Canadian whine (Day 55)…

April 24, 2007

rieslingAt some point in my drinking life — between swigging my last bottle of Zinfandel at university and sipping my first Pinot Noir at some overpriced resto-lounge — my parents gave me some invaluable advice: always abide by the ABC rule of wine: Anything But Chardonnay. Sure enough, the one time I broke the rule and tried a glass, it was so revolting I actually thought it was corked; but no, apparently, it’s supposed to taste like you’re licking mouldy wood chips.

I’ve always thought, however, that the letter “C” in the ABC rule could also stand for Canadian, because our vineyards are pretty much useless, other than maybe for ice wine, which frankly I don’t get — I mean, we already have stuff to pour on our pancakes.

As of late, however, I’ve been tentatively sipping a few here and there with some positive results; enough so that I’m officially ready to restrict my wine intake to what’s grown, produced and cellared here in Ontario.

My personal favourites so far include: For white wine, Cave Spring‘s dry Riesling; for red, 20 Bees Baco Noir or Cab-Merlot; for rosé, the Grange in Prince Edward County is where it’s at, although it requires a special order or a road trip to get; and for sparkling, well, I might be in trouble.

See, my dad splurged on Veuve for our annual Christmas lunch back in December and, ever since, I’ve found the taste of cheaper sparkling wines too artificial (Ed. note: clearly this is all in my head, which is clouded with oenophile pretension; I blame the French), so chances are I’ll abandon the bubbly entirely until my challenge is over, then I can blow all my savings on real champagne.

None of the above wines are certified organic, but most of the ones that are come in Tetra Paks, and although they can apparently be recycled, I’ve read that this isn’t always the case — plus, I’ll take the sound of a cork popping any day over the sound of a cap seal being twisted off an over-sized juice box.

The few organic wines that do come in bottles are usually from Australia or New Zealand, and buying these will weigh me down with too much carbon guilt. Besides, I’ve been to the Niagara region, and I know the vineyards there aren’t being run with some Mondavi-esque, Big Wine mentality — if anything, they’re being run by people with way too many lawn ornaments — so with that in mind, I say, organic shmorganic. Bring on the local!

P.S. Friends, neighbours and coworkers: This does not mean I want any of that homemade wine you have sitting in your basement. I’m not that desperate. Yet.

Dropping the balm (Day 54)…

April 23, 2007

lip balm

Yes, I’m dropping petroleum-based lip balms like I dropped Grade 12 Biology — and hopefully, I will once again have zero regrets.

This may seem like a piddly, insignificant change, but try to understand that when you’re as addicted to Blistex Lip Medex as I am, it gets kinda serious. I literally scraped the bottom of my jar with every finger, getting the absolute last remnant of camphor, petrolatum and benzyl-alcohol goodness before finally conceding it was done. Then, all solemn and chapped, I made my way to the Big Carrot and asked for a natural substitute that might compare.

The store clerk said I should try this one by Weleda, the most popular lip balm they had. It doesn’t have that tingly feeling the Blistex stuff does, but it goes on well and lasts for at least a few hours. When my 365 days are finally up, I’ll probably go back to my beloved synthetic goo, but I can handle this switch for now.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2007

earth cake

Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Cake Lady.

Run for Ecover (Day 53)…

April 22, 2007

I just ran out of my regular Palmolive dish detergent — not to be confused with dishwasher detergent; I’m talking about the liquid suds you keep by the kitchen sink for hand-cleaning all those Waterford crystal champagne flutes … Yeah yeah, I’m broke, but fancy stemware is a non-negotiable indulgence at my place.

Anyway, because I’m trying to get as much variety as possible with all these eco-products, I thought I’d invest in something a little different, maybe a Canadian brand like Nature Clean or Citra-Dish. But the Ecover detergent just looked so much prettier than the others, with its translucent packaging and modern typeface. Plus I’ve already had major success with this company’s laundry wash and glass cleaner, and it’s owned by this Belgian dude named Jørgen Philip Sørensen, and when you have two slashed letter o’s in your name, you’re officially cool.

So I just went ahead and bought their dish detergent. Of course, I love it. Smells light and fresh, isn’t too gooey and does the job perfectly.

And no, I swear I don’t work for Ecover, nor are they slipping me free swag under the table (psst, Ecover, feel free to do this anytime — I’m at 300-1450 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON, M3B 3R5).

Battery Matters (Day 52)…

April 21, 2007


Our photo editor here at the National Post took the green initiative a little while ago by putting a funny little bin on his desk so we could throw used batteries from our tape recorders, cameras, computers and whatnot in there; when it gets full, he takes it to the local hazardous waste depot so they’ll be properly disposed of rather than dumped in a landfill and left to leak mercury into the soil.

So, with a 9-volt and four triple-A’s in hand, I made my way over there and threw ’em in, and will continue to do so with the rest of my used batteries. I realize a more eco-friendly option would be to invest in rechargeable batteries, but when I can get free ones from the supply cabinet it’s hard to say no.

Photo courtesy of iamilk on Flickr

Atwitter, but not bitter, about litter (Day 51)…

April 20, 2007

litter ad

Today, at 2 p.m., I’m pulling on some gloves, grabbing a bag and venturing forth to spent 20 minutes picking up all the crap people toss out their car windows or drop on the ground when they think no one’s looking (or even worse, when they know someone is). It’s part of the City of Toronto’s annual 20-Minute Makeover, but it’s also representing a more long-term green move on my part: From now on, if I see a piece of litter on the street and a garbage bin is within sight, I’ll pick it up and dispose of it properly (unless it’s oozing, festering or moving, in which case someone else is going to have to deal with it).

A bottle of gin and a bag of peas (Day 50)…

April 19, 2007


Those are pretty much the only things in my freezer right now.

When I read over at Little Blog in the Big Woods about how he’s lived for three decades without a fridge, and believes doing so forces you to eat healthier, fresher food, I made that spirally motion with my index finger next to my ear because that’s just crazy talk. Well, OK, maybe he’s right — but I can’t get through an entire loaf of bread in a couple days, and by the time it’s wrapped up in a furry blanket of mould, it’s no use.

Then I noticed that on the inside of my fridge there were two dials — one for the temperature of the fridge and a separate one for the freezer. So if I turned the former down and turned the latter off, I could still keep all my perishables cool, just not cold.

And while I love nothing more than a chilled martini on a warm summer’s evening, the more energy I consume, the more I contribute to global warming, which turns those nice warm evenings into sweltering hot evenings — and then I’ll just want water, which is way boring.

So from now on: no more freezer.