This is a long weekend in PEI and in other parts of Canada, many provinces celebrate a provincial holiday, here it is Islander Day which is a fairly new holiday. Monday is also Canadian Flag National Proclamation Day, referring to the 15 February 1965 when the Maple Leaf Flag became the National Flag of Canada some 56 years ago. Prior to that date we had a Red Ensign Flag which was regarded as a colonial flag and since we were no longer a colony since 1867, we needed a distinct national flag. It took 3 years of debate in Parliament in Ottawa to get it done but it finally happened.
Today is Valentine’s Day and as Will says for a guy who was beaten to death and thrown in a ditch for being a Christian, he does not see the connection to love. I prefer the story of Psyche and Cupid much nicer and more connected to love. Their story is complicated, Cupid is the son of Venus who is jealous of the beauty of Psyche. In the end, Jupiter bestows upon Psyche immortality and she marries Cupid, now that is a nice story much better than that Valentine guy.
Will made a beautiful Orange zest and brown butter cake. I gave him a dozen pale orange roses. We are heaving roast beef for dinner with roasted vegetables and a bottle of bubbly.
Of course the little ones, Nicky and Nora will get a bit of roast beef because you know they are so mistreated, or so they say to anyone who will listen.
Recently a good friend and blogger asked me about food for the Holidays, what type of food did you have as a child for Christmas etc… So I told him, he was a little taken aback, suffice to say that I and my siblings did not have your conventional upbringing especially when it comes to food and drinks. So no it was not turkey and mash potato with gravy and green peas or ham or whatever is usually served in most households. Wine was also served on a regular basis to adults until I was old enough to have a glass. Cocktails and bubbly made their appearance as a matter of fact at the table. My father always chose the wines, he liked Montrachet.
During my professional life in the many countries we lived in, the menu varied a great deal, various cultures have various fare. In many countries, lamb is a regular staple with chicken a close second, pork is not available and beef is usually served stewed not as a steak. Same with vegetables, in some places root vegetables or squash of all kinds or potatoes are abundant, rice is a side dish with all dishes. So you have to get use to different culinary traditions. Per example in Greece, they will served grilled tomatoes, rice and french fries all together with lamb or fish. In many countries butter is replaced by Ghee butter which is highly saturated in fat but gives the most wonderful taste to food. Also the concept of dieting, allergies or vegetarianism or not eating meat or certain foods is totally unknown and people will enquire about your health, because such condition is associated with the sick and the dying.
So through the years we have modified our Holiday menu to a point where the conventional is not the first thing that comes to mind. This also includes desserts and any sweet. In one country candied whole fruits was a delight to behold, in others it was honey and nut pastries in phylo dough, in others it was rich cakes and specialty chocolates of the finest ingredients made in small batches.
The country I enjoyed the most for wines was Italy, every Italian region has vineyards and all produce regional wines, the volcanic soil of Italy and Sicily produces great wines, red of course but for the last 150 years white wines. Going to the wine merchant was a delight, you could always pair wines with your meal and given the reasonable prices buying several cases for Xmas was a given. One year I found a champagne I truly loved, Jacquesson from France, an exceptional Champagne. If you come across that name, you should get a bottle.
This year will be a quiet Xmas at home, Charlottetown is very quiet and it is pleasant. Christmas Eve I think 3 people are coming over for drinks. Christmas Day we are 7 for Lunch at home. Everything for the meal has been bought including the wines so I do not have to do any more grocery shopping.
While shopping for Chestnuts, I discovered that you cannot find it here anywhere because it is simply something Islanders do not know. A strange thing, but its like veal, you cannot find it, no one carries it. Why? It does not appear that there is any reason. I finally did find chestnuts and beautiful ones at GLOBAL MARKET on St-Peter’s road at Mount Edward. It is an Asian/African grocery store and they carry the most incredible array of goods, most Islanders have never heard of most of it. I was very happy, it’s the second time Global Market has saved my bacon, Mr Will has a knack for asking for the most obscure ingredients at the last minute. In the case of the chestnuts, he is making Chestnut Ice Cream.
Best Wishes to all of you for a Happy Christmas!
A picture of Nora and Nick, the Official Xmas Dachshunds.
We boarded our ship in Amsterdam at the Zouthaven Passenger Terminal next door to the Centraal Train Station.
