Thursday, 30 August 2012

Just Sweets Retro Bakery

Just Sweets Retro Bakery
5 Corey Street
Bloomfield, Ontario


In her opinion:
This place is just darling. It's not a cafe or restaurant. It's just a cute, little bakery specializing in just sweet retro desserts. I love anything retro in baking...the old Eagle Brand of my like Cherry O Cheese Pie sigh)...not fancy...just good!

In researching our trip to the County, I looked at all possible stops along the way...not just restaurants...but ice cream places, bakeries and other little gems. This place just popped right out at me...I think it had to do with their reminded me of a cookbook that my mom use to have when I was a kid.

I found it on our second day in the County, on our way to brunch. I loved the porch. I loved the Tiffany blue umbrellas and paper lanterns that hung on the porch. I even loved the sign that read "Cash Only...How retro is that".  I loved the old family pictures on the wall hanging above a display of old fashioned aprons...okay, I loved everything about this place. But I especially loved what they had to offer!

It was hard to control myself but I only ordered two squares...actually triangles! A "Magic Cookie Bar" and a "Decadent Chocolate Wedge". Magic Cookie Bars (aka Hello Dollies) are one of those recipes from my childhood...I still make them every Christmas! Love them. What's not to love about graham crackers, condensed milk, chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts. Yum! The Decadent Chocolate Wedges were also outstanding...delicious chocolate centre on a shortbread crust and topping. So so good.

I love that places like this exist. They make me happy! Bloomfield is very lucky to have a place like Just Sweets Retro Bakery just around the corner from their main street!


Decadent Chocolate Wedge (top) and Magic Cookie Bar


In his opinion:

Cute little place off the main road in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County. Looks like a doll house from the outside but their creations should be taken seriously. It is a must stop when in PEC and one of ours during our getaway in the county.

Unfortunately, we were on our way to brunch at Amelia's Garden Restaurant at the Waring House Inn, so we could not pack any more than a simple taste. We got the  Magic Cookie Bar and the a Decadent Chocolate Wedge. 

The Magic Cookie Bar was indeed magical as it disappeared very quickly in front of my very own eyes, leaving me with some anxiety as to why. Maybe I should have not used the magical fork and it would have gone slower...probably not. It reminded me a lot of a similar cookie Julie bakes for Christmas but hers are better of course...wink...wink :)

The Decadent Chocolate Wedge was equally tasty and deserves an honorary mention, even though it had a lot to live up to, given the company. The County is full of these little gems and it's fun to explore and try as many as you can. After all, how many good restaurants and wineries can you really hit in a few days? Hmmm...never mind, forget that last sentence.

Give this place a try and don't forget to bring cash...they only deal in it...very retro indeed.

Just Sweets Retro Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, 27 August 2012

Vineyard of Dreams Dinner at Peller Estates Winery

Peller Estates Winery 
290 John Street
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario


Vineyard of Dreams:

Photo Property of George Pimentel
In her opinion:
When Edgar told me about this Feast On It! and Chef Network Inc. event, I must say I was a little hesitant. After all, $150.00 per person to have dinner with a group of complete strangers dressed in white was not my idea of fun. Okay, I love Peller Estates and I definitely admire Chef Jason Parson and his excellent cuisine but again this was not necessarily my idea of a "dream".

Once he convinced me to invite our friends, Liz and Paul and they accepted, I was on board. The difficulty then became finding a white outfit for the occasion...not so much the clothing part...but rather the shoe part. I ended up wearing my wedding shoes that I had worn 14 years before this event (and I totally know why they have remained in my basement...they hurt). Edgar also had a white outfit, so were were ready to go...unfortunately, our friends didn't and they ended up spending the day before they left for their Hawaiian vacation shopping for the perfect outfits. But in the end, they succeeded and everyone looked fabulous in their whites.

The event was scheduled for 6:00pm at Peller Estates. It ended up starting a little later due to traffic.  We began this culinary event on the vineyard grounds directly in front of the main building. There, Chef Parsons handed out glasses of Peller Estate's sparkling wine, the Ice Cuvee and welcomed us to the Vineyard of Dreams dinner! After a brief explanation of the sparkling wine we were drinking by Peller Estate's sommelier Kevin Anderson. We moved on to the Sauvignon Blanc vineyard.

Photo Property of George Pimentel
At the Sauvignon Blanc vineyard we were greeted with a glass of Peller Estate's Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc and Malpeque Oysters with "Sauvignon Blanc Jelly" on top. Chef Parsons explained the oysters and how they were prepared. Kevin explained the Sauvignon Blanc. I enjoyed the wine but I loved the oysters. These little guys were outstanding. They were so fresh and the jelly added a little sweetness that complimented the wine perfectly. Our friends, Liz and Paul both experienced their first oysters and I must say, I'm quite proud of both of them!

Photo Property of George Pimentel
We moved on to the Chardonnay vineyard for our next course.  After crossing the grass, we came to a clearing with high tables set with cutlery...this excited me because this meant it was something substantial. Kevin and Chef introduced us to Peller Estate's Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie and the magnificent tart that awaited us. Mushrooms, apricots and Saint-Honore Brie provided the filling for these puff pastry tart shells. They were topped with a barbecued quail leg and thigh. I think this was probably my favourite part of the meal. The flavours melded together perfectly mirroring the flavours in this excellent chardonnay.

Photo Property of George Pimentel

Photo Property of Ambur Braid @MsAmburBraid

After finishing our second course we moved on to the Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard where we were again given a description of Peller Estate's award winning Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Kevin and Chef Parsons described our third course. An absolutely delicious "Pulled Pork Sandwich". Chef described the process of using a Hawaiian like roasting box which encases the pig and then coal is put on top of lid and the pork is cooked. He also explained how the kitchen keeps the crisp skin much to the disappointment of this foodie crowd. However, the pulled pork sandwiches were delicious regardless of the missing skin. It had been marinated in ice wine and a delicious ice wine barbecue sauce had been added to the meat. Excellent.

Photo Property of George Pimentel

We finally made our way to the large harvest table for our main course of the night. There we were serenaded by a lovely young woman named Ambur Braid before Chef and Kevin came out to describe the wine and main course. The wine for the main course was the Private Reserve Meritage which complimented the Bison Steak which had been white pepper crusted and topped with a vanilla creme fraiche. It was served on top of a cherry risotto with smoked Manitoba maple cheddar cheese chunks. This was outstanding. The flavour of the cherry risotto, vanilla and white pepper mimicked the flavours of the wine perfectly.

Photo Property of th3hungrycat

Night time slowly fell upon us and as a result the twinkle of fairy lights twinkled in the background, along with small fire pits. This reminded me of a scene straight out of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream". Our final course was upon wine marshmallows served with Cabernet Franc Ice Wine. Chef Parsons and Kevin gave brief introductions and excused themselves for the night. Let me begin by saying that these are the best marshmallows that I have ever eaten in my life. The combination of the marshmallows and the Cab Franc Ice Wine was delectable. 

Photo Property of th3hungrycat
Overall, an excellent experience. This was magical in every sense of the word. My friends enjoyed it tremendously, my husband had a fabulous time and I too was overwhelmed by how wonderful the night had been. After all, the four of us had had an incredible experience with complete strangers...but I will note some quite well known and admired strangers at that! And, we didn't leave empty handed either. Each couple brought home a goodie bag filled with some special treats including Chef Parsons' signed book "3 Chefs".

Photo Property of George Pimentel

The Food and Wine:

The evening started with Peller Estate's Ice Cuvee Classic:

Photo Property of George Pimentel 
The first course consisted of "Malpeque Oysters with Sauvignon Blanc Jelly":

This was served with Peller Estate's Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc:

The second course was a "Tart of mushrooms, apricots, Saint-Honore brie topped with a barbecue Quail":

It was served with Peller Estate's Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie:

The third course was "Pulled Pork Sandwiches":

It was served with Peller Estate's Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon:

Before the main course was served, we were given a palate cleanser of "Apricot, Lavender and Chardonnay Ice":

Photo Property of th3hungrycat

The main course was Bison Steak crusted with white pepper and topped with vanilla creme fraiche. It was served over a bed of cherry risotto with smoked Manitoba maple cheddar cheese:

It was served with Peller Estate's Private Reserve Meritage:

Dessert consisted of Ice Wine Marshmallows:

Photo Property of George Pimentel

It was served with Peller Estate's Cabernet Franc Ice Wine:

Photo Property of th3hungrycat
In his opinion:
I first heard about "Vineyard of Dreams" when Carmen Correia posted a picture on Facebook for an upcoming event, not revealing any details and just saying that more specifics would be coming soon. I needed no introduction to that picture of the harvest table sitting under the pergola and quickly realized it was Peller Estates, a place we often frequent.

We quickly booked our tickets and convinced another couple of friends to join us on this event. I was quite looking forward to it. The one main requirement is that you must be wearing white from head to toe during the event and that was alluring to me. Having no shortage of white clothes from our many Caribbean trips, I set my goals on deciding what to wear for the day. Should I go GAP commercial style, P. Diddy yacht party, 1980's South Beach or St. Tropez chic? Difficult attire decisions that are often attributed to females are also a point of debate for men as well. Wearing white is no joke and it's so easy to look like a Peter Nygard party reject, so caution is required. I opted for the white St. Barts' chic look, my usual style when I'm vacationing on my favourite island. 

Oh yes...the event. We arrived around 5:45, fresh from a wine tasting at Colaneri Vineyards, just to get us warmed up for what was coming. We slowly started to recognize the people in white as fellow event goers and connected with a few foodie friends as we all waited for the rest of the attendees to arrive. Chef Jason Parsons walked by, stopped to chat for a bit, we reminisced about his good old Cambridge days and then made our way to the vines outside.

Once outside we were led to our first stop of the evening where Jason handed everyone a glass of Peller Estate's Ice Cuvee Classic. We then heard Jason and the sommelier Kevin give us some background of the style adopted by Peller, when making Sparkling Wine. Although I consider myself a decent Wine Geek, I was surprised to find out that instead of the usual mixture d'expedition used in traditional Champagne making, Ice Wine was added instead by Peller Estates to their Cuvee, in its final stage.

We were then lead to the 2nd station, nestled beside the Sauvignon Blanc grapes where we were presented, yes, you guessed it, with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. To compliment the Sauvignon Blanc, Malpeque Oysters awaited us, some with their original taste and form and others with Sauvignon Blanc Jelly on top. The Jelly completely transformed the wine and brought out its crisp citrus flavours. Because some of the people present didn't enjoy Oysters (not sure what medical diagnosis they received for that), I got to enjoy a couple more of those amazing sea creatures.

Our slow walk to the 3rd table led us to a table with "Tarts of mushrooms, apricots and the "oh so good" Saint-Honore brie". The wine paired was Chardonnay Sur Lie. But the best was the tender and juicy BBQ Quail awaiting to join the tart of mushrooms and it was fantastic.

By the time we arrived at the next station, well down in the back of the Vineyard, the many consecutive wine glasses made it look like it was a lot windier than it was, for some of the guests anyway. The wine of choice was then Cabernet Sauvignon and the food pairing were little tasty "Pulled Pork Sandwiches". Those seemed to be hot with everyone and hit the spot. Granted that many were just trying to find something to soak up all the alcohol, but they were very tasty.

It is important to add that through all the stations and even in between them, Chef Jason Parsons walked us through the ins and outs of the food pairings, giving us his expert opinion on food and wine, along with Kevin the Sommelier. 

We finally made our way to the harvest table as I discussed European Soccer with my new found friend, celebrity photographer, George Pimentel. George is a fantastic guy, but also a lover of food and wine. We were surprised as we arrived at our seats with a lovely serenade from the angelic voice of Ambur Braid, making this the perfect start to our sit down portion of the event.

The company was great, many interesting and lovely people gathered around the table, enjoying wine and chatting away, awaiting for the next delicacy to be served. The main course was "Bison Steak, cooked perfectly rare with a dash of vanilla creme fraiche. Underneath the steak, lay a bed of tasty cherry risotto with super creamy Manitoba smoked cheese. This cheese was the perfect pairing for the risotto.

For dessert, Cabernet France Ice Wine was served with Ice Wine Marshmallows on a stick, waiting to be roasted on an open fire pit and one of Chef Parsons favourite pastimes. This turned out to be a very fun activity, watching people attempting to eat their melting marshmallows before they hit the ground or biting the sticks instead presumably from consuming high amounts of alcohol. All in a days fun, the marshmallows were a hit and completed the night perfectly.

Everyone mingled and had fun as we finished the last of our wine and the night drew to a close. Great food and wine to match were the frame of this event, but the people really made this event a smashing hit. Thanks to Chef Jason Parsons and Peller Estates for their amazing hospitality, and to Carmen Correia and Ken Koid for organizing this event, and to the many amazing folks that I shared this wonderful evening with. It was surely a Vineyard of Dreams. Cheers!

  Peller Estates on Urbanspoon

Amelia's Garden Restaurant at the Waring House Inn

Amelia's Garden Restaurant at the Waring House Inn
395 Sandy Hook Road
Picton, ON


In her opinion:
The setting of this country inn, cooking school and restaurant is just beautiful. The Waring House sits in the heart of Prince Edward County, in between the towns of Bloomfield and Picton.

We decided that Amelia's Garden Restaurant at the Waring House would be the spot for our last meal in the County. We had wanted to try their lunch menu but since it was Sunday, they were offering their famous Sunday Brunch.

It was a typical Sunday Brunch set up...a few breakfast offerings, a few lunch offerings, including a small salad bar and a dessert table. The scale wasn't huge but what I tried was delicious.

Instead of trying the breakfast first...I wasn't feeling the best and decided that I wanted real food...lunch. After all, our reservation was for 1 pm. I tried their roast beef, perogies, veggies, baked tortellini and a couple of their salads (pasta and a creamy potato). The food was well made and flavourful. Nothing to jump up and down about but consistently good brunch favourites.

I decided to try their breakfast offerings next since Edgar had started with breakfast and the pancakes were calling my name. I tried their bacon, pancakes and Waring eggs (their version of Eggs Benedict). As I thought, the pancakes were perfect. The bacon was not my favourite and the Waring eggs were nice. Again nothing out of this world. Just good honest food.

I sampled the carrot cake and almond berry tart from the dessert cake. Well, I finally found a carrot cake I didn't like. The almond berry tart was delicious. There was a quite an assortment of dessert choices but I stuck to these two.

What I didn't like about the brunch was that coffee, tea and juice was an extra fee. I've had buffet brunch in a lot of different spots and most include coffee, tea and juice in their price. I can understand if you want something else...but these are brunch staple beverages.

I would love to return to Amelia's Garden Restaurant at the Waring House and actually try Chef Luis de Sousa's lunch or dinner menu.

In his opinion:
The Waring House is like a compound of small buildings gathered to provide you with a vast array of services, all within walking distance. You have the Main house and Amelia's Garden Restaurant, the Barley Room Pub, the Waring Hall and Cookery School, the Conference Centre, the gardens, Vineyard View cottages, Reception and offices, the Heritage Lodge and Brian Cardy Boardroom and Quaker Lodge & Garden Spa. Although all of them are in close proximity, I found it hard to find Amelia's Garden Restaurant, given the poor signage for that building that also includes, The Barley Room.

The restaurant has an old world charm style, the feel of a heritage house inside and a beautifully appointed garden/sun room in the back, downstairs, which is the room where they serve the brunch.

The brunch here is very famous and highly recommended by many publications so I was looking forward to a great meal and a great combination of breakfast food and also lunch favourites. The spread is not huge by no stretch of the imagination but with an adequate number of dishes.

We had a reservation towards the end of the brunch timeframe so we moved swiftly to get our plates as soon as we ordered our bottle of San Pelegrino.

I started with the breakfast plate, the choices were on the minimal side, bacon was undercooked, I had to wait 15 minutes to get fresh eggs benedicts put on buffet. Apart from that, the breakfast food never left the adequate stage, very bland and uneventful.

Moving on to the lunch portion of the brunch, there were some dishes that were very good. The baked tortellini, the salads and the pastas fall well within what was expected from a brunch at this restaurant, but unfortunately, the same can't be said for the flavourless perogies and the severely undercooked roast beef that was tasteless even with the sauce.

So this became the disappointing meal of our stay in beautiful Prince Edward County. We expected so much and I particularly was very disappointed with the quality of the food served during brunch. The desserts made up for the brunch with good selections of cakes and tarts, especially the great carrot cake, but unfortunately, it was a bit too little too late.

I will not rate this restaurant given that I still think that a lunch or dinner experience would be a different story. I suppose I just might have to make another trip to Prince Edward County, to taste test the much more appealing a la carte menus.

With the great selection of restaurants in this County, they will have to step up their game to stay in the fine dining experience that they promise on their website.

The Waring House Restaurant & Inn on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Slickers Ice Cream

Slickers Ice Cream
271 Bloomfield Main Street
Bloomfield, ON


In her opinion:
I read about Slickers Ice Cream from Urbanspoon and the blogs that talked about their artisanal ice cream and how wonderful it really is. As we drove through Bloomfield on our first day in Prince Edward County it wasn't hard to spot this tiny was the one with all the people sitting outside enjoying their ice cream.

I stood in line and ordered two of their petite scoop size ice creams...come on, we had just had lunch and were having an early dinner at one of the County's best restaurants! After checking out their large menu board, I ordered myself, the "Apple Pie". 

In their pamphlet they describe this flavour as vanilla ice cream with 3 whole homemade apple pies, "crusts and all". It certainly tasted like delicious homemade apple pie. So fresh tasting, creamy and delicious.

I really enjoyed Slickers Ice Cream. I can totally understand why it's so popular in the County!

In his opinion:
When thinking of an ice cream shop in the County, you would think that the expectations would be a small space, family owned showcasing local ingredients and a very tasty, creamy and homemade style ice cream, right?

Well, at Slickers that is exactly what you get. The place lives up to its reputation of best in the County and does not disappoint one bit. Located in the Main St. in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County, this ice cream gem is always busy so expect lineups, mostly because its inside capacity is like 3 people max. The people working the counter were very friendly and appeared to be students on summer break, making a few dollars by putting smiles on people's faces.

The menu is quite complex (as you can tell by the above picture), ranging from petite to single, to double and even triple scoop, making the decisions hard to endure in a moments notice. Then there are the wonderful flavours displayed that postpone the order just a little longer. 16 flavours in total were on display and they encourage you to try a little spoon of any you would like, as a test.

I had the "Roasted Banana and Pecan Pie" petite scoop and the flavours were right on. One thing you can expect to get from this place is the full taste of whatever the flavour is that you picked. This ice cream screams homemade and judging from the crowds outside the scream is pretty loud and travels far. It is a staple for anyone living there and a must stop for the passing tourist.

Slickers is a must try when in the County, rain or shine, I'm sure this ice cream will refresh you and brighten your day, regardless of the flavour!

Slickers Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Inn at Lake on the Mountain

The Inn at Lake on the Mountain
264 County Road 7
Prince Edward, ON


In her opinion:
After doing some extensive research about where to eat in Prince Edward County, we decided on the Inn at the Lake on the Mountain for our first lunch in the County. The setting of the inn is absolutely beautiful. It is in between the Lake on the Mountain and Picton Bay. It is lovely!

We sat on the patio. Which was very nice with a perfect view of Lake on the Mountain.  After examining the menu we order some sparkling water to start.  We decided to share the "Smoked Salmon and Potato Rosti" as an appetizer.  It is described on their lunch menu as "a traditional Swiss potato pancake with smoked salmon, chive creme fraiche and capers. Served with mesclun greens".

This was extremely delicious. The salmon was fresh tasting and tasted wonderful with the rosti. The chive creme fraiche was the perfect accompaniment. Add the right amount of balance to the entire dish.  A very good start to our meal.

For my main, I picked the "Tourtiere". It is described on their menu as follows, "This is a Chretien family recipe that has been passed down through the generations. A traditional French Canadian meat pie served with a garden salad, dill pickle and home-made chili sauce".

This was very good. The crust was flaky. The meat filling was delicious. Perfectly seasoned and very flavourful. I really enjoyed the home-made chili sauce. It was the perfect addition to the tourtiere. It was tangy and sweet all in one. Overall, a very delicious main. The garden salad was well dressed with a house-made vinaigrette. 

Overall, I enjoyed our lunch at the Inn at Lake on the Mountain. The food was good and the setting was excellent. I would definitely recommend this spot for lunch or dinner.

In his opinion:
Exactly one day after I returned from Prince Edward County, I realized that Toronto Life Magazine had come out with a guide of where to eat and stay in P.E.C. day too late does not help me at all. But luckily I had done my research and it all ended up working pretty well.

One of the must try places to eat, not only for the great food but also for the amazing setting and location between 2 lakes is, Lake On The Mountain Resort. This Resort, as the name explains is nestled next to Lake on the Mountain and over looking the Bay of Quinte, 200 feet below.

The restaurant in this resort is known to serve fresh ingredients, fresh organic products and even has their own little garden and farm to grow their own products. We were seated in the outdoor bistro, enjoying the beautiful views and the great atmosphere. The menu is diverse, ranging from French/Quebec dishes to North African lamb to paninis, giving a wide range of choices to the customer.

After sharing the above mentioned "Smoked Salmon and Potato Rosti" that was by the way amazing, I opted for the "Chicken Vol-au-Vent" for a main dish. This is a deliciously light puffy pastry shell overflowing with seasonal vegetables in a creamy white wine and fresh herb sauce. It came with a garden salad and a limited choice of dressings. The dish was very tasty and surely the fluffy puff pastry was the highlight of this dish. The creamy sauce tasted a lot like the canned chicken chowder soup I usually have at home and that unfortunately made the dish, less appetizing or original. Overall, the dish was good and everything tasted fresh and well cooked. 

The Good: Great setting paired with very good service help elevate this bistro to a bit beyond ordinary.
The Bad: The menu is very ambitious and although the salmon was very good, the chicken fell a little flat.
The Verdict: Overall, a great place, beautiful views and a fresh feeling of the outdoors makes this place a gem to visit. Whether inside or outside, the restaurant has an inviting feel about it and I'm sure the Inn would match the same charm.

I give it 3 olives out of 5 as rating

The Inn at Lake on the Mountain on Urbanspoon