Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogging Winchester: Eat, Drink, Drive, Gamble, Hockey

Eat, Drink, Drive, Gamble, Hockey ... not necessarily in that order.

Eating the Canadian Way: Jim asks me if I have had any Canadian delicacies such as Kraft Canadian slices on white bread ... well no, although I did slap some thinly sliced pepper salami onto some "brown bread", now conventionally known as whole wheat, for a snack the other night. My sainted mother cooks in the Anglo-Canadian style. It is hearty and tasty but not complex. We had a fabulous pork loin roast that mother thought was overcooked ... true but only ever so slightly, and it was still delicious, but Father and I conspired to let Mother catch some shut-eye in the recliner because she always needs it. Tonight we had a fabulous macaroni and cheese casserole, but I didn't eat that much because we had lunch at the Rideau Carleton Racetrack which has senior day on Thursdays. They also have slots which I will address below briefly. I cannot confess as to what cholesterol bomb I fell prey to, although it is named after an American city with an exceptional claim to being the father of American independence.

Yesterday, of course, I had a mess of wings which are pictured above. I have not had my traditional grilled cheese sandwich at Mary's Restaurant. I did have a passable Caesar salad at the National Gallery. I bought mother some pea meal bacon ... she tends to avoid it because it is expensive ... and she made that with eggs one night. We have some kind of hot cereal every morning, but Red River Cereal is just too much trouble at this point given the enormous agenda that Mother has. Remember, Dad had that stroke, and mother works harder than I could keeping the whole thing together. Tonight we get homemade soup, which is my absolute favorite. Again, I share this with Father who is a big soup fan. I have specifically requested grilled cheese for lunch ... that is a particular comfort food.

I ordered pizza once to save on cooking on my birthday.

So Anglo-Canadian cooking is your basic white working class cooking. Not a lot of roughage ... we had salad one night, but had to throw the bag out tonight because it was no longer up to snuff. This is not a cuisine-driven culture. But what we lack in cooking we more than compensate with politeness and manners and a warm fuzzy nationalism that would never be the first to declare war.

Even Gamblers Sometimes Win: We went to the Rideau Carleton Racetrack for Thursday senior day. They have a vast restaurant designed to maximize viewing of the trots. No races today, of course, but plenty of oldsters enjoying the view and the $5 lunch. You have to walk through the "casino" ... actually a vast room with slot machines ... to get to the restaurant, but they have a side entrance so that children can come with their parents to the Sunday brunch.

Not much of a gambler, here, but dad plopped $20 into a 25 cent slot machine. Somehow he ended up with $40.25, and I suggested he declare victory and move on. He did, but while I cashed the 40 dollar victory fund, he killed another $5. That is about as far as the family gambling streak goes, outside of a highly focused lottery strategy. The place was filled with seniors. I don't quite get slot machines, but if it is amusing, what can one say.

Photo above is from the lobby of the Rideau Carleton Racetrack, taken in January 2007.

Driving the Countryside: On the way back, we detoured through Marionville. Before that, I stopped the car to take the photo directly above ... it is a mural on the side of the wall of a little jewelry outfit in the tiny town of Metcalf. These small towns around here are such sweet places to live that I wonder why they are not inundated. Like my dad, I think that all these towns would be well-advised to re-create themselves as cultural outposts. The town of Merrickville did just that, although it is certainly uniquely blessed with a large number of stone structures.

I love driving through the countryside, especially because of the crazy old barns and farm houses. Mother loves the trees and I think that Dad especially loves the countryside.

I do not know what more to say about this ... it is all a little bittersweet as I prepare to leave again.

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The Great Martini Quest: My oft-mentioned roommate and bartender RL and I plotted my drinking behavior with precision before I left. I had careful instructions in hand on how to make an exquisite martini nightly. So on the Saturday after I arrived, I headed to the LCBO ... the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and if there is nothing that more defines the persistence of Canadianness into the 21st century than the idea and reality of an LCBO, I hardly know what it could be. The best gin on hand was Tanqueray, and only dry vermouth was Martini. Ice, of course, was ready to hand, and we had decided that the best way to make the martini was to pour the ingredients over ice in a glass and stir. Then pour the contents into a pre-chilled martini glass, and voilĂ :

I don't have a proper measuring cup, so I use one of the many plastic medication measuring cups. The cow, by the way, in the background is names Chris the Cow, a gift of my Australian nephew Chris to Mother and Father. I had a little trouble finding the right olives, but these ones are pretty good. The biggest problem was finding the glasses. Nowhere in town had anything even resembling a wine glass except for a little jewelry store which had a martini glass kit including shaker for $60; too much. My brother and sister-in-law fixed this though ... they gave me four fine martini glasses for my birthday.

So each night I have had a stiff martini ... a little more refined night-by-night ... and it has been almost as good as RL's.

I made a martini for my sister-in-law, and she gamely went after it. But she thought it was awful, and eventually I finished it for her. An acquired taste, apparently.

Hockey, hockey, hockey: That would be hockey,hockey, hockey, and more hockey after that. All and sundry are fanatical hockey fans, and the Montreal Canadiens, my Winchester brother's team, are in a good position to win it all. They play a fast pressing game that is reminiscent of the Warriors in the NBA, and they beat Boston 4-1 on Thursday night ... and the game was not as close as the score indicates.

Photos by Arod.

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