Quite some months after the fact, I reckoned that it was high time to bring to the ‘net my visit to the Prince Edward Distillery on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
Though the distillery was not on my official Canadian Tourism Commission itinerary – through whose good offices I had gotten to PEI in the first place – my ever genial and accommodating PEI guide, Grant, kindly acceded to my hopeful requests and – despite a lot of miles and a lack of time – got me to the distillery on the last day of my visit to the island, where I met the delightful Julie Shore, craft distiller and one half of the couple behind the production of Canada’s first potato vodka.
Well, do ya?
18lbs of potatoes in one bottle. Weighty stuff, this potato vodka.
Julie Shore was talking me through the process of making potato vodka at the small Prince Edward Distillery that she established in 2008 with her partner Arla Johnson in Hermanville, in the north east of the island. “Our distillery is about distilling the agriculture here on PEI,” said Julie, “and the number one crop is potatoes. That being said, potatoes are the hardest thing to distill – a potato is 80% water, so it takes a lot of potatoes to make a bottle of vodka. My colleagues look at me like I’m crazy to do it.”
Essence of island agriculture: PEI potato vodka
I have no idea how my sister came to know or suspect that B. could get the poitín for her. I have no idea, for that matter, where B. got the poitín from. The transaction was spoken of in veiled terms: the code name was ‘blue nun’, though the unholy liquid thus procured packed considerably more punch than your average Liebfraumilch. It was evidence, too, that the twin Irish traditions of illicit distillation and of keeping a drop of rare oul’ stuff stashed somewhere about the house, were alive and well.
Blue Nun you say? A likely story…
In its original sense, a mojo is a small bag containing one or more magical items, traditionally made for an individual who conceals it on their person at all times in order to have some desired magical effect. For every dedicated blogger, there is almost always some occasionally mysterious and generally non-financial something – a mojo if you will – which fuels their blogging fire.
The potency of one’s blogging mojo can wax and wane of course – at its best, there is a spontaneity and a there-and-then-ness about blog posts – at other times, blog posts (as I heard them described in the National Library this week) become the homework that you didn’t do. It was that thought that reminded me of several posts that, for assorted reasons, were languishing in my undone category, including the one that now follows. And it was that thought, along with the injection of a little coffee-powered mojo, that finally spurred me to finish.
Irish-roasted coffees from Coffee Mojo
“Too many bad days at the office” is how Kevin McLoughlin of Wicklow-based Coffee Mojo sums up his motivation for going into the coffee roasting business. He believes that there is something magical – and, yes, mojo-like – about good coffee, freshly roasted and correctly brewed. He is also an immensely accommodating chap and arrived at my house one Friday morning, over a month ago now, with three of his freshly roasted coffees, several crate-loads (no, really, crate-loads) of coffee brewing gear and an immense desire to demonstrate what both he and his coffees were all about.