2018 beau’s oktoberfest: great food, great beers, and a lot of mud

Life has been crazy lately, and I still haven’t had the chance to share this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest yet. It may seem a bit late to talk about it, given that October is already over and Beau’s Oktoberfest was actually in September, but since we loved it so much this year again, I really wanted to share our weekend in beautiful Vankleek Hill with all of you. And the good news is that we only have to wait another 11 months until the next one, instead of the usual 12!

We were sooo excited about Beau’s Oktoberfest’s 10th edition: we had bought our tickets at the brewery earlier this summer, scheduled our babysitters months ago, had made plans to meet with friends and family throughout the weekend, had prepared outfits in advance for both Friday and Saturday, and considering that in the last few years we had sunny days over 40 degree Celsius as well as rainy days closer to zero degree Celsius, we had prepared outfit options for all possible weather conditions… but NOPE, we did not! My beautiful Hunter Boots and my lovely rain jacket could not take on what stormed through our region on that Friday evening.

Never in my wildest dreams I would have thought a tornado would hit so close to home. So I left work at 4 on that Friday afternoon and I remember the sky in my rear mirror being somewhat scary. Driving home was weird, sunny in front, purple and gray on top, and pitch black in the back. Picked up the boys at school, met Brian at home, packed up the car and left, still not knowing what was about to happen in Ottawa and surrounding areas that night. Nearly minutes after we left, we got a weather warning on our iPhones and at the same time a tornado was touching down in a few towns and villages close to us. We were so lucky, some, not as much. The pictures we saw from places close to us just made me cry; and still makes me.

So we arrived safely to my Mom’s and hid there for a while hoping the wind and rain would calm down. Once we thought the storm had passed, we decided to venture to Vankleek Hill to attend our beloved Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, as we arrived, the rain had picked up again, and they had to close it down for the night due to another approaching storm. Clad in our rain boots and ponchos, a bunch of us gathered at a local restaurant and spent the evening there having a few Beau’s beers while talking about what had just hit our region, thanking our lucky star we had been spared, hoping no one had been hurt.

By next morning, we were in top shape and ready to party! So we dressed up in our best rubber boots and out of the door we were. Pretzels, craft beers and live music here we come!

I was still hungry from the night before, which I guess was a good thing, cause I had carefully planned ahead my menu for the weekend, and I still wanted to try all of it, so having to squeeze a two-day menu into a one-day event was going to be a challenge, but I was up for it! When we got there, the fairground was a mess… like, a muddy mess. Thank God we were both wearing our rubber boots. Some areas were okay, but most of it was covered with mud. If I wouldn’t have worn my Hunter boots, I wouldn’t have made it out of there alive. And by that I mean I wouldn’t have been able to get to the pretzel vendor, which was surrounded by a foot deep of mud and water… but I made it there, twice actually!

Sadly, one of my favourite vendors had to cancel due to the storm. But don’t worry, I will satisfy my raclette craving very soon as we got reservations at Meule & Caquelon next weekend! So as we were walking around the fairground, we met with friends everywhere, at every corner we turned and every tap bar we stopped at. We shared drinks, tried amazing food and listened to music I’m not used to listen to. Brian had told me there was one show he absolutely didn’t wanted to miss, so he dragged me to the small stage just in time for the show; what I didn’t know was that he was about to turn into a real groupie in front of the stage, listening to this local singer songwriter I had never really heard of. Well, Rory Taillon, you have a fan for life! And I agree with my husband, yours was the best show at this year’s Oktoberfest.

We then visited the Midway Games, definitely one of our favorite things at Beau’s Oktoberfest. After all, who can pass on a game of Plinko? Not me! Can’t remember who won but it was so much fun. We also played a game of sling shots, which we sucked at and didn’t win anything. Then played a few rounds of ring toss on the beer bottles. Then ended it with Brian’s new found favorite, Roll In Zie Hay, a balance and precision game where he won three times in a row and then wouldn’t shut up about it! Overall, we basically spent 40 bucks to win a Beau’s pin, but what the heck, Brian really wanted it, he was happy about it, so it was totally worth it!

This year’s awards for best food go to the Reuben Egg Rolls from Moose McGuire’s… those were simply AMAZING, and also to the 3 frozen ice cream treats I had from Pascale’s Ice Cream! Please don’t judge, I do not drink alcohol, but I can definitely hold my ice cream!

