Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 1: Vacation? Or Intensive Labour? One and the Same to a Canadian!

So this passed summer we decided to take a 8 day trip out to Algonquin park. What possessed us to do this? Well, I'd say part determination, part foolishness, part over-confidence, and part pure madness. The 5 of us set out with a few provisions, 2 tents, 2 canoes, and enough hard liquor to damage us far more then any bear could attempt. We left bright and early one morning, as Tim, Kel, Chris, Matt, and Renars, only to return a mere 8 days later as The Crawfish King, Long Shitter, The Chocolatier, Lost & Found, and Beam. The tale of these names will be revealed throughout the story to follow.

As with all journeys this one started out typically enough. Which is to say with a 5 hour drive. We all met around 9 in the am and departed shortly there after.
After a quick fill up it was nothing but road, short of 1 quick toilet break. Roughly 4 and a half hours later we were passing through the last town before Algonquin Park. We stopped in for booze and last minute supplies (meat). We picked up loads of fresh meat just to last through the first night, as there wasn't too much portaging to do.

We arrived and registered by early afternoon. An 80$ fee for the 8 days we would spend in the park. With anticipation to get the trip moving we quickly went down to the lake, unpacked the cars, took down the canoes. We dipped out canoes into the lake, loaded them up with gear, and set off.
Now its at this point I feel I should mention we had 2 different types of canoe with us. The first canoe, a typical touring canoe. The second however, a river canoe, with no keel lines. Keel lines for those unfamiliarly with the term, are the lines along the bottom of the boat designed to keep it straight. Since the river canoe was larger, we had 3 people in it. I would take one of the first spots in the river canoe. Seemingly successful at first, we made about 50 feet out before losing control of the boat and spinning hopelessly in circles. After being left completely in the dust by our keel line inclined friends, we eventually caught up after losing control and wandering off course several times later. Finally, we all reached the river mouth we would take to the first portage.
I must say, I do reckon that this river was the most pleasant part of this day, or at least the most pleasant moment we would see till much later. The turns were easy to make in the river canoe, and making good speed, we were able to take rest here and there. After making it maybe 1/3 of the way in we stopped for a good length of time. We took out some beers, and the old cigarettes, kicked our feet up, cracked the cans, lit the smokes, and floated on a while.
Ah I tell ya, had we known the struggle the rest of the day would possess, we may never have left the river. However we were naive, and we picked our paddles up and continued on. Sometime down the river we met our first portage. Loaded with gear we took 2 trips despite it being a minuscule portage.

Upon the other side we met the next stretch of river, whilst shorter then the first was still a bit of a paddle to the next portage. After reaching the next, marginally longer portage, some of us started to feel the first bit of fatigue and hunger. We quickly managed through the portage, to reach the large lake we would have to traverse, known as North Tea Lake. We set off in motion, towards rest, food, and ale. However it would be a long travel to our destination. Approximately a 2 or 3 hour paddle.

We paddled well into the evening, and by the time our perseverance paid off and we made our destination, it was near dark.

The first thing I noticed upon docking in, was the rock bedding in front of our camp site was loaded with crawfish! Whilst everyone began unpacking I wandered the bay a little while seeing if I could catch any of the mud bugs.
Whilst crafty buggers, I eventually managed to pull one or twa from the water for a closer inspection.
Including this pair who were trying to get it on, when I rudely interrupted. Sorry there fella.

After 10 or 15 minutes in the bay with the crawfish I went up to the camp site to help set camp, gather wood, start fire, and cook dinner!

The tents went up quickly, and wood was gathered in the last bit of daylight, and again well into the darkness by means of flashlight.
With a roaring fire now built, some good size embers burning, it's cookin' time.
First up, extra large pork chops, hot dogs, and baked potatoes (as can be observed in the tin foil package on the bottom right).
After scarfin back the chops was time for a bit of a piss up. Followed by...
Burgers. And one with extra cheese. Chris likes his cheese.

After all was said and done, beers drank, food finished, all was left was to get the bear bait (food) into the trees.
And Chris with a bit of a dance to it.
And with that we called it a night. We had only 2 tents, the first night was myself, Matt, and Kel in the large tent, and Chris and Renars in the smaller.

