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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 302 (August 3, 2010)

Thursday, July 22: The Beck taxi that was meant to be here at 5:45 am didn't arrive. The driver went to pick up Art (a member of our fishing sextet) before me in spite of instructions to the contrary. We then picked up Larry for the drive to the airport, where we linked up with Steve, Sam and Harold for the flight to Calgary, en route to Yellowknife.

It was 24° C and sunny in Yellowknife. We were picked up in a van by Margaret Peterson, the owner of Peterson's Lodge on Point Lake, which is located 202 miles due north of Yellowknife and 50 miles below the Arctic Circle. Dropping our stuff off at the Yellowknife Inn, we headed for Great Slave Lake, where Gregg's Bluefish Services took us out 20 miles to Cabin Bay to fish for pike. Our boat (Harold, Larry and I) caught about 60 pike. The other boat did as well. Steve, who is a terrific cook, prepares all our shore lunches over a wood fire. For our first lunch, however, the guides Greg and Mike made corn-meal-encrusted pike with beans, which we had with a magnum of Tawse Pinot Noir 2006 and Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Vieilles Vignes 1966 (also in magnum). On the drive back to the hotel we passed Wild Cat Café, a log cabin that's the oldest café in Yellowknife, and Bullock's Bistro, which used to be the city's first general store and is reputed to serve the best fish and chips in Canada.

Friday, July 23: After breakfast at the hotel Margaret toured us around Yellowknife before our float plane flight to the fishing camp. We stopped in at the Lit'l Bear's Art Gallery, where Bob Kuzzie showed us the work that he and his family do in their whalebone carving workshop. He told us the story of his wife's grandfather, who had never left the North until he was invited to the opening of the Stratford Festival in 1959. He'd never used a porcelain toilet before and was found squatting on one with his elbows on the water tank. When he was told this was not the way it was done, he replied: "It's the Inuit way."


Bob Kuzzie's studio in Yellowknife


Artist Bob Kuzzie with whale bone

Next stop was the art gallery of Bonny Madsen, who showed us her paintings. Her husband builds the 580-kilometre ice road every year that carries drilling equipment to the diamond mines. Then a quick stop at the Vistors' Centre, a mini museum of NWT life. At the dock where we were to take the float plane with our gear to fly to the lodge, Margaret and her daughter Amanda had set up a snack of bannock, devilled eggs, cheese and fruit, which we consumed with two bottles of Pol Roger Champagne 1999.

The logo of Air Tindi, the local airline, is, "Fly the Burgundy Tail," which is highly appropriate given the nature of our fishing trips. On arrival ninety minutes later at Peterson's lodge at the western end of Point Lake, we had a late lunch rustled up by Betty, the camp cook, of fish soup and biscuits washed down with a magnum of Torres Grans Muralles 1996. Fished in the late afternoon until 8:10 pm but only caught one lake trout (7 lbs).


Betty, the camp's cook

Before dinner we drank a 14 Year Old Oban Malt Whisky with Steve's homemade chicken liver pâté and smoked trout pâté. The dinner menu: barbecued steak, potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli and Ellie's (Art's wife) amazing baked goods for dessert. The wines: Dauvissat Chablis "Vaillons" 2001, Two Hands The Bull and Bear Shiraz Cabernet 2002 and Turley Petite Sirah Library Vineyard 2004.


The cabins at Peterson's

 
Rainbow over outhouses

Saturday, July 24: Up at 6:30 am. Walked to the outhouses without trousers and got feasted on by mosquitoes. Around the sandy camp site are signs that tell you about the flora – Dwarf Birch Labrador Tea White Clusters, Lingonberry, Mountain Berry, Cranberry, Rock Cranberry, Kinminak (low bush cranberries). A breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and toast.

A dismal morning's fishing, got skunked (one bump on the lure and nothing else). Sam, my fishing partner today, caught three and Steve in another boat got a 25-pounder. Shore lunch – Steve made beer-battered trout, fried potatoes and beans served with Trimbach Tokay d'Alsace Reserve Personelle 2003 and 1985 and Hugel Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardive 1983. The afternoon's fishing was equally disastrous. At 3:45 pm there was lightning and thunder and the head guide Chad, Margaret's son, decided we should get off the lake. As we raced home there were lilac-coloured bolts of lighting and lashing rain chasing us down the lake. The low clouds above us looked like wire wool. No fish for me today. Bummer.

For dinner: carrot and potato soup, baked lake trout, pasta salad and mixed vegetables, followed by truffled Pecorino cheese. The wines: Littori Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard 2001, Williams Selyem Pinto Noir 2004, Calera Pinot Noir Seleck Vineyard 2001. On the wall in the dining room are two signs. One reads: "Old fishermen never die. They only smell that way" and the other reads "God in his goodness sent the grapes to cheer both greet and small. Little fools will drink too much and great fools not at all."


The guys

Sunday, July 25: Awoke to a heavy fog but at least the mosquitoes couldn't find me. Breakfast: frittata, fish cakes and muffins. We didn't leave camp until 9:30 am, when the fog lifted. Usually we are on the water by 8:30 am. Not much action all morning, caught one small fish and missed a couple. Larry, my partner, got a nice 8-pounder. Steve's shore lunch: Cajun blackened trout with fried potatoes and corn, with Dauvissat Chablis "La Forest" 2002, Egon Müller Schartzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2004, Hugel Gewürztraminer Cuvée Tradition 1995 and Trimbach Gewürztraminer Vendange Tardive 1983.

