A quick post, for the benefit of those reading from Spain, France and Italy tonight. I happened to have wine from each of your countries tonight. What did I learn? I learned Malbec’s started in France. Who knew? I also learned I love wine from each of your countries.
Thank you to the vineyards of these three great countries. Without you, and the keen sommelier services our waitress provided at The Bothy tonight, it would have been quite a bland evening.
Yesterday Michael and I stopped in at the much anticipated second location of The Bothy.
There’s something fun about being there on or near opening and watching a place develop and grow. I suppose this is the thrill people have with their children. Michael and I don’t have kids, but we have adopted a parental love for the Bothy and watched the original location at 5482 Calgary Trail grow up. The second location, at 10124 124 St is like our grand-baby Bothy, and like the first, we expect nothing but success.
Located just north of the bend where Jasper Avenue turns into 124 Street, the new location has plenty of metered street parking (still free after 6 pm and on Sundays), it also has parking available at the rear of the building. You are welcome to use either the front or rear entrance.
The look and feel of the downtown Bothy is much the same as the south location – warm colours, relaxed ambiance, gorgeous staff, rich wood, long bar with granite top, convenient hooks under the bar for coats and purses. The menu continues to offer is array of cheese, charcuterie, their famous tomato bacon soup, and top-notch sandwiches, salads, entrees and desserts.
The 124 St. Bothy opened it doors to the public for the first time on Thursday. They are still a bit away from a grand opening, and still have some finishing touches to do here and there. This aside, you will be welcomed, and within moments will be absorbed in the Bothy experience – whisky, wine, great food and good-humoured, friendly people that make you feel welcome and at ease. There is no wine or whisky snobbery at The Bothy. Questions are welcomed, and suggestions and tastes are offered for the undecided.
Regulars of the Bothy are already familiar with the Whisky Passport. It is gaining in popularity and is a great way to remember favourite whiskys, and is a way to stretch and try something new… for no reason sometimes other than to collect a stamp! If you are into whisky, make sure you ask for your passport.
An easy walk for anyone living in the downtown area, but if you are in suburbia or just looking to make for a nice afternoon of shopping followed by lunch or dinner, there are many shopping, eating, and drinking opportunities in the area. For the adventurer, Mountain Equipment Co-op is just a block north. High Street and it’s eclectic mix of shopping including my kitchen mecca Call the Kettle Black are just around the corner. There are many treasures to be found in the neighbourhood, and no better way to relax afterwards than stopping in for a nosh and something to drink at the Bothy.
Evidently June is Carrot Month in Walsh Cooks world. Remember, one year ago I had my epic failure at Pickled Carrots – My Way. “Try try again” I will say to anyone who will listen, so I am taking my own advice, dusting myself off and carrying on.
Last Friday I was out with a friend at The Bothy, and after a lot of chatter we finally found ourselves choosing supper. The Soup for the day was announced as Carrot Ginger. I was game to stray from my usual favourite and menu fixture, Tomato Bacon and try something new.
Well, my God.
It was so delicious, the next morning I was on a quest for a recipe for Carrot Ginger soup. I posed the question on Facebook, and with the lovely friends and relatives that I have, I received a plethora of recipes. Some tried and true favourites, others the result of a Google search, etc. etc.
I reviewed each of these recipes with care, and also drew on my memory of the night before and tried to recall some of the key flavours…. carrots, check. Ginger, check. But then, some of the recipes I was sent, had… butternut squash… hm… nutmeg.. no no nutmeg at The Bothy. Garlic? I don’t remember garlic! Thicken with potato. Potato? Was it a white or yellow onion? And just like a memory flashback montage in a 1970’s movie, I had images of garlic, butternut squash, nutmeg and onions swimming around in my head. Best solution? Go back to The Bothy and ask for the recipe.
INTERRUPTION: If I’m getting too verbose, you can stop here. My soup is done, and I’m happily eating a bowl of it right this minute. Splatters of orange on the keyboard as proof.
