Of Visits, Gin and Regal Cheese – Part I

We had the pleasure of spending a few days with our Michel the first week of August. He drove down from Montréal on a bit of a tour of Eastern Québec and the Maritimes. A drive not without incident – his car engine decided it had given it’s best for the past 15 years and really couldn’t go any further. And it decided to bow out as he set off on Route 15 out of Montréal to the Eastern Townships. Fortunately he was able to get a lender and continue on his journey.

As always with Michel we had plenty of laughs (I always envy his facility for wordplay in French and English), a few lovely trips down memory lane, and some serious attempts to solve world problems. Add to that good food, some excellent wine and it made for a great visit. And as often happens our Nicky developed a canine-crush and carried on a bit when Michel left – he is so funny that way with visitors.

You may recall a week or so ago I mentioned Opihr, a gin that was required for a rather exotic, and expensive, cocktail. Well since Michel was coming from the Big City and the SAQ showed that they carried it we asked him to pick up a bottle. It turns out that they indeed did carry it – well actually they carried one (!) bottle and it was at their store in St-Aisselle-de-Québec which is hardly on anybody’s route to anywhere. However a friend of his found a bottle in Ottawa and brought it down to Montréal and hence it found its way to our liquor cabinet where it sits awaiting that “occasion”.

So what’s so special about this ancient nectar that the Queen of Sheba (no not Michel, the biblical one) may have brought to Solomon? Well it would appear that the “botanicals” were inspired by the stops along the Silk Route: cubeb from Malaysia, black pepper, cardamom and ginger from India, cumin from Turkey, coriander seed from Morocco, bitter orange from Spain, Juniper from Italy and Angelica from Germany. Well those last three and the grapefruit peel may be stretching the “Silk Route” thing a bit far. And as to the “ancient recipe” trope well 2013 CE is hardly a “blast from the past” that all the hoopla would suggest. However it is the creation of Joanne Moore, the head distiller at G&J Greenall, Britain’s second biggest gin distillery. And appears Ms Moore is a name to be reckoned with in the spirit world! In it’s review Gin Foundry suggests that rather than some exotic cocktail Opihr works well in a simple Gin Buck: 2 oz of Gin, 3 oz of Ginger Ale and a lemon wedge. We shall give it a try and get back to you.

And as well as the requested gin Michel showed up with a bag of potatoes from Québec – talk about coals to Newcastle! I wonder that he got them across the Bridge without alarm bells sounding! And he brought along several very yummy artisanal cheeses that has been deemed fit for Royalty. But more about that later in the week.

August 13 is Left-Hander’s Day: so kiss someone you know who is a Lefty (no not politically) and reassure them that they are not spawn of Satan.

A Bit of Christmas Magic

We received this card from some very old and dear friends who are spending Christmas at their place in Florida.  It made me think of them and of the real magic of Christmas – the joy and friendship we have shared with so many people in so many places in the past 35 years.

24 December – 563: The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is dedicated for the second time after being destroyed by earthquakes.

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