Asheville, NC – 195 Club “Caravan”

May 20-22, 2016

After a 1 year hiatus, the International Cessna 195 Club’s Caravan returned for its 2016 edition with the destination being Asheville, North Carolina. The choice of Asheville was a bit selfish as it had been on our “Fly To” list for a few years. The big draw for us was to see the Biltmore Estate. We had flown to Newport, Rhode Island in the summer of 2011 (the first year we had our 195) and toured The Breakers, which was a summer “cottage” built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. After seeing that cottage we were really interested to see the “home” in Asheville built by his younger brother George Vanderbilt II.

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Cocktail party November 8

This was our first cocktail party hosted in the new house (and my first cocktail party not imbibing). By all accounts it was a success.  There were 16 people in total, including us and Edward, so the kitchen/dining area was a little crowded.  We started serving the first course just after 5:00PM and dessert was being cleaned up at around midnight.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the food, drinks and conversations.

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Chicago Micro-distillery Tour

July 19-21, 2014 – A long weekend, self-guided micro-distillery tour in Chicago.

What better way for the two of us to spend a long weekend away in Chicago than eating and drinking our way around the city!  On Saturday we managed to visit 3 micro-distilleries – Koval Distillery, Rhine Hall Distillery and CH Distillery.  Our friends, Will & Nila Saloga, joined us for the CH Distillery tour and then the four of us made our way to dinner at BellyQ.

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Surprise birthday cocktail party

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Several months ago our friend Marilyn Cooper approached Edward, Kurtis and I to ask if we could help plan and execute a surprise 60th birthday party for her husband, Richard.  The party was to be modelled after the multi-course paired food and cocktail events that we have hosted at our condo several times over the past couple years.  Richard & Marilyn had been in attendance at one of the events we had hosted in 2012.  We were very humbled and honoured that Marilyn wanted our help because she could have gone anywhere and done whatever she wanted for such a special occasion.

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La Gare – Auberge, Restaurant, Bar

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If you visit Mont Tremblant, QC it is definitely worth the 30 minute drive to Labelle, QC to enjoy the wonderful food that is lovingly prepared and served by La Gare owners Daniele and Jay.  La Gare – Auberge, Restaurant, Bar is housed in the historic train station that was built in 1924.  The railroad track is now gone but it has been converted into a 230 km long recreational trail – “Le P’tit Train du Nord” Linear Park.

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New Mexico, etc

(October 1 – 14, 2013)

Since purchasing our Cessna 195 (in November 2010) we have focused our travels on interesting and fun places that we can fly ourselves to.  As 2012 came to an end and the new year was upon us it was time for us to start thinking about where we were going to explore in 2013.

An annual travel tradition that we started in 2009, when we began the search for a Cessna 195, is attending the International Cessna 195 Club annual fly-in held each year in September.  The 2013 fly-in was scheduled to take place in Tupelo, Mississippi from September 26 – 29 and this was definitely on our 2013 travel calendar.  In looking at our various vacation options, we figured that since we were going to be in the south-central US for the fly-in we might as well tack on a two week flying adventure right after.  Now we just had to figure out which direction we would travel from Tupelo – east or west?

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BDO Tax Group Party

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(September 14, 2013)

With our cocktail party successes, Kurtis and I offered to co-host an event for the Toronto Centre office Tax Group at BDO.  The invitation went out to all members of the group and everyone’s families.  The response by the group to attend was better than initially expected and we ended up serving food and drinks for 36 Adults (including Kurtis and I) and 16 children.

The shopping and food preparations started on Tuesday after work and continued each night for the rest of the week.  We then hauled a load Friday night to Rose & Craig Cross’ house and brought the remainder of the food, dishes and cooking tools on Saturday.  Rose & Craig graciously opened up their house to everyone and even had a bouncy castle for the kids to play in.

From all accounts by the attendees the party was a success.  Everyone enjoyed the food, drinks and fellowship!

Welcome course – Crab cakes, Beef roquefort bites, Fig & brie strudels with Red or White wine
First course – Shrimp tempura and succotash with Margaritas
Second course – Morrocan spiced scallops with The Communist
Third course – Mushroom risotto with Elderfashion
Fourth course – Wild boar sliders with French 75
Dessert – Pina colada mousse cake or Pumpkin crumble squares

A delicious dinner at Bent Restaurant

(August 23, 2013)

Ever since dining at his previous internationally acclaimed restaurant “Susur” a couple of times several years ago, we have been fans of Chef Susur Lee (Susur closed in 2008).  “Bent” is his latest restaurant, which opened in Toronto in August 2012, as a family collaboration.  Lee is in charge of the kitchen, his wife Brenda Bent designed the decor, and his sons Levi and Kai Bent-Lee oversee the dining room experience. (www.bentrestaurant.com)

The majority of the menu is made up of courses that are meant to be shared by everyone at the table.  For our party of 2 our waitress recommended that we order 3 to 4 different items.  While sipping our delicious cocktails (the Elder Goose and the Yuzu Bourbon Sour) we studied the menu and finally narrowed our choices down to 4.

The first course, the Spicy Tuna and Watermelon Ceviche, arrived sooner than expected.  The tuna and watermelon simply melted in your mouth.  We were not even through our second bite of the ceviche when our second course arrived, the Lobster Taco Wraps.  The “tacos” were actually taro chips in the shape of a taco shell filled with delicious lobster in a chipotle tomato/onion aioli.  Great presentation and taste!  However, as a result of the rapid arrival of these two courses we were starting to feel a bit rushed and unfortunately the pace of the arrival for our remaining courses did not slow down much.  Taking the time to savour our food, the atmosphere of the restaurant and each others company is important to both Kurtis and I, so the overall pace of our dinner was becoming a little disappointing.

The third course to arrive was the Duck Confit Spring Rolls.  Amazing, scrumptious, “to die for”…  This dish almost made up for the fast pace of our service :).  The last savoury course to arrive was the Curry Marinated Rack of Lamb, which was a close second to the duck.  The lamb was extremely tender and the curry marinade and sauces were an excellent compliment to the meat.

Since our food arrived so rapidly we didn’t get to the Sake until the 3rd course or so.  We left the Sake selection up to our waitress and she selected a small bottle of the Yoshi No Gawa Dry Sake.  I had never tried Sake before and I quite liked it.

And after all of that our waitress was actually able to tempt us with the dessert menu.  We each ordered one of each of the Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse and the Warm Banana and Chocolate Chip Cake.  Both desserts did not disappoint.  I was very full after all of that, but it was certainly worth it.

We will definitely be visiting Bent again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Spicy Tuna and Watermelon Ceviche

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Duck Confit Spring Rolls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Curry Marinated Rack of Lamb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Warm Banana and Chocolate Chip Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse

(We did not capture a very good picture of the Lobster Taco Wraps, so we’ll have to go back and try them again :))

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