Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Beautiful Weekend in Ashland: Don't Give in to Pride or Prejudice

Dolly-girl put the handset of the blower back on the hook, turned, and spoke. "Javier. It's on. This weekend." Javier Boleyn is a pal-o-Dolly-girl's--and mine too, now--from way back when they were running a bookmakin' operation on the east coast. They don't do that anymore--Dolly-girl got into versin' people and Javier, well he specializes in tellin' people's tales that need tellin' for whatever reason. She continued. "We got the tickets and it's a biggie--Henry IV, Part I is on the stage. You don't see that often" I shook my head. Ooo boy, thank someone for that. Nothin' like a history play to keep one on one's toes. Literally, keeps a guy from snorin'.

I made a quick call and booked us into our regular stayin' spot, a cozy inn that Dolly-girl adores. I gotta admit, it's to my likin' too and the &B part of B&B is somethin' to sit for! Plus the weather's great and there's a nice deck where you can plant your carcass out in the fresh air and relax and take in life through a spoon--concave or convex, plenty of time to take it in both ways if you want.

After we finished our feedbags, we went out for a perambulation around the town to see what we could see. It was Saturday so a lot of farmers were bringin' whatever they farm into town for town people to take home and cook so they could feel close to the land, like they might own a barn or somethin'. There was plenty to go around, including some pretty nice lookin' cackleberries.

Seein' as how it was a dozen years to the day almost that me and Dolly-girl tied the knot, and seein' as how Javier had a ticket for a drama that we'd seen before and didn't need to see again, me and her decided to go out and get us some fancy, what she called L'Art de la cuisine française whatever that is, for the night-time feedsack. Dolly-girl'd spotted this joint that's been around as long as we've been gawkin' at the Bard south of the Oregon Vortex. We tried it out and I gotta say, it was hittin' our spots, alrighty.

After we were done tyin' on the feedbag, Dolly-girl shot me one through the wave and said, "What's with the droppin' Gs, Jack? You sound dumb, like that Magilla-from-Wasilla." "I thought you liked it--you keep tellin' me it wouldn't hurt to loosen up and drop a G-or-two now and then." Her greenies rolled like I knew they would before they peeked out under the wave." "Jeeze Louise, Jack, I was just talking about how you don't need to keep the first sawbuck you ever made down there at D'Mestiere Investigations, that's all." I slipped her arm through mine, pulled her close, started off down the street, looked up and winked at the moon. "Oh, is that what you were suggesting I do..."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Poutine or Not Poutine? Lunch at Pirate's at Jordan River, Vancouver Island, BC

The sun was approaching Dolly-girl's yardarm--noontime--and she was starting to make some noise about just where it was that we were going to pull the roadster over to the side at some roadhouse and have a drin...naw, not Dolly-girl, I'm talkin' lunch here. As readers of these writings know, lunch is an item of ultimate importance. Breakfasts come and go. Dinners? Take or leave 'em. Lunch, now that's the feedbag that counts.

We were out for a spin with Anna-Maria and our friends Dania and Leo Beech. Anna-Maria had had some people that needed talking with over on the mainland, Dolly-girl was headed to a week with some shady characters that needed versed, and me, old Jack was headed to Apple Valley to make sure that some troublemakers I talk with from time-to-time were still on the narrow and straight. Couldn't be done on the blower, so I was gonna have to catch the Clipper on Monday and have it set me down among the Red Delicious. Dania and Leo? They hail from around the parts--they needed a break across the Strait.

We were motoring along the coast when Dolly-girl yelled, "This is the place, Jack. This is it, it's it. Stop the roadster. Before I could set the brake, she'd made a dash for Pirate's Lunch.
It wasn't no Canoe, but I had a feeling we were actually going to end up with feedbags to tie on. And, we would be standing while we emptied these ones, 'cause Pirate's was a truck with some tires getting flat, sitting in a parking lot.

I'm not sure what caught Dolly-girl's eye. Coulda been the Fins and Fries. Might of been the thought of a burger and a stack of roses swimming through some hot oil. It was something, and I'll tell you, Pirate's had something for everyone of us.

Leo and Anna-Maria took a look at the menu on the side of the truck, looked at each other, and gave the up and down to a grilled tube steak with a rose off the grill and a squirt out of the yellow bottle.

Dania ordered up the well-dressed diner with frog nails.

Dolly-girl, well sure enough, Pirate pinned a plate of roses on her. They were fresh, hot, and plenty to go around.

