Friday, July 3, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak-Taste report and a Year’s Worth of Beer in Two Weeks

Taste report and a Year’s Worth of Beer in Two Weeks 

Beer-lovers have the opportunity to swamp any sorrows they might have over the coming two weekends this July.

Before I give details of how you too can sample over 52 beers or ciders in just two weeks, a short note about the recent Taste of Burlington launch event. In a nutshell it was a terrific showcase of what’ll be on prix-fix lunch and dinner offer at the 23 participating restaurants, July 19 – August 2, 2015.

Though I had my favourites (see photos), there were many fine dishes on offer and it was clear many of the chefs had upped their game this time around. The judges courageously picked a very simple, but refreshing, watermelon and mint salad from Persian restaurant Rayhoon as the “Best Taste” winner.

It won over a splendid, more complex offering, from three-time champ, Chef Mitchell Lamb from Stone House Restaurant. The People’s choice went to Ivy Bar & Kitchen for a generous, hard-to-compete with, lobster roll. A special mention also to Burlington Green, who did a superb job reducing the ecological footprint (should that be foodprint?) of the event. I’d like to feature them in a future column.

So, back to Suds. Because Beer is slated for July 10-11 at Pier 4 Park in Hamilton while the Burlington Summer Beer Festival takes place in Spencer Smith Park July 17-19. Both feature music, food, seminars, and many, many breweries. Check the websites for details of admission costs and the full slate of offerings. Incidentally the Burlington event is seeking volunteers aged 18 or over and is offering some neat perks!

Because Beer features 30 of Ontario’s top craft brewers and cider makers, a 50% increase over the festival’s first year. That is perhaps not surprising, since new breweries have been springing up all over Ontario, like spring weeds. Event Publicist, David Young told me “If last year's event was any indication, it should be a splendid summer weekend and a wonderful showcase for the city.”

Because Beer perhaps has the more diverse offering of the two festivals: They include a homebrew competition that attracted 450 participants from Canada and the U.S. last year, a cask ale session and a limited-ticket food and beer pairing session by Chef Bruce Wood, Executive Chef at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. Rounding things out is an exclusive Arts & Science Brewery Tour — the first public glimpse inside the new brewery housed in the historic building that was purpose-built by brewer Andrew Peller in 1947 and which was the first Canadian brewery built after Prohibition.

The following companies will be at the Hamilton event: Amsterdam Brewery, Bayside Brewing Co., Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, Bell City Brewing, Black Oak Brewery, Brimstone Brewing Company, Cameron's Brewing Company, Clifford Brewing Co., Collective Arts Brewing, Descendants Beer, Double Trouble Brewing Co., Duggan's Brewing Co., Flying Monkeys, Garden Brewers, Grand River Brewing, Great Lakes Brewery, The Hamilton Brewery, Highlander Brew Co., Ironwood Hard Cider, Junction Craft Brewing Company, MacLean's Ales, Mill St. Brewery, Muddy York Brewing Co., Niagara College Teaching Brewery, Nickel Brook Brewing Co., Rainhard Brewing Co., Sawdust City Brewing Co., Waterloo Brewing Co., Wellington Brewery, and West Avenue Cider.

Five of these (Clifford, Collective Arts, Garden, The Hamilton, and West Avenue Cider,) hail from Hamilton while Nickel Brook is Burlington-based. The Hamilton contingent were showcased during a teaser event held in June that Young described as “great night” adding “It's always a joy to see people discovering their city, and never more so than when they're forging a connection to a local maker. The breweries were all very busy, patrons made a point of tasting the full spectrum of wares, and the room was full until the end…”

It’s fair to say there is not a great deal of overlap between the two events, with the Burlington Festival offerings including national or international brands as well as local: only ten breweries (Beau’s, Cameron’s, Highlander, Mill Street, Bayside, Double Trouble, Flying Monkeys, Sawdust City, and Nickel Brook) overlap both gatherings.

Since the Burlington event has 32 breweries and cideries (plus one winery) that means a serious enthusiast could sample the offerings of no less than 52 establishments over the course of just two - instead of 52 - weekends!

