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Sir John A. will be back in the news and the Jays will win the World Series in 2023

Commentary

To close out the year, we’ve asked our contributors and staff to make a prediction about 2023. You would think, after last year, that we’d have learned our lesson about making predictions, but we couldn’t resist. Feel free to save these if you want to embarrass us with them later.


Sir John A. will be back in the news in 2023

By J.D.M. Stewart

The topic of history is always fertile ground for predictions. The subject is always with us, as it deserves to be. What will 2023 bring us from the past? 

1. Sir John A. Macdonald will once again be in the news—this time as Canadians revisit the Pacific Scandal, one of the most notorious in the history of the great Dominion. One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1873, Macdonald’s government was forced to resign because it accepted campaign donations from shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allan. The resulting election ushered in Canada’s first Liberal government under prime minister Alexander Mackenzie, but Macdonald would make a comeback in 1878 and govern uninterrupted until his death in 1891.

2. Another Canadian institution will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023, the Toronto Argonauts football team. The Double Blue will defend its Grey Cup championship from the past season, but the prediction is that the sharp minds at  Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will fail to capitalize on the charisma of its star linebacker Henoc Muamba and miss the moment to rekindle the city’s moribund affection for the once-dominant franchise. 

3. A final prediction for 2023 is that Library and Archives Canada, supposed leaders in the preservation and promotion of the country’s past, will continue to fail in this enterprise. Lacking in transparency, service, and leadership for Canada’s history, the past does not have a great future at LAC next year.


Someone has to say it: The Jays will win the World Series

By Jack Mitchell

The act of predicting glory for one’s favourite team is fraught with epistemological and ethical risks. Let’s say, for example, that I were to predict the Jays will win the World Series in 2023. Subjectively I want them to, of course; and objectively they have what it takes, since by signing Chris Bassitt we now have a super-strong rotation, complementing our terrific hitting and fielding. But if in fact they weren’t good enough, wouldn’t I picture them—to myself—as better than they were? Of course I would, and that would skew my prediction. Yet if they were indeed good enough, would I have the courage to admit it, defying the horror of jinx? I’d like to think I would. I know I would. In the end, all we have is the truth, and we must stand up for it, despite self-doubt, despite the personal cost. The Jays will win the World Series in 2023.


Wine producers will adjust to cash-strapped consumers

By Malcolm Jolley

The story of late 2022 has been that the post-pandemic party is over. Like the parents of teenagers who unexpectedly come home early from a weekend away, inflation and high interest rates barged into the living room, turned on the lights, and killed the stereo. So then, the story of 2023 must be the clean-up. But just as the hungover partygoer yearns on the morning after to return to normalcy, there may be some benefits to the arrival of more quiet times.

Locked up in our houses, and desperate to find pleasure in whatever was allowed, wine consumers were willing to be upsold, and the sweet spot of everyday retail fine wine seemed to rise quickly from $15 to $20 to $25 to $30 with every release of new wines. The old $19.95 middle went missing, and the selection of wines at that price point remained sparse as things opened up and the real party started.

That will change, as producers adjust to cash-strapped consumers over the next few months. In fact I see evidence on store shelves and email flyers from importers that it is already. Look out for better value from all over the wine-producing regions. Up comers will have to calibrate their premium labels and the famous terroirs will increase production of the second and third, more affordable, labels.

This prediction is, admittedly, walking a fine line between clairvoyance and wishful thinking. But if there’s an upside to whatever mess we’re heading into in 2023, it’s that we may console ourselves with better value wine.

Malcolm Jolley: Recalling a fantastic food year: Three iconic lunches of 2022

Commentary

This column was devised as a thinly disguised appeal to my editors to furnish me with a large expense account. I thought I could take prominent interview subjects out for boozy lunches, in the way that the British financial papers do. I would pick my subjects based solely on their epicurean and oenophile qualifications and write profiles long enough for at least three courses and two bottles worth of deep inquiry.

Then, I had second thoughts. That arrangement would, I came to realize, neither be good for my girlish figure nor my liver. The quality of notes taken might also be reflected in whatever mangled copy I handed in. In any event, the failed plot did remind me how much I like a good lunch in good company and inspired what follows.

For me, 2022 was a crazy year of travel and gastronomic excess. I made up for two years of rarely straying far from home by getting on as many planes as I could. When I think back on the whirlwind of the year, the moments of calm, when they came, were often at lunch; a pause in the middle of the day to reflect on the adventure. Here are three that made my year.

Month: February

Place: Quebec City

Food: French onion soup

Wine: Niagara Resiling

On our first venture out of Southern Ontario since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, my wife and I flew to Quebec City. There we would meet our eldest son and his girlfriend and drive up the St. Lawrence to the Charlevoix to ski for a couple of days. Their train arrived a few hours after our flight, so we had a layover lunch. It was brutally cold, though the sun shone brightly. There will still COVID restrictions and we couldn’t find an open restaurant when we walked from the parking lot of the train station through the lower town.

We decided to head up the stairs of the cliff towards the Chateau Frontenac, which we reasoned would have a restaurant that was open. Once we were there, we were surprised to find a crowd of people coming and going from the hotel and a lobby full of more. It was, we figured, a school holiday in Quebec, and half of Montreal and their kids had come to Quebec City for a getaway. Life had returned after the lockdowns, and people were eager to travel and stay in a bed different from their own.

We lined up for a table at the restaurant off the lobby and got one after a few minutes. Hot soup to warm up and a glass of wine. It was good to see a familiar label: the CSV Riesling from Niagara’s Cave Spring. A reminder that at least goods were still traveling around the country, even if people hadn’t been.

Month: April

Place: A vineyard on the Loire

Food: Oysters from the Brittany coast

Wine: Muscadet Champtoceaux

It’s less than 100 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean to the castle town of Ancenis, where a bridge crosses the Loire River, about halfway between Nantes and Angers. The Domaine des Galloires sits downriver from the bridge on the rise of a hill whose vines of Melon de Bourgogne slope gently into the valley. Galloires is about as east as Melon gets, as the grape is particularly fond of the cooler weather that rolls in from the sea.

I am at the winery with a group of international wine journalists, and we’re here for lunch, which is a spread of innumerable local French delicacies on several tables under a big tent on the lawn next to the winery buildings. It’s a warm spring day, the sun is shining, and, having spent the morning at the Angers convention centre tasting and spitting wines, were glad for the fresh air, for the view of the river, and the occasional medieval church spire in the distance. We’re also grateful for the Muscadet; there are dozens to try with a few sips and maybe a spit onto the grass, or maybe a swallow since it is lunch.

I don’t remember everything there was to eat; mostly the local cheese and honey from the vineyard’s bees we finished with and the “dish” almost everyone started with: Belon oysters fresh from the Atlantic. Never mind Chablis, Muscadet is the wine for oysters, grown almost next to the beds on the Brittany coast they came from. No sauce, not even lemon, just the crisp citrussy white wine, deepened from months on the lees. Life is good with each swallow.

Month: November

Place: Los Angeles

Food: Spaghetti alle vongole

Wine: Gavi

The Mauro Café used to be the restaurant in a fancy boutique department store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. The store has changed hands and names, and the restaurant seems to be its own thing. It’s still physically part of the building complex that houses the store (or stores, I’m not sure), but now you have to exit one to get into another. The way to do that is to go outside by the parking lot behind the buildings.

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This is LA, and anything bigger than a single storefront will have a parking lot. What’s fun about Mauro is that the parking lot also doubles as a patio. It’s a perfect Hollywood juxtaposition of fancy fine dining and casual, slightly jerry-rigged surroundings. And besides, the best views are of the people, like the group of Boomer friends, with not one but two gentlemen sporting Karl Lagerfeld-style ponytails.

I am at a table with my wife and my youngest son, whose Godfather lives in LA, and who we have come to see. We are happy to escape the gloomy grey skies of Toronto in November for some California sunshine and one last lunch outdoors. I have a salad, because it’s LA and they know how to make salad. It does not disappoint: butter lettuce with a shallot vinaigrette.

Then, the main event: spaghetti alle vongole with Manila clams from the Pacific. It’s a perfect West Coast version of the Italian classic, and I wash it down with a Gavi from the North of Italy, whose lean acidity is said to be encouraged by its winemakers to pair with Ligurian seafood. It works, cleansing the palate after each meaty and garlicky bite and fortifying the body and mind for the adventures to come in the afternoon.