Every summer we try to make a few local trips to explore our province and one of the regions we love to visit is Lanark County, which offers perfect combination of small towns, cottages on the beach and wild life. And after spending couple days in the cottage (“The Dancing Bass” Lodge cottage) we went to Perth for some shopping and lunch.
That lunch was a very special treat for us! Based on the art of Famous Canadian Group of Seven Chef Jamie Troutman from “The Stone Cellar” created the menu that interprets various elements present in paintings in “edible art”. Hours of research made it possible to reflect the famous Canadian art in the fine Canadian cuisine. In his creations Jamie is using the true Canadian ingredients coming from local farms. Chef Troutman, as per his own words, using the “deconstruction of the elements” from art into cuisine.
The shot glasses made of clear ice represent the art of Lawren Stewart Harris, who was criticized as being cold, but in fact deeply spiritual and one of the skilled abstract painters.
From ice and cold we suddenly surrounded by flowers and greenery of “Tangled Garden” by J. E. H. MacDonald – Jamie Troutman’s sunflower salad full of summer colours and fresh herbs… MacDonald’s art is distinguished by dark palette, tough, rich and at the same time elegant design. And Jamie is using the dark of the stone slab as background for the splash of colours…
From flowers and greenery of the garden we travel to Nova Scotia with help of another Jamie’s culinary creation based on “Nova Scotia Cove” again by J. E.H. MacDonald. Scallops and wild rice combined in a beautiful setting with shells to represent seashore…
We keep our taste buds tuned as next we get served Canadian beef – so tender! …accompanied by some root vegetables… chef’s creation based on the painting by Arthur Lismer “Habitant Farm”…
Lanark County is well known for Maple Syrup producers and it would be logical to find this unique Canadian product in local cuisine and famous art.
J. Troutman “Maple Glazed Cheese” based on “The Red Maple” by A. Jackson.
Our experience would not be complete without the dessert!Apple dessert based on “Asters and Apples” by J. MacDonald
If you decide to indulge in creativity and fine cuisine make sure to make a 48 hours reservation, and if so, you may need to find a fine place to stay. Luckily the area offers a good variety of hotels – one of our favourites is “Perth Manor” which offers classic architecture, cozy rooms, beautiful garden and friendly atmosphere.
The Stone Cellar Restaurant Address: 71 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H Menu: thestonecellar.com Reservations: opentable.com Phone: (613) 267-0200
Perth Manor Hotel Address: 23 Drummond St. West, Perth, ON Phone: (613) 264-0050 and if this one is not available –
Best Western Plus Perth Parkside Inn & Spa Address: 82 Peter St, Perth, ON Phone: (613) 326-0082.
After the four and a half hour drive from downtown Toronto we arrived at the Blue Hen Farm. Right at the turn we saw an old cupboard filled with jars of homemade preserves and a sign “Honk for Service”… And we saw the farmhouse in the opening between trees.
Farmers Jeff and Leslie greeted us and as we entered the house we were amazed by the old fashioned setting of the rooms – furniture, chandelier and even the old upright piano that produced some wonderful melodies after our evening meals…
Leslie and Jeff used to live in Ottawa and have jobs as many of us do… The idea of farming came up after some changes in jobs and also as a result of research of the food industry, commercial farming and agriculture.
Later, after getting settled in our rooms we headed down for dinner made by Chef Kostas who came out to tell us about the ingredients he used in his cooking, the dinner was amazing and filling.
As farmers do every day after dinner, we went into the barnyard to help with evening chores.
We found all the work surprisingly entertaining; we unloaded some 20 stacks of straw that will be used as bedding for the animals, fed the calves and pigs, brought the sheep and goats back to the barn and herded the chickens into their coop.
There was a special place where hens lay eggs, so we picked our breakfast! The eggs were dark and light brown, white and even light blue…
Once the chores were done, tired we went to our bedrooms; may be the mattresses were so comfortable or the day was long – falling asleep was no problem at all.
In the morning we woke up around half past six to the mouthwatering smell of bacon and eggs…
And after breakfast we went to the yard to do morning chores which repeats the evening in the back order – letting the sheep and chickens out, showering and feeding pigs… and saying hello to all of the farm animals.
The goats are very young and new to the farm and don’t know the barn yard, so they we carried to the pasture like babies!
Although all of the chores seem like quite a lot to do, they were our favourite part of the day. We also found that doing chores and waking up that early in the morning was very refreshing which was useful since we had a long day ahead of us. We found all of the animals so cute… and especially the three kittens that roam around the barnyard. There are also two dogs that help farmers by guarding the barn yard from foxes and other invaders.
Leslie and Jeff ask that visitors do not bring or wear any fragrances on the farm including mosquito spray, however they do supply their own free of charge so that you do not get bitten by pesky flies. Leslie makes her own natural soap – I found it very smooth and took a little piece home as a souvenir. Around the house we also found natural fragrances, bug spray and soap – all handmade from natural ingredients that smell like summer fields…
Their mission statement is free range thinking, meaning all of the animals are free to roam the field and raised with no antibiotics or chemical supplements at all. “Being a novice in such a tedious business as farming should be challenging for city folks” – I asked… yes, and they learn every day.
We also had a chance to learn – about how to feed pigs and chickens and how to take care of sheep and goats; we would join Leslie to let the animals out of the barn with the first rays of sun and get them all back in the evening…
For us it was just two days – but these days were filled with smiles and laughter, delicious homemade meals and that feeling of love and happiness…
We took a lot of pictures that will remind us about this wonderful place and people that are so enthusiastic about what they do. Thank you Jeff and Leslie for teaching us some very basic skills that we miss in our city life!
So, time to leave The Blue Hen Farm… I think I saw tears in some eyes…, we hope to come again.
To have a complete travel experience in Montreal area we decided to visit the Yamaska National Park, well known as a wonderful family escape whether you are camping, just came to enjoy the beach, like to hike or bike.
That morning weather outlook promised some rain and cloudy, so the beach option was not on the list, so we opted for a bike ride.
We did not bring our bikes, so had to rent – you know that feeling when you take someone’s else bike – I hope it’s good… – well, the bikes were not just good, they were great – all in perfect condition, had all the proper gear installed and ready to roll!
The Yamaska National Park is located on the Choiniere Reservoir, is represented by great variety of trees, small animals and birds. The park was created in 1983 and is a perfect for all kinds of activities combined in one great location – boating, paddling, fishing for those who prefers to be on the water and hiking, biking, camping as an addition and for those staying on land. The water is very clear, we saw a lot of small fishes close to the shore.
The beach is well equipped with water bikes, kayaks and paddle boards… we would be very happy to try them all, however at that time decided to go for a bike ride to explore the trail which is about 19 km and runs through he forest for some distance along the shore and later through the woods.
As navigation help we also got i-pods with map, detailed information about the location and some interesting facts about where we were in real time!
Yamaska National Park
Address: 1780 boulevard David-Bouchard, Roxton Pond, QC J0E 1Z0
Phone: (450) 776-7182
We arrived in Valcourt QC to see the place where the man known as the pride of Valcourt created his company that would be renowned by the world. The visit begins with the simple garage where Joseph Armand Bombardier decides to overcome the challenges of driving in the deep snow.
By adapting the tractor wheels into treads and skis to become parts of the vehicle he was able to make the first snowmobile- the B7 – that within a very short period of time became in great demand not just in Quebec but all over Canada. In the garage there is still his officefilled with tools and papers, as if he just stepped out for a moment.
And you can see the first original snowmobile that looks quite bulky, since it was made of wood and various parts from other machines, stands in the middle of the garage.
The new creation became so popular that the company moved to the new larger building and was supported by the whole community of Valcourt. The larger sized vehicles followed and the business was prospering until… after World War II, the Quebec government passed a law that required cities to remove the snow from highways and streets and the need for the snowmobile as a transportation quickly faded. The creativity of Joseph Armand Bombardier never stopped and he
brought new ideas into growing the business… a few months later the “Ski-Doo” comes out of his production and quickly gives raise to the new sport and gives all new outlook for winter fun.
From section to section we could see the machines created in different times for the variety of purposes – snowmobiles of all sizes, all terrain vehicles, the rail transport – here you can get on the actual streetcar and image being on the streets of the busy downtown.
In the next hall we were impressed by the original subway wheels that are used in Montreal Metro – and these are produced by Bombardier Inc. as well.
One of the expositions is dedicated to the aircraft industry, here the imagination will take you up to the skies – yes, you can fly! And feel like a pilot of the commercial aircraft, which destination is any place of your choice!
And not just the destinations you can reach here, you can build the totally new vehicle of your own creation. In the room filled with I-pads there is big screen with the images of all sorts of surrealistic machines moving, floating, flying, zooming… it’s a wonderful world of imagination; and no matter the age – it is a great fun for all!
One more surprise at the end of our tour – so called ‘’ FabLabs’’. Anyone who likes to create, is in need of tools and good technical advice can come here and for a very reasonable fee get it all including materials, software and a helping hand! Really impressive and well done! And so encouraging!
Adventures during our Perth-Ottawa Road Trip. Summer 2016
We left Toronto early in morning and after about an hour on 401 as usually stopped over at Big Apple. The place is well known for cute cafeteria, large giftshop, children`s outdoor pet zoo, and clean washrooms.
After arriving to Perth, we first stopped over at the Fairgrounds where the place was already prepared for the 200th years celebrations. One could see the rib grillers’ stands from all over Lanark county and the vendors offering foods and drinks to all tastes. There was a mini amusement park for young children with bouncy castles and a climbing tower. The stage was ready for musicians and singers; close by the stone carvers were competing in their art – the winners’ sculptures will become part of the new stone bridge being constructed in Perth and funded mainly by donations.
Late afternoon we headed to the McReary’s beach resort. The resort has beautiful and spacious cottages and we stayed in one of them for the next 3 days. The resort is located on the beach and at the same time not far from the main road; that made it convenient for our local day trips exploring the area. Our cottage had fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms, living room and the deck with BBQ. The environment is really family friendly and kids were allowed to go around by themselves.
Once settled we all headed for a boat tour that was so much fun!
We swam in warm lake water, did spectacular jumps from the boat and raced each other. On the way back to the cottage we saw two eagles high up on a pine tree.
Next to the beach there one can find a boat house with many canoes and kayaks to borrow, but we were too tempted to relax in the indoor pool; under same roof there is a sauna and hot tub. After dinner we played for a while and later enjoyed a beautiful sunset and the marshmallows roasted on the campfire right behind the cottage.
The next morning we went to Perth to see the 200th year anniversary parade, which was very well organized and included a lot of various performances. After the parade we stopped by the ice-cream shop before heading to the park.
Not far from the park there was a farmers market where we bought local maple syrup and some homemade jams; the stands were also filled with crafts and flowers. It was a fine place to browse…
In the park the speeches were already underway and we could see the Mayor and other city officials on the stage. At the end of the ceremony the Mayor handed the special capsule with the money collected for the construction of the new stone bridge to the builders.
After the official part everyone headed across the park to the spacious lawn where the dressed up musicians and dancers were getting ready to perform. The Scottish kilts in different colours, traditional musical instruments and actors were all mixed with the arriving public.
For the next hour we all could watch the scenes from the past brought by the musicians and actors to show the history of Perth from 19th century. The show ended by the guns’ salute and marching of the bands.
On the way back to the cottage we stopped again at Fairgrounds to have some ribs, check out the stone carving competition and listen to some music.
The day was almost done, we only had enough time to get back to the cottage for some swim in a pool and dinner.
The next morning we left early for the Blue Heron Golf club. The club house was already busy with the arriving golfers, so we quickly got ready and headed out to the course.
The course has nine holes which makes it suitable for those new to the game or seasoned golfers. The beautiful landscaping adds to the natural surroundings creating pleasant environment – mix of water, forest and green lawns… after golf we all were ready to have good lunch, and decided to go towards Perth.
On the way we stopped by the General store to buy sandwiches. Forget the sandwiches – in the middle of the store there was a small table where a lady was painting the large egg… The painting reminded us some fine antique porcelains, Easter eggs and may be Christmas… the paintings were filled with very fine details such as flowers, birds, butterflies, little bunnies and colourful ornaments. Hard to resist – we bought two beautifully painted eggs and then turned to sandwiches – we were hungry!
After Perth our destination was Ottawa. Instead of staying in the city hotel we stopped at the Generations Inn., which is about thirty minutes away. Even before we open our bags right away kids went to swim in a lake… The Inn has three rooms with private bathrooms located in the old estate. The place is quite well known for the fact that the chief for the Ottawa Senators sometimes cooks his famous dishes for the guests, but you have to call in advance to find out when; we didn’t and so had to visit nearby restaurants.
Next morning we were in Ottawa. First we visited The Museum of History, Children’s Museum and Parliament Hill, later the Airspace Museum and we finished the day watching the amazing Light Show that is projected right on the Parliament building.
In the Museum of History “Napoleon” and “Gold Rush” special exhibits were well worth to visit. Going back in times of Napoleon and learning about his personality and various projects was really like visiting France and Europe of that time. In the halls of “Gold Rush” we were able to wash some golden nuggets and learn about gold mining history. At the exit the special scale displayed the value of your weight as gold equivivalent in $$ – so we all got on! Worth millions!!
Children’s Museum is always full of kids and their parents. It’s a wonderful world of real things scaled to toy size. One can be a banker, another a salesman of Turkish rugs or spices, be a sailor or mechanic or dress up and go on stage!
After lunch on the French side in a small lovely café and some rest we headed to the Airspace museum. And that is where we spent a lot of time learning about airplanes, history of aviation and space exploration.
A bit tired we went back to the city to have dinner. And again we went to the Airspace Museum this time for the conference to meet the real astronauts Jeremy Hansen and Robert Thirsk.
They were presenting the launch of the new recruitment campaign and there were various officials and a lot of fans. We even got a chance to chat with them and get autographs.
After such an exciting evening we were back to the Parliament Hill for the Light Show that presented the history of Canada in projected images accompanied by narration and music.
Tired after such a long day full of events we were ready to go back to Generations Inn for a good night sleep…
Next morning we were on our way back home. We decided to stop over in Peterborough and visit the unique lift locks. Dated back to 1900 the locks operate based on the natural powers created by the weight of the water in the tubs – this is the largest hydraulic lift lock in the world that raises boats up to about 65 feet high! It was a lot of fun to watch the boats go up and down – they looked so small compare to locks’ structure!
Before getting back on the road we stopped over for pizza lunch and then drove all the way home talking about places we liked most…
Walk about 4 blocks for 8 minutes to Stewart Park (80 Gore Street East) to see the parade. Map: https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Stewart+Park+Festivalemail@example.com,-76.250517,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x41185e3fc910fbd2!8m2!3d44.8988287!4d-76.250517
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We were so excited for our tubing adventure on the Grand River that we all woke up early. We were greeted by the friendly guys from Grand River Rafting company and there was a group of young people laughing and talking about their rafting adventure which made us even more excited. We picked up our tubes, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed out for our adventure on the Grand River.
The tubes are quite comfortable – oval shaped with a seat and a back. You get a paddle, a dry bag to keep your belongings in and a detailed map of the trip.
Only by looking at the trees did I realize how fast we were moving. I could hear whirling water in the distance. Once I got closer I could see the small rapids. I got a bit wet going through them and learned a little later I could use my paddle to avoid the whirling areas.
The current was strong enough and rode us nicely along the green shores and small rocky beaches. We met fishermen along the way and even saw an eagle gliding above. It was really peaceful and relaxing on the tube.
We were told along the way about an old, abandoned mine. The mine can be also seen from the top of the shore and a path will bring you there. There’s also a creek with water so clean and fresh you can drink it on the spot!
Some parts of the river are quiet so one can body surf. I got off of my tube and it was deep enough that I couldn’t touch the bottom. Holding the rope from my tube I decided to try lying down on my back to just float, allowing the river to take me for a ride.
An orange fence marked a picnic area. It took us by surprise that there were BBQs set up and a fire in the middle to warm up. Next time we’ll be sure to bring some food for a BBQ. Our trip took us a bit more than four hours. We were tired from our journey down the river and decided to end our day in downtown Paris with ice cream in hand. It was the perfect Sunday adventure.
If you’d like to try tubing on the Grand, click here for Grand River Rafting’s $30 Per Person for Family Tubing on the Grand River offer.
TORONTO, ON (April 24, 2014) – The second annual Pan American Food Festival – the only festival in the world that celebrates the best food and culture of the Western Hemisphere – returns to Toronto from August 8 to 10, 2014. This year’s festival will be held at Daniels Spectrum, a vibrant new community hub in the heart of downtown Toronto, and will feature an impressive roster of extraordinary chefs, led by renowned chef and culinary genius Norman Van Aken.
The Pan American Food Festival paves the way for the upcoming Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 with a showcase of flavour and culture from 41 countries across North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. As in its first year, the Festival will be entirely free to the public, presenting food demonstrations by international chefs, music and dance ensembles, kids’ activities, a Pan American vendors market, and a tourism showcase called Discovering Pan American Countries. Events will be held inside Daniels Spectrum and the neighbouring streets, Regent Park Boulevard and St. David’s Walk, creating a large outdoor area for visitors to discover the delicious and diverse cuisine of the region while enjoying its most-loved musical styles. This year’s Feature Country is Peru.
Considered by The New York Times as South Florida’s most gifted chef, Norman Van Aken is the founding father of New World Cuisine, and is known internationally for introducing the concept of “fusion” to the culinary world. Author of six cookbooks and winner of numerous awards, Mr. Van Aken will present two free food demonstrations at the Festival, along with chefs from across the Pan American spectrum. The Festival’s Culinary Curator, is Colombian-born, Canadian raised freelance food/travel journalist, Mary Luz Mejia.
“We are thrilled to bring the Pan American Food Festival back to Toronto for another year of flavor and fun – Pan American style!” says Daniel Garcia-Herreros, Festival Director. “This year’s Festival will showcase even more of the innovative and delicious foods and culture from these 41 countries, and we are thrilled to be working with Daniels Spectrum to bring the events to life for the community.”
The 2014 Pan American Food Festival highlights include:
●A roster of extraordinary chefs led by renowned chef and culinary genius Norman Van Aken
●Jamaican, Canadian, Colombian, Brazilian, Mexican, Venezuelan, American and Peruvian food demonstrations with local and international chefs.
●Musical performances and dance classes
●“Taste the Americas” an exhibition of photographs selected from submissions received from the general public
●A Pan American vendors market
●Discovering Pan American Countries tourism showcase
●Family activities including kid-friendly food demonstrations