Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few… September…
Not quite yet, but Maxwell Anderson knew what he was talking about.
Or did he? There is a way of prolonging summer, at least onto Labour Day Weekend. My friend the great wine guru David Lawrason and I are leading our Tour of Niagara again from September 3 to 5, sailing across Lake Ontario on glamorous 40-foot Hunter yachts on Friday morning (it takes about five hours and includes a scrumptious packed lunch) sailing back on Sunday evening. There is no better way of getting to Niagara and inevitably the captains turn it into a race. Acts of piracy are not unknown and those who share the adventure bond into a very happy crew.
The actual weekend is a non-stop litany of delicious things to eat and drink. On Friday night, after we’ve got our land legs back and settled in to the hotel, David leads a short seminar on wine tasting, just to calibrate our palates and remind people how it’s done. Then we’re off to a spectacular wine-maker’s dinner at Treadwell in Port Dalhousie, tasting a lot of the hot new wines from the hot new boutique wineries, with winemakers present, while Stephen Treadwell provides an extraordinary sympatico banquet, commented upon by yours truly.
Other exceptional experiences include a slap-up lunch on Saturday at the Good Earth cooking school and (now) winery, where the incomparable Nicolette Novak is facilitator of fun, and another specatcular dinner at Hillebrand. Chef Frank Dodd cooked for us there two years ago and the unanimous opinion of our sophisticated and well-travelled crowd was that it was one of the finest gastronomical dinners they had ever had. He has sent me his preliminary menu and it looks as though he may surpass himself again with an orchestration of Dingo Farm Berkshire pork, Lake Erie perch with wild spot prawns, and of course a fantasy on a theme of heritage tomatoes. Sunday lunch is at Ravine Vineyards – for my money one of the most exciting new culinary destinations on the peninsula. And throughout the weekend we’ll be experiencing the very best wines Niagara has to offer with private visits to top wineries. David has a way of getting winemakers and producers to open their most private cellars, producing treasures unavailable to ordinary civilians.
That’s what we’ll be doing on Labour Day weekend. The good news is there are still a few places available. If you like the idea of joining us, please click on Coming Attractions (up there to the right) and you can find out how. A wonderful time is absolutely guaranteed.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to pack up the house here in Corfu – always a sad moment – but I’m leaving before autumn is even a twinkle in summer’s eye, so I’m spared the melancholy of the dying year. Another day of gorging on the muscat grapes that are now yellow and heavy on the shade-vine, one more early morning swim when the beach is empty, a last long walk up and down the mountain in the white heat of the afternoon. And tonight, just after dark, the full moon will rise in its splendour from the ridge across the valley, bright enough to cast nocturnal shadows, illuminating parts of the mind and memory that other lights cannot reach.