The Walrus – Toronto Opening!

REPOST via Foodism – 

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READ: “Flavour of the Week” by Foodism contributor Jessica Huras:

https://www.foodism.to/fotw-walrus-pub/#.WqbVmTMymzE.twitter

 

@meganemichael
#sipandtwirl

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White Slate

Ha. Clean slates, new moons, springtime… I’m all for it.  It’s never a bad time for a fresh start.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the bottle that caught my eye this week is the little gem from a Naramata vineyard, aptly entitled White Slate.  Because you see, I don’t believe in coincidences.

There’s been a lot going on lately, and I was on a mission to be inspired… to turn the chaos from my spirit into crisp, clean words paired with a bottle of wine.   In my mind, though, I was hoping for a bottle that looked enigmatic and dark – something I could distract myself with by delving into the mystery of a new wine – something called,
The Agony of Living’, or maybe a tasty little shiraz titled, ‘Contemplating Darkness’… but alas, upon first glance, all I could see were the same old names lining the shelves.

And then, as I was about the give up and hit the vodka and gin, I ran right into the guy who was stocking the shelves with a nice little number called ‘White Slate’.  I had to laugh.

Ok, Universe.  Message received. I bought two.

I paired it with the ever-classic Miss Vickie’s Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar chips and a large, pink wine glass to go with some heavy contemplation.

Life.  When will it stop happening to us?  As far I can see, no one is immune to this human condition, and yet no one has mastered it either.
Disappointment, joy, pain, loss, love, sadness, beauty all go hand in hand…

I was determined to try and breathe.

Though my heart was heavy, I swirled the light, clear, white wine and breathed in its freshness.  I closed my eyes and smelled a cool, fruity breeze on a hot summer day, sitting on a patio in an orchard in the Okanagan and for a moment I forgot it all.  Rainy, grey days were replaced with summer fruit and picnics and moments in the sun.
As, I took a sip and felt the cool, crispness reach my lips, I felt the bite of the tartness hit my tongue and I opened my eyes.  The flavour took over the reverie and I was brought back.  Acidic and bright, I wanted more.  Not unlike life.  A delicate balance. A sharp sweetness.

It’s what binds us, moves us… and heals us.  Knowing that each moment is the chance to begin again.  No matter how heavy our hearts, sometimes, amid the chaos of this life, we need to remember to stop for a second, close our eyes and breathe in the freshness so that we are ready to face the rest.

Every day, every morning, every moment is a chance to start again – to rewrite the words on our page.  To catch up, give up, give in… a white slate.  Cheers.

(Reposted from the Sip & Twirl tasting series…)

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Eyes Wide Shut

Dark Table has been on my to-do list for way too long – bucket list, really- and I finally crossed it off.

What an experience.

It was everything I anticipated – but way more intense that I could have been prepared for.

Firstly, it was more than “dinner in the dark,” much more.  It was a true sensory immersion which ended up opening my eyes, mind and heart.

And on top of that – the meal was fantastic!

As you arrive, you are greeted outside the restaurant, where you choose your entrée and identify any dietary restrictions, etc.  In a 3-course meal, the appetizer and dessert are surprises, which certainly makes for an interesting test of your palette, (and cutlery skills.)

As you await your turn to be led inside, you begin to load your expectations –

How will we navigate the meal/ how will it taste without seeing it/ will I bump into the other diners/ what if I spill my wine/ or if I have to use the washroom?

Your turn to enter.  You’re introduced to your visually-impaired server, who will lead you to your table.  Suddenly, there is a realness to this experience far beyond the novelty of the concept.  This is the reality of a REAL PERSON, who is about to guide you through a tiny sliver of their EVERY day.  It’s also a meaningful opportunity to literally see the world without eyes, if only for a few hours.

Enter.

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The darkness hits you.

The black-out effect is intense.  There is no adjusting at all – a darkness so enveloping that it feels like its own entity – it took my breath away.  Literally.

I had to focus on my breathing, it felt heavy and strained.
I could feel my eyes widen, blink, strain, but all I could manage was a feeling of complete and utter nothingness.

Then, we had to walk.  In a world (and especially, city) where physical contact can sometimes be at a minimum, it was immediately essential to hold on – clasping hands, and clinging to the tiny body of our guide, moving our bodies close and tight for the journey… otherwise we would have been lost and alone.

Navigation was as hard as I had imagined, but it was the strange sense of being surrounded that was most insane.  The place was packed.  You could hear- and feel it.

We shuffled along, inches from a room full of other diners, secure only in knowing that they were also in the dark… occasionally bumping into the edge of a chair and feeling tight and fearful as we approached our destination.

We were seated in a corner- which was a huge relief.  In any other restaurant, it would have been the worst seat in the house! Jammed in a corner, facing the wall.  But we were grateful.  We each had a wall to stabilize us and only felt open to the abyss on one side.  The world had suddenly become much scarier.  I was grateful for a glass of wine to calm my nerves, but quickly realized I didn’t want more.  My equilibrium certainly didn’t need any further challenges.  The next two hours were mindblowing for me. We alternated between attempting to settle in, and making spontaneous exclamations about what we were each experiencing.

(Literally, too much to articulate.)

We were forced to listen and speak with intention and attention, no hand or facial gestures to allow you to interrupt or even react. There were no Instagram breaks to photograph the food, but only our imagination to remember, touch, smell, taste each component of our fig and goat cheese stuffed chicken, roasted vegetables, and gelato… (ever eaten gelato with your fingers?)  Cutlery was fairly useless and as we learned to become more gentle with our touch, I was overwhelmed with the effort it would take to appear ‘normal’ in a world where this was all real – but only for you.  All eyes on you.

Our consolation was that in just a few minutes, we could escape all of this and return to our own freedom of sight.

But our server, would not.
In fact, being that we were her last table of the night, she was getting ready to leave also.  So after we had settled the bill, she walked us out into the cold, dark night.  We continued to chat for a block or two, and she told us that she had only recently arrived in Canada, a refugee, from Iran… ALONE… and not speaking any English… and was so grateful to this restaurant, who gave her the opportunity that so many others don’t have – to work, to live, to become independent.  (Whaaaaat?)

As our eyes slowly adjusted to the world again, feeling all kinds of feelings… we watched her.  In amazement.  Her incredible story lingering in front of our wide-open eyes.

With her white cane, in hand, she crossed the busy street effortlessly and disappeared into the neighborhood, as our minds struggled to catch up.

I could write a book about the waves of thought, sensation and emotion that went through me, but I would instead encourage you to live it for yourself.

Not only is Dark Table an enlightening dining experience, but it is also a profound life lesson.  I guarantee that if you try and remain grounded and mindful, you will learn more about yourself and your perceptions than you ever have during a 3-course meal.

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Holiday Spirits!

Ok, I know it’s early – too early.

Barely American Thanksgiving and just past Remembrance Day, but I can’t help it… I want to get in the holiday spirit!

We’re styling a holiday to-do list and looking for the best of the best to sip this season.

Are you a cranberry-officianado?  How do you style your eggnog?

Just heard of a yummy new pear liqueur we will have to use asap… Send us your best and brightest holiday cocktails, so we can add them to our list!

Here’s our first inspiration list – found on  @Simplemostsite  

Holiday Spirits – click here

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#sipandtwirl                          @meganemichael                       www.winkproductions.ca   

Collaborative Chef’s Dinner

What’s better than ONE amazing Chef cooking you a fabulously decadent meal…?
Why, two amazing Chefs, of course!

For their third anniversary, the handsome team at Au Comptoir has decided to join forces with their talented friends at La Quercia to celebrate their firm place in Vancouver’s dining scene and present an incomparable seven-course meal, paired with wine.

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Au Comptoir is our not-so-secret favourite hotspot, (and wine bar, meeting-place, vogue-reading-solo-breakfast nook, brunch with friends, lunch and dinner…) three years and counting, and we couldn’t be happier for them!

Bringing together two fabulous Kitsilano restaurants will be the night of the season!

The menu looks amazing, the wine pairings are sure to be perfect, and hey – if France and Italy can break bread together in celebration, can’t we all just pour a glass of something and get along…?

Make your reservations now, as they are sure to sell out in a hot Parisian- minute (which is handsome, casually-aloof and filled with champagne, in case you were wondering.)

Tickets & Information can be found here

@meganemichael

Feature Cocktail of the Month

“It’s Always Sunny” – featured on the menu at Death & Taxes, Toronto (Queen West)

 

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This sweet little sip is inspired by the classic Clover Club – (one of my personal favourites.)  A perfectly balanced Clover Club is always a treat – gin, raspberry, frothy deliciousness, served up in style, with a hint of citrus.

