14 www.eatdrink.ca restauraNts The genuine warmth of hospitality awaits you at The Black Shire Pub. Sonita Bird named the Black Shire Pub for a breed of horses which are venerated for their strength and nobility. It seemed fitting as the Shire horse was originally the staple breed used to draw carts to deliver ale from breweries to public houses. Traditionally, the pub that patrons frequent most often is referred to as their local. Despite its etymology, the very nature of a local would seem to be only minimally geographical. A local is not necessarily the neighbourhood pub nearest to home. Front of house manager, Jason Dorian, says the Shire has plenty of regulars across the city who consider the pub to be their local. However, it stands to reason that some patrons choose their local for other reasons: proximity to their work, convenience as a gathering place for friends, the availability of a unique selection of craft beers, innovative pub food offerings, or perhaps traditional pub games. More often than not, the idiosyncratic nature of a local will lend itself to organized weekly events, ranging from flight night (staff will walk you through a tasting of flights of Ontario craft beer with tasting cards to take notes), wing night, issue no. 28 march/april 2011

A London Local with Passion On Tap

Sonita Bird


The Black Shire Pub

By Bryan Lavery Plenty of regulars across the city consider the pub to be their local quiz/trivia nights, open mic nights to live bands, as is the case of the Shire on Talbot Street. In the summer there is a large and popular outdoor patio. In a building that has had many incarnations, notably a church manse, the main rooms and bar have dark panelled walls and wainscoting. There is embossed anglypta wall-coverings that suggests tin and coffered Tudor-style ceilings. There is also a stunning Gothic stained-glass window. These rooms could have been transplanted from anywhere in the British Isles. Self-styled Black Shire head honcho Sonita Bird is also a red seal chef, gastronome, culinary activist, wildcrafter, forager and culinary tourism proponent. Bird continues to hone various skills but her passion to provide people with fresh, local and quality gourmet experiences is inbred and informs her business decisions and creative practices. Bird's rural roots are the sustaining lifeblood of her love affair with food and drink and inform her daily activities. Bird's story begins in the countryside between Amherstberg and Oxford, Nova Scotia where she originates. Oxford just happens to be the wild blueberry capital of Canada. As a self-sufficient child, everything that Bird


her family ate they nurtured and harvested themselves. Bird's paternal grandmother was known locally as the White Witch because she had a remedy for everything. Bird's grandmother taught her at an early age to wild-craft from indigenous materials - bringing art (which relies on talent) to science (which relies on knowledge).

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