Next one to hit my palate was a very smooth and refreshing light ale. Once again, there was no note attached (retirement gift from work),so I have to thank the anonymous donor for a solid choice. People Skills is brewed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They brew several beers, all are good based on my experience with this one.
They call it a Patio Ale, and I agree it would be a good one to drink on a patio. I definitely enjoyed it on my deck.
Here is the link to their website page referring to this beer, and make sure to click on the video below as well. You may want to spend some time perusing their website, pretty well done.
Next on my list of retirement beers is an entry form the Fitzsimmons Brewing Company of Airdrie, Alberta. The beer, Big Hill Blonde, is a feisty ale, with great colour and all the taste one can handle. a beautiful summer beer. Unfortunately, no one took credit for gifting me this one, and I forgot to take a picture. So congratulations to the anonymous donor, you did a great service to beerkind.
New feature, we will see how this goes. It is pretty much dependent on whether or not I have the time to actually read a book.
First up, a mistake. Picked this one up without realizing it is a series of 14 published and 2 pending publication this fall. This is number 10 in the series. You have likely seen or read some of these yourself. The Bone Collector comes immediately to mind.
Jeffery Deaver is definitely prolific and has created a very interesting character in Lincoln Rhyme, a wheelchair bound detective. The Kill Room was published in 2013 and continues with a new case for him to work on. All the regular characters are in the novel and, as usual, he has created a unique protagonist with some unusual quirks. Without giving much away, the pursuit is engaging, and the reading is easy. There are not many side issues to distract the reader from the core story, and it is easy to keep up with the narrative. All in all, an enjoyable summer book that you can put down and go back to without losing the story. I intend to continue the series, but will start at the initial work and carry on from there.
In conclusion, please support your local bookstores. If you live in the Cranbrook, BC area, please do your book shopping online at www.huckleberrybooks.ca or visit them in person at 16 9Th Ave S in Cranbrook.
The second retirement gift I sampled came courtesy of Jesi, thanks. The beer she chose for me is Poland’s number 1 beer, Zywiec. This is a pilsener, light on the palate and smooth. The colour is golden, and overall very refreshing. A very good beer, worthy of further investigation. Another brewery that needs closer inspection.
The first beer I sampled was Erdinger. This is advertised as the ultimate premium wheat beer, and is brewed in strict accordance to the Bavarian Purity Law. This was gifted to me by Terry, one of the very small group of us known as Boston Bruins fans. Go Bruins. Thanks Terry, your pick was exceptional. I’m going to have to visit this brewery at some point, they do a great job at what they do. I found it to be very tasty, hits the front of the tongue and then goes down smooth, with a slight hint of bitter. Golden in the glass and sparkles with bubbles like champagne. Definitely one I intend on having again, and likely again, then again some more.
July 15, a big day for us, the day when everything changed, and we are positive it will be for the better. I feel slightly overwhelmed at being unemployed for the first time in 50 years or so, but also relieved that we can now move down the path to a more fulfilling future.
In all honesty, work, as much as I enjoyed it, was getting in the way of a multitude of projects that are in planning, in progress or are almost completed. More on those in later posts. This is about the “Big Day”.
For us, the CoVid pandemic did a few things. We both worked from home, which allowed us to move about and work on our retirement nest. For this, we are grateful to have understanding and progressive employers. It also allowed us to winter in our spot and test out those waters. We were successful on multiple fronts. Come spring, the decision was made that I would retire on July 15 and moved forward to attain that goal.
We purchased our lot in 2017 on the Moyie River in British Columbia, with mountain views on all sides. The intent was to retire here and spend a chunk of each winter in various locations, while basking in their warmth.
On the the 15th of July, I spent the day with all my work friends, doing minimal work of course. We went for lunch with all who could make it, as only 25% of employees were on site due to health restrictions. Prior to lunch, I was presented with my good bye gift, an ample supply of beer, each attached with a note from the person who contributed it. A wonderful gift on so many levels. I’m going to miss these people.
Now that I have more time (apparently, I’ve been retired 6 days and this is the first post I’ve done) I am planning on regular posts. There will definitely be a series of beer reviews added to the mix, to go along with all the regular cadre of photos, reviews and recipes. I am so looking forward to the R&R, and the more casual lifestyle.
Number 9 on my personal bucket list is becoming a better cook. In our travels, we have run into so many different cuisines that we wish we could import into our kitchen. As we get closer to our retirement, I have begun exploring various authors and recipes and have started learning the nuances to better, healthier (sometimes) food. As we both love food and wine, this endeavour is a natural for us. As we go, we will be sharing recipes that we found to be especially good, giving credit to the contributor, as well as commenting on the wine we chose to pair with the dish.
The early reviews from the household foodie have been positive and for that, I am motivated to continue.
We created the following dish and it is now noted as a favourite. We paired with a 2017 King Estate Pinot Noir, from the Williamette Valley of Oregon. It paired well with the dish, a Pinot or Chardonnay would be our recommendation for this pairing. The wine was fairly light and smooth, quite dry and a bit acidic. The main notes we tasted were cherry and red berries with some oak as well. Overall, we gave it 3.9 rating on a 5 scale. Not quite a 4, but still very good.
The dish itself is very tasty and fairly easy to prepare. As a note, cooking with chicken thighs changes everything you know about chicken. We did not add the heavy cream.
We have found this website to be very helpful and stacked with multiple off the grid style recipes. We highly recommend it.
Chicken in White White Sauce (Vino Bianco)
INSTRUCTIONS 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or 6 bone-in) Kosher salt Freshly ground black peppercorns 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup finely chopped onion 2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated garlic 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed) coarsely chopped 1 cup dry white wine (such as pinot grigio) 1/2 cup chicken stock or water 3 fresh thyme sprig plus 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves for serving 1 pound dried fettuccine or tagliatelle pasta 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream optional 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Season the chicken on all sides with 2 teaspoons of the salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and turn it to coat.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 3 or 4-quart deep skillet or saute pan until it begins to shimmer. Add the chicken in 2 batches and sear until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a platter.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it bubble 1 minute. Add the stock or water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes. Put the herb sprigs on top of the chicken.
Cover the pan and turn the heat down to a very low simmer. Cook 30-35 minutes for boneless chicken and 60-75 minutes for bone-in pieces. The chicken meat should be tender and falling off the bone.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Pull the thyme sprigs out of the pan and discard. Using two forks, break the chicken in the pan into large chunks. If you cooked bone-in thighs, discard the bones and stir the meat to combine with the pan sauce. If you’re using cream, stir it in.
Pour the chicken and the pan sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with the cheese and additional thyme leaves and toss everything together. Enjoy!
We paired this with a Chicken Parmesan, heavy on the cheese and a Cesar salad. J.Lohr has always been a go to wine, both this and the Cabernet. The Chardonnay is also excellent.
The Merlot is a very smooth, dry wine and very soft on the palate. It has major oak, vanilla and chocolate notes. You can pretty much pair it with anything.
You have likely noticed that we are big on California wines, and with good reason. They are usually fairly light, yet bold with strong berry and vanilla hints prevalent. They are reasonably priced, this one in the mid 20’s. I would recommend this wine for any type of occasion, even (especially?) just having a glass. We rate it 4.1 of 5 stars.
PS: For some reason The BC price was 16 cents lower than the average on Vivino. SHHSHH, don’t let them know.