Matcha coming atcha

I’m very sorry for that headline; it’s Monday morning as I write.

Anyway, this is my cranky take on matcha tea for the National Post. I love the stuff but worry that its trendiness will ruin it.

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Spring drinks: Chianti, Bacardi, saison

Hey, look! Three recent National Post columns:

Saison beer is delicious, but you’ll never find out unless you run out and grab some. (Well, at least if you live in Canada, where shortages and empty liquor store shelves are a way of life, à la pre-1989 Poland.)

• Congrats to Vancouver bartender Mike Shum, who won some sort of Bacardi-sponsored contest for this lovely creation, the Chan Chan cocktail. It’s a daiquiri twist that’s really worth making for yourself at home.

Chan Chan BacardiSM

• Finally, get yourself some Chianti and cook up some red-sauce Italian and fuhgeddaboutit.

Drink sherry.

sherrySM

About once a year, I write a column in which I argue for the revival of sherry, which is probably not what you think it is, if indeed you ever think about it at all.

My excuse this time? Thanks to Talia Baiocchi, there’s a new book to serve as your guide to the surprisingly exciting world of one of the least-understood wines around. As she puts it, a wine “so misunderstood that one wonders whether it was the victim of an elaborate smear campaign involving all of the grandmas, everywhere.” I dare you to ignore the whole misguided sherry-is-for-grandmas notion and just try it.

Down with the children’s menu!

 For a generation, many North American parents have indulged children’s picky eating tendencies by sticking them in an endlessly repeating loop of chicken fingers, burgers, pizza, plain pasta, mac and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Anyone who has sat down for a meal with youngsters over the past 25 years will recognize this list of typical “kids’ foods.” Pushed out of the picture, to varying degrees for different children, are fruits and vegetables and anything else that might challenge them, from spicy delicacies to unfamiliar proteins. To picture what this might look like to a visitor from almost anywhere else in the world, imagine we just mashed up some bread and cheese and mechanically separated chicken flesh together, called it Kiddy Chow, and bought it by the bag to rip open to feed the tots.

To kick off its new weekly Saturday Feature, the National Post was recently kind enough to play host to my rant about the boring food we feed to children. Read the full story here.

My ebook will tell you how to make cocktails (updated with links to buy)

On Dec. 4, my first e-book will be released.

UPDATE: Here’s where to buy it:

iTunes
Kobo
Amazon
Google
Barnes & Noble
OverDrive

Drink Different: A Refreshing Guide to Home Mixology is based on my columns in the National Post, but I rewrote stuff and added to it so that it functions as a primer on making cocktails at home. That’s fun and easier than you might think.

As a teaser, you can read the first chapter here.

Anyway, if you have a thirst, a thirst for knowledge, and an e-reader …

‘Bring a thirst to Nova Scotia and it will be slaked’: Update

Have you ever noticed how many microbreweries and wineries there seem to be in Nova Scotia these days? Not to mention a couple of small distilleries. Back in October, I went to the province to check out the booze scene, with an eye to writing a travel piece about drinking one’s way through Nova Scotia. Fun to do, fun to write.

Cool water seeps into my boots as Ben Swetnam guides me through the fine mist that lingers over the vineyard. It is an October morning, the height of harvest season at Avondale Sky Winery. Ben plucks a cluster of L’Acadie blanc grapes off the vine and hands them to me for a nibble.

Read about the trip here …

[UPDATE] … and about Ironworks Distillery here.

(Both photos by yours truly.)

A whisky odyssey for Burns Day

Glenfiddich Distillery Malt 15 Years Old

In today’s National Post I relate the story of the most wonderfully strange junket I’ve ever been on. It involved three days in Scotland, two in Denmark, a lot of whisky and plenty of insight into what makes Scotch whisky the beloved spirit it is.

To wit, one nugget I had to cut from the story for length: Male distillery workers will sometimes wear women’s grooming products. When you’re nosing 300 casks a day, explained Glenfiddich’s affable malt master Brian Kinsman, “You have to buy ladies’ deodorant. Unscented men’s doesn’t exist — or at least I haven’t found it.”

The principal lesson, however, was that marketing Scotch means being up for new ideas and adventures: trying venison with sticks, holding meetings in Malaysia and maintaining ties to quiet little whisky festivals in Denmark. Continue reading “A whisky odyssey for Burns Day”

Rob Ford as muse in National Post

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Humpty Dumpty. Ford as Godzilla. Ford as a plain garden variety fat blob.

Has it ever occurred to you that Ford gets caricatured a heck of a lot? Like, for example, here, here and oh yeah, here ? I was sort of turning this over in my head, trying to figure out whether this is just plain, old-fashioned mean lampooning of a fat man. Or  are Ford’s physical flaws fair game in the age-old game of political caricature? I couldn’t decide, and being in debate with oneself typically leads to a good story, especially an essay-style one.

Good or not, I got to speak with some very thoughtful and persuasive people along the way and this is what I came up with for the Saturday, Jan. 7 edition of the National Post.