We were scheduled to visit the Fjords, Eidfjord, Alesund, Geiranger and the city of Bergen. First we sailed up into the North Sea passing Germany and Denmark it takes about 14 hours to do this. We left at 5PM and for the first hour we slowly made our way in the Canal that brought us to the great gate and lock which we have to cross in order for the ship to be lifted up the Sea Level, you understand why it is called the Low Countries, The Netherlands is under the sea level. The scenery as we cruise slowly along the canal to the Sea is heavy industry, shipping and cargo, The Netherlands is a trading nation with a long history of naval commerce from around the world.
Photo taken from our Stateroom at the front of the ship, here it is the gate and lock we will enter it and be lifted up and then continue into the North Sea just in front of us (top of photo) making a right turn to go North.
Our speed was depending on the winds (gale) and height of the waves between 9 to 15 Knots.
We had lunch by the pool area where they have a pizza and bar, you can also get a burger or hotdog and fries. It was a more quiet area than the Lido Market which was mostly a zoo with far too many people. At night the double tier dining room and the specialty restaurants.
So we enjoyed our pizza which was very good with a bottle of champagne of course.
The large pool and triple jacuzzi area was covered by a retractable roof which opens on sunny days. There is another pool at the rear of the ship.
The North Sea
This area of the ship on the 14 deck was called the retreat and was very nice and private.
The blue arrow indicates our location as we make our way North. A nice beginning to our trip.
There was 31 delegates at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 and 17 tons of Champagne on the SS Victoria which brought the delegates to PEI. That is an awful lot of Champagne for one conference on writing up the Canadian Constitution and making a deal to united the colonies into one Country, classic case of In Vino Veritas. Though you will be told that the delegates had their meetings at Province House the Seat of the Legislature, most meetings took place at the Cross Key Tavern on Queen Street and the Bar Keep was both keeping the minutes of the deliberations and serving drinks. All this while the Circus was in town for the first time in 20 years. Unlike France and its bloody civil war dubbed a revolution, or the American tax revolt of 1776 with unhappy landowners like G. Washington and co., we chose to have a party and a stiff drink with much dancing and food every night. They call Canada boring, I cannot think of another country born this way.
This rondelle with snippet of information can be found at the Memorial to the Fathers of Confederation. Canadians are a funny lot.
The Fathers of Confederation at Fanningbank, the Official Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI in Charlottetown.
In 2016 some 152 years later on the same veranda of Fanningbank, Dr. Spo trying to call the Fathers of Confederation on his iPhone, unbelievable.
The front Porch of Fanningbank today, not much changed at all.
Well this year I turn 60, amazing really, I remember when I turned 20 and it was not so long ago. You know what they say, Time flies when you are having fun.
This morning Will made Shirred Eggs with cream spinach, croissants, bacon, tomatoes grilled in goose fat and we had glasses of champagne.
All the while listening on BBC 3 to the New Year’s Day concert from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic under guest conductor Mariss Jansons. The sea of flowers decorating this great hall provided by the City of Vienna Municipal gardens.
Preview Concert, the first of three, this year a special appearance by the Vienna Choir Boys at the request of Maestro Jansons.
Just before the start of the Concert an orgy of flowers. Very beautiful!
This would not be New Year’s Day without a photo of baby Dachshunds. Our two Nicky and Nora had a little piece of cheddar and a little piece of bacon, it is New Year after all, now they snooze.
Well last night we had a Christmas Eve Dinner with a few guests, the menu was festive, First we had a Stilton, Pear and Mache Salad, with a glass of champagne or two. Then a medium rare Filet of Beef with Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Potatoes and Italian Roasted Tomatoes in olive oil, served with a very good French red wine Chateau de Braude, Haut Medoc 2010.
Dessert was a home made Mince Meat Pie served with a Greek Dessert Wine, Muscat de Samos, Kourtaki.
Woke up today to the sounds of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio of 1734 from MDR radio in Germany. Gifts under the tree from our faithful puppies, Dachshunds are so clever, LOL!
Today Christmas Day we will have a late luncheon with a few guests, different table setting and on the menu Roasted Goose (2) with an apple and prune stuffing, served with carrots, roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a small salad with a champagne dressing.
Dessert is the home made Plum Pudding from the recipe used at Windsor Castle for King George V. It will be flambé at serving time.
Beautiful day again weather wise, mild weather. Hope Santa was good to you. Best Wishes, Merry Christmas!
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown