throw the colourful staff, local ranchers and owners Joe and Leonne Stuart into the stew and you have a damn fine tavern that is my home away from home when I'm hunting in that area. I'm even known to wander in during the off-season to soak up the local flavours, the hospitality and the good times.

If its an old school, small town Prairie bar you're craving, spend a night here and let the good times roll.

Posted by Knox Harrington on January 20, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5)

Green French scotch

Just when I thought environmentalist measures couldn’t get any more damaging, they go and mess with God’s gift to man; Scotch.

Green initiatives often have a mean, if unintended, underbelly.  From the millions of lives lost in Africa due to ridiculous DDT bans to food strikes and increased hunger among the world’s poor due to “alternative energy” subsidies, to fewer endangered animal habitats resulting from the “Endangered Species Act“, green policies have immense human and environmental costs that are not seen or foreseen during the furious hype-driven implementation phase.

(Cross posted on the SFEblog)

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on January 20, 2009 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, March 26, 2007

Communist China's latest export: poisoned wheat

I mentioned this in passing earlier today, but Steve Janke has given me reason to give it more attention.  The Menu Foods fiasco - at least a dozen pets killed and counting - has its source in exported wheat gluten contaminated with aminopterin.  Where was the source?  Communist China.  More to the point, who was the exporter?  The Communist-run China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO).

Credit goes to S.J. for ferreting out the COFCO angle and writing the quote of the day:

So as authorities try to understand where the aminopterin came from, they might find themselves demanding answers of an organ of the Chinese government.  Good luck with that.

No kidding.

Posted by D.J. McGuire on March 26, 2007 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tasty Technology

A Montanan man was sentenced to six years in prison yesterday for forcing a cell phone down his girlfriend’s throat.

Perhaps the women failed to ensure that her call was carbon neutral.

Posted by Jonathan Goldfarb on March 8, 2007 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Attention Interventionist Politicians!
If You Want to Abolish ATM Fees, Why Not Force Down Tim Horton Coffee Prices, Too?

Tim Horton's, an iconic Canadian coffee and donut chain that is slowly expanding into the U.S. (digressive recommendation: sell Dunkin' Donuts short in anticipation of this move), reported that its profits sky-rocketed last quarter from 10 cents/share to 35 cents/share.

Mr. House [CEO] said fourth-quarter results were strong because of a range of new product introductions, some price increases and a milder December in some parts of Canada and the United States.

... “Western New York is the gateway for Tim Hortons into the U.S. market . . . The people of Western New York have truly embraced Tim Hortons and we thank them for making Tim Hortons a part of their everyday life,” the company said in its earnings release.

I am absolutely certain that the price of coffee at Tim Horton's is wwaaaayyyy higher than the (short-run) marginal costs of producing it. Clearly they are ripping off their customers, and the chain has become so dominant and successful in the industry that much of the competition has been driven out of existence, leaving "Timmy's" in a position where they can rip us all off. If socialist NDP Leader Jack Layton wants Canadian banks to give away their ATM services [see this and the links provided there], he should also demand that Tim Hortons lower their coffee and donut prices, too.

Why is it that banks are considered a fair target but Tim Hortons isn't?
One possibility is that gubmnt regulations keep the banks are free from much competition because insurance companies and foreign banks find it next-to-impossible to compete with the major banks in Canada. Another possible explanation is just plain old William Jennings Bryan-type populism and antipathy toward banks. I see, too, that some commenters on the G&M article are, indeed, asserting that the high Tim Horton profits are a sign of (a) consumers' being ripped off, and not (b) Tim Hortons' providing better service and products that consumers want and are willing to pay for. And that sounds like a nasty combination of ignorance, greed, and envy to me.

Whatever the reason, let me make two things clear:
  1. Given my personal record of prognostication, I assume no responsibility for any investment advice I give, should you choose to follow it. I use low-MER index funds myself.
  2. I do not really think Tim Hortons is ripping off its customers, and I am absolutely not serious about wanting politicians to regulate the prices at Tim Hortons.

Posted by EclectEcon on February 7, 2007 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Turducken recipe

In the spirit of the holidays, my good friend Wade will be blogging step-by-step directions on how to make Turducken (that turkey stuffed with chicken stuffed with duck concoction).

