Goderich Makers Market carries hint of spring

7 Mar
The smell of freshly ground coffee from Coastal Coffee Company assails every visitor at the Goderich Makers Market.

The smell of freshly ground coffee from Coastal Coffee Company assails every visitor at the Goderich Makers Market.

By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – A sure sign of spring? The first sighting at the Goderich Makers Market of tender green pea shoots with stems that grew long from trying to reach the winter’s sun.

peashootsShoppers gravitated to the patch of greens so neatly tucked between plastic containers of chicken broth and jars of beets and carrots, in a building full of vendors selling roasted coffee, honey, chocolate croissants, soft pretzels, soups, soaps and other homemade offerings. True, the pea shoots were grown in a greenhouse, taking advantage of the sunny winter days, but they were still prized for all that they promise in the months to come.

One wall of the market, held at Goderich’s MacKay Centre on the first Saturday of the month through the winter, was once again taken up with baskets of carrots, potatoes, turnips, beats, cooking onions and apples, much to the delight of shoppers. Folks commented on the vendor’s absence through the dead of winter.

makersmarketOut on the floor, neighbours stopped to compare winter holiday stories and chat about summer markets, planting techniques and all things sunny and warm.

A quick door check of one shopper yielded a bag of potatoes and a bag of beets, pepperettes, two cartons of eggs and some chocolate dipped pretzels for the road. All that while balancing a cup of coffee from Coastal Coffee Company.

The winter market is the brainchild of Amy Zoethout and Donna-Jean Forster-Gill of Feast for Good, who wanted to share their love of locally produced food and goods.

The market continues through April and May, until the opening of the Goderich Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 16.

Other communities throughout Huron County also host farmers markets through the summer months. For more information on these summer markets, visit online.

If you go to the Goderich Makers Market:

Date: First Saturday of the month. April 4 & May 2.

Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: MacKay Centre, 10 Nelson St. E., Goderich

Things you should know: Best to bring cash rather than relying on debit or credit.

 

Indie folk duo perform in Brussels

7 Mar

North Country Towers, March 6, 2015 from Heather Boa on Vimeo.

By Diva Heather Boa

BRUSSELS – It would be easy to walk past the unremarkable door beside the entrance to the Brussels’ laundromat without a second glance. But the more observant passersby will notice a sign in the transom window above the door that reads: The Upper Deck. And on this Friday evening, groups of one and two and five are passing through the door and climbing the steep steps to a small concert hall to hear North Country Towers, acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith.

The low-ceiling hall is arranged with a series of cabaret tables and folding chairs. The front window overlooking the village’s main street is covered with black floor-length curtains. A piano is set at one side of a stage, a series of drums at the other side, proof that the space is a regular venue for musicians. The place is packed with family, friends and music lovers. Many have come to hear Thomas, who is from Wingham. He and Caleb, from North Bay, now attend university in Montreal.

Acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith perform at The Upper Deck in Brussels.

Acoustic duo Thomas Beard and Caleb Smith perform at The Upper Deck in Brussels.

Then Thomas settles the cello into his lap and Caleb pulls his guitar into his hip, and something quite magical happens. The guy in the sports coat and scuffed black dress shoes playing an instrument often found in an orchestra and the fellow in the black vest and red socks playing an instrument at home in country bars and rock bands find the perfect pitch. The instruments take their turns in the spotlight, sometimes upbeat and playful, other times slow and mournful. Then Caleb’s strong vocals cut in. You give in and let it consume you.

The mostly original playbill speaks of saving princesses and slaying dragons, a bride and groom finding love in their differences, losing binds with the right person at your side, and finding it funny how the smell of dead things and rain can make you feel so great.

Their enthusiasm is a pleasure to watch. It’s fresh and invigorating. They laugh at each other at each song’s end, but look like they’d rather give each other a high five. In fact, high fives all round.

“They’re so adorable I wanna pinch their cheeks,” said a woman sitting nearby.

Before the duo began, the hall’s owner, Jim Lee, took to the stage, holding up an empty fish bowl for the audience to see.

“This is how they’re going to get paid tonight,” he said, reminding folks the fish bowl would be set up at the back of the hall when they’re ready to make donations.

“ We have a little saying at Cinnamon Jim’s: ‘Keeping live music alive’ and this is what it’s all about,” he said.

Live music can be found at venues across Huron County. Check Ontario’s West Coast events calendar for more information.

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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).

 

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