Ask Chuck

Name:
Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Taking Off To Munich----Cyprus Trip Day One!

Toronto Pearson September 15th
It was noon when I arrived at Pearson International Airport. The drizzle was steady and the mood was apprehensive to say the least. This was the first adventure I have had without my two colleagues,  Roy and Sandie being with me. It felt strange being alone on an adventure with only myself to work with.
I approached the Lufthanza "check-in" counter to find out that I had to use a "check-in" machine in order to get my bags weighed etc. Most who know me know that I simply dislike and do not trust anything mechanical. Here I had to rely on a machine for my trip's success thousands of miles away from home. I was not comfortable.
An information guide saved my bacon by assisting me in the "check-in" and with bags now in storage waiting their long trip, I waited for the adventure to move forward. The very long security line moved as slowly as it could. While  the feet slowly shuffled towards the security scanners and belts, shoes, coins in pockets, jackets etc. all came off, I thought about the long gone days when flying was actually fun and without hassle.
Eventually I was through the line up and making my way through to the boarding gate which ironically had been the one that started the "Two in a Vineyard" television series several years ago------Gate E 79.
Munich   
The flight to Germany was basically uneventful. I spent the seven and a half hours watching a movie and chatting with an NFL Football Player who was on his way to Poland. All I can say is that between the two of us, space in that section of the plane was at a premium.
The plane arrived on time in Munich at around 7:30 AM. Those of us who were making connecting flights went down the long, long, long pathway to yet-----another security line. This did not make any sense to me since we had already been poked, prodded and questioned but it was a fact that we had to wait an hour to have the pleasure to do this again. What joy I felt!
That done, I made my way to Gate H39 to wait for my Cyprus flight LH1760. When the time came those going to Cyprus were bussed to another Airbus where we boarded for the final destination to Larnaka.
The roughly four hour flight went quickly and was yet again---uneventful. A taxi was waiting for me as I came out of arrivals and off we went to the southern coast of the island and the city of Limassol.
Limassol
Also known as Lemesos, Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus and a very important one as a cultural, trade and educational centre. It has a colourful history that dates back to ancient times to at least 2000 BC and beyond. Richard the Lionheart of England is noted for his occupation there during the Third Crusade in the late 12th Century. He later sold it to the Knights Templar and after that to french interests where it prospered for over three hundred years.
Following that it came under the auspices of Venetian, Ottoman and finally the British in the late 19th Century.
The city seems prosperous and excitingly vibrant.
Mediterranean Beach Hotel
The taxi drove up to my new home for the next seven days at the Mediterranean Beach Hotel. I was impressed with what I saw and quickly retired to my room for some much needed rest.
END OF DAY ONE   
            
        

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cyprus----Here I Come!

The Adventure Begins: Preamble to Cypus
 Undertaking a working trip to any land involves a reasonable amount of planning. As I recall back in 2009 when the filming of "Adventures in Wine Country" began neither Greg Rist nor I knew what we were in for. As a matter of fact, I recall flying out of  Pearson, in mid-August, for Malta via Rome via Malta with absolutely no idea as to the logistics of our Italian trip to Umbria/Veneto/Lugana. We left on blind faith that the logistics would then come in while we were filming in Malta. Malta worked like clockwork thanks to the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA). However, you must understand that the reason for this was that in mainland Europe August is the time for most businesses to shut down and that means government also. Nothing could but nothing could be arranged. Fortunately, we got our Italian "joining" instructions in during our last week in Malta which was around September 10th. Everything did work like clockwork though I must admit, I was nervous as those who know me know that I prefer things arranged to an "anal" level!
We did not have any problems with the "Two in a Vineyard" series as our hosts were up on things and also our trips to Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Brazil, California and Austria were all dealt with early in the year. However, things went smoothly because both my co-host, Sandie Kraft and Associate Producer/Camera Person Roy Maeder were top professionals when it came to doing the job. They made it fun!
Now I am embarking on an assignment to Cyprus but unfortunately, this time it will be alone due to logistical situations and the fact that the others have other assignments to look after. Thus I am hoping that my writing, columns and camera work will be "up to par".
Cyprus
I have never been to Cyprus. It is not far from my home island of Malta and shares some of the same history to a point. Both are islands in the Mediterranean Sea! Both have histories spanning thousands of years! Both are former British colonies that gained independence (Cyprus 1960; Malta 1964)! Both belong to the British Commonwealth of Nations! Both retained the British practice of driving on the Left Hand side of the road! Both are major tourist attractions with a unique history, culture and cuisine and both have established and budding wine industries with roots that go back thousands of years! Like Malta, Cyprus has one foot implanted in the East and one in the West which makes it all that more interesting.
Location     
Cyprus is located in the north-eastern Mediterranean Sea and borders Turkey (75 kilometres) to the north, Syria/Lebanon (about 100 kilometres) to the east, Egypt (about 400 kilometres) to the south and Israel (200 kilometres) to the south-east. The mainland of Greece is about 800 kilometres to the north-west.
At  almost 3600 square miles (9300 kilometres squared), Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Mountains (Troodos Mountains) cover a great deal of the south-west part of the island. The highest is Mount Olympus at about 6,000 feet in altitude). In the north there is a narrow band of mountains (Kyrenia Mountains) running parallel to the coast itself.  
Between the two mountain systems is the Mesoaria Plain in which can be found the Pedieos River.
The river is the largest in Cyprus and stretches out past Nicosia to the sea at Famagusta Bay.
The Pedieos is important for its irrigation properties and in fact the country seems to be dependent on this important river for a great deal of its food and water sources.
Wine Regions
According to the website "Wines of Cyprus" (www.winesofcyprus.co.uk), wine has been produced in Cyprus for over 6000 years. In fact, some believe that Cyprus is the oldest wine making country in the Mediterranean and possibly the World.
Ancient indigenous varieties such as Mavro (dark), Xinisteri (white) and Marathefiko (red) still produce outstanding wine. For example: the Xinisteri produces Cyprus's famous sweet white wine known ad Commanderia. In the last few years other grape varieties such as Cabernet, Carignan, Shiraz (Syrah), Mataro (Mourvedre) and Palomino have been successfully introduced.
It seems that most of the quality wine areas are situated near the Troodos Mountains. There are four major quality wine regions.
Quality Levels can be either Regional (where the wines must come from specified regions and vineyards. These vineyards have yield per hectare controls as well as minimum age conditions regarding vines. Red, white and rose wines have alcohol minimums) OR  Appellation Controlled.
Around 2007 a system similar to France's  Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) came into being. It was/is called "The Protected Designation of Origin".
This dictates a higher minimum age of vines, altitude levels of specific registered vineyards, lower yields per hectare and regulations for things such as aging of wines etc. The quality is to be much higher than the regional level.
Quality is what Cyprus intends to produce and quality is what it has in the form of non-phylloxera affected vines. This devastating insect that destroyed much of Europe's vineyards in the 19th century and forced most of the wine producing countries to use grafted vines, somehow did not make it to Cyprus.and thus the vines are phylloxera free. There are many who believe that vines on their own roots---that is to say---not grafted onto phylloxera resistant roots----make higher quality wine. Some may argue but I say natural beats alternatives.
In the coming weeks, there will be follow up blogs concerning my experiences inn Cyprus. I am sure that I will learn much and I am also sure that this will be a journey that I will remember. So will you!     
       
     
    

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ken Zayette RIP 2014

We live in a very finite World. Everything has a begining and an ending. There are no exceptions. Our journey begins with only one emphatic reality that it must end. For some it is a bit longer and for some the ending comes so very quick.
We take great efforts to extract that extra hour of life even though by living we actually forget what life is all about. Some fear death so much that they do not realize that fearing death is to fear life itself! Not so a tiny dynamo called Ken Zayette.
I first met Ken in the early 1960's when entered the hallowed halls of Henry Street Highschool in Whitby. Ken and I were in the same grade together 9F and it didn't take long to realize that his person was someone to be reckoned with.
Small in size he made up for it with his amazing strenght and agility. I learned that he was a wrestler and an Ontario Champion at that. The guys looked up to him and the girls----well let's just say that he had no trouble getting a date. In many ways, the "Fonz" of the 70's television series "Happy Days" seemed to have been patterned on Ken.
I still picture Ken's antics in the classroom or him strutting down the hallways in his Henry Jacket like a rooster in a hen house. He was both an ideal setter and a comic at one time.
However, on the wrestling mat there was no comedy. It was all serious. Ken moved like a cat. Coiled like a snake and sprang with the power of a tiger. That is why he was an undefeated All Ontario Wrestling Champion.
There was another side to Ken. He would give us "newcomers" advice on all levels. Whether it was a girl problem, teacher hangups, sports or just the blues, he would be there for us! When all hell would brake loose, he was there to solve the problem.
As we got older, he would keep up our interest in wrestling by picking us up and taking us to Toronto clubs where we would get more experience. His advice came readily and without any obligation from our part. Ken was the real thing.
Ken and I lost touch after we left Henry but he was always in the back of my mind and of course everytime I saw a repeat of "Happy Days" there was "The Fonz" to bring Kenny back to mind.
We connected again via Facebook about two years ago. Ken would let me know of his travels and seemed so very happy. Ken was basically a very happy person who had achieved what he wanted to achieve.
He loved life and inspite of some setbacks, kept on going forward with his connection to wrestling, sport and most of all family. He loved travelling and was at peace with the Wrld!
Ken lived life the way he saw it. He wasn't afraid of death since he loved life and accepted the challenges that it would bring.
Ken cannot be replaced----- but his truths and deeds will continue to live. In the long run isn't that what life is all about----our deeds, actions and who we are and the choices we make. Ken was talented but the choices he made determined who he ultimatley was. There are many talented people out there but their final legacy of who they are depends on their choices in life.
Ken, if you are up there looking down on us all I can say is that your choices were good ones. Now it is up to us to carry on!
Rest in Peace Buddy! Ready-------------Wrestle!



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Five Wine Varieties That Women (and Men) Must Try!



Five Wines Women Should Try!
During the 1990’s wines made from Riesling and Chardonnay were the popular trend with women (and many men). The taste was pleasurable and the wine names were easy to pronounce. Palates have become more sophisticated and attitudes more adventurous. Here are five wines that should be tried by all.    
WHITE
Viognier: A step from Chardonnay, this grape offers the same potential for creamy wines with many of the tropical fruit that Chardonnay offers but is more distinctive and spicy.  It suits a wide variety of foods and especially goes well with spicy dishes such as Thai food, curried dishes and other oriental cuisine. Try it with spicy West Indian food!
Alvarinho:  This is a Portuguese grape variety that is called Abarino in Spain. It has some reminiscence to Viognier in its tropical fruit flavours but can be more intense and may in fact be a wine that can deliver some aging potential. The wine has a diverse food match or can be enjoyed alone. Try with pork, chicken, turkey or fish soup.
RED
Syrah: Some say that this grape variety found its way to the South of France by way of the Crusades. It later was planted in Australia during the 1830’s where it became known as Shiraz! Whatever the history or name the wine made from it can be incredible. Spicy, deep coloured and flavourful, good Syrah begs for a great cut of meat or game. I would also like to try it with stuffed eggplant and meat filled zucchini!  One does not have to be a wine expert to enjoy Syrah.   
Touriga Nacional: This grape, used in the making of Port, also makes big and flavourful table wines in many parts of Portugal. Its bouquet often has the nuances of violets and black fruit while the palate to me is very reminiscent of a nice Syrah though milder on the pepper spice but very full on the body. A rich wine that goes great with meat dishes such as beef, game and roast pork.
Amarone: While the above five wines above are made from a single variety of the same name, Amarone is a blend of several grapes the majority being Rodinella and Corvina. A third, Molinara, is now deregulated and may be replaced by other grape varieties. The wine is made by first partially drying the grapes before fermentation. The wine is then aged in smaller barrels.  Try this wine with Italian pasta, preferably home-made, steak “Florentine”, grilled vegetables and  wild mushrooms.  
Try these suggestions:
Cline Viognier  California Vintages #128421 $17.95
Cono Sur Vigonier Chile LCBO #64287 $9.95
Casa do Valle Alvarinho Portugal Vintages #276220 $15.95 A great buy/ask for it! 
Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Chile LCBO #568055 $13.95 (Durham)
Crasto Vinho Tinto Portugal Vinho Tinto Touriga Nacional Vintages #81588 $15.95
Zenato Amarone Italy Vintages #413179 $49.95*
*A Zenato wine made from the same grapes and similar in taste for $24.95 is called Ripassa Valpolicella Vintages #479766.    





Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Bombay Grill: Super Service, Great East Indian Food and One Super Beer

Lunch, Dinner And The Bombay Grill
A wealth of aromas and flavours await the person who enters the abode of the famous Bombay Grill. Located in Pickering (with other locations in Markham, Burlington, Milton and Hamilton) the Bombay as I call it, enables one to enjoy authentic East Indian Food in two exciting ways. The Buffet which is a daily lunch feature offers a large selection of choices thus enabling the uninitiated to gain familiarity with the exotic and spicy dishes of India. The "a la carte" dinner menu offers many of the same plus a great deal of other dishes which are freshly made and absolutely delicious. Either way the persons dining will not be disappointed.
The Bombay offers many interesting items from the cold salad bar appetizers to the Samosa dishes which are patties stuffed with either vegetable or minced chicken to the Aldo Tikki which is fried potato patties with curried chickpeas and tamarind sauce to the Chicken or Fish Pakora---fried chicken or fish fritters.
Tandori Dishes         
 The Tandor is a large, cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking. The food is cooked over charcoal or wood fires within the oven itself thus exposing the food to live fire, radiant heat and smoke as well as drips from the fat dripping onto the flames. Usually Tandori dishes have yogurt, spices such as masala, ginger, onion, Cayenne, pepper and other spices which are ground up and used with the chicken or fish etc.
The Bombay does these to perfection along with other Tandori Thali or Lamb Tikka which means cutlet. Another dish called Paneer Shaslik consists of cubes of home made cheese cooked in Tandori and served with Nan which is a form of bread.
My favourite dish is the Fish Masala which is Boston Blue Fish cooked in the Tandori spices and is amazing. Wife Darlene goes nuts on the Buttered Chicken.
 Breads 
Nan seems to be the most prevalent bread in the above dishes but other forms are also available. Tandori Roti, Garlic Nan, Paratha Lachha (mint bread) are but a few of the many types of bread used to accompany the meals.
Vegetarian Dishes
The Veggie dishes are a delight and consist of Mutter Paneer (Cubes of cottage cheese with curried peas), Karai Paneer (same cubes of cheese but with green peppers and spicy sauce), Paneer Makhani (Cheese cubes with cream and tomato sauce), Channa Masala (Chick peas and rice), Aloo Gobi (Cauliflower cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, onions and spices), Dal Makhani (Lentils cooked with herbs, butter cream and spices) and Dal Tarka (Lentils with butter, ginger, coriander, herbs and spices). Bindhi Masala consists of Okra cooked with various veggies and spices. There are dozens of delicious dishes for those with an appetite of vegetables.
Meat Dishes 
The meat dishes are equally delicious and consist of various fish, chicken, lamb and beef dishes either in combination or singularly in spice and cream sauces accompanied with rice and vegetables.
All have unique names such as the above.
Desserts
The "Queen" of Indian Desserts is known as Rasmalai and is made from milk balls in a syrup. The Gulab-Jamin is made from brown milk balls in a rose water syrup. Other entrees are great ice cream or rice pudding.
The food above can be accompanied with either exotic mango drinks or combined mango, pineapple, coconut and orange juices.
Cheetah Beer
The drink that goes exceptionally well is a drink that unfortunately cannot be bought via the local liquor board. The Golden or Dark Beer is excellent and especially made for spicy and hot dishes such as the ones served at the Bombay. Shame that one cannot buy this beer at the local stores because it is excellent in all aspects.
Both beers are smooth, crisp and easy to enjoy!
The Bombay also has a good selection of wine and other alcoholic beverages to make the dining experience a fun thing.
The Bombay Grill is a great place to relax with family and friends. Try it.
What makes the excellent dining even better is the great service that the. hosts provide.
Bombay Grill 
619 Kingston Road, West
Ajax-Pickering,  ON
L1S6L8
905-239-4077
 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

