Archive for June, 2010

Review: William Premium Cider

When I first moved to Toronto back in 2001, the only cider you could get was Strongbow. I had a lot of fun drinking six-packs in High Park but due to my generally-high levels of consumption, I soon grew tired of the bubbly, apple beverage.

Over the years, I’ve tried every cider out there, from Bulmer’s to Gaymer’s but I’ve stuck to the English ciders because their Canadian counterparts are usually sugary and about as enjoyable as a cooler.

On a recent expedition to my local LCBO, I picked up  a new can of cider. I didn’t pay much attention to what it was all about (novelty can go a long way with me) but when I examined William Premium Cider (173039, 473 mL, $2.75)  closer later on, I was pleased to see that not only was it Canadian but certified organic as well.

After letting it chill, I cracked open the can and poured myself a glass and goddamn if it didn’t snack-crackle-pop with the sheer force of the carbonation! While the head dissipated rather quickly, the bubbles continued for a good long while. A nose of apple and pear continues into its taste which is thankfully not too sweet; about on the level of a extra-dry sparkling wine. Without lingering around like a recalcitrant guest, it provides the kind of finish that complimented the rotisserie chicken and bok choi (sautéed with garlic and sesame seeds) that I paired it with.

It would go equally well with a spinach salad, particularly if one were to add candied pecans and strawberries or something along those lines. Whether you drink it by itself or alongside a meal, William Premium Cider definitely holds its own against Strongbow or Magner’s and has the added benefit of coming from our side of the pond.

(Image taken from Conception Focus. My camera’s acting up…)

The G20 has ruined many things for the citizens of Toronto (road closures, school closures, transit delays, the St. Lawrence Market, uprooted trees, loss of income, loss of patio space, removal of bike stands… new annoyances are added everyday) but it’s going a bit too far when the LCBO decides it has to close 7 of its stores from Friday to Saturday.

To be fair, many of the products that would be found at these locations can be found at others but that doesn’t make it right. I guess a trip up to Summerhill is in order… |Toronto Sun|

One thing the G20 can’t ruin is Ontario Craft Beer Week. Besides the numerous events happening all week long, be sure to check out the Session Craft Beer Festival at Sunnyside Pavilion on Saturday (June 26th). |Ontario Craft Brewers|

The ash from Eyjafjallajokull may have never made it this far but Icelandic beer is coming to Toronto! Skjálfti (168393, 500 mL, $3.95) is a hoppy marriage between a pale ale and a lager and both Josh Rubin of The Star and Greg Clow of Taste T.O. dig it. (If you have trouble using the LCBO  website, don’t forget to log on to drinkvine, the best way to scout out new beers and wines in the GTA.) |Toronto Star, Taste T.O.|

If you want proof why marketers should never, ever come up with a beer brand, look no further than Biker Beer a brew produced out of Nickel Brook that came about because a couple attended a rally on their wedding day. Since no self-respecting biker (or human being) will ever drink this product, I’m betting it will come to be regarded as one of the most inane vanity products  in the history of beer ever.

I bet they even have matching beach towels with their initials monogrammed on ‘em. |Toronto Sun|

Despite what this blog might be saying, you can tell the difference between different wines and the distance between good and bad wine can be pretty fucking far indeed. Just don’t be a pretentious twit. |You Are Not Smart|

Conflict Kitchen is performance art masquerading as a take-out joint. Taking a country that the United States currently has a beef with, it will serve a signature dish and with everyone happily sated, will offer potential dialog in the form of “events, performances and discussions”. Afghanistan is the first subject and we’ll I’ve never tried kubideh (anyone want to make a road trip to Kabul Farms?) I’m always in favor of exposing people to new street-food. |Kubideh Kitchen|

Everyone knows red-heads are where it’s at so y’all will undoubtedly go for the Scarlet Harlot, a cocktail that combines brandy, Red Dubonnet and cherries in a most-pleasing manner. |CHOW|

