My Third Niagara Summer

Summer, you were a blast.

As a die-hard hot weather lover, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the glorious sunshine and heat you brought us. Those beautiful days allowed us to get out and about, cramming in lots of fun things to do whenever we could. Well, okay, not everything was fun all the time. Because of Highbrook, I also had lots of work-related-not-really-that-fun things-to-do too. I seriously have never spent this much time grocery shopping, doing laundry, or cleaning my house. Ever.

The B&B season was super busy, and is still going strong for the next two months. But even those crazy days had their moments of comedy. Just ask me about “The Curious Case of the Water Heater and the Flaming Oven Mitt”. Gosh, that sounds like a Nancy Drew book or something.

But aside from flaming oven mitts and lots of work, there were some good days out. I’ve blogged about a lot of them, but thought I’d share some good times that didn’t turn into posts of their own

First, let’s talk wine and food. You expected that from me, right?

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We had a really nice time at Mike Weir’s Food Truck Fest back in July. A laid-back vibe, great music and some fantastic food. I honestly could have eaten something from every single food truck there. All of the options sounded really tasty.

I’m a taco fan, so I started off with a local food truck that is new to me –  The Wandering Gourmet Taco Cart. I had the Pollo Tacos, but the veggie ones or chorizo ones looked delicious too. I also wanted to try their Nachos, as they sounded divine, but as their cart was the first place I stopped, I knew I would need to save room. Next time for sure.

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This Cuban Sandwich, though

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What is it about an absolutely perfect sandwich that makes you swoon about it over a month later? Ken and I STILL talk about this Cuban Sandwich. It had Corned Beef, Honey Ham, Pickles, Swiss Cheese, and Red Onion Jam Mustard on Sourdough.  Perfectly toasted, chewy bread, gooey cheese, the tang of the mustard and pickles with the meat – oh man, it was good. This wonderful creation came from 494 Kitchen Co., and if you have the chance to try it, please do.

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This band was such fun to watch, really getting into their music. The gent with the tambourine would dance and jump with the music, thoroughly enjoying the moment. It’s always fantastic to watch performers who love what they do.

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I also had the chance that day to meet up with another Twitter pal, Jason, who writes a great wine blog. I always love meeting social media friends in real life, so I was glad our paths finally crossed. He suggested that I head into the tasting bar at Mike Weir to try the Meritage before we left. I adore a really good Meritage, so Ken and I made our way over there. I enjoyed it, but the view at Mike Weir Winery stole a bit of the Meritage limelight. It really is one of my favourites – those gently rolling hills, with Lake Ontario in the background and a view of Toronto on a clear day. They’re kind enough to provide lots of comfy chairs so you can soak in the view to your heart’s content.

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While we’re talking about beautiful scenery, we should talk about the Whirlpool Aero Car.

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I first went on the Aero Car back in May, as part of a blogger tour hosted by Niagara Parks. Earlier in August, there was a special celebration held for the 100th Anniversary of the Aero Car. I didn’t realize it had been operating for 100 years.

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When we arrived for the party, we decided to take another trip on it. The view was just as beautiful the second time around.

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In the past, I was a bit chicken to go on the Whirlpool Aero Car, but look at me now! I’m already planning a third trip in the fall, just to get pictures of those views in their autumn glory. According to their website, they are open until November 6th, so there’s lots of time to see those gorgeous fall colours from on high.

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After our trip, we joined in the barbecue happening at the site. You could also sample some of the special Aero Car Ale, created for the occasion by Niagara College Teaching Brewery. While you enjoyed your feast, you could watch the performances from Modern Space and The Darcys.

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It was such a nice way to spend a summer evening. While we listened to the music, Ken enjoyed a burger from the barbecue, and I sampled the Aero Car Ale.

This year I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons with beer. Back in the spring, the guys from Niagara Craft Brewery Tours started me on my way. Next, I took a tour at Silversmith. But then summer happened, and all I seemed to want to drink was Rosé and Chardonnay. Oh, and now I have a new grape in my life – Viognier. But that’s another story, coming up tomorrow.

So let’s get back to beer.

One hot, sunny, August afternoon, we went to the Niagara Craft Beer Festival.

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You may be thinking “Hey, wait a minute, Jo. That doesn’t look like beer.”

And you would be right. I found that with not really having much beer experience, I didn’t even know where to begin. So, I started with cider….and stayed with cider. I’m discovering cider is quite lovely.

My favourite of the day went to Ironwood Hard Cider, particularly the OAKED one. You might remember that I love oak in my Chardonnay, so it seemed like I would like it in my cider. And I did. It almost reminded me of champagne, which is sheer praise in my book.

Checking on their website, it looks like it is called Tres Robles, and is now available at the farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake! How lucky can we get.

But the part I love at any event, is the people that I see.

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It’s a great chance to catch up with friends too, and I was so glad to bump into my friend Jimi. I think almost everyone in Niagara knows Jimi.

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And I finally got to meet this lovely lady.

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Blogging can be a bit strange sometimes. When you first start, it can feel like a terribly lonely pursuit. You think NO ONE is reading your stuff, that they’ll never find you through the masses of bloggers online, and that your work is horrible anyway so why would they read you once they finally find you? Well, I was having one of those days two years ago when I got a message via Twitter from Dana. She was just lovely, telling me how she liked reading my blog, giving me that bit of encouragement I needed then to keep going.

Dana, you’re the best. I hope we meet again soon.

The summer has had some pretty wonderful, sometimes spontaneous, moments with friends. Like my “Wine Posse”, as we call each other. Some good times spent sipping, chatting, comparing wines and telling stories.

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Of course, I can’t forget moments with this sweet little fella too. Meet Merlot. The pampered pooch of my pals, The Wine Boys.

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By writing this post, I’ve realized there’s even more I could share too.

Summer 2016, you’ve been super. There’s been lots of work at Highbrook, but also lots of fun. I’ve got such great memories from this year.

Now, tell me, how about you? How’s your summer been?