Summer Travels

We have been traveling off and on over the last month. We started out in the middle of June driving to Wisconsin to celebrate the life of Michael LeaVesseur who passed last January. His wife and daughter opened their house to countless friends and family for food, drink, and remembrances of times past. It was the kind of affair that Mike truly enjoyed; full of tall tales, laughter, and camaraderie.  He was at his best connecting with people and had that rare talent of putting you first in the discussion, making you comfortable and welcomed.  Mike was able to pull that off because he was legitimately interested in you and sincerely wanted the best for you. He was the quintessential good guy. He is and will continue to be missed.

I had known Mike for many years but mostly as a business acquaintance, it was only in my last couple of years at the Company that I had the pleasure of working with Mike and connecting with him socially. I regret that I had not got to know him earlier and join with many, many more in regretting his passing at too early an age. He was dealt a real shitty hand but managed it with dignity and resolve aided by exceptionally strong family support. We are all better for having known Mike.

We left the first day of strawberry picking and I thought that being gone for a week I might miss the prime harvesting. A couple of days after we returned to New Hampshire we managed to pick about 27 pounds of strawberries which I promptly turned into strawberry jam. The next day I discovered 4 cases of the best strawberry syrup that I ever made. Somewhere in the metal manipulations to scale the recipe I managed to correctly quadruple the sugar but for some strange reason copiously added lemon juice and only a quarter of the Pomona Pectin needed to make the batch jell. Needless to say, we have been consuming large quantities of vanilla ice cream drowning in strawberry syrup. No, it don’t suck.

Again this year we ventured north to Montréal for the Festival du Jazz. We were able to get tickets for Dr. John, Leon Russell, Martha Wainwright, Preservation Jazz Hall Band and Oliver Jones. This was probably the best festival that we have attended and perhaps, literally, the hottest. Driving north to Canada gave no respite from the heat and humidity. Regardless, Montréal is a great city to visit, to dine in and to simply walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds.

One of our favorite restaurants is Le Square, 162, rue Prince Arthur East which is a fairly short pedestrian street housing numerous cafés and restaurants. The cuisine is classic French Bistro and priced accordingly however, one of the main attractions is their lack of liquor license and the ability to bring your own wine with no corkage fee charged. They willingly provide the glasses and when necessary the ice buckets. A fairly well stocked SAQ is only a few blocks away and the restaurant is a short jaunt from the Festival venue.

Late one morning on a walk about down Ste. Catherine street we ran across a food truck which I assume is the offshoot of Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon restaurant at 536 Duluth Est,

Setting up near McGill Book Store, just off Ste. Catherine

Setting up near McGill Book Store, just off Ste. Catherine

It didn’t take long for the line to form:

Queue at camion Au Pied de Cochon

Queue at camion Au Pied de Cochon

We did go again to pick strawberries and harvested enough to make a single case of half pints. This should last until next season. At the same time we picked raspberries for additional jam to augment the jam I made from our own raspberries which are still coming in strong. The blueberries are ripe now and the blackberries are days away.

We just now returned from a trip down to Rockport, Maine and a short visit with family. Although a much shorter distance than to Montréal, being summer tourist season on the Maine coast it seems to almost take as long to get there. I took a little detour on the way over to stop and dine at one of my favorite places, Bolley’s in Hallowell. Although many go for the lobster rolls, I can’t drive by without stopping for hot dogs and fries, a real Maine staple.

While in Rockport I make time for Café Miranda and their wood-fired  white pizza with roasted red peppers and Italian sausage. The pizza is great but one of the few beers that I enjoy is also served there:

One of Café Miranda's main attractions after the food.

One of Café Miranda’s main attractions after the food.

Hi neighbor, have a Gansett!

Speaking of neighbors, woke up Sunday morning to a new family that hopefully was just visiting and won’t be around for long:

With children in tow, heading toward the bird feeder

With children in tow, heading toward the bird feeder

While we were gone there were two incidents of fox attacking people in Town. At least one of the foxes was dispatched and is being checked for rabies. So although raccoons may look cute and the young play like cuddly little puppies, it is wise to give them wide berth as they are frequently attacked by foxes and may be infected as well.

After spending most of the last month away, now is the time to refocus on the gardens, harvesting the berries and hopefully getting to enjoy spending a little time on the patio.


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