By Jamie Drummond

GFR's Jamie D: Street Fighting Man

I have to admit that I had never been invited to a street fight before, let alone asked to act as a judge to decide the winner.

The night before the event  I sat glued to my computer, scouring the interwebs for information regarding pugilism, mixed martial arts, and good old Scottish brawling, in order to be sure I could speak with at least some authority whilst watching two grown, barechested men beat merry hell out of each other in a darkened warehouse, lit only by bare incandescent bulbs.

As I walked down the cold, rain-battered cobbles of a dark Distillery District alleyway, I felt a sudden, giddy rush of adrenaline.  Fear and excitement making the beast with two backs within my mind…

I entered the top-secret location, and gave the doorman the secret passphrase… “I’m here to see Mr. Bodnarod”

The doorman nodded, and whispered something furtively to an attractive young girl dressed in an astonishingly  tight-fitting black dress who was positioned behind him. She looked me up and down from behind a wooden lectern, shrouded in the darkness, and I smiled nervously…

Seconds passed, but they truly felt like hours, as my heart raced, and I squeezed the hand of my date, telling her that everything would be fine, not to worry.

Who was this mysterious, ominous sounding Mr. Bodnarod who orchestrated these illicit street fights?

I observed a figure approaching me, winding his way determinedly  through the thronging, heaving crowd, making a b-line for my position at the door… a hirsute man of medium build, clad in a psychedelic patterned shirt, with the most passionate, intense eyes I have ever witnessed in my 40 years upon this earth.

The scene felt vaguely Dickensian, with just a hint of one of the better Guy Ritchie films.

As he drew closer, within around five feet, he bellowed “Drummond! You’re late!!!”

I recognised that voice…

To my delight and relief I suddenly realised that it was none other than 13th Street’s Peter Bodnarod, one of the nicest fellows in the world of wine (alongside Charles Baker)…

And I was in the Mill Street Brewpub

And that I hadn’t actually read the entire email invitation, only the bit asking me to be a judge at a streetfight…

And therefore not even getting the wrong end of the stick, but a different stick altogether.

And that my date for the night had read the entire email, and had therefore been wondering what on earth I had been going on about earlier…

The Street Fight was actually a head-to-head competition between 13th Street Winery and Mill Street Brewery, based around a five course dinner replete with beer and wine pairings.

At the close of the proceedings both the audience and the panel of judges (Great Lakes Brewing News’ Robert Hughey, CBC’s Konrad Ejbich, Canadian Beer News’ Greg Clow, and little old me) would decide whether either beer or wine had triumphed in the matchings with the various dishes.

The evening's menu with accompanying wines and beers.

It was a heated evening, with much beer and wine being consumed tasted, most entertaining and jovial, with everyone being so full of good cheer that a winner could simply not be decided and therefore a tie was announced.

I cannot wait for the next Street Fight.

Note to self: Read one’s emails a little more closely in the future.

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… and he thinks the fight was a pretty fair one.