metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
Baby Ada's birth was the home birth we'd been planning for — kids safely at their grandparents, midwives we knew, intensity and joy and healthy everyone at the end. Elizabeth was very independent for most of labour, as she has been before — I fetched things, let midwives in, helped keep things clean and was just being present up into late pushing. We'd talked about my maybe catching Ada, but in the end I was busy holding Elizabeth and crying a bit as she pushed the last few times. I got to cut the cord, as I have for Oscar and Vivien. At home in our space was a nice place for a birth, and I felt quite involved.

Ada is pretty laid-back so far, and looking around a lot. She has a powerful suck, curious hands and neck and a variety of unconvinced facial expressions. She also sleeps really well in the baby carrier!

Elizabeth and I got a chance to give the baby carrier a whirl yesterday when our friend Seema generously offered to take the older two over to her place for a couple of hours. Thanks to her, we got to walk over to Brasseurs du Temps and have a little anniversary lunch date. Seven years of vaguely sacrilegious matrimony and crazy adventures! Our conversation was more sleep-deprived than deep, but it was really nice to make some time for our little dyad, and Ada helpfully snoozed almost the whole time. Also, BDT has really gotten comfortable in its skin and gotten into a refined and interesting beer groove. There was one unfortunate server comment about "ladies' beer" – La Grande Rivière is a tart, citrusy smacker of a beer that happens to be pink (and delicious to me and not Elizabeth's thing). Silly server. The presence of a tasty 2.4% session IPA (good for easing back into regular beer after 9 months on the pregnancy wagon) was exciting, though.
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
  • Vivien turned one, and then took her first steps on the pine forest floor the next day.
  • I swam in the pond every full day we were there.
  • I won the "Wooden Chef" contest by acclamation with my green pepper stuffed with camp leftovers and raspberry-beer sauce — I guess everyone else was busy or had insufficient stuff in their coolers by Sunday night. This means I get to judge next year!
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)

I liked this post about a positive subway experience a lot. The kids are all right :)

I've had couple of interesting beers lately. Both are a little off the beaten path, and both are quite happy to occupy centre stage — dessert or tasting beers, definitely, or your one/first glass of the night.

Traquair Jacobite Ale
This Scotch ale has a beautiful bottle, and is labelled as a flavoured beer. Both Scotch ales and flavoured beers can sometimes hit me over the head in an uninteresting way, but this one, part of a Christmas gift from [profile] the_arachne was definitely ahead of the pack in both genres. It's a dark red beer with a small, middling-thick, persistent head. I tried it after a short time in the fridge (just shy of room temperature). The flavouring here was coriander — not exactly a non-beer flavouring spice, being an ingredient in some white beers and others — and it was nicely balanced with the sweet, malty Scotch ale taste, giving the beer an interesting bite. It is very tasty on its own, but I imagine it would go nicely with buttery cheese like Oka.
L'Aphrodisiaque (Dieu du Ciel!)
Don't let this beer's somewhat silly label dissuade you. L'Aphrodisiaque is a chocolate stout with a hint of vanilla. It has the usual tight, persistent head and is tasty at room temperature, like many stouts. It's got a nice stout-y flavour, with added bitter and cocoa flavours mirroring the natural stout snap, and a whiff of vanilla in the nose and at the back of the mouth. Again, the flavouring doesn't overwhelm the beer, and it tastes like they used good chocolate. This beer is definitely tasty for dessert. It might put you in the mood for good chocolate, but I think it's probably at its best poured into a couple of little glasses and enjoyed unaccompanied.

cross-posted to [community profile] beer4breakfast

metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)

The holidays went by pretty fast — it felt like we were doing something social nightly for about two weeks. It's a good thing Oscar generally seems to like parties!

Christmas eve, we went over to Elizabeth's parents' place for the traditional nut loaf, cookies, rum balls and gifts. Christmas day, we drove to Ormstown and joined 17 or so family at my parent's place, feasting extensively and helping the new people get names straight. I had been a little sniffly on Christmas eve, but by Christmas day, I was full-blown sick, so a bit subdued. Boxing Day was sort of quiet, but three generations of my parents' next-door neighbours walked over to admire Oscar and say hi. The 27th was the annual Christmas bash with white elephant gift exchange (aka "steal the present") — last year there was one kid there, this year there were three and we were all starting to feel a bit grown-up. We got together at my friend A's parents' place, about 20km past civilization — Enterprise was out of compact cars and gave us something with four-wheel drive, which got some use as we were whacking through snow drifts to get there. On the 28th, we celebrated [personal profile] dagibbs' birthday with food and drink and cheer at his place, and on the 29th we celebrated [personal profile] frenchzie's housewarming and birthday. On the 30th was our mostly-weekly D&D game at our place, and on the 31st we stayed in and rung in the new year with the upstairs people from House of Flail, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Dominion, and some mead from 1999.