(I can assure you from personal experience that he is a very nice guy--a missionary, don't you know--and a good cook. I'd just like to see his face when he gets hits from The Shotgun.)

(The link to his blog is in the second part of this post.)


Posted by Rick Hiebert on December 26, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Coca-Cola and probably Pepsi are going to be banned in Iran soon, the Sunday Times of Ireland reports, because they support Israel and America.

But the irony is that you never hear the regime banning French or German products since they are Israel's allies as well. All you hear is that American goods get banned there because they are Americans and therefore the profits will go to support the Zionists.

It tells me some thing, if the mullahs of Iran are genuine in their concerns about the never existed people of Palestine then why they don't boycotte their European trade partners too.

This is just going to show us how Iran is run under the rule of these criminal clerics. It is now being colonized by Europeans, Chinese and Russians.

Posted by Winston on October 22, 2006 in Food and Drink, International Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fast Food, Wages, and the Oil Patch

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the high price of oil has stimulated the Alberta economy and has driven up wages for everyone, including unskilled labour.

Young people, especially, are declining to work for $10/hour at fast food establishments or in retail jobs when they can earn much more either in the oil industry or in support services for the oil industry.

A former student has since written to me that the McDonalds in his hometown, near the oil patch of Alberta, is closing. The reason? They cannot attract enough (or good enough) workers even when they offer more than $10/hour.

So what will people in Alberta do for fast food? Probably buy fast food produced where it is cheaper to produce (outside the oil patch) and import it. But that does not mean they will be importing Big Macs from Malaysia or China (See the May 25, 2006 "Big Mac Index" in The Economist ($ required). Rather, they will be importing more frozen food that residents will be defrosting in their microwaves.

Posted by EclectEcon on August 6, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Going Sideways in Vancouver

Breaking news from the harm-reduction front in B.C.:

The Vancouver Province reports today that Don MacPherson, the City of Vancouver's drug-policy co-ordinator, will go before council on Thursday to ask for $1 million for a three-year program to provide free wine to homeless alcoholics.

I'm betting council will approve the project. After all, council already supports a safe-injection site for IV drug users and an experimental program to give free heroin to addicts -- and these involve illegal drugs.

And so, let us all praise harm reduction, a philosophy whose relentless logic will surely produce increasingly surprising policies in years to come.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on March 21, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Black Like Moo

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a national animal rights group, posted giant photographs of people, mostly black Americans, being tortured, sold and killed, next to photographs of animals, including cattle and sheep, being tortured, sold and killed.

"I think it is an apt comparison," said Josh Warchol, 26, of Wallingford, president of the Southern Connecticut Vegetarian Society, which is aligned with PETA.

PETA officials said they had hoped to generate dialogue with the shocking photographs.

... and dialogue they get.

Posted by Kate McMillan on August 9, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

How many 12-ounce, er, 355 ml cans of Diet Coke are lethal?

Go here, to find out (HT:  Joe Carter).

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on August 3, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served In Electrons

Tipper's Name: John Kerry
Where it happened: Chicago
Total bill / Tip amount / Percentage: $432.00 / $0.01 / 0%

What happened:
John and his lovely wife ate dinner at our fine establishment drinking some of our finest wine with his sweetie pie. He racked up a 432.00 and left without a tip. Unless you count the penny that was on the floor next to his seat. Thanks John.

The Bitter Waitress.

Posted by Kate McMillan on July 27, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, May 13, 2005

In The Medicinal Herb Section

That would be right next to the munchies.

Posted by Kate McMillan on May 13, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, April 29, 2005

GM food safer for farmers

The Guardian has a short article on the up-side of genetically modified foods including reduced use of pesticides and fewer pesticide-related illnesses.

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 29, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Election drinking game

Over at Grumpy Young Crank my friend Eli Schuster has come up with an election drinking game. Among the phrases to which one would lift a glass: Paul Martin saying "Let me be perfectly clear" or "hidden agenda," Stephen Harper saying "Liberal corruption" or "fiscal imbalance," and Jack Layton saying "Canadians sent us here to get something done" or "corporate tax cuts." Eli invites readers to add their own.