Meanwhile, the first thing that had my peepers winking like a Fox News anchor interviewing the Wack-o from Wasilla was a sign that caught my eye. Note to Pirate: D'Mestiere Investigations has been retained in a copyright infringement case. Those Ms look a little too familiar...

Yes, indeed, I was looking at a second chance for poutine. Poutine Denied! at Canoe, but Pirate was going to offer me my revenge. A chance to give him a first class, 5 Curd review in response to Poutine Denied! Great decor and poutine, too. I ordered it. Dolly-girl was right! This is it! Note to self: Use of This is it! can probably get D'Mestiere Investigations investigated by the estate of Michael Jackson--knock it off.I should have known: Pirate pronounced it "poo-teen."

The Faux Poutine arrived. My excitement faded fast. While the fries were fresh cut and cooked just right--in fact, delicious fries--and the gravy, while likely from a can or mix was tasty--although not salty enough--the curds were--WHAT? Strips of American cheese (wait, I guess that would be Canadian cheese--or would it be? I think Canadians have more taste) had been torn up and laid to rest on the fries and gravy. IMPORTED AMERICAN CHEESE! Strips!

Sorry Pirate,

Fries and Gravy


don't make poutine without curds.

Final Answer: NO SQUEAK? NOT POUTINE! Final score: 0 curds out of 5!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Beautiful Noontime in Victoria: Poutine Denied!

When it comes to tying on the feedbag, lunchtime is Dolly-girl's number one favorite time of the day. So, long about 9 in the morning, she's starting to check through her looking-around-Victoria book to see if she can get some skinny on where to fatten up from some tipster that's been to a joint before, with me? "Jack, there's a coupla places we need to eyeball for noontime feedbags. Look, Anna-Maria, look here in this book and see what you think..." The two of us, that would be me and my lovely daughter, pushed our breakfast plates away to see what Dolly-girl was running up the flagpole. "Look here at this place called Canoe, and this other one called Queen Mother's Waterside Cafe, let's go to one of them. Can we, Jack, can we? Is it a good idea?" "Settle down in your pumps there, Dolly-girl, it's still a coupla hours 'til lunchtime and I can do a lot of things, but making the big hand get to the six and the little hand get to the eleven ain't one of them." Dolly-girl likes to get a jomp on the lunch crowd. "OK, OK, I'll be good, but people'll be lining up, I tell you." I noticed her feet were still doing the little happy dance they like to do.

At the crack of 11:30, we were sticking our beans through the door at Queen Mother's, only to find out that, although the sign said "Queen Mother's Waterside Cafe," it was now a land surveyor's joint. "No lunch, here," Dolly-girl muttered, to which Anna-Maria added, "They might share--I saw a couple lunch boxes in there..." I took command. "OK, it's Canoe. They brew their own." Dolly-girl shot me a look through the wave. "That's not a good way to make an important decision, Jack. This is about lunch."

We strolled through the gate, asked the Mister of the house for a three-top, and followed Missy's wave to a nice spot under an umbrella with a view of Trouble's side of the harbour. I could tell from the crew that was headed out to nab terrorists, or maybe patrol for the stray WWII survivors who still harbor ill intentions for the harbour. "Jack, that's a group of whale watchers." Dolly-girl shattered my mental yarn...

We were the third table to be seated--a group of 3 and one of 4 beat us in. "If we hadn't stopped at the Queen Mother's we woulda been..." Anna-Maria reached over and patted her knee. "It's OK, Dolly-girl, it's OK." Little did I know.

Missy was right quick with the whaddayas. "I'll have whatever hops to the table itself." "Gotcha, IPA. Ladies? OK, two blonds. Need sand? I'll be back."

And she was. Pretty quick. The brew was tall and cool and was just what the doctor woulda ordered had the doctor been me. The girls stirred their joe while we finished giving the 3-page whaddaya the twice over. I knew at once what it was going to be for me 'cause right there, in black and white, was poutine!

Kennebec fries! Curds! Brown Beaver ale gravy! Yes!

We ordered up. I was so excited I can't even remember what the girls told Missy to hustle their way. Salad and pizza, I think. I didn't care. Dolly-girl was right--lunch was the best. We did tell Missy to bring us a bowl of yesterday's special and three spoons. That would hold us until it was time to dig into what I was thinking was gonna be a 5-curd delight! Missy came back with the chowder. It was some of the best we'd ever slurped down our hatches. We all gave the nod to that.

Unfortunately, that was the last we saw of Missy for a long time. By now the joint was hoppin'. When she did get up her courage to waltz by our spot, she mentioned that our order was being delayed by a table of 19 that was ahead of us. Hmmm, we were the third table in and by now everyone else was eating, and we were behind a table of 19? And time was running out--We had to meet Dania and Leo Beech at the ferry in a quarter-hour. We packed up. The head guy waved us out--no charge, but no poutine either. So, poutine denied gets no rating. Canoe had charisma, it had charm, it had potential--it coulda been a contender. Instead, it gets a goose-egg for service. If you go to Canoe, take your paddle, you may need to give the kitchen a little encouragement. Better yet, go to the Bug Zoo instead...

A Beautiful Noontime in Victoria, BC: Lunch at Milestones

I walked into the bedroom, kicked off my shoes, stripped my suspenders from my shoulders, and arched my back. Dolly-girl was on her fainting couch; she looked over her glasses and above the dime novel she was eyeballing, paused, and said, "Your reputation is starting to precede you there, Jack. Trouble's not going to have much of a challenge if you keep this up--the Luckies, the feedbag, the brown liquor, and such." "Thanks for the welcome home, Dolly-girl." She returned to her rag, muttering.

"Meanwhile, did you book us into Milestones in Victoria?" "I did and I confirmed with Anna-Maria that she's set to get there by clipper, ferry, and road coach. Little Chianti--hard to believe she's all grown up...Tells me she was at a face-to-face with a bunch of mouthpieces like to sue sawbones, follow? Go figure, but somebody's gotta keep them clean."

We hit the road at the crack the next day. Our roadster hummed along and in no time, we were looking south from a northbound ferry, headed from our country to theirs. Didn't seem right, doing a Maple Leaf without Rouge and the Newshawk, but they live back there and couldn't make it out here seeing as how it is pretty much all the way across the continent. Next year.

Milestones is a joint we read about in some gawker-book Dolly-girl picked up at the newsstand back in Stumptown. Turns out the Milestones we settled our carcasses into isn't the only one in Canada, but it is the only one on the Inner Harbour, and it is the only one with the beautiful sunny view of the Empress Hotel. Missy waved us to a table, handed us the whadda-yas, and said, "Right back, eh?" We gave each other knowing nods--"we're north of the border, der," Anna-Maria chirped.

Missy was back, as promised and asked if we were planning on wetting our whistles with anything other than the local version of Bull Run. We were. The girls gave a nod to the pomegranate margarita, which had me shaking my bean--I'm a purist and I'm betting nobody's doing the hat dance around a pomgarita. Me, I ordered up a pint of the local hops. It was good--not great, but good enough to put the corners of my trap on an upward course.

Missy picked us out as tourists, I don't know how. But if she hadn't figured us, discussing the whaddya would have tipped her. Dolly-girl and Anna-Maria started right away with the girl thing: "If I get this and you got that then I could have part of that and you could have part of this and we could split..." A feedbag's a feedbag in my book. You put your own nose in it. Otherwise, it's a trough you're bellying up to.

Anyhoo, Dolly-girl gave Missy the thumb's up on an order of well-dressed diner on a stack of frog nails while Anna-Maria told her to burn one, take it through the garden, and pin a rose on it. Then she made a little circular motion with her hand and mouthed "We'll be sharing..." Missy got it. She turned to me, "Yours Mac?" "I'll have mac if you got it, but if not, wrap up an Oncorhynchus kisutch, toss some bag-jobs on it, and give it a shot of the Swiss-on-the-Rhine. Splash-a-yesterday's special on the side." "On it. Coho wrap with capers and pesto, cuppa chowder..."

We did some gum-beating about this and that, enjoyed the sun and the view, and quicker than a float plane ride for a cruise ship tourist, Missy was back with the plates. The feedbags were as promised. We dug in, and in no time, you could hear our noses scraping the bottom of the bag. Milestones won't be a culinary milestone, but for lunch on the harbour, it's worth the stop.

We walked out of the joint for 4 Green Queens, a little pricey, but given the location, the Capital of British Columbia, the Inner Harbour, and the fact that it was Northwest Deuce Days and the town was full of roadsters, not bad.

A promenade along the waterfront took us past a bunch of buskers, but none more fanciful than this pretty mermaid, perched on her perch and playing an accordion. "That's enough to make my tail flip, I told her as I dropped a couple Loonies in her straw hat." That got me a flip of her tail, a chord from the chord-ion, and two looks through two waves. It was gonna be a long weekend...