OPUS ONE and Its CEO David Pearson shine at the National Club!

The National Club
The National Club started in 1874 as a political movement that later became a club for professional business persons. The present four story, red brick building was built in 1907 and had many prominent politicians and business persons as members. A few of them were Sir Wilfred Laurier, Joseph Atkinson, Timothy Eaton, Oliver Mowat and Robert Simpson. The club today is till at the same location at 303 Bay Street and houses a grand collection of art and an extensive wine cellar.
Opus One
In the late 1970's Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux's Chateau Mouton Rothschild contacted Robert Mondavi of California's wine making family with an idea. He wanted to collaborate on a project to produce a unique wine. Both men were visionaries and very much ahead of their time. Baron Philippe was a sportsman, arts enthusiast and trail blazer. In the 1920's he introduced the concept of "Chateau Bottled" wines and it was under his untiring tutelage that Mouton became a Bordeaux  "First Growth" as well as one of the most consistent and expensive wines in the World.
Robert Mondavi like Baron Philippe was an innovator and artist who blended wine into his world of art, culture and music. The marriage of Mouton and Mondavi was a perfect match.
The first vintage was in 1979.
The Name 
After some deliberation the name OPUS ONE was settled on. The Latin name for a musical meaning of a premier production of a composer "Opus" was matched with the number "One" meaning in this case----one wine. The wine vintages of 1979 and 1980 were jointly released in 1984 although a case of Opus was sold at the first Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1981.
The Wine Today             
Opus One is today a leading ultra premium American brand that is in ultra demand! Three vintages are listed with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario Vintages Section: 2005 Vintages #14324 1500 ml/ $765, 2008 Vintages #158063  750 ml /$364  and 2009 Vintages #26310 750 ml/$385. There are also half (375 ml) bottles of the 2008/2009 vintages available.
Opus One is now 50% owned by Constellation Brands but is operated independently under the supervision of CEO David Pearson.
David Pearson 
David Pearson took over the overseeing of the winery in 2004. He had  a strong background in both Californian and French wines as well a strong academic backgrounds in Oenology and Business. Mr. Pearson introduced the wines of the evening.
The OPUS ONE Tasting a the National Club: April 17th 2013
Opus CEO gave a detailed and very entertaining description of Opus One's founding history. He introduced three wines: Opus One 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Tasting Notes: I likened the wines to a comparison of three athletes.
2005 was a lean and very fit Tri-athlete with great endurance. The 2007 was a more muscular pole vaulter who has established himself and holding steady and the 2009 was an up and coming boxer not yet approaching his prime but up there in the ranks.
The 2005 exhibited a floral, violet  bouquet with cassis, black fruit and chocolate on the palate. The wine had a strong Bordeaux feeling to it with apparent endurance that will guarantee excellent aging potential.   
The 2007 was immediately different in mouth feel. It felt fuller and riper. Again black fruit seemed to dominate with chocolate on the palate. The wine would age well.
The 2009 cassis, blueberry and anise with chocolate in the midst. This will will definitely be a keeper that will grow in potential.
My favourite was the 2005 with a close 2007 second though the 2009 may eventually overtake the 2007. All wines were excellent.
Dinner
Wine fulfils itself fully when it is matched with food and the meal that the National Club provided was one that worked well.
Appetizer
Toasted Cheese Biscuit
First Course
Portobello Mushroom Crepes with butter cream sauce
Main Course
Bison Steak, mashed potatoes and early carrots
Dessert Tray
Artisan Cheeses---strong to mild
Coffee/Tea 