The most memorable presents this year were Ticket to Ride: Europe from Elizabeth (a rather addictive little game), a huge jug of Beau's Nightmärzen from my cousin Erica, and a medieval-looking Garden Weasel from my parents.

I've had two tasty gift beers lately. Most recently was Nightmärzen, from my cousin Erica, which is a bright amber beer, Beau's hoppiest beer and fall offering. It reminds me a little of a darker Grolsch — same fresh, sort of pungent hoppiness, with a bit more sweet, and kind of light and easy-drinking. It's got a nice fizz to it and a modest head. I think it would be most excellent on tap when I'm expecting to stay for more than one pint somewhere. A little before that was Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale, from [ profile] the_arachne — it's supposed to be a prime candidate for ageing, and I may get another bottle to stash away. Consumed at a few months old, it was like a light-ish, sweet barleywine (despite a lower alcohol content than most barleywines), with notes of somewhat rough port. It had big malty flavour as well, but definitely tasted kind of young and almost unfinished.
In resolutions and plans for the year, I'd like to build a trellis and get some peas and beans up this year, and maybe even manage to get pumpkins into our squash mix. I also would like to not buy stuff made with water that I could've reconstituted myself — juice from concentrate, any sort of tea in a bottle, and bottled water. This is inspired by seeing chai syrup for sale in our local fancy grocery store. I would also like to bike up into the Pontiac sometime this year, and get out on the bike sometime in every calendar month. To this end, I should really clean and lubricate my chain before I need a new one.

Places I've slept in 2010:

  • Eganville, ON.
  • Gatineau (Hull), QC. A lot.
  • Gatineau (Gatineau), QC.
  • Montreal, QC.
  • Mont-Tremblant, QC.
  • Ormstown, QC.
  • Ottawa, ON.
  • Quebec, QC.

In a little bit of rantiness, I've been fuming slightly over Google's ranking of restaurant pages. When I search for a restaurant, I probably want the official page (with menu, hours and phone) somewhere in the first hits, and failing that (or to help me decide), a review written by a real human with as much of that information as possible. The last thing I want is a listing scraped from the yellow pages, with Bing's best guess at where it is located, in which I can be the first to write a review or add information.

metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Fathered a child (well, I guess some salient bits were done in 2009), grew peas, built a hardwood floor, drafted a will, published a statistics paper, took a train in business class, drove a pickup truck.
thirty-seven more )


Nov. 6th, 2010 03:23 pm
metawidget: A traffic cone and a blue chair sitting in the parking lane of a city street. (art or moving)
I've been really enjoying Windhaven, by Lisa Tuttle and George R. R. Martin. It has Martin's sympathetic antagonists, believable politics and difficult world, but is much shorter and more focused — it's composed partly of adapted novellas, which I think helps keep the authors on track and address some interesting themes without the "ooh, I should jump to another character" of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I find the dialogue a little less real-feeling than in Ice and Fire, though. There are also shades of Le Guin and Heinlein, in the elegance and willingness to take on social issues (without Heinlein's occasional spasms of appalling). I think I'll have to give Tuttle-writing-alone a try sometime.

We've also been enjoying Au Maître Brasseur's "Selection" collection of beers — they're generally strong and many of them are lees-y, several are rich and aromatic, and all of them are tasty (although the Belgian blonde is one of those banana-beers due to those wacky Belgian yeasts, which I still find kind of odd).

For the first weeks of Oscar's life, we got a lot of postal mail — friends, forms, confirmations, cards! Hearing the mailbox go clank was kind of exciting. The flow seems to have stopped now, and we're left with the occasional special offer and pizza menu. I'm thinking I'll try to make use of Canada Post a bit more in the future, and keep the excitement going.

boo! )
moo! )

Oscar is tracking things with his eyes a lot these days, and kind of grabby (particularly hair, fingers and clothing for now, but my parents have told me of my baby efforts to disassemble everything within reach). He's got the hard 'G' sound figured out, and a few vowels from the back of the mouth, and he's definitely smiling a lot in social ways and in response to tickling.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
First, for my Dreamwidth readers, I've added extra tags to all my beer entries, so you can find things like beer I would happily pay for and the various beers I consider to be variations on the local lager with an easy click. Readers of the LiveJournal mirror: not all the tags made it over due to how I did the editing.