You’re still there? How lovely! Let’s continue…
If you remember last Saturday, June 23, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and it required absolutely no effort to get Michael interested in an afternoon on a sunny patio.
I asked for the recipe, and Ray-the-Bothy’s-chef came out an talked to us. He’s a decent sort of person, and was happy to share the ingredients along with some tips. I’ll share with you because I believe in sharing (except my daily allotment of milk chocolate that I have with my late-night tea. Touch that and you risk harm).
Now, the ingredients are this:
“Wash, don’t peel your carrots” says my new friend Ray. “All the nutrients are in the skin”. Peel that away and you might as well be eating white bread. (That last sentence was my own. Ray did not say that).
“Scrape your ginger with a spoon. This way you don’t waste valuable ginger when peeling it off with a knife”. OK Ray, got that part, but no where, I mean NO WHERE have I read how miserable a task it is to grate ginger. I pulled out my trusty box grater, used the second smallest hole, and ended up with a pool of ginger juice and a few bits of ginger stuck to the grater. Nothing else. I stood there for a few seconds saying, “WTF?”. I girded my loins. I used the cheese-grating side of my box grater, and ended up with a pile of ginger string. Now what? If you were invited over for supper, I’d strain the soup. But in my Test Bowl, I did have a few strings of ginger. Sounds appealing to kids though!
** CARROT SOUP now with GINGER STRINGS!! **
I could easily sub-title that, “Watch Grandma pretend she’s a cat with a hair ball!”. The strings of ginger are just that – stringy. But easily enough removed.
Any tips you might have about how to effectively grate ginger will be appreciated.
The great thing about soup is you don’t have to fuss with chopping your veg. Rough chop is fine. Toss the lot of vegetables in your pot and saute for about 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper, chicken stock. Simmer for as long as you have. Blend until velvety smooth.
Ladle a generous amount in your favourite soup bowl, add a bit of cream. Eat.
Today is December 31, 2011. Long gone are the days when Michael and I would head out and celebrate until midnight. Instead, we stay in, eat pizza, drink a bottle of Prosecco, remain in our most comfortable of clothes, listen to tunes, watch a movie, and basically relax. Truth is, it is also the night after our wedding anniversary, and your writer might have celebrated a bit too much if you know what I mean.
But in the dull, lazy haze of the day after, I also had a great opportunity to reflect on the past year. Rather than blather about it, I’ll show it to you in pictures.
We live in a little two-bedroom apartment with a storage cupboard. The storage cupboard is chock full of 6-bottle cases of wine from the Opimiam Wine Club. Michael, meanwhile, has boxes from our move last spring with no where to put them on account of my wine collecting.
Michael shakes his head every time we get a Pick Up Notice telling us that a new case of the Opimian Select has arrived. It’s like Christmas. But every month! The Opimian Select is where you leave the wine selection to the pros. They choose, pack, and send. I have boxes I haven’t even opened yet. They come every month. The cost? $85.00 a case. Works out to $14.17 for a GREAT bottle of wine. I have not been disappointed yet. (Prices are in Alberta in case you are reading this in some other province, territory, country).
We have a bit of a back-log of wine to get through. Yes, we like our wine, but we’re not BIG wine drinkers. We open a bottle most likely on a Friday. Definitely on Saturday, especially when I put on my imaginary apron and cook up something that requires effort – meaning more than opening a can or lifting the plastic lid off a Safeway roasted chicken and peeling a few potatoes. Of course, there are mid-week emergencies, when things go sideways with work or friends or family – all these require the nerve soothing magic of a glass of wine.
I was not born with a natural tendency for relaxation like my new friend Shamus. I need a little boost to get me to a relaxed state. Sometimes it’s wine. Sometimes a soak in a tub. A massage. Relaxing music (NOT that crap with tweeting birds). I love the sound of tweeting birds, but in real life. Not out of the Bose.
