The Smartest Man in Ottawa

On New Year’s Eve I braved the (slightly) below freezing temperatures and the dreaded OC Transpo bus system (ew, masses on mass transit, all of them breathing moistly) to hit the mall and get a bottle of bubbly for midnight. I knew it would be bad, but I did not know exactly how bad it would be.

Friends, it was bad.

Now, it was only bad because it was possible in the first place, and it was only possible in the first place because Ottawa, world capital of freezing rain, adores strip malls. Maze malls. Any form of mall except the kind where the pathway from one store to the next is enclosed from the weather. In any other year this is a true inconvenience and stupidity, but in Covidian Times it is the only thing that allows many retailers in Ottawa to remain open, as all enclosed malls are closed during the Lockdown.

So, friends, I was saying it was bad. It was perhaps 100 people in the lineup for the liquor store bad, that’s how bad it was.

Now, I’ve cut back on my alcohol intake to the point where my liver thinks it’s a virgin, but I do love my cava, and had even considered splashing out on some Macieira and blood oranges to make a very Iberian cross between a French 125 and a sidecar. But, kittens, I have my limits and a 100-person lineup is well past it.

Instead, I deked into Loblaws, which also sells wine. It was sold out of pretty much everything with bubbles except Mountain Dew and beer, so I grabbed a bottle of red, some instant oatmeal, and a bottle of rhodiola supplements, and was in and out in ten minutes.

As I was passing the liquor store I noticed that the lineup had shrunk to perhaps a dozen stragglers, so I got into it thinking “what the hell, did everyone just give up at the same time?” but then I realized I HAD wine, didn’t need more, and could probably catch the next bus home if I hustled, so I began hustling bus-ward.

At which point a genial man with a shopping cart asked, “What are you looking for? I have everything.”

I looked into the cart. He did, indeed, have everything. It seems I had just met the reason the lineup had vanished: this man had gone into the store, bought every bit of bubbly and booze he could afford, and wheeled the cart down the lineup asking people what they wanted.

An honest to god bootlegger, people. An honest to god bootlegger.

If I’d had my Vry Srs Jrnlist hat on (it’s a newsboy cap, of course) I’d have asked him what his markup was, but I was hustling bus-ward so we exchanged just a few words before I was out of earshot.

Earshot. I saw a horse pedigree once for a hunter and while I forget the sire’s name, the dam’s name was “Earshot” and I realized that someone had waited that horse’s whole life for it to give birth so she could say the foal was “out of Earshot”. Nothing I like better than a long-running joke. Respect, horse-namer. Respect.

So, that’s how I met the smartest man in Ottawa, and I hope he made an absolute killing. The security dude was standing right there, but he couldn’t have cared less. He was no revenuer.

Happy Hater’s Christmas! It’s Here At Last!

We speak, of course, of Drew Magary‘s annual Hater’s Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalogue, which is, as always, a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

What? You’re still here? Haven’t run straight over to read the living SHIT out of this gem immediately? Still need some motivation? Well, here’s a wee excerpt, to give you that kick in the butt you never knew you needed.

Oh, it’s hygge AF. Just the thing for sipping wine in the yacht’s hot tub as the snowflakes float down and we all chuckle knowingly, each feeling kinship with those adorably primitive Japanese hot springs monkeys. Oooh, Can you order those too?

Price: $29.95

Copy: “This triple-insulated mug from Corkcicle keeps your favorite beverages warm for hours. Its silicone base resists slipping while its tight-fitting lid prevents spills. Featuring a sweater-inspired snowflake design, this mug is ideal for outdoor activities and on-the-go sipping.”

Drew says: THAT’S A YETI! YOU’RE SELLING ME A FUCKING YETI! A Yeti inspired by fucking sweaters. And where’s the wine factor into all this? Now I’m pissed. Oh hey guys, I just disrupted the beer coozie sphere with my new product, the TABLACTITE NARNIA LION.

The 2020 Hater’s Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalogue

No, seriously. GO.

The Vacation So Far

For those of you who haven’t been following along on the Food Blog, here’s what the vacation looks like so far. I’m due at a crab fest on the Island on Saturday, but unless SOMEBODY pays me before then, I’ll be trapped here. Oh, poor me.

As you can see, it’s a nonstop grind. Oh, the pressure!

Bastille Day at Le Frolic in Yellowknife

Array of Amuses at Le Frolic on Bastille Day

We ARE amused! Array of Amuses at Le Frolic on Bastille Day

Welcome to Yellowknife! Hope you brought a fork!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s not all musk ox bones and walrus blubber up here, ya know! Although some of it is. Some of it is even whale:

Bowhead Whale Hunt by Glenn Williams. Didja bring yer fork?

Bowhead Whale Hunt by Glenn Williams. Didja bring yer fork?

Wanna see the Food Chart the government distributes? Well, you will just have to wait till I’ve figured out how to convert PDFs to PNGs on this damn computer!

Oh, wait! GIMP to the rescue:

Om to the nom nom! The NWT Food Guide!

Om to the nom nom! The NWT Food Guide!

BACK to the future. It looks post-apocalyptic on the NWT Food Guide

BACK to the future. It looks post-apocalyptic on the NWT Food Guide

Yes, that is a rat on the food chart. And seaweed. And fish bones. And a Beluga Whale. And yes, they are endangered.

I heard they had to take the chicken leg in the grocery store packaging out of the new edition, because nobody knew what it was. They eat a lot of what is called “country foods” up here: outside of Yellowknife, something like 45% of families get 40% or more of their food off the land or from the sea. You don’t have to go to the Amazon to find hunter-gatherers, and frankly having sussed out the grocery stores here I’m thinking of trying it myself.

