Winter Survival in Niagara

If you have been reading along with my posts this month, you may think all I have been doing is drinking.

January means it is the Icewine Festival in Niagara, and I am so thankful for it – something fun to distract me from the harsh reality of winter. Haven’t I mentioned this a billion times already? I am no fan of winter. We are in the midst of a snow day here, and scrolling through Twitter this morning, it appears that everyone thinks it’s lovely. “Snow! How marvellous!” “Look at cute Fido romping in the mountains of snow!” “Enjoy your #SnowDay everyone!!” etc.

Puh-leeze.

Let’s look at a lovely weather picture. This is the weather I want to see.

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Aaahhhh…..

But alas, that’s still a few months away.

In spite of my winter curmudgeon-liness, I have still found much to keep me happy here in Niagara this month.

Starting with the Friday night documentaries at the Shaw Festival. I have seen two amazing documentaries there this year. First was Finding Vivian Maier, about a brilliant, newly discovered street photographer. Her story truly is fascinating, and her photographs stunning. The second documentary was Fed Up . After watching this movie, I resolved yet again to be healthier this year. But the disturbing side of this film to me was about the political interests of the food industry – in particular the sugar industry and major processed food producers. I couldn’t stop thinking about either of these movies for days.

And speaking of food, we’ve had some terrific dinners out. I dined at The Garrison House twice this month, lucky me.

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The first time was for a relaxed night out with my sweetie.

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We hadn’t had dinner out in awhile – since dinner at The Charles Hotel, in November. I started my feast with their Brewer’s Platter for Two. Let me tell you, I love charcuterie boards. Every time they are offered, I must have one. Ken’s not too keen on charcuterie, so this board of fabulousness was all for me.

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Ken went for the Welsh Rarebit, which was also delicious. But look at this main course, grilled Flat Iron Steak.

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A vision of beauty. Especially when Thornloe Blue Cheese is added on top. And their fries are legendary.

We were back a week later for their Wednesday night Market Burger. You see, I live with two of probably the biggest burger lovers in the world – Ken and my Mom. The Garrison House Burgers were so highly recommended, we had to come back to try them. Unfortunately, my burger photos didn’t turn out, but look at this picture of the restaurant. Do you notice anything?

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There are two very special guests here.

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I thought it was adorable to see someone’s two dollies getting a special chair. They must have come for the burgers too.

As for other January happenings, you know all about my Icewine adventures. I only scratched the surface really of all there is to do for the festival. If you remember from this post, I promised myself to get back to Chateau des Charmes for more tasting.

So I did. And as Ken and I had the afternoon to ourselves, we indulged in a wine tour. It’s been a long time really since I have done a tour, and Paul T gave us a fabulous one – honestly one of the best I have had.

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And then – my favourite part – more tasting.

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Paul was full of information. We discussed terroir, and talked a bit about the sub-appellations of Niagara. I am learning a lot. And one of the best things I learned that day was about the 2009 Savagnin Icewine.

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I loved this Icewine – it didn’t overwhelm me with sweetness, which is what I have wrongly associated with icewine in the past. Paul explained that part of making a good Icewine is balancing out the sweetness with acidity. This was smooth and delicious. Looking on Chateau des Charmes’ website, I see there is a suggested cheese pairing for this wine – Celtic Bleu from Glengarry Fine Cheese. I think this sounds wonderful. Another non-dessert pairing to try.

After all the recent dinners out, Icewine, wine tours and Ken puttering in the kitchen (he’s been developing more breakfast recipes for Highbrook), I desperately need to ramp up my fitness challenge. More on that to come in the next little while. And no, it won’t involve outdoor workouts in the snow. I’ll be in a nice warm gym, thank you very much.

But all in all, winter survival for us non-winter types is easier in Niagara. As long as I have great food and wine, I can keep trudging along until spring arrives.

Any other suggestions for beating the winter blues?