Music takes centre stage at Queen’s Bakery in Blyth

1 Mar
Tim Craig and Julie-Anne Lizewski play to a toe-tapping crowd at Queen's Bakery in Blyth.

Tim Craig and Julie-Anne Lizewski play to a toe-tapping crowd at Queen’s Bakery in Blyth.

By Diva Heather Boa

heather boaBLYTH – Leather soles of many boots slap the wooden floorboards in unison in this village coffee shop on a Saturday night, Feb. 28. The rhythmic, dull thuds accompany harmonica, acoustic guitar and harmonized vocals from local musicians Julie-Anne Lizewski and Tim Craig.

It’s the second appearance at Queen’s Bakery in Blyth for these two, who are relatively new to the local music scene, and tonight there’s a good crowd of about 20 who’ve settled in for an evening of music, coffee, drinks and desserts. The atmosphere is cozy in this bakery, with its exposed brick, high tin ceilings, full-length front windows with a view of white Christmas lights on trees and a set of blinking blue string lights in the Blyth Festival’s courtyard across the street.

Finola McGuinty and Mike Crocker throw some Dixie Chicks into their set.

Finola McGuinty and Mike Crocker throw some Dixie Chicks into their set.

We ease in with Canadian band Tragically Hip’s Bobcaygeon, then move through some gems I’ve never heard before, like Kathleen Edwards’ Alicia Ross, a song written from the perspective of a 25-year-old Markham woman who was killed by her next door neighbour, and Shawn Colvin’s Polaroids, an upbeat number with all sorts of vocal twists and turns. Then there’s the angry, cathartic song with a title I can’t print here because it’s chock full of potty mouth language.

Along the way, the duo perform Bob Dylan’s Shelter From the Storm, a song request from a woman in the audience. Like most of the playbill for the evening, the lyrics are rich and poetic. The tempo flirts with upbeat – toes are tapping – but remains somehow constrained.

Owners Les Cook and Anne Elliott waltz in the kitchen.

Owners Les Cook and Anne Elliott waltz in the kitchen.

There are other familiar songs, and yet they’re just a little bit different. I discover there’s far more to the 20th century American standard Irene than the abbreviated version sung at the end of many nights at a pub. As Tim plays the lap steel guitar, owners Anne Elliott and Les Cook take up a waltz behind the counter, then gracefully twirl through the restaurant.

The couple enjoys hosting local musicians from time to time.

“It’s something we wanted to do from the get-go. Because we dance we kind of have a thing for live music,” said Les, who is a dance instructor at Blyth East Side Dance.

Each of the two sets are opened by well-known Goderich musicians Finola McGuinty and Mike Crocker, a great pairing for Julie-Anne and Tim. Perhaps their most endearing piece is Nancy Griffith’s Trouble in the Fields, a song Finola first heard in Belfast but says can easily apply to the farming community that is Huron County. In fact, most hands shoot into the air when she asks who in the audience has a connection to farming. It’s to those farmers she dedicates the song.

Huron County pubs and restaurants are great supporters of live music. Friday, March 6, North Country Towers will play at Cinnamon Jim’s in Brussels. Check Ontario’s West Coast events calendar for more information on this and other events.

Queen’s Bakery, Blyth

Address: 430 Queen St. S., Blyth

Phone: 226-523-9720

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter @QueensBakery4

Winter Dining Program: Little details add up at Samuels

26 Feb

claireheadshot

By Diva Claire Carter

samuelsmaitlandI have an unfortunate confession to make.

I have lived in Huron County for nearly two years, and have just sampled my first full meal at Samuels Boutique Hotel.  I had attended the scenic location for meetings, and had admired the skilled restoration work.  I’ve enjoyed sweets from the kitchen, but until yesterday, I had never crossed into Saltford for a delicious meal.

I had two friends join me for dinner.  We noticed lovely, thoughtful details as soon as we walked through the door.

The dining room is very bright, with plenty of windows.  We were lucky enough to be seated overlooking the Maitland Bridge.  I had intended to take another photo as the sun set, but was too busy enjoying my delicious meal.


While there was no denying that our visit was mid-winter, the warm colours and samuelsdetailslive plants in the dining room were enough to make us forget the weather outside for a few hours.