Anyway, not all food comes off the land or the endangered species list. Some of it comes off quite elegant presentations, as you can see from the image at the top of the post. Here`s how it all happened…

So there I was back a few months ago, minding everyone else`s business on social media, as one does (if one is this one), and I found out there was an actual, honest-to-god French chef in Yellowknife. Well, naturally I thought someone was pulling my leg; as far as I know not even Julia Child would have attempted to Frenchify a hunk o’ musk ox.

Boy, was I wrong.

Le Chef Pierre doesn`t mess around. You should see what happened to the last Top Chef in Yellowknife.

Le Chef Pierre doesn`t mess around. You should see what happened to the last Top Chef in Yellowknife.

Le Chef Pierre does exist, and not only does he exist, but he Follows me on Twitter, which as far as I`m concerned is truly the only authoritative signifier of meaningful existence. Naturellement. And once I`d moved up here and he found out I`d been born in France, he went ahead and invited me and my friend MoneyCoach to the Bastille Day celebration at his very civilized French restaurant, Le Frolic.

Now, as we`ve firmly established around these parts, a lot of my favorite words start with F; I don`t need to list them, do I? But the greatest of these is “Free.” Somehow, the psychic Chef Pierre sussed this out (what are the odds, eh?) and that is how I, my camera, and my best YK pal ended up freeloading our own bodyweight in steak tartare and cab sauv under the shadow of a three-story-tall red-white-and-blue model of the Eiffel Tower (where do they keep it the rest of the year?) or maybe that was just me.

Yeah, that was just me. Nancy’s a light eater, and I’m a lifelong believer in the calorie-free nature of food which you didn’t pay for.

In related news: food is also zero calorie if eaten standing up, by the light of the fridge. Very few people know that.

Well, if you flick through the Flickr pix you can see many things: bruschetta, amuse-gueules on a very snazzy steel presentation stand, a assortment of wines the list of which I had in my backpack until it rained, so sorry wine sponsors, no names in the post! and a trayfull of desserts, of which I only tried the butter tart, being a butter tart snob of the old school. Those of you who are Canuck Foodie Purists will be relieved to know that Chef Pierre is solidly of the “no nuts in the butter tarts” school. I’m glad I could take your mind off that worry. I was equally fascinated by the butter tart, as you can tell from the what, six pictures I took of it? Well, it was an uncooperative model, so I did my best. “Look up, baby! Work it! That’s it, that’s it, gorgeous, now more animalistic!” Oh, I tried my best, but the damn tart just wasn’t having it; I felt like David Bailey before he found his mojo (I understand he found it in his other pants).

Shortly after the butter tart posing session, I decided to stumble home, sated, but not before someone took me aside and whispered, “You better eat and drink your fill before the French get here. They bring big handbags, and they leave weighted down!”


Letters to Santa

Santa's on the move

Reindeer are SO 20th Century!

So this may be a weird post, but nonetheless it’s a post that captures the Zeitgeist of right this very second: Kardashians and soul-seeking all on the same page. Actually, I think I’ve spared you Kardashians this time, as I’ve covered actual out-of-the-closet hookers instead.

First, Adult Letters to Santa:

Solitude doesn’t only afflict the elderly, however. “I’m 37 years old and I’ve been deeply unhappy for too long,” one woman wrote this year, in a letter excerpted last week in Montreal’s La Presse. “All I really want for Christmas is to find my soulmate.”

This week, a letter arrived from a soldier-in-training who will be a father for the first time – yes, there are Santa believers on the battlefield. “Dear Santa, I haven’t written to you for a long time. I hope you haven’t forgotten me,” he wrote. “This year for Christmas I ask you nothing more than to give health, happiness and love to my young family.”

Filtered through the missives is a hint that, at a time of shifting religious faith, something of the Christmas spirit exerts a powerful pull on at least some Canadians. Like the middle-aged mother who wrote to Santa to say she was broke, they’re looking for a bit of hope at Christmas.

“Dear Santa, I bet it is a rarity for you to receive a letter from a 50-year-old woman,” she wrote. “This is the first year in my life when I have been unable to give Christmas presents to my family. I am on unemployment this year and my son has not been able to find work. As a mother, it hurts to see my son fighting the frustration of not having work. That would be the gift I would give him if I could this year: A job so he would feel better about himself.”

She said oil in the furnace and saving up for winter tires would have to take priority over gifts. “It has made me rethink Christmas and what it really means to give from the heart.”

Santa, she added, “I am writing to you in the hopes of finding the little girl I lost. You see, no matter how old I get, I know she still exists just as you do. You represent the kindness of a soul who carries himself from home to home in the blink of one night to make wishes come true … most of all you represent the hope that anything is possible. How can I not believe in such magic?”

And now, back to our regular superficial programming:

where the HELL has raincoaster BEEN, man? (raincoaster)
Mr Depp, those clothes have to come off IMMEDIATELY (Ayyyy)
Jon Hamm has a suggestion for you (lolebrity)
Screw that! (ManoloFood)
The world’s greatest horror movie in the works (AgentBedhead)
Justin Timberlake is high-caliber (BusyBeeBlogger)
Mel Gibson sees MUCH younger woman (CelebDirtyLaundry)
Does Julian Assange make your wiki leak? (CeleBitchy)
First couple to fight over eyeliner custody in court (EvilBeet)
Liz Hurley gets the hell out of my way (GirlsTalkinSmack)
Yes, in fact, that IS So Wrong (HaveUHeard)
Look who got the Royal Snub! (INeedMyFix)
John Stamos, recovering nerd (SeriouslyOMG)