The wines of the evening were of course the three vintages that were tasted prior. Again in my opinion the wine that best suited the Bison Steak was the 2005 however all wines exhibited a nice melody (Get it! Melody---? Opus?) with the meal. The 2007 was quite good with the Mushroom Crepes and the 2009 with the Cheeses.
Opus One has shown that it is a "stayer" and as an Ultra Premium it should keep on doing well with comparable wines.
My thanks to Mr. David Pearson, Sheila Puritt of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and Philip Mirabelli, President of  Noble Estates Wine & Spirits for inviting me to this event!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Kawartha's: Curve Lake, Whetung Ojibwa Centre, Kawartha Counrty Winery, Dinner at Westwind

Another Day; Another Adventure!
I was up early on the second day of our visit to the area. My sleep had been the best in months and I felt refreshed and invigorated. Light was just starting to appear and opening the sliding door to the balcony I was reminded that it was still winter as the night's cold chill blew across my face.
Outside it was white silence with the exception of the odd bird call and a barking dog demanded some attention somewhere across very frozen Lower Buckhorn Lake.
The coffee in the thermos style pot that was left in my room was still quite warm so I poured myself a cup and prioritized my day. I couldn't help feel that it was going to be a very exciting, adventurous and productive day!
I showered, got dressed and headed to the Westwind dining lounge. The lounge itself was amazingly well planned both from a dining and scenic point of view. The kitchen was to the right of the main doors that were linked to the hallway. As one entered the huge centrally located fireplace complete with a lounge style sitting area caught the eye. To left of the sitting area picture windows that extended around the whole perimeter of the dining lounge gave a glorious panoramic view of Lake Buckhorn and the adjacent woods. The fact that the lounge was located on the second storey of the resort added to the scene which really seemed to be out of a "Bateman" painting. Dining tables filled in the rest of the space----each one close to a window and the view.
Karen was there to greet me as I walked in. "Minho-Kaggi-Bawtek" she said. I looked a bit puzzled!
"That means  'Good Morning' in Algonquin," she added. Her smile extended through her eyes and gave one a very welcoming feeling. "Coffee?"
She knew that I liked coffee so that was a rhetorical question and as I went to be seated I notice that Roy had beaten me to the punch as he took pictures just outside below at lake level,
Arora brought out some menus and even more coffee (Man! The word really gets around!) and I ordered as Roy came up the outside side stairs and entered the lounge.
After, with a good breakfast and lots of coffee in my belly I accompanied Roy outside taking a few "shots" and soon we were off to Curve Lake, which was just a few minutes away.
Curve Lake First Nation
Curve Lake is the name of an Ojibwa Native reserves just a few kilometres from Westwind and just north of Peterborough. Located between lakes Chemong and Buckhorn, it serves as the land base for the Curve Lake First Nation. The Curve Lake First Nation goes back to 1882 when a small  band settled in the area and officially founded the reserve in 1889 (as per Wilkepedia)..
Curve Lake is famous as having  the first native female chief and some World recognized artists such as the great late Norman Knott whose painting of "The Loons" was presented to Queen Elizabeth some years ago. Mr.Knott died in 2003.  His brother, Randy Knott, to my understanding still carries on the family tradition in his own style.  
According to their website there are some 2500 people living in this community with a registry of some 1,918 members of which 764 live on the reserve.
Whetung Ojibwa Centre
The term that "It's a small world" in relation to coincidences and chance meetings of friends etc.could not have a greater meaning than what happened when I met Mr. Mike Whetung owner of the Whetung Ojibwa Centre as one enters Curve Lake.
Whetung's is a native cultural arts and crafts centre that exhibits some of the fine creations by many native artists. It also houses a native museum that contains many artifacts and pictures from antiquity.
In the Gallery one can find native paintings from all over Canada. The Gallery also houses amazing sculptures, carvings, masks, quill boxes, head dresses, clothing and  other accessories.
