Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day: The Power of We

It's Blog Action Day! A day where millions of bloggers around the world unite and write about the same topic! The aim is to create awareness, provoke thought and incite social change.

I try to participate each year in Blog Action Day and this year's topic is The Power of We!  In 2010 the topic was water and in 2009 the topic was climate change and food.

How does this year's topic, "The Power of We" relate to After the Harvest? Recently I started having monthly Sunday Dinners at my place. For someone who has lived alone for most of my adult life, inviting people into my home on a regular basis meant I actually had to hide the pile of ironing I've been putting off for months, clean up the place and *gasp* share my home with other people around the table! Still with all of this on the horizon, I looked forward to it with anticipation.

The first dinner was a smashing success! Here are the happy Sunday diners:

Obviously I enjoy eating with others, or I wouldn't have dreamed up the concept for this blog, to "eat, drink and connect", but I'm sure some of you single-dwellers out there will agree, that it is so easy to get into a rut of eating alone night after night, in front of the television, reading your favourite book, or if you're like me, catching up on favourite podcasts. Usually when I eat, drink and connect it's at someone else's home or at a restaurant, so although doing so at my own home would be fun, I would have to stretch my single apartment dweller muscles and approach this idea with open arms.

The main reason for hosting Sunday Dinners was because I realized I was lacking a sense of community in my own home and I thought it might be a great way to focus less on me, and more on "we". This gives me a chance to see friends old and new, enjoy some great food (potluck -- I'm no Martha Stewart...) and simply connect. It's great to jump out of my routine once a month and I like the idea of a revolving cast of characters meeting and chatting over food and drink.

I guess you could say this whole idea speaks to "the power of we" -- the sense of community that is shared when you eat together. I've always believed food is a great equalizer, connector, peacemaking tool, icebreaker etc. I'm sure you can agree that food can take many forms in our lives, in addition to being a delicious meal on a plate.

I think what I'm trying to say here, is that food is always better when shared. When it comes to eating, drinking and connecting, "we" is so much more powerful than just "me". Without the "we" there would be no connecting.

Who are you sharing food with these days and how is it enriching your life? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Prince Edward County: By Chadsey's Cairns

During our July Prince Edward County trip, my sisters and I visited By Chadsey's Cairns. This was our last stop together on that weekend's winery tour before we headed into town for dinner at East & Main Bistro (a restaurant we very much enjoyed; thanks to my pal Ryan for the recommendation). 

I loved the setting of this winery, an old farm property originally owned by Ira Chadsey himself (inherited from his father, circa mid-1800s), that now serves as a winery and guesthouse run by owners Richard Johnston and Vida Zalnieriunas. 

Complete with food, outdoor art and even an historical Chadsey family cemetery, this winery definitely had character. Before we even stepped into the tasting room our eyes led us into a giant barn that appeared to be an event space. We later learned that musicians play in this space and it also seems to be a great spot for a rousing game of ping pong. 

Once inside the tasting room, we enjoyed some wines and learned a lot more about Chadsey and "cairns", a word I had not heard of before that day. A "cairn", you see, is a stone marker, and with the cemetary nearby and the legend of Chadsey's stone fence, there were many a cairn to be seen and heard of on this property. Slowly the name of this winery started to make sense. Things really became clear when Richard shared with us the story of Ira Chadsey and his fabled demise; legend says it was suicide:
Local legend has it that seven years after [his wife] Roxey’s death, at the age of 77, Ira built a large bonfire in his maple syrup shack, located down the laneway by the cairns, and shot himself so that his body would be flung into the flames.  The fire is said to have been so intense that nothing was found but the metal barrel of his gun.
A tragic, poetic character, Chadsey was, as he alleged to have declared that he would return after his death reincarnated as a white horse, and he was building the stone markers so he could find his way home.


My sisters and I enjoyed the charm and quirky feeling to this winery, and the wine wasn't too shabby either, especially the Muscat. We enjoyed some great summer wines such as their Chenin Blanc and Rose as well. Perfect patio wines. 

I would definitely go back for more wine, some music and maybe even to stay the night. Don't judge this one by its modern sign out front. By Chadsey's Cairns will take you back to a pure and simple country feeling, and leave you with a sense of history and legend. 

*Note: Although I found the legend and lore of the Chadsey story to be interesting, by no means would I ever speak about suicide by romanticizing the idea. If you are in pain and contemplating suicide, please call your local Distress Centre for help.*

Monday, October 1, 2012

Prince Edward County: The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery

As the scarves come out and the Halloween costume scheming begins, I am quickly realizing that it's October. I can't believe summer has come and gone, and I still have so many blog posts to share with you from my Prince Edward County and California travels!

So, friends, come with me, all the way back to the sunny days of July, as my sisters and I visited The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery for a tasting. The Grange of Prince Edward (or "The Grange") is a large, beautiful vineyard property with a stately rustic building as its tasting room. Although we didn't explore every nook and cranny of the building, what we experienced was a brightly lit, open and homey atmosphere, almost like being at someone's really nice cottage....except that here, the wine never runs out.

Once inside we were greeted by Winery Owner Caroline Granger's daughter Maggie, a Natalie Portman doppelgänger  with an upbeat energy and a vast amount of wine and marketing knowledge.

As my sisters and I tasted wine after wine and enjoyed some local cheese and bread, we truly enjoyed our time hosted by Maggie, a true professional who shared with us some great stories and a lot of laughs.

Caroline Granger herself even swung by to say hello which was great considering how hands-on she is at the winery, and therefore quite busy! She is truly passionate about what she does.

It was so great to be around women who are passionate about wine, and by this I mean both my sisters and the staff at The Grange. We especially liked hearing the stories about the two vineyard blocks and thus, wines named after two women in the Granger family: Victoria and Diana.

Definitely a stop I would make again during a trip to the county, The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery welcomed us with open arms and we truly enjoyed our time, and of course...the wine.