Summer Solstice 2012 Cider Showdown Results

On Saturday we held the Summer Solstice Cider Showdown. Three competitors entered their home-brewed cider and many attended to take advantage of the drinks and food on offer.

The winner by a landslide was G-Ram with his deliciously sweet Maple Honey Cider. When he bottled his brew he added not only the required priming sugar, but maple syrup and honey. Somehow he was able to move the bottles without them exploding. When I went to pour them out it was like opening bottles of super-charged champagne! Congrats to G-Ram who walked away with some mayo and fresh eggs, all supplied by the hens. They didn’t make the mayo or package the eggs, but they did lay the main ingredients.

Other notable tastes of the night were LSW’s chicken wings and pizza, Jon’s rum brownies and Mike’s quinoa salad!

Looking forward to next year’s showdown, but if I don’t win next year, I’m not doing it again.

New addition to the flock

Well not really a new chicken, and not really a bird we were expecting to keep. This morning I noticed the cat with her first (as far as we know) kill. When I walked up to congratulate her, I quickly took back my high-fives and “booyahs” as she hadn’t killed our new friend, the dove. At first glance it didn’t look too bad, no blood, nothing hanging off or twisted in the wrong direction so I took it off the cat.

I thought the eyes looked pretty. The cat thought they looked delicious.

After carrying it around for a while and calming it down I decided to let it go, to soar back up to the heavens, to sing its song once again….ah shit, can’t fly still. With the epic release spoiled by its injuries, I picked it up again and created a temporary home for it on the patio where is can rest up away from hungry cats and people trying to get it to fly.

I don't think we'll be eating this bird, so does anyone have any ideas for a name?

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s doing. Hopefully it’ll mend and be on its way.

Bucketing or pissing it down?

Someone realized that we didn’t have enough words for rain, and decided to create a scale with names and definitions over at the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18458966

For any Douglas Adams fans, you might remember the truck driver in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish who had two hundred and thirty-one different types of rain in his system. (excerpt of chapter 2: http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/tomsnyder/hg-4-02.html)

Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Very last minute, like most things in my life, we decided to visit the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, ON (http://cheesefestival.ca/). Completely worth it!

The entrance is $35 in advance, which gets you into the grounds and a cooler bag with lots of bits and pieces inside including a souvenir sampling glass and ten sampling tickets. These tickets came in very handy later in the day. More on that later.

After the drive out to Picton (about 2 1/2hrs) we finally figured out where to park and went through the gates to find a moderately sized festival. To some it may have been a little disappointing, but to us it was perfect. Each day is limited to 1200 visitors which helps keep things less crowded and you’re able to get to the different exhibitors without feeling like you’re lined up for a roller coaster in the middle of summer. A volunteer informed us of a cheese tasting seminar about to start. I wanted to just write an “imminent cheese seminar”, but I thought that was too dramatic.

We lucked out and got seats without having to wait. The seminar focused on Canadian cheddars which was perfect for us. Each guest was given a plate of different cheddars ranging in age from a few hours (the curds were made that morning) to years old. After giving a little history on each dairy and explaining each cheese we smelled, felt and tasted each piece. By the end we were feeling quite stuffed. I’d estimate we were given about a 1/4 lb of cheese on the plate.

Loads of cheese, loads of cheddar!

At the end of the seminar it was announced there was a prize for whoever answered the trivia question correctly. My Long Suffering Wife told me I had to win. Pressure’s on. Question: How many dairies are there in Canada? I remembered the host mentioning the number at the beginning of the seminar and somehow it had stuck. Hand up, they pick the man in front of me. He gets it wrong. Hand up, they pick me! 12,965! We won a really nice cheese board from the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Sweet victory!

After consuming all of the aged cheddar, we were suffering from severe cotton-mouth. We visited a winery booth to sample their vintages. Three tickets later and we were given about an inch of wine in the bottom of our glasses. As 1 ticket = $1, we thought it was a bit of a con. Turns out that the vineyard, that will remain nameless, was the only one gouging so deeply. Over to Creemore Springs, and one ticket was redeemable for a full glass of beer! Sandbanks Winery was the same with their portions. Feeling a little tipsy, we did what any one would in a similar situation; we visited the dairy animal exhibit.

Not a huge exhibit, but enough to keep people happy. We met sheep, goats, cows and water buffalo who were all very well behaved and happy to be pet.

Speaking of water buffalo, there were some meat vendors in attendance today. After sampling some jerky from one of the above’s family, we had to buy some to bring home. We also purchased some duck prosciutto after a sample. Probably the most amazing tasting fat I’ve ever had, and I hate eating fat!

Dear animals, why do you taste so good?

I don’t mean to come across as some carnivore who is only interested in eating animals. I love animals and I love them alive, but then again I’m eating leftover veal as I write this.

Another score today was picking up my order of cheesemaking supplies from Glengarry Cheesmaking Supplies (http://glengarrycheesemaking.on.ca/). I managed to get an order in for cheese wax and lactic starters just as Margaret, the owner, was leaving. Can’t wait to put some Thermophilic B to the test!

The start of some great cheeses.

We weren’t really sure what to expect from this festival, but we both agreed at the end of the day that the drive was completely worth it and I’d recommend the trip out to anyone. Just one word of advice, before you commit your sampler tickets to a vendor, watch the portion they pour.