First Degree Burns

That's noo a haggis--'tis a fur-covered bagpipe!

It's Robbie Burns day! In honour of the great Scottish poet I am making haggis tonight, served with neeps and tatties and a wee dram o' the finest.

Confused? Thank your lucky stars. Robbie Burns was Scotland's finest poet, expressing the soul and aspirations of a people with a broad sense of history, and a broad definition of 'oat cuisine'. To his everlasting credit, Burns' most notable contribution to the canon was his Address to a Haggis. more

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Hot Drinks for Cold Times


I've returned from a long winter's tour of the prairies, the US Midwest, the Atlantic coast and the US Northeast, and I caught a bit of a chill on my travels. As a chap from the mild-but-drizzly Pacific coast, I tend to find the bracing temperatures of the heartland a bit much. My parents come from Saskatchewan, and I've spent winters there as a kid, and heck, as a Boy Scout and Venturer I camped in the middle of Strawberry Flats in Manning park when it was 23 below in January. But somewhere through my journey to adulthood (I'll let you know when I get there) I seem to have lost my taste for extremely cold weather. Any time the radio announcers stop every three minutes to announce that exposed flesh will freeze in ten seconds, so don't go outside, is a bad time, as far as I'm concerned these days.

So, I've been thinking about hot drinks. My appetite for a nicely chilled white wine, ice-cold beer, or slushy blender drinks has waned.  A hearty red wine with deep fruit and nice tannins can be a great pleasure, but when it's really cold I like to heat it up with a nice steaming hot cup of wine. And, unlike BC, most of the rest of the country is still pretty much in the grips of winter. Time for a hot what-have-you! more

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Robert Parker is Not the Worst Person In the World

Handsome is as handsome does

For a couple of decades I've been convinced that Robert Parker (above) is pretty much the most pernicious critic in human history, on any topic,. He has come the closest to convincing me of the existence of the Devil of anyone on this planet.

But I was wrong. more

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Winemaker Conference: Bottling It All Up

Their corker needs adjustment. Plus, the label goes on the outside!

Roaring back into the swing, I've gotten a bunch of physical labour done around the office. Between shoveling out my inbox and meeting people who've been waiting since Fall for me to get back in-country I had put off some tasks. First, I went back and stirred my sur lie wines and topped my barrels. Whew, they all still look great, much to my happiness.

Next, I got on with bottling the trials wines for my upcoming seminar at Winemaker Magazine's 2011 conference. Slated for May 20-21st in Santa Barbara in California, it's the only consumer winemaking conference in the world. It's the fourth one, and they're always a blast. Two years ago I did a full-conference seminar on component tasting, which went over pretty well. more

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Ahhhh! Put it back! Put it back!

Tried out a new look for the new year. Generally positive comments around the office and from friends, but I don't think it looks very business-like, so I'm going to go back to a neatly trimmed beard (uncovered face is not an option). Also, for some reason, Spot brought me my balaclava three separate times yesterday. Silly cat, I wasn't even cold!

Of course, my wife has the final vote, and she noted that if I operated a junkyard or an inner-city pawn shop, or perhaps worked in debt-collection it might be more in character. Perhaps if I were more in tune with the universe I could pull it off . . . more

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2011: A New Year

Be sure to wind it before you go to bed

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate the season. It was great to take some time off to spend with my wife, my friends and my family, to do a little (well, a lot, actually) of feasting, to enjoy both sunshine and snow, and to stop and look around a little bit.

Laser-Eye Kitty, the hot toy for 2010!

We put up a Jól tree every year, and this year's theme was red and gold. It looks like a lot of presents, but there's a lot of socks and underpants under there--practical giving!

Mom, Dad and nephew Sean pitching in on Christmas dinner

We went to my parents home to share their Christmas dinner, and my sister's boy, Sean was there. I don't get to see my nephews very often (I have a total of seven!) and Sean very rarely. A very bright lad, he's studying some facet of computing science well above my skills (anything approaching calculus and I flee in tears) and doing very well indeed. If anyone needs a genius on staff, he's available.

The rest of the holiday we spent being industriously lazy, harnessing the cats up to their new sleigh, baking cookies (my oatmeal-chocolate chip didn't turn out too well, but my wife's shortbread was outstanding), walks on the beach and lots of rich meals. I put in a few days at work between the 25th and new year's--it was a great time to get behind the keyboard and get into the office and organise my upcoming year (oh my . . . it's going to be a big year) and tidy things up. more

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