 
My 22.9 lb lake trout
 
Chad Peterson

After lunch, Chad made up a new lure for me. I had been using a 5 of Diamonds Junior Husky and a red and white lure of the same weight. He gave me a cisco, a small herring. That did the trick – after one decent-sized fish I caught a 22-pounder, followed by 6 lbs and 12 lbs. Then my lure got caught on the bottom, and trying extricate it, Chad broke my new heavy rod (he lent me his for the rest of the day).

Dinner: caribou lasagna, seafood lasagna and salad. A cheese plate of Morbier, Epoisses and Stilton. The wines: Falesco Montiano Rosso Lazio 1995, Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Riserva 1997 (two bottles, one unfortunately corked) and Quinta do Noval Vintage Port 1985.

Monday, July 26: Breakfast: French toast, fresh rhubarb cake. Fished with Harold and got four trout, none over 5 lbs. Steve's shore lunch: miso-marinated trout with vegetable fried rice, with Albert Mann Tokay-Pinot Gris Furstentum, Hugel Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 1982 and Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2004. (After this Sam remarked: "You can go to a 3-star restaurant in Paris but there's nothing like shore lunch.") Caught two trout in the afternoon, both about 5 lbs. Watched as Harold caught eight.

Dinner: BBQ caribou, moose stew, corn and peas, baked potato with basil and garlic butter and carrot coleslaw. The wines: (for some reason I didn't make a record of them. Must have been thrown by the moose). Cheese plate of 4-year-old Gouda, Tuxedo Triple Crème, truffled Pecorino and Morbier. Noticed another sign: "Vegetarian – An old Indian word for a lousy hunter."


The guides: Chad, Jeff, Chris with Jack in background

Tuesday, July 27: Breakfast: caribou hash with biscuit, scrambled eggs, savoury rice pudding, muffins. Saw lots of raven and ptarmigans around the camp site. In the morning caught four trout on ciscos; the largest was 14lbs. Steve's shore lunch: fish pasta with Dauvissat Chablis "La Forest" 2001, Domaine Schlumberger Riesling Kitterlé 1983 and Vineland Estates Meritage 1998 in magnum. There were fresh grizzly bear tracks on the beach and the mosquitoes were particularly bad. Jeff, one of the guides who had taken a course in Northern Affairs, told me his instructor had said that if you put all the mosquitoes on one end of a balance beam scale and all the caribou on the other, the mosquitoes will outweigh the caribou. I can believe it.

Dinner: coubiac of trout (in pastry) with dill sour cream sauce, beets, French beans and coleslaw. Peach cake and cream followed by cheeses with crackers Betty had baked herself. The wines: Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Vieilles Vignes 1966 in magnum, Pio Cesare Barbaresco 1997.


Inukshuk at Peterson's lodge

Wednesday, July 28: Breakfast: fried eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes. Three fish this morning; one weighed 17 lbs. Steve's shore lunch: wasabi-crusted trout with sesame mayonnaise, tomatillo salsa, fried potatoes with garlic and green peppers, with Egon Müller Schartzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2004, Domaine Schlumberger Riesling Kitterlé 1983 and two bottles of Hugel Gewürztraminer Homage à Jean Hugel 1997. In the afternoon, fishing with Art, I caught seven fish, none very large but we had three double-headers, all on 5 of Diamonds.

Dinner: chicken cacciatore, rice and peas followed by pecan and mincemeat pies. The wines: Torres Grans Muralles 1996 (in magnum), Turley Zinfandel Uberroth Vineyard 2004.

 
Steve cooking bouillabaisse

Thursday, July 29: Breakfast: moose hash, creamed trout on a biscuit. Six fish this morning, the largest about 6 lbs. My fishing partner Sam, who has used the same lure all week (Junior Husky Five of Diamonds), had a 13 lb and an 11 lb. The grand finale of Steve's shore lunches is the traditional bouillabaisse, for which he brings up mussels, scallops, lobster and shrimp to augment the trout. He serves it with rouille and toasted bread. The accompanying wines: Dauvissat Chablis "Vaillons" 2002, two bottles of Dauvissat Chablis "La Forest" 2001 and Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir Le Grand Clos 2006.

Caught two fish in the afternoon. Dinner: moose pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrot and apple salad and roasted root vegetables. The wines: Two Hands The Bull and Bear Shiraz Cabernet 2002, Tardieu-Laurent Côte Rôtie 1998, a magnum of Château de Beaucastel 2003 and Taylor's Vintage Port 1990.

Friday, July 30: Breakfast: strata (bread, cheese, tomato, mushroom and onion baked in a pan) and potato hash. Packed up our gear. The Twin Otter arrived at 9:50 am to take us to Yellowknife, where we flew to Edmonton and back to Toronto. The record fish caught in Point Lake is 58 lbs. Didn't come anywhere near that but I was happy with my count, especially the 22-pounder.


The Twin Otter back to Yellowknife

 

 

 

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