In this version – the raspberry is replaced by a tangy, house-made, gooseberry syrup, giving it that fresh, sunshine-y flavour – coming off like a gooseberry gin-sour.

A little sunbeam, on a cozy fall day.

Head down to Queen West, in Toronto, to give it a try!  It’s definitely special.

@meganemichael

 

 

Balancing Act

Planning vacation

The key to keeping your balance is to notice when you’ve lost it. – Anonymous

In the land of deadlines, campaigns and media relations, terms like mindfulness, zen, and balance tend to get thrown out with the pile of documents to recycle, and phrases like “just breathe” are reserved for weekends.  Granted, weekends can be a sanctuary to some extent, but if you have any kind of a side-hustle, family, relationship or laundry list of chores to do, the weekend gets as full as your weekdays.  The idea of work/life balance seems to be a mythical creature that comes to mind in those elusive moments of peace at the end of a long day as you tumble into bed, only to wake up and forget about it all over again.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.  No matter how productive that rut might be.

You know that wonderful saying that the universe will first whisper to you, and if you don’t listen, she will speak louder, but eventually, if you just aren’t paying attention, (which we rarely are,) that lovely universe will scream…?

Well, in my case, she decided to shriek – like a banshee…

Read the full post: “How To Heal When You Really Want To Hustle” on Miss Wink Thinks

 

 

Currently on Pause…

Quick update:  

As some of you know, I’ve been battling some medical stuff… (particularly an internal tear that is difficult and slow to heal.)  I’ll be fine (!) eventually, not to worry, but for the next little while, most projects are on hold while I allow my body to rest and heal. 🙂

Thanks for the support, patience and all the good vibes, in the meantime!

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HAPPY EASTER!

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Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for “Fresh Starts!”

New moons, new seasons, the day after a hangover… anytime is a great time for a fresh start.

Well, here we are… Easter Sunday, (and the day after quite the hangover,) and as the rain washes away the last of the winter dust, what better time to take a deep breath and make some new intentions for change.

Intention is key.  Recognizing where you spend your energy and on whom, will determine the root of your priorities – and if you aren’t finding yourself number one in that equation, it’s absolutely time to make a change.

  1. Be selfish. That is, take care of yourself FIRST.

Your body will be the first to shut down on you – not somebody else’s – trust me.  Prioritize your own health, mind, body and spirit, above all else.  This is a tough lesson to learn, and I’m smack in the middle of it right now.  Learn to rest, learn to listen, learn to nourish and heal, or you’ll be of no use to anyone, including yourself.

  1. If it’s not working – let it go.

Projects, relationships, habits.  Take a chance, try it out, but as soon as it starts taking up your energy in a way that does not fuel your soul – stop.  Just stop.  I have wasted more time of MY life on people and projects that simply don’t matter.  You are under zero obligation to anyone but yourself.  As a friend of mine likes to say, learn to recognize when it gives you the “no” feeling, and say NO.  Do it sooner, rather than later – do it now.

  1. Enjoy small pleasures.

Lounge in bed, drink wine in the afternoon, sit quietly with your face in the sunshine.  Do what you love, and do it often.  Enough said.

  1. But take the chance…

Life happens just on the edge of your well-planned comfort zone.  Sign up for a class, smile at a stranger, look for magic in an unexpected place.  As they say, the time will pass anyway…

Invent Yourself, Reinvent Yourself… then do it again

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I’ve found myself in a lot of conversations about branding lately.  It’s a hot buzz-word.

Is it just your image or more than that?  Is it in your look, your logo, your font colours? Is it found in a mission statement, in your work, or in how you advertise?  What do they mean when they say your “personal brand”?

The market is saturated with posts and books on how to establish your brand – branding your business, your social media, yourself.  There are a ton of how-to articles out there, this is not one of them.

To me, branding is the whole package, sure, but it’s really also just one thing:

What do people say about you when you are not in the room?

There, that’s your brand.

It’s completely up to you how you want to shape that image, through your style, your perspective and even your behaviour, but it’s essential to remember that your “brand” is the total essence of you are, (or what your business is.)

So, take the time to consider… who are you?  Where is the intersection of who you want the world to see, and who you really are.  If you’re not comfortable answering that question, then you have some work to do.

Examine all the areas of your identity and allow your spirit to unfold.  It’s a process – a lifelong, ongoing process of establishing and then re-establishing who you want to be in this world.

There are no rules, only awareness.  And the more awareness you embrace, you can find yourself being reinvented time and time again!