Making drinks is easy; coming up with a catchy name for ‘em can often be an exercise in futility. (Here’s an easy formula: Take equal parts funny, sleazy and literary and add a touch of cheese. Voila… the Penelope Cruiser!) |New York Times|

People have added everything they possibly could to cocktails so far; why not minerals? |The Atlantic|

Summer drinks are the best kind of drinks there are! Go fresh and you’ll never be wrong… We have a Raspberry Mojito, a Cucumber Gimlet and a Watermelon Margarita. |à la carte kitchen, Crumpets and Cakes, SLOSHED!|

If, like me, you’re going to stick with the same damned drink all year-round, it’s probably a Manhattan and you should make your own Maraschino (‘ski’ not ‘she’) cherries. |Cocktaliana|

Hell, go a bit further and go for the DIY Home Bar. Make brandied cherries, grenadine syrup, falernum, cocktail onions and orange bitters. It doesn’t get much better than that. |CHOW|

Get this book for the alcoholic curmudgeon in your life (and that would be me). |The Pegu Blog|

For those of us who like doing our drinking outside, it behooves us to plan accordingly. This cunning diagram demonstrates exactly how to best to pack a cooler and the secret ingredient is killer! |Valet|

Every week has a new festival..

And this Saturday, The Toronto Wine and Spirits Festival is coming to the Distillery District.

Details are scarce but I can tell you a few things. Emma Brown and Scott Rondeau (co-founder of the Toronto Festival of Beer) of Power Juncture, a Toronto-based events company are behind this one and with 2010 being its second year, hopefully they have some of the kinks worked out.

There’s going to be loads of food and booze. With around 40-50 vendors serving up all manner of alcoholic beverages and food to pair ‘em worth, you’re going to need to make a pit-stop at Cherry Beach just to give yourself time to digest! Notable attendees include Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company, Innis & Gunn, Kado Enterprise (sake), Victoria Gin, and Mill Street (naturally).

It’s low-key. With less people and a bit of a more mature atmosphere expect less drunken debauchery and line-ups.

The whole thing’s outdoors. It looks like the shitty weather we’ve been experiencing is on its way out and I can’t imagine a better way of spending a Saturday afternoon. Overall, I think the Distillery District is a decent place to hang out.

It’s a pretty good deal. $22 gets you in and with your admission comes 5 vouchers good for whatever food and drink you might want. Additional vouchers cost a buck.

The festival is running Thursday and Friday, from 6 to 11pm. Saturday, its open from 12 to 5pm and it’s back to the regular evening schedule for Sunday.

If you’re going to buy tickets at the event, they’ll run you $30 so buy them online or you can pick  up two for $22 through Groupon but act fast ‘cos that deal’s done in eight hours.

To get there, take the Parliament St. bus south until you reach Mill St.

I’ll be out there on Saturday so if you see me, say hi!

There’s a new beer festival in session

It’s no secret that the Toronto Festival of Beer has skewed itself more towards the mainstream for quite a few years now. While good beers and times have been found (I will never forget human foosball) the event is definitely an example of quantity over quality.

While I may not dislike it as much as some folks, I was still quite pleased to receive an email from Curt Dunlop and Jed Corbeil, the duo behind the Griffin Gastropub and the Muskoka Beer Festival, informing me of their plans to hold a craft beer festival in Toronto.

The idea is incredibly exciting… local beers and food should attract a crowd of like-minded enthusiasts and the opportunity to sample some new brews (Tree Brewing from Kelowna, BC is sending their Hophead IPA!) is not to be missed. With 21 breweries attending at last count and each of them bringing 1 to 5 types of beer, it’s going to be a very busy day!

Corbeil and I made arrangements to meet at C’est What? which was appropriate considering the pub is basically a temple to local craft beer. It was quickly apparent that he’s the kind of guy who loves what he does. His passion for beer is definitely there and he knows his stuff but he’s no snob either. Noticing he was well into his pint of Black Oak’s 10 Bitter Years (my favorite of the moment) I ordered myself one as well and we got settled in to talk about Session, the Griffin Gastropub and Ontario Craft Brewers.

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