A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Prince Edward County to have a peek into what Countylicious had to offer. Twice a year, the county celebrates the best of food by featuring prix fixe menus from local restaurants. Chefs have created unique three-course dinner menus showcasing an appetizer, entrée, and dessert valued at $40 per person (taxes and gratuities extra). The menus are creative and bold, giving us a true taste of the County. The participating restaurants all have one thing in common, to craft menus inspired by the ingredients found in their own backyard, and to celebrate the best of the season by working with the local farmers, winemakers, beekeepers, fishers, brewers, bakers and producers who work year - round, prioritizing farm to table cuisine not only as a movement, but as a way of life.
If you haven't been to Prince Edward County, there's no better excuse in my books, than hitting the road now and checking this stunning town out! Why? I'll tell you. The drive from Toronto is 2 hours, so it makes for a quick getaway. Fall colours are in full bloom right now, the wineries are some of the best I've ever been to, there are tons of great restaurants and bakeries, plus some of the sweetest and coolest places to stay as well.
So let's gets started on all things Countylicious!
A group of Toronto bloggers and I stayed at The Drake Devonshire, the latest hotel by Jeff Stober, and place where art and culture can be felt in every single detail. The hotel decor has a vibe that makes you not want to leave, and the rooms are designed and outfitted with custom furniture and antique pieces, not to mention rustic Canadiana.
The Drake Devonshire is also where our taste of Countylicious started by meeting Chef Elliot Reynolds from The Hub, who prepared a Venison tartare, shaved foie gras, pomegranate, pickled cremini. We also met Chef Jon Pong from The Drake Devonshire who had us over the moon with his Swordfish Tataki, maple gastrique, apple, endive and watercress. Chef Nathan Coventry from Clara's at The Claramount made a Sweet Soya Braised Pork Belly with lettuce, pickled veg and finished with siracha aioli. After a quick chat with the Chefs, we headed to our next stop to try some main courses.
Jackson's Falls Inn is a rustic and cozy B&B which is also home to its restaurant Public House. We were welcomed with blueberry mojitos and toured this gorgeous space with cozy vibes. When lunch was ready, we met with Public House’s Chef Meghan Van Horne, Chef Lili Sullivan from Pomodoro and Chef Jim and Jared Hartley from Hartley's tavern. They spoke about their food philosophy and how local ingredients are the way in which their cuisines are based. At Jackson's Falls we also met Aaron Armstrong, the owner of Blue Wheelbarrow Farm who brings produce to over 20 restaurants throughout the County. Chef Meghan, made my favourite dish from the mains. A quinoa and wild rice stuffed butternut squash, or the definition of harvest on a plate.
After lunch it was time for dessert. How to say no to that? So we went to Waupoos Estates Winery where we tried Chef Nathan's Coventry from Clara's delicious Pumpkin Pie Mousse with candied pumpkin seeds and graham cracker soil. I'm a sucker for pumpkin deserts and this is by far one of the best I've had. The creaminess of the mousse, and those candied pepitas were one of the highlights of our Countylicious tasting.
Chef Alex Molitz, from Waupoos Winery also won me over with his Panacotta and house preserved peaches. How not to love a creamy dessert that's speckled with vanilla bean? The pastry chef in me was in heaven.
Our final stop was an experience I'll never forget. Aaron from Blue Wheelbarrow farm, had invited us over to show us around. He left Toronto to open his dream farm where he grows everything from kale to tomatoes, to carrots, lettuce and arugula. As he showed us the farm and I tried some of his produce, I couldn't help but think about the importance of eating produce grown locally and organically, and how it starts with farmers like Aaron, that feel so much passion for the land, to bring awareness that's much needed right now. I left with a big bunch of carrots and the biggest smile on my face :)
Dinner time was planned at The Drake Devonshire whose restaurant features an exciting menu based on seasonal cuisine, paired with outstanding County wines, and great cocktails. Before dinner, it was time to relax a bit and have a drink at the bar where the mixologist made Warren and I a gin based Moscow mule and a classic gin and tonic with botanicals that were perfect in every way.
Dinner was outstanding, starting with a broccoli salad with kale, almonds and green goddess dressing, followed by a seared trout with a marinated bean salad and beurre noisette roasted apples. Best part? The Dev staff made us feel at home giving us the best end to our day, which ended by me eating their caramel popcorn while watching an episode of Broad City :)
Countylicious is the perfect opportunity to visit Prince Edward County this fall and try the cuisine of an area who's coming up with some of the most bold, creative and authentic dishes in Canada.
For more info on Countylicious, check out their page here