I may not have been able to try everything, but I definitely try many things… so I’d like to give a shout out to the Smoque Shack for their Brisket Mac and Cheese Cone, for our local favorite Vert Fourchette for their delicious Beer Battered Fish-on-a-stick, and to Hintonburg Public House for their out-of-my-mind Seed to Sausage Jalapeño & Cheese Curd Smoke Corn Dog.

We were once again in awe from all the keg toss competitions, the stein holding competitions (that Brian still didn’t do but once again said he would try ‘next’ year), and this year’s most fun to watch: the team-pulling-truck competition. Boy, I would never sign up for this, but it was truly awesome to watch! And once again, that guy on the mic is worth alone the entrance fee, as he’s just so clever and funny in congratulating and insulting the participants. Can’t wait to hear him make fun of my husband if he ever decides to do the stein holding competition!

As the tradition goes, we once again ended up at good ol’ Miss Hawkesbury, and once again, ended up doing Tequila shots… yep, they were all drunk already but found a way to convince me they had to do shots to keep the tradition alive! When the place doesn’t have enough shot glasses for 7 people, you know it’s time to go home! But they do have the best pizza and poutine in town, so I watched them doing shots while I enjoyed the last item on my previously planned Beau’s Oktoberfest weekend menu. And I agree, you don’t mess with traditions… so we’ll be back next year!!!

It was definitely another great Oktoberfest! I wouldn’t imagine an end-of-summer or beginning-of-fall season without it. It is definitely one of my favorite outside activities of the year, year after year (probably Brian’s favorite!). Finally, I’d like to add that you guys did an amazing job dealing with all the unexpected and unforeseen turn of events that happened on Friday evening. I am really proud to be a Beau’s fan, and we can’t wait for next year’s; let’s all just hope the next one will be less eventful, weather wise. Prost my friends.

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kiss me i’m irish… and a beer stew

Although I had been looking forward to a week off with the boys for March break for quite some time now, this week has been nothing like what I had planned. Well, actually, I had nothing planned, and that is why I ended up being kind of miserable all week long! Zero motivation to do anything, the three of us wanting to stay in our pj’s all day, to watch movies, take naps and play board games. It was fun for a few days, but now that the week is almost over, I’m pretty bummed that we didn’t planned a getaway with the boys (like literally everyone else on my Instagram and Facebook did).

The daylight saving time putted me in a bad mood right off the bat on Sunday when I lost a precious hour of weekend nap time in the afternoon (can’t believe I am actually complaining about the daylight saving time now, but it was that kind of week!). I know there are some global benefits to it, but for me, it kind of ruined my week! I also know there are much bigger issues in the world, like Stormy Daniels ex boy-toy, but when all of our society’s serious problems will be taken care of, can we look at the daylight saving time thing again? Please!!!

There’s actually one good thing this week, and it’s the fact that we love to celebrate St-Patty’s Day at our house. So far this week we’ve made a few crafts, drank green milk and decorated the house. I also want to bring the boys to a St-Patty’s Day parade this weekend, as I’m pretty sure they would love it! So with all the snow and all my crappy moods, I decided that we were in need of some comfort food. And what’s more comfy than an Irish stew this time of year? It was sooo good that I have to respond to that last question that nothing is (more comfy!). It even putted me in a good mood for a minute or two; while putting my husband in not such a great mood during that same minute or two, as he realized that I had poured almost all of his last Beau’s Strong Patrick beer in my stew. Oh well, I wanted to make a delicious stew, and I knew this beer was one for it just by its awesome sticker and name! We all loved it, and I’m so glad I had some leftovers to freeze for the next snow storm! So here’s an awesome recipe just in time for March 17th.

 

You should all make this comfort stew as it will make you forget about your daylight saving blues! Cheers everyone, have fun this weekend. After all, we’re all Irish on St-Patty’s Day, right? Sláinte!

 

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new year’s eve sleigh ride

I am usually not a fan of NYE.  You know, I never seem to know what to do, years after years wishing for a big elaborate and elegant party like they have in the movies… but always ending up half asleep before midnight wearing my pajamas!  I remember that my parents had fabulous parties when I was younger, sequins party dress, suits and an amazing time.  We did have those types of NYE parties at the Golf and Curling Club in Hawkesbury in the early 2000s, but after a few years of hearing Jive Bunny as first song of the party, we decided to call it quit!  And to be honest, I love to be with Liam and Logan on New Year’s Eve, so it’s kinda hard to go somewhere fancy and hope to party like a Rock Star while having them there with me.  So this year, we’ve tried something different, trying to create a new family and friends tradition… and we did, and it was the best NYE in a very long time!

We’ve been living in a suburb of Ottawa for 9 years, and every day on my way to work I drive across a Sleigh Ride sign maybe 10 minutes from home.  I always loved sleigh rides, and I thought it would be a fun family thing to do this winter, so I called to book a NYE sleigh ride a couple weeks ago, but they were already full for that day.  Which made me want to go (on that day) even more!  So I called again on the 29th, just to see, and guess what… they finally had an opening for the 31st at 3pm; so I booked it right away.  I’ve been on a few sleigh rides when I was a kid, but this one…it was just MAGICAL.

The sleigh can hold 15 people, so the first thing I did was to call my friends to inform them that they now had plans on the 31st… cause I already knew that just like us, they probably had nothing to do on NYE but spending the day in their pajamas with their kids… and I was right, so we now had exciting plans for NYE.  YES!

So there was a huge snow storm in Ottawa on the 31st… and when we got to the Beckett’s Creek Farms in Cumberland, it was just gorgeous with the snow falling, the huge old barns and the two big beautiful horses and wooden sleigh waiting for us.  We were ready for our ride, with, of course, some hot chocolate for our crew.  The kids were happy, but I was ecstatic!  Once we got on the sleigh it was breathtaking.  We rode in the most gorgeous forest.  I know I just said that it was breathtaking and now I am going to say that it took my breath away, but the scenery really did took our breath away.  Sometimes it was silent, with just the sound of horses pulling the old sleigh, sometimes we were singing along with the kids or just taking about how gorgeous it was. Middle of nowhere, huge snowflakes slowly falling on us, signing and laughing all the way through.

Half way, we stopped in a clearing of trees for 10 minutes; nobody but us.  We took some pictures, the kids made snow angels and threw a few snowballs.  Brian poured some hot cocoa for everyone and then took out his Beau’s New Lang Syne beer; we then got back on the sleigh and made our way back to the farm while enjoying our favorite drinks!

One hour sleigh ride full of smiles and laughs and pictures and memories; it was just priceless.  We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to spend our day together in this wonderful place.  As a side note, this year will be the last year of the Lalonde family Beckett’s Creek Sleigh Rides after doing this for many years, even going back the early 1900’s I believe.  So you can’t understand how that saddened me when I learned about it after 15 minutes in the trails while I had already made plans in my mind to do this again next year on NYE, and every other years after that.

So after the sleigh ride, everyone came back to our place, now finally all wearing our pajamas… we sat in front of the fireplace, had some drinks, some amazing snack food and my go to spaghetti and meatballs for diner, then made too many plans to count, which helped celebrate this new year and enter a new one.  The kids put on a show where they danced and sang for us; they were so proud!  But then we showed them how it was done Rock Star Style (or maybe more Celine Dion wanna be style!).  Found the craziest costumes and hats in my wardrobe, picked up a few hairbrush for microphones and before you knew it: the show must go on!  Let’s just say it was literally jaw dropping for our kids to see us perform and act crazy like we did!!!

Okay, well, I’ll talk about our singing and dancing group another time in another blog, but for now, just so you understand, we take ourselves pretty seriously when we perform!!!  And we think we’re pretty great at this, so when I say ‘act crazy’, it was more like a pretty spectacular NYE performance by The Whiskettes (even minus 2 key members and without any type of rehearsal)… Nothing like the Mariah Carey disaster in Times Square happening at the same time!

So we made it till midnight, cheered to the new year and wished each other only the best!  You know, I get why 2016 was a bad year for many, but 2016 was great to me and to our family.  We traveled, celebrated, spent times with the ones we love, made new friends, smiled a lot, and finally I got to create this blog!  So 2017, you’ve got big shoes to fill and I am ready for you.

Happy New Year everyone.  Santé, Bonheur et Succès.

 

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beau’s oktoberfest

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2016 Beau’s Oktoberfest: what a weekend!

Where to begin, or where to stop?  There’s so much I’d like to say.  I’d like to go on and on and tell you every little detail about our so much fun first weekend of Fall… but let’s not talk too much about the I-had-too-much-to-drink stories from my friends and husband, and let me go through my very own experience!

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So, for the second year in a row, Brian and I attended Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.  Definitely one of our favorite weekend of the year; last year in a cold weekend of October, and this year in a great September/Fall weekend.  We met lots and lots of people, friends and family over the 2 day-Craft beer festival.  It amazes me how many people attended; the Vankleek Hill Fairground seemed to be at full capacity by Saturday afternoon, filled with interesting people, so many wearing Lederhosen or fun costumes, thousands wearing green feathered hat, with all of them holding their Beer Steins, well of course, all of them except me!

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For those who don’t know, I don’t drink beer, not at all, nor any other types of booze, so some people may be wondering why I was so excited to spend my weekend with drunk people, and what was I looking forward to at this all-you-can-drink-fest?  Well let me tell you one thing, there are plenty of reasons why I just love Beau’s Oktoberfest!!!

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First, the atmosphere is amazing.  You just can’t understand until you’ve actually been there.  It’s a tiny-little-cute-and-old village hosting a really big event, it’s amazing.  We had gorgeous weather for being outside all weekend long.  But what makes this a truly unique experience, it’s that every details seem to be just perfectly thought of.  Beau’s goes above and beyond for this event: orange flags everywhere, lights, great live music’s, School of Bock, keg tossing and tug of war competitions, beautifully designed signs for everything, an awesome Midway Game tent for hours of fun (where Brian won 60$ at an illegal pichenotte game some stranger had organized on Friday night), great merchandise to buy, including Beau’s very own Beer Steins, as well as way too many different craft beers to count… but for me, my fun started with the AMAZINGLY AWESOME FOOD!

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Let me start by saying that I did not eat all that food, but I pretty much tasted everything!!!

In first place: The Hintonburg Public House seed-to-sausages-jalapeno-and-cheese-curds-smokie-corn-dog with Beau’s beer mustard!!!  I had it last year and it’s still my favorite.  I want one NOW.

Second place goes to my friend Pascale from Pascale’s All Natural Ice cream.  Everything she does is magic.  From the best hot chocolate that I drank all weekend long in my very own vintage Beer Stein to the tastiest Beer nuts ice cream on a stick.  I would love to be trap in one of her freezers!

And third place goes to Vert Fourchette.  Always decadent food, their Bavarian smoked grilled cheese with caramelized beer onions is simply crazy.  I also had their Pulled pork poutine with German ice box slaw.  So so good!

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We also shared all these next items and they are so worth mentioning: Belmont should’ve probably been in the top 3, but since I only had a bite, it’s hard to say, so let’s say we got a tie in third place!  But next year I’ll make sure to have a full one: It was called The Hot Mess.  And it was… Deep fried mac and cheese with Lug Tread gravy, crispy chicken skins and cheese curds.  I can still feel my arteries clogging after one bite, but what a great bite that was!  Urban Tandoor Indian Cuisine had great butter chicken with rice.  We also had a few Chez Piggy sausages and hot dogs.  Miam!  And Brian had the Vittoria Trattoria Fish croquette drizzled with spicy mustard sauce.  Of course no beer fest is complete without pretzels.  Two Bite Sweet, I’m not sure how you guys managed to bake so many pretzels in 2 days, but Oh Boy these are good!

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As for the Craft Beer, well I can’t say much, but let say that people around me drank PLENTY and they just LOVED it.  There’s some for everybody’s taste buds and wildest dreams.  Sometimes I wish I drank beer so I could drink Beau’s craft beer, as I love everything about this local brewery.  They have the best label art ever, a great terrace and weekend menu for everyone to enjoy, they care about our community, and of course: ‘they make the best beer ever’ Brian says.

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This weekend was the best.  Cutest hats, great people, many many cheers, and even more laughs.  We can’t wait for the 2017 Beau’s Oktoberfest.

Cheers followers!

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