The Blue Elephant rose to fame when two members of Mumford and Sons tasted their home brewed pilsner and asked to make it the official beer of their ‘Gentleman of the Road‘ tour in 2013. Owner Heather Pond-Manorome agreed and quickly turned what started as a 20th anniversary present to herself into a full blown microbrewery. This expansion contributed massively to the area’s economic impact so Heather kept it going giving 10% of the ‘Gentleman’s Beer’ proceeds to charity.
Natalie Preddie is now on video! Stay tuned for more worldwide adventures.
Burning Kiln winery is nestled in the heart of Norfolk Country, Ontario’s garden. A former tobacco growing region, Norfolk County is now also home to a number of unique wineries who have repurposed their land in order to produce some of Ontario’s finest varietals. Like Prince Edward Country and Niagara wine country, Norfolk has a microclimate which helps create ideal conditions for grape growing.
Each Burning Kiln wine is named after a particular part of the former tobacco farming process including ‘Strip Room,’ which is the Official wine of the Ontario Legislature. Burning Kiln uses French vines and covers twenty-six stunning acres of land, growing eight different varietals: four white and four red. The winery has won sixty awards in the past 5 years using the Italian appassimento style of winemaking.
Simcoe was made famous by Mumford and Sons’ gentleman’s tour a few years ago but other than that, Norfolk County is fairly unknown. They are that quiet friend that never talks about himself and then years later, you find out that they invented bit coin or something or single handedly cured Polio: humble but has so much to brag about. Norfolk County is that friend.
Hailed as Ontario’s garden on the South West coast, Norfolk is famous for its international export of Ginsing, hazelnuts, potatoes, pecans and more. The thing that I love most about this area are the people who live and work here. Most were born & bred in the area and many of those who left came back. Of all the many residents I met, the most common phrase I heard was, ‘There is something really special here [Norfolk County] and I wanted to be part of it.‘
From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we felt like we were welcomed into a family. Every winery, brewhouse and restaurant would talk about how amazing the other one was. They supported each other instead of competing with one another, dedicated to the rise of Norfolk region and not just their particular business.
I’m giving away tickets to Summer Craft Beer Fest 2015 featuring some of the best craft beers on the planet. Not only will the winner receive two tickets to the July 9th festival in Liberty Village, they will also win two tickets to the after party hosted by Tiger of Sweden and Broken Social Scene drummer, Justin Peroff.
To enter, name your favourite craft beer or cider in a comment on the bottom of this page
A weekend in New York City will forever remain one of the most fantastically fabulous travel destinations of all time…and that is exactly how I would describe my time in NYC.
The combination of NYC Pride and America’s new law on same-sex marriage made this specific weekend in NYC the ultimate destination for culture, celebration and camaraderie. I felt very much part of this massive metropolis as I and a million of my closest friends all danced, ‘cheers’ed’ and sang the nights away.
I wasn’t a ‘typical tourist’ which for me means that I didn’t ‘hop on or hop off’ anything, I didn’t carry a large camera and backpack, and I didn’t go up the Empire State Building. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tourist attraction but my assignment (given to me by one of my editors) was to curate where to stay, eat and play for a stylishly chic, deliciously indulgent weekend in NYC.
On a scale of ‘every single day’ to ‘never ever,’ tasting whisky that has been aged in space is most likely on the latter end of that scale. Luckily, Ardbeg, a scotch maker from Islay (an island in the north of Scotland), brought some of this single malt experiment to whisky bar, The Caledonian, for a taste. We tasted everything from full 10 year old Scotch to their Supernova: The Ultimate Islay Single Malt and finally, the space whisky: Perpetuum.
First of all, Ardbeg is a very unique brand of Scotch: It is an award winning single malt with a world wide cult following. When drinking a glass of Ardbeg, one feels as though they should be in the foyer of a Scottish castle, fire roaring, mist rolling over the highlands and Celtic suits of armour standing at attention on either side of a long, ominous looking staircase- The start of an Agatha Christie murder mystery perhaps? You can feel the Celtic roots, the authenticity and the passion in one sip. Although I won’t pretend that it is an entry level scotch, once you do fall in love with Ardbeg, I imagine you will be hooked for life – (I just bought a few bottles in Duty Free).
Now the cool part: In 2011, space research company Nano Racks LLC contacted Ardbeg with a proposal. They wanted to evaluate maturation differences on Earth vs in space and could they use an Ardbeg scotch for this experiment. Of course, Ardbeg jumped at the opportunity to make what seemed like science fiction, a reality.The Scotch orbited the planet on the International Space Station at 17,227 miles per hour, 15 times a day. The world’s first whisky experiment touched down in Kazakhstan in September 2014 before being taken to Houston for exhaustive research, all of which will be published in a white paper at some point in the near future. Until then, a portion of ‘Space Ardbeg’ (aka. Perpetuum) began its world tour…on land. You can track its whereabouts here: http://www.ardbeg.com/ardbeg/ardbeg-space-tracker
Describing words aside, what did this actually taste like? It tasted like a characteristic Ardbeg: is a true Scotch lovers whisky. While there arehints of sweet, it is peetey and rugged; full of robust spice, tobacco and wood. Let me be clear: This is not the whisky that you mix with Coke pre-bar on a Saturday night. This is the whisky you pull out after dinner when you are trying to impress someone who has a full moustache.
It is unclear as to whether this space whisky will be available in the LCBO but keep an eye on the ‘Space Tracker’ just in case. Even if you aren’t a Scotch drinker, the novelty value alone will be worth the price of the bottle. Regardless, definitely give Ardbeg a ‘wee nose,’ as the Scottish would say. The island of Islay has some very distinctive Scotch qualities that are definitely worth exploring.
Ardbeg 10 Years Old Islay Scottish Whisky is available at the LCBO for $99.95.
Perpetuum is available in Vintages at the LCBO for $186.95
On a recent trip to Kenya, I discovered a refreshing East African cocktail called ‘Dawa.’ Dawa is the Swahili word for ‘medicine’ and definitely cures a whole host of ills- mainly thirst, jet lag and the desire for a delicious cocktail.
At a restaurant appropriately named Carnivore (they serve 20+ different BBQ’d meats), in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, a man attends each table with a ‘Dawa’ tray similar to that of a 1940’s cigarette girl. On his tray sit the ‘Dawa’ ingredients: a bottle of vodka, fresh limes, honey and ice. He makes one at a time, combining everything on his tray before passing guests their low ball glass with a ‘Dawa Stick.’ This stick is a hand carved pestle style piece meant for stirring your drink and crushing the fresh lime as you go.
Although I don’t know where to buy a ‘Dawa Stick’ in Toronto, I did bring home the recipe to share with you. I highly recommend enjoying a ‘Dawa’ on the deck or patio this summer as a pre-meal drink, a sipper post BBQ or just because. Don’t worry about the lime crushing stick- I think a spoon, straw or even your finger will do the trick.
1 or 2 shots of Vodka
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 Tablespoon of fresh lime
Chunks of lime
Small chunks of broken ice
Put all of the ingredients in a glass. Stir well with the ‘Dawa Stick’ (or your finger) and crush the fresh lime chunks with the stick as you enjoy the drink!