It took us quite a while to decide what to order, and ultimately all went with the Taste of Huron Winter Dining Program three-course menu.

samuels1st courseThe starter was a black bean croquette.  The croquette was tasty and non-traditional.  It was made with sweet potato, and was topped with mango salsa and sour cream, served on a bed of greens.


The main course was a Brazilian pork curry.

samuelscurryThe curry had some of the same flavours as the appetizer (black beans, mango and sweet potato) but the execution and addition of chorizo and pork tenderloin made it complimentary without being repetitive.

The colours and presentation were beautiful.

samuelsdessertOur wonderful meal ended with a cherry brandy brownie.  The brownie was rich, and topped with plenty of cherries and vanilla Greek yogurt.

One of my companions ordered hot chocolate with dessert and was delighted to see it topped
samuelshot chocolatewith homemade marshmallows!  We all agreed that little details like this were what make Samuels such a special place.

We were all surprised at how reasonably priced our meal was.  Our three-course dinner was $30 per person, before tax and tip.

samuelsmapleIf you can’t make it for Winter Dining Program, which runs until Feb. 28, Samuels will be offering a Maple Magic four-course dinner on Friday, March 13.  On Saturday, March 14, they will offer a full day of fun, including horse drawn sleigh rides, snowman making and complimentary hot chocolate all day.

The dining room’s bistro menu is available from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.  (appetizers, $7-14, mains, $9-21)

Samuels Hotel is located at 34031 Saltford Road, Goderich

519-524-1371

www.samuelshotel.ca

www.facebook.com/samuelshotel

 

This diva is learning new words: Cassoulet, confit and crema

25 Feb Benmiller Inn Taste of Huron Dinner

jennaheadshot

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

The title of this article highlights three foods or terms I had to Google to figure out for sure what they meant!

For many of us, food talk can be a bit difficult to understand. What I’ve realized is that all of it usually tastes good and I can Google the words to get their full meaning!

Cassoulet- Cassoulet is a rich, slow‑cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat, pork skin and white beans.

Confit- is a cooking term for when food is cooked in grease, oil or sugar water (syrup), at a lower temperature than deep frying.

Crema- Italian for cream, a variation of sour cream popular in Mexico and Central America or a commune in the northern Italian province of Cremona.

Soooo let’s hope that crema is not a commune in Italy, that would not mix well with poached pears!

The red door entrance at Benmiller Inn and Spa

The red door entrance at Benmiller Inn and Spa

As per usual, I try to get out to as many Taste of Huron dinners as possible and earlier this week I made my way to the Benmiller Inn and Spa with five friends. Let me just say that they didn’t disappoint!  This three-course dinner is available until February 28 and is $39 for all three courses.

We were first served an amuse bouche (happy mouth) of chicken in sweet and sour sauce on a deep fried wonton. This starter was a tangy surprise and helped us to get excited about the rest of the meal.

We started with a White Bean Cassoulet duck confit, wild boar and orange sausage. While we were eating this course I looked around and noticed that most of us were saving the wild boar and orange sausage until the end. The tender meat was perfectly flavoured with orange and tied the cassoulet together. I also loved the use of white beans, seeing that Huron is home to Hensall – the White Bean Capital of Canada!!!

Kate, Hellen and Erin enjoying the bean Cassoulet

Kate, Hellen and Erin enjoying the bean Cassoulet

White Bean Cassoulet duck confit

White Bean Cassoulet duck confit

The main course was Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin braised date stuffing, celeriac mashed potato, and maple glazed carrots. Living in Huron, we have great opportunity to try some really unique local pork meals at most restaurants in the area. Many of us would also agree that bacon makes everything better! The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and the date stuffing added a unique and yummy sweetness. The celeriac (celery root) mixed into the mashed potato added that extra tangy flavour.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin braised date stuffing, celeriac mashed potato, maple glazed carrot

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
braised date stuffing, celeriac mashed potato, maple glazed carrot

To finish we had Prosecco Poached Pear and gordon’s goat dairy crema. Booze, fruit and cream: A great mixture to end a meal. This dessert was not crazy sweet and the pear essence was the shining star!