I think the biggest discoveries in the bucket were Belgian abbey beers — tasty, varied and generally complex. I'll have to try a few more over time! My personal favourite was one of the first ones I had: Orval. I also found Duvel to be "like a beer I like, but more so", which is a pretty good impression to get. I don't think I had any disagreeable Belgian beers in the bucket, although Duchesse de Bourgogne was a bit of a surprise.

Among the thirty beers, many were "the local lager" for a given country or region. There was a very strong central tendency to decent, grainy, easy-drinking beers here. At the "I think they should stick to distilled liquor" end of things was the unsettling Švyturys. At the happy end of the spectrum were Pietra, with its nice weight and flavour, and the first few aromatic sips of Hue. Although it's a "premium lager", Samuel Adams Boston Lager is in the genre and very tasty too.

The two memorable beers for me that don't fit into these categories were Weisen Edel-Weisse, for its notes of champagne and summer, and O'Hara's, for being a surpassing, balanced, tasty stout.

From here on in, it's beers of opportunity in my beer tag — I had an interesting Montreal stout and an Austrian lager lately, I may write one or both of them up soon…
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight, I tried Tsingtao lager, with a salad including cilantro, turnip greens and a simple vinaigrette. I poured it chilled into a skinny glass; it had no head to speak of and a pale golden colour. The aroma is a nice hoppy one, and the beer itself is fairly sweet and malty, with the hops reappearing in the aftertaste. It is a lot like Red Stripe, but bracketed with hops. I think the food pairing wasn't such a good one; it would have gone nicely with something more fried or salty, whereas the salad could've used something more bitter or tangy.

Tsingtao was the last beer remaining in the bucket. I'll post soon with a bucket-in-review including my favourites, and then I intend to review interesting beers I run across in other contexts.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Yesterday, I had Brasseurs de Montréal's «Chi Orientale». I'd had it once before at a barbecue; this time I had it a little chilled in a glass. It's a cloudy white beer with a thin, non-clingy head and dull brass colour. The initial sniff as well as the whole glass were dominated this time by ginger — I remember it being a bit more subtle last time I had it; this time it was definitely all ginger, with that slightly soapy real-ginger-beer taste. The white beer base was a nice choice, if I were to augment a beer with a hit of ginger this powerful, I'd have started with Blanche de Chambly. It has a definite prickle to it and is certainly a "beer for people who don't like beer," like Mort Subite but for the more adventurous.

Today, I had Red Stripe Lager. It is the local (export) lager from Jamaica, as far as I can tell. I poured it at fridge temperature into a skinny glass, and had it with cucumbers and a zucchini melt on a baguette (our garden's zucchini yield isn't quite equal to the tomato yield, but it's no slouch, either). It has a thin head, Compared to beers with similar roles, it is sweeter, maltier and much less hoppy. For something noticeably unhoppy, it has a nice aroma. Between the lack of hops and the low alcohol content, it doesn't quite square with my "warm geography beer" preconceptions, but it is unassumingly tasty, and quite drinkable, if perhaps not as thirst-quenching or come-again-ish as some of its less sweet cousins.

I have one more beer on the roster from my birthday bucket of beer: Tsingtao beer. It probably isn't the end of my beer posts, but I'll try and wrap up the thirty with some mapping out of how they relate to each other. It's been a very pleasant trip through the beers of the world!
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
This will be a short one: MB Rousse is a red beer from the same Maître Brasseur in Laval as I had the Noire from. I had it with baked stuffed squash, chilled slightly, in a pint glass. It has a red colour and a thin, clingy head; there are very few bubbles in it. The aroma and taste are both quite sweet and malty, and the mouth-feel is pretty light: it reminds me of a lighter-bodied Brutopia beer in its sweetness and simplicity. There are caramel notes and maybe just a hint of citrus-y acidity. This could be a very easy-to-drink beer, alone or with hearty food.

Hue beer

Sep. 14th, 2010 09:21 pm
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Today I made some spicy coconut milk-and-veggie soup, and decided to pair it with Hue Beer, whose label specifically indicates it is good with spicy food. I threw it in the fridge for an hour, and then poured it into a tall, skinny glass.

Hue doesn't have much head, but it is fairly bubbly and pale golden in colour. I think the first sip is the best — a waft of toasty grain an a little bit of aromatic bitterness, grain on the tongue and the prickle of bubbles. It's not particularly original, but Hue does it well. Further down the glass, it gets kind of unobtrusive, with it getting a little sweeter as the beer warmed up. It definitely is a with-food beer, although you might want to savour the first swallow or two before tucking into the food.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
I fell a bit behind on my beer blogging due to some excitement lately, but I actually have had a couple of tasty beers since Saturday.

On Saturday, while we were waiting for contractions to go from "noticeable" to "get thee to a midwife," we had some L'Affriolante. Bilboquet's label art is also kind of fun and sexy, like their beer. It's a honey-and-spice beer, with a little creamy, clingy head over a dark reddish-brown beer. It's not too sweet or heavy — substantial without being over the top. I had it in a little tumbler at room temperature. The honey is noticeable, and the spicing (cinnamon? nutmeg? Actually orange peel and coriander...) was pleasant but not overpowering, although it left my tongue a little bit tingly. The beer is malty and a little bit sweet. I think this is a drink-on-its-own sort of beer, or maybe with a sweet dessert.

Today, we both cracked open some stout — the classic postpartum beer with its meal-like qualities. I had Maître Brasseur Noire Classique. I had it in a pint glass at room temperature. It had a thick, sort of tangy foam, and an un-stout-like tang at first sip, but further down it had a more conventional bitter stouty taste, and hints of smoke and coffee, which were quite nice. It's not an overwhelmingly heavy stout, with a weight pretty similar to L'Affriolante, and has less chocolate and snap than O'Hara's, but is very drinkable with some interesting character in the latter half of the glass — the coffee notes are definitely dark roast, which I count as a good thing. I think this beer would be pretty unimpressive straight from the bottle — the smells really make it.

Maître Brasseur seemed to pop out of nowhere (actually, they were a Laval brewpub, I imagine they've pulled together a bigger facility now); it sounds and is packaged like a supermarket brand at Metro or something, but I've had a few of their beers in a non-review context before, and they are generally pretty good! The only AMB beer I've tasted that I might shy away from is their IPA — their American Pale Ale tastes more like IPA to me.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
It's been a few fun and distracting days since I actually drank Moretti (on Wednesday), but I did make a point of talking about it to gel my thoughts about it, so here are my recollections.

I had it, fridge temperature, in a tall, skinny beer glass with fettucine and home-made tomato-and-vegetable sauce. It's pale golden and has very little head and a moderate bubbliness. It has a bitter hoppy and grainy taste: sort of like Grolsch but maybe a bit further toward toasted on the fresh-to-toasted axis, and with some definite similarities to Molson Export. It's a light, unassuming Local Beer That Goes With Everything. Due to the grain notes and bitter hoppiness, I would pair it with starchy or savoury stuff: I just had some squash, carrot and miso soup, and it would probably go very well with that.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Floreffe Dubbel Abdjibier is a strong brown ale from Belgium. Doing them all in a row is not getting boring, as they are all rather different from each other.

Floreffe pours out to a dull brown beer with modest bubbliness and a soft cream-coloured head. I had it Sunday (and this post has been sitting in the editor since yestarday), slightly chilled in a stemless wine glass with stuffed tomatoes. It smells malty, and the first sips have a definite root beer taste: a little tingly, quite rooty, a bit sweet and malty. For a beer with pretty much the same ingredient list as all the other Belgian beers, the variety is quite astounding. I think it'd be a good tasting-alone beer, or maybe with root vegetables and mild fare.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
My beer drinking got a little ahead of my reviewing today.

Yesterday, after nailing down a hardwood floor in the nursery-to-be with my friend Marc, I had a Grolsch beer, right out of the fridge and right out of the bottle. I remember them being kind of skunky; I didn't find that as pronounced this time — it could be because it was well-chilled, or maybe they've tweaked the recipe (the distinctive bottle is 50ml smaller than it used to be, too), or maybe my taste buds have gone in new directions since undergrad. The beer did have a bright, untoasted taste with nice bitter notes, and it was very refreshing. I had some zucchini bread with it, but the real pairing was probably sweat.

I think the bottle got my parents to try Grolsch way back when, and the swing-topped reusable bottle is always a bonus — either for one's own brews, or for maple syrup, salad dressing, whatever…

Today, I had Maredsous 8 Bruin, chilled slightly, in a wine goblet, with Elizabeth and Tracy and a game of Settlers of Catan (It was a fun evening of supper, game and chat, and Elizabeth won). It is a brown beer with a big, stiff head. The head is a bit bitter and airy, and the first taste of liquid beer is dominated by bitter. After that, sweet and warm alcohol tastes rise up but the bitter sticks around. It's a substantial-tasting beer, and went well with the cooler weather tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I hadn't given enough credit to Belgian beers — Unibroue's take on the country is tasty as far as it goes, but the originals are a wider and, at least in my sample so far, subtler variety of tasty beers.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight, I had Duchesse de Bourgogne, with stuffed tomatoes and zucchini spread on toast. I had it somewhat chilled in a great big goblet.

The beer is dark red with a modest but persistent head that develops craters as the bigger bubbles pop. It doesn't look terribly unusual, and the aroma as I lifted the glass was a bit sweet, a bit malty… but when I put it to my lips, I discovered a beer that was very much like cider. This beer is apparently made with malt, but smacks you with a sweet, sour, apple-y taste while being darker and headier than any cider I've tasted. I could make out the malt a little bit, but mostly it was all fruit with a little spiciness and lots of tasty oomph. The aftertaste was more tartness and spice.

This is definitely an interesting beer, and I'd be interested to see how my cider-drinking friends, particularly those that are opposed to beer, would react. Judging by the ingredients and the honestly-gotten taste, I wouldn't affix my "not a beer" tag, but this has to be the most different beer in the lot so far.

I'm not sure what I'd drink this with — it went well with the tomatoes and the mild zucchini toasts because they didn't interfere with it. It might go well with some gamey or rich meat, or soft, not-too-violent cheese, too.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight, I had Sagres beer from Portugal, thoroughly chilled in a wine goblet, with stuffed tomatoes.

Like Pietra, I figured this would be The Local Beer — not much description on the label, national emblem front and centre. As such, I was expecting a versatile, easy-drinking beer.

In the glass, it had a middling-thin persistent head and very small bubbles, and a light brassy colour. The first taste was mostly of malt and grain — more directly sweet and less fresh-cut tasting than Bleue, and doing much more on the tongue than in the nose. Sagres was consistent all the way down, and very easy to drink. It played nicely with the onions and curry powder in the stuffed tomatoes. I think it might be a bit less refreshing and more of a with-food sort of beer — even cold there was a slight heaviness to it that was nice, but better-suited to mealtime than right after performing great feats in hot August weather.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Labatt Bleue is the beer that was around the house during my childhood. The label has changed several times since then, and they added a significant digit to the alcohol percentage, but it was my baseline archetypal beer. I think the Quebec-ness appeals to my dad (a well-rooted transplant to rural Quebec from what used to be rural Mississauga), and the simplicity, and the ubiquity and unpretentiousness.

I poured it, chilled, into a goblet-y water glass, and had it with bruschetta and beet soup (my dad has a habit of ordering the soup at restaurants — I remember lots of small orders of whatever main dish, and the soup — there is always a full stop after the word soup when he orders, too. Soup.) It had a thin, quickly dissipating head, lots of bubbles, and a pale golden colour. It doesn't have a whole lot of aroma or bitterness — the taste is of fresh grain. It's light but not watery, and quite refreshing. I suspect the ingredients list is pretty short. I thought tonight of rating all 30 beers by difficulty and tastiness at the end of this series, and Bleue is definitely well into the easy-and-tasty quadrant.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Pietra has a Comic Sans label and claims to be strong (6%) and contain chestnut flour. It comes in a skinny brown bottle. I tasted it with bruschetta.

Pouring it cold into a tumbler, it had a thin, quickly-dissipating head and a nice amber colour. Top to bottom, it had a nice aroma of grain and malt with a little bit of spiciness. Despite being basically transparent and light-coloured, it has a nice weightiness to it (but not too much). The bubbles were plentiful and prickly. It was a nice mix of interesting and refreshing — I could drink a lot of it in the right circumstances. It reminds me a little of Molson Ex (Do they even make it anymore? Apparently they do, but it had dropped off my radar… all I see is Canadian and Dry where I see Molson-branded stuff, and I see even more Coors light), but more so. I see it's also available (at least in Corsica) in 75 cl corked "formidables" — that seems like the right format for this straightforward and tasty beer.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
McEwan's is not new to me, but it's been a little while. I had it at room temperature in a pint glass, with squash ravioli and sliced tomatoes. It had a middling-thick, delicate head and a very dark red colour. The taste was pretty consistent all the way down: sweetish, notes of toastedness and toffee, and a strong alcohol flavour. It's pleasantly heavy, and the smell matches the taste. I thought it played nicely with the squash in the ravioli.


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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