Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Order of Good Cheer

Just finished reading Bill Gaston’s book by the same name, and while the ending was somewhat disappointing, the bulk of this historical fiction was a virtual banquet for the imagination.

Picture this: Samuel de Champlain and his men, having recently settled in Port Royale after a fatal run-in with scurvy, are waiting out winter in near-windowless huts, depressed and bored. Our man Sam comes up with the brilliant idea of hosting a feast of local finds: game meats, wild mushrooms, mystery herbs and good wine. There is music, there is poetry, there are sing-a-longs. The spectre of winter is chased away by this jovial gathering, if only for one night, once a month. The proverbial chalice is then passed on to the next host, who does his level best to out-do the previous party with his own.

Champlain was a century ahead of his time. Celebrations of 100-mile (or 100-metre) fare are de rigeur these days: day trips to local farms, walking tours of restaurants and locavore festivals abound from one end of the country to the other.

Just a few notes from Ottawa’s bursting-at-the-seams schedule of foodie fests: Savour Ottawa’s Harvest Table, Montebello’s Foire Gourmande, and a fundraiser for the Humane Society in memory of chef Kurt Waldele (all on Aug 28); Feast of Fields (Sept 11); Taste of Wellington West (Sept 17); Taste of Preston Street as part of La Vendemmia (Sept 25). Oh, and don’t forget the farmers’ markets, which will be rolling out the late-summer goods over the next couple of weeks.

Hopefully I can manage to fit all that into my calendar. In the meantime, I think I might need to reinstate Champlain’s monthly hoopla, to fend off the inevitable arrival of cold weather and bring together some of my nearest and dearest. But I think I’ll skip the moose nose entrée.

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