Prosecco Poached Pear and gordon’s goat dairy crema

Prosecco Poached Pear and gordon’s goat dairy crema

Another highlight of Benmiller is its extensive wine list and liquor offerings. One friend even tried a flight of Scotch, which she seemed to enjoy thoroughly!

The taste of Huron winter dining menus run until Feb. 28 and you don’t want to miss out on these yummy meals.

Benmiller Inn & Spa

519-524-2191

81175 Benmiller Road, Goderich, ON N7A 3Y1 Canada

Website:

http://www.benmillerinnandspa.com

 

 

Beef cheeks and scrumptious cheese

25 Feb

jennaheadshot

By Diva Jenna Ujiye

If you haven’t heard it yet, beef cheeks is the new tenderloin when it comes to food trends! OK, I may be making that up, but being a big foodie I do follow food trends. One of the major 2014 trends was eating meats from nose to tail and I really think this particular trend is going to continue in to 2015.

So you’re probably wondering, what do beef cheeks have to do with my story? Well, I’ll start at the beginning. I met up with three girlfriends, Emily, Katie and Natalie, last Friday at the Black Dog in Bayfield for dinner. I was super excited to have a nice dinner and catch up with friends, so I hadn’t even remembered to look at the Taste of Huron menu before I left home.

BlackDog1

When I entered the restaurant, the familiar amazing smells delighted me. To top it off I ran into one of the owners, Kathleen, and she highlighted the Taste of Huron menu with delight. Katie and Emily read the menu and said “beef cheeks?” with a bit of concern on their faces. I explained that these tender meat morsels would excite their taste buds and that they would like the food. So they both decided to try the meal, which is three courses all for $32. Nat skipped out on the special and went with village salad ($8.25) and vegetable curry ($16).

Nat with her Vegetable Curry

Nat with her Vegetable Curry

Three Cheese Fonduta and Garlic Crostini

Three Cheese Fonduta and Garlic Crostini

The first course of the Taste of Huron dinner was Cheese Fonduta with Roasted Garlic Crostini. I thought this course would be kind of like a Swiss cheese fondue and it was, but way better than I have ever been able to make! The garlic buttered bread dipped in the cheese was a mouthful of dancing rich flavours that I never wanted to end. As you’ll see below in the photos, Emily and Katie couldn’t get enough and licked their cheese fonduta ramekins clean. I’ll also note that the photo was not posed, I looked up and they were both pretty much trying to drink their cheese.

Licking the last bit of cheese fonduta

Licking the last bit of cheese fonduta

The next course was Braised Beef Cheeks with Winter Vegetables and Parslied Egg Noodles. Yet again, the chef did not disappoint. The meat was extremely tender and the sauce mixed with noodles and vegetables made it a complete meal.

Braised Beef Cheeks with Winter Vegetables and Parslied Egg Noodles

Braised Beef Cheeks with Winter Vegetables and Parslied Egg Noodles

For dessert, we had Apple Fritter with Vanilla Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce. This was no ordinary donut! Essentially it was a whole apple covered in smooth pastry and loaded with ice cream and butterscotch. An excellent end to a great meal!

Apple Fritter with Vanilla Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce

Apple Fritter with Vanilla Ice Cream and Butterscotch Sauce

This menu also highlighted wine pairings to go with each course, which Katie and I tried. Both Emily and Natalie selected beer from the 20 on tap at the Black Dog. We had a wonderful evening and left the restaurant happy and full!

Our waiter Jan holding all of our empty dishes.

Our waiter Jan holding all of our empty dishes.

The taste of Huron winter dining menus run until Feb. 28 and you don’t want to miss out on these yummy meals.

The Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro

Phone: (519) 565-2326

5 Main St N, Bayfield, ON N0M 1G0

Website:

blackdogpubbistro.ca

 

 

Blyth’s Part II Bistro: Fresh tastes chase away winter blues

24 Feb A group of eight women share a meal beneath the twinkling lights.

claireheadshot

By Diva Claire Carter

It’s official – winter in Huron County isn’t going anywhere for awhile.  Luckily, Chef Peter Gusso and the staff of Part II Bistro in Blyth have a delicious menu to help visitors beat the winter blues.