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 28, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Secrets To Immortality

I'll be back later. I'm going out to get myself a plate of alfreido, a big ass pecan pie - and butter tarts. Lots of butter tarts.

The new analysis found that obesity - being extremely overweight - is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

I know it's a long shot, but you know - if there's just a slight chance an extra five pounds means I'll have a a lower risk of death, where's the harm?
Last year, the CDC issued a study that said being overweight causes 400,000 deaths a year and would soon overtake tobacco as the top U.S. killer. After scientists inside and outside the agency questioned the figure, the CDC admitted making a calculation error and lowered its estimate three months ago to 365,000.

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand- new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity.

"There's absolutely no question that obesity is a major public health concern of this country," she said. Gerberding said the CDC will work to improve methods for calculating the consequences of obesity.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said she is not convinced the new estimate is right.

"I think it's likely there has been a weakening of the mortality effect due to improved treatments for obesity," she said. "But I think this magnitude is surprising and requires corroboration."

It reminds me of a news report I heard over radio last summer, announcing that men who quit smoking by the age of 50 cut their "cut their risk of death" by a whopping 50%.

All my life, I've assumed "risk of death" to be 100%. it makes me wonder why more men don't take up cigarettes, just so they can quit and double their chance at immortality.

Posted by Kate McMillan on April 19, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, February 07, 2005

Dinner With Christopher

Michael Totten goes to dinner with Christopher Hitchens and friends. Other than the sound of dinner plates being broken over heads, a good time was had by all.

hat tip - Belmont Club

Posted by Kate McMillan on February 7, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The nanny state, American style

While our governments just legislate and regulate our lives directly with absurd rules like trans-fat bans and mandatory bicycle helmet laws, Americans achieve a very similar result through nuisance lawsuits:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District has overturned a judge's ruling, which dismissed a notorious 2002 lawsuit blaming McDonald's for the weight of a handful of its customers.

The pared-down case will now return to the trial court judge. Trial lawyers, led by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, are planning a wave of lawsuits trying to turn food companies and restaurants into their next cash cow. Banzhaf plans "to sue them and sue them and sue them." Somewhere, he argues, "there is going to be a judge and a jury that will buy this, and once we get the first verdict ... it will open the floodgates."

The sad thing is, Mr. Banzhaf is probably right.

Posted by Kevin Jaeger on January 26, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, October 22, 2004

Pie Toss Goes Horribly Wrong

How do you know when your assailants aren't right wingers?

Posted by Kate McMillan on October 22, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Good news for Canadian biotech

With Canada's farmers suffering under the problems of BSE, trade barriers and massive European and American subsidies it's good to see innovation is paying off:

A Canadian biotechnology company has a deal to supply more than 1.3 million pounds of genetically-modified seed potatoes to China next year. [...]

The GE potatoes grow to maturity in about 24 months, compared to 32 months for most potatoes. The company says Chinese consumers did not eat potatoes until Western fast food chains appeared. Now they can't get enough of them.

Good news for Vancouver-based Penn Biotech, Chinese farmers and consumers, who certainly need high yield farming techniques to feed their population. Let's hope the Chinese don't pay any attention to these fruitcakes:
When a group of political activists gather to disseminate information about the alleged dangers of genetically modified organisms, recruit new members to their cause and share a meal of organic foods they--quite naturally--get naked. And they play Twister.

It's Friday night at Buddy, an alternative art gallery in Wicker Park, and THONG (Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics) is celebrating their community while spreading their message and shedding their clothes. [...]

Tall, topless and thonged, Karen Bouwman is a new member of THONG. "It's cool to find a group that educates about what's really going on with the stuff we are consuming," says the 30-year-old Chicagoan, a vegetarian for 15 years. "There aren't any other groups like this."

She's right, groups like this are fairly rare.

(Cross-posted at Trudeaupia.)

Posted by Kevin Jaeger on August 10, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Super Size Con

TechCentralStation has just launched a website debunking the fast food documentary Super Size Me.

Posted by Laurent Moss on May 8, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

These Swedish girls...

I guess that's why your mother warned you against going alone to bars. In a controversial trial involving three men charged with rape for having taken advantage of a drunk woman, Sweden's Supreme Court ruled that "the mere fact that a person's judgement is impaired due to alcohol or drugs is not enough to conclude that a person may have been helpless" and found that "because she was able to respond when spoken to and was able to move about", she was "therefore not so drunk that she could not say no" to the men's advances.

