Real Men Wear Pink!
Men in Pink is an annual celebration of the best VQA rosé wine Ontario winemakers have to offer. Co-chaired by bon vivants His Grace Billy Munnelly (a perennial favourite of the Deacon) and Toronto's reigning Hospitality King, His Excellency John Maxwell; I had turned down two previous invitations due to pressing work demands. Now that the Second Great Depression has arrived full Force 10 (despite near-universal denial and the printing of untold trillions of dollars in quantitative easing) at least I have the time to go to a few more events before the sky falls completely, the Aliens arrive, or the Mayans prove to be correct. Well this time, I got to go, and arrived at Allen's on Wednesday at 1:10, which was unfashionably early for a 1PM event. To my shock and surprise, the place was already rocking; many attendees had apparently arrived on Sunday and had been drinking ever since. We were all decked-out in full regalia, our entry tickets consisting of all things pink; shirts, ties, hats and in at least one case, a pink sports jacket. I was immediately greeted by His Worship, Tony Aspler, resplendent in trendy new glasses which were not rose-coloured, although Billy's were; an enormous pair in fact, that Sir Elton John (not in attendance) would have been proud of. I quickly connected with all the old boys, including Don Len Pennacetti, Count Rob Power, Prince Jono Kuhling, Marquis Jean-Pierre Colas, Baron Charles Baker, His Holiness, Pope Paul de Campo the Fifteenth, and about 40 others.
What an event! I nearly did a Michael Henchard and almost auctioned off the Deaconess to John Maxwell for 5 guineas...The rosé - about 20 types by my reckoning - flowed like serum and lymph from a tropical ulcer, and there were some amazing ones, but I quickly gave up all hope of documenting them, once Tony Aspler bought me a pint of Spearhead, the Gewurtztraminer of beer. I'm not kidding! Things became a bit vague after that, but we were suddenly all seated for a full lunch at a long table, decked with bottled water and about another 40 bottles of rosé. We were initially going to have light appetizers in the courtyard, but the weather didn't co-operate, and John Maxwell and his stellar staff made a seamless transition to a sit-down lunch for 45, including chilled cucumber soup with radishes, followed by salmon, then tenderloin of beef and a gorgeous baked apple dessert. You've gotta love Allen's, as did the other Toronto Uberhost, Don Roberto Martello, the proprietor of Grano, looking mega-lurch with a tie the colour of a sockeye salmon.
I sat near Billy and Tony, in my usual seat on the end, just in case we came under terrorist attack and I had to rescue everyone and have a huge budget film made about it. To my right was Baron Rodney of Rodney's Oysters fame, and he regaled us with a wonderful story of a professional oyster shucker who shucked too fast and managed to sever his glans. Later, seats were shifted and I got to hang out with Rory Gallagher, the amazing dead guitarist, now reincarnated as Manager of Mildred's Temple Kitchen.
At the end of the day, John Maxwell poured me a flute of Guinness, and ran outside with me as the Deaconess arrived in the pink Bentley. What a day among the Royalty of wine!
So here's your call to action:
We've got some real heavy-hitters in the Ontario food and wine industry and it's getting better all the time. Maybe you didn't get an invite to this amazing event, but you can still be involved and show your support. You can buy Billy's iPod app and Tony's books, and drink a few dozen bottles of prime VQA rosé. Visit the dozens of great wineries in Niagara, Lake Erie North Shore, and Prince Edward County, come back and shuck oysters with Rodney, grab gnocchi at Grano, and end up at Allen's for a late supper and a pint of Spearhead under John Maxwell's mantle of hospitality.
You'll thank me...