I visited Part II with a group of ladies on a quiet Wednesday night in February. The restaurant ceiling is draped with romantic twinkle lights, and reminded me of the carnival scene from the movie “Big Fish.”

We were warmly welcomed by our server, and all had some difficulty deciding on what we would eat.  After

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

ordering, we were treated to an amuse bouche of a curried cauliflower soup that featured Blyth Farm Cheese.  It was delicious and warmed us all up.

I ordered the pork spring rolls as my appetizer.  I was pleasantly surprised

Appetizer

Appetizer

when they were served on a bed of seaweed salad.  The spring rolls were filled with tender pork and perfectly cooked veggies.  The flavours of this dish had a lovely Asian influence, and the sweet sesame lime dressing tied everything together perfectly.  My dinner companions ordered appetizers including the spinach and pear salad, Caesar salad and beef tacos.  Each of these dishes was beautifully presented and delicious.

Main course

Main course

I ordered the steak as my main course, and continued to be overjoyed with my choices.  The steak was a tender sirloin, rubbed with garlic and rosemary, and smothered in a healthy serving of a peppercorn and mushroom cream sauce.  The steak was served with truffled mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  It was difficult but I managed to enjoy every bite of this savory meal.

I didn’t think I could do it, but I managed to find just enough room to enjoy the

Dessert

Dessert pavlova

pavlova for dessert. The dessert, created in honour of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, had a meringue that was light and fluffy, and the berries atop whipped cream tasted like they had been soaked in a chocolate liqueur.  While I was beyond stuffed, I would have been full of regret if I hadn’t had this dessert.  I also had to share a photo of the creme brulee, another beautiful dish ordered at our table.

Dessert creme brulee

Dessert creme brulee

What did I like best about Part II Bistro?  The ambiance, great quality and presentation of the food all impressed me.  When our table of eight was completely silent after receiving each course, I knew we were all in foodie heaven. Part II is participating in Taste of Huron’s Winter

Dining Program on until Feb. 28. If you go, please be sure to advise them you are participating in the Winter Dining Program when you make reservations. It is also  hosting two beer tastings (March 27 & 28).  Call the restaurant for details, 519-523-2663.

Part II is located right across from the Blyth Theatre, making it a great place for a bite to eat before or after a show.  From Tuesday through Sunday, they’re open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. ($12-$15) and open at 5 p.m. for dinner (appetizers, $8-13, mains, $25-29).

 

Lunchtime organ concert runs Fridays through Lent

21 Feb 20150220organ2trivitt

metoo
By Diva Heather Boa

EXETER – Close your eyes and you can hear the organist tease resonating notes from cool air on the finicky pipe organ or feel the sound vibrate through your seat and into your bones from the digital organ during a lunchtime concert in the sanctuary of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter.

Open your eyes and let the hymns by great composers such as Brahms, Handel and Bach become background music

Dr. Richard Heinzle, organist and music director of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, hosts a lunchtime concert every Friday through Lent.

Dr. Richard Heinzle, organist and music director of Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, hosts a lunchtime concert every Friday through Lent.

to the sights in this magnificent church, built in 1888 and funded by Thomas Trivitt, Justice of the Peace in Huron County – the sun shining through stained glass scenes from the bible, Neo-Gothic architecture of tall narrow windows with pointed arches at the top and arched ceilings accentuated by wooden beams, the majestic bells that represent a full octave, which have temporarily been removed from the five-storey bell tower and line the church aisle.

It’s your choice how to best appreciate 40 minutes of organ music in the church sanctuary.

Every Friday until the end of Lent (the end of March), Trivitt’s organist and music director Dr. Richard Heinzle will present a lunchtime concert, inviting any and all to take a seat in pews usually reserved for the choir and enjoy their own brown bag lunch while he plays the pipe organ and the digital organ. (Just a note based on my own experience: A crunchy apple is probably not the best choice for lunch.)

Since early 2014, Richard has been music director and organist at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter and music director of the South Huron Community Choirs, part of outreach efforts by the church. He is also a board member of the Bach Music Festival of Canada, which will take place in Exeter this summer.

