Here’s a fish tale from Tony Aspler’s new ebook – The Five Minute Wine Book. And of course – there’s wine is involved too!
I never cook with anything I wouldn’t drink,” says Art. A pause for reflection and then he adds, “But then I drink anything.”
Art and I are in a boat on Waterbury Lake in Northern Saskatchewan about 200 kilometres from the Northwest Territories border. Our guide Rob is looking disgusted because we’re talking wine and food. He’s used to conversations about tackle, lures, outboard motors and pike as big as one-man submarines.
Rob’s contribution to the culinary discussion is a suggestion that we spray our lures with WD40. The sweetness, he says, will attract the fish. I ask him what was the weirdest thing he has ever used to catch a fish. “I once wrapped a marshmallow in cheesecloth,” he says, “It worked for speckleds.”
Art recalls a guide who welded a hook to a car spark plug and swore by it. Chacun à son gout.
We are on our annual fishing trip, six guys who have fished together for years. We’re looking forward to shore lunch because today Steve is cooking, on an open fire, what he calls Doré Provençale with Linguine.
This is something else that makes Rob and the other guides roll their eyes. Our shore lunches last three hours and involve the ritual consumption of three bottles of wine out of plastic glasses. (With the Doré – a.k.a. pickerel or walleye – we will consume two bottles of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 1999 and a bottle of Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 1998.)
With the Cajun Blackened Lake Trout tomorrow we will have a bottle of Pommery Champagne followed by two vintages of Camus Chambertin, 1995 and 1996. Friday’s menu is Chinese style fish with… but I digress.)
Don’t get the idea that we are not serious fishermen. In the eight days at the fishing lodge we will spend eight hours a day on the lake with our rods in the water. We fish for lake trout and walleye and pike and grayling so that we can have gourmet meals in the bush. (It’s catch-and-release with barbless hooks.)
In order to make these annual piscatorial pilgrimages to Canada’s northland happen each of us has our duties. Steve is the quartermaster who brings all the food we need plus the sauces, spices, home-made pâtés, etc. Sam has a great cellar and he brings the wine. Leo makes the Bloody Marys before dinner back at the lodge. He also brings the worms. Harold, who comes up from Sarasota, Florida, brings the malt whisky. Art brings his wife’s fantastic biscotti. And I, well I am the historian/sommelier who records what we eat and what we drink in case there are disputes over the condition of the vintage port which we don’t have at shore lunch but reserve for dinner because we need to decant it.
If future archaeologists dig in Northern Saskatchewan they will be very puzzled indeed. How did New Zealand green lip mussel shells have migrated up here? And corks branded with Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2000, Dauvissat Chablis Vaillons 1999 and Highfield Estate Elstree Chardonnay 1996 from New Zealand. They might even find a can that contained lobster. That, along with the New Zealand mussels, frozen scallops and shrimps all went into the bouillabaisse Steve made in a huge wok on the camp fire. Plus, of course, fresh fish we caught that morning. It was as good as anything you’ll find in Marseilles and the entire lodge staff vied to attend that lunch. The accompanying wines were Pommery Champagne, Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 1996 and Jaboulet Domaine Saint-Pierre Cornas 1998.
When we told a dentist from Chicago who was fishing for pike with his two sons that we had brought up canned lobster for the bouillabaisse he wondered aloud, “Aren’t you guys meant to be roughing it?” Well, yes. After all, the lobster wasn’t fresh.
What, you may ask, are the impediments to drinking fine wine under the Jack pines on rocky, remote islands? Well, there are the bugs and the mosquitoes, so now I know how brides feel on their wedding day. Drinking wine through a bug jacket must be like wearing a veil, but it’s worth it. And I’m here to tell you that Camus Chambertin 1996 goes brilliantly with beer-battered lake trout. And saving your presence, Mr. Riedel, great wines taste just fine out of plastic glasses – but then a fine wine would taste terrific out of a Wellington boot.
Afterthought: this year I hooked the Moby Dick of lake trout. I played him for 45 minutes but he broke my line without me ever getting a glimpse of him. Ah well, there’s always shore lunch.
The Five Minute Wine Book
A Fish Story is one of the many chapters from Tony Aspler’s The Five Minute Wine Book. Tony has been chasing the grape around the world for 35 years & his wine soaked adventures have amounted to 17 books on wine & food along with 9 fun spirited novels including a series of wine murder mysteries. Now Tony has distilled his discoveries into short stories in his latest e-book.
A long-time friend of Savvy Company, Tony has provided the entire collection of 90 plus humorous & easy-to-read chapters for us to post & share with you. Love these stories? Download the full ebook for $5 from:
‘Once you are bitten by the grape there is no known cure – and no redemption. You are hooked. I have spent 35 years of my adult life chasing the grape around the world. I haven’t caught it yet and if I ever did I wouldn’t know what to do with it. But the journey, whether to the antipodes or down the QEW from Toronto to Niagara, has been one of infinite fascination with and respect for the men and women who can turn a perishable fruit into a beverage than can live for decades.’ – Tony Aspler
Five Minute Wine Book is published by Bev Editions at Smashwords
Copyright 2014 Tony Aspler
Cover Image ©iStock.com/SteveGraham
Savvy Company has permission from Tony Aspler to post individual chapters of this ebook. Thanks Tony!