Monday, June 13, 2011

Beer, Chicken and Horse Racing, with a Knockout Finish

The weekend began with an excellent start, as I was able to go camping. I will fast forward past the setting up of the tent. We made some seriously high class burgers for a camp site. Bobby Flay would have been proud. Gordon Ramsay is too much of a dick to go camping, I suspect. 

There was a some beer, of course, but nothing too crazy. Each beer is like a tool and is good for some specific purposes and situations. Camping beers, like tailgating beers or session beers, need to be quaffable over long periods of time without undue intoxication. That is their purpose. A campfire is a commitment and you need a beer that can help you fulfill that purpose. With your beer in hand, you will stay steadfast in your commitment of poking and prodding the logs, staring at it, tromping through the forest looking for wood, etc. Not to mention the duty you have to cook something over the fire. This also requires refreshments.

It is important to plan when you are camping. Invariably, something is missing by the end of the night. Hopefully the loss if this item will not also result in the loss of your dignity. At one point we were duped by a raccoon who snatched our buns. This resulted in the loss of the burger's dignity (they were now naked after all) but the campers were all OK. A thicker sleeping bag will be high on my list next time I go camping. 

The camping trip ended on a high note. I snagged a bunch of books for $1 each at a church rummage sale we passed on the way home. For $10 I picked up the following books, all of them great hardcover coffee table books with pictures and illustrations.

Boxing - A Pictorial History - Harry Carpenter
This is probably my favourite book of the bunch. It is packed with incredible shots from every era of boxing. Decade by decade, Carpenter animates the tensions between the fighters of that time and makes cases for the greatness of each serious champion. The photos are incredible. The history and emotion in these images is amazing to see.

National Geographic - The Photographs by Leah Bendavid-Val
A compilation of many of National Geo's most famous photos. The cover (the famous shot of the Afghan Girl) tells you exactly what kind of shots are in this book. They're all amazing.

The Medieval and Renaissance World - Ed. Esmond Wright
One of those history books with lots of little illustrations. Gave it a quick flip through and it looks really detailed and thorough.

The Masters - Dawson Taylor
Father's Day gift! This covers the history of the Masters golf tournament from inception until 1986, the year I was born. It has a distinguished green cover that suits it well.

Great Book of Hockey - Stan and Shirley Fishcler - 
Covers the birth of pro hockey until 1991, over 100 years of Hockey. Goes season by season. Epic find.

Wake of the Great Sealers - Text by Farley Mowat, Illust. David Blackwood
Farley Mowat writes about the life of a sealer (I guess) and there are accompanying illustrations. The pictures looked cool and I'm sure the story is awesome and Mowat is on a sort of rugged sea-poet/Moby Dick of the North vibe. I'll read the book and confirm but that's what I thing this book is about juding by its cover.

A Picture History of the Automobile - Peter Roberts
Like the boxing book but for cars. I don't care much for cars, but this book covers the olden days of the industry more a history book.

Faces of Canada - J Marc Cote Puliot
Hundreds of pictures and slice of life shots of Canadians from all over. There was some sweet Canadiana in this pile.

Between Friends/Entre Amis - National Film Board/McClelland and StewartThis is a photobook by the National Film board featuring photos from all along the length of the Canada/USA border.
and Finally...

The Joys of Wine - Clifton Fadiman and Sam Aaron
This was HUGE find. This was the biggest book of them all. When I'm finished I'll be up to date on the wine world in 1981. In other words, I will be a 30 years behind Josh.

The weekend continued without quitting in awesomeness. An important ingredient for how to have a good weekend is to never quit! Fun, it must be remembered, can be sustained for lengthy periods of time.

There was more to come.

Despite our ambitions, we did not attempt to cook the four bone-in chicken breasts that were brought to the campsite. The great challenge of my afternoon was to eat the chicken and read my books at the same time without greasing up the pages. Once a page turns clear because of the grease the book is ruined because you can see the next part of the story. I performed admirably. I assure you my books are not greasy. Not now. Not ever. It occurs to me that it would be cool to have a cafe/bar with a ton of great coffee table books to read.
Thai and Tandoori
Cajun and Rosemary/Thyme

As you can see above, the day was improving. I had scarcely thought that possible after making out like a bandit at the book sale. And yet here I was, sipping leftover Labatt 50s from the campsite and eating four kinds of chicken. 

The birds came out of the oven just in time for the Belmont
Stakes. I don't care about horse racing but it's 
still cool to watch. There was a Diamond League track meet on. I managed to get through half of the Boxing book by the time everything was cooked and eaten. Then came the UFC prelims from Vancouver where local fighter Sam Stout scored a huge knockout win over Yves Edwards. I am a big fan of Sam and this is his most impressive highlight reel win. I am in the best mood possible, really.

And yet there was room for more. The night was youthful and to be truthful I was in need of a mouthful. I believe a stout would do. A stout it would be to celebrate Sam's win. I hope a Canadian brewer names a beer after a Canadian fighter someday. Just sayin'.

Cheshire Valley Mild
Like any fighter worth his salt, you need to warm up first. You don't just take on the likes of a heavy hitting stout without getting ready and preparing as best you can. The bar was rammed after a Supertramp concert next door. I started off with a Cheshire Valley Mild. This is a very flavourful and more-ish session ale that you should try immediately if you haven't already. This would make a great camping beer. If you had a firkin of this at a campsite you could have it with sandwiches (BLTs) in the afternoon, pretty much any campfire chicken + bbq sauce combo for dinner, s'mores for dessert, and with bacon, sausages and eggs for breakfast.

I'm not saying you should drink all day. This is just a yummy beer that is good enough to have with breakfast. Besides, you're camping. Nobody's looking.
Nogne Better

I had a little sampler of Black Oak's Chocolate Cherry Stout to tide me over as the bottle I was really after was retrieved. Nogne Imperial Stout is a wondrous beer to behold. Another Nogne favourite is their Porter. This is a Norwegian brewery that has a the northern touch when it comes to putting together black ales with style for miles. This will warm your bones and still your hand. You can't drink this too quickly. There's just too much to do with a beer like this, there's so much dimension.

Resist pouring it as long as you can and let the bottle sweat a little. Pour, throw a nice head down, and just hang out with one of these things. Beers like this are what used to put meat on your bones, some warmth in your jacket, or sweat into your work. It'll certainly put a skip in your step.

This is a beer that makes the case (if it needed to be made) for smelling beer. Both beers--the Stout and the Porter--from Nogne are beers you can smell between every sip and enjoy every time. The slower you drink this the more you will be rewarded. Try smelling your way down a glass of this, drinking almost incidentally. Next time: oysters. I confess to having once considered sneaking in a nibble of cheese. But don't worry Milos, I didn't do it.

Finally, I spent the rest of the evening at the Single Mothers show.There is just something about these guys that I love. They always bring a crowd that's ready for some fun stuff in front of the stage. 

Combine camping beer, chicken, Norwegian beer, loud music and coffee table books. Add a knockout finish. And got to see the Mothers? You don't have to go far to have an adventure.