Anyway, the reason for this post, is to confess to my husband that I have, contrary to what I promised earlier, have renewed my Opimian membership for another year. *grits teeth in anticipation of a loud exclamation from The Man Den*
Here’s the thing though. Canadian liquor boards and consumers have used Opimian as a de facto test market for new brands. Spain’s Freixenet, Australia’s Rosemount Estate and Scotland’s The Macallan all started out as Opimian selections before becoming mainstays in the Canadian market. Opimian is a quietly influential national wine-buying club that has aided in sophisticating the adult-drink trade in Canada. (Taken from Wikipedia).
I also found out Doug from The Bothy has been an Opimian member for 29 years! 29 years! He’s Big Into Wine. I respect his wine knowledge and his cellar is impressive. If you haven’t been to The Bothy yet, I suggest you go. It is an experience.
I can only dream of having that level of experience, but I will, with each bottle I open, learn something more about my favourite beverage. Okay, yes, gin is also a favourite, but so is a Coke Slurpee and tea, of course.
But wine is a hobby. I spoke of it before, and I say again, if you are like me, the sort of person who likes to write, jot notes, scribble, play with stickers and click pens for fun, the Moleskine Wine Journal is a great way to document what wine’s you’ve tried. I started doodling in there, not taking it too seriously, but as my documentation of the wines we’ve tried grows, the more I learn. It’s been particularly helpful to keep track of the various offerings I’ve received from Opimian.
Thanks for listening. I had to document my reasons for being a member to help support a discussion that I think will be held over supper tonight. Wish me luck! *squeeeeee*
One more thing before I sign off: A shout out of CHEERS across the country to a dear friend in Halifax who has been an immeasurable support to me. She’s almost as therapeutic as a glass of wine. Almost. We can’t let this get to her head. 😉
Some times, just some times, I wish I would just kick back and relax without feeling the urge to take pictures of our supper, our wine, then write about it. But, I love it, so even on a quiet Saturday evening such as this, with a tomato-beef-mushroom pasta sauce on the burble on the stove, and a glass of wine beside me, I get an simple joy posting my little diary entry for the day. There’s a picture of the wine as you can see. The sauce kept steaming up my lens, so I gave that up lest the steam would ruin some electronic doohickeys in the camera.
My readership dropped the last day, and I am feeling a wee bit twitchy that I’ve lost you. Or, maybe you all have proper lives and are socializing with human beings and not sitting in front of the computer 75% of you waking day.
For your entertainment pleasure, here I am juggling flaming torches in one hand, while standing on a ball, holding a hoop in the other hand and hoping the tiger waiting to jump through it ate his supper.
Believe it or not, Michael and I are going to integrate with humanity this evening as we take in the play Any Night at the Art Barns. This is a good thing, because presently we are back-to-back in our computer rooms, each of sitting at our respective computer-machines, glass of wine beside each, and both of us plugged into our own iPods – me listening to U2, and Michael to Emerson Lake and Palmer. Maybe this is why we’ve lasted together over 24 years?
At the rate I’m going through my wine, it will be a surprise if I can make it to the Arts Barns without tipping over. Especially since we are forgoing supper until after the play. I don’t know about you, but I find it awfully uncomfortable sitting for 90 minutes or whatever it is with a tummy full of food. And we won’t even talk about how I feel if that food decides to ferment into gas, and well… you know…. I’m not quite at the age where I’d be proud to let er rip without a care in the world. Not in public anyway. Close. But not yet.
To give this post “some” substance, let’s talk about the wine I’m drinking. I picked this Tierhoek Chinen Blanc (not pronounced SHIN-IN BLANK as I do, but more like SHANNON BLAWNK). It’s a lovely, lovely, lovely white from South Africa. I met this wine at Bin 104. They have stellar staff at Bin 104, and I highly recommend that if you need wine, but not quite sure where to start, to go here. The staff are extremely helpful, friendly, and approachable. The place has the appearance of being a snobby wine store, but it’s not. It’s got the goods AND friendly, helpful staff. They didn’t have their faces buried in computers and clipboards as they do at another favourite wine store. And if that isn’t cause enough to go there, it is also just a few doors away from The Bothy.
If you are going to the play tonight and see us, please come by and say hello.