Day 2: Sobering Revelations

To be continued...

A Quick One for December

Hello all,

Tim here, your faithful culinary booze hound. Just wanted to post something quick, to assure you all that this place is not dead. I have some posts in the works, but with the holiday season in full swing, and work, and lets just say it, all the drinking, dining, and adventuring I have to do to gain material worth posting - well that take's its share of time on its own right.

Anyhow, will be back with some new material + the continuing of my back logged material in the new year!

Until then, Happy Holidays, safe travels, and a Happy New Year (and my hopes your hangover's aren't as bad as mine is sure to be!).

Cheers all, and until the new year,

The Devils Advocate,


Friday, December 17, 2010

Sausage Dog w/ Spicy Onions

There is a hot dog vendor not too far from where I live. Now that shouldn't be surprising in a city of 10,000 hot dog vendors. How ever this one in particular stands out for 1 reason. Spicy onions. It is the only vendor in the city I have found that has the complimentary topping of spicy onions. I believe it's a mostly American trend, but have no idea really if its any more predominant down south.

So, not really having will to make the 15 minute walk to go to the stand, and a leftover sausage in the fridge, all I really needed was the onions!

To work I went!

I sliced 1 onion and began caramelizing it. After a just a few minutes I added about 2-3 tbs of brown sugar.
After incorporating the brown sugar, and cooking a few minutes longer, I added the remaining spices. Roughly 2 tsp paprika and chili powder, and 1 tsp cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.
After cooking in the spices for a few minutes I added the final ingredient, ketchup. Roughly 1/4-1/3 cup.

Bun toasted, sausage cooked, and topped with spicy onions! Mmm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gull Fest

So this summer passed, I had an opportunity to go out to the Gull River Festival in Minden, ON. Located only a couple hours north of Toronto is the small town in Haliburton County. Every year they put on their annual white water kayaking competition.

After a short, and pleasant journey through the country, myself and my friend Kel arrived in Minden. Before going to find the camp grounds we stopped in town for lunch and beers. Kel ordered a plate of chicken fingers, they came out nice crisp and tender, not a hard order to fuck up, but always nice when done right. I ordered the poutine. It was good, lots of chips, lots of gravy, and lots of curds, my complaints - gravy was too mild in flavour, and the curds were far from fresh. Kel's brother Kirk whom we were to meet at the camp sight headed over and joined us for some beers. He also had the chicken fingers. Sorry no photo's, I didn't have my camera with me. I also cannot remember the name of the bar (the legendary something).

After lunch we made our way to the camp grounds to set up camp. We made it with tons of time to spare so after setting up camp, and getting the 24 onto ice, we got a fire going and sat around enjoying the leisure. Kirk was kind enough to offer out his already cold beer whilst ours chilled.
After having 4 or 5 we decided to make it down to the water for a little impromptu kayak lesson. Now I'm no stranger to the water - but I sure as hell ain't well versed with it either. That being said, as soon as we made waters edge (at the end of the rapid's being used for the white water competition) Kirk edged me on to go up onto the last drop off of the rapids and jump in with him. Now I'm no strong swimmer here, so jumping off a rock into rapids isn't something that grabs me as a bright idea. So I'm not sure if it was the alcohol, or the manly bravado running through my system, but I certainly manned up to the challenge.

Kirk was good enough to lend me his helmet. And with life jacket on off I went. It was an incredible rush. It was an even bigger rush when 30 seconds later I realized I should have already started swimming to shore and was being pushed out into the lake. So with all my might - and poor swimming ability, I struggled my way to shore, and I only ingested maybe 1/4 of the lake.
But my oh my, what an experience.

