Well, well, well. I stand correct.
A few weeks ago I complained quite openly about my dislike for November. Here in southern Ontario, November is a bleak, dreary, dismal thing and with today marking the first day of this most tragic month, I felt suitably affirmed in my proclamation that it is the worst month of the year when THIS appeared outside my window this morning.
You see, today is also day 1 of my month-long Adventure-A-Day challenge for myself. Starting today I will be challenging myself to have an adventure each and every day for the entire month of November. I’m hoping that stepping outside of my comfort zone and seeking out new experiences will help me to get through this abysmal month and possibly learn something new about myself along the way.
Seeing the flurries outside led me to the only possible solution for today’s adventure.
Adventure-A-Day: Day 1
I had no idea until very recently that my own little part of Toronto (the west end) is home to some small but mighty (tasty!) craft breweries. The Great Lakes Brewery is only a 7 minute drive from my home and has won Canadian Brewery of the Year for the last 2 years running as well as Ontario Brewery of the Year for 2014. You can’t snub those strong credentials so I pulled up in the parking lot outside their brewery/shop this afternoon ready to imbibe in a little adventure of the taste buds.
First up, their seasonal Pumpkin Ale. It was smooth and light. I’m not sure if I was supposed to taste a hint of pumpkin (I didn’t) but it did taste good. Next I tried one of their original brews, the Devil’s Pale Ale 666. It was even better. I decided this must be a brewery that knew how to talk to my taste buds so I asked my adventure guide (the bar tender) what their most popular beer was and she promptly handed me a sample of their Canuck Pale Ale. I promptly bee-lined it to their beer fridge and bought a 6-pack.
On my way out I noticed a sign for The Pie Commission – a meat pie kitchen in the neighbourhood that uses one of the brewery’s beers in its savoury Beef’n Beer pie. “Ummm, do you have directions to this place” I called out to my adventure guide (still the bartender)?
The Pie Commission
There was a line. A line for individual sized savoury meat pies. I was impressed and completely shocked by this. The power of peer persuasion took over me. If these strangers wanted to stand in line for a meat pie then so did I!
More than anything, I now wanted to pair the six-pack sitting in my car with one of these delicious smelling pies. I stood in line and peered around the small basement level shop waiting my turn. “Bloody Good Pies” seemed to be their slogan. There were a few women hunched over warm lunch plates at a counter for eat-in customers and lots of activity happening in the kitchen itself. Black and white signs saying things like “Fresh”, “Hot, “Savoury” were everywhere. Yup, I was buying what this place was selling – the smell, the line, the smart advertising. They had me. I walked out 5 minutes later with 4 meat pies bundled in a box and placed them in the back seat of my car, next to my beer.
Today’s taste bud adventure was shaping up nicely. It might turn into tomorrow’s heart burn but, fortunately, that’s not today’s concern. I had one more stop to make.
Black Oak Brewing Co.
Located in a rather industrial-like business park I wasn’t even sure if the Black Oak brewery was open when I pulled up. Inside a friendly man (let’s call him adventure guide #2) was eager to introduce me to their beers and even offered to take me “out back to see how we do things around here”.
As he walked me around the large vats and barrels, he described the taste of their various beers to me. It almost sounded as though he was describing wines – colour, body, aroma, notes of roasted coffee, chocolate and citrus. I listened carefully to each description and in the end chose their popular Nut Brown Ale, the Belgian-style citrusy Saison and the Nutcracker Porter.
The Saison will be consumed as soon as I finish typing this and the Nut Brown Ale will likely be enjoyed in November too. I plan to save the Nutcracker Port, which is brewed with cinnamon sticks, until the holidays arrive. I haven’t decided if the cinnamon sticks are a ‘good thing’ yet.
So, there you have it. Day 1 of my November adventure-a-day had me following my taste buds around west Toronto in search of a great craft beer and a meat pie to pair with it.
November is looking (tasting) better already.
Did you have an adventure today? Why not join me in my month-long challenge. Do something different, try something new, get outside and have an adventure and then share it with us with a comment below or using the hashtag #AdventureADay on Twitter/Instagram/FB. Are you up for it?