June 19, 2013

Bald Eagles, Bulldogs, Bards, Beer and Bears

With only mild apologies for the alliterative title, it has, indeed, been a week full of "b"s. I'll throw in some whisky and wine info at the end for good measure.
Bard on the Beach is an annual Shakespearean festival that takes place in Vanier Park in Vancouver. Last week, we took in the first preview of Twelfth Night, and it was brilliant. For a play written over 400 years ago, this is one which can be remarkably fresh, hilarious and entertaining, if done well. This current production, set in a spa in 1913, had the audience erupting in peals of laughter, audible sighs of empathy and spontaneous applause. It was so good, that I immediately went home and bought tickets for Hamlet, Measure for Measure and Elizabeth Rex (by Timothy Findley). If you're in Vancouver, take in at least one. You'll be thoroughly entertained.
Saturday was beautiful, so Gerald, his daughter, Lis, and I headed up to Whistler. Lis is working on a  fabulous new CBC The Nature of Things series called Wild Canada, which will air in winter 2014. We stopped in Squamish, so that she could scout out an area for some future filming. We arrived just as preparations for an exciting race were underway, but Whistler was calling.
The sea to sky highway is aptly named and the scenery en route to Whistler is spectacular. We stopped along the way to check out, via binoculars,  a bald eagle's nest where Mummy eagle was sitting nearby, looking large and serene.
On this perfect day, Whistler Village was bustling. Without doubt, this is a four season location. Lunch involved food and a Whistler Brewing Co Whiskey Jack Ale.
I don't purport to be a beer expert, but I concur with this description from the company website - This proprietary dark-amber recipe is dry-hopped with English Kent hops for a true craft beer experience. Warm, copper colour. A well-rounded mouthfeel with subtle bittering. A perfectly balanced session ale.
If you read my previous post, that's 2 down, 66 to go. A Whiskey Jack is a bird, by the way.
Whistler/Blackcomb is a vast mountain area, so we took advantage of the Peak 2 Peak Alpine experience which involves a gondola to the top of Whistler, another one from Whistler Peak to Blackcomb peak and the return journey.
The Peak to Peak gondola, which holds several statistical world records, is nothing short of remarkable. It is 4.4 kms long, has a free span of 3.03kms between supporting towers, is 436m above ground and can move over 4000 people an hour. I could have ridden back and forth on that thing all day. Fantastic.
Blackboards told us that there were 60 bears on the top of the mountain. On the descent, we finally spotted two large, cuddly looking, grass chewing black bears, one of which was a beautiful grizzly bear colour. We were so delighted that no one wanted to stop looking and reach for the camera, but we saw them. Made my day!
You're probably wondering about the bulldog. It found it's way into this story by way of a fierce looking beverage called a Mexican Bulldog  (double margarita with a Corona dripping into it through a lime wedge) - an early Father's Day drink!
Scotch suggestion
GlenDronach 15 year old "Revival" Single Malt Scotch Whisky
If peat isn't your thing, then this is a fantastic dram, with rich toffee, sweet oranges and cloutie dumpling on the nose. It's rich and full on the palate, with butterscotch and more oranges. There's a long, chewy toffee finish and a bit of spice. Maturation was in oloroso sherry casks. Unfortunately, the Revival isn't on the shelves at the LCBO at the moment. There is a 15 year old at the SAQ, for $93, but I can't tell if it's the Revival or not. Worth dropping in to take a look, if the description appeals.
Wine with an ice cube
It might seem a bit crass to add an ice cube to a glass of cold white wine, but that's exactly what I did with this wine. About 17 months ago, I was in Chile and tasted the same wine at the winery.  My Chilean article is here. Funnily enough, I remember it being served ice cold in a frosted glass and it was delicious. When I picked this bottle up last week, I found it to be too big, concentrated, rich, boozy and a bit fat (lacking in acidity), even after chilling it down. One ice cube fixed all of that. My sipping companions agreed. So, in addition to asking for a bucket to chill down warm red wine, speak up if you fancy an ice cube.
Next up - Okanagan Valley. I'm heading off tomorrow to taste some of Canada's finest. Undoubtedly, I'll write about that next..........