Richard introduces each hymn, telling us, for example, before he plays Bach’s Jesus, My Joy that most works were playbillimprovisational but the composer put together this piece in order to teach students how to improvise and to explore the different ways pieces could be put together.

There are just two visitors to this first concert, but Richard was undaunted and hopes word will spread and more cushions will be filled in the coming weeks.

He also wants people to know about the upcoming Hymn Sing Marathon planned for Saturday, Feb. 28 at the church. People are invited to drop anytime from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to make a cash or food donation to the Exeter and Area Community Food Bank and sing along as he plays through one verse of each song in the hymn book. He says many of the hymns in the Anglican hymn book are the same as in other hymn books, so you’ll be able to sing some familiar hymns as well as some new ones.

For more information on Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, visit this website.


 

2015022020organ4trivittLunchtime Organ Concert: If you go

What: Organ Concert At Lunch, a brown bag concert series

When: Every Friday through Lent, until March 27, starting at 12:15 p.m. and ending at 12:55 p.m.

Where: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church’s sanctuary, 264 Main St. S., Exeter

How much: Goodwill offering. Suggested $5

What else: Dress warmly

 


 

 

Don’t hibernate. Celebrate at Goderich’s Winterfest

4 Feb
Winterfest draws people of all ages to a variety of activities.

Winterfest draws people of all ages to a variety of activities.

By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – This weekend, the community of Goderich is hosting a wintery pick-you-up to help you and your family push through the winter blahs.

Winterfest has grown and evolved from its humble beginnings more than two decades ago into an event that’s anchored by some key activities with a bit of something new every year. Every visitor to town becomes an honorary Goderichite during Winterfest, whether they’re walking the lantern-lit trails and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate afterwards, sampling the chili in a cook-off of secret recipes, watching nighttime fireworks light up the sky, or taking part in any number of activities lined up for the three-day event, Feb. 6 to 8.

I can remember that first Winterfest more than two decades ago. It was a big financial gamble for a group of very keen organizers, who booked a high-energy rock and roll band to play at the Knights of Columbus Centre as the feature event. If it stormed that evening, we were bound to take a loss on the event. However, it didn’t storm enough to keep people home that night and tickets were sold out in a snap. People came dressed in ‘60s costumes and danced and danced and danced that evening. And there was enough money to keep the event going in future years and draw a loyal following.

One of my favourite events over the years is the Saturday chili cook-off, with folks wandering the downtown Square trying to juggle Styrofoam bowls, a bun and steaming beverages while bundled up against some blustery weather. Tomato sauce and ground beef slopped onto mitts and napkins blew away in the wind. It’s a wonder we ever got our ballots cast for the best chili. That challenge continued through the years, probably weighed against the festive spirit that comes with meeting friends and neighbours on busy, chilly sidewalks. This year, however, the Rotary club is trying a new location, with chili competitors lining the indoor streetscape of the Maitland Recreation Centre. Some of the braver competitors, clinging to tradition, will set up outside the centre’s front doors.

File photo.

File photo.

One of the newer events is the Saturday evening fireworks show by PyroWorld in the town’s agricultural park. The spectacular show is set to music, with the low-level fireworks reflecting on the snow, which makes for great photographs. Anyone who isn’t interested in braving the outdoors for hot chocolate at 6:30 p.m. and fireworks at 7 p.m. can catch the musical presentation on 104.9 The Beach, starting at 7 p.m.

“There are a variety of indoor and outdoor activities through the weekend,” said Wanda Keith, who is the town’s festival and special events co-ordinator.

“The variety of things happening is phenomenal. And it’s all local organizations putting these events on,” she said.

Another event that’s new this year will be the Goderich Makers Market on Saturday morning. It’s just like a visit to the farmers market, only it’s wintertime and it’s indoors, with produce, local meat, baked goods, soups, crafts and soaps. In addition, the local horticultural society will bring the promise of spring by hosting a seed swap, with seeds available to swap or purchase by donation.

For a full list of events, click here. One additional event didn’t make it to the poster, which is the free skate from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Victoria Park’s outdoor rink, as long as the weather’s cold enough to keep the ice frozen. Hot chocolate and cookies provided by Zehrs.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,700 other followers