So after reaching shore, catching my breath, and calming the fuck down, it was off to our next activity. Kayaking. I've previously done my share of canoeing, so I figured how different could it be? Think again. A completely different thing entirely. From how you sit in it, to the difference in controlling it. Also, the bottom of a white water course, probably isn't the greatest place to learn how to sea kayak (flat water).
For a while there I had the hang of it, and was out there enjoying myself. Seemingly inevitably though, I finally tipped and went under. Whether I cut a wave the wrong way, or mearly made some unbenounced mistake, I cannot be sure as it was a brief flash and I was under. Believe you me, I only wish getting back to surface had been as easy as going under.
Whilst kayaking, you wear what is known as a skirt, its a large rubber article of clothing that sits around your waist and stretches over the side of the kayak. The purpose is to keep out water and keep you dry. Unfortunately I couldn't seem to grab the handle to pull it off, its no easy feet being suddenly put into water upside down and expected to grab a handle in some vague direction in front of you. Fortunately I managed to find it, rip it off, and get out with only a slight bump to the head from hitting the kayak. I got back in went back to shore and shortly there after we called it a day. I had seen enough of the water for that day.

We arrived back at camp, and to my relief, our beer was now cold. We cracked some open, and drank to the moment. A few hours later, and several dead tin soldiers, our last 2 compatriots arrived. The aptly named couple, Jack and Jill. It wasn't long into their arrival that they learned some valuable lessons. Like, don't arrive to a camp ground in the pitch black with little idea how to set up your tent. Also, don't try and blow up a king size mattress with a bicycle pump.
The bicycle pump was quickly abandoned for the marginally more successful manual, self filled technique.

After Jack and Jill settled in, we started to get some dinner together. I had some beef ribs marinated from the night before, some in a sweet soy-asian pear combination, and others in a spicier Korean chili paste.
The ribs were all tasty, although the hazard of cooking over a camp fire, some got a little over charred.
After the ribs we enjoyed some grilled corn, and grilled slabs of Menonite sausage.

We awoke next morning to the booming voice of an announcer. The White Water Competition was off to what sounded like a cracking start. After a little coaxing I managed to get myself up. A bit of juice, and some morning snacks and it was off to see the boaters.
Some truly impressive people, doing some things that were quite incredible to watch.
These poor bastards took a bit of a spill however.
But they went right back at it.

We stuck around and watched the competition for a bit. We then went back into town for a few more odd and end supplies.

Upon returning we got another fire going in preparation for lunch.
I had brought some home made burgers, stuff with chili-infused margarine, we topped them with pepper jack cheese, bacon, and homemade guacamole and chipotle mayonnaise.
After lunch we were ready to get back to the water.
This time Jack was getting the Kayak lesson, and I took out the snorkel set.
I had never previously been snorkeling so it was a brand new experience. I quite enjoyed myself. Whilst searching the bottom of the lake I found myself a set of deer antlers. I also spotted a few large fish, but they were too quick to catch.
We cut our lake visit short this time, and went back to camp for alcohol hour. We grabbed some beers, had a few bourbons, and decided it was time to give the Frisbee a whirl.
Whilst good fun, one can only kick over so many drinks before changing the activity. We again made way to camp, and got the liquor flowing. It was a very amusing night. But like all nights with an abundance of alcohol, one cannot help but ending up looking something like this.
Now with one final day left, we made our way back to town to rent a canoe, as Jill had never been canoeing before. An uneventful journey, to the boat shop and back again. On the way back we stopped by a farm with some horses near the gate. We all grabbed some near by shrubbery and gave the horsies a treat.

Kel took the sea kayak, kirk his white water kayak, Jack and Jill in the canoe, and myself back with the snorkel set. This day I took to swimming as close as I could to the rapids and then swimming into them with the snorkel set on. Good fun. After a while I joined Jack and Jill in the canoe, and we paddled the lake with Kel along side in the kayak.

We only stopped once, so I could climb a hill (had reservations as well as regrets about doing it in bare feet) to see the view from the peak.
Sometime later the day wrapped up, the next morning we had a farewell breakfast, and we all packed up and got ready to come back to Toronto. On our way back, Kel, Kirk, and I stopped in at a Kawartha dairy location for some of their famous ice cream. It was quite good. All in all a good weekend away. I recommend this fest to anyone in or passing through Ontario in August. Its a small fest, and from what I'm to gather not well known about.