Posted by Laurent Moss on May 5, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, April 30, 2004

French wine is for socialists

The Guardian reports that France is taking steps to halt the plunge in wine sales. The article is interesting in itself because it outlines how French wine producers and the industry's regulating body are not very market friendly and that part of the problem is that French wine was not responding to the desires of consumers. I wonder how much the boycott against French products after their refusal to join the Coalition of the Willing is contributing to the industry's woes. Anyway, I urge people to enjoy New Zealand wine, the only wine in the world, The Spectator's Ross Clark has reported, that does not receive a cent of direct or indirect government subsidy. You can taste the free trade.

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 30, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 29, 2004

We're giving them WHAT?

At last, the perfect pretext to try out the Standard's TypePad thingy for guest authors. Naturally you were all voracious readers of the Standard's spiritual predecessor, the Report, so you are aware that I wrote an 800-word article about Seaton House when it began serving cheap vino to its clients three or four years ago. (Very, very cheap vino indeed--three dollars a litre, according to the Post. But I won't stand in the way of anyone who wishes to blame the GTA's budget crisis on a few bottles of plonk.) The piece was a purely neutral inquiry into the premises behind the program; lacking evangelical or 12-step principles, I failed utterly to denounce the shelter as a breeding ground for disease and/or demonoids. There were disapproving quotes from experts on the care of the extremely poor.

The fact is that the inebriate homeless who don't want to stop drinking will find a way to consume intoxicants unless you lock 'em up. Locking 'em up may be the right thing to do, but it's not on the legislative menu. The alternatives to alcohol, for street people, are cleansers and solvents: these are not especially good for you. The wine is given to the Seaton House rubbies under supervision and they are limited to one glass per hour: the Toronto council genius who said "after a couple of glasses of wine I get a little light-headed" may just possibly be underestimating the immunity of your average Skid Roader. At the very least, let's separate the cigarettes and the booze here: the latter is provided as a harm-reduction measure, while the former, I suppose, is purely meant to keep the guys hanging around while they receive counselling and steady meals.

Anything that helped set these people on the road to self-sufficiency and stability would be worth a little extra up-front expense. I don't know whether any conclusions are possible yet on whether Seaton House's approach works: it doesn't seem like anyone's interested in that question. But if there is just one homeless shelter that teaches men that they do not necessarily suffer from a "disease", but from poor life choices, I think we can live with that. AA and its mutations, contrary to popular belief, are not the only road to recovery from a drinking problem, and there isn't much solid evidence that they are the best road.

Posted by Colby Cosh on April 29, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It's good eatin' ?!?

Kelly Jane Torrance blogs on a growing trend in U.S. cuisine--the tendency to eat things like hog jowls and such, as exemplified by the book The Whole Beast.

I'm an omnivore, but I am not completely adventurous when it comes to food. When my farm raised stepdad brought home, and served, beef tongue and beef hearts, I was reduced to saying "What *is* this?" Tasted okay, though.

[Rick's Miscellany]

Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 27, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 24, 2004

What's in a buffet

The AP reports that a couple was kicked out of a buffet in Taylorsville, Utah near Salt Lake City when the husband went up for his 12th slice of roast beef at the Chuck-A-Rama.

Sui Amaama, an Atkin's dieter who was embarrassingly denied his meat, said "We went in to have dinner, we were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment.'' Jack Johanson, the restaurant chain's district manager, said no, not quite: "We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment. Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating." Considering it is America and Amaama considers himself to have a legitimate beef, we should be expecting litigation soon.

Posted by Paul Tuns on April 24, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I'd like some meat, with a side order of meat

Since The WS is editorially pro-beef, I thought that you readers might be interested in Carb Wire, a low-carb weblog of sorts. Amongst the website's briefs is a note that The Washington Post is reporting that the meat-loving Atkins Diet seems to be causing a rise in...cattle rustling.

(Homer Simpson: "Mmmm, meat! (drooling sounds))

[Rick's Miscellany]

Posted by Rick Hiebert on April 13, 2004 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack