Tag Archives: wine

Eating My Way Through the PEC (Day 3)

Long Point

The third, and final, day of our Prince Edward County weekend was all about taking risks. In the first few days, we made it to most of the places we had “on the list”. From there, it was all a bonus, so we went a little more off the beaten path to find gems.

Our first gem we sought out close to ‘home’. We hit Black Prince winery, which is right in Picton. I had to ask about the smell of the Cabernet Franc, which I had with dinner the night before. For some reason, I couldn’t stop smelling the wine as I was drinking it. I told J it smelled like a lavender crème brûlée, with a hit of chocolate. I think I would wear it as a perfume. (Hear that Vera Wang? Maybe call it Black Princess? Cabernet Princess?). When I mentioned this to the guy at the winery, he sort of just humoured me. He probably thought I was nuts – or one of those pretentious people that make up all of the things they smell and taste in wines.

There were wineries left in all directions. Just to give us somewhere to start, we decided to head out to Black River, in search of more cheese.

Black River Cheese

Black River cheese is ever-present in the county – we had it at every restaurant we went to, and it was being sampled at many of the wineries we went to. I wanted to pick up some old white chedder, and ended up with some pepper jack and cheese curds as well. I think that brought our cheese purchase count to around 8. Eep!

Here’s where the adventure part comes in… J had seen some wineries listed out towards Long Point, so we drove allllll the way out there, only to find out that the one winery wasn’t even open yet (but on the wineries map, tsk tsk!). We drove that far, so we decided to try to make it all the way to the end of the point… which I think we did.

Long Point - Lighthouse

While there wasn’t much to do out this way, it was a lovely drive. We enjoyed the quiet drive, and hopped out when we got near the end. From there, we went to Milford to visit a couple more wineries — just a recommendation, don’t try to pop in to these on the off-season. We’ll have to visit again in the summer, when they’re sure to be open.

We did manage to hit Barley Days brewery one last time… I had been dreaming of the Cherry Porter, and decided that if it was open when we drove by I would get some. And I did (and I’m drinking one right now as I type this… mmmm Black Forest Cake beer).

Karlo Estates

We had but two spots left in our box, and only a few left on the map that we hadn’t hit yet. I won’t lie – Karlo Estates was absolutely FREEZING!! Their tasting room is in a really large barn that is being converted into galleries, and is currently only being heated by some propane heaters (see pic above). We enjoyed a nip of cheese as we tried different wines, and finally settled on a Frontenac Gris Rosé. This is strange for me, because I generally do not like rosé wine, but I was curious to try wine made from a ‘grey’ grape. I was surprised that I liked it, and decided to get a bottle to give it a real chance (when we’re not freezing). This spot is going to be incredible in the summer, so it’s on our list of places to return to.

East & Main Restaurant - Wellington

Time for lunch. East & Main Bistro was another name that came up in almost every article I read about PEC, so I thought we should hit it up before we left town.

East & Main Restaurant - Mac & Cheese

We were happy to see a variety of comfort food on the menu. I got an incredibly rich macaroni and cheese, made with – you guessed it – Black River cheddar. J got an insane wellington mushroom poutine, with cheese curds, and rabbit confit. Both dishes were amazing, and just what we needed. Sadly, I didn’t have room for dessert.

East & Main Restaurant - Poutine

Just one winery left to hit – By Chadsey’s Cairns. This was a really neat spot, with a pioneer cemetery and a whole collection of barns that looked like a little village. If you’re wondering what a ‘chadsey’s cairn’ is, you can read about it in the history section of the winery’s website. While you’re at it, take a look at the ‘wine politics‘ page – it offers a really interesting (and reasonable) viewpoint on grape growing, wine making, and more.

Chadsey Pioneer Cemetery

That’s about it for our weekend getaway. We finally made it up to the PEC, and it was everything we were looking for. The food and drink were great, the people were friendly, the accommodations were comfortable and I don’t think I heard a siren once!

I think we’ll be going back…

Eating My Way Through the PEC (Day 2)

Merill Inn - breakfast - barn

There’s nothing better than waking up at leisure, and strolling down to breakfast without having to leave the building.

Our second day exploring Prince Edward County started in the perfect way – with lemon blueberry waffles shaped like farm stuff!! My waffle was shaped like a barn, while J had a rooster and a cow. They were so adorable I almost didn’t want to eat them. It’s probably a good thing I ended up with the barn.

Merill Inn - breakfast - animals

Considering my lack of adorable photos of Merrill Inn, these waffles will have to illustrate this part of my story. It’s pretty fitting, actually, because Merill Inn was perfectly adorable but with the comfort of the bigger hotels. It was really the perfect place to stay for us, and it was right in the heart of Picton, which itself was the centre point of everything we wanted to see in Prince Edward County. Our package even included a bagged picnic lunch, which we brought on the road with us.

Copper Kettle Chocolate Company

Once we got rolling, we started headed right to Copper Kettle Chocolate Company. We had our first taste of things to come the night before, when we practically inhaled the goat cheese truffles that I bought at Fifth Town. To back it up a little, this is just one example of the county working together – the goat cheese was made by Fifth Town and the chocolate was done by Copper Kettle. Both companies carry and advertise the product, and both companies get business. Symbiosis!

Copper Kettle Chocolate Company - goat cheese truffles

Of course, we got more of them, along with a number of other fun truffles. They also had some chocolate ‘shots’ full of different wines and things, so we got a couple ice wine shots and a couple of Pinot Noir.

Copper Kettle Chocolate Company - wine shots

Down the Loyalist Parkway we went, to another bunch of wineries and fun.

At Huff Estates, we bought a really interesting unoaked Merlot, which was pretty novel for me. Next, we ended up at Sugarbush Vineyards, which is a self-proclaimed ‘garagiste‘ winery. There, aside from buying some wine, we enjoyed a chat with the owner about the area’s history.

Sugarbush Winery - Not Red

Sugarbush Vineyards ‘Not Red’ wine — oddly, we didn’t buy this particular wine. I just thought the name was funny.

Another part of our package at Merrill Inn was a complimentary wine tasting at Closson Chase, a winery that focuses on producing Chardonnay. We aren’t big white wine drinkers, and to be totally honest, the price points were a little higher than we were looking for here. Nonetheless, we took the opportunity to try some wines we wouldn’t have thought to try.

Closson Chase

The Closson Chase tasting room was inside a large and lovely barn, with stained glass, local art and lots of ambiance.

Similarly, The Grange of Prince Edward is also situated in an incredible barn, overlooking a fantastic lot where it seems people book picnics in the summer. Yeah, I think we’ll be going back to do that sometime. We politely asked if we could enjoy our packed lunches in their tasting room, overlooking the farm, since it was too windy and cold to eat outside.

The Grange of Prince Edward

We hit a few more wineries before we called it a day, including Lacey, Casa Dea and Sandbanks. By this time, I was slowing down and started playing this game where I was only allowed to pick one wine to try, and only try another if I wasn’t convinced by the first one. This was a change from the start of the day, where we tried 3-4 different wines at each location.

At Sandbanks, for example, I saw that they had a Foch Reserve and chose to try that because we hadn’t seen Marechal Foch at the other wineries we had been to, and I like to have a variety. We got to try pairing it with both cheese and chocolate and in the end, ended up buying a bottle. The prices there were very reasonable, too, so I think we’ll go back again.

I just couldn’t do any more that day – so we stopped at Tall Poppy Café in Wellington for some “Not Wine”.

Tall Poppy Café - some tea

There was but one last stop before ‘home’  – Barley Days Brewery. After a day of wine sipping, it was nice to switch to beer. We had already tried two of their beers at dinner the night before – Harvest Gold Pale Ale and Loyalist Lager – and I was excited to try their holiday Yuletide Cherry Porter. The Cherry Porter tasted like Black Forest Cake – all chocolate and cherries. I just wasn’t sure I could drink 6 of them, so we got a pack with the Harvest Gold, Loyalist and Wind & Sail Dark Ale. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that Cherry Porter…

From there, we headed back to the hotel for a nap before dinner. I was really looking forward to this dinner, conveniently at the restaurant at the Merrill Inn, having read many glowing reviews of the food there. They didn’t disappoint – but I did, with my photo taking.

Merill Inn - Lemon Gnocchi

My sad photo of the gnocchi appetizer looks oddly pink. Boo! It tasted like clouds of lemony heaven.
The meal was as incredible as I had hoped. I started with a soft lemony gnocchi appetizer that melted in my mouth. The main course was a rack of lamb – a new adventure for me – with tabbouleh. For dessert, I had “Baked Alaska” for the first time. Unlike my usual choice of “something dark chocolatey”, I enjoyed the mix of meringue and gelato and cake. Yummy!

Eating My Way Through the PEC (Day 1)

PEC Map 01

This past weekend was spent trolling through the wineries of Prince Edward County.

Having been to Niagara’s wine country many times, we thought a change of scenery would be a good idea. A little bit of digging showed us that wineries are not the only draw – PEC does its best to promote the local farmers, chefs, artisans, cheesemakers, chocolatiers, bakers, and more!

This would be a weekend of indulging, exploring and long naps. This is the first of three posts…

Buddha Dog - counter and map

Pondering the options at Buddha Dog

Our first stop when we got into town was Buddha Dog – the #1 “place to eat” on most articles I read about visiting Prince Edward County. Hot dogs aren’t the first food I think to go for – but these ones are special. Everything about these dogs is local – locally produced meat, buns, cheese, sauces, etc. There were so many mixes of sauces and cheeses (even more than you see on this menu!) that I couldn’t decide – so I decided not to decide!

Buddha Dog - two flights of dogs

Two flights of dogs – chef’s choice!

We ordered two ‘flights’ of three wee dogs, with toppings selected by the staff. Our favourites? The dog of the day was topped with maple bacon jam and Black River pepper jack cheese. Yup, we liked that one. There was also one with jalapeño tequila sauce that was amazing, and I really liked the cherry ketchup on another. Overall, there were lots of great flavour combos and I would definitely go back for another flight.

After a brief walk, and some caffeination, we decided to drive out to Waupoos and find Fifth Town cheese.

We started with a couple of Waupoos wineries: Waupoos Estates Winery and Del Gatto Estates Winery. The thing to keep in mind about PEC wineries is that it is a cold climate – colder than Niagara, even. The reds tend to be lighter, and the whites are usually the wines given the spotlight. If you’re looking for something that tastes like an Australian Shiraz, you won’t find it here. The tough part is that it takes me a couple of tastings to really get a sense of the ‘local flavour’ and prep my palette to be able to find the nuances in the wines.

PEC - Del Gatto Estates Winery

The adorable tasting room at Del Gatto.

Luckily, we were able to find wines that we enjoyed at both of the first wineries – a Geisenheim at Waupoos Estates that had a serious grapefruit tang, and ‘Two Shades’ from Del Gatto that blends Frontenac Noir and Leon Millot into a peppery and bright red.

Fifth Town - A Window to Cheese

Spying through a window to the room of cheese.

Next was the stop I had been looking forward to all day – Fifth Town cheese. Fifth Town primarily makes goat cheeses in many varieties. I kept hearing delicious things about Fifth Town, so we had no choice but to go investigate. During the summer, they have more activities and tours and things. In the off-season, you can still visit the store and see what’s going on. Oh yeah – and try all of the cheese.

Fifth Town - Cheese Samples

We tried them all – and came away with some great choices.

One by one, we tasted through the different cheeses, from goat cheddar to soft rolled cheese to soft-ripened cheeses. We bought quite a few, but I think the ones that really blew me away were “Nettles Gone Wild” (a soft-ripened cheese with a hint of earthiness) and “Lemon Fetish” (a crumbly sheep’s milk cheese with lemon and red fife flour). We lovingly described the ‘Lemon Fetish’ as being like a tequila shot in a cheese – lemony, salty, tangy.

Fifth Town Cheese - service with a smile

Service with a smile!

As we were checking out, one more thing caught my eye – a small box of goat cheese truffles. I snatched it up – without the benefit of trying any (I trusted them) – and we were on our way. We started the drive back toward Picton, to our hotel. The drive was lovely – and I really want to go back so I can get a better look at the “Lake on the Mountain” – a lake “nearly 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte”. I had never heard of it before, so when we passed a sign saying “Lake on the Mountain”, I was a little bit puzzled… until I saw the lake that was level was us, to the left, and the Bay of Quinte waaaaaaaay down on the right. It was a little bit surreal.

Merrill Inn - the back door

Merrill Inn — I didn’t get a pic of the adorable front, just the back door. Go me!

We finally got to the hotel (we stayed at the Merill Inn), checked in and had a bit of a rest. Then it was off to dinner!! We knew we’d be having a big fancy dinner the next night, so we wanted something a little more casual. We opted to go to the Barley Room – a cute little pub at the Waring House with some local beer and tasty nibblies. We got our first taste of Barley Days beer, a fantastic cheddar and apple cider soup (the highlight of our meal!) and a salmon en croute that was – no joke – the size of my head!! Just to put this into perspective for you — I have a really big head, so this dish was insane.

So that’s what we did on the first day. It was a long day of travelling and tasting, and we had a great time but were happy to tuck into the comfy bed in the adorable inn at the end of the night. We would have a full day ahead of us the next day…