Tag Archives: taste of huron

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.

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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).

 

Mushroom Appetizers popular party fare!

18 Dec

PlumStuffedShiitake
Plum-Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms (from epicurious.com)

Here is an Asian twist on stuffed mushrooms. Chinese plum sauce and sesame oil make the satisfying, intensely flavored glaze. Small portobellos can be substituted for the shiitakes, if you like.
  • 40 small shiitake mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds), stemmed
  • 12 ounces bulk pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup Chinese plum sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
    1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Place shiitake mushrooms stem side up on large rimmed baking sheet. Mound each with about 1/2 tablespoon pork sausage. Stir plum sauce in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Whisk in oil. Brush mushrooms with all of plum sauce mixture. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake mushrooms until sausage is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to large platter. Sprinkle with chives.

_ _ _

Susan Weth, Incubating mushrooms

Susan Weth, Incubating mushrooms

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Weth, co-owner of Weth Mushrooms. I was surprised that mushrooms there are not grown in the dark, and they are not grown in horse manure.  These mushrooms are grown in a “Natural” mixture that is wood-based, as these farmers try to replicate the forest floor as a growing condition for their mushroom crops.  At Weth Mushrooms, a new crop is incubated every 10-12 weeks. They’re planted in plastic bags in that special mixture of soil, grain and sawdust that eventually hardens and colourizes (Incubates), at which stage the bags are removed.   Within one week the mushrooms are sprouting in temperature and moisture-controlled sprouting rooms. Once harvested the block-growing material is composted back into the field.

Although there are bio-security issues in certain parts of the plant we were invited inside. There are three brands of mushrooms grown at Weth’s.  Susan’s favourite brand grown here is shiitake,  so much so that she no longer uses the very popular white button mushroom, and uses Shiitake in “everything”.  Shiitake mushrooms are not native to Southwestern Ontario.  The second type, maitake, can sometimes be found in Huron County, growing in the wild.  It has a nutty flavour.  And, the third type, pioppino is a small brown variety that has a bit more texture and remains slightly crunchy even after cooking.  Maitake and Pioppino mushrooms grow faster than the Shiitake, but temperature changes can wipe out a crop quickly.

Maitake Mushrooms available from Weth's

Maitake Mushrooms available from Weth’s

Susan tells me she prefers maitake fried in olive oil and butter until the tips brown.   Shiitake are flavourful in omelettes, stuffed with roasted red pepper and goats cheese or marinated and barbecued.  Pioppino’s are nice in stews or stir fried dishes.  All three have good meaty textures and are an excellent substitute for meats.  Mushrooms are loaded with anti-oxidants.   And, to my surprise, Susan does not eat or serve mushrooms uncooked as they do have some toxins.  In some cultures, mushrooms are used raw for cleanings, but Susan does not recommend using them this way.

pioppino mushrooms

pioppino mushrooms

Mushrooms are shipped from this site every week and many local restaurants buy direct from the farm.  Susan indicated their future would likely include more varieties and increased yield.  As Weth Mushrooms are organically grown, their product is popular, especially with growing consumer demand for organic produce.  For the most part the Weth’s can’t keep up with that demand as mushroom farming is extremely labour intensive.  Picking or harvesting is all done by hand, and although there is no grading system in Ontario Weth’s internally grade and price their product as premium, utility and baby.

Shiitake

Shiitake

Weth Mushrooms is iocated on 89 acres of reforested land in the Township of Central Huron.  They’re open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 until 3:30pm or by appointment.  Tours are sometimes available so call Susan for more information.

WethMushroomSignWeth Mushrooms
35809 Union Side Road
Goderich, ON
N7A 3X8
519-524-4263

or on Facebook “Weth Mushrooms Inc.”

Are Rutabaga’s on the Menu this Holiday season?

16 Dec

RutabagaMy favourite side dish with turkey or beef is rutabaga … and, apparently, it’s a really healthy choice.  Last spring we met with the Hubbard Family in Blyth to learn about their business.

George Hubbard started a family business, G.L. Hubbard Ltd., in 1962 when he purchased the plant located on Dinsley Street East in Blyth from Russ Dougherty.

The rutabaga is a root vegetable with a yellow flesh.  It is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.  It reported originated in Scandanavia or Russia and was first found in North America in the early 19th century.  They are served a variety of ways in many countries, but in Canada they are most often used as filler in mincemeat and Christmas Cake or served as a side dish.

Rutabaga are planted 6” apart, and only 12 acres had been planted when we visited this producer on May 13, 2014.  2013’s extremely long winter delayed the planting season this spring.  Plans were being made to plant another 12 – 17 acres in the couple weeks following, with planting all finished by the end of June.  The rutabaga is a 90-day crop and harvest begins in October, taking approximately three weeks to complete.

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

The rutabagas are pulled in the field by a harvester, trucked into the plant and unloaded via stackers to prevent bruising and cracking.  They are kept at 33 degrees in a humidity-controlled room and  about 50,000 bushels are stored in the two on-site storage sheds.  There are two more sheds off-site.  Each week this plant processes  2,000 – 4,000 bushels, depending on the market – typically less in spring and more in fall and winter months as that’s when the harvest take place and when the consumer demands this tasty root vegetable.

