Winter Wonderland in Waterloo

Surviving winter is a calculation. Peel back the curtain, scratch the frost off the window, and peer out at the drab reality of two more months of this. The coffee percolates as I lean against the wall and press the remote engine starter to thaw my car. Contrast that with my buoyant son bouncing on his mini-trampoline and shooting Nerf arrows at my head. We’re four years old now, so winter means get out and play in the snow—right now.

“It’s 100km to Waterloo, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of fruit roll ups, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” (Cue The Blues Brothers.) Revving down the highway to meet the sun in bloom, shining back down on the snow on its rise, my son tells me he learned all about how to ski from watching Peppa Pig. Well, today we’re doing it for real.

Waterloo Region in Southern Ontario is a playground. First stop: Chicopee Tube Park. Warmly bundled up, we carry our tubes to the moving walkway up the hill. Did I say, “We?” I meant “I” carry mine while pulling my son’s along with him in it. Trepidation sets in at the top. We move straight to the edge. Reclined in our tubes, I grip onto his tube for dear life. Our attendant gently hurls us like a discus, and catapults us down the slope. Our screams float above as we barrel down a lane wide enough for us to spin. We eat snow as it flies up and slaps our faces. What a rush! Back for another round, there’s hardly any line up. My son has turned pro and is positioning himself for optimal speed in the middle lane. His cherubic face, like a connect-the-dots pad, is a wide smile between two rose coloured cheeks. “Again! Again!” He cheers. Fun and easy, we get our thrills without chills on this glorious winter morning.

Following lunch and a nap, we arrive at Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort. Everything is taken care of. It’s a smooth assembly line as we’re comfortably fitted into boots, helmets and skis. Although there are private and group lessons for all ages, I’m going to teach my son myself. This is something I’ve always dreamed about. And here we go!
For me, it’s an easy jaunt, easy to be safe and controlled. For him, we’ve just scaled Kilimanjaro. “Ooh, I’m a little scared.” He admits. I maneuver his skis into parallel position with mine on either side of him and, while crouched behind him and holding him in place, we start off down the mountain. With total trust in his daddy, he is screaming with exhilaration. “Can we do it again!” He pleads. Up and down, up and down, the joy in my son’s face and heart is matched only by the pain in my back. “Ok, your turn.” I tell him.

After the fear is gone, he can now try on his own. No poles required. We’re going to learn balance, and I’m right here with him. Waddling forward like a penguin, hopping like a bunny, I know my little Podborski will be a downhill demon in no time. This is wonderful. Skiing at Chicopee is so convenient, hassle free and gently priced. And, it’s such a fun place to learn, because all the elements are available in a neighbourly, familial atmosphere with young, friendly and attentive staff on hand to help us out and inspire fun and confidence in my son. That’s what it’s all about.

Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort, discoverchicopee.com

By the end of the day, he’s learned how to walk, how to turn, and how, like a slow moving bullet, to ski down hill. An incredible day that deserves a rich hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream by the fire in the ski lodge. Cozy and warm, he falls asleep on my lap with a satisfied smile. Awesome father-son experience? Check! We’ll be revisiting Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort again, oh, probably tomorrow.

Fools + Horses Boreal Latte

When selecting their ingredients, Fools + Horses tries to support other great Manitoba businesses, and that is certainly true when it comes to their Boreal Latte. Boreal Wildcraft Teas hand picks the Sacred Boreal Tea from the Boreal forest, and its earthy flavour pairs perfectly with fools & Horses’ espresso.

Continue reading “Fools + Horses Boreal Latte”

Chef Flynn Documentary Premieres in Toronto

Flynn McGarry began hosting his own supper club when he was 11 years old in his home, aided by his schoolmates. Fast forward. Now 19, he  has been a fascinating subject for the readers of the New York Times Magazine, Time and food blogs the world over. McGarry is the subject of Chef Flynn, the second feature doc from director Cameron Yates (The Canal Street Madam).

A Child Prodigy

We all love to film the rights of passage of our children: science experiments, soccer games, art projects until suddenly we realize that we documented hours and hours of our child’s life. But when mom, Meg McGarry, is a filmmaker and the hobby of her 5 year old hobby is cooking and creating small culinary masterpieces learned from TV cooking shows, the videos are a cut above. The child prodigy’s focus, tenacity and  amazingly sophisticated palate become clear. While filming him cooking in his bedroom and hosting dinner parties aided by a kitchen brigade of his classmates, what was she thinking? A passing phase? Mozart?