That could add up to a prodigious sampling, so there is sensibly a Designated Driver pass available for Because Beer, and a beer-less “Park Pass” for the Burlington festival. As an alternative, use a service like Driverseat (289-812-5945) who assure me they’ll get you, and your vehicle, home safely from either of the events.

To see more pictures, click here.

To see all past columns please see (and “like”) the Food for Thought Archives

Alex (Alex can be reached at fft@thehamiltonian.info or on twitter @AlexBielak)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Media Release: Clr Green - Town Hall on Electoral Reform


June 29, 2015

Councillor Green to Host Town Hall on Electoral Reform: 100 Remedies for a Broken Democracy

Hamilton, ON— Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green will host a town hall on electoral reform on July 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm at Hamilton City Hall. Dave Meslin will lead the discussion.

“Now is the time to ensure we engage in a discussion on how we can make our system more accessible, more fair, and more vibrant,” says Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green.

Dave Meslin is the founder of the Ranked Ballot Initiative Toronto (RaBIT), and a co-founder of Unlock Democracy Canada. His 2010 TED Talk, “The Antidote to Apathy”, has over 1.4 million views. His Fourth Wall project explored 36 proposals to make local democracy more accessible and participatory. Currently, Dave is crowd-sourcing 100 Remedies for a Broken Democracy. The results of the project will be published by Penguin Canada, in 2017.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is currently undergoing a review of the Municipal Elections Act. The submission deadline for comment is July 27, 2015.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Video of the Moment

Click here to see it. It speaks volumes. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Changes re: Powers of Ontario Ombudsman

"For the first time, the public will be able to complain to the Ontario Ombudsman about school boards (as of September 1, 2015), and about municipalities and universities (as of January 1, 2016), now that the dates have been proclaimed for the relevant sections of the Ombudsman Act, 1990, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act. The Act extends Ombudsman scrutiny to the so-called “MUSH sector” for the first time in the office’s 40-year history."

These are more stories are featured in the Ontario Ombudsman's Newsletter, which can be accessed by clicking here. To direct a complaint to the Ombudsman, click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Additional Requests for Campaign Compliance Audits

Update: See The Spec's coverage by clicking here or purchasing today's print version. 

Update: The person who has filed these complaints, is Viv Saunders who is a resident in Ward 10. Ms. Saunders has chosen to reveal her identity.

The same person who had recently submitted for a compliance review pertaining to Maria Pearson's campaign funds, has made additional requests for reviews of the campaign finances of Chad Collins, Doug Conley, Lloyd Ferguson, Tom Jackson, Sam Merulla, Robert Pasuta and Terry Whitehead.

The following is a media release received by The Hamiltonian:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pearson Compliance Audit Request

The following document (click here), sets out the allegations that form the basis of the request for a compliance audit of Maria Pearson's election campaign. The resident who made the request,provided The Hamiltonian with the following clarification with respect to the document filed:

Please note that the complaint document has been amended, and the new amended version has been submitted to The Hamiltonian. Thus, the link above brings you to the new amended document.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Food for Thought with Alex Bielak - Dream of Blue Oysters

Dream of Blue Oysters

So, with apologies to Sting, I’ve become a farmer. Well technically I financed a smallholding, and sub-contracted the work to my wife and daughter. How small, you ask? About a foot square by a couple of feet high. Allow me to explain…

A couple of weeks’ back – during the Les Marmitons Gala I mentioned in the last column - I was at a talk by Brad Kuhns and Angela Vessie, the husband and wife team that runs Top Shelf Mushrooms in Collingwood. I love mushrooms, especially the more exotic ones that cost so much at supermarkets, so I found their talk fascinating. They are foragers who eventually founded a business making kits for folk who wanted to try their hand at growing their own. They also now run an expanding mushroom farm.

Their grow-at-home kits, available by mail, are certified organic and come with a couple of

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Compliance Audit requested for Pearson's Campaign Finances

The Hamiltonian has been advised that Maria Pearson's campaign finances pertaining to the last municipal election, may be subject to an election compliance audit. The request for a compliance audit was filed on June 16, 2015, by a resident in Ward 10.