Buckets on a tractor transport the rutabaga from the storage shed to a wash station. Rutabagas are then washed twice.   Hubbard Farm is still using its original washing equipment.  Rutabagas travel, via an auger, into a holding bin where they drop to be trimmed and sized/sorted by hand.  Trimming is done only for esthetics. The next step in the processing is waxing – a process that requires six people.  And, finally, stickers with Foodland Ontario’s bar codes are applied and the rutabaga are boxed in 50lb boxes for shipping.

Hubbard’s ship every day with Friday being their biggest day to accommodate shipping schedules into the United States.  They have enjoyed a long term partnership with Stovel Siemon of Mitchell for shipping their products across Canada and into the U.S.

Yearly inspections are required at Hubbard’s for food safety standards. It is a year-round business with down-time in July for repairs and cleaning.  A recent new shed was erected on the property to meet food safely requirements.  It houses packing cartons and skids.

This operation currently keeps six families in Canada and seven immigrant families employed including two of George’s daughters, his son and one of his grandsons.  Many of the immigrant families have other jobs in their native Jamaica such as driving a taxi, farming, and building furniture. Since 1988, foreign workers have been a part of the Hubbard Farm with nine arriving each spring, rising to 13 each fall.

Rutabagas are high in Vitamin C. I asked Susan Hubbard what the most intriguing recipe she’d heard of and she responded “Cheese Whiz and mashed rutabaga” – I guess I should try it that way too, although I find it most delicious mashed with a little browh sugar, salt and pepper, and slathered in gravy. It can also be served with apples. 

If you haven’t tried Rutabaga put it on your bucket list.  It can be purchased year round at most grocery stores, or direct from the plant at 367 Dinsley Street during business hours.

Hubbard RutabagaG.L. Hubbard Ltd.
367 Dinsley St., PO Box 340
Blyth, Ontario, Canada  N0M 1H0
(519) 523-4554 

_ _ _

Sadly, shortly after our visit at Hubbard Rutabaga plant last spring George Hubbard passed away.  He will be missed by his family and many friends and neighbours in Huron County and beyond.    His family will continue to operate the business and farms.

It’s Turkey Time (at Hayter’s)

14 Dec

Hayters Store SignIt’s that time of year when turkey is on everyone’s mind … and fork, so I thought it would be a great time to share this story about Hayter’s.  Enjoy!

Since 1984 this family-owned turkey farm in Dashwood is the place where the Hayter family has developed its passion for premium quality. Their devotion to taste and tradition in every aspect of turkey farming and turkey products continues through three generations and was evident when we met with Joanne recently.

This family decided to raise turkeys because their land was poor and they found that turkey manure proved to be the best fertilizer. They had farmed beef and cash crops until 1993.

The Hayter’s have 13 barns and this is only turkey farm in Huron County that also has the processing plant. 

Hayters Farm

Hayters Turkey grow poults from one day old until they reach average market size of 35lbs, taking toms up to 16 weeks.  The hens go to market at 13 weeks at about 18 pounds. Hayters raise 160,000 turkeys per year on their farm in South Huron.

Their onsite store was built in 1983 and has been expanded a couple of times since, although the Hayter’s have had a farm outlet for 50 years.  The more recent addition of the LCBO agency store brought increased notice of their products, particularly with the summer market travelling to the lakeshore.

Hayter Store 2

Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving is still the biggest sales opportunities for fresh turkeys.  To expand their market, further processing was needed to meet the needs of a time-challenged consumer.  Thus, turkey sausage, schnitzel, marinated fillets, wings and drumsticks, and burgers were added to their product lists.   Also offered through the store are frozen and fresh turkey products and condiments.  Hayter’s Turkey products are labelled with the Foodland Ontario brand.

Hayters Turkey employs 70,  including 5 extended family members.  Joanne’s brother Tom earned an animal poultry science degree from Guelph.  One son heads the marketing division in Toronto.   Joanne told us that they do ship to western Canada, but currently have no interest in the US market.  And, they attend farmer’s markets seasonally in North Bay, Sudbury and Sault St. Marie.  

A quota system for raising turkeys came into effect in 1970.  However, the Hayters Farm was a significant size at that time so that percentage of their quota doesn’t cost.  In Canada, farmers can’t grow more than 50 birds without a quota.

The processing plant at the Hayter Farm is provincially regulated.  Regular Inspections are deemed “necessary” as this family feels it is vital to promoting the message that their products are safe and healthy options.   Joanne feels they do have a voice but it’s difficult to advocate for change and to keep ahead of the ever-evolving health requirements while operating this size of business.

Joanne’s favourite product is the marinated fillets, and she wants everyone to know how healthy turkey is with just 2% fat in the breast.

HOW TO COOK FULL 15lb. TURKEY
Breast up – 450 degrees for 1/2 hour uncovered; then 2 – 2.5 hours at 350 covered.

Check the website for virtual tours of their farm – coming soon!

Hayters Turkey
37467 Dashwood Rd, R.R. 2, Dashwood
Ontario N0M 1N0
519-237-356
info@hayterturkey.com

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