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Sunday, January 27, 2019

It's time for Winterlicious, the gastronomic spectacle in Toronto, and beer, glorious beer!

   One-Tank Trip for January 26-19
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Winter can be a delicious time of the year and who says beer isn’t just for breakfast or summertime anymore?
   Toronto civic leaders are encouraging locals and visitors to “warm up this winter by savouring new experiences and flavours at Winterlicious.”
   This annual gastronomic spectacle is on now through Feb. 7 to enjoy savory specialties at prices that will please at about 200 restaurants across Toronto.
The iconic St. Lawrence Market offers a history tasting dinner and food tour. (Jim Fox photo)
    And beer, glorious beer steps up for Brewfest in Ottawa next month and Toronto in March.
   Don’t cry in your beer as another outdoor event, Winter Craft Beer Fest that’s pretty well sold out is on today (Jan. 26) at Steam Whistle Brewing in Roundhouse Park in Toronto. craftbeerfest.ca
   The 17th annual Winterlicious is a time to “enjoy some of the city’s best restaurants,” said Mayor John Tory.
   “This event spotlights our local restaurant industry while offering diners diverse and delicious menu options,” he added.
   Here’s a chance to try those special places offering exotic dishes with three-course prix fixe lunch menus priced at $23, $28 and $33, and dinner at $33, $43 and $53.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Come in from the cold to the Toronto International Boat show; Chill out with Disney On Ice

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 12/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Here’s how to put a little summer in your winter without leaving the country.
   Head to the Toronto International Boat Show that’s North America’s largest indoor show complete with its own lake.
   Now marking its 61st year, the show runs from Jan. 18 to 27 at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place (100 Princes Blvd.).
   It’s a boater’s wonderland with a fleet of 1,200 boats, ranging in size from six feet to 60 feet, and all the latest in marine accessories from 550 vendors.
Visitors to the boat show have fun on “The Lake.”
    “This celebrates Canada’s boat heritage and showcases the future of recreational boating with 250 free seminars and workshops over 10 days,” said publicist Tran Nguyen.
   New highlights are the Toronto Indoor Wakeboard Championships, fly fishing instruction, remote-controlled sailboats and the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CH-146 Griffon Search and Rescue Helicopter.
   There is also Women’s Day on Jan. 20 to gain “hands-on learning” of skills and all about boat ownership.
   Figures indicate there’s a lot of interest with 43 per cent of Canadians participating in boating and 20 percent owning a boat.
Boats of all sizes prepare to pass through the Trent-Severn Canal locks at Lindsay. (Jim Fox photo)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bottoms up: A toast to icewine -- the frozen nectar of the vines - in Niagara

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 5/19

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Clink, clink! They’re having a real cool celebration in Niagara Wine Country.
   It’s time again to celebrate the frozen nectar of the vines – icewine – with a three-weekend festival.
   This dessert wine, discovered quite by accident, is renowned for its intense flavours, rich bouquet and smoothness.
   It’s something that’s cherished along with maple syrup as a Canadian iconic product around the world.
   With the latest harvest of frozen grapes on the vine being one of the earliest in history, anticipation is growing for the festival weekends from Jan. 11 to 27.
A toast is offered to the latest vintage of icewine in Niagara.
    The story goes that icewine wasn’t originally a Canadian product but “eiswein” created in Germany in the 1700s resulted after an early frost froze the grapes on the vine.
   Peasant farmers felt they had no choice but to press the grapes anyway, not wanting to lose the harvest and discovered a super sweet and pleasing wine.
   Our icewine is produced from grapes left after the fall harvest once the temperature dips to -8C or lower.
Vidal grapes freeze on the vine. (Jim Fox)
   Then the frozen grapes are handpicked and pressed immediately to carefully release a thick, rich yellow-gold liquid, highly concentrated in natural sugars and acidity.
   Of all the wine-producing regions in the world, only Ontario has a winter climate sufficiently cold to ensure an icewine crop in most years, with some 60 wineries now involved.
   Icewine is quite pricy as fruit left on the vine is vulnerable to rot, ravaging winds, hail, hungry birds and animals as well as being labour-intensive and producing small yields.
   That wasn’t as much an issue this year, as the temperature dipped to icewine-picking levels on Nov. 22, instead of pickers often out in force around New Year’s Eve in the past.

   Sip and savour
   Things heat up as the festival kicks off on Jan. 11 with the opulent Northern Lights Icewine Gala at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls.
   “The Grand Hall will be transformed into a Canadian landscape using masterfully crafted ice sculptures, colourful lighting displays and extraordinary installations,” said Dorian Anderson, executive director of the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Lighting up winter nights a bright idea across Canada

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 29/18
  (c) By Jim Fox

   Holiday lights are still burning brightly into the New Year across the land.
   A unifying illumination spectacle happening into January is the 34th edition of Christmas Lights across Canada.
   The Heritage Canada event includes the Magical Winter Lightscapes’ multimedia show projected on the Parliament buildings.
Sound and Light show dazzles Canada’s Parliament buildings. (Ottawa Tourism - Photo by James-Peltzer)
    On New Year’s Eve, the multimedia show ran until 11:59 p.m. followed by a pyrotechnics display that welcomed 2019.
   Ottawa was the first to highlight landmarks along Confederation Boulevard and to brighten the capital during the winter months.
   Now, the lights program stretches across Canada in each of the capital cities with “hundreds of thousands of dazzling lights.”
   In Toronto, the Ontario Legislature building at Queen's Park is aglow with 20,000 lights illuminating the city. canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/christmas-lights.html