Owner Mike Whetung is a bear of a man with a gentle voice. I immediatley liked him but that is not the coincidence here. I went to Whetung's twice because it was such an interesting, colourful and vital spot to both native and non native. I also had to redo an interview segment that I felt I had botched up. Lucky I did.
When I reentered the building Mike asked me who I took Judo with. That was the last thing that I had expected anyone on this trip to ask me and taken aback I asked where did he find out. The answer was pretty rudimentary as it was from my own website.
I mentioned the name of Maple Leaf in Bowmanville and then Mike stated that he took Judo with Frank Hatashita in Toronto and achieved a Brown Belt. Frank Hatashita is known as the Godfather of Canadian Judo who created hundreds of Black Belts----a highly respected man. Maple Leaf was affiliated with the Hatashita Club. The other coincidence was that we took Judo around the same period. We could easily have passed each other in the hallowed Hatashita halls. Mike and I developed quite a liking toward each other and it is something that I would like to foster. Two older Judokas reflecting on our "warrior" times.
Mike intrigued me with stories of Curve Lake and his family. He said that he could trace his family back to the early 19th Century. Mike went on to say that his store was gradually developed from a fishing lodge opened by his great grand father in the beginning of the 20th Century.
The store morphed into a cruise business, taxi service, fur service, one postal station station  and a grocery store which expanded into a general store in the 1940's and began selling Ojibwa crafts and various other products.
The arts and crafts business was expanded in the 50's and 60's and so did the involvement from native members of the community. Whetung's began selling native arts and crafts from canoes to moccasins. Michael joined the family business full time in 1966.
Today the Whetung Ojibwa Centre is known worldwide offering native art and crafts from all over Canada as well as from the Curve Lake community. The family business, now with the assistance of Michael's daughters, is still thriving.
The Case Of The Restless Native Feathered Headress   
Mike Whetung also related the story of the Native Headdress that came into his possession when a friend brought it over and gave it to him. It was carefully wrapped and was apparently quite old.. The friend had instructed him to keep it carefully wrapped and protected since it was valuable as an artifact. Mike followed the directions and made sure the headdress was safe.
Strange things began happening with the moving of objects around the store and museum. At one point a shelving unit made of glass was smashed by an unknown force (the building was empty). Pictures were knocked off walls etc. Mike felt it was time to contact a Shaman or Native Priest to get some closure concerning this matter. The Shaman told Mike that the problem lay with the Native Headdress. and its force's dissatisfaction at being hidden from view. Mike immediately placed in plain view (but protected) in the downstairs museum behind a glass enclosure. All strange happenings ceased.
If you have a chance to visit an amazing place and learn about the great native history and appreciate the magnificent native art and crafts make sure you visit the Whetung Ojibwa Centre in Curve Lake.               
Kawartha Country Wines
From Whetung's we decided to revisit the Kawartha Country Winery situated within minutes of Curve Lake and other local communities. This would have been a second visit here also. The first was an amazing experience with boutique manager, Eva Fisher. Her varied tasting and matching of wine with various food matches was superb.
We tasted well made vinifera and hybrid wines with a large number of sauces, jellies and vinegars. the matching was perfect. I especially liked their fruit wine with the barbecue sauces and jellies.
The winery was a cornucopia of items ranging from a variety of wines made at the winery to items like hot sauces, clothing items and knick knacks to specialized chocolates made for matching wines. We were told that the owners would return soon so we decided to return later and meet the owners.
John Rufa and Trish Dougherty
John Rufa was a former public school teacher who came from a wide background of winemaking. this amiable man and his lovely wife Trish worked hard against great odds to found and maintain a winery in Kawartha Country. One thing was that no one told them that they weren't supposed to succeed. They did and still are doing it!
John purchased 22 acres of land in the heart of Kawartha country not far from Buckhorn on one side and Bobcaygeon on the other. He planted winter hardy hybrid grapes (vinifera grapes such as Chardonnay or Cabernet and even certain hybrids such as Vidal would not survive the extreme low temperatures of this area) as well as fruit tress and bushes. Seeing that the crop was going to survive he then applied for a winery license. He told me that the answer he got almost sent him to distraction.
"After all the work and money spent, I was ready to start and I was told that it was fine as long as there was not a school and/or a church close by. There was a church across the road."
John had to ask the priest of this church for a permission to build the winery across from his church. He went on, "I reminded the priest of the miracle of changing water into wine by Jesus! He gave us permission." The winery housed in an 1866 pioneer log cabin and an 1889 board and batton house opened in 2004.
To say that the winery has been a success is a misnomer. John and Trish were recently awarded the "Outstanding Business Achievement Award" by the Bobcaygeon and Area Chamber of Commerce.
John's philosophy is simple, "Great wines for all occasions can be made in Ontario".
In addition to growing most of his wine crops at the winery he does "import" vinifera grapes from Niagara to make his Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling wines. His home grown hybrids produce some very interesting and tasty blends.
I fell in love with his basic white from his own grown hybrid grapes (see the previous introductory article) called Buckhorn Vintage White Dry with its dry, crisp, grapefruit/lemon notes with a nice acid finish. It reminded me of a dry Vidal but with more crisp acidity. Home grown and a success story it is!
However it wasn't just the grape wines that I enjoyed, the fruit wines were good---damn good and very innovative. From their Apple and Apricot to Black Currant and Elderberry to the Pear and Cranberry wines of all types of sweetness level, the wines were good. Add to that the luscious dessert wines such as the afore mentioned Raspberry Chocolate and other dessert wines such as the Elderberry Chocolate or Golden Rod among many and you have winners in every category.
We spent some time visiting John as he made wine. John amazed me with his power to describe and explain. He made a very difficult subject understandable and made the complex far more simple. As he described his winemaking techniques I couldn't help feel that his former students must have been very fortunate.
Shortly after our visit to the winery we tasted some more of Kawartha Country wines paired with jellies and sauces. Magnificent. I discovered a unique wine called "Bazingaberry Off Dry" that had clearly some television program overtones. If you go to the Kawartha Country Wines website and check out the fruit wines of which Bazinga is part of , you will see what I mean (www.kawarthacountrywines.ca). Both John and Trish were exceptional hosts and I look forward to seeing them again.       
We were invited to a six course dinner at Westwind Inn in which the gourmet cooking at Westwind was matched with Kawartha Country Wines. The menu was as follows (along with the wines):
 The Westwind Dinner
Ist Course
 Maple Squash Soup:  Apple Off Dry

2nd Course
Green Salad with Kawartha Country Wines Balsamic Vinegar: Shiro Plum Off Dry

3rd  Course
Strawberry-Kiwi Sorbet: Raspberry Off Dry

Main Course
Pork Tenderloin: a trio of wines Blackberry Off Dry; Black Currant Off Dry and Elderberry Off Dry 

Dessert
Pear and Apple Pie: Lemon Cello Dessert Wine
Chocolate-Amaretto Cheese Cake: Raspberry Chocolate Dessert Wine 

The cooking was great as was the exceptional wine pairings. It was a fun night with John Rufa's great explanation about the wines and Inga Gallacher's exceptional description of the entrees.
I would like to thank  both enterprises of Westwind and Kawartha Country Wines for making this evening and in fact our whole stay very enjoyable.
We look forward to returning in the Summer to complete our filming for the Two In A Vineyard Series!"
The evening was ended by coffee and then bed. The next day saw our departure from Westwind but our departure took with us some excellent memories and a desire to come back. Ontario's attractions can compare with the best in the World. If people want: great scenery, excellent accommodations, great food, interesting people and superb adventure they only have to look out their back door: Ontario!