The Documentary

Enter Cameron Yates, a documentary film maker who sifted through this compendium of home movies and found a fascinating subject for his next film, Chef Flynn. Featuring over 18 years of personal archival footage as well as intimate vérité, this feature documentary portrait is not only the study of a rising star thrown into the media spotlight at an early age, but also a reflection of motherhood and what it means to give up one’s own identity in furtherance of a child’s passion.

Respected in NYC

At 15, accompanied by his mother, Flynn moved to New York to do stages in top restaurants – and yes, the seasoned chefs in the most important dining city in the world showed him respect.

As his expertise and imagination soars, so does his reputation, and his tasting dinners in family home in California became a “must try”, as guests came from far and wide. Newspapers, magazines  and bloggers wrote feature stories on this unusually talented young man. In the film, compiled of home movies and footage by Yates, we see the child grow up and the chef blossom. His focus is unwavering, and his personality does not become altered as his confidence in himself and his craft grows.

Of course, there are a few disappointments along the way, such is life, but by sheer talent and force of will, at age 19, his dreams have come to fruition.  Today he has his own restaurant, Gem, located in New York’s Lower East Side. Small, yes, but perfect. He serves a 12 to 15 course menu to two seatings of 12 guests Tuesday through Saturday.

Cameron Yates has captured this young man’s life in a brilliant and inspirational documentary film. Playing now. One-Week engagement begins January 25, at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

The Siren Call of the Sun

Winter has its charms, but they tend to fade after a blizzard or two, and those of us who have a low cold-weather tolerance yearn for the sun. Like moths to the flame, we head for our South. Florida. Because, as Sara Waxman says, resistance is futile. Continue reading “The Siren Call of the Sun”

Gulf Islands Adventure: Victoria

Only in Victoria, would there be a Feast Concierge. Karma Brophy leads us on a merry three hour tour of Oak Bay and its delightful gastronomy scene, one bite at a time. We taste delicious house-cured meats at Cory Pelan’s Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria and hear his philosophy of the local food security. What better to follow than a glass of Oak Bay’s British heritage at the Penny Farthing Pub and Vis-à-vis Wine Bar and listen to whimsical historical tales. Continue reading “Gulf Islands Adventure: Victoria”

Interview with a Wine Maker: Peter Rotar, Magnotta Winery

Magnotta Winery is a winery of firsts: first sparkling ice wine; first iced grappa; first Amarone-inspired wine; first company of its kind in Ontario licensed to produce and sell wine, beer and distilled products; and first Ontario winery to partner with Canada Post for direct home delivery. Magnotta has been one of the most innovative and philanthropic Ontario wineries; it has the number one selling ice wine in the world, and with Head Enologist Peter Rotar, Magnotta it has gone on to win over 4,500 international wine awards. Continue reading “Interview with a Wine Maker: Peter Rotar, Magnotta Winery”

Gulf Islands Adventure: Salt Spring Island

Driving into Salt Spring Island in the rain is like entering the pages of an old picture book. A rustic road leads to Hastings House Country House Hotel, in an 11th century Sussex style manor house overlooking the Ganges Harbour. We arrive in the misty rain at a small waterfront luxury country resort surrounded by fresh green foliage. We feel we have reached a lovely sanctuary. Continue reading “Gulf Islands Adventure: Salt Spring Island”

Raise a Glass to Michele Bosc

For years, driving along York Road in Niagara-On-The-Lake, it stood alone. I’ve always admired it—that grand palatial structure that appeared, plucked out of the French countryside—Château des Charmes. Indeed, the traditions of this family-run winery began in the Alsace region of France. Through the grapevine, the Bosc family traveled from France to Algeria, and then, finally, to Canada, to establish Ontario’s first winery built specifically with the visitor experience in mind. Continue reading “Raise a Glass to Michele Bosc”

Gulf Islands Adventure: Tofino

From Tofino at Mile 1 of the Trans Canada Highway, to Saltspring Island and the manicured landscape of Victoria, it’s all “peace and love, man.” Continue reading